Latest post on Left Futures

Huge stakes in Venezuelan election

In the labour movement and wider progressive circles in recent years there has been increasing interest in progressive changes in Latin America as people look for successful and progressive alternatives to the failed policies of neo-liberalism, austerity, cuts and privatisation. At the centre of these is Venezuela, where a crucial presidential election takes place this Sunday.

Lula, the former Brazilian President, has summed up the reasons for this interest clearly:

Progressive governments are changing the face of Latin America. Thanks to them, our continent is developing rapidly, with economic growth, job creation, distribution of wealth and social inclusion. Today, we are an international reference point for a successful alternative to neoliberalism.”

He added, specifically on Venezuela:

With Chavez’s leadership, the Venezuelan people has made extraordinary gains. The popular classes have never ever been treated with such respect, love and dignity. Those conquests must be preserved and strengthened… Chavez, count on me, count on the PT (Brazilian Workers’ Party), count on the solidarity and support of each left-wing militant, each democrat and each Latin American. Your victory will be ours. A strong embrace, a fraternal embrace and thanks comrade for everything you have done for Latin America.”

Indeed, as Sunday’s Presidential election nears, the options open to the Venezuelan people are becoming clearer as are its consequences for the region, and indeed progressive forces globally.

The presidential hopeful of the Venezuelan right-wing is Henrique Capriles Radonski. Although Capriles has tried to conceal his politics, with some in the media painting him as ’centre-left,’ his campaign manager and other prominent supporters have continually given the game away.

Calls for Venezuela’s state oil company, which has funded the huge increases in public services in recent years, to be privatised and for the IMF to help ‘readjust’ the economy, were followed by calls for the highly successful social programmes – that have transformed health and education – to be similarly ‘restructured’ by bringing in the private sector for their ‘support’ rather than the state oil company.

In recent weeks, dissatisfied elements of the right-wing coalition have leaked secret economic plans which have 100% confirmed the right-wing coalition’s desire to return to the disastrous free-market economic policies of the former ruling elite, of which Capriles is a prominent member, that ran Venezuela into the ground for decades.

Unfortunately for those seeking to replace the government of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s economic performance is improving and social programmes continue to expand, with health and education for all, being followed up with massive investment in new housing and infrastructure programmes.

Although Capriles has overwhelming support from the privately owned media which dominates Venezuela’s airwaves, his candidacy is consistently trailing behind.  This remains the case despite some media coverage to the contrary. Indeed, in the last month, pollsters continue to give Hugo Chávez strong double digit leads.

Given this, substantial sections of the rightwing and of its sponsors in Washington have begun to toy with the idea of yet again resorting to sinister and undemocratic methods. Indeed, it would not be the first time that sections of the Venezuelan right-wing opposition have sought to undermine the democratic will of the Venezuelan people in this way.

In 2002 it carried out a short-lived coup d’état. In 2003 they carried out an illegal oil industry lock-out whose declared intention was to oust President Chavez. They then claimed fraud in a 2004 referendum won by Chavez by 59% to 41% despite the results being verified by international observers. They then decided to boycott the 2005 parliamentary elections, when faced with imminent defeat, a move condemned by the Organisation of American States.

Worryingly, the opposition have also built close links with neighbouring Colombia’s extreme right wing, notably the former President Uribe, who is accused of countless human rights abuses and recently admitted wishing to militarily attack Venezuela when he was in power, yet personally met representatives of Capriles’ coalition.

All the while, US state agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy continue to provide millions of dollars in funding to Capriles. And, in an extraordinary paper recently released, former US Ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, outlined a range of military, financial and diplomatic measures that the US should be prepared to take against the Chavez government after the coming elections.

Likely to be the justification for any such intervention, will be false claims from the right-wing that any defeat at the elections is simply the result of fraud and they would then seek to have the legitimate results de-recognised.

In reality, Venezuela’s electoral system – and its overseeing independent commission – is one of the most reliable and observed in the world. This is not just the position of the Chavez-led Government – former US President Jimmy Carter recently said that “Of the 92 elections that we have monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” These features to guarantee transparency, the former president said, make the country’s elections “the best in the world,” and ensured that in previous elections in 2006 – which were observed by the Carter Center – Hugo Chávez won “fairly and squarely.”

Although the social achievements of the government (outlined in depth in this free to download pamphlet here) are leading to strong support for Hugo Chávez’s candidacy, we must remain extremely vigilant against the threat of the US interfering in Venezuela, and in particular, false claims of ‘fraud’ on Sunday and attempts to destabilise a government at the core of Latin America’s progressive wave of change.

One Comment

  1. Further to this, see for a list of some 200 prominent figures in support of Venezuela!

© 2024 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma