Venezuela: US-backed Right Wing Attacks Revolution

Dear Friends,

Following the municipal elections, grassroots activists in Caracas, Miranda and Tachira report that the public community health clinics (part of Barrio Adentro, the free universal healthcare program), communal councils and other centres where social programs operate, are being shut down or attacked by opposition party despite the public assurances of at least one right-wing govenor-elect that the legal frameworks would be respected. The statement below is from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. (

November 28, 2008 -- In the aftermath of the November 23 regional elections, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition has launched, in the states it won, an all-out assault on grassroots community organisations.

President Hugo Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won a clear mandate in the elections for the project to build socialism of the 21st century: the PSUV won 17 states with 5,730,774 votes nationwide, compared to the opposition’s 3,948,912 votes. The opposition’s vote was concentrated in key strategic areas, giving them the governorships of five states and the mayor of Greater Caracas.
In the days following the elections, grassroots activists in Caracas, Miranda and Tachira have reported that the public community health clinics (part of Barrio Adentro, the free universal healthcare program), communal councils and other centres where social programs operate are being shut down or attacked by opposition party, despite the public assurances of at least one right-wing govenor-elect that the legal frameworks would be respected.

Venezuelan radio station YKVE Mundial reported on November 25 that “people sent by the new authorities of the governorship of Miranda arrived in the early hours of the morning in Baruta, to an Integral Diagnostic Centre [public health clinics], where they shut down a House of Popular Power” where the local grassroots communal councils operate. Cleira Ruiz, local coordinator of Mission Ribas in Mariche, reported that people from the far-right Justice First party harassed the centre, and tried to remove the people inside and take the keys. Gerson Rivas, a representative of Fundacommunal (communal bank) in the municipality of Guaicaipuro in the state of Miranda, reported that Cuban doctors were being intimidated by Justice First supporters, who were threatening to kick them out of the Barrio Adentro modules.
William Castillo, vice-president of Venezolana de Televisión, reported that groups have also tried to attack the Caracas office of alternative television channel Avila TV.

More disturbingly, three election candidates, all activists in Venezuela's national trade union peak body, the UNT, were brutally murdered two days after the elections.
From the state of Tachira, won by the right wing, Ana Rivero reported to YVKE Mundial that, although the new governor, Cesar Perez, had not yet assumed his position, “functionaries” had ordered coordinators of the missions to leave the state schools where the missions operate, and that this order is being applied across the whole state. She said that classes in Mission Ribas in the school Timoteo Chacón de Santa Ana, in the municipality of Cordoba, where she studies, have been suspended until they can find another location.

María Malpica, the PSUV mayor-elect in Colon municipality in Zulia, reported that riots were being promoted by the opposition with the aim of preventing her from taking office, and that eight people were injured in the clashes.

YKVE Mundial reported that street battles broke out in Los Teques, the capital of Miranda, on November 26. Carmen Bermúdez, who witnessed the incident, told YKVE Mundial that the violence erupted when right-wing governor-elect Capriles Radonski arrived in Plaza Bolivar in Los Teques accompanied by men on motorbikes and police from the municipalities of Rosales and Carrizal. The police and Capriles’ private thugs violently attacked people congregated in the plaza for the inauguration of the new PSUV mayor of Los Teques, Alirio Mendoza.

As well, workers in the Integral Diagnostic Centre in Los Dos Caminos in Sucre municipality reported on November 27 that members of Justice First have threatened to burn down the building and are circulating a petition to remove the Cuban doctors. Similar incidents have been reported in Carabobo. In the state of Barinas, which was won by the PSUV, opposition groups have launched violent attacks, refusing to accept the outcome of the vote.

In 2002 the Venezuelan opposition, backed by the United States, launched a military coup against the democratically elected Chavez government. However, the coup was defeated within 48 hours by a mass uprising of workers and the poor, together with rank-and-file soldiers.

In Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, major social gains for the poor and working people have been won by the grassroots movements together with the pro-people polices promoted by Chavez. Extensive education programs have eradicated illiteracy and the introduction of universal healthcare has meant that many poor Venezuelans have been able to visit a doctor for the first time. Under wealth redistribution policies factories have been nationalised and put under workers’ control, and unused land has been distributed to peasants.

The US government has given millions of dollars to Venezuela’s opposition groups in an effort to roll back the democratic revolution in Venezuela. These latest attacks are part of a broader strategy to get rid of Chavez and reassert imperialist control of the nation.

