On January 23, 2019, the imperialist government of Donald Trump launched a large-scale coup offensive in Venezuela. Relying on the right-wing and the extreme right-wing opposition and the most reactionary governments of the continent (Bolsonaro, Piñera, Duque ...), he declared the Executive of Nicolás Maduro, elected in the presidential elections of May 2018, was illegitimate, and he proclaimed the extreme rightist Juan Guaidó “president in charge” of Venezuela. In just a few days 60 governments, including virtually all of the European Union, recognized Guaidó as the "legitimate president" of Venezuela.
A year later, the failure of this coup d'etat cannot be more evident. Guaidó is completely discredited and the forces that support him so divided and demoralized by the lack of popular support that they have not been able to organize any demonstration in Venezuelan territory for months.
The failure of the coup
Initially, Guaido managed to mobilize significant sectors of the masses by taking advantage of discontent in the face of the economic collapse that Venezuela is suffering. In May 2019, after four years without publishing reports, the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) recognized a 52% drop in GDP in the last five years and an inflation of 100.060%, a figure which has increased since then. Other sources speak of an even more dramatic crash.
The social unrest accumulated by the tremendous decline in living standards and hyperinflation was spurred by the effects of the adjustment measures applied by the Government of Nicolás Maduro, especially after the presentation on August 30 in 2020 of the so-called “Plan of Economic Reactivation”. These policies of the PSUV Government have dynamited all the social advances conquered by the workers and the Venezuelan people under the governments of Hugo Chávez.
However, after the initial success of the demonstration called by the opposition on January 23 in 2019, it became clear that Guaidó was acting as a Donald Trump’s puppet, coming to defend a US military intervention in the country, regardless of human lives and the destruction that it could cost. Nor did he hesitate to be linked to the Colombian fascist narco-paramilitaries, and his team starred in loud corruption scandals, including succulent business with the alleged "humanitarian aid" for Venezuela. Events showed the chasm that separates this reactionary oligarch from popular interests and needs.
The context of the deep crisis of Latin American capitalism was added to the fall of popular support to the coup leader, with practically all the governments that the Venezuelan opposition presents as a model (Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador) facing massive protests, insurrections or general strikes
Trump's goals and the weakness of US imperialism
The fiasco of the coup offensive in Venezuela - along with those of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East - highlights the failure of the Trump administration's strategy and the decline of US imperialism. The objective of the White House was to regain direct control of Venezuela, the country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world, and at the same time send a message of strength to both the masses and the struggling peoples of Latin America and the rest of the world, like its Chinese and Russian imperialist rivals.
In Venezuela the revolutionary movement of the masses went far. The Government of Hugo Chávez expropriated several companies and large estates to respond to the mobilization of workers and peasants and recovered - for the first time in decades - the idea of a socialist revolution. But Chavez stayed halfway: he never expropriated the capitalists nor ended the bourgeois state by promoting the establishment of a socialist workers state based on the democratic control and management of the workers.
This allowed the bourgeoisie to maintain its economic power and the bureaucracy that developed within the public enterprises, the state apparatus and the Army to derail the revolutionary process. In spite of this, the example of expropriations in Venezuela, and especially the example of struggle and resistance of the Venezuelan people against the imperialist plans -defeating 17 times to the right at the polls and stopping several coups and offensives of the fascist gangs and terrorists led by leaders of the oligarchy such as Guaidó and others- became a point of reference for the oppressed masses on the continent. One of the objectives of US imperialism and the Latin American bourgeoisie is to erase that point of reference completely, discrediting the idea of socialism to the fullest.
Although Nicolás Maduro and the rest of PSUV leaders are liquidating all the progressive measures taken under the Chávez governments, the Trump administration continues to see an enemy in Venezuela.
The Government of Maduro has become one of Russia’s and Chinese imperialism’s main allies in the continent, reaching numerous agreements with them with the aim of attracting investments and credits from these countries and establishing a state capitalism regime. An essential objective of the US-led coup was to evict Chinese and Russians from Venezuela and regain control of what they consider to be their backyard.
None of these goals have been achieved. In fact, the recent and pathetic tour of Guaidó through Latin America and different European countries far from strengthening the Venezuelan opposition it has become a recognition of its weakness and, with it, of that of US imperialism itself. All calls from the Venezuelan right to a military intervention in Venezuela have crashed with evidence that if Trump tried such a thing at this time, there would be a mass uprising throughout Latin America and a massive rejection among the American population itself. In the US there is an unprecedented political polarization, with the imperialist policies of the ruling class as a whole increasingly questioned, and a Democratic candidate like Bernie Sanders, who declares himself socialist, growing in all polls.
The policies of the Maduro government
The failure of the coup offensive and the weakening of the Venezuelan right has been reflected again earlier this year in the pathetic struggle to control the National Assembly, that which the opposition dominates since its victory in the 2016 legislative elections. Government has used the divisions generated by the failure of the coup to rely on a fraction of these corrupt reactionaries, led by Deputy Luis Parra, against the one led by Guaido.
While this struggle above occurs, the masses remain completely aside, with scepticism and political indifference prevailing. And not only towards the actions of the right and ultra-right opposition, but also towards the Government. All the demonstrations convened by him against the coup and imperialist intervention have been light years away from the massiveness and enthusiasm which characterized the mobilizations during the Chávez governments or even those of the first and a half year of the Maduro Government.
The cause of this spectacular fall is not difficult to understand. Although they continue speaking in their speeches of "socialism", "revolution", mentioning Chávez every now and then and flooding the country with his portraits, the PSUV leaders have decided to take a 180º turn to the right and liquidate all progressive and anti-imperialists measures taken under the Chávez governments.
