Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/439/5200
Venezuela: Fight for socialism
"THE MOST dangerous man in the region" is US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's description of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president who is visiting London this week.
Not to be outdone, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld likened Chávez to Hitler. Rumsfeld, one of the principal architects of the Iraq war, declared troops would be welcomed in Iraq with flowers and victory parades. It turned out to be mortars and roadside bombs.
Chávez is regarded as dangerous to the interests of US imperialism in Latin America because of his politics. Chávez, who has been democratically elected eleven times, and his social reforms are seen by Latin America's workers and poor as an antidote to big business and capitalism in the continent.
Chávez has turned sharply away from the 'neo-liberal' policies pushed by the US and its flunkies in Latin America. He has restructured the oil-industry to guarantee that a higher percentage of the profits are reinvested in Venezuela. He has started 'missiones' ie social programmes aimed at helping the poorest Venezuelans and providing for example education and cheap food.
More than anything he has come out sharply against capitalism and argued for what he calls "Socialism in the 21st century". That is why US imperialism has backed Venezuela's right-wing rich elite in their failed attempts to remove him, including an abortive military coup in 2002.
Time and again, the mass of the Venezuelan working class and poor have come out to defend Chávez and his reforms against the attempts by the opposition at overthrowing a democratically-elected government.
The reaction to the 2002 coup was a mass demonstration and defiance. The Chavez regime was saved by the working class. The same happened in response to the bosses lock-out in December 2002-January 2003. Under the slogan: "An idle factory is an occupied factory," they occupied the most important workplaces and broke the resistance of the bosses.
Breaking with capitalism
While the Chávez regime has made significant steps forward and is to be applauded for breaking with neo-liberalism it has not brought about fundamental change in Venezuelan society.
Capitalism means that employers can control society and run it in their own private interest because they own the factories, land, and other means of production. The state was shaped to defend their interests. While Chávez may have the best of intentions, one man or one movement cannot break this system of exploitation without breaking the power of the employers and the power of the employers' state.
This has not happened in Venezuela. Workers still find it difficult to organise in trade unions. Workers' rights are not respected. The minimum wage and other rights, guaranteed in the constitution, still have to be fought for. This is a battle that more often than not is lost with the employers.
The Socialist Party stands shoulder to shoulder with the struggle of workers and youth in Venezuela.
A struggle for socialism can be won by nationalising the most important sectors of the economy under democratic workers' control and management. This means a struggle for a democratic plan to fulfil the needs of the majority of the population instead of maintaining the privileges of a few.
for more info on Venezuela see www.socialistworld.net
Hugo Chávez public meeting
Sunday 14 May, 4pm
Venue: Queen Elizabeth ll Conference Centre, London, SW1.
Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez will speak about the social reforms of the 'Bolivarian Revolution'.
(The Conference Centre is situated in Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1, opposite Westminster Abbey.) Nearest tube: Westminster
In The Socialist 11 May 2006:
Socialist Party election analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news