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News ::
anarchists in venezuela (english)
31 Jan 2003
This article is written from Venezuela by someone who has spent 3 weeks here
observing and talking to people on both sides of the conflict as well as with
many Venezuelan anarchists.  It is not based on speculation, or knowledge
gained from mass media, it is based on personal interaction and first hand
observations.  However, I, unlike much of the mass media, do not claim to
know everything or to be completely unbiased as some of my personal political
beliefs clearly shine through in this article.  
The political situation in Venezuela right now is without a doubt a confusing
one, even more so when observed from another country through the news or even
from reports from those on the ground.  The way were told it back in the
states is that Chavez is a radical leftist leader with the support of many of
the people expecially the poor, and that the opposition is all rich military
leaders, oil tycoons and CIA coup plotters (that last category wont be heard
in mass media but can be found in abundance on alternative media outlets.)  
were constantly subjected to people speculating who has greater numbers or
who is winning the fight.  We hear other government leaders give their spin
on the situation, often saying nothing of substance but just trying to sound
like a peacekeeper.  Now for one to understand the uniqueness of the
situation they should step back and ask what exactly its all about.  The
truth is one could easily spend multiple weeks here on the ground in
venezuela and still be wondering that same thing.  
    We hear people from all sides of this fight talk about it but we never hear
anything about actual issues.  Thats because its all about Chavez.  Its all
about who is in power.  Entire new political parties have grown out of this
situation and in fact they are completely based on their hatred for Chavez,
and not real issues.  Poverty is rampant in venezuela, the indigenous
communities continue to be heart along with the environment, trade
negotiations and dealings effect the region every day, wars are about to
break out around the world, and yet you will hear little mention of any of
this within the political struggle going on here currently.  Plain and simple
its all about who is in power.  The Chavistas see Chavez almost as a type of
god or source of their salvation and the opposition hate him with almost an
equal passion.
    The truth of it is if you do get to hear either side talk about any
issues or what they would do with their power, personal emotions aside, it
may sound like much of the political rhetoric you would hear in the states.  
Now there are certain larger issues that separate the two, like Chavez´s
opposition to plan Colombia, but, chavez based his political position and
gained popularity by talking about helping the poor.  Its this that makes it
confusing to hear the opposition talk about helping the poor.  After all if
they want to help the poor why would they be opposed to chavez.  The truth
is, and this is said with the realization that equality doesn’t always happen
over night, poverty in venezuela is the same if not worse than when chavez
took power.  He gained the love of the people by making the same type of
empty unrealistic promises that often come from politicians.  He claimed
that  after a year of having power there would be no kid living on the
street.  It doesn’t take more than a two minute walk in Caracas to realize
that after four years he still hasn’t come close to accomplishing his goal.  
However by making these promises initially people became so blinded with hope
that they now fail to see the reality of the situation.  

   Now I am in no way claiming that the opposition will deliver on the things
that chavez has failed on, in fact it is true that the opposition leaders are
scattered with people just dying to be the next dictator, I am simply saying
that chavez may not be all he’s cracked up to be.  I am well aware that many
chavez supporters by this point in the article will be infuriated and
screaming about how this was written by some rich right wing coup plotter but
step aside for a minute, away from Chavez´s promises and take a look at his
actual actions which have been few and far between.  
    Alright so what am I getting at, so far all that’s really been said
is that the situation here is empty of any real issues and that neither side
is all that great.  Exactly.  Well here comes the part that confuses most
north Americans.  We’re told that chavez represents the left and the
opposition, the right.  Wait wait wait a leftist president, this alone is
enough to baffle anyone from the states.  And to make matters more confusing
we’re told that the people opposing the government are from the right.  And,
that the police beat up the people who support the government some days and
people who oppose it on other days.  Well the truth of it is that there are
many police departments here in Caracas and you have some that support the
government and some that don’t so there have actually been conflicts where
you have two different police departments fighting with each other.  As you
can tell the situation is almost just as confusing for people here.  But ok
so all of a sudden the left is supporting a government and the right is
opposing it, pretty backwards for people from the states.  

    So here’s the burning question, where do the anarchists fit in?  Anarchists
are traditionally considered part of the radical left, so do they join in
with the rest of the left and support an authoritarian government or do they
side with the largely right wing opposition.  The answer, as is common, is
not cut and dry.  There’s been somewhat of a split in much of the anarchist
community.  There are those that feel the right thing to do is support chavez
because they believe he is good for the people or at least better than the
opposition.  Then there are those that follow in the great anarchist
tradition of actively choosing neither side.  They refuse to support chavez
because they don’t believe he is the great liberator that he claims to be,
and they realize that doing so would be contradictory to their fundamental
beliefs.  But, by doing this, are they helping the opposition which may be
even worse?  Well if you think that any of us who didn’t vote for Gore in
2000, should have, just to keep Bush from winning, then yeah absolutely, but
anyone who doesn’t by that lesser of two evils bullshit will appreciate that
some anarchists here are standing their ground.  
    The truth is it’s a very hard time for anarchists in venezuela.  As I
said there has been a split within their somewhat already struggling
community, and much of the left is less than happy with them right now.  
There are some anarchists that have people they used to work with now
refusing to talk to them because they wont support Chavez.  As I said
emotions are very high and the Chavistas accuse them of supporting the
opposition and the opposition accuses them of being Chavistas.
After talking to some anarchist here some may see their view of the situation
much the same way that anarchist and other radical leftists see the whole
democrat and republican thing in the states.  Their both the same and neither
is right.  Both sides just want power,  and its gotten to the point that they
barely even try to convince people what they would do with that power because
people’s love or hatred of chavez is enough motivation to fight for one side
or the other. Many anarchist feel that the people who support both sides can
be worked with, and should be, but that the leaders are just no good.  
The truth of it is that most Venezuelan anarchist, as with anarchists from
much of the world, are more concerned with the actual issues than this power
struggle between leaders.  However, because of the lack of real issues being
addressed in the political fight right now its very hard for them.  The most
important thing that I feel people need to understand though, as I said
before, is the similarity with the way many view the two parties in the
states with the way they view the two groups here.  In the states were told
how drastically different the two sides are but that may not necessarily be
the case.  

    No matter what one says about the leaders of the two sides, this is a power
struggle, Chavez´s so called revolution is one to keep him in power and the
oppositions resistance is also an attempt at gaining power.  Neither side
will liberate the people, or get rid of poverty because both sides, like many
world leaders and politicians are blinded by the desire for power.  Many of
the anarchists in venezuela just like many throughout the world feel that if
they really want to be free and rid themselves of this class divided system
that we must create that kind of world ourselves and can not leave it up to
leaders no matter how leftists they claim to be or the empty promises that
they make.

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