Insecurity in Venezuela: a Class Issue

This article conveys the position of the Venezuelan sector of the Internatioanl Marxist Current (CMI) on the issue of crime, analysising the root causes of it, and criticising the limits of the Bolivarian government's response.


This article, written by comrade Euler Calzadilla, demonstrates the position of the Marxist current of the PSUV, the Venezuelan sector of the International Marxist Current (CMI), on the issue of security. In the piece, Calzadilla analyses the root causes of the social scourge, causes which are generally almost never analysed by the bourgeois media, or in the majority of public media. As such, in this brief article, Calzadilla responds to the lies of the rightwing “majunche” on the issue of security and highlights the limits of the Bolivarian governments plan for disarmament and security, limits which emerge from trying to combat insecurity from within the framework of the economic and political capitalist regime.

During the presentation of his “security” plan, CAP-riles* states that, “This government has not been able to deal with insecurity. One of the fundamental roles of the state is to provide justice and Venezuelans do not have justice. It is a problem which is impossible to hide”. Furthermore, he qualified the government’s 18 attempts to implement a security programme in the last 14 years as a failure. Another of CAP-riles criticisms with respect to the issue regards impunity, and on this particular issue we might be in agreement, Marxists are also clear on the fact that, as the saying goes, “the prisons aren’t full of criminals, they are full of poor people”. However, it also bears saying that if there weren’t such a level of impunity then CAP-riles himself would be in jail.

The problem with security is that it is one of the most critical issues in Venezuelan political reality; the rightwing has used this issue in a demagogic way for a long time, bombarding the people with alarming homicide figures, robberies and kidnappings. However, the campaign against insecurity does not have a clear and correct response from the official camp, and for that reason the bourgeoisie have made the issue their battle cry.

Insecurity: a matter of class

The authorities should accept the issue of insecurity with a resounding, “Yes, it’s true” and without any protest. In this way they can disarm the right wing’s discourse which focuses on the fact that insecurity is a problem denied by the government. Now, this “Yes” should also be accompanied by a clear explanation of why there exists such a problem and what its solution is, which cannot be anything other than socialism.

Given that the problem is an evil inherited from the Fourth Republic (1958-1998) and caused by the contradictions of the capitalist system, taking into account that in Venezuela we still live in CAPITALISM, and considering at the same time that the idea of feeding, educating and housing the people without putting an end to capitalism is incredibly stupid. Insecurity, not just in Venezuela but in all Latin America, has a fundamental cause and is an extremely lucrative business for the national and international bourgeoisie. The arms industry moves enormous quantities of money and kills thousands and thousands of people each year.

The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Russia and Spain are the greatest producers and sellers of arms, and specifically of the light firearms which are responsible for thousands of deaths in the so-called third world. Out of the 100 main factories, 78 companies are found in the US and Europe, and together they monopolise 91.7% of sales, according to a report by SIPRI (The Stockholm International Institute for Peace Studies). The United States has 45 businesses in the first 100, which control 61.5% of total sales, whilst out of 33 European arms-producing businesses, 75% come from France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

It isn’t the common “thug” from a barrio in Caracas, or from the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, nor the “drug pushers” who import and traffic arms; it is the bourgeoisie that lobbies for arms traders in every country. The structures of organised crime, the functioning of a corrupt state apparatus, police, state functionaries motivated by the desire to accumulate individual capital so they can climb the food chain of the capitalist system. Judges, attorneys, lawyers and the whole bureaucratic hierarchy in the administration of justice are the first people responsible for the problem of insecurity. Each one of these elements forms part of an integral whole.

The banks play a key role in all of this. The global bourgeoisie isn’t running through airport gates across the globe with their suitcases packed full of dollars. All the enormous amounts of capital generated by the drugs industry and the arms industry is transferred though banks, it is through banks that operations such as money laundering are carried out. The solution isn’t then to capture the “crook” standing on the corner, but rather for the state to nationalise the bank and its monopoly on foreign trade.

Another issue to take into account is that of hired assassins. This was also not a reality created by the “thugs” in the barrios but rather by the bourgeoisie, who, in order to resolve their labour conflicts, assassinated and terrorised trade union leaders, which is what happened on 21 June with Abraham Rivas from the Union Federation for POLAR Food and Drinks Businesses, which is also used as an instrument for narco-trafficking. Furthermore the same thing happened with the kidnappings taking place in the border regions where the landowners are importing paramilitaries to assassinate peasant rural workers, until the paramilitaries realised that it made more business sense to kidnap landowners and to have them pay a ransom than to kill peasant rural workers.

The common criminals of the barrio, the “killers” and the “thugs” are nothing more than the final link in a large chain of national and international interests in the death and insecurity business taking place in the poorly named “third world”. In Latin America, this business works by encouraging cultural violence, and in other latitudes, by causing religious conflict. This all forms part of the same interests, to create a market where the “good families” from the developed countries can live off the riches from the deaths of thousands of people across the world.

The cultural element

One of Marxism’s scientific affirmations is that “social reality determines consciousness” and this is true. There are those who believe that changing the consciousness of man can change society, whereas, in reality, only through changing social conditions will we be able to bring about a change in men and women. Only through the planning of the economy and by reducing time spent at work, ensuring that every member of society has equal access to food, healthcare, housing, education and everything necessary to develop the individual talent, cultural potential and collective intellectualism of humanity, and in that way, be able to forget once and for all of all the barbarity of capitalism.

It’s not necessary for someone to say “we need to make a transition,” which is true, but in order to make this transition we don’t need more police, jails, judges and attorneys, but rather more peoples’ militias united with the communal councils and the workers, which defend the revolution from the internal and external enemy and ensure that there is wellbeing amongst communities.

Insecurity and violence cannot be resolved from inside the limitations of the bourgeois state, private property, the means of production and the market economy. Only socialism can resolve them.

*CAP-riles refers to opposition candidate, Capriles Radonski, and is a play on words, referring to former rightwing president Carlos Andres Perez, who implemented a series of neo-liberal structural re-adjustment policies at the end of the 1980s and was often referred to as CAP.

Translation by Rachael Boothroyd for Venezuelanalysis.com