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Commentary :: Globalization : International : Labor : Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare : War and Militarism
Venezuelan presidential elections: Workers have no candidate of their own
05 Oct 2006
A government that talks about "revolution" without struggling against the capitalists or exploitation
VENEZUELA: Presidential Elections in December

We workers do not have a candidate nor our own voice

By Mario López From En Clave Obrera, No. 7

translation by Yosef M.

A government that talks about "revolution" without struggling against the capitalists or exploitation

It has been a while since the working-class majorities of the country turned their backs on the pro-US politicians of our country, not only in elections, but in direct struggle in the streets and the industries, the people have struck hard blows against them. Wide sectors of the working class are confident that they will solve their most important problems by the hand of the President. For that reason, it is crucial to point out repeatedly what the political project of the government really is, beyond the speeches in favor of "twenty-first century socialism" and "empowering the poor."

After the defeats that the workers, campesinos and popular sectors dealt the pro-imperialist opposition, the government sat down repeatedly to negotiate with them, giving the workers and poor people the role of mere spectators of the agreements arrived at with the participants in the military coup, who, as a result of these negotiations remained with their economic riches intact, and our conditions, as the exploited and the poor, remained intact as well. Although the Missions and the other social plans still exist, the big problems of the poor and exploited are not even partially solved, while the big beneficiaries of the economic growth continue to be the big capitalists and bankers.

It is a fact that the more the government talks about "revolution," it fails to promote a real anti-capitalist social revolution, that would put economic, political and military power directly into the hands of working people, rather [it promotes] a "nation," with the participation even of foreign capital. In any case, it is a limited bourgeois nationalist project. Entering MERCOSUR is a part of this logic, since behind this agreement stand, not the "peoples" of South America, but their respective national bourgeoisies and, still more, the transnational enterprises.

The need for an independent working-class alternative

The central question is that even though a project like this one cannot answer the most fundamental demands of the workers and the people, the broad working-class majorities have expectations that their problems will be solved with Chávez. Precisely because of this "common feeling," today among the workers, who automatically identify their interests with those of the government, it is urgent that there exist on the national political scene a revolutionary workers’ opposition that will contest Chávez's leadership of the workers, to propose a clear policy of struggle against the national bourgeoisie and imperialism, as the only way to open the road to a real social revolution, against the policy of agreements with the businessmen and developing the country by the hand of the "productive" bourgeoisie and foreign capitalist investment. It is necessary that a truly anti-capitalist and socialist alternative, that makes obvious the government's lack of consistency in struggling against capitalism, assume a form and a life of its own.

An important step on this road was taking advantage of the electoral setting to raise an independent working-class candidacy, as an alternative, not only against the candidacies of the bourgeois opposition, but also against Chávez's candidacy, which represents a proposal of class conciliation, not of consistent working-class and popular struggle against capitalist exploitation. One of the keys of revolutionary activity is clarity and transparency to the workers, therefore we say: what is discussed in presidential elections are the projects and proposals for the country, and although we know that the proposals of reaction have nothing to offer us other than subjection to imperialism and repression against the people, Chávez's proposal for the country does not represent the interests of the working class and the exploited either. We workers should have presented our proposal also and fought for it. A revolutionary working-class candidacy that would fight to put the enterprises, banks and lands into the hands of the working-class majorities and plan the economy in accordance with the interests of the exploited, through direct government by the workers and the poor.

In these elections, we workers do not have our own alternative

The elections, under this system, are not the way to achieve workers', campesinos' and people's conquests, much less the strategic necessity of taking in our own hands the leadership of the country. It was open, frontal struggle in the streets, the factories, enterprises and the countryside that guaranteed our conquests, and this will continue to be the case. The revolutionary days of April 13 and against [the bosses'] sabotage shutdown show that revolutionary mobilization is the guarantee for winning our demands. But it is possible to use the electoral setting as a platform for discussion, for propagating ideas and presenting political alternatives of our own class, as the working-class candidacy that we proposed would have been. Nevertheless, the sectors that had in their reach the real possibility of putting together an independent working-class candidacy, the workers' own voice in the electoral fight, like the leadership majority of the PRS, fled from this choice, enthusiastically joining the government's electoral campaign.

For that reason, we maintain that against the candidacies and proposals of reaction Chávez's project does not represent any revolutionary alternative, so we workers ought to spoil our ballots or leave them blank, instead of supporting a candidacy which proposes economic and social reforms that leave intact the roots of the exploitation and poverty to which we are subjected. In any case, we workers ought to ask ourselves, what are the "10 million" [votes for Chávez] going to accomplish? The government is asking for the "10 million" not to move forward in any social revolution, but, together with the Missions and other social plans, to continue its policy of agreements and negotiations with businessmen, inside and outside the country, in a few words, to move forward in conciliating those who have always been exploiters.

In these last two years of relative political stability, achieved thanks to the defeat of reaction in the referendum, high petroleum prices and the recovery of the economy, far from "deepening" any revolution, we have had government agreements with the capitalists and landowners, as well as policies to restrain workers' conflicts and "discipline" the most discontented sectors. It is in order to continue this course that they are asking us for the "10 million"!

For that reason, we say that we have no one to vote for, since the working class will never be able to lead the struggle of the exploited against capitalism to its conclusion, if, instead of equipping itself with a strategy and its own political project, it supports bourgeois projects, which, however "radical" they may be in words, preserve the basis of capitalist exploitation.

For that reason, to the workers who have already rejected the projects of the bourgeois, pro-imperialist opposition, we say that we do not call on them to vote for Chávez because he represents conciliation with these sectors; because he is "legalizing" the landed estates through the "Chaz method" [of negotiating with big landowners over government compensation for acquiring their non-productive lands]; because he promotes "association" with the petroleum transnational corporations through mixed [private/state] enterprises; because he is opening extraction of gas to foreign capitalists; because he is exempting the oil octopuses from paying the value-added tax, while he imposes it on the people; because he is claiming as his own the "PDVSA" of the autocrats who attack the workers; because he goes on paying the fraudulent foreign debt to foreign banks; because he does not restrain repression against campesinos who are fighting for land independently of the trusteeship and negotiations of the government; because his labor policy is limited to miserable increases in pay and benefits, while it guarantees enormous profits to businessmen and bankers; because he maintains the power of foreign capitalists intact in the country. Finally, we are not calling for voting for a government that talks about "revolution" and "socialism" while we, the working masses, go on suffering exploitation, and Chávez "deepens" his agreements with the capitalists.

It is necessary to continue to promote the broadest unity of organization and struggle among the ranks of the workers, promoting meetings from the rank and file to define plans of struggle and permanent mobilization until our demands are met, indicating the need to get ready for the battles to come during the next presidential term, where the confrontation will certainly be more direct and harder, not only against the businessmen (and landowners) but also with the national government. In these months of electoral campaigning, we continue to struggle because we workers must equip ourselves with an independent working-class strategy to give a working-class and popular solution to our situation, a real social revolution: government directly from workers and the poor!
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