Condemn reactionary violence in Venezuela

Ollie Vargas reports on the right wing violence currently taking place in Venzuela, arguing that we need to fight against the coup attempts of the extreme right wing, but that this should not translate into uncritical support for the existing state:

Right wing groups within Venezuela have launched a campaign labelled ‘La Salida’ (the ousting) aimed explicitly at overthrowing the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro before he completes the term he was elected to serve.  The campaign of violence which began on the 12th of February has already claimed two lives (one oppositionist and one anti-coup protester) with a further 66 thought to be injured.

‘La Salida’ is particularly worrying as it represents the emboldening of the reactionary forces who led and supported the 2002 military/police coup against Chavez. One of the main leaders of the campaign, Maria Corina Machado has personal ties to George Bush and was one of the signatories to 2002 coup declaration.

The reactionary right in Venezuela have been growing in strength for a long period. Their concerns are wide ranging, from rising levels of crime, where their demands revolve around giving the police greater powers and weaponry, to the increasing price controls and other economic regulations put in place by Chavez and his successor Maduro.  The particularly violent nature of the Venezuelan right has also greatly aggravated the situation. These protests have included surrounding the personal residence of a local governor, throwing Molotov cocktails, attempts to sabotage an electricity substation plant in Tachira and rioting in the wealthy district of Chacao. During the recent elections that saw Maduro win a majority, the violence unleashed by the right included one incident where 7 ‘chavistas’ were shot dead. The same day a right wing opposition gang attempted to set a female Maduro supporter on fire in the street.

The frightening prospect of a right wing coup looms large. The region is  scarred by CIA backed military coups that have all led to horrific repression. However, denouncing and fighting against the coup attempts of the extreme right wing should not translate into uncritical support for the existing state. As Marxists we need to be able to make an analysis of the current government that doesn’t fall into sycophantic fawning. We need to recognise the increasingly rightwards drift of this left reformist government. We need to recognise the continued existence of the slums that remain in abject poverty and have in turn led to high crime rates, making Caracas the ‘murder capital’ of the world.  We need to recognise the failure to confront the contradictions of capitalism that have thrown up huge inflation making the lives of the poorest even harder. We need to recognise the increasing state crackdown on independent trade unionists.  Revolutionaries should fight every step of the way against the desperate attacks of the ruling class and the reactionary right, and fight alongside all progressive forces against the coup. However, we shouldn’t let a defensive anti-imperialist struggle liquidate a set of independent class politics that is prepared to work with and against the Venezuelan state as and when needed.

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