Responding to the opposition attacks, Jesse Chacon, the PSUV candidate for Sucre, told VTV on November 25 that, “Any attempt to roll back what the people have conquered is going to generate conflict, because the people are organised … The people will not allow it!" In a televised speech on November 27, Chavez also responded, stating that the national government and the armed forces, together with the people, would act to defend the missions and social services. The minister for justice has also made public statements to clarify the obligations and role within the state of the governors-elect, including that they must not abuse the power invested in them. El Aissami specifically reminded the newest governors-elect of the importance of not abusing police powers.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network stands in solidarity with President Chavez and the grassroots Bolivarian movement against the right wing’s latest attacks. We call for the democratic process in Venezuela to be respected by the new oppostion governors, and for an end to all United States interference in Venezuela’s sovereign affairs.

Stop the opposition attacks in Venezuela!
Stop US intervention in Venezuela!

Analysis of Venezuela Election Results

Dear Friends,

The results of the November 23 local and state elections in Venezuela has inspired differing analysis (see The following is a significant contribution to this discussion by a solidarity organization in Australia.

Venezuela’s regional elections: Another vote for the revolution and Chavez
A statement from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, November 25, 2008

The results of the elections for local mayors and state governors held in Venezuela on November 23 underlined the continuing mass support for the Bolivarian revolution led by President Hugo Chavez.

In a clear vote of confidence in the project to build socialism of the 21st century in Venezuela, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) - formed just six months ago with Chavez as its president - won 17 of the 22 states in which governors were elected. The United States-backed right-wing opposition won five states with a total of about 4 million votes, compared to the 5.5 million votes for the PSUV candidates.

The elections were also a victory for democracy in Venezuela. The voter turn-out was the highest ever in regional elections, with 65.45% of those eligible casting their vote (compared to 45% in the last regional elections in 2004). Despite some opposition leaders threatening not to recognize the results if voting hours were extended, polling centres were kept open until 10.30pm in some places to ensure that everyone waiting in the long queues was able to vote, and international observers report that it was a completely free and fair ballot.

Jim McIlroy, a participant in the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network brigade currently in Venezuela who observed the voting at polling booths in Caracas, said: “There was a festive atmosphere at the booths, but it was also highly politicised: the people were taking their democratic right to vote very seriously.

“The computerised voting sytem is far more advanced than that used in Australia, and its ability to guarantee the accuracy of the whole process clearly has the confidence of the people.”

After the close of polls, Chavez congratulated the Venezuelan people for participating in the elections in a “civic and joyful” manner, saying that the process ratified Venezuelan democracy, but not the “democracy of before”, which “belonged to the elites”.Overall, the November 23 vote for the PSUV – for the revolution and socialism - increased by about 1.3 million on the pro-revolution vote in the Constitutional reforms referendum last December. In contrast, the anti-revolution opposition’s comparative vote declined by about 300,000. As well, the Chavez suporters won back three states (Aragua, Guarico and Sucre) in which the incumbent governors had, over the last 18 months, defected to the opposition.

However, the sharp polarisation of Venezuelan society and the hard struggle still facing the poor majority to defend the gains of the revolution and realise their dream of a new socialist Venezuela is evident in the fact that the opposition, which won only two states in 2004 (oil-rich Zulia, and Nueva Esparta), this time won three more from Chavez supporters (Miranda, Tachira, Carabobo). The opposition also won the position of mayor of Greater Caracas and now controls four of Caracas’s five municipalities, although the largest and poorest municipality, Libertador, was re-won by the pro-revolution candidate.

Already in control of 95% of the media in Venezuela, the right wing will without a doubt use these victories to escalate their ongoing campaign to overthrow Chavez, and undermine the Bolivarian revolution. As was exposed just a month before the regional elections, they will stop at nothing to halt the revolutionary process, including another military coup and the assassination of Chavez.

Capitalist media around the world, including in Australia, are supporting their campaign to discredit and destabilise Venezuela’s revolutionary government. An AFP report by Sophie Nicholson, for example, which was uncritically regurgitated in the Melbourne Age newspaper on November 24, pedalled blatant lies about the regional elections.

“Mr Chavez”, it stated, “has threatened to imprison opponents, or even send tanks onto the streets, if his party loses in the populous northwestern state of Carabobo”. In fact, Chavez said that the government would mobilise the military if there were destablisation attempts around the elections: a scenario that was not out of the question given the opposition’s constant public calls in national media for the violent overthrow of Chavez and his government.

The Age article also claimed that “about 300 candidates, mainly from the opposition, have been prevented from running in the elections”. In fact, those barred from contesting were not mostly opposition candidates, and all were disqualified after investigations found them guilty of corruption.

