Monday, December 03, 2007

Venezuela: The referendum defeat - What does it mean?

By Alan Woods
Monday, 03 December 2007

At about 1am, after a long delay, the Venezuelan National Electoral Commission announced the results of the referendum on constitutional reform. The proposals for constitutional change were defeated by the narrowest of margins, with 4,504,354 votes against, (50.70%) and 4,379,392, (49.29%) for the YES. Soon afterwards, president Chávez was on the television accepting the results. He said that the proposed reforms had not been approved "for now", but that he would continue to struggle to build socialism.

The result, as could be expected, was greeted with jubilation by the right wing opposition and all the reactionary forces. For the first time in almost a decade they have secured a victory. There were scenes of jubilation in the well-off middle class areas of Caracas. "At last we have shown that Chavez can be defeated! At last the slide towards communism has been stopped! At last we have given the rabble a lesson!"

The joy of the reactionaries is both premature and exaggerated. A glance at the results shows that the voting strength of the opposition has barely increased. If you compare these results (after 88% of the votes had been counted) with the 2006 presidential elections, the opposition has only increased about 100,000 votes, but Chávez lost 2.8 million. These votes did not go to the opposition but rather to abstention. This means that support for the counter-revolution has not significantly increased from its highest point one year ago.

How the bourgeoisie "informs" public opinion



A whole number of factors contributed to this result. The bourgeoisie have in their hands powerful instruments for shaping public opinion. They organised a full mobilisation of the reactionary media in a hysterical campaign of lies and slander against Chavez, the Revolution and socialism. This scare-mongering campaign of the reactionary opposition undoubtedly had an effect on the more backward sections of the population.

The pressure was relentless. The Catholic Church, led by the reactionary Episcopal Conference, preached from the pulpits against Chavez and "godless communism". There was a two-page paid advertisement in Ultimas Noticias, one of the most widely read papers in Venezuela and the one that most Bolivarians read, amongst other things, claimed that the State would take your children away from you and they would belong to the State and that freedom of religion would be abolished.

In Carabobo, the regional newspaper Notitarde published a polling day front page headline that said, "Today you decide and it will be a decision forever" and just below a picture of an empty butcher's shop with a Cuban flag and a picture of Castro with the headline "this is how socialist Cuba looks today".

All this exposes the mendacious hypocrisy of the campaign in the international media to the effect that "there is no press freedom in Venezuela today". This noisy campaign reached a crescendo a few months ago when the government decided not to renew the license of RCTV, a right wing television station that was a notorious nest of counterrevolutionary conspirators who played a key role in the coup of April 2002.

The problem is not that the Revolution has limited the democratic rights of the opposition and trampled on "press freedom". The problem is that the Revolution has been far too generous with its opponents, far too tolerant, far too patient, far too gentlemanly. It has left too much power in the hands of the oligarchy and its agents. It has placed a weapon in their hands which they are using very effectively to sabotage the revolution, halt it in its tracks and ultimately destroy it.

Abstentions



All this is true but it does not answer the question of why the "no" vote won. The main element in the equation was abstention: a large number of Chavistas did not bother to vote. The question must be asked: why did they not vote? The bureaucrats and middle class cynics will blame the masses for their alleged apathy. That is completely false. The masses have consistently voted for Chavez in every election and referendum. They voted massively last December. But now there are signs of tiredness. Why?

After all the talk about socialism, the oligarchy is still firmly entrenched and uses its wealth and power to sabotage and undermine the Revolution. The golpistas of 2002 are still at liberty. The right wing media are free to spew out lies and slanders against the Revolution. Peasant activists are murdered and nothing is done about it.

Despite the reforms of the government, which have undoubtedly helped the poor and disadvantaged, the majority still live in poverty. The problem of homelessness remains unsolved. The sabotage of the landlords and capitalist is causing shortages of basic products. All this has an effect on the morale of the masses.

The overwhelming majority of the masses still support Chavez and the Revolution, but there are clear symptoms of tiredness. After nine years of upheaval the masses are tired of words and speeches, parades and demonstrations, also of endless elections and referendums. They want less words and more decisive action: action against the landlords and capitalists, action against the corrupt governors and officials.

