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by El Libertario (CRA-AIT)
Wednesday, Mar. 05, 2003 at 5:52 PM
ellibertario@nodo50,org P.O. Box: Emilio Tesoro, apartado postal 6303, Carmelitas Caracas - Venezuela
A conversation on how Venezuelan anarchists view the Chavez crisis with a libertarian comrade of the CRA (Comisión de Relaciones Anarquistas / Commission of Anarchist Relationships) of Venezuela on "Canarias Libertaria" on december 10, 2002.
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With this we are trying to contribute a different vision from what the media is giving (even those that call themselves "alternative"). We are neither for Chavez, nor for Fedecamaras (bosses` association) or CTV (bureaucratic unionism) or Coordinadora Democratica (parliamentary oposition)... We are for fomenting autonomy and self-management. We recommend you visit the web: http://www.nodo50.org/ellibertario . There you will find abundant information that is permanently updated. We earnestly request that you publish that URL; now, with so much informative intoxication, it is convenient that the vision of the Venezuelan comrades gets to all sides.
Q) How is the situation and how are the libertarians?
A) Some food is getting scarce and petrol too. All the anarchists are well, because we are not directly part of the sectors in conflict, although we are on the list of counterrevolutionaries that the Chavez supporters circulate on the Internet. In our web El Libertario you can read a report on what is happening, far from the hysteria of both sides. Regrettably, Internet is full of media that claims to be alternative and this misinforms as much as the private media. An example has been the lamentable deaths last Friday. The alternative media are circulating the version that it was a set-up of the opposition. And although that might be a hypothesis, it is very different of assuring that "that's the way it is", without proof. For me this is something very serious.
I can summarize our position: the strike called by the bosses and the CTV is not worthy, by any means, of our trust. But rejection of the strike doesn't mean, in any way, that I support to the regime, which has fallen into the errors, bad habits and exclusions that it claims to combat. So we are trying to connect with people who want to slowly but steadily build up an alternative to both sides. In fact there are many groups in this mindframe, leftwing people with which one can take a few steps, a few, I repeat.
Q) With the polarization in Venezuela (as the media describes the situation), it
must be very difficult to remain between the two fires...
A) That is what we have tried
Q) That is recommendable.
A) We try to explain that the dissatisfaction with the regime is legitimate, but
not to let that rage be used by others. On the one hand, criticizing the Chavez
bureaucracy but not their membership. With the latter maybe, in the future, we
can do things and right now, to insert two values: autonomy and self-management.
Q) Does it seem that Chavez has not given answers to Chavezism? The expectations have turned into nothing, haven't they?
A) Chavez is an incognito. Regrettably, many of them know that Chavez politically doesn't have any preparation, but they need him where he is to be able to be in power. Here everything is all mixed up together. But Chavez is government and he has NOT exercised his authority (his own followers say this).
For example, none of the corrupt are in prison, nor is any "golpista" [participant in the coup] behind bars, nothing is known about what happened on April 11th ... because it is in the interest of the Chavez bureaucracy to have the "phantom" of a coup to be able to deviate attention from the important things; the fiscal and economic crisis. After April 11th, the radical sectors of The Chavez movement believed that it was their chance to radicalise the revolution. But they stopped the participation from above... it is incredible how Chavez copies the style of his predecessors: changing everything in order to change nothing. For example, from beginning of November the official sector has been welcoming the arrival of Christmas, organizing parties in the streets, with Christmas trees and music, putting ads in the papers...
Q) Do the Chavez supporters want more? Do they want changes in their situation, in their lives? Do they hope the regime will provide it for them or do they already know that it will only be possible if they obtain it through their own means?
A) The Chavist supporters DO want more, but they believe that it won't be possible due to the "sabotage of the people behind the coups." That is to say, they excuse the government's errors saying that [ex-President] C. A. Perez is behind a permanent destabilising plan that doesn't allow Chavez to get on with his work (sic). And the worst thing, they silence his critics in order to not give arguments to the right" (sic).
