(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 14, 2012
Victory in Venezuela
HUGO Chavez has been re-elected president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for a fourth term. In a historic election, Chavez was elected with 55.11 per cent of the vote defeating the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles with a 11 per cent lead. Over 80 per cent of the people voted, the highest so far. Chavez was first elected in 1998 and after the promulgation of the new constitution in 1999, this is the third election he has won for a term which will extend for six years up to 2019. The current election was a crucial one for the future course of Venezuela and for Latin America as a whole. Ever since President Chavez initiated the Bolivarian revolutionary process in 1999, there has been a raging struggle. The contenting forces which shaped up were the old ruling classes, the capitalist oligarchic elite on the one side and the popular movement led by Chavez and Left-socialist forces on the other.
Venezuela is an oil-rich country which has the largest oil reserves in the world, Saudi Arabia being the second. Chavez has established national control over the oil reserves, sought to bring about a redistribution of wealth. He has used the oil revenue to finance the social missions for literacy, education, health and housing. This has brought about a significant reduction in poverty levels.
In 2006, Chavez declared socialism as the goal of the Bolivarian revolution. Venezuela has an entrenched capitalist system. Under Chavez, the government has nationalised significant chunks of industry and telecommunications. Large landed estates held by foreign companies have been expropriated; land reform measures have been undertaken. Democratic political participation of the citizens has been instituted through self-governing local bodies called the “communal councils”. Venezuela has been in the lead in fostering and creating institutions of regional cooperation like ALBA. Venezuela has been the pivot in the Left advance in Latin America with Bolivia and Ecuador providing support and solidarity. The close fraternal ties and cooperation between Cuba and Venezuela have been the mainstay for these progressive changes.
All this has attracted the wrath and hostility of the United States of America and the domestic elites. Various attempts were made to destabilise the government headed by Chavez. But the outstanding feature of the Venezuelan revolutionary process is that it has deepened democracy. It is the reactionary pro-imperialist circles which sought to undermine the democratic will of the people as seen in the 2002 abortive military coup.
The October 2012 election assumed great significance and vital stakes were involved. The rightwing opposition, the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) brought together all shades of opposition together to put up a united candidate, Capriles. Coming from rightwing conservative stock, Capriles sought to project a moderate centrist face. But it was clear, an opposition victory would mean rolling back all the gains of the Bolivarian revolutionary process. The oil wealth of Venezuela would be utilised, once again, in the service of multinational oil companies and the interests of the Western powers. The United States poured in funds to finance the opposition. The opposition began a campaign that it would not accept doctored results. The rightwing media was used to the hilt to conduct a disinformation campaign about Chavez and his prospects. Chavez had to battle with cancer in the past year and become fit to continue his work.
Ultimately Chavez and the Left triumphed. The mandate of the Venezuelan people is to continue with the Bolivarian revolutionary process. All the false campaign about the elections being distorted by State power wielded by Chavez has been exposed. In fact, the electoral system has come in for widespread praise. The chief of the electoral mission of the UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) which observed the elections has stated: “Venezuela has given an exemplary demonstration of what the functioning of democracy is and has taught a lesson to the world, and this is important.”
President Chavez can now go forward with the enormous task of transforming Venezuela into a socially just and progressive society. There are serious problems like rampant crime, inflation and drug trafficking to be tackled. His victory has ensured that the regional cooperation among the South American countries can proceed in their quest for a path free of neo-liberalism and imperialist domination. ALBA, Mercosur and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States can grow and consolidate. The victory in Venezuela will also help in the struggle against the global oil politics of the imperialist nations.
Let us salute the people of Venezuela for this brilliant victory.
(October 10, 2012)