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Mike Gonzalez

Venezuela: A Revolution That Lost Its Way

(June 2016)

From Irish Marxist Review, Vol. 5 No. 15, June 2016, pp. 41–48.
All links have been checked and modified where necessary. (August 2021)
Copyright © Irish Marxist Review.
A PDF of this article is available here.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

An unexpected event

On December 6th 2015, Venezuela’s parliamentary elections produced a result that took many people aback. The coalition of opposition parties, the MUD (the United Democratic Forum), won two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly. This gave them the necessary majority to pass major legislation. Privately, their victory did not come as a surprise to Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro, but its significance could not easily be underestimated. Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, had never polled less than 58% of the popular vote. In the presidential election following his untimely death, however, Maduro scraped through with a 0.5% majority over the right wing candidate Henrique Capriles.

In fact, the right-wing parties won only some 400,000 new votes, but 2 million chavistas either abstained or spoiled their papers. The result could not be explained away by public ignorance of the MUD or its membership. The coalition’s leaders were well-known opponents of the Bolivarian process who had appeared regularly in the mass media ever since Chávez won the presidency in 1998. Though the components of the alliance came from different backgrounds, they were united by an obsessive loathing of Chávez and all he stood for. It could not be argued (although it often was) that the Venezuelan middle class had suffered any serious decline in their living standards under Chávez. They continued (and continue still) to be among the highest in Latin America, as a short walk around the restaurant districts of eastern Caracas will show. And Venezuela’s standing as the second highest consumer of whisky in the world (after Scotland) remains unchallenged.

Yet any conversation with an anti-chavista would rapidly deteriorate into racist abuse. Chávez was described by various racial epithets, all of which addressed the fact that he was not white. And his supporters were universally described as the rabble from the hills, the poor, the inhabitants of the shanty towns that climb the hills in and around Caracas and other major cities. If the virulent reaction against Chávez was not the consequence of material loss, it could and did reveal a naked class prejudice, as well as the sense that those who had enjoyed the fruits of a previous system of patronage and cronyism were now fearful that it would slip from their hands. In the same sense, Chávez’s support did come from those who had been the victims of IMF-imposed ‘adjustment’ policies through the nineties, that left over 60% of the population living in conditions of extreme poverty, according to the U.N.

Chávez’s promise was that he would use Venezuela’s considerable oil revenues to finance social programmes for the poor. In fact the dramatic rise in oil prices from 2000 onwards allowed that to happen without a major assault on middle class incomes. So the hostility to him was nakedly ideological, and unashamedly racist. It was no coincidence that in every election the right-wing candidates were, almost without exception, white.

The December 2015 result was a response to a combination of crises which were reaching a crescendo by the end of that year. Their origins could all be traced back to Chávez’ later years, but his extraordinary charismatic appeal had enabled him to veil them. Maduro, however, could no longer deny them, despite his continuing appeal to the image and legacy of Chávez to legitimate his own regime. The main problem was economic; inflation rocketed under Maduro, and the prices of basic goods began to climb rapidly towards inflation rates of over 200% in 2014. The suggested figure for 2016, which all the evidence suggests is a wild underestimate, is almost 500%. More significantly, perhaps, it was accompanied by shortages of everything, from the most basic everyday products to medicines, building materials, spare parts and the most essential goods, like sugar, coffee, the staple maize flour, milk (which has virtually disappeared), soap, nappies and so on. As I write in April 2016, this has spun into uncontrollable freefall. The government now only provides occasional estimates of inflation, and in general economic data are noticeable by their absence. To describe the situation as anything other than hyperinflation is mere semantics.

The social crisis that this has produced is exemplified by the enormous queues that form at every supermarket from the early hours of the morning in the hope of finding goods. What there is is rapidly exhausted, despite the limitation to so many items per person. Whole families line up for their allocation, which then enters the parallel economy to be resold at exploding prices through informal local networks in the barrios and elsewhere. A number of wholesalers and production units now sell their goods via the back door directly to the bachaqueros (the bachacos are the large ants that can be seen everywhere in long lines transporting things from place to place).

