Venezuela: No concentration of power is ever revolutionary
During mid-December a large number of people working under temporary contracts in governmental offices lost their jobs due to orders “from above” that mandated a drastic reduction in the inflated state payroll due to the economic crisis. On the other hand a report by the NGO CECODAP counted 174 children dead by gunshots in one year in their neighborhoods, which testifies about the violence we live with in this country, symptom of our social crisis. The lack of decent housing affects 13 million people, after ten consecutive years of the Bolivarian government failing to meet their own goals, which has mobilized the community of the homeless throughout the nation, occupying land under threats of criminalization and police and judicial repression. During 2008 inflation was the highest in Latin America, lowering real wages as the cost of food and services rose, and this situation is not going to improve in 2009. Besides, the state’s income and expenses will drop considerably due to falling oil prices, our main export. The condition of health care, personal security, of people deprived of freedom, the degradation of the police forces and the murder of labor activists do not pass scrutiny either, despite al the government propaganda in the media.
Against the current, the government’s worries are far from the suffering and the demands of common people. It has been decided at the top that the priority (as if there were no more pressing problems to solve) is to change an article in the Constitution to allow for the indefinite re-election of only the position of president. This modification would complete the judicial scaffolding that supports the progressive military centralization of power we have suffered this past decade, while keeping the democratic formalities. In this barracks socialism built upon state capitalism there is no possibility of “process” or opportunity for minimal dissent from the political line ordered from above and implemented via the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), as other parties –such as PCV(Communist Party of Venezuela) and PPT(Fatherland for All) – that support the Bolivarian project know quite well.
In spite of having the decade with the highest oil and fiscal income in Venezuelan history, the lack of structural change, the deepening of a single product economy as well as the scandalous corruption in all levels of government put us at a disadvantage at the threshold of a global economic crisis, which, like every other crisis, will hit the hardest the more vulnerable sectors. However, the hungering for power does not hesitate to spend 800 million hard Bolivars (almost US$400,000) in the campaign for the constitutional amendment.
The support for the proposal shown by the principal state functionaries and economic actors has a motive: to secure the continuity of a model of government that has benefited them with largesse. The existence of a new privileged class, the “boliburgeoisie” can no longer be hidden, born and raised in the warmth of a simulated pseudo-revolution. This flourishing oligarchy that shares space with the traditional power centers linked to the globalized economy, shamelessly flaunts the most scandalously sudden enrichment in the continent. These white collar and red beret criminals, protected by the impunity given by the concentration of power have embezzled public monies in such a magnitude that they make the previous administrative malfeasance of the former Mayor of Caracas Juan Barreto look like the doings of a provincial chicken thief.
It is possible to observe in this potpourri of principles the substance of the “new world” they want to impose on us from the summit of the bureaucracy. The strong-arming and harassment of public employees to sign on to the amendment, under the explicit or veiled threat of losing their jobs exemplifies the spirit of change that animates this populist extravagance of the XXI century. In such a contest of opportunism and abjection the ends justify the use of any means, precisely the contrary of what informed the ethics of the founders of socialism. Autocratic leadership denies the essence of popular counter-power, which, in large majorities, not only by one person, is the motor that drives the transformations. By contrast, going in that direction legitimizes the militarization of everyday life, the lack of independence and autonomy of the social movements, the criminalization of difference and dissent, the discrimination because of politics, the corruption and impunity of the sycophants as well as the loss of the possibility of direct democracy by assembly that finds expression in multiple formats not just in its reduction to electoral activity.
[Translation: Luis Prat]
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