Above all, they want action against the Fifth Column of right wing Chavistas who wear red shirts and talk of socialism of the XXI century but are opposed to real socialism and are sabotaging the revolution from within. Unless the Bolivarian Movement and the PSUV is purged of these reformist bureaucrats and careerists, nothing can be done.

The Fifth Column



The bureaucrats once again showed their complete inability to organize a serious mass campaign. They failed to answer the lies of the opposition. They failed to explain the many points in the reformed constitution that would have benefited the working class, such as the 36 hour week. How could they, when they themselves are opposed to such socialist measures? This sabotage by the Fifth Column is well known to the rank and file of the Movement - and also to its enemies. Time magazine sneered:

"Even some of Chávez's allies want to put the brakes on the President's radical train. Many reform proposals, they argue, are less about empowering the people than about concentrating power in the hands of Chávez. Among the initiatives: eliminating presidential term limits; putting the now autonomous Central Bank under the President's control; and the creation of regional vice presidents. Provincial leaders like Ramón Martínez, Governor of eastern Sucre state and himself a socialist, consider the latter idea a lavish centralization of federal authority, as well as a betrayal of Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution (named for South America's 19th-century independence hero, Simon Bolivar). "This revolution was supposed to create more pluralism in Venezuela," says Martinez. "We don't want a megastate like the Soviet Union."

Anyone who reads these lines will immediately understand why there was no serious campaign. Ramón Martínez is not a socialist but a leader of Podemos, those renegades who split from the Bolivarian Movement on the eve of the referendum campaign in order to wage a violent campaign for the "no" vote. His conduct should surprise nobody. But it was not an isolated case. In Apure the governor did nothing to organize the campaign and many others behaved in a similar fashion. The bureaucrats merely repeated the same disastrous and empty campaign they organized one year ago in the Presidential election.

A comrade in Mérida described it in this way: "It was a stupid campaign in which the posters only said that if you voted for Chávez it was out of "love", while the campaign of the right wing was vicious. They said that everything would be taken away from people, that if you had two houses one was going to be taken away, if you had two cars, one was going to be taken away, that new-born children were going to be taken away by the "socialist" state".

After the result was announced there was a live phone-in show on RNV, one of the state radio stations, and most of the callers blamed the bureaucracy for the lack of campaigning for the YES. Many mentioned the attitude of "Chavista" governors and mayors who not only did not organise any campaign, but actively sabotaged it. These bureaucrats feared the passing of these reforms as much as the opposition did. They correctly saw that the masses would view this referendum as part of a long overdue settling of accounts not only with the ruling class, but also against the reformist and bureaucratic elements within the leadership of the Bolivarian movement.

Baduel's tactics



The declarations of the opposition after the result was announced were highly significant. The first speaker was one of the leaders of the reactionary students. In third place was Rosales, the opposition candidate for President who lost heavily to Chavez last December. But the second speaker was none other than General Baduel, the former Minister of Defence of whom we have written recently.

What did Baduel say? He spoke of national reconciliation and offered to negotiate with Chavez. He renounced all intentions to organize a coup. In short he offered a smiling face and the hand of friendship. This is quite a clever tactic and confirms our impression of Baduel that he is a clever counterrevolutionary. This new tactic of the opposition also reflects the real balance of forces, which is, despite the referendum result, is still very unfavourable to the counterrevolutionaries.

The Revolution should place no trust whatsoever in the smiling face of the Counterrevolution. Remember the words of Shakespeare: "there are daggers in men's smiles"! The offer of reconciliation is a trap. There can be no reconciliation between Revolution and Counterrevolution because there can be no reconciliation between rich and poor, exploiters and exploited.

The only reason for this change of tactic is that the opposition cannot defeat Chávez by direct action. They are too weak and they know it. The more stupid elements among the opposition are now drunk with success. But after a night of drunken euphoria will come a morning with a bad headache. The "victory" was won by the narrowest margin. The greatest exertions of the opposition only succeeded in mobilizing about 100,000 more votes. Moreover, this struggle cannot be won with votes alone.