The MUD had nothing to say on the economic crisis, other than to blame it on Chávez. Given that they are the defenders and representatives of the private capital which was profiting from the economic chaos, this was hardly surprising. Far more serious, however, was the absence of any strategic response from the Maduro government. The only explanation given was a denunciation of the ‘economic war’ being waged by unnamed forces against the Bolivarian revolution. The accusation could be justified, at least in part. There was widespread evidence of the large-scale hoarding of goods reminiscent of Chile, where goods were held in warehouses with the deliberate purpose of creating instability and anxiety among the population. Equally, there was a diversion of goods towards the immensely lucrative cross-border trade between Venezuela and Colombia. In the case of Venezuela’s largest food and drink company, Polar, for instance, production was moved out of the country to Colombia, and later to Miami. And beyond that the sustained campaign by those hostile to Chavismo in the U.S. and Europe added to the climate of uncertainty.

But the economic crisis could not simply be explained by the actions of external forces. The heart of the problem was the flight of capital out of the country and a large scale money-laundering operation administered through and by the state. In effect there are two economies in operation in Venezuela, based on two currencies, the bolivar and the dollar. For reasons that have to do with the nature of oil economies, most consumer products – including food – are imported. The crumbs from oil production had sustained the middle class through the decades, and lubricated the mechanisms of a system of patronage and clientelism for forty years in Venezuela. While the oil boom lasted there were even benefits for workers. But when the crunch came, with the austerity measures of 1989, those marginal benefits were clawed back and the living standards of the majority population collapsed. It was, therefore, a central platform of Chávez’s programme that the oil revenues that had made a small sector of the population rich for so long should now be held within the country rather than exported by foreign multinationals and used for the benefit of the majority.

The central instrument to make this possible would be the nationalization of the Venezuelan oil corporation PDVSA. In fact it had been nationalized before, in the mid-1990s, but this was a fraudulent operation in which the Venezuelan state paid for the maintenance of the infrastructure while the revenues went largely to foreign companies through what were called ‘operating agreements’ – what would now be called ‘outsourcing’. And the royalties, or taxes paid, by these companies were minimal. Chávez’s immediate proposal was to raise the level of royalties, nationalize the company, and redirect the revenues towards social projects. In the longer term, however, the problem of dependence on oil could only be resolved by diversifying the economy and investing in other areas of production to reduce that dependence.

This was the strategy that would be put forward through the first decade of the new century by all the ‘new left’ governments in Latin America who later gathered under the banner of ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America). As yet, none of them can claim to have successfully implemented the policy or overcome dependency, though the multinational corporations who dominate the export sectors in agriculture, mining and oil are now required to pay more in royalties and taxes than they did before. In most cases, that increased revenue is then channelled into social welfare programmes in health, education and housing in particular. It seemed an optimum time for the strategy, as the global price of oil and gas and minerals rose exponentially until 2014. And yet, as the economic crisis in Venezuela exposed the limits of the Bolivarian process, it would become clear that this diversification had not happened.

This leaves a compelling question, and one that points to another key element of the current crisis in Venezuela. Where had the oil revenues gone? There is now well-founded evidence that something like $450 billion have ‘disappeared’ from the public purse over these years. Public declarations by senior ‘historic’ members of Chávez’s early governments have demanded to know where the funds are, but have not been answered. There seems little doubt that they have leaked from the same machinery that has permitted corruption on a massive scale to grow and proliferate in every area of the economy. As is often the case with financial operations of this kind, as the Panama Papers have shown, there are many ways for the wealthy to conceal illicit funds. The demand from the defenders of the Chavista state for ‘proof’ is, of course, disingenuous. The evidence is in the half-finished infrastructural projects that litter the country, the ownership of multiple bank accounts which is known but not divulged, many of them in unexpected places, like Andorra or Madeira.

At the heart of both the economic crisis and the endemic corruption is a system of exchange rates which has allowed capital flight and money laundering on a massive scale. The Central Bank allocates dollars to importers at a preferential rate; 6 or 10 bolivars to the dollar. There is now a third official rate of 200 for dollars sold at auction. There is also a parallel currency market in which the dollar hovers around 1000 bolivars, for those who do not have privileged access. Thus you can buy, say, 100 dollars for 1000 bolivars in order to import, for example, food or medicine. The recipient will then buy goods in the U.S. with at least part of the money, while probably banking the rest. Those goods, when resold in Venezuela, are priced at the parallel market rate – which would mean receiving 100,000 bolivars for your original investment of 1,000. And in reality, many of the goods will be diverted to the even more lucrative cross border trade with Colombia. Even taking into account the kickbacks to state functionaries, border guards and customs officials along the way, these returns are beyond the usual dreams of avarice.

