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Commentary :: International : Politics
Venezuela, Elections 2006: Anarchists Speak
21 Nov 2006
From the Commision of Anarchist Relations (Comision de Relaciones Anarquistas) and its organ El Libertario, we disseminate three texts in which we publically express our perspective on the upcoming Venezuelan elections of December 3, 2006.
* A Call and an Alert to Public Opinion *

As a group of activists of critical tendencies we have found it necessary before the present situation to signal an alert to all popular forces: workers, indigenous peoples, Afro Venezuelans, students, women, neighborhood groups, intellectuals and social groups.

We maintain that the two options publicized by the established order - Chavez as much as Rosales - represent the domination of financial power and empire over Venezuela, and present a scene of super-exploitation, unemployment, and social exclusion in addition to the fortification of big capital.

Eight years into the "revolution" or the so-called Process, we find that there is a social misery that has resulted from the consolidation of the State and the destruction/co-optation of social groups. In recent years, the political regimen has deteriorated into a total submission to transnational capital on the part of the Chavez government, a fact that Rosales and the opposition pretend to not be aware of.

The established game consists of the following: faced with the superficial and limited reforms of the current administration - which are driven by the Stalinist left within the capitalist State - the opposition pretends that these measures are communist, when in reality they form part of the dynamic of global capitalism. What we have seen is State management with punctual payments of external debt, the surrender of the Orinoco' Delta oil and the natural gas of Falcon state, destruction of the environment (Imataca, Perija and Paria), hegemony and the increase of the commercial sector, of finacial speculation, and the creation of flexible labor and social exclusion.

The ideological discourse of the State is crushing and hegemonic and has managed to block all critical forces, which have been silenced though bribery and cronyism, entangled in a thought process that can only lead to totalitarianism. There has been a increased fragmentation of the social movemements while the power of the cliques has only grown.

In the same way, there is an exercise in direct militarism when the high branches of the public sector are in the hands of the military forces. The popular imagination has been channeled into the civil-military lie; arbitrariness is the actual situation, and the military sector need not look upon the past with nostalgia, since El Amparo in the 90`s is exactly the same as La Paragua today (two military massacres). As a result, Chavismo is simply the reproduction of puntofijismo, as demonstrated by its corruption and impunity.

Based on these considerations, we call upon all indigenous peoples, peasants, students, professors, intellectuals, workers, women, Afro Venezuelans, neighborhood coalitions, social groups and people in general to abstain from voting because there will be no substantial change. The reality is that representative democracy based on populism vs. opposition symbolizes nothing new, but is merely a backward sector anchored in the cold war, just like Chavismo.

This call for abstention is not based on the problem of electoral fraud, which we do not deny; nor does it coincide with the opportunistic call to abstention coming from certain quarters. Required change will never be given through the electoral process, but will rather be produced through the autonomous initiative of the social movements themselves. The grave social, economic and cultural crisis suffered by Venezuela does not find its answer in electoral politics, which banalizes and liquidates all struggle.

We bring this alert forward so that all agents of social change may actively organize around and promote absentionism through their own struggles, without messiahs or authoritarian bureaucrats, in order to demonstrate to the scaffold of power that it is ineffective and antidemocratic. Only the collapse of the existing system will guarentee transformation. Otherwise, we alert you to increases in repressive practices in the immediate future within the framework of the worsening of the structural crisis of the country.

Faced with the bourgeois, genocidal State of the past 40 years, which is expressed in the candidacy of Manuel Rosales, the alternative cannot be support for the totalitarian State of Hugo Chavez.

* Depolarization and autonomy: Challenges to Venezuela’s social movements after D-3 *

Rafael Uzcategui uzcategui.rafael(a)

Visualizing what will happen to Venezuela’s social movements after the elections scheduled for December 3 – every indication points to the re-election of president Chavez – cannot be done without at least a general understanding of their historical path. During the second half of the 80’s the economic crises after the “black Friday” was the catalyst of new forms of organizing and demanding that began to develop in this Caribbean country: student and neighborhood movements, women, counterculture, ecological and pro-human rights. Subjective efforts that although coming from the left, did not automatically follow the organizational schemes of the guevarist-lenninists who claimed to be the heirs of the armed insurrection of the 60’s. The “Caracazo” (February 1989) as the expression of the growing malaise, marks the beginning of a civil society as alienated from the traditional political parties - networks of State’s clients - as it is from the left political parties. The effervescence that ensues weaves a social fabric out of infinite socio-political initiatives, with varied and developing levels of mutual interaction, which played a lead role in the mobilizations for the greatest objective at the time: getting Carlos Andres Perez out of power.

