Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's new leader

Hugo Chavez is an interesting fellow. I remember seeing him speak in front of few thousand people at a celebration in memory of El Comandante Guevara in Caracas a few years ago. Chavez an intelligent, dynamic speaker had the crowd on its feet and chanting revolutionary slogans within a few minutes. The Venezuelan press produced almost daily speculations about whether Chavez was going to run, what he was doing etc. The press acknowledged that Chavez would win any election, since he was the most popular political figure in Venezuela. Chavez always denied he was going to run for president, claiming that he disagreed with the (very corrupt) parliamentary system and would rather work to see a more popular type of democracy in Venezuela. He was at the time, organizing a militant abstentionist movement that was having some success. There were electoral boycotts of between 50-90% in some areas. Alas, he changed his mind and we'll find out tomorrow how he did.He is going to have a tough time with the IMF and the oil oligarchs. When I saw him, he was leading a mass-based movement called Movimento Bolivariano Revolutionario 2000. Does any know what the relations are between MBR-2000, La Causa R( the other mass-based marxist movement) and other left groups in Venezuela? When I was there, La Causa R was organizing the daily strikes/riots in Caracas, which culminated in a violent general strike. Teodor Petkoff the ex-guerrilla leader(FALN), founder of MAS( Movement Towards Socialism) and Caldera's finance minister just said "I really don't blame them but there isn't much we can do." Does anyone know the whereabouts of Petkoff? Also, I. Meszaros in his telephone directory sized book _Beyond Capital_ has some interesting things to say about Chavez p710ff. Has anyone had a look this book? It has its faults but contains some interesting rumination on a variety of issues. A bit of discussion on this book might be worthwhile. A few points for discussion might be;

--M's critique of Hayek, A.Marshall, Keynes, Galbraith and Lukacs.

--M's concept of Capital as order of social metabolic reproduction and capitalism as organic system.

-- his view on class struggle, the state and post-capitalist society.

-- his concept of alienation and ideology.

-- a critique of his empirical arguments.

Sam Pawlett


John Lacny: Before the ballot, there were fears [reported by CNN] of a counter-coup to prevent Chavez from taking power. A "counter"-coup? This priceless sentence is from our friends at CNN, in an example of exactly the kind of stellar news analysis we have come to expect from the American press.

Seems to me, with the amount of popular support he has, the strength of the Venezuelan labor movement and the consciousness and organization that exists in the country's teeming slums, Chavez could really move against the domestic comprador class and the oil oligarchs. His pan-Latin American nationalism is an authentic expression of anti-imperialism. When your an anti-imperialist sometimes you have to support awkward figures like Chavez. What Chavez and Castro have in common is this pan-Latin American nationalism. A lot of Latin American marxists have been nationalists. Remember Guevara used to say "patria o muerte". There is nothing wrong with the idea that the resources of Venezuela, natural and otherwise should go to benefit the Venezuela people and not yankee traders is there? As Chomsky has pointed out, the cold war was not so much about fighting the abstract idea of communism as it was the fight against this anti-imperialist nationalism in the southern hemisphere of the world.Most of the governments that were overthrown or "destabilized" were of this nationalist type, Arbenz, Mossedegh, Allende,etc. It remains to be seen what Chavez does as opposed to what he says he is going to do.

Sam Pawlett


Listas (sorry for lack of translation for lists in English):

Transcribo una declaración saludando el triunfo electoral del pueblo venezolano contra los personeros del imperialismo y la dependencia:

Declaración del Partido de la Izquierda Nacional

El rotundo triunfo de Hugo Chávez en la hermana república de Venezuela abre una luz de esperanza para el conjunto de los pueblos indoamericanos. Las banderas bolivarianas enarboladas por el comandante Chávez ponen de manifiesto una estrategia continental que nos es común. Ella se funda en la acción solidaria de nuestros países y en la consolidación de una democracia real -gobierno del pueblo, para el pueblo y por el pueblo- frente a la seudodemocracia tramposa que nos llama a decidir cada tantos años qué representante del Fondo Monetario, las multinacionales y las oligarquías trasnacionalizadas habrán de gobernarnos y oprimirnos. La postración calamitosa en que estos poderes han hundido a Venezuela -como a la Argentina- explica su reacción histérica ante la emergencia triunfal de Hugo Chávez. Que sus privilegios sean simplemente amenazados, eso es "tiranía", "autoritarismo". Pues, como dijo Lincoln, la _libertad_ del rebaño, de no ser comido por el lobo, es _tiranía_ para el lobo, al que se le impide comer. Descontamos que las minorías privilegiadas continuarán, por otros medios igualmente sucios e implacables, las campañas histéricas desplegadas antes del comicio, para sabotearlo, desgastarlo, y cercarlo por hambre. Se oponen con argumentos leguleyos a una Constituyente que dé marco institucional a las imprevisibles transformaciones. Es el trato que hace medio siglo sufrió el general Perón o el que condujo en 1973 al feroz derrocamiento de Salvador Allende, programado desde el primer día de su gobierno por Nixon, Kissinger, la CIA y sus asociados. Todo dependerá, pues, de que Chávez logre consolidar su movimiento y proyectarlo con vocación participatoria en una vasta síntesis de _unidad nacional para la liberación_. El imperialismo, sobre todo, teme que el mal ejemplo cunda, en el marco del derrumbe de los programas neoliberales y la creciente oposición de los pueblos de América Latina. A casi dos siglos de distancia, San Martín y Bolívar vuelven a estrecharse en el abrazo de los Libertadores.

Firmado: Jorge Enea Spilimbergo, Secretario General Buenos Aires, 8 de diciembre de 1998

Partido de la Izquierda Nacional Chile 518, Capital Federal, Argentina.