Every public function is then subject to the same system of bribery and the trafficking of influence, be it getting your pension, a passport, a birth certificate, or bringing a complaint to court. This explains why the middle class has remained so prosperous under Chavismo, and is the driving force behind inflation. This is not so much economic war as class war. Yet a society describing itself as socialist appears to have evolved no mechanism for establishing state control of the economy or expropriating private interests when these act in blatantly speculative ways. The Venezuelan teachers union, whose figures are normally reliable, estimates the cost of the basket of basic goods at 176,000 bolivars. The minimum wage, by contrast, currently stands at around 20,000.

It is often argued that the poor and working class are protected from the worst excesses of inflation by state subsidized food programmes (which now include a kind of ration card), the public health system, and cheap housing. The reality is that there has been a very significant house building programme, but the health system has effectively collapsed and the food distribution networks are also failing because of a shortage of goods and corruption within the system. One of the most urgent issues is the absence of most medicines – there are no aspirins, birth control pills, cancer drugs or blood pressure medications for example. The radio-appeals for drugs by desperate families are poignant and distressing. Yet, to offer one example among many, there are over 100 containers of drugs and medicines sitting in the port of La Guaira under the control of a government minister who is refusing to release them unless he is paid, personally, in dollars – by the very state he represents! On a recent visit to Bogotá, I found my partner’s thyroid tablets, which were simply non-existent in Caracas, in a local pharmacy where they are available in quantities. The greatest irony, however, was that they were labelled ‘Made in Venezuela’.

The end of solidarity?

When Hugo Chávez was elected to the Venezuelan presidency in late 1998, it was not immediately clear how profound an impact he would have in the years that followed. His original programme was restrained. It advocated constitutional changes that would extend human and civic rights and, most centrally, a reform of a corrupt and clientelistic state machine that for over forty years had ensured the maintenance in power of the two major parties who shared control of the country, Acción Democrática and COPEI. They had also shared the benefits of an oil industry that represented over 90% of Venezuela’s foreign earnings. It was central to Chávez’s plan that a higher share of those profits would go directly to the public sector budget.

The majority of his support certainly came from Venezuela’s poor. The nineties, here as elsewhere in Latin America, were the decade of an aggressive neo-liberalism that had swept aside a state sector which had offered some degree of protection against the invasions of global capital. And if the march of globalization had begun in Chile in 1973, it initiated a second and more aggressive phase with the imposition of IMF-enforced ‘structural adjustments’ in Venezuela in 1989. The response, a three-day mass insurrection that came to be called the Caracazo, was brutally repressed, leaving a toll of several thousand dead. In the next ten years, the proportion of Venezuelans living in extreme poverty rose to 65%.

Though a soldier, Chávez had not taken part in the repression of the Caracazo. In February 1992, at the head of his parachute regiment, he led a brief and unsuccessful coup, which nevertheless established his profile as a leading opponent of the country’s corrupt political elite. His first announcement from the presidential palace in 1998 was that an elected delegate assembly would rewrite the constitution and rename the country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The assembly itself was as significant as its conclusions; the concept of a constituent gathering, directly elected, pointed to a more advanced form of democracy, albeit still parliamentary in form. The idea would recur in all the subsequent movements in Latin America.

The central thrust of Chávez’s early economic policies was the redistribution of oil wealth, and the nationalization of the industry. Chávez’s revival of OPEC strengthened the hand of the oil-producing countries and won agreements on questions of price and production which would benefit Venezuela in particular in the decade or so to follow.

Chávez was re-elected in 2000 under the new constitution with an increased majority, which clearly meant that he would now move to nationalize PDVSA, the golden goose of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie. On April 11th 2002, the right launched a military coup to bring down Chávez; it had the support of the employers federation, the Catholic hierarchy, the official trade union leadership and a section of the hierarchy of the armed forces. Chávez was kidnapped and the state television read out lists of radicals to be arrested or killed. But while the elite celebrated surrounding it filled with the city’s poor and working class population. It was the moment when ‘the hills came down’. Within 48 hours, the coup had failed and Chávez returned. Many people would later claim to have been responsible for the coup’s failure, but it was the tens of thousands of people in the street who had taken control of events at that critical moment. It was their intervention that transformed the situation and that would push the process in a more radical direction thereafter.