Demolishing these and the numerous other efforts to paint him as some sort of “dictator”, Chavez immediately acknowledged the opposition’s victory in Carabobo, and the other four states. In doing so, however, he urged the opposition to behave democratically: “I hope you devote yourself to understand the people, govern with transparency, honesty and respect for the national government and the institutions of those states and municipalities. If you do so, you will deserve our acknowledgement; if you do not, the Constitution of the Republic will be imposed on you.”Of the 17 governorships won by the PSUV, eight were won with at least 60% of the vote and most of the others were won with a more than 10% margin on the closest rival. In the local municipalty elections, which were held at the same time, the average vote for Chavista candidates was even stronger.

Despite the many difficulties and contradictions confronting the revolution, it is clear that the great majority of Venezuelans want the process of transferring resources and power to the poor majority to continue.

Chavez summed it up when he said that these election results ratify that “the path is the construction of socialism, and we have to deepen it”.

November 23 Will Decide the Destiny of the Revolutionary Process

Venezuela: 'Our votes are for Chavez and the revolution'
Federico Fuentes, Caracas 31 October 2008

On November 23, we will not just be voting for this or that governorship, we will be deciding the destiny of this revolutionary process", Stalin Perez Borges, a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT) and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) militant, told Green Left Weekly.On that day, regional elections for 23 governorships, more than 300 mayors and hundreds of state legislative assembly members will occur — a crucial contest between the revolutionary forces lead by President Hugo Chavez (mainly grouped in the PSUV) and the US-backed right-wing opposition.

Perez Borges and militants from the different union currents that are also in the PSUV have been organising in their unions and workplaces to ensure a strong victory in these elections.

"Our position is that, despite some of the problems that exist, we as revolutionaries will be participating not just on voting day, but in the campaign. This is the best way to strengthen and deepen the process."

Asked about the possible outcome, Perez Borges stated that the situation today is "contradictory". These elections provide "an enormous opportunity to deal a big blow to the right and imperialism", particularly given that the opposition candidates look bad.

"Yet, despite the high approval rating for Chavez, in the factories and in some neighbourhoods there is a strong sense of malaise, discontent against the government and apathy towards participating in the elections."

The reason, according to Perez Borges, is that "among some of those in the PSUV and functionaries in the government, important errors are being committed".Perez Borges said that while one of the problems is that the some of the candidates do not want to work with all the different forces within the mass-based PSUV, provoking discontent in the ranks, "what is most grave is that there are problems that are not being resolved when they could be, creating conflict".

"Take the example of the contract workers in Sidor [steel factory, nationalised by Chavez in April]: for three months, the government, [basic industry minister] Rodolfo Sanz, the governor and the company president have been breaking promises in regards to resolving the problems of the 8000 contract workers."

Angered by the lack of government response, the contract workers — whose conditions are far worse than the smaller number of permanent workers — went on strike for 90 hours on October 17, as tensions rose to the point of exploding.

The situation further escalated after Sanz called two meetings for October 29 and 30 with the contract workers — and then failed to show. Fed up with the lack of government response, the workers set up roadblocks and began burning tyres.

"This is just one of many examples. There are similar situations in [aluminium plant] ALCASA, in the electrical sector, the car industry, and that is without talking about the problems of the local communities.

"All this is a problem not just from an electoral point of view, but is a political problem because it weakens the worker and popular base of the revolution, which is what sustains Chavez", Perez Borges commented.

"The people are not going to go against this process, and if Chavez was the candidate, everyone would turn out to vote, but many of the candidates are doing little to raise enthusiasm.

"Instead, Chavez — together with some good candidates and the revolutionary bases — has once again had to mount the campaign on his shoulders.

"There is no excuse for not winning. The crisis that capitalism is facing today demonstrates that it is no alternative. We have time to win everything, so that not a single governorship falls into the hands of the enemy.

"But these candidates should also be clear: our votes are for Chavez and the deepening of the revolutionary process", insisted Perez Borges.

"And if because of their actions and state functionaries who don't listen to the people, the result are not as favourable as they should be, they have no excuse for turning around and saying that the people are not prepared to push forward.

"Everyone will have to assume their share of the responsibility for the result."
[Federico Fuentes is part of the* Green Left Weekly* Caracas bureau. *GLW *is the only Australian media outlet with a journalist based in Latin America. To keep up to date with the ongoing coverage of the Latin American revolutions, subscribe at subscribe now.]