The Roots of the Current Situation in Venezuela

Published on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin No. 1195 (first on teleSUR english), by Gregory Wilpert, Dec 5, 2015.

The current economic, political, and social situation in Venezuela is very complicated, which makes it somewhat difficult for outsiders to make sense of. On the one hand there are many people who defend the Bolivarian revolution, pointing to the successes it has had in reducing poverty and inequality and in increasing citizen participation and self-governance.  

On the other hand, there is a chorus of critics, not just from the usual suspects on the political right, but often from the left, who criticize the Maduro government’s economic management of the country, corruption, the high inflation rate and shortages, and the trial of a high profile opposition politician, who the government accuses of fomenting violence. How did Venezuela get here? What happened since Hugo Chavez’s death? Did the project derail, get stuck, hit a speed bump, or crash altogether? In order to answer this question, I will first analyze the origins of the current economic situation … //

… Struggle for Economic Power: … //
… Post Chavez Elections: … //
… Solutions? … //
… Key Factors in Venezuela as Elections Approach: … //
… Popular Movements and Organizations: … //
… The Opposition: … //

… Looking Toward 6D:

As usual, given the vast majority of the media coverage on Venezuela, there is a concerted effort to make it look like the December 6 election will be marred by fraud. This is an image that the Venezuelan opposition is actively promoting with the unabashed help from international media, the U.S. government, and the Organization of American States (its bureaucracy in Washington DC, not most of its member states). However, anyone who has bothered to take a close look at the Venezuelan electoral system, can quickly see that it is perhaps one of the (if not the) most fraud-proof electoral systems in the world. It is thus no surprise that President Carter once said, “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”

The danger inherent in the December 6 election is thus not fraud, but the opposition’s reaction to the result. If it is a result that they do not like, they will almost certainly claim that there was fraud and launch into another violent destabilization campaign, just as they did following the April 2013 presidential election, which left 11 dead, and during the February-May 2014 street blockades known as “Guarimbas,” which killed 43 people and wounded hundreds of others.

The actual National Assembly result is very difficult to predict because it all depends on how well individual candidates do on the level of their electoral districts, of which there are 87 throughout the country. The governing PSUV had held an effective primary election to nominate the candidates last June, many of which are quite young and about half of whom are women. Also, the recent policies in the areas of housing and crime fighting have created plusses for the government among the population. Finally, the fact that most social movements are sticking with the government helps too.

On the other hand, the severe economic situation of inflation and shortages has also created an enormous amount of frustration amongst the chavista base, nearly outweighing the elements in favor of the government. The fact that there is an international campaign against the government, which the United States is leading and which the governments of Argentina and Colombia support, along with OAS Secretary General Almagro, probably won’t have much of an impact on the election itself, but will on the aftermath and the efforts to delegitimize the election, should the opposition not get the result it is hoping for.

… (full long text).

(Gregory Wilpert is a long-time activist and organizer, mostly around Latin America solidarity, and a co-founder of Venezuela This article first appeared on the teleSUR English website).


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