Within months, on December 3rd, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie launched a second attempt to bring down the Chávez government and reclaim their control over the state and its glittering prizes. The main prize was PDVSA, the oil corporation. On that day, the company’s management launched a strike, halted production and 18,000 employees walked out; there were accompanying coordinated actions across the economy. The objective was to destroy the economy by paralyzing its main engine. The three months of the bosses’ strike were tense and brought the country to the brink of disaster. But it was once again the intervention of the mass movement that turned the tide. Oil installations were defended by workers and local communities, often against armed gangs attacking them. By March 2003, the strike was over.

Chávez now launched a new phase, a Bolivarian revolution whose radical political proposals seemed in tune with the growing anti-capitalist movement across the world. There was still resistance from the state machine and its functionaries to implementing Chávez’s programme. Thus new organisations, the Misiones, were set up to carry through the social programmes to which Chávez was committed. At one level, they were social welfare programmes financed directly from oil profits and run by grass-roots activists. They covered health, education, housing and land reform. The Barrio Adentro programme brought Cuban medical personnel to run a health service in poor barrios, and the Bolivarian University would make higher education available to those who had been excluded from the universities for decades. But they also had, potentially, a more far-reaching purpose. Faced with the obduracy of the state they would become alternative organs of power, the embryos of a different social order, a genuinely participatory democracy.

In January 2005, Chávez attended the World Social Forum and delivered his now famous speech announcing the launch of ‘21st century socialism’. It was especially significant that he spoke at the end of a conference that had been opened by Lula, the elected president of Brazil who in earlier times had represented a radical alternative symbolized by his party the PT or Workers Party. But Lula was already committed to winning power through an electoral strategy and with a programme of limited reforms. Chávez’s speech suggested a revolutionary alternative of mass participation, democracy from below and a frontal assault on imperialism and its satraps. This was a socialism that had broken its links with a Stalinist past and was participatory, transparent and diverse. His speech was rapturously received.

A year later, in 2006, Chávez was reelected with a still larger majority; he won 62% of the popular vote. Shortly afterwards he announced the creation of a new political party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which he presented as a grass roots mass party and encouraged everyone to join. Six million Venezuelans answered the call, trusting in Chávez despite the fact that the party’s structures and objectives were still undefined. The promise was of a party driven from below, an instrument of participatory democracy. Yet within weeks it was announced that two four-person commissions would determine its structure and programme.

In my view, the nature of the new party did not reflect the strategy put forward in Porto Alegre, but rather the growing influence and involvement of Cuba in Venezuelan political life. Chávez’s admiration for Fidel was well known and he had invited Cuban participation in many areas of Venezuelan society. The new party proved not to be a party of a new type, open, democratic and subject to its members, but a highly centralized and hierarchical organization modeled on the Cuban Communist Party. It was, to all intents and purposes, the political machinery of the state. In the words of one commentator, ‘chavismo was (now) becoming a bureaucratic structure devoid of any emancipatory content’.

This was a turning point. The structures of the new party allowed decisions to be made and policies developed without public accountability. And the functionaries of the new state structures were no longer connected or answerable to the grass-roots organisations which had implemented early policies. In PDVSA, for example, the management of the company by assemblies of its workers was abandoned by its new director, Rafael Ramirez, in favour of a corporate management style that mimicked the major multinationals that controlled the industry globally. A new generation of leaders and functionaries now emerged, many of them young people recently trained in Cuba whose loyalties were to the party rather than to the proceso, as the Bolivarian revolution was called. What might at first sight have seemed like the subordination of the state to the Misiones and their new organs of power was in fact the reverse – their incorporation into a state whose culture and conduct was reproducing the old system of patronage under an umbrella of revolutionary rhetoric. Many of the original leaders of Chavismo were now quietly marginalized and replaced by a new party-state bureaucracy. Some had risen with Chávez but were seduced by the power the state offered them and by the enormous amounts of money passing through the institutions. The new bureaucratic class began to enrich themselves and to fill their ministries with friends, relatives and cronies. Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, for example, gave 65 of her relatives jobs in the National Assembly while she was its president and a similar number enjoyed her patronage when she moved to PDVSA after the sudden and unexplained resignation of Ramirez. He then went to the United Nations as Venezuelan ambassador, taking fifty of his own people with him.

