The Presidential Elections: Towards a New Stage in the Bolivarian Revolution

Marea Socialista (Socialist Tide), a radical current within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, argue that the construction of a collective leadership is necessary for the deepening of the Bolivarian revolution in the coming period. 


With President Chavez’s health episodes, the most heard word in recent months is “uncertainty”. For the opposition and the right, it’s used as a tool to cause demoralisation among the Bolivarian people. For the revolutionary people the president’s health generates anguish and a huge expression of desire for his recovery. However it’s a fact that further than grief and solidarity the illness of the president has also awoken uncertainty.

This time, like no other, is a moment of reflection and action for the revolutionary process. The electoral battle of 7 October that could give a new triumph to President Chavez also opens up the debate over the need for a new stage in the process. In giving itself popular aspiration, the process will continue being driven by the president, but necessarily it must have infinitely greater protagonism, participation and spaces of decision making for the revolutionary people. This new course is in order to do away with current mistakes. Even with the victory of 7 October, the very process is at stake.

Therefore, while the oligarchy plan a transition without Chavez, and also play a decorous role in the presidential election with a second rate candidate [translator: in reference to opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski], it’s our duty to debate and begin to construct a new stage in the revolutionary process to advance resolutely in resolving its most serious problematic knots. We must address the contradictions, errors and outstanding debts in order to resolve them from a revolutionary, and not bureaucratic, point of view. We must make real the old phrase “revolution within the revolution”, but this time with the true participation and protagonism of the workers and the Bolivarian people, their social movements and popular organisations above institutional bureaucracy; that bureaucracy that in league with the great bourgeoisie has kidnapped popular protagonism and many of its conquests. 

In these days of the historic April [translator: in reference to the brief April 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez, which was reversed after mass grassroots protests demanded his return to power, and other independence dates], those teachings should serve us to draw out conclusions. As on 13 April [2002], when grassroots participation and mobilisation, dragging with it a sector of the armed forces, recovered President Chavez and defeated the coup, in this critical moment of the process on 7 October massive grassroots participation is necessary. Indeed, the presence of an active people in the streets is indispensible to recover a radically revolutionary course and guarantee the continuity of the process.

An Electoral Battle and More

A debate has opened in the opposition. They discuss the strategy of not only how to defeat Chavez, but those who they call “the regime”. In opposition media, mixed with rude anti-Chavista propaganda, fundamental questions are being debated. The rumour of a crisis in the Democratic Unity Table (MUD) [translator: the conservative opposition coalition] isn’t just an electoral fact provoked because their candidate [Radonski] isn’t improving in the polls, something that can clearly be seen. Rather, it is happening because there is a discussion among the opposition over strategies of how to defeat the revolutionary process as a whole.

The most fascist minority sectors of the right are insisting on totally dismantling the conquests of the revolutionary people in a drastic fashion. On the other hand, the majority of the opposition have the false illusion that they can defeat Chavez electorally. That the fascist sectors are minorities for now doesn’t mean that they will continue being so in the long term. If we don’t succeed in defeating the contradictions of this process and above all the mistreatment and attacks against its conquests that our people receive from the state and government bureaucracy, in our ranks the conditions for demoralisation will grow because of that bureaucracy. If today it’s true, as Fidel would have said about the Cuban revolution, that our revolution cannot be defeated from the outside, it is also true that it can be defeated from the fifth columns [the bureaucracy] that exist from high positions inside the revolutionary process. With their practice they could create the conditions for this defeat to happen.

In the revolutionary camp, lamentably the debate derived from the sickness of the president still doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. For the revolutionary people it’s urgent and necessary to do so. The current time isn’t only about how we prepare ourselves to win the presidential elections, but also how to push fully and firmly toward a decidedly anti-capitalist course, in the precise moment when we should construct the collective leadership of the process. That is the most urgent task.

The Contradictions of the Revolutionary Process

It’s no secret for anyone that the Bolivarian people know and comment that “Chavez will win the October 7 [presidential] election but it’s not looking good for the [regional] state and mayoral [elections]”. This is just an electoral expression of the contradictions that very revolutionary process contains. Indeed, a scenario where President Chavez wins on 7 October and is then followed by a majority of governors and mayors from the opposition isn’t out of the question.

The actions of rojo rojito governors and majors [translator: very red or totally red, meaning often wearing red-t-shirts, supporting everything that Chavez says, usually used in a positive way] who conduct themselves like the owners of the lives and funds of the people they direct, always trying to defend themselves by hiding behind Chavez, is just a demonstration of the operation of the government, the party and the street, blind to what they are bringing to the Great Patriotic Pole [translator: the coalition of social movements in favour of re-electing President Chavez and deepening the revolution].

These contradictions are expressed in multiple ways, of which we are going to point out just a few examples.

1) Despite polarising speeches against the bourgeoisie, the oligarchy and their candidate [Radonski], a policy of conciliation with important business sectors of the opposition continues to develop. That conciliation, this “mixed economy”, leads to business agreements that are ever more detrimental to being able to meet the needs of the revolutionary people in an opportune manner.

