Patriotic Forces Pledge to
Defend the Revolutionary Gains
People in Caracas participate in street assemblies to discuss how to
defend their revolutionary gains, December 9, 2015.
Following the victory of the reactionary opposition forces in the December 6 legislative election, the patriotic forces in Venezuela are soberly taking stock of their defeat — the first since Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998 — and organizing to see that the revolutionary gains are defended against the neo-liberal forces that are backed by U.S. imperialism. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), that joins the main right-wing parties in Venezuela, won the majority of seats in the National Assembly (109), against the 55 of the Great Patriotic Pole and the three Indigenous representatives.
President Maduro Calls for Debate and Action
Following the election, the Venezuelan president and chief representative of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Nicolás Maduro, called for debate and to rebuild the revolution’s strength because “the Venezuelan right wing has just one program: to destroy the Bolivarian revolution.” Maduro announced a week of discussion in order to come up with a united strategy for the revolution. “Unity should be the main aim,” he said, adding, “Nobody should be confused by an adverse situation.”
On December 7, President Maduro met with Bolivarian governors and ministers. In the evening, he spoke to the Venezuelan people via a televised address and called for a range of consultation methods to “strengthen” the Bolivarian movement. He said that discussion and reflection were necessary to come up with a plan of action among the social movements, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and other parties and organizations that back the Bolivarian revolution. “This oligarchy will never represent you,” he told the people.
Thousands gather outside Miraflores Presidential Palace to listen to President Maduro
as part of a people’s street parliament, December 9, 2015.
The President said that after an all-day meeting, reflecting on the results that saw the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition gain a significant majority in parliament, his cabinet had made a number of decisions and come up with a timeline of action.
“We won 43 per cent of the votes and the counterrevolution triumphed yesterday, for now,” he said, using former President Hugo Chávez’s famous phrase to qualify that the loss is only short-term.
“They have come for the neo-liberal restoration of the far right,” he said, arguing that a defence of the revolution’s gains was necessary.
Maduro said it is important to come up with a “central document for the Bolivarian revolution” and to create a separate commission for the National Assembly, which will work to defend the workers’ rights law (the Organic Labour Law), the social movements and other legislative gains.
On December 8, the President held a special meeting of all the organizations and parties that make up the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), the umbrella group of all those who support the revolution. The special meeting was part of a series convened by President Maduro to strengthen the unity of the movement and develop strategies to invigorate the Bolivarian Revolution after the parliamentary elections. The plenary gathered 842 PSUV delegates representing all territorial regions of the party, the national leadership, 43 militants from the Francisco de Miranda Front and socialist deputies from the current National Assembly.
The meeting looked at the report of the 2015 parliamentary elections, which set up 11 working groups “to discuss and analyze the political situation, the views and actions of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela facing the new horizon of the Bolivarian Revolution.”
Maduro Announces Proposals to Renew the Revolution
Venezuelan President and chief representative of the PSUV Maduro, announced on December 10 the findings of his party’s third Socialist Congress held on December 8 to protect the Bolivarian ideas and national sovereignty.
Among other things, the December 8 meeting resolved to do the following:
1. Hold a meeting with the Presidential Councils of Popular Power
Maduro announced a December 12 meeting to develop a methodological and strategic framework and map out strengths and weaknesses.
The presidential councils were created for the people to articulate public policies and projects, with the support of the national executive, and boost the transformation and defence of the country. Those councils were elected by the bases to represent Indigenous people, workers, youth, women, and other social sectors.
2. Set up the Economic Congress of Socialist Thought
“Economics is not a speech,” said Maduro, “I felt alone in this battle against imperialism, in this economic war.” He proposed to convene a triumvirate meeting on December 16 and establish the Economic Congress of Socialist Thought. The project will aim to address the crisis provoked by the economic war. Nine hundred delegates of the PSUV will evaluate the situation, make plans and create proposals, he said.
The Venezuelan president noted that in 2015, Venezuela suffered a 68 percent drop in oil revenues, despite no cuts in social investment. He added that the financial blockade, part of the economic war, made debt refinance especially difficult.
3. Invoke a Permanent Working Session for the Revolutionary Counteroffensive
The counteroffensive must go beyond politics and transcend the human, “popular, spiritual, territorial, economic, military,” said Maduro. “A national revolutionary counteroffensive (must be) comprehensive because we are facing a counter-revolutionary crisis.”