The pot-bellied bourgeois and his wife and children, the small shopkeeper, the student "spoilt brats of the rich", the government clerks, resentful of the advances of the "rabble", the pensioners nostalgic of the "good old days" of the Fourth Republic, the speculators, thieves and swindlers, the devout old ladies of both sexes manipulated by the reactionary hierarchy of the Church, the solid middle class citizens tired of "anarchy": all these elements appear as a formidable force in electoral terms, but in the class struggle their weight is practically zero.

The class balance of forces



The real balance of class forces was shown by the rallies at the end of the referendum campaign. As in December 2006, the opposition moved heaven and earth to mobilize its mass base and succeeded in assembling a large crowd. However, the next day the streets of central Caracas were flooded by a sea of red shirts and banners. The two rallies revealed that the active base of the Chavistas is five or eight times bigger than that of the opposition.

The picture is even clearer when it comes to the youth. The right wing students are the storm troops of the opposition. They have been the main force organizing violent provocations against the Chavistas. They got 50,000 at their biggest rally, on the most optimistic estimate. But the Chavista students had 200,000 or 300,000 on their rally. In this decisive area of struggle - the youth - the active forces of the Revolution greatly outnumber those of the Counterrevolution.

On the side of the Revolution stand the overwhelming majority of the workers and peasants. This is the decisive question! Not a light bulb shines, not a wheel turns, not a telephone rings without the permission of the working class. This is a colossal force once it is organized and mobilized for the socialist transformation of society.

And the army? What about the army? Reformists like Heinz Dieterich are always harping on this theme like a repeating groove on an old gramophone record. Yes, the army is a decisive question. But the army always reflects the tendencies within society. The Venezuelan army has lived through almost a decade of revolutionary storm and stress. This has left its mark!

There can be no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the ordinary soldiers, sons of workers and peasants, are loyal to Chavez and the Revolution. The same will be true of most of the sergeants and other non-commissioned officers and the junior officers. But the higher we go in the upper echelons the more unclear the situation becomes. In the last few weeks there were rumours of conspiracies and some officers were arrested. This is a serious warning!

Among the officers, many will be loyal to Chavez; others will be sympathetic to the opposition or secret counterrevolutionaries. Most will probably be apolitical career soldiers, whose sympathies can incline one way or another depending on the general climate in society.

The fact that General Baduel has decided to adopt a cautious and conciliatory tone shows that there is no serious base for a coup at the present time. The serious counterrevolutionaries (including their CIA advisers) realise that the time is not yet ripe for an operation like that of April 2002. Why not? Because any attempt to launch a coup at this stage would bring the masses onto the streets ready to fight and die if necessary to defend the Revolution.

Under such circumstances the Venezuelan army as it is at present would be a most unreliable instrument for a coup. It would lead to a civil war which the counterrevolutionaries would not be confident of winning. And who can doubt that this time a defeat of the counterrevolution in open struggle would mean the immediate liquidation of capitalism in Venezuela.

It is for these practical considerations that Baduel is taking the position that he is taking. In effect he is playing for time, hoping that the objective conditions will change to the advantage of the counterrevolution and the disadvantage of the revolution. One must admit that these calculations are correct. Time is not on the side of the revolution!

Pernicious role of sects



Baduel is now arguing for the convening of a constituent assembly. This is, ironically, the very same demand that is being put forward by the Argentinean PO and other ultra left sectarians. The ultra-lefts already found themselves agitating in the company of the Counterrevolution in the referendum campaign, so this should not be a great surprise.

The role of Orlando Chirino and other so-called "Trotskyists" who called on people to spoil the ballot papers was absolutely pernicious. These ladies and gentlemen are so blinded by their hatred of Chavez that they are no longer capable of understanding the difference between revolution and counterrevolution. This writes them off entirely as a progressive force, let alone a revolutionary one. But let the dead bury their dead.

The counterrevolutionaries and imperialists understand the situation far more clearly than the sectarian clowns and half-wits. The masses have been aroused to political life by Chavez and are fiercely loyal to him. The bourgeoisie have tried everything to remove Chavez but have failed. Each counterrevolutionary attempt has been shattered on the rock of the mass movement.