In 2007, Chávez lost a referendum vote for the first time, albeit narrowly. There is some debate as to why, but the proposed constitutional clauses allowed not just further re-election of the president but also the re-election of officials at every level. My view is that this produced a critical reaction. Others have suggested to me that Chávez was already aware of his illness and perhaps more vulnerable to pressures from within his inner circle. Whatever the truth of the matter, the Bolivarian revolution appeared to have arrested. The discussions in 2005 about diversifying the economy seemed to have come to nothing. The Alcasa aluminium plant, for example, which was to be a model of workers’ control, had ground to a virtual halt by late 2008, and the iconic steel plants of Sidor became embroiled in internal disputes which virtually paralysed production there too. The social enterprises which had attracted such external interest earlier in the process, simply faded away. New plants were announced, like the sugar refinery in Barinas or the Chinese-backed mobile phone plant in Falcón, but simply never began to function. The iconic railway system seemed to be subject to endless delays. The promised increase in oil production by 2005 had simply not happened. And land occupations were declining in number while armed resistance by landowners appeared to be growing.

In retrospect it is now obvious that the regional alliances through ALBA were not allowing a new strategy to evolve. The new areas of production which were anticipated in the early economic plans were simply not developing, and Venezuela now looked increasingly to joint investment with public and private institutions abroad – with Iran and Belarus,for example, but in particular with China. By the time of Chávez’s death there were some 25 joint financial institutions with China (only one of which, the Fondo Chino, published its accounts) which involved $60 billion of public funds. China’s role was becoming increasingly central, as indeed it was in the rest of Latin America, particularly in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador – and later Nicaragua. But none of these economic arrangements were anything other than straightforward financial agreements in capitalist terms. They had no political content.

Chávez’s personal authority was enough to guarantee public support and inhibit any critical questioning. Yet in the prologue to his Plan de la Patria, his last document, published just before his death in early 2013, Chávez appeared to make a ‘turn in a new direction’ (the golpe de timón) which implied a recognition of errors, and an acknowledgment that the state remained an instrument of patronage and corruption.

Maduro’s Venezuela

Nicolás Maduro

Nicolás Maduro next to
a portrait of Hugo Chavez

While Chávez’s voice and face continued their daily appearance in the media after his death, his anointed successor, Maduro, lacked his charisma and his political skills. The rituals continued at an accelerating rhythm, with crowds marshalled to cheer the new leader’s every word. But as the economic crisis deepened and accelerated, there was no sense that Maduro had any plan to offer. After the barricades appeared on the streets in 2013, Maduro sought out the leaders of the right to negotiate a solution, among them the most powerful individual capitalist in the country, Lorenzo Mendoza owner of the Polar food and drink corporation. It sat uneasily with daily denunciations of the right.

Within his government, power was increasingly concentrated in an inner core of Maduro, Cilia Flores, and Diosdado Cabello. The flurry of new ministries seemed to be occupied by a circulating group of their supporters. The government party, the PSUV, was controlled from above and any critical voices were quickly marginalized. Yet while political control was trenchantly exercised, the same was not true of the social order at large. Venezuela’s unwanted status as the second most violent country in the world did reflect a reality – the increasing presence of armed gangs in the barrios and the incapacity of the state security agencies to control them. In many cases, in fact, they seemed complicit with criminality.

As the 2015 election drew closer, the country was facing a triple crisis – economic, social and political. All that remained the same was the revolutionary discourse and the sense of a revolution under siege. The economic crisis and the existence of the parallel economy had undermined the social solidarity, the sense of the collective, which had been such a central feature of the ideology of chavismo. The membership of the PSUV declined dramatically, as the government’s own figures clearly showed, possibly by as much as 80%. The evidence of corruption was mounting, as it was increasingly exposed by the base of chavismo itself.