2) The party [translator: in reference to Chavez’s ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela] is ever more a machine of administrated militancy dedicated to actions that otherwise would have to be undertaken by the institutions of government, such as opinion polling campaigns, processing national identity documents, Mercal food markets, and fairs, and is ever less a political instrument for debate, education, critical space and revolutionary action by the masses of the revolutionary people. It’s a machine that is less and less democratic and participatory, where the construction of a collective leadership is far off.

3) We are witnessing the lack of or the kidnapping of grassroots and worker participation as among the main problems that the process faces. For example, the kidnapping by the state bureaucracy, without the democratic participation of the workers, of the majority of the experiences of worker control that were developing in Guayana City. Or, in the case of the new Labour Law (LOT), the refusal to have a referendum from the worker base on the law that is being prepared to be presented on 1 May [translator: the new Labour Law was approved by President Chavez on 31 April 2012]. It is not true democratic participation behind the millions of individual or collective “proposals” that are managed at the discretion of a presidential commission, rather today, days before the reform is sanctioned, it is known as sure science how the new LOT will be.

We could add dozens of problems and doubts of the process. However we don’t want to bore with a list of uncompleted tasks, of which every revolutionary militant could give new examples.

To the Battle of 7 October with Proposals to Put in March a New Stage of the Revolution

The battle that we have in front of us is above all a political battle to achieve the installation of a revolutionary program for President Chavez’s next period of government. It’s also to recover protagonistic participation and activate the revolutionary people to recover the key referenda of the Bolivarian Process. It is also to advance in new directions to solve the debts of the revolution.

Firstly and urgently, we insist on the construction of a collective leadership as a mechanism for the continuity of the process. We propose some axes:

1) Democratic Radicalisation: The recovery of referenda and constitutive mechanisms of the process, which will allow for the advance of democratic radicalisation. The holding of representative elections for institutional political posts; Governors, mayors etc., creates a false illusion of democracy and participation. It’s necessary for the mobilised people to decide on the fundamental measures of their organisation, their candidates and their immediate needs. This is to make a step forward in the construction of a new form of government.

The new government must be under the direction of Chavez and the collective leadership that we propose. Only like this can we move toward a true revolutionary transformation. The new government has to take social and grassroots organisations into account. A Great National Council of Social and Grassroots Revolutionary Organisations must be created, whose members and rotating posts (with the ability of immediate recall and replacement by their own organisations) govern with President Chavez. A Council that executes the measures and plans of government approved through referendums by revolutionary majorities and at the same time is the instrument of dismantling the state bureaucracy.

As an example of democratic radicalisation in a particular issue, we propose, for the self -organisation of the workers’ movement, the construction of a new trade union model that brings about the emergence of a new generation of union leaders and establishes, starting now, the unity of the working class, autonomous from the state and parties and with the widest democratic base. The model should articulate itself with a constituent base of workers in which those who live off their salaries can debate the issue of the model’s organisation and also the productive model and economic management of their companies. As this constitutive process is developed, from 1 May union integration is necessary between the existing union centrals [leaderships of union umbrella organisations] of the process, and activists who don’t belong to either of the two.

An example of active participation and mobilisation would have been a referendum to pass the new labour law (LOT) by the workers. We still have time. We’re again proposing to President Chavez that before passing the project elaborated by the Presidential Commission that he present it and let it be debated and approved by the workers, with the modifications that they think are pertinent.

It’s necessary to develop all basic democratic rights for free expression in the revolutionary area, facilitating the production of grassroots alternative media, and de-penalising and ceasing the persecution and litigation of revolutionaries.

2) Putting in March a New Productive Model: This is essential to confront the international economic crisis and advance toward an anti-capitalist model. It’s necessary to break with the mixed economic model and the politics of conciliation with the great bourgeoisie and the transnationals: No to conciliation with the right, and for a new anti-capitalist course.

Regarding property, there are three levers of the development of an anti-capitalist transition: state control under workers’ monitoring of the national finance and credit system; strategic production, for example, of oil and mining; and the planning and execution of a true agricultural development plan. Also, among others, a monopoly over external trade is required. Regarding participation, the construction of democratic control by the workers of production and management is necessary.

3) That the “Simon Bolivar” National Development Plan 2013 – 2019 is Constructed and Approved from the Base.

If the three levers we mentioned above are essential for imposing a new productive model, the direct participation of all social, revolutionary and grassroots actors is fundamental in the elaboration, execution and control of the “Simon Bolivar” National Development Plan (PNDSB) for the next period.

The debate over food sovereignty, the utilisation of oil income and development funds such as FONDEN and the Venezuelan China Fund, among many others, must be at the service of internal development.

The people together must participate in the elaboration, control and execution of plans to solve the three basic weaknesses of the process. First, begin an integrated national health service to end the fraud of private clinics and limited health insurance. Second, the elaboration of a national contingency plan to attack citizen insecurity wholly and at the root, and third, a national education plan that along with PNDSB 2013-2019 determines needs and incentives so that the youth dedicate themselves to areas of study that the development of the country and each region needs.

These are some of the proposals that we put on the table for debate in what we in Marea Socialista believe is the upcoming stage: a stage where the revolution will need to break with the limits that bureaucracy and capital impose and begin the path to transition. A stage, as we have emphasised, where the development of a collective leadership for the process is the first task to address.

Translated by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com