They have therefore decided to arm themselves with patience and play a waiting game. Chavez has been elected for six years and therefore has five more years to run. The first step of the bourgeoisie was to ensure that he cannot stand for election after that. That was the importance of this referendum from their point of view. They calculate that if they can get rid of Chavez one way or the other the Movement will split in pieces and disintegrate, allowing them to take power back into their hands.

The opposition is cautious because it is aware of its weakness. It knows it is not strong enough to go on the offensive. But on the basis of "national accord", it is trying to get Chavez to water down his programme. If they succeed in this it will demoralise the Chavista rank and file, while the reformists and bureaucrats will feel strengthened

It is an intelligent tactic, but there is a problem. Despite the referendum result, they are stuck with Chavez till 2012-13 and no other important elections are on the horizon. In a situation like Venezuela many things can happen in five years. That is why they want a constituent assembly. If they can win another referendum they will change the constitution to permit early elections which they hope they can win - probably with Baduel as their candidate.

Why are they so confident they can win? Because the Revolution has not been carried out to the end: because important economic levers have been left in the hands of the bitterest enemies of the Revolution, and also because there is a limit to how much the masses can tolerate without falling into moods of apathy and despair.

Decisive measures needed!



Some years ago, in May 2004, I wrote an article called Theses on Revolution and counter-revolution in Venezuela in which I wrote the following:

"To rely exclusively on the willingness of the masses to make sacrifices is a mistake. The masses can sacrifice their today for their tomorrow only up to a certain point. This must always be kept in mind. Ultimately, the economic question is decisive."

These observation today retain their full force. In his article dated Tuesday, 27 November 2007, Erik Demeester quoted figures from a recent report from Datanalisis (1) [the Venezuelan statistical service], which revealed what already many people knew: scarcity of basic foodstuffs is becoming intolerable. This study established that milk, beef and sugar have become very difficult to find. Other products like chicken, cooking oil, cheese, sardines and black beans are also very scarce. The analysts who compiled the report interviewed 800 people in some 60 different shops, supermarkets and markets, both in the private sector and the public distribution network, Mercal. 73.3% of the places visited had no milk powder for sale. 51.7% no longer had refined sugar, 40% had no cooking oil, and 26.7% no black beans, a basic staple in Venezuela.

Two thirds of the shoppers declared that they experienced food scarcity to one degree or another in the shops where they usually buy. Queues of a few hours, sometimes up to four hours, to buy some milk are no longer the exception. As comrade Demeester points out, this is reminiscent of the situation in Chile when wholesale economic sabotage was used against the left-wing Popular Unity government of the 1970s.

For the masses the question of socialism and revolution is not an abstract question but is very concrete indeed. The workers and peasants of Venezuela have been extraordinarily loyal to the Revolution. They have shown a high degree of revolutionary maturity and willingness to fight and make sacrifices. But if the situation drags on for too long without a decisive break, the masses will start to tire. Beginning with the most backward and most inert layers, a mood of apathy and scepticism will set in.

If there is no clear end in sight, they will begin to say: we have heard all these speeches before, but nothing fundamental has changed. What is the point in demonstrating? What is the point in voting, if we live much the same as before? This is the biggest danger for the Revolution. When the reactionaries see that the revolutionary tide is ebbing they will pass over to the counteroffensive. The advanced elements of the workers will find themselves isolated. The masses will no longer respond to their appeals. When that moment arrives the counterrevolution will strike.

Those who argue that the Revolution has gone too far too fast, that it is necessary to call a halt to the expropriations and reach a compromise with Baduel to save the Revolution are completely mistaken. The reason why a section of the masses are becoming disillusioned is not because the Revolution has gone too far too fast, but because it is too slow and has not gone far enough.

The growing scarcity of basic products and inflation, affects mainly the working class areas, which are the basis of Chavismo. It is this that is undermining the Revolution, and not "going too far". You cannot make half a revolution. If we accept the advice of reformists of the Heinz Dieterich school, we will surely destroy the Revolution. We would be acting like a man sitting on the branch of a tree and sawing the branch on which he is sitting.

