We won. Those are the first words we should utter. Given the circumstances that we were faced with, this is a remarkable feat. We confronted the opposition candidates, and we soundly defeated them. Likewise, we fought against the campaign of those who, backed by the United States and its allies, called for abstention. The conditions of this electoral contest – the fourth in less than a year – were difficult not only in the political arena, but also materially and existentially. The people carried out a historic feat, and, as a result, we won again.
The difference in votes between our candidate Nicolas Maduro, his second contender Henri Falcón (more than 4 million votes), as well as with the third contender Javier Bertucci is evidence of our strength, our social base, and our indispensable unity. Our opponents were defeated at the polls, with Falcon rapidly announcing that he will not recognize the results, giving fodder to the abstainers’ claims of “fraud” and deepening the opposition’s conviction that the only road to success is through force. By crying fraud, Falcon has only bolstered the line that was already written before the elections: cries of fraud followed by more international, economic, and diplomatic sanctions.
However, we also need to analyze the levels of voter participation.
Measured in international terms, the numbers compare favourably with patterns of participation in the American continent or in Europe. On the other hand, if we take Venezuelan elections as our base, we must acknowledge that participation was indeed much lower than in the last presidential elections (though it remained stable when compared with the elections of mayors and governors).
The explanation for this is twofold. First, there is the local and international abstention campaign from right-wing sectors. Secondly, people’s daily economic situation has deteriorated and there is political discontent due to the behavior of a large sector of the establishment. There were barrio dwellers and peasants that didn’t vote, not because they have moved away from Chavismo or stopped believing, but because they were immersed in solving their day-to-day problems.
This indicates a key challenge that the nation must confront: recovering lost votes, which must really be thought of as recovering majority support and hegemony. That means going back to Chavez’s way of doing politics and responding immediately to the people’s grave economic problems. With this in mind, we call for the implementation of a National Emergency Plan made up of deep, unconventional and revolutionary measures.
We believe that the whole of the country’s energies should be focused on four areas with short, medium and long-term goals. This plan must be carried out with complete transparency. The processes and mechanisms that are used in the debates and in developing diagnoses, studies and analyses must be publicised, and the implementation must happen publically under the whole nation’s scrutiny. The reconstruction of the public sphere and its ethics must be one of our main objectives, as well as the active participation of organized popular sectors in the whole process from diagnosis and planning to execution and supervision.
The national priorities that we identify and propose are:
1- Food production: Prioritizing staples in accordance with the nutritional needs of the country. We propose reprising land reform, which is a necessary condition for recovering our agricultural production. We need to be true to a revolutionary principle that more or less sums up Chavez’s agrarian legacy: the land belongs to those who work it. In turn, a financing plan must be developed for all sectors that produce, focusing now on the primary producers. With this in mind, it is urgent to reign in the private banks that manage the savings of all Venezuelans in a willy-nilly way, and which currently favor agroindustry and other sectors. Another key issue in regards to food production is to carry out a transparent audit of state-run agricultural enterprises, calling for the immediate replacement of management teams that head unproductive companies.
2- The national electrical system also requires a thorough review, as does the communicational platform (telephone and internet). The management teams responsible for these areas must undergo a strict and transparent evaluation, in which the workers participate directly. A plan based on economic efficiency and improved performance must be developed, and it has to include co-management with organized communities: the blueprint for this plan will have to include funding for the production and distribution of up to date technology, provisions for system and platform maintenance, as well as a plan to improve the working conditions in these sectors.
3- Developing a plan for the improvement of the national public healthcare system, focusing on the recuperation of central and municipal hospitals, is urgently needed. It must include the renovation of infrastructure (especially areas such as emergency rooms, operating rooms, and hospitalization) in addition to the full restocking of medicines, surgical materials, and ambulances. Last but not least, there must be a salary hike for all medical center staff, from the doctor and the nurse to the janitorial personnel.
4- A recovery plan must be implemented for the national school and university system involving better school infrastructure and a thorough policy to protect educators’ real salaries, encouraging them to remain in the country. The education plan must also include the recovery and expansion of the free school lunch program.
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The National Emergency Plan must be the result of a broad debate involving all sectors that are committed to the nation, and it must transcend political and ideological barriers. It must be taken up as a joint effort by the people and the government for the nation’s sake. An honest and realistic perspective is needed to address the huge economic crisis that affects popular sectors and the lower-middle class.
We are aware of the financial difficulties that the nation is facing, but we are also conscious of the enormous resources that are being wasted and squandered daily due to inefficiency and incapacity to prioritize, as well as a lack of planning and thriftiness, not to mention the high levels of corruption in the public administration. Any sort of plan must eliminate the privileges of the bureaucratic and governing classes in the administration and PSUV leadership, who have become elites that live worlds apart from the grave problems and profound suffering that the Venezuelan people are now experiencing.
We put forward this proposal following an electoral victory in the midst of a critical economic situation that calls for an urgent response based on an attitude of revolutionary realism. Now that we have achieved this indispensable victory, we cannot wait any longer, we must rectify and deepen the process. We are standing up to imperialism and its allies (the oligopolies, the oligarchy, etc), indeed Chavismo must confront them, but at the same time must give an answer to those who need it. This is the message which we hear from the shantytowns, from the countryside, and from the coast, from the millions of ordinary men and women who make up this nation.
National Coordination of the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ)
Translated by Cira Pascual Marquina for Venezuelanalysis.