Venezuelan and Bolivian Revolutions in Danger, U.S. Hands Off!

topic posted Sun, December 9, 2007 - 11:31 AM by  Unsubscribed
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Venezuela - The "No" Wins the
Referendum on Constitutional Reform:
The Venezuelan Revolution Is in Danger


In the referendum that was held December 2 in Venezuela, called by President Hugo Chavez with the aim of reforming the Constitution, a majority went to the "No" advocated by the U.S. Embassy-supported opponents of Chavez.

There were 4,379,302 voters for the "Yes" and 4,504,354 for the "No" -- a difference of 124,962 votes. The abstention rate of 44.11% was much higher than the 25.3% for the presidential elections of December 2006, when Chavez won with 63% of the vote.

The reforms involved 33 articles of the Constitution and included such questions as the right of the president to seek re-election, the place and role of communal institutions, and the unity of the national territory.

Article 320 of the Constitutional Reform called for expanding the role of the State "for reasons of sovereignty, development and national interest -- to exploit the nation's oil and gas resources and to produce and control all services and goods of public interest and strategic character ... and to promote national manufacturing, making use of the raw materials derived from the exploitation of the country's natural resources."

Other articles called for reclaiming sovereignty over Venezuela's Central Bank, which till now has been under the control of the International Monetary Fund.

U.S. Campaign Against Venezuelan Revolution

For years, the U.S. government has waged a campaign aimed at removing the Chavez government from power. This campaign was stepped up many notches these past months. The U.S. government, the multinationals based in Caracas, the international media, and the majority of the private media in Venezuela (themselves controlled by foreign capital), all pursued an unprecedented smear campaign against the Chavez government, accusing Chavez of being a dictator who had planned to win the referendum by fraud.

There was a continuous and ever-louder threat of civil war had the "Yes" vote carried the day. This was not an idle threat. In Bolivia, the right-wing forces, backed by the U.S. Embassy, had risen up only 10 days before the Venezuelan referendum to deny Evo Morales's government the right to nationalize the nation's oil and gas reserves and to ensure that the Constituent Assembly could function by majority vote. The Bolivian oligarchy, at the behest of the U.S. government and oil transnational corporations, is staging daily riots to promote the secession of four oil-rich departments from Bolivia.

The attacks against the Constitutional Reform process in Venezuela are the continuation of an uninterrupted campaign waged by these right-wing forces against Hugo Chavez ever since he took office -- a campaign that includes two attempted coup d'etats (which were defeated by the mass mobilizations of the Venezuelan people), two lockouts imposed by the powerful bosses' federation (Fedecamaras), and an attempt to remove Chavez from office via a binding referendum in August 2005 (an attempt that also was defeated by the uprising of the people).

This heinous propaganda campaign was contradicted by the manner in which this referendum was carried out -- with full transparency of results and total freedom of expression and agitation. One should note that the same people who are screaming "dictator" in Venezuela recognized the legitimacy of Felipe Calderón in Mexico, the usurper who was "elected" only because of massive fraud.

It also should be noted that none of the presidents who joined the chorus to lambaste Chavez as a "dictator" -- beginning with George W. Bush -- have ever done what Chavez just did; that is, submit major policy decisions to a vote by the people. Did the American people ever get to vote on NAFTA or on the war in Iraq in a popular referendum?

But the offensive launched to destabilize the government was not only limited to propaganda. U.S. imperialism, particularly through the Colombian government, the principal exporter of many food staples to Venezuela, organized a boycott on the shipment of these basic staples to Venezuela -- a campaign not unlike the one deployed by the CIA to prepare the coup d'etat against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973.

Why Have They Gone After Chavez?

The Constitution of 1999, defended today by those who rejected it at the time, establishes the public character of PDVSA, the big national oil company and the backbone of the nation. Chavez went further: he required oil multinationals to be part of mixed-investment companies where PDVSA holds a majority. And moreover, the Chavez government has used a large part of oil revenues for social spending: education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc.

According to a recent report issued by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), "Poverty in Venezuela has fallen by 31% over the course of the nine years of Chavez's government, and 'certain people still wonder why Chavez remains popular', an ECLAC official noted ironically." (Le Monde, December 2, 2007)

It's a fact: Poverty has dropped in Venezuela -- contrary to Brazil under the Lula government, which has followed IMF directives to the letter; contrary to Mexico under the fraudster Calderon, faithful ally of Bush; and even contrary to the countries of the European Union, where the number of poor people continues to rise as a result of the implementation of the "zero deficit" policy of the Maastricht Treaty.

For imperialism and all its defenders, it is intolerable that a government dares to nationalize, or re-nationalize, and invests billions of dollars toward meeting the needs of its population, to the detriment of financial markets and speculators. This is intolerable, and therefore everything must be done to stop it.