Elections and the class struggle



Marxists do not refuse to participate in elections. That is the position of anarchism, not Marxism. In general, the working class must utilise every democratic opening that is available to assemble its forces, to conquer one position after another from the class enemy and to prepare for the conquest of power.

The electoral struggle has played an important role in Venezuela in uniting, organizing and mobilising the masses. But it has its limits. The class struggle cannot be reduced to abstract statistics or electoral arithmetic. Nor is the fate of a revolution determined by laws or constitutions. Revolutions are won or lost not in lawyer's chambers or in parliamentary debates but on the streets, in the factories, in the villages and poor districts, in the schools and army barracks. We ignore this fact at our peril.

The reformists believe that the working class must always observe the legal niceties. But long ago Cicero said: Salus populi suprema est lex ("The good of the People is the Supreme Law". We might add: the Good of the Revolution is the Supreme Law. The counterrevolutionaries showed absolutely no respect for the law or the Constitution in 2002 and if they had succeeded they would have abolished the 1999 Constitution immediately. Yet now they are all shouting about the defence of that very same Constitution.

Even after the defeat in the referendum, Chavez has enough powers to carry out the expropriation of the landlords, bankers and capitalists. He has control of the National Assembly and the support of the decisive sections of Venezuelan society. An enabling act to expropriate the land, banks and big private enterprises would provoke enthusiastic support among the masses.

The level of abstentions that handed this narrow victory to the opposition is a warning. The masses are demanding decisive action not words! It may be that this defeat will have the opposite effect. It can rouse the masses to new levels of revolutionary struggle. Marx said the revolution needs the whip of counterrevolution. We have seen this more than once in the last nine years in Venezuela.

You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs and you cannot win a fight with one arm tied behind your back. A revolution is not a game of chess with clearly defined rules. It is a fight between mutually antagonistic and irreconcilable class interests. Decisive measures are necessary to defend the Revolution and disarm the Counterrevolution.

The victory of the "no" in the referendum will act as a salutary shock. The Chavistas rank and file is furious and blame the bureaucracy, which they rightly blame for the setback. They are demanding action to purge the right wing from the Movement. That is absolutely necessary! Our slogans must be:

No retreat! No deals with the opposition!

Carry the Revolution forward!

Kick out the bureaucrats and careerists!

Expropriate the oligarchy!

Arm the working people to fight against reaction!

Long live Socialism!

London, December 3, 2007
RENEGADE EYE

30 comments:

sonia said...

The Chavistas rank and file is furious and blame the bureaucracy, which they rightly blame for the setback. They are demanding action to purge the right wing from the Movement. That is absolutely necessary!

And if Chavez stands in their way, they will purge him too! This is Bolshevism at its ugliest and most cannibalistic. Chavez should watch his back right now. It's a very dangerous time for him. Until now, he only had to worry about being killed by his enemies. Not anymore.

Larry Gambone said...

Good analysis, Ren. Let's hope the mass movement can purge the bureaucrats and get the movement on a roll and completely and decisively defeat the reactionaries. Let them buy a one-way ticket to Miami where they belong!

beatroot said...

This means that support for the counter-revolution has not significantly increased from its highest point one year ago.

There was no revolution. And Chav got 49% of the vote. There is not a large working class in that country. You are talking a language that is not applicable. This is not about a ‘revolution’.

But the result does make both left and right – you know, the ones who go on and on about Venezuala, and …you know….other foreign places where they wear berets…look a little blinkered. Both sides placed so much faith this guy to confirm their politics – because you have none at home.. And Chav, the Pantomime Socialist …[booo….hiss….cheer!...] has let you all down. You both gave this man super natural powers…

Chavez is some kind of projection...to give westerners a little meaning in their lives. Sad.

Farmer John said...

...the only thing missing now is a gulag...oh, wait, THAT is what the proposed Constitutional reforms were all about.

Purge the officer corp as Stalin did in the late 30's. Send the wreckers and kulacks to the camps!

You commies never change. LOL!

Dave Marlow said...

I think what so many have overlooked is what this means in terms of the rest of the world. No longer can the media deny that democracy is thriving in Venezuela, nor can they continue to paint the President as a dