[ The recent election results make it clear that although Nicolás
Maduro won by a wide margin on May 20, there exists a significant
majority made up of those who voted for the opposition and those who
dd not vote in these elections. ] [https://portside.org/] 

 VENEZUELA — AFTER THE ELECTIONS: WHAT IS TO BE DONE?  
[https://portside.org/2018-06-30/venezuela-after-elections-what-be-done]


 

 Marta Harnecker 
 June 30, 2018
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
[http://links.org.au/marta-harnecker-venezuela-what-is-to-be-done] 

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 _ The recent election results make it clear that although Nicolás
Maduro won by a wide margin on May 20, there exists a significant
majority made up of those who voted for the opposition and those who
dd not vote in these elections. _ 

 , 

 

Recalling the context in which it emerged

1. By the time Hugo Chávez won the 1998 presidential elections, the
neoliberal capitalist model was already in deep trouble. The dilemma
he faced was basically whether to refound the neoliberal capitalist
model — obviously with some changes, among them a greater concern
for social issues, but motived by the same profit-seeking logic — or
to seek to build another model.

2. Chávez chose the latter option. In naming it, he decided to
resuscitate the word socialism, despite the negative connotations it
had due to the past. But he specified that this was a 21st century
socialism to differentiate it from the Soviet socialism of the 20th
century. He warned that we must not “fall into the errors of the
past”; into “Stalinist deviations” that bureaucratized the party
and ended up eliminating popular protagonism; into state capitalism
that focused on state ownership and not on the participation of
workers in the running of companies.

3. Chávez viewed socialism as an economic system that had human
beings, not profits, at its heart; one based on a pluralist and
anti-consumerist culture in which being took primacy over owning. This
was a socialism based on genuine and deep democracy, where the people
assumed a protagonistic role. This is one element that differentiates
it from other democratic socialist proposals. For him, people’s
participation in all spheres was what could allow people to win
confidence in themselves and develop as humans.

Post-election challenges

4. Following this brief introduction, I want to analyze the challenges
on the horizon. The recent election results make it clear that
although Nicolás Maduro won by a wide margin on May 20, there exists
a significant majority made up of those who voted for the opposition
and those who did not vote in these elections. The snapshot of the
correlation of forces that the elections present us cannot be ignored.
Interpreting this data in the most objective manner possible is
fundamental. There is no doubt that there are conflicting interests
between different sections of the Venezuelan capitalist class. The
opposition is not a homogenous bloc. It contains within it enormous
internal contradictions. There is a section of the opposition that,
rather than worrying about resolving the problems of the country, is
focused on overthrowing the government through any means at its
disposal, in particular economic strangulation. They are aided by
corrupt sectors in the importing state bureaucracy that pass
themselves off as Chavista. It is impossible to reach any agreement
with these sectors. But there are other sectors —those that are
willing to put the interests of the country first — with which it is
possible to reach agreements, if a correct tactic is applied. Maduro
has understood this.

Abandon verbal attacks and maintain constructive dialogue

5. We should be skillful enough to exploit these contradictions and
carry out a process of coherent dialogue, calling on those who oppose
Maduro to seek solutions for the country. We should avoid verbal
attacks that do not help in creating a minimum level of trust, one of
the fundamental conditions for maintaining constructive dialogue.

6. In relation to this issue, I want to extensively quote Pope
Francis. Let us look at some of the things he said in his visit to
Paraguay in 2015:
[Dialogue cannot be a] theatrical dialogue in which we pretend to
dialogue [and only listen to ourselves].
… Dialogue presupposes and demands that we seek a culture of coming
together … that recognizes that diversity is not only good, but
necessary… Which means that the starting point cannot be: I am going
to dialogue but they are wrong. No, no, we cannot presume that the
other is wrong. I will bring my ideas and listen to what the other has
to say, allow the other to enrich me, allow the other to make me
realize I am wrong, and also look at things that I can give to the
other. It is a back and forth, back and forth, but with an open heart.
If we just presume that the other is wrong, it is better to go home
and not attempt dialogue.
… Dialogue is not a negotiation. One negotiates to carve out one’s
own share … If this is your intention, then don’t waste your time.
The aim is to seek the best outcome for everyone. Discuss together,
and come up with a better solution for everyone.
… By trying to understand the reasoning of others, by trying to
listen to their experience, their dreams, we can see that in large
part we share the same aspirations.

Coming up with a broad platform of struggle to confront the crisis

7. Another challenge that must be tackled is coming up with a broad
platform of struggle to confront the current crisis. I do not think
that this can be a radical platform, because the Bolivarian process
today is not strong enough to propose very profound changes. In these
conditions, we cannot pretend to launch a successful offensive, which
is not to say that we cannot advance in terms of state companies and
communes along the lines Chávez proposed.

Explaining difficulties to the people

8. Another challenge we confront is being capable of explaining to the
people the difficulties that the country faces. There are those who
think we do not have to tell the people the problems that exist
because this can be disheartening. I believe the complete opposite: I
am convinced that our peoples are sufficiently intelligent to
understand and tighten their belts when necessary, if we are capable
of clearly explaining to them the origins of the existing crisis, and
honestly recognizing that the right is making use of the weaknesses
and errors of Chavismo. Of course, this must be accompanied by the
example of top leaders in the government and party: if they are asking
the people to be austere, they should lead by example. 

What we did wrong and what we learnt along the way 

9. Lastly, just as no one can blame a recipe when a cake is burnt
because the oven was too hot, no one can argue that the current
difficulties Venezuela is passing through prove that the 21st century
socialist project proposed by Chávez is unviable. What we need to
seriously analyze is what we did wrong and what we have learnt along
the way that we should not repeat. Many of these errors are
understandable given that there are no pre-existing models that can
indicate the path to follow. That is why we can say that many of the
errors have been necessary. As Simón Bolívar’s teacher, Simón
Rodríguez, said: we have to “invent in order to not err”.

Form a cordon in defense of the Bolivarian revolutionary process 

10. Venezuela kicked off the cycle of changes in Latin America. It was
the rebirth of hope and of a form of governing focused on resolving
the problems of the most underprivileged, understanding that the
problem of poverty could only be resolved by giving power to the poor.
It was the incarnation of solidarity with the fraternal peoples of the
region who faced economic difficulties. Today, this country, which is
suffering more than others from the impacts of the world crisis of
capitalism and the economic war waged against it, and which is the
focal point of aggression for reactionary forces around the world,
deserves all our solidarity. Let us repay its noble and incredibly
broad generosity with the poorest nations and peoples of the region
and world by forming, together with all those who support the process,
a cordon in defense of the Bolivarian revolutionary process. 

11. To finish, I believe that we can be optimistic. Without doubt,
Chávez’s legacy has marked his people and allowed them to mature,
something I saw with my own eyes during the years that I lived in the
country, and something that can be seen in the high vote obtained by
Maduro in the recent elections. I believe that all these people, those
who were given the opportunity to study, to think, to participate, to
build, to decide — and that grew enormously in terms of
self-confidence and human development — will defend the process. I
have always said that the Venezuelan revolution should be measured
less in terms of the transformational measures adopted — which are
many — and more in terms of the growth of a revolutionary subject.
This was Chávez’s achievement. 

12. The process has committed errors and has many weaknesses — ones
that I pointed out with a lot of pain at the time — but what he
achieved with his people is something that no one will be able to ever
erase! 

[Translated by Federico Fuentes for _Links International Journal of
Socialist Renewal [http://links.org.au]_.]

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