The current Government has established agreements with different sectors of the bourgeoisie, trying to demonstrate its ability to manage capitalism better than its opponents, and has increasingly increased its dependence and submission to Chinese and Russian imperialists. Maduro – who just a year ago denounced the dollarization of the economy as "capitalist" and "contrary to the Bolivarian Constitution"- is applying a good part of the measures that Venezuelan and foreign capitalists have been demanding for years, starting to promote and extend in practice said dollarization. "That process they call dollarization can be used for the recovery and deployment of productive forces... It is an escape valve, thank God it exists," he said recently.
Linked to all of the above, the Government has responded to the coup offensive by further strengthening the power of the military leadership, granting it control of key companies and economic sectors to maintain and consolidate its support. This support has been key to the support of the Government, but it has accentuated the bonapartist and authoritarian tendencies of the regime, especially against the sectors of the working class that on the left try to resist this turn to the right and have been severely repressed.
The imperialist plans were aimed at convincing a sector of the military dome to overthrow Maduro and support Guaidó. But the high military commanders, given the poor social support of the putschists, distrust the imperialist promises as long as they can continue doing good business and keep their power and influence under the protection of the governments of China and Russia
The effects of the dollarization and the capitalist recipes
The dollarization, together with other government concessions and grants, has opened a range of opportunities to national and foreign capital, making Venezuela an unexpected tax haven. This is also one of the reasons that a sector of capitalists did not join Guaidó’s coup with the unanimity and decision they showed in 2002 against Chavez. Then they organized several employer stoppages and ended up closing the companies while they continued paying their payroll to many workers, trying to cause a total economic collapse.
To the agreements already commented with sectors of the traditional bourgeoisie we must add a conscious policy by the Maduro Government to favour the development of a new bourgeoisie that has emerged from the ranks of the bureaucracy itself, which is benefiting from all kinds of government concessions and aid public. In both cases, the traditional bourgeoisie and the so-called “bolibourgeoisie”, its parasitic and reactionary character cannot be more evident, and they are responding to the concessions of the Government of Nicolás Maduro as they have always done: plundering the oil revenue and filling their pockets, without reverting even a small part of those benefits back to productive investment.
Although the State has granted them since 2008 the largest allocation of resources sin the seventies, the gross fixed capital formation - which measures productive investment – has dropped year after year. Foreign private investors have taken 275,000 million dollars out of the country, 4.8 times more than they invested between 1976 and 2018. If tomorrow, as happened in Bolivia in 2019 with the Government of Evo Morales, these “allied” entrepreneurs considered more profitable and feasible to overthrow Maduro and support the right part of them would not hesitate to do so.
The latter is also valid for Chinese and Russian claims. Recently, Putin announced the creation of a team of Russian advisors to help develop policies that "reactivate the economy" and make the management of PDVSA and other public companies "profitable." The statements of the Russian Finance Minister Sergei Storchak suggesting “the review” and “to correct” the “mistakes made during the oil nationalization”, promoted during the Chávez governments, and opening the door to the privatization of PDVSA, make it very clear what are the objectives and advice to be expected from the bourgeois governments of Putin and Xi Jinping. The "revision" and "correction" of these nationalizations will only mean business closures, job cuts and precarious working conditions for the Venezuelan working class, as Russian and Chinese workers are suffering.
Chinese and Russian capitalists want to protect their investments in Venezuela and guarantee the recovery of their loans (quite limited despite everything) in the shortest time and with the greatest possible benefit. If they maintain this support for the Maduro regime, it is because it is about staying in a key Latin American country and snatching a fundamental market from US imperialism. The defence of "socialism" plays no role in this strategy.
Rebuild the political and trade union left with a revolutionary program
In the short term the dollarization, together with the departure of millions of people from the country and the arrival of remittances, has given the government an oxygen balloon, but its result is already dramatically increasing social inequalities. The other effect of this general process is to deconstruct, divide and demoralize the working class and the people.
The decisive factor which conditions the whole situation in Venezuela is the tremendous economic collapse, which forces millions of people to put the fight for survival before any other aspect. Together with the deep feeling of bitterness over the abandonment of any revolutionary perspective and the capitalist policies of the Maduro Government, the consequence has been a deep ebb in the moral and political participation of the masses, extending scepticism and indifference.
For millions of workers the salary has ceased to be the main source of income, having to resort massively to the "resolves": street sales, different forms of informal economy, with the social decomposition and demoralization that this entails. All these factors are joined by the bureaucratization of the union leaderships, with the leaders of the majority central, CSBT, co-opted by the Government and minority sectors of the union bureaucracy in the arms of the right.
The only way to solve the catastrophic situation suffered by the Venezuelan people is by expropriating banks, large companies and land, putting all that wealth - produced by the workers but today looted by the capitalists and bureaucrats - under direct management of the working class and all the oppressed to democratically plan the economy. But this program is in the antipodes of what the Government, the leaders of the PSUV and the union bureaucracy defend.
The only way for the workers and popular organizations of Venezuela is to build a united front that raises a class program, truly socialist and internationalist, which intends to defeat US imperialism and the extreme right, explaining at the same time that in order to end them we must definitely fight against the capitalist and bureaucratic policies that the Government is applying.
A program that defends labour and social rights, demands wages comparable to the constant increase in the basic basket, combats the deterioration of public services and companies, unemployment, concessions to the capitalists, the murder of labour and peasant leaders, the criminalization of struggles, discrimination against women and environmental destruction. Only in this way will it be possible to rebuild the organized labour movement and the left, with a revolutionary and militant leadership, linking the struggle of the oppressed in Venezuela to the revolutions underway, mass movements and uprisings that are currently starring young people, workers and farmers from other countries of the continent such as Chile, Colombia or Ecuador.
Only the people save the people!
Join the Revolutionary Left to rebuild the left and the labour movement in Venezuela with a socialist and internationalist program!