Three victories at the ballot box for Chavism, major setbacks to the opposition and violence, the start of a promising political dialogue, a coup that was necessary in order to overcome the scourge of corruption, and how to prepare for the 2018 presidential elections.
2017 is closing on a high for the people of Venezuela, who were steadfast in their resistance to an onslaught of political machinations designed to oust the government of Nicolás Maduro. The economic aggression characterised by the attack on the national currency since the start of the year did not matter, and neither did the speculation and stockpiling of essential goods, or the closure of the financial markets to imports. Nothing could hamper the willingness of the Chavist movement to inspire through its Bolivarian Revolution.
The increase in economic aggression, media manipulation and threats of domestic intervention by the US and allied governments in the region came after months of violence fuelled by the right-wing opposition as part of their efforts to take the Palacio de Miraflores (the seat of the Venezuelan government) through fascism and terrorism. April, May and June were difficult months for the Venezuelan people – the so-called guarimbas left over 100 people dead, over 1,000 people injured and extensive material damage in their wake.
That period was dominated by tension, with the right endeavouring to turn the streets into battlefields. Attacks on hospitals, on the police and on anything remotely linked to Chavism were rife, but resistance to these practices was also growing, not only in support of the government but also because people could not get to work, take their children to school or carry on with their lives as normal.
The right-wing opposition lost parties such as Primero Justicia, Voluntad Popular and Vente Venezuela, among others; they lost favour with the majority of Venezuelans. This early stage of the year, above all, brought a strengthening of the civil-military union – the Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana (FANB) showed its solidarity with the people and the constitutional government, thereby reaffirming its support for the revolution started by commander Hugo Chávez from within its ranks.
Long before 2017 began, President Maduro called for dialogue with the opposition, urging the National Assembly to change course and stop flouting the country’s electoral laws. In early December, opposing factions met in the Dominican Republic for talks to try to reach an agreement among equals.
When July rolled around, preparations were in full swing for a battle for peace in the face of external threats and internal plots to overturn the country’s constitutional order. But then millions of people showed up at polling stations on 30 July to choose their representatives for the National Assembly (ANC).
This was undoubtedly a master stroke on the part of the government and President Maduro: the aim was to avoid war, boost dialogue and underscore the popular, national nature of the democratic process set up years ago by commander Chávez.
After the ANC elections everything began to change in the country, the atmosphere of violence became a thing of the past and the Venezuelan people embarked upon a period of dialogue, coexistence and civility that resulted in regional elections to choose governors for the nation’s 23 states. Of course, the political situation went hand in hand with the economic context and efforts to restructure external debts.
While sensationalist headlines from media corporations claimed that Venezuela and the PDYSA were on the brink of default, the Bolivarian government was moving closer to striking a deal with Russia. Moreover, China reaffirmed its confidence in the ability of the country and the oil industry to honour its future commitments.
In its haste to isolate the Bolivarian Revolution, the USA pushed for a sensitive meeting that was rejected by the international community to bring the “Venezuelan case” before the United Nations Security Council with a view to obtaining the multilateral organisation’s seal of approval for an invasion.
The year brought a number of attempts by Luis Almagro and the Organization of American States, from which Caracas withdrew, to apply the Democratic Roadmap to Venezuela: from the creation of the so-called Lima Group as a cover for Washington’s attacks against the Venezuelan people and a whole host of other threats.
Attempts to justify a military invasion, to create a humanitarian crisis to justify military intervention, military manipulation in neighbouring countries carried out to control Venezuela’s immense economic resources – every possible attempt was made to oust Venezuela’s constitutional government.
As the year drew to a close, a number of corruption cases came to light thanks to the hard work of the Attorney General Tarek William Saab, showing that this scourge threatens to destroy the country’s main industry: oil. (PL)
(Translated by Roz Harvey) – Photos: Pixabay