By Mike Browne, president, VENVIFA
The July 30 vote for Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly was a major victory for its progressive revolutionary forces, and a stunning defeat for the pro-exploitation sector. When 8.1 million Venezuelans of all socio-economic strata — but especially from the working class, the main beneficiary of the post-1999 revolution, led initially by Hugo Chavez and now continuing with Nicholas Maduro via the United Socialist Party — turned out to vote, they dealt a severe political blow to that backward reactionary wing of Venezuelan society. Small wonder that, since July 30, there has been a near disappearance of the street violence of the opposition so well publicised by the world’s capitalist media.
In his May 12 address at a solidarity meeting in Caracas, President Maduro was in pains to outline to us his numerous futile attempts at dialogue (a cardinal tenet of his) with the opposition, notwithstanding that he is the duly elected president, a fact that the opposition studiously ignores. He noted that, given such recalcitrance, it was necessary to mobilise the Venezuelan people by way of the National Constituent Assembly, an element of the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Chapter 3 of that constitution, entitled “National Constituent Assembly” reads as follows, “Article 347: The original constituent power rests with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of transforming the State, creating a new juridical order and drawing up a new Constitution. Article 348: The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers; from the National Assembly, by a two-thirds vote of its members; from the Municipal Councils in open session, by a two-thirds vote of their members; and from 15 per cent of the voters, registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry. Article 349: The President of the Republic shall not have the power to object to the new Constitution. The existing constituted authorities shall not be permitted to obstruct the Constituent Assembly in any way. For purposes of the promulgation of the new Constitution, the same shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Venezuela, or in the Gazette of the Constituent Assembly. Article 350: The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle for independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles, and guarantees, or encroaches upon human rights.”
Impressive as the voter turnout was (43 per cent compared with 37 per cent when Maduro was elected in 2013), more instructive was its qualitative dimension. Dramatic images, captured in video-footage, show Venezuelans running from armed opposition terrorists, crossing rivers by foot, standing in long lines (up to 5 hours, in some cases) in order to vote “for Chavez”, “for Maduro”, “for the Revolution”, “for me and my family”, “for the future”. It is an ironclad gritty determination that Donald Trump and his hawks with their arrogant threats of military action against Venezuela, should be mindful of.
And, why did the people respond so massively? Clearly, they understood from the post-1999 experience that their interests and welfare are the raison d’etre of the socialist administration. In her 2005 “must read”, “ The Chavez Code-Cracking U.S intervention in Venezuela”, Eva Golinger (her current vacillations notwithstanding) noted: “… as a result of the neo-liberal free-market reforms instituted by Carlos Andres Perez and based on International Monetary Fund and World Bank doctrines, during 1990 to 1992, Venezuela had the highest rate of economic growth in the Americas, as well as its sharpest increase in economic inequality ever and record levels of poverty and malnutrition”. Some estimates put poverty then as high as two-thirds of the population.
Venezuela’s socialist programme (via the Chavez/Maduro-led government) provided some two million homes/apartments with another one million by 2019, free medical care especially in the barrios (poor communities), free education for all at all levels (hitherto mainly the advantaged enjoyed the advantage of tertiary/university education), free and subsidized transportation, extensive food-programmes, among other benefits. The Venezuelan masses thus saw their well-being deeply embedded in the National Constituent Assembly.
The July 30 outpourings of support clearly confirmed the balance of forces in favour of the progressives and put the opposition in a defensive posture, stemming, to a large degree, its terrorist activities on the streets and elsewhere. In an attempt to recalibrate the balance in the interest of the violent opposition, US President Trump (who only recently won a presidential election) issued threats against the Venezuelan government of Nicholas Maduro (who, in 2013, also won a presidential election). Such is his jaundiced view of “democracy”! Said Trump (who owns property here) “We have many options for Venezuela and, by the way, I am not going to rule out military options… We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary…. A military operation, a military option is certainly something we could pursue”. Trump, the bully, appears to have forgotten that his wife has chosen anti-bullying as her “cause célèbre”. What he definitely has not forgotten is that that section of his capitalist class in the notorious US military-industrial complex is chomping at the bit for war, following the relatively ”lean” period of the Barack Obama years. Note that, during those “lean” years, the complex received, in 2015, 2408 contacts totalling US $231,183,697,670, and that, in 2016, US military spending was three times that of China and almost ten times that of Russia. War will give Trump’s class astronomical profits. Capitalism and militarism are inseparable.
Trump was brazen enough to state that Venezuelans are suffering. What of the sufferings of the people of the USA, the world’s richest country? 46.2 million (1 in 6 Americans) live in poverty. One in seven households suffers from food insecurity, 1.6 million children stayed in a shelter or emergency housing last year. Around the world, Trump’s military is inflicting death and suffering. The truth be told—Trump’s capitalist class is REALLY interested in Venezuela’s enormous oil reserves!
Let there be no doubt that the Venezuelan people will, to the death, defend their beloved homeland! They, however, need the support of the freedom-loving people of the world. We, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, given our historical blood ties to the people of Venezuela (home of the Siboney, Taino and Callina) must show an unflinching solidarity.
The Venezuelan-Vincentian Friendship Association (VENVIFA) categorically condemns the Trump threat against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and defends the right of its people to choose their path of development. We call for a broad-based organization committed to the co-ordination of solidarity activities for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. ¡VIVA LA REVOLUCION!
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