What is really surprising is that more than 40% of the electorate should have turned out to vote for the Constitutional Assembly given the current situation in Venezuela.
Juan Diego García
And it is even more surprising given that many of the governments which are now speaking out against Maduro were elected in votes that did not even manage to rally 50% of their electorates.
Judging by the events of recent months, it would have been expected that almost no-one turned out to vote, forcing the government to reconsider its handling of the conflict and to seek some form of understanding with the opposition.
But such a significant endorsement of the government, with more than eight million votes as against the grubby and unconfirmed results of the opposition’s unofficial referendum over previous days, would explain Maduro’s proclamation of victory and promise that he will take the process of change much further.
Last Sunday’s ballot, securely recorded and available to anyone who might wish to verify it (from within Venezuela or without), contrasts with the opposition referendum which, according to its own account, only obtained a little over seven million votes, was carried out without confirmatory endorsement and whose vote slips and registration listings were incinerated the following day such that whoever might wish to verify its validity cannot do so.
None of this is surprising. The Venezuelan opposition does not exactly stand out for its democratic approach (suffice it to observe the violence it uses in its “peaceful demonstrations”) or for its respect for the truth, constantly switching between official compliance with the law and flouting it, as it sees fit.
Beyond the daily manipulation which we the press are used to, and beyond the condemnations to the Constitutional Assembly of some governments that are unaware of the results of the vote, Maduro’s victory and the defeat of the conspirators from within and without (in the first place, the intelligence services of the United States) remain undeniable facts. A significant victory for the government in a decisive battle but in no way the end of the war which has been ongoing since Hugo Chávez initiated the Bolivarian Revolution. Hence, major and decisive battles loom on the near horizon.
The first declarations of the Venezuelan government announced the possible paths the new Constitutional Assembly will go down in order to reform, in a far more profound and significant way, the country’s social order.
And of course these are the prospects that are producing such an angry reaction from certain governments in the region and in particular the United States, because if the Venezuelan government’s statements are realised the region will undergo great change, probably similar to that which, in the day, rallied the Cuban Revolution among popular sectors on the continent.
Those sectors also wanted agrarian reform, an end to corruption in the administration, the genuine exercise of national sovereignty for countries and (why not?) to settle the score regarding those who had always abused power, plundered the state’s coffers, humiliated and insulted the humble citizen, carried out genocide against national minorities, systematically and unceremoniously exterminated the opposition and, in contrast to the arrogance exercised towards their own, had always bowed, knelt before and displayed submission towards any of the imperialist powers that have blighted the region.
The Constitutional Assembly has as its main objective the task of transforming Venezuela from a simple producer of raw materials into one with the capacity to provide its people with the basic goods they require; that is, to put an end to their traditional role in the world market as an oil producer and to promote with all its energy industrialization, modernization of its economy and, above all, a reasonable balance between the various sectors of its society.
Consolidating the process of change also involves transforming the structure of the state and implementing radical measures (that is, that go to the root of the problems) that truly impact upon economic power and the ability of the Creole middle classes to continue being the ones in charge despite not being in office.
That allow the state to control the key resources of the economy so as to ensure its control over the production and distribution of wealth and to bring about change as regards its relations with the global economy.
Majority support from the popular sectors (important though they may be) then is not enough; neither is control of the government apparatus or staunch support of the armed forces enough; it is essential that the project effectively manage all forms of power, starting with economic ones.
From this viewpoint, the process must above all have the organized support of the popular sectors, both of those who are “integrated” into the economy (employees from the various economic sectors, in the first instance) and the vast numbers who have been poor and marginalized their entire lives, who are fully entrusting their future to this reformist project. It is not only (Marx’s) traditional “reserve army” of the economy but the contingents that are decisive in defending the achievements of the revolution.
It is equally important to win over large sectors of the petty bourgeoisie that are currently neutral or indifferent, or have simply been won by the opposition. This is not an easy task but it would be very advantageous to the Bolivarian project to isolate as far as possible the staunch nuclei of local opposition, neutralizing on the way the right across the region.
Right now, the government has to solve the problem of street disturbances without allowing itself to be provoked (which is the obvious aim of the right so as to justify a foreign invasion) whilst possibly having to enforce the law in all its necessary rigor and putting a stop to groups of common criminals hired to promote street disorder; stopping looting and fires and the importing of Colombian paramilitaries; neutralising professional snipers and preventing the use of minors and young people from humble backgrounds in ‘street barricade protests’ while the children of right wing leaders exit the country in a timely manner.
This violent and subversive minority must be unceremoniously held in check. With this in mind, it is very revealing that those removed by law enforcement agents during the riots can be counted on the fingers of one hand, while violent ‘hoodies’ are responsible for the death of law enforcement officers and innocent civilians trying to cross the barricades peacefully.
Often, these ‘hoodies’ have fallen victims to their own criminal acts. At the same time, the press hides the fact that most of the dead people are government supporters, victims of hired killers, with these murders in general carried out far away from the demonstrations.
It is worth asking: were this violent behaviour on the part of the Venezuelan opposition to happen in any other country – in the United States or Spain, for example – how would it, in that case, be described by the media?
(Translated by Nigel Conibear – Diptrans IoLET MCIL – firstname.lastname@example.org)