He commended the efforts of the PSUV in the legislative elections: “They battled like soldiers of Bolivar, you are heroes of the people,” he said, emphasizing that, “the people are not demoralized or beaten.”
4. Update the Government Efficiency in the Streets Program
Maduro said he requested support to begin a new model in January of government efficiency in the streets, to be deployed in the next four years. The program was launched to work on security and peace, revolutionary economics, social work, people’s power, electricity access and efficiency in government institutions.
He suggested that each state’s proposal must be concrete and establish new methodologies to boost economic and social sectors.
5. Renew Revolutionary Communication
“We have to renew our discourse, form, content and media,” the president proposed. He urged members of the PSUV’s Commission of Propaganda, Agitation and Communication to review the discursive strategies and practices currently implemented. He further proposed establishing communication channels in favor of the Bolivarian Revolution.
6. Reinvigorate Reform at All Levels
Maduro called to propel reconstruction of the majority through repolarization, repoliticization and reunification.
He also denounced the media onslaught launched by the national and international extreme right that has sought to undermine the revolutionary morale of the people. Their media, he said, works in the service of the imperialist and oligarchical elite.
Renewal of the PSUV
The leader called for an immediate renewal and strengthening of all national, regional and municipal management of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. In light of the declared restructuring, he called on the Great Patriotic Pole to help propose names for the renewal process of the Bolivarian Government.
Economic Coup Continues
The Venezuelan leader repeated that Venezuela is suffering from an international financial blockade that impedes both the progress of the country’s economic system and the fight against the economic war waged by the Venezuelan right, backed by foreign powers.
“It’s indirect blockade, an internal boycott of distribution, commercialization and pricing,” he said.
He added that imperial powers “have decided to destroy the inclusive and egalitarian model of the Revolution. It’s a class struggle between the parasitic bourgeois elite and the people.”
Following the meeting with the organizations of the GPP on December 8, in his regular weekly address, Maduro announced an upcoming cabinet shuffle, indicating he had asked ministers to submit their resignations. He thanked the ministers for their contributions and pledged that the socialist movement will “continue in the battle with humility” with a focus on the people.
Revolutionary Optimism Prevails
Despite the blow of defeat, all those who have given their blood, sweat and tears to build the Bolivarian revolution refuse to indulge in feelings of self-pity, news agencies report. Instead, they humbly view the outcome of the election as an opportunity from which a lesson can be learned, the revolutionary movement reinvigorated and the necessity of the revolution reaffirmed through renewed mass work amongst the Venezuelan people, TeleSUR wrote.
Several such people spoke to TeleSUR after the election:
“Luciana Vazquez is the coordinator of the Barrio Tricolor mission in the Caracas district of Mamera. The program, first created by Hugo Chávez and relaunched under President Nicolás Maduro, aims to transform communities and use planning and infrastructure to bring dignity to neighbourhoods. The emphasis is on the community, and on power and decisions from the bottom up. Luciana told TeleSUR English that the loss of the National Assembly was an opportunity to deepen the revolutionary process in Venezuela.
“‘The time has come to radicalize the revolution, to work to guarantee a new victory, in the legacy left by (former president) Hugo Chávez,’ she said. ‘No one said that the path of constructing, edifying and consolidating the revolution was easy, and less so if this happens … under a bourgeois and capitalist system. We continue together with the dream of constructing a better socialist Venezuela. The new revolutionary offensive has begun.’
“She admitted the current situation was difficult. Although the opposition has at times claimed it wouldn’t dismantle the social missions, she feels some of her resources could be in danger. But she said that the results showed that the social movements have a lot of room for improvement.
“‘We would improve, looking at the weakness we had, to strengthen ourselves and continue organizing, training ourselves, participating. And of course planning to improve even more and to continue working on the complete transformation of the barrios,’ she said, before quoting Chávez: ‘The fight continues. The barrios cannot be destroyed, they have to be transformed.’
“Pacha Catalina Guzman, who works with Antimantuanos, an autonomous organization unifying communal councils with musical and sporting events, said that she was not expecting the opposition to gain so many seats in the National Assembly.
“‘But we see it as an opportunity, not as a defeat. This is a historic moment to deepen our work with communities. We will work harder in communities,’ she said.
