Venezuela Becomes Stable and Governable Thanks to a Solid Social Base

Venezuela activist Aram Aharonian argues that there are many signs that the government of Nicolas Maduro is stabilising and consolidating itself, despite what the corporate press are printing. However, he also points out some serious warning signs.


Why, if the supposed crisis was the productive Venezuelan model, did the crisis break out in Brazil? Something that has been shown is that the Bolivarian model adopted over the last decade has gone beyond the economic and political realms, achieving a solid social base, popular organisation – beyond electoral results. Maybe because of that it has managed to successfully get out of, for now, the difficult situation.

Beyond the real serious problems, the induced crisis, publicised on a large scale by the Venezuelan private media, and above all, by the foreign media, there are currently various signs that indicate that the government of Nicolas Maduro is leaning towards stabilising and consolidating itself. This, after an initial moment of turbulence that has lead to many, and not just members of the opposition, to proposing old and many times failed neoliberal formulas and also to demanding that it’s time to administrate and correct, forgetting altogether the socialist path.

However, Bolivarian economists insist that this first Chavista government, presided over by Maduro, must have a political economy that radically differentiates itself from the monetarist, neoliberal, pro-capitalist focus- practices which point to “recovering the equilibrium, good practices, and competition” at the cost of reducing spending on wages, reductions in productive activities, loss of economic sovereignty, unemployment, and deterioration of social indicators.

Some people (the most dogmatic ones?) talk about “rightwing-isation” and the presence in Caracas of some “advisers” linked to European social democracy is missed. Those advisors who don’t recognise [Venezuelan] idiosyncrasies and vernacular culture, are determined to promote models that have already been frustratingly tried and to stop a “radicalisation” of the model.

No one doubts that there are multiple and diverse points of tension here in Venezuela, and that they range from wage demands (above all from the middle class sectors) and social demands, to geopolitical disagreements with Colombia and the United States. Obviously, the conflicts won’t disappear with the Maduro government, and even less so with a rightwing administration which throws away all the advances achieved in the last decade.

The economist Simon Zuniga indicates that the difficult economic situation and the vacillation within the highest (and new) government have prevented a series of gradual but urgent measures from coming into effect until now, in order to confront the principle short term economic and financial problems, among them the inflationary rise and the alarming deceleration of the GDP.

Add to this the fact that both negative symptoms have something in common; the exchange rate attack. Real economic sectors, national and international, have had successes in the implementing of an agenda that aims to broaden the gap between the official exchange rate (6.3 Bolivars to the dollar) and the parallel rate (over 30), applying media based pressure in order to oblige the government to devaluate, as it effectively did in February. “It’s essential to immediately disarm this destabilisation strategy which threatens to consolidate a picture of stagflation (blockage by inflation)”, he indicates.

The concerning thing is that important sectors of the opposition don’t seem to be willing to accept a calmness for very long, which they consider exasperating. These factors in struggle for the reconquering of power, continue, unfortunately, to seek support for a coup. And in the meantime, they continue to play at destabilisation. Further, there are paramilitary groups beyond the border areas (there were arrests in Portuguesa state and their presence was even denounced in the areas around Caracas).

“The Venezuelan opposition is complex and it’s not just made up of this or that party, but rather there are important radicalised factors with a lot of influence and decision making power as well. Everything indicates that these groups have taken our neighbour, Colombia, as a logistical platform for acting on Venezuela, given the belligerence of ex-President Alvaro Uribe and the geopolitical differences between the two countries, which would facilitate such actions,” said the opposition political scientist Leopoldo Puchi.

There were various meetings held to plan the Venezuelan destabilisation, between Uribe and the opposition, headed by Henrique Capriles Radonski, who continues to accumulate famous sayings, such as this one: “To have a homeland is to have money to go to the supermarket”.

What’s more, a conversation (made public by the government) between the ultra-rightwing legislator Maria Corina Machado and the representative of the 2D movement, German Carrera Damas, made it clear that the rightwing is seeking help from the US government and its agencies in order to carry out a coup d’état. According to the conversation, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, spokesperson of the opposition United Democratic Table (MUD), asked officials of the State Department to speed up, via all possible means, including the Putsch option [translator: a reference to a manoeuvre by the Nazis in Munich in 1923] the fall of the Bolivarian Revolution and to end with the Chavismo control.

Maduro and governability

Maduro has managed to negotiate through a series of difficulties, which means an important increase in the levels of governability. The president, who has tried to lead a campaign against insecurity [crime] and corruption, has managed to respond to the charging opposition. He has tried to respond to the pressures from social and union sectors, and he has prevented, above all, the street from overheating. He is constantly present all over the country, with his “street government”, and he has also managed to dialogue with opposition sectors (the business ones among them).

However, from the Chavista ranks, there are accusations of the rejection of the criticisms coming from leftwing sectors and, above all, the absence of discussion around the last instructions given by President Hugo Chavez at the last ministers’ meeting on 20 October 2012 (“Golpe de Timon”) and the drawing attention to the inefficiency, ineffectiveness, the absence of following through on measures taken, and corruption.

Additionally, the lack of investigation into white collar corruption ($20 billion at large, $15 billion more through Sitme for example), the way the re-establishment of relations with the US is negotiated, the getting close to European governments (obviously rightwing), the “excessive” praise of the pope, are criticised.

In December Venezuela will live through another electoral process. This time mayors and councillors will be chosen and the concern of the bases is the lack of popular participation in the selection of candidates for the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), and also the route that will be followed to continue consolidating the communal state.

Translation by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com