Chavez’s original movement raises itself above this dynamic and becomes the face of the people’s malcontent, achieving legitimacy at the polls in 1999 by capitalizing on the prevailing wish for change that ran through the country, but also revitalizing the populist, statist and caudillista ethos so much a part of Venezuela’s historical make-up. The imposition of a personal mode of domination was preconditioned to the break up of the citizen-led dynamics that brought it to power. Among the many causes driving this process there is the polarization imposed by the contending elites: those banned from power representing the traditional productive sectors, and the new “leftist” bureaucracy giving legitimacy to the interests of those sectors crucial to the economic globalization of the country.

After 1999 the social fabric is fragmented (neighborhood, student and ecologist movements), neutralized (human rights) and co-opted (indigenous, women, counterculture) by the expectations created by a government rhetorically of the left. In turn this has caused some expression of popular organization with no autonomy within a new network of clients, amidst one of the greatest economic windfalls ever, brought on by the high oil prices.

These popular initiatives, instructed from above, have some common elements that distinguish them from other social movements:
(1) Vertical solidarity supplants intra-class solidarity: mobilizations follow a political agenda imposed by the top; their calls for solidarity when others in the movement suffer repression are almost non-existent.
(2) An identity permeated by personality cult and a lack of history and arguments different from those originating in the seat of power, which prevents any hypothetical “deepening of the revolution”.
(3) Their praxis aims to legitimize government’s projects, without any other parallel or different process.
(4) A progressing wearing out due to its adoption of politico-electoral cumulative logic.

Default on the expectations generated by Chavez has caused the exponential increase of popular protests during 2006, something that will continue to grow in the coming year. But it is precisely the blackmail of polarization – “to give weapons to the right”, “manipulated by imperialism” – which contains the growing discontent against a state that neither transformed itself when it could, nor has a new bureaucracy able to make policies different from Latin American populist welfare.

The challenges facing the social movements, after the hypothetical presidential re-election, are not only of a practical order such as its autonomous configuration or experimenting with diverse practices and spaces of learning and counter hegemony. They are also theoretical. Overcoming imperialist Manichaeism, centered exclusively on George Bush, would entail squeezing the multiple dynamics of money flow and the power of global capital. It is precisely the social movements, from both poles, which have internalized the discipline of being a cheap energy exporting country, in spite of any consideration for the environment, deepening in the role assigned to Venezuela by economic globalization. Sticking to the events of the last few months – actions against carbon exploitation in Zulia, protests by street vendors in Caracas and traditional fishermen in Guiria – and how they have been opposed and criminalized by the Chavez’s rank and file, we foresee a long period of conflict among the oppressed: some protesting for a few structural improvements and other opposing them to climb up to positions within the hierarchy of those embedded in the personal state.

* Eleven reasons not to vote on Dec. 3 *

(…and without making concessions to the opportunist Accion Democrática)

1.- Chavez and Rosales signify the continuation of and not the break up from the political tradition of Venezuela. They represent, in these times of economic and technological globalization, varieties of the statist, populist and caudillista ethos that dominated the country in the XX century.

2.- Chavez and Rosales don’t represent the largest minority of Venezuelans: that percentage of the population that according to all the surveys and previous electoral results does not identify with either.

3.- Chavez and Rosales base their political strategy on a watershed of support for their charisma and the absolute subordination to their person, denying the diversity, plurality and democratic tolerance they claim to uphold in their speeches.

4.- Chavez and Rosales discourses are an insult to Venezuelan’s intelligence.

5.- Chavez and Rosales help each other, sustaining and promoting the blackmail of political polarization and the “with me or against me” logic.

6) Both candidates’ governing programs are improvised electoral demagogies based on the high price of oil. Their hypothetical application will not change the complex structural problems of the country, nor will they significantly reduce poverty and insecurity.

7.- Both candidates’ electoral campaigns and their past political praxis that avails them have not said anything about human rights, the environment, protecting minorities and improving the standard of living of the people; based almost exclusively on the intensity and prevalence of traditional assistance in Latin American populism.

8.- The lack of widespread and combative social movements with their own and not negotiable political agenda condemns the next government to be a collection of impositions from the seat of power.

9.- Chavez and Rosales governments have granted impunity to the corruption and obvious enrichment of their functionaries

10.- Refusal to opt for the “lesser evil” upholds our right to change: to be different, to wish for another alternative, here and now.

11.- Whether it is the “Castro-communist threat” or the “imperialist invasion” Chavez and Rosales attempt to politically capitalize fear by promoting hysterical explanations about the country’s future without them in power, via the media they control.

No more blackmail: Don’t vote, reject equally the sad past and the demagogic present. It’s a bet on the future.

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