New Pressures to Derail the Revolution

Without a doubt, the "victory" of the opposition is going to be exploited to try to call into question all aspects of the revolution in progress in Venezuela, particularly the nationalization of oil, the measures on agrarian reform, and the re-nationalization of companies previously privatized in such sectors as iron and steel, as well as the larger freedoms at all levels won by the Venezuelan people.

Imperialism will now seek to derail the revolution by "legal" means, promoting "dialogue" and "reconciliation" and demanding the inclusion of opposition sectors within the government, thereby paving the way for Chavez's own defeat down the road. This does not, of course, preclude another coup attempt. U.S. imperialism cannot tolerate, and will not tolerate, a government that nationalizes oil, other natural resources, and abandoned factories, and that adopts measures of land reform, as Chavez has done.

In this framework, the integration of Venezuela into Mercosur, a measure promoted by Lula in Brazil, is aimed at "stabilizing" the situation in Venezuela -- meaning rolling back the revolutionary process and preventing it from moving forward toward socialism.

"The Opposition Did Not Win the Referendum, We Lost It" -- Chavez

Following the defeat of the "Yes" vote, Hugo Chavez explained on Venezuelan TV that the opposition did not win the referendum, it was the Bolivarian camp that lost the election.

Chavez pointed out that the opposition barely increased its vote totals -- a scant 150,000 votes -- from the 2006 presidential election. What made the difference was the abstention of about 2.9 million people who had voted for Chavez in 2006 but who refrained from voting in this referendum.

How to explain this abstention?

Chavez is correct when he notes that this referendum vote was held at gunpoint -- with the U.S. Embassy, the Spanish king and their puppets holding the gun at the Venezuelan people and threatening to shoot if the "Yes" had won. Clearly, the threat of civil war was a major factor. No one can doubt this for one minute. But is this all?

Unlike 2004, there was no visible mass enthusiasm in the streets during this referendum. A more somber mood seemed to prevail at the time of the vote. A discussion will be needed among revolutionists in Venezuela to address some of the following concerns expressed by workers before and after the referendum:

- The role of various governors, mayors and ministers linked to Chavismo, who have opposed independent struggles by the workers and peasants, who have been accused of corruption -- and many of whom did not even mobilize their base for the "Yes" vote.

- The Bolivarian government's push to create a single party linked to the State. (The government has announced that the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela -- PSUV -- has more than 5 million members, yet the vote for the "Yes" on the referendum was just 4.38 million.)

- The attempts by the government to question the autonomy and independence of the trade unions.

- The decision to link Chavez's own continued tenure in office to the more fundamental reforms of the country's economic and financial institutions.

Addressing these issues, among others, openly -- and seeking collectively to forge the institutions of workers' and popular democracy -- will only strengthen the revolutionary process from within and enable it to more firmly withstand the pressures and attacks from imperialism, which are bound to increase.

One thing is certain, however. The Venezuelan Revolution is at a turning point.

Either it moves forward, reclaiming under democratic control all that was privatized, advancing to take control over key sectors of the economy that continue in private hands (banks, large corporations); or else it will move backward toward a pact with the local oligarchies, agents of imperialism, which will lead inexorably to the weakening of the Chavez government among its mass base, preparing the conditions for its removal from power.

In this struggle, we who live in the belly of the beast are unconditionally on the side of the Venezuelan people in defense of their conquests, and on the side of the government elected by the people, against any and every attempt by U.S. imperialism and its allies to undermine their sovereignty.

U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!

-- The Editors


Bolivia After the Constituent Assembly Vote:
U.S. & Oligarchy Step Up Separatist Offensive

Introductory note:

Following is the English translation of the statement issued Nov. 25, 2007 in Bolivia by La Chispa, the Bolivian sympathizing section of the Fourth International, regarding the recent developments in that country.

We want to remind you once again of the Bolivia Solidarity Fund that we have launched in the United States to help sustain -- and expand -- the activity of La Chispa in these decisive moments. Any donation, big or small, to this fund will go a long, long way.

You can donate through Paypal by clicking on the link below or you can send a check made payable to The Organizer (please specify Bolivia Fund at bottom of check) to:

P.O. Box 40009
San Francisco, CA, 94140

For more information or to donate online, visit:

Thanks in advance for your solidarity,
Eric Blanc
for Revolution Youth (USA) and Socialist Organizer


Declaration of La Chispa, the Bolivian sympathizing section of the Fourth International

(November 25, 2007)

- Now is the moment! All out against the separatist oligarchy!

- Unity of the workers, peasants, youth and their organizations in defense of the unity of Bolivia and the October Agenda!

