After spending one week in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as a participant in a conference of the International Network In Defence of Humanity, I have returned to Barbados more determined than ever to offer support to the government and people of Venezuela, and to help foster people-to-people linkages between Barbados and Venezuela.
During my week in Venezuela, my colleague Dr Tennyson Joseph and I were eyewitnesses to the battle being waged against the nation of Venezuela by the United States-centred international oligarchy, and to the valiant counter-attack which has been launched by the Socialist government of President Nicolas Maduras.
As many Barbadians would be aware, it was Venezuela –– under the leadership of the late Hugo Chavez –– that provided the definitive resistance to the efforts of the United States establishment to maintain and intensify a system of neocolonial control (and exploitation) over the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Indeed, even before Hugo Chavez took up the mantle of leadership, it was the ordinary, working-class people of Caracas who –– in the year 1989 –– struck the first defiant blow against the system of neocolonialism with the staging of a week-long rebellion against the United States-controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its so-called “structural adjustment” policies.
In a popular rebellion which was violently suppressed by the then American-controlled president of Venezuela –– Carlos Andres Perez –– and that saw some 3,000 working-class Venezuelans losing their lives, the masses of Venezuela sent a message of rejection of the so-called neo-liberal/neocolonial principles and policies of privatization, cuts in social spending, deregulation of the economy, opening up to foreign (North American) capitalist businesses, and subordination to United States strategic interests and policies.
It was this popular message that then Major Hugo Chavez Frias took to heart and used as a catalyst for the later formulation of such anti-neo-liberal policies as the Venezuela-led campaign against the United States’ Free Trade Areas of the Americas and the substitution of a socialistic Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA) and Petro-Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement.
Chavez also repudiated the application of the neo-liberal capitalist policies within Venezuela itself, and instead –– for the first time in the history of Venezuela –– ensured that the wealth emanating from the country’s massive petroleum industry was directed towards financing social welfare benefits for the masses of Venezuelans – free education and health care, state provided housing, poverty and hunger reduction measures, and cultural and artistic development programmes.
Events subsequent to 1989 proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Venezuelan people (and Hugo Chavez) were absolutely right when they rejected neoliberal capitalism! I refer to such developments as the 2008 implosion of the parasitic capitalist financial system; the plague of warfare, barbarism and chaos that the Anglo-American capitalist establishment has unleashed against dozens of nations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa; and the nihilism and cultural depravity that have come to be associated with North American and Western European cultural imperialism.
But it doesn’t matter how self-evidently right Hugo Chavez and the masses of Venezuelan people were! As far as the international capitalist oligarchy and their agents in the Venezuelan bourgeoisie are concerned, the welfare of the people is of little or no consideration. As far as they are concerned, the masses of Venezuelans can continue to live in slum-like barrios. The only thing that matters to the oligarchy and their agents is that they must regain control of Venezuela’s precious petroleum resources.
Indeed, the United States establishment –– faced with the prospect of a further and more severe meltdown of its financial system, and requiring additional wars in far away places in order to maintain its increasingly precarious hold on the world economy –– is desperate to re-establish control over the massive petroleum resources located in an area that it contemptuously refers to as to its “backyard”.
And so, the battle for Venezuela is well and truly on!
The Anglo-American establishment and its Saudi Arabian allies have deliberately driven down international oil prices in an effort to subvert and topple the nationalist governments of Venezuela and Russia. In addition, the Barack Obama administration has ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela by issuing an executive order that has decreed Venezuela is a threat to the national security of the United States, while influential American newspapers, such as the Washington Post, are calling for a foreign invasion of Venezuela.
Meanwhile, the oligarchy’s agents within the Venezuelan business class are attempting to subvert the Maduro government by engineering shortages of basic consumer goods within the country’s shops and supermarkets.
The good news is that the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) –– the political party of President Maduro –– is fighting back strenuously!
After having lost a December, 2015 National Assembly election that was contested against the backdrop of a campaign of unrelenting foreign interference and pressure against the Maduro government, the PSUV has now come to the realization that it is in the midst of a veritable economic, political and diplomatic “war”, and that
it has to mobilize the masses of the Venezuelan people to defend their Bolivarian Revolution.
As a result, just last week Wednesday –– April 13 –– a massive people-based Congresso de la Patria (Patriotic Congress) was officially launched at the Poliedco de Caracas indoor arena, with some 30,000 people in attendance. This Congress of the People –– comprised of representatives of popular organizations and communities –– is expected to fill the vacuum created by a recalcitrant and non-functioning National Assembly, and will assist the government in devising and implementing policies to deal with the current crisis situation.
And the government –– for its part –– has devised a raft of new policies, inclusive of policies for dealing with the deficiencies in the food distribution system, and for controlling prices which are currently being manipulated by the business class through an artificially induced inflation.
Most importantly, the vice president of Venezuela –– the vastly experienced Aristobulo Isturiz –– has announced plans to bring on stream a number of new factories that will be devoted to producing quantities of 50 of the most desperately needed goods and materials.
Furthermore, the Maduro government recently engineered a “taxation revolution” which will see the wealthy bourgeoisie being required to pay more tax revenue that will be applied towards supporting minimum standards of well-being for the masses of people in this “special period” of depressed oil prices and government revenues.
So, the government and popular organizations of Venezuela are fighting a good fight. And what they need from us now is our solidarity and support.
The Maduro government has thoroughly analysed the challenges facing Venezuela and has worked out a concrete and practical strategy to overcome the crisis. But what they need, in order to be successful, is to stop the outside pressure and interference from the United States.
And this is where we come in! This is where we can play a role to help the Bolivarian Revolution! We can raise our voices, pens, computers, Facebook and Twitter accounts to send a message to the Barack Obama administration and to demand that they keep their hands off Venezuela. We can also intervene with our national governments and insist that they stand shoulder to shoulder with Venezuela.
Remember: the Bolivarian Revolution is relevant to the entire region of Latin America and the Caribbean. Let us ensure that we defend it!
(David Comissiong, attorney-at-law, is president of Clement Payne Movement.)