Chavez is the contention wall between this radical sector and the moderate sector that has occupied all the ministries: the PPT, the officialist MAS, the MVR (the political parties of the "chavismo"). So the grassroots sectors have been abandoning their own demands for what they consider the "defence of the revolution", but many already are fed up with being the government's cannon fodder. An example was Chavez supporters inside the university. After several actions, such as taking over the Dean's office of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, the line imposed on them was to make street actions defending Chavez and paradoxically, they didn't carry out any more actions inside the university.
That is to say, they lost the grassroots space they had won. It happens this way in neighbourhoods and other areas. With these grassroots people, we believe that, when they see for their own eyes what the bureaucracy of the State means, we can do things together. Some documents have already circulated that lightly criticize the "Process", lightly because I imagine they don't want to be accused of being traitors.
Q) Here the TV news says that they are beginning to glimpse an electoral
solution to the crisis and that Chavez is becoming inclined to that. Do they say
same thing there?
A) Yes. In fact, we are so sure of it that we have already made the documents that we will distribute. The bureaucracies will end up making an electoral pact so that they can all get a piece of the cake. The solution will be an amendment of the constitution to allow early elections. At least that it is the line of the PPT.
Q) And what do the Chavez supporters say to that?
A) They say it is a betrayal. For that reason, the conversations are taken done with great care and discretion, because Chavez has gotten tired of saying that the others are some in favour of a coup and that their methods are faked.
Personally, I will love to see how they will explain it to their people. Here there is NO political discussion, what there is is very primitive. The speeches are full of adjectives and insults without substance, each side rejecting its opponent. So the opposition will also have to loosen up in its principles that "Chavez resigns immediately."
Q) Why have the Chavez supporters not taken over the factories acting
autonomously from the Chavez bureaucracy? Wouldn't that be the logical thing to do?
A) It would be the logical thing... But they don't do it, because on one hand there isn't any union organization that moves this message amongst its members.
That is to say, the workers don't know what this fully means, because Chavez has
used this argument like a threat more than as a political strategy and on the other hand Chavez has declared the "inviolability of the private property."
Q) Then Chavez grassroots movements don't exist as such, they are only followers of power?
A) There is a bit of everything, you cannot generalize. There are those in the "Circulos Bolivarianos" with the best of intentions, with a priceless grassroots activity, and others, to my knowledge in a greater number than the previous, to whom the word 'revolution' is synonymous of a 'sure wage'. An example in the trade unions: I agree that the CTV is a rotten organisation, but to substitute it we need, I believe, short-, medium- and long-term strategies, educating people in the vision of a different syndicalism, organizing unions, spreading a programme. But the Chavez movement became left alone as a threat to overthrow the leadership of the CTV. That's why they organized union elections... which they lost!! And they argued that it was because of an electoral swindle, but they were the ones who organized them!! So they have tried to raise a grassroots union base with a short-termed vision that is frightening, based on money, sinecures and talk, but without a short- and medium strategy, because the
political vision is now a military one, confrontation and measuring forces as is currently occurring, and in this one of the people to blame is Chavez.
Q) Is the revolution just verbosity spoken by the powers that be to stay in power? The revolution is not "felt," is not "treasured" by the general population, therefore they do not autonomously rally round it, is that it?
A) Correct. There is no self-criticism. Someone else is always to blame: the supporters of a coup d'etat, Carlos Andres Perez, the FMI, imperialism, the Martians.... If we eliminate the other side, everything will magically fall in place. For example: the private media, it is certain, have carried out a very slanted news campaign, but The Chavez movement has been unable to mount their own sources of information that are not a replica of what they criticize. So watching Channel 8 (the State Channel), it like watching Globovision [the anti-Chavez channel] but with everything changed around. For Channel 8, "everything's calm and cool", the "the strike has flopped," etc.
