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anarchists in venezuela?

by j Saturday, Feb. 01, 2003 at 10:15 PM

This article is written from Venezuela by someone who has spent 3 weeks here observing and talking to people on both sides of the conflict as well as with many Venezuelan anarchists.  It is not based on speculation, or knowledge gained from mass media, it is based on personal interaction and first hand observations.  However, I, unlike much of the mass media, do not claim to know everything or to be completely unbiased as some of my personal political beliefs clearly shine through in this article.

The political situation in Venezuela right now is without a doubt a confusing

one, even more so when observed from another country through the news or even

from reports from those on the ground.  The way were told it back in the

states is that Chavez is a radical leftist leader with the support of many of

the people expecially the poor, and that the opposition is all rich military

leaders, oil tycoons and CIA coup plotters (that last category wont be heard

in mass media but can be found in abundance on alternative media outlets.)  

were constantly subjected to people speculating who has greater numbers or

who is winning the fight.  We hear other government leaders give their spin

on the situation, often saying nothing of substance but just trying to sound

like a peacekeeper.  Now for one to understand the uniqueness of the

situation they should step back and ask what exactly its all about.  The

truth is one could easily spend multiple weeks here on the ground in

venezuela and still be wondering that same thing.  


    We hear people from all sides of this fight talk about it but we never hear

anything about actual issues.  Thats because its all about Chavez.  Its all

about who is in power.  Entire new political parties have grown out of this

situation and in fact they are completely based on their hatred for Chavez,

and not real issues.  Poverty is rampant in venezuela, the indigenous

communities continue to be heart along with the environment, trade

negotiations and dealings effect the region every day, wars are about to

break out around the world, and yet you will hear little mention of any of

this within the political struggle going on here currently.  Plain and simple

its all about who is in power.  The Chavistas see Chavez almost as a type of

god or source of their salvation and the opposition hate him with almost an

equal passion.


    The truth of it is if you do get to hear either side talk about any

issues or what they would do with their power, personal emotions aside, it

may sound like much of the political rhetoric you would hear in the states.  

Now there are certain larger issues that separate the two, like Chavez´s

opposition to plan Colombia, but, chavez based his political position and

gained popularity by talking about helping the poor.  Its this that makes it

confusing to hear the opposition talk about helping the poor.  After all if

they want to help the poor why would they be opposed to chavez.  The truth

is, and this is said with the realization that equality doesn’t always happen

over night, poverty in venezuela is the same if not worse than when chavez

took power.  He gained the love of the people by making the same type of

empty unrealistic promises that often come from politicians.  He claimed

that  after a year of having power there would be no kid living on the

street.  It doesn’t take more than a two minute walk in Caracas to realize

that after four years he still hasn’t come close to accomplishing his goal.  

However by making these promises initially people became so blinded with hope

that they now fail to see the reality of the situation.  

   Now I am in no way claiming that the opposition will deliver on the things

that chavez has failed on, in fact it is true that the opposition leaders are

scattered with people just dying to be the next dictator, I am simply saying

that chavez may not be all he’s cracked up to be.  I am well aware that many

chavez supporters by this point in the article will be infuriated and

screaming about how this was written by some rich right wing coup plotter but

step aside for a minute, away from Chavez´s promises and take a look at his

actual actions which have been few and far between.  


    Alright so what am I getting at, so far all that’s really been said

is that the situation here is empty of any real issues and that neither side

is all that great.  Exactly.  Well here comes the part that confuses most

north Americans.  We’re told that chavez represents the left and the

opposition, the right.  Wait wait wait a leftist president, this alone is

enough to baffle anyone from the states.  And to make matters more confusing

we’re told that the people opposing the government are from the right.  And,

that the police beat up the people who support the government some days and

people who oppose it on other days.  Well the truth of it is that there are

many police departments here in Caracas and you have some that support the

government and some that don’t so there have actually been conflicts where

you have two different police departments fighting with each other.  As you

can tell the situation is almost just as confusing for people here.  But ok

so all of a sudden the left is supporting a government and the right is

opposing it, pretty backwards for people from the states.  

    So here’s the burning question, where do the anarchists fit in?  Anarchists

are traditionally considered part of the radical left, so do they join in

with the rest of the left and support an authoritarian government or do they

side with the largely right wing opposition.  The answer, as is common, is

not cut and dry.  There’s been somewhat of a split in much of the anarchist

community.  There are those that feel the right thing to do is support chavez

because they believe he is good for the people or at least better than the

opposition.  Then there are those that follow in the great anarchist

tradition of actively choosing neither side.  They refuse to support chavez

because they don’t believe he is the great liberator that he claims to be,

and they realize that doing so would be contradictory to their fundamental

beliefs.  But, by doing this, are they helping the opposition which may be

even worse?  Well if you think that any of us who didn’t vote for Gore in

2000, should have, just to keep Bush from winning, then yeah absolutely, but

anyone who doesn’t by that lesser of two evils bullshit will appreciate that

some anarchists here are standing their ground.  


    The truth is it’s a very hard time for anarchists in venezuela.  As I

said there has been a split within their somewhat already struggling

community, and much of the left is less than happy with them right now.  

There are some anarchists that have people they used to work with now

refusing to talk to them because they wont support Chavez.  As I said

emotions are very high and the Chavistas accuse them of supporting the

opposition and the opposition accuses them of being Chavistas.

After talking to some anarchist here some may see their view of the situation

much the same way that anarchist and other radical leftists see the whole

democrat and republican thing in the states.  Their both the same and neither

is right.  Both sides just want power,  and its gotten to the point that they

barely even try to convince people what they would do with that power because

people’s love or hatred of chavez is enough motivation to fight for one side

or the other. Many anarchist feel that the people who support both sides can

be worked with, and should be, but that the leaders are just no good.  

The truth of it is that most Venezuelan anarchist, as with anarchists from

much of the world, are more concerned with the actual issues than this power

struggle between leaders.  However, because of the lack of real issues being

addressed in the political fight right now its very hard for them.  The most

important thing that I feel people need to understand though, as I said

before, is the similarity with the way many view the two parties in the

states with the way they view the two groups here.  In the states were told

how drastically different the two sides are but that may not necessarily be

the case.  

    No matter what one says about the leaders of the two sides, this is a power

struggle, Chavez´s so called revolution is one to keep him in power and the

oppositions resistance is also an attempt at gaining power.  Neither side

will liberate the people, or get rid of poverty because both sides, like many

world leaders and politicians are blinded by the desire for power.  Many of

the anarchists in venezuela just like many throughout the world feel that if

they really want to be free and rid themselves of this class divided system

that we must create that kind of world ourselves and can not leave it up to

leaders no matter how leftists they claim to be or the empty promises that

they make.

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anarchist anarchist Sunday, Feb. 02, 2003 at 1:42 AM

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