Statement on the Political and Economic Crisis in Venezuela

Written by Workers’ Voice/La Voz
We oppose Guaido’s US-Backed coup-attempt and any form of US intervention in Venezuela while standing in solidarity with Venezuelan workers organizing for survival and democracy against the Maduro regime.

1 . We oppose any form of US or foreign Intervention in Venezuela and do not recognize Guaidó as President. #HandsoffVenezuela

Since September 2018, the mainstream US press revealed that the Trump administration plotted with members of the Venezuelan military to overthrow the Maduro government, continuing a long, bipartisan tradition of imperialist interference in Latin America to advance US geopolitical and economic interests (the interests of US capital, that is).
Four months later, on January 11, newly-elected right-wing National Assembly leader, Juan Guaidó, announced he was preparing a “plan” to assume the presidential “responsibilities” of the country against the “usurpation” of the presidency by Nicolas Maduro, 24 hours after the latter was sworn in for a second term. The true usurper here is Guaidó, who has not been elected by any Venezuelan, and was hand-picked and supported by the US government. This is evident by the lightning-speed with which the Trump administration rushed to recognize Guaidó as well as by the following tweet, published by vice president Pence on January 16 (more than a week before Guaidó’s self-proclamation): “I spoke yesterday with Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, and I told him the United States will continue to stand strong with the people of Venezuela until democracy and liberty are restored.”
It was not a coincidence but a predetermined and agreed-upon plan that Guaidó would defy Maduro and proclaim himself president during the World Economic Forum so that 13 world leaders, led by the US, Canada and Brazil, would immediately back his move. Several world leaders have now recognized that they knew of the US-backed-coup-attempt in advance. In fact, the statement issued by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, had been finalized several weeks in advance.
Neither Trump, nor far right Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, nor any other head of state have moral or political authority to declare who is and is not the legitimate leader of a sovereign nation—least of all the United States government, which currently props up brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt, and has backed nearly all Latin American dictatorships for the past 100 years. Thus, we do not recognize Guaidó as the new President of Venezuela, categorically oppose any kind of military intervention, and demand an immediate end to all CIA actions in the country and to economic sanctions that are further crippling the material well-being of Venezuelan workers. The fate of Venezuela must be decided by the Venezuelan people!

2) The Maduro Government is Neither Socialist nor Democratic

Unfortunately, the character of the Maduro government has grown increasingly dictatorial. The non-functional status of the legislative branch, the increasing control of the courts by the executive branch, the manipulation of elections, and the widespread persecution of both right-wing and left-wing opposition leaders are but the most obvious signs that the Venezuelan state is no longer functioning like a liberal, bourgeois democracy, but more like a Bonapartist regime.
Moreover, the country is undergoing its most severe economic crisis in recent history, as a result of the sharp fall of oil prices in 2014, US-imposed sanctions, and the fact that Venezuela continues to be heavily dependent on oil exports and has not been able to establish the basis of true economic independence. The crisis, as always, is being put on the backs of Venezuelan working people, who are suffering from hunger, widespread scarcity, and crushing hyperinflation, while there is rampant government corruption and the state continues to make astronomical foreign debt payments. According to the IMF, inflation in 2018 rose 1,300% and will reach 10,000% in 2019. Hence, despite several minimum-wage increases decreed by the Maduro government, fewer and fewer people are able to purchase the base minimum of food to prevent starvation. While the Maduro government claims that only 4.4% of the population lives in poverty, independent studies find that the poverty rate is now more than 48%.
We will always blame, first and foremost, the imperialist economic system for the imposed subjugation of semi-colonial economies like Venezuela’s, and we fight against the over-exploitation of Venezuelan workers and the continued plunder of their country’s natural resources. The US has done everything to strangle the demonized Venezuelan national economy, and yet it also secretly does business with it: it still imports between 13,000 and 23,000 barrels of oil every month and, in 2018, it imported $11 billion dollars worth of Venezuelan goods.
But we cannot forget that despite its anti-imperialist rhetoric, the Chavez government never fully nationalized foreign oil companies, and neither did it cut commercial ties with the US. It established instead a public-private partnership in which PDVSA, the state-owned oil company, owns 60% of the assets leaving 40% to multinational corporations such as Chevron (US), Eni (Italy) BP (UK) and Total (France). Having left the IMF in 2007, Venezuela was forced to seek other creditors and lenders when the 2014 crisis hit. It then turned to other rising bourgeois nationalist regimes, such as Jinping’s China and Putin’s Russia. The Venezuelan government made a pro-capitalist political choice to pay Venezuela’s growing foreign debt ($23 billion owed to China and $8 billion to Russia), over buying food and medicine for its people. In November of last year, Maduro clearly stated: “our strategy is to renegotiate and refinance all the debt.” And this is because Maduro is not the leader of a socialist, planned economy that is democratically controlled by Venezuelan workers; he is the representative of a corrupt Bolivarian bourgeoisie and a corrupt state bureaucracy that grows more repressive and authoritarian as it desperately clings onto power.
So yes, it is possible to simultaneously oppose imperialist intervention in Venezuela; the US-backed neoliberal, right-wing opposition; the Maduro government; and the attempts of China and Russia to control the fate of Venezuela. In fact, this is the only principled stance for socialists and Leftists, and the only alternative for working people in the country.

3) It Must Be the Working-Class and Popular Movement that Ousts Maduro, Not Guaidó and his US-backers

The question is not if but when and HOW the Maduro regime falls. As desperate as the situation is, the right-wing opposition in Venezuela—the traditional oligarchy that ruled the country like a Banana (or oil) republic for 200 years— can only offer further exploitation and suffering to the Venezuelan people. If they return to power through a US-backed military coup, they will most certainly deepen the type of austerity policies that Macri and Bolsonaro are imposing in Argentina and Brazil.
But there is also a Left opposition to the Maduro regime, albeit relatively small, which has been organizing to channel mass mobilizations towards a program that demands the repeal of austerity measures, stopping foreign debt payments and using those resources to import basic goods and reactivate domestic production, and actually nationalizing the oil industry, without transnational and private shares. Previous to Guaidó’s proclamations, Venezuela went through several months of increasing labor unrest, which saw the formation of the Cross-sector alliance of Venezuelan Workers (IVT, Intersectorial de Trabajadores de Venezuela). The IVT has brought together several local labor unions in the country with common workers’ power and clear independence from the bourgeois sectors. The task of the US Left is to support these comrades. However this unfolds, the possibilities for lifting the Venezuelan people from their suffering will depend on the political and programmatic character of the movement that brings down Maduro.

Hands off Venezuela!
End all US intervention in and economic sanctions against Venezuela
Guaidó is not Venezuela’s President
All Support to independent workers’ and popular movements rising against Maduro!

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