“Pacha wanted to emphasize that a political loss was not a defeat for socialism in Venezuela. ‘Yesterday the people voted. One political party won, one political party lost. But our purpose is still intact,’ she said. ‘The new situation obliges us to articulate what is people’s power, and what we have achieved in the last 15 years.’
“With the whole world watching and waiting for some kind of fraud or outrage to be committed, Venezuelans voted peacefully and calmly, and Venezuela’s electoral body said that there were no irregularities. Pacha said that even though the outcome had not been what they had been hoping for, the process changed international perception of the left in Venezuela.
“‘For us, the election was an opportunity to show other countries that there is democracy in Venezuela. It was won by a sector that if they lose, there is violence. We lost, and we respect the result, and we are calm. I want to say that the elections were a demonstration of democracy. We respect the results, without resentment or violence. We continue building,’ she concluded.
“Pierre Marais […] works for the municipality with social missions on planning with communal councils. Pierre said that the ‘surprise’ result ‘invites reflection and analysis.’
“‘For me the most important thing to learn was that the same people who voted for Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro also voted for MUD, as a protest vote,’ he said. ‘We Chavistas, we are very sure of ourselves. Too confident. Maybe there was a lack of understanding, so the government needs to get closer to the neighbourhoods.’
“But aside from the initial shock, Pierre understood that now is a time for action. From tomorrow, he will be holding debates around neighbourhoods under the three pillars: revision, reformation, remotivation.”
“‘Now we have to deepen our confrontation of the economic war. We have to work harder, be more efficient. We have to work more with educating those who voted to punish the government, who may not know the consequences of their actions,’ he said.”
Elsewhere across Venezuela, elected neighbourhood councils and other grassroots organizations are convening themselves to take stock of the results and see how to proceed. In 2006, the Chávez government passed a law to empower local citizens to form these elected councils which exercise decision-making at the community level in favour of the people’s interests. Local people’s organizations such as these are a cornerstone of the Bolivarian revolution.
Reactionaries Announce Counter-Revolutionary Schemes
Jorge Rodriguez, head of the socialist party’s campaign in Venezuela, praised the country’s rich democratic tradition that saw the opposition win control of the National Assembly for the first time in over 15 years, but warned that supporters would not tolerate any attempts by the new assembly to roll back the gains achieved since 1998.
“The people showed that Venezuela is a country of peace, which has one of the strongest democracies in the world and rejects violence,” said Rodriguez.
Representatives from MUD said they would use their majority in the assembly to repeal critical laws such as the Law of Fair Prices, which ensures important commodities are affordable for the entire population, and the Organic Labor Law.
“The annulment of the law would lead to the dismissal of workers. We will not allow that. Here we have a dignified people, a Chavista president and a revolutionary government that will protect the people,” stated Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also called on the newly-elected assembly members to respect the constitution, approved under the late President Hugo Chávez by popular referendum in 1999 with over 70 per cent support. Henry Ramos, the general-secretary of one of the parties within the MUD, has already made comments attacking the constitution.
Officials from the MUD have also said they would attempt to remove President Maduro from his post. The Venezuelan constitution allows for the National Assembly to recall the president without a prior consultation via plebiscite if two-thirds of the assembly votes for it.
Amongst other nefarious plans, reactionary forces have also floated the idea of using their legislative majority to push through an “amnesty law” to release their counterparts who are imprisoned for serious crimes against the Venezuelan people.
Maduro said that he plans to veto any proposals for an amnesty law for those opposition forces spuriously refer to as political prisoners, such as jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, whose charges came down in September. Lopez is imprisoned over charges of public incitement of violence and association with crimes committed during opposition protests and violent street barricades, known as “Guarimbas,” that killed over 40 people in 2014.
“I will not accept any amnesty law, because they violated human rights,” Maduro said. “They can send me a thousand laws but the murderers have to be prosecuted and have to pay.”
1. Organic laws are: 1) those enacted to organize public powers or develop constitutional rights, 2) those which serve as a normative framework for other laws, or 3) those identified as such by the constitution. With the exception of the last category, any bill for the enactment or amendment of an organic law must first be accepted by a two-thirds vote of the National Assembly, and will be sent, prior to promulgation, to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice for a ruling on the constitutionality of its organic status. (“An Introduction to Venezuelan Governmental Institutions and Primary Legal Sources, ” Antonio Ramirez, May 2006)
(TeleSUR. Photos: TeleSUR, Venezuelanalysis.com)