Dear Venezuela Analysis,

Congrats on some great pre and post election coverage of the recent regional elections on your web site. The questions is: what does it all mean.

If we take a step back to 10 years ago many of us can remember what a different place Latin America was. Much has changed, most especially in Venezuela.

But much has remained the same as well. This is both a blessing and a curse. Fast paced, dramatic social, political and economic change might have produced a more “socialist” Venezuela but more likely than not it would have produced piles of dead bodies, anarchy (in the negative sense of the term) and successful US-backed counter revolution.

The Bolivarian Revolution has been a “beautiful” one in the true sense of the word. Slow, peaceful and democratic. This a rare and wonderful thing in the annals of political history. And more importantly it has led to progressive social change through-out Latin America and the Caribbean.

Probably more than 50% of those who voted for the opposition in Venezuela this past weekend voted not for dog-eat-dog capitalism but for politicians who – working in the context of the new social and political framework – would tackle some of the serious problems facing daily life in Venezuela.

This should been seen for what it is – an amazing achievement for both Chavez and the Revolution. The opposition have long sine given up proposing an end to the Revolutionary project itself – most of them only want to change certain aspects of it. The Revolution has been institutionalized in deep and important ways.

Those on the radical left within the Revolution – including Chavez himself – have been served with an excellent wake-up call. If they want to further the process of revolutionary change toward socialism – they must further help to empower and organize ordinary people to help themselves. If, on the other hand, they content themselves with wearing red shirts singing songs, saluting “heroes of the revolution” and shouting slogans at mass rallies, the right will eventually re-gain lost ground and convince people that some form of capitalism is inevitable and “human nature”.

Whether or not Venezuela successfully makes the transition to a humanistic form of participatory and democratic socialism remains to be seen (I, of course, hope they do!) but the fact remains that Venezuela is a far better place than it was 10 years ago and it is unlikely to ever revert to a neo-liberal basket case again. The Bolivarian Revolution faces many challenges in the coming years but the supporters of Chavez and Chavismo – both inside and outside Venezuela – should be justly proud of how far Venezuela has come already.

We should all remind ourselves that while Che’s famous slogan “Hasta La Victoria Siempre” sounds good as an objective – in reality there is no “final victory” – nor should there be. A Revolution should be a permanent state of mind and a process – with continued re-birth and renewal. It seems to me that many people in Venezuela (both PSUV and non-PSUV) already know this and will forward to the next phase with intelligence, compassion and enthusiasm.

John Richmond
Toronto, Canada