Q) Latin American "magical realism"...; -)
A) From above they have tried to have their own newspapers, but the experiences
have failed, not for a lack of readers, but due to the administrative disasterand internal corruption. For example, "El Correo del Presidente." In the same way the support they give to the community media, who do the job of [providing] counterinformation for the State, is dual. Of course the State supports those who guarantee them political coverage. Diffuse autonomy: in the case of radio stations, you receive the transmission equipment, you are not the owner, you are responsible for it for a while. That links you infinitely with the State, as the manager of a community radio. The self-censorship is evident, for the fear of displeasing those who have offered you their support.
Q) How do you perceive the future in the mid-term?
A) I believe it will end up in elections.
Q) Will Chavez run again?
A) I imagine that Chavez will convince his supporters to campaign and to try to defeat the others through votes. So the Chavez followers will be busy plastering walls with posters and giving out flyers for the next few months.
The administration of the Chavez government has been very, very bad, but the economic crisis has been overlapped by the political crisis.. The extra income due to the rise in the price of the petroleum has filled the arks of the State several times, which they then empty in populist plans and expenses.
Q) With the elections, the most radical sector of The Chavez movement will break off and go their own way, won't they?
A) That is what you would expect.... but maybe, just maybe, they might be seduced again with that of "defeating the coup with votes" and starting afresh.
I believe that if the elections were held tomorrow Chavez would win again, firstly because the opposition doesn't have a reliable leader; secondly, their arguments do not connect with the popular classes; thirdly, politicians from the past, from the IV republic are making all of their racket, so the notion that a lot of people share is that of "I prefer Chavez before going back to the past".
I believe that a more solid strategy would be to allow Chavez to govern and let the economic crisis show its face and the inability of the State to improve the standard of living, plus the cases of corruption.. I think both sides can summon up more or less the same amount of support.
Q) So the chances of a civil war is out of the question?
A) There are uncontrollable groups on both sides, but here the deaths of April 11 and the deaths of last Friday have soaked in deep. Maybe it is necessary to use a magnifying glass to look at the sectors of armed radical followers of Chavez who, if they end up breaking away from The Chavez movement, a difficult thing, but it could indeed happen.
The capacity of tricking yourself here is tremendous. Nobody questions what happened to Lucas Rincon, for example. The trustworthy official of Chavez who announced to the country on April 11 that Chavez had given up. When Chavez returned to power, not only was the guy not openly reprehended, but they promoted him to Minister of Defence! And a few days later he was sent off as an ambassador outside the country!! Now he has been retired, but nobody inside the Chavez movement, has asked why that announcement was made, why he continues to be a man of trust, why they rewarded him, why they don't prosecute him for participating in the coup.... Here there are intentional amnesias, forgetfulness for convenience's sake... I don't forget. There are things on both sides that force you, to keep a distance. Coherence, I say, a
minimum of ethics. Here they say that there is nothing more "adeco" [a militant of the populist party AD] than a Bolivariano... The same cultural mould which has to be replaced in order for a change, of whatever nature, to occur.
Q) Hey, from here, apart from circulating this information, can we help in any
other way? If you want, I can tidy up the conversation and put it on the Canary
Islands Libertarian list?
A) As you wish, comrade. It would be useful, because regrettably some anarchists
outside the country are criticising us saying that we are part of the "counterrevolution". On the other hand, there are others who are talking about a supposed anarcho-Chavez movement (we know about the messages that circulate A-infos and other lists). I believe that for us the position is clear: it is necessary to build an alternative with the sectors with which we can, trying slowly but steadily to take firm steps. If only this were a revolution, albeit a Marxist one. We would have different angle of opposition,
criticism, confrontation, and even of construction.. But, regrettably, it is just more of the same thing, with some advances and many setbacks.
We are thinking about how to get the most out in the future of the discontent with the armed forces and to take some steps in that direction. Get the soldier back to the barracks, conscientious objection, no military instruction in the schools... I think that in a next future, the way things are now, it is possible to open those windows, because there is a lot of talk about the error of giving belligerency to the armed forces.
Taken from the Canarias Libertaria mail list. Full Spanish transcript on:
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