In the aftermath of the election, the MUD took up its seats in the Assembly. Ramos Allup, the new President, ostentatiously removed the portraits of Chávez from public buildings and made clear the nature of its alternative and its central platforms – the privatization of PDVSA and of public housing, the removal of Maduro, the systematic attack on social spending and the public sector. Their most urgent concern, and their first piece of legislation, however, was an Amnesty Law to give impunity to all those who had been involved in attacks on the Chávez presidency, including armed assaults, the 2002 coup and those responsible for the devastating attempt to destroy the oil economy in 2002–3.

The reality, however, was that the majority that had supported Chávez had lost confidence in the revolution he had set in train. There were still those who faithfully attended the rallies and cheered Maduro to the rafters; the bulk of them, however, were linked to the state and the party and to a large extent protected from the impact of the economic crisis. At the grassroots the best activists still insisted that ‘chavismo’ remained a revolutionary force, though the official representatives of the process seemed more concerned with enriching themselves and hanging on to power.

The collapse of the oil price led to the creation of a series of new vice-presidencies charged with generating a new productive economy. But while this was central to the original plans of Chávez, the productive units set up a decade earlier were largely inactive, had deteriorated and had been starved of investment. Maduro began to speak of tourism as ‘the new oil’, though there is no infrastructure in place and the insecurity rife in the country makes it very unlikely that Venezuela, a country of extraordinary natural beauty, will be welcoming mass tourism in any foreseeable future. The government then adopted a new line of argument, calling on people to grow vegetables and create allotments. It was hard not to be struck by the absurdity of this return to primitive production in a country where huge oil revenues had been squandered. Yet there was no call for the repatriation of the ‘lost’ funds, even though their location was in many cases an open secret.

The dreams and aspirations of a generation of dedicated and sincere revolutionaries seem to have collapsed in the face of the corruption – economic and political -of the process of change in which they had placed their faith. The right, which now seems on the rampage across Latin America, denounces Bolivarianism as undemocratic. Yet those who enjoy the support of the U.S. government and the global right have been unmasked in recent months as anything but democrats. They are agents of corruption, defenders of inequality and prepared to reimpose the priorities of global capital by any means. Ramos Allup, the new Assembly president for example, belongs to the old ruling class and had no compunction about sending armed police against demonstrating pensioners in an earlier role.

It is therefore especially tragic that the successors of Chávez have now announced a decision which, unless it is reversed, represents the abandonment of the Bolivarian revolution and a compromise with capital. While there has been clear collusion between the Maduro government and the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, the recent decision to open the rich mineral and oil deposits of the Venezuelan Amazon region is devastating in its consequences. The indigenous peoples of Bolivar province, whose rights were proclaimed in the 1999 Constitution, will be the first victims as their territories and habitats will be destroyed by the large scale mining of gold, copper, coltan, lithium and the rest. Chávez’s decision not to allow the region – 12% of the country’s land mass – to be exploited was based on environmental as well as social considerations. The region is the source of the country’s water and its major rivers feed directly into the wider Amazon Basin. The destruction caused by mining and oil exploration in the rest of the Basin – in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia – leaves no doubt as to the inevitable material consequences of this decision.

In the Venezuelan case, however, the consequences are far-reaching and political. It is true that small scale artisanal mining has been taking place in the area for many years. It has been restricted nevertheless by the decision not to allow further exploitation – until now. The foreign multinationals who have already begun to drill will be notionally working in joint enterprises with the Venezuelan state, but it is a state on the edge of financial collapse with little or no leverage over the most aggressive sectors of global capital. Most gravely, it represents a humiliating return to a relationship of inequality and exploitation with global capital to which Chavismo represented the most serious political and economic challenge.

The central political impulse behind Chavismo, and which was expressed in the concept of 21st century socialism, was a participatory democracy which was transparent and accountable, a process in which power would be successively devolved to the organisations of the masses. The turn which Chavismo took after 2007 abandoned that principle and created what would prove to be a new version of the bourgeois state. Released from control from below, the leaders of chavismo succumbed to the twin blandishments of power and money at the expense of the mass movement which time and again had successfully defended the revolution in earlier times.

Venezuela’s future is unclear. The right can only offer the vengeance of a bourgeoisie excluded from power. And while those who supported Chávez feel that they must offer support to an embattled Maduro, he offers no alternative model for the future. What remains is a slow and painful rebuilding of a movement that has critical and creative experiences on which to build, but also tangible warnings of how the process can be misdirected or misused without internal democracy and leadership from below.

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Last updated on: 26 August 2021