According to the polls by a right-wing pollster firm Datanalsis Chavez has a support of 43.6 percent as compared to Capriles’s 27.7 percent
The elections being held on October 7 in Venezuela are of an immense historical significance. The results of this election will have a crucial impact not just in Venezuela and Latin America but far beyond its frontiers on the consciousness of the masses and the dynamics of the class struggle. It is neither an accident nor a coincidence that there has been an enormous interest and attention in the outcome of these polls by the experts and strategists of the ruling classes and the imperialist media. The scathing attacks on Hugo Chavez that often emanate contempt and condescension by capitalist media are not without a reason. They are terrified of a Bolivarian victory. The rhetorical attacks on Iran, North Korea, and Islamic fundamentalism etc are a different ball game.
In fact the imperialist and the Venezuelan oligarchy are fervently campaigning for the joint opposition (the imperialists and their agents have clobbered) candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski to win this presidential election. The imperialist support for this right wing candidate is for very clear interests of the resumption of unhindered imperialist plunder and intensification of capitalist exploitation. The imperialist support was plainly spelt out by Robert Zoellick the outgoing President of the World Bank when he said in June this year, “Chavez’s days are numbered. A Capriles victory was an opportunity to make Western Hemisphere the first democratic hemisphere.” This is in spite of the fact that Chavez has won eight elections and referendums during his almost fourteen year term which were endorsed even by the so-called ‘neutral’ American observers including the Jimmy Carter foundation.
But what these imperialist strategists mean by democracy is the freedom of free market enterprises and an inexorable access for the corporate capital to unrestricted exploitation to amass colossal rates of profit. Capriles stands exactly for those policies. In the garb of being ‘apolitical’ and ‘mixed’ economy he wants to exclude the role of the state in the economy and impose the doctrine of trickle down economy and free private enterprise. The subservience of the right wing opposition to big oil companies who want to plunder Venezuela’s huge oil reserves as in the past and imperialism is evident from the massive financing of Caprile’s campaign by these vested interests and plans to sabotage the elections. Capriles attacked the Cuban Embassy during the 2002 coup that toppled Chavez for a few days. This military coup was covertly supported by US imperialism and the present opposition now masquerading as democrats. Capriles has announced a foreign policy of appeasement to imperialism and to cold shoulder the relations with the left governments in Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and other regimes that are moving to the left. But the masses are not so naive. They can see the ugly physiognomy of the oligarchy that lies concealed behind the smiling mask.
Chavez was a colonel in the Military commandos in the 1980’s. He in fact was in a military operation against a guerrilla campaign in the mountains launched by the communist party at the time. One of leaders of the communist fighters of the time was Maria Leon who later became a senior minister in the Chavez government after the 2002 coup. That was quite a departure. When Chavez was elected in 1998 he was not a socialist. But when he tried to carry out the capitalist revolution he was astonished that the biggest hostility to the fulfilment of those tasks came from the capitalist oligarchy and imperialism. Through experience he came to the conclusion that the tasks of the bourgeoisie democratic revolution cannot be accomplished within the confine s of capitalism itself. That is what led him to raise the slogan of 21st century socialism. It ultimately led to the coup of 2002. Chavez’s support amongst the vast majority of the lower ranks of the army and the mobilisation of a million people in Caracas defeated the coup in 36 hours. From then onwards he embarked upon radical reforms including nationalising the oil industry and chunks of the economy. His policies have resulted in reduction of poverty by 21 percent from 1999 to 2010.Illiteracy was abolished. There was full and free healthcare for the poor. More than 250,000 housing units have been built for the homeless. Weekly working hours have been reduced from 44 to 40 hours. Pre and post natal leave has been extended to 26 weeks. Gender equality has been the hall mark of the revolutionary process.
But capitalism has not been abolished and the oligarchy is trying to sabotage the economy. With electricity outages and increasing crime rate show that an appropriate infrastructure cannot be build even under state capitalism. Chavez was not a trained cadre of a Marxist- Leninist party. But the necessity of a party led him to launch the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). However this was an amalgamation of diverse left and progressive groupings with little ideological and organisational cohesion. This has led to the formation of the right wing of the PSUV, mainly comprising of reformists and opportunist elements that act as a sort of fifth columnists. They don’t believe in revolutionary socialism. Sections of this bureaucracy even sabotage the implementation of radical reforms that Chavez often announces. It is inevitable if a party is created while being in power. This is the most detrimental threat to the revolution that has continued for almost a decade.
The masses in Venezuela have stood by the revolution steadfastly and defied attacks of imperialism and counter revolutionary forces. They fight to defend the gains of the revolution. But the revolution is far from complete and that is really the cause of the crisis we see in Venezuela. Today the masses will be tested against the avalanche of media propaganda and finance capital. According to the polls by a right-wing pollster firm Datanalsis Chavez has a support of 43.6 percent as compared to Capriles’s 27.7 percent. If Chavez wins he plans to further advance the revolution. He wants to set up a system of communes or socialist local entities across the country as a way of devolving power to the people. According to a quote in the Economist, “It is the Leninist idea of the soviet.” The article continues, “And what if Chavez loses? He said earlier this month that a Capriles victory would lead to a ‘profound destabilisation of Venezuela, which might even cause ‘civil war’. The opposition worries that the army might back the president if he decided not to recognise defeat.” One of Chavez’s strengths is his strong support within the armed forces that are “wedded to Mr. Chavez’s socialist project.” With attacks from the imperialists and oligarchy he may go the whole hog and complete the socialist revolution. The rapidly rising forces of Marxism in the PSUV will play a decisive role in such a consequential revolution.