Brothers and Sisters:

Bolivia is living through a crucial moment in its history.

The oligarchies, agents of imperialism, after having provoked the conflicts in Sucre by manipulating the theme of the transfer of the capital (from Sucre to La Paz), have now announced their decision to organize "civil disobedience" and not recognize the decisions taken by the majority of members of the Constituent Assembly (147 out of 255, that is, 57%) at the session on November 24 at the Military Academy in Sucre.

In the words of Costas, the mayor of Santa Cruz, they have decided to accelerate the implementation of their autonomous status -- in other words, they have decided to attempt to split Bolivia in order to maintain their privileges as the lackeys of imperialism.

The moment demands the widest unity of all sectors of the people to confront our common our enemy: the right wing and, behind this, imperialism. Our enemies aim to crush our advance toward the implementation of the Agenda of October (2003) and May-June (2005) -- that is, full nationalization of the natural resources, a Sovereign Constituent Assembly, agrarian reform, etc.

Our enemies aim to put an end to the revolutionary process of the vast majority of the exploited and oppressed in Bolivia -- as manifested in the uprisings of 2003 and 2005. They aim to bring us to civil war to carve up the nation!

The workers, the peasants, the youth, the native peoples of all departments and regions of the country want a united and sovereign Bolivia!

In the face of the separatist, pro-imperialist reaction, we must all join together to fight back!

The Bolivian Workers Federation (COB), the backbone organization of the working class, has the responsibility to call on all those who raise the banner of the Agenda of October, the government itself, the MAS, and all the organizations of the people, neighbors, peasants, native peoples, to jointly form a UNITED FRONT IN DEFENSE OF THE UNITY OF THE NATION AND THE OCTOBER AGENDA.

IT IS URGENT THAT A NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BE CALLED, with representatives of all the workers' and people's organizations, with elected representatives of all the sectors, the mines, the factories, the countryside, the universities, to take the necessary defense measures against the offensive of the pro-imperialist right-wing oligarchy!

The lessons must be learned from recent events!

The oligarchy, through its political parties (PODEMOS; UN) and its civic committees, have blackmailed the government elected by the Bolivian people and organized the referendum on autonomies in 2006 -- which was rejected through the victory of the NO. These same forces have sabotaged the Constituent Assembly through pushing for the rule of two-thirds voting, forcing the MAS and the representatives to accept their demands.

Now these forces, through their spokespersons -- Tuto Quiroga, Manfred Reyes Villa, Marincovick, etc. -- say that Evo Morales wants to impose a fascist dictatorship!

Making agreements with these people, like the MAS has been doing, only served to strengthen its separatist drive, which aims to hand over part of our Bolivia to imperialism.

The Constituent Assembly must continue to meet and must take decisions by absolute majority, which is a basic rule of democracy!

In order for the people to mobilize today against the attacks of the right wing, a Sovereign Constituent Assembly must adopt concrete measures that correspond to the Agenda of October:

- 100% nationalization of the oil, gas, and mines!
- Elimination of the latifundios. Land to the peasants and native peoples!
- No to autonomies! Respect the majority decision of the people in the July 2, 2006 referendum.
- Immediately abrogate all the conservative laws such as 21060 and renationalize the privatized companies!

But, we insist, that there is no task more urgent than UNITING ALL THE FORCES OF THE WORKERS, PEOPLE, NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCILS, YOUTH ORRGANIZATIONS, AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES to smash the offensive to divide and destroy Bolivia.

We repeat: The Bolivian Workers Federation (COB) has the responsibility to be at the side of our peasants and indigenous peoples -- regardless of the political differences that exist with Evo Morales' MAS party. It is a burning need to forge this front, with all sectors of the people -- though the COB must maintain its political independence.

It is in this process that the Political Instrument of the Workers (a party which has been approved on paper time and time again by the congresses of the COB, the CODs, the CORs) can be built. This would be a party that represents the working class and its allies. But to reach this point, the broadest UNITED FRONT against the oligarchies and imperialism must be built today.

Brothers and Sisters:

What is happening in Bolivia has a direct relation to the struggle of the peoples of the world, particularly in Latin America, where the majority is resisting the policies of the destruction of nations pushed by U.S. imperialism!

Today, imperialism and its allies aim to isolate and defeat the revolutions under way in Venezuela and Ecuador and the workers' struggles in Peru, Brazil, Mexico and inside the United States itself.

Defeating the offensive of the oligarchy is not only the condition for continuing the struggle for the Agenda of October; it is also the condition for continuing the upward movement in the struggle of our peoples throughout the continent and the world!

The time is now!

- Unite against the oligarchy and imperialism!

- Faced with the Civil Disobedience of the Oligarchy, the Mobilization of the whole Bolivian people is needed!
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