Chile: The Frente Amplio and the Chilean left on Venezuela
The crisis that Venezuela is going through has defined the world’s agenda, a tense situation marked by a sharpening of confrontation with the self-proclamation of Guaido supported by the US, the European Union and the governments of the region. This polarization shows the debacle of the Maduro regime, which, entrenched with the bureaucracy of the PSUV and the military, holding on to power, supported by Russia and China wanting to favor their interests in the dispute for the Caribbean territories. Trump’s desire is none other than recovering the hegemony over Venezuela´s oil and natural resources, which -because of Maduro’s policies- are being consumed by extractivism in the Orinoco Mines, while losing sovereignty to transnational sponsors in the Special Economic Zones. US meddling and its democratic babbling through a figure head like Guaido, the “president in charge” that was never elected, defines the historical conditions of imperialism when it preys on Latin America. The rejection of any kind of intervention must be clear, these policies will not solve the economic and social collapse that the Venezuelan people suffer.
In our country Piñera is, as expected, working with the Lima Group and quickly supporting Guaido, marking a political position that includes the entire right, sectors of the former Nueva Mayoria like the PPD, the DC and part of the PS. We didn’t expect a different position from those who have been the main support of this “democracy” inherited from the dictatorship and dependent on imperialism. The Frente Amplio has been playing on both sides: Beatriz Sanches and the RD, with the leadership of the Movimiento Autonomista and the recent Partidos Comune (Izquierda Autonoma y Poder) separate themselves from Maduro without criticizing the US interference, while other sectors blindly support Maduro. The consequences are a subtle declaration signed by the FA, rejected by the Liberal Party and the dissolution of the International Policies group of the Frente Amplio. The “new left” walks the path of the old left, an amalgam of “anti-imperialist” rhetoric and political insufficiency, that mark the limits of the conglomerate in a world scenario that deepens contradictions.
The Frente Amplio walks the path of the old left
Behind the militarist speeches, the closing of ranks to try to isolate Maduro internationally and bolster the economic sabotage Trump’s policies are imposing, is the backdrop of the social disaster of the Bolivarian regime, which works as an argument for the interference. This is how part of the Venezuelan people have broken with Maduro, as seen in the previous days and on January 23 itself, with the rise of massive mobilizations and even protests in the poor suburbs of Caracas. As the declaration of our comrades of Marea Socialista in Venezuela expresses: “We insist that the accompaniment of the people to this de-legitimized right wing, rejected by great part of its own base is the result of the people being fed-up of the inhuman effects of the economic crisis, whose main responsible is the government of Maduro, his fake socialism and rhetorical anti-imperialism”. The dissociation between the bureaucratic caste and the Venezuelan people has created a new parasitic bourgeoisie of the State that destroyed every achievement won by the Bolivarian process. The financial embezzlement, crushing to pieces the productive apparatus, giving to the Orinoco Mines 12% of the national territory for transnational looting, the elimination of the native people’s rights, privatizations and attacking labor rights like collective bargaining, while maintaining the payment of the external debt. Maduro’s path with its neoliberal measures in the division of the national sovereignty is the cornerstone of the famine, looting and migratory crisis as a social reflection of the economic counter-revolution. About anti-imperialism, not even a word. The social situation is the product of a conscious policy of the bureaucracy, that is currently backed by the rapine of Russia and China, while it governs with the authoritarianism of the militarized policies.
Being against imperialist interference doesn’t mean being supportive of the regime of Maduro; the polarization is the two faces of the dispute for the looting and control of the Venezuelan State, conditioned by rising confrontation and a possible military clash. Contrary to maintaining political independence from the Lima Group, the OAS and other actors, the former presidential candidate of the Frente Amplio, Beatriz Sanchez tweeted that “as part of the left-wing, I believe that Maduro is a problem today for the democracy in Venezuela… the path is the dialogue and elections so the Venezuelan people can choose and have guarantees”. Reducing a political position to a tweet exemplifies the path that the spokeswoman of the FA is opening, far from raising the issue of what those guarantees would be in the middle of a US siege (omitting the interventionism) and the government of Maduro that limited the democratic participation, simplifying the context and problem to a simple tweet. In the same line, Revolucion Democratica, through their representative Pablo Vidal said during an interview: “Chile is the living example of how to come out of a dictatorship in a pacific way”, vindicating the process that was bred by imperialism, the big bourgeoisie and the military, and worked in favor of the impunity and the perpetuation of the model.
The answer to Beatriz Sanchez was immediate in the inside of the FA, Cristian Cueva opened the debate with a letter. The leader of Nueva Democracia and part of Convergencia starts the text by doing a comparison with Chile in 1973 and then writes: “Before we continue, I must clarify that it would be an irresponsible reductionism to say that the current situation in Venezuela is comparable to the Chilean situation in 1973. The differences are many and profound. One of the most important is that the Bolivarian Revolution resisted for twenty years the implacable pressure of the internal oligarchy and external imperialism, including victoriously confronting the 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez”. Meaning that apart from the temporal detail, he places Maduro in a context similar to the UP and even superior because he’s been in power for longer, withstanding the attacks of the internal and external oligarchy.
There are three appreciations we want to point out. The first is about the fact that the economic obstacles of Venezuela were made effective during Trump’s term and on the other hand the oil and mining businesses are still working, still exporting to the US. The second point is about the attacks of the internal oligarchy, who in the attempts of 2002 were defeated by the mass movement that responded on the streets with the occupation of industrial facilities and the reactivation of the productive pillars, against the bosses’ strike. That drove the progressive development of the Bolivarian revolution that today is being dynamited by Maduro. The main difference between Venezuela in 2002 and Chile 1973 is that Maduro lost the Chavist social base, a consequence of his counter-reforms turned into client-oriented notions, one of the reasons why poor people took the streets on January 23. The third one is about the notion of society. Cristian Cuevas writes: “the path chosen by the Venezuelan people is the construction of socialism in a democracy, with its undeniable singularities, virtues and defects. They are encountering the same internal and external threats that other peoples have faced when confronting the interests of the hegemonic powers, and they must find their own way to survive”. Following Cuevas, on one hand we have Maduro’s socialism and on the other we have the imperialism; therefore the current issues have are not responsibilities of the regime and actually are by-products of an objective process of internal and external conditions that follow the “socialist” path.
Although the main difference between the Chilean process in the 70s and the current situation in Venezuela is that Allende didn’t trust in the power of the working people, organized in their own democratic instances like in the industrial belts. On the contrary, the UP had a policy of institutional protection that eased the construction the genocidal coup, having been warned more than once about the imminent coup. Maduro not only distrusts the mass movement, but also has lost the social support because he limited the development of the Bolivarian process and countered it by being part of the dynamics of the great capital, benefiting a new parasitic social class, which is part of the Army.
If the sector of the FA that feels represented by the words of Beatriz Sanchez are the farce, the position of those like Cristian Cuevas, Nueva Democracia, Partido Iguadad and the Revista de Frente are the tragedy, confusing a strong anti-Trump vanguard in the fight against imperialism, opting to defend a project that has nothing to do with socialism, drawing a political picture between two “progressive fields” in geopolitics, where the occidental rapine is being pacified by the oriental one. The only anti-imperialism they have left is their rhetoric.
On the other side, there’s the position of the new Partido Comunes, a fusion between Poder and Izquierda Autonoma. Karina Oliva (former president of Poder) said that those who defend Maduro inside the FA are a minority, according to the parliamentary representation. what’s curious about her affirmation is that it happens less a month after organizing a lecture with Juan Carlos Monedero, who was part of the Bolivarian government and a strong advocate of the Latin American progressivism. Monedero even said that those who think Lula is incarcerated for corruption are imbeciles. The somersaults of Poder-Comunes seem to be conditioned by electoral calculations. Claudia Mix, representative of Poder-Comunes, was part of the committee that traveled to support the last elections in Venezuela; while being closely linked with Argentine Kirchnerism which has held a similar policy on the other side of the mountain range; while a part defends Maduro, the other part is slowly assimilating to the RD. Cristina Kirchner is quiet.
The political differences on Venezuela inside the FA seem bearable in a space that calls itself “new left” while walking the path of the old left that failed when in power.
In a time of definitions, the need for an anticapitalist left
We raise the issue of this debate with the Frente Amplio and with the left that claims to be anticapitalist. We do it fraternally in a time when political definitions are key because of the rise of confrontations in Venezuela. The response of he Frente Amplio with its international policy is the expression of its representatives in the Parliament, passivity in front of the conflicts and submission to institutional decisions. It’s hard being anti-imperialist while voting for the Free Trade Agreement. The confusion with relative positions through tweets or the uncritical dogmatism with Maduro while speaking of “socialism” opens space for the right to position itself. The FA is stuck in its uncertainty, where the confluence for the electoral unity as a strategy reigns.
Our sister organization in Venezuela, Marea Socialista, contrary to skepticism and sectarianism, took part in the Bolivarian revolution from the beginning, while being independent of the leadership of the PSUV. It acted in the process by doing more than just observing, and always with a revolutionary policy. Marea Socialista broke with the PSUV in 2016 because of the bureaucratic and counterrevolutionary deformations inside the party, that is shown in the social chaos. Today they promote a democratic solution through a consulting referendum to renovate every government position while proposing a plan of economic emergency: “to recover the control of the country´s oil and mineral resources (without Trump, bureaucracy, China or Russia); on that basis, apply basic measures of food emergency, raising the minimum wage to the cost of living, respond to the sanctions and imperialist escalation with elemental defensive expropriations in retaliation to the blockade and the confiscation of Venezuelan patrimony that the U.S. is carrying out, immediately suspend payments of the foreign debt; immediately call a broad national and international mobilization in support of an anticapitalist and truly socialist reorganization of Venezuela.”
In the final hour of definitions, mere rhetoric isn’t enough. We must build an independent alternative to the predatory decisions of imperialism and the bureaucratic castes supported by the expansionary interests of Russia and China. International support to the Venezuelan people will help overcome the main limit of the process: the development of an independent force born in the heat of the popular mobilization. Supporting a constituent, democratic and independent process, as said by Marea Socialista, with the workers and the peoples will be the task of the anti-capitalists. It’s time for definitions in the international and Chilean left.
Militante del Movimiento Anticapitalista.
i Marea Socialista (01 de febrero, 2019). Venezuela: ¡No a la intervención imperialista! ¡Ni el golpe de Guaidó ni la tragedia de Maduro!. www.Anticapitalistasenred.org
iii Pablo Vidal (23 de Enero, 2019). www.cnnchile.cl
vi Ver video en Facebook de Radicaliza la democracia (04 de enero)
vii Mariano Rosa, Carlos Carcione (04 de Febrero, 2019) Venezuela: entre la rapiña imperialista y la burocracia parasitaria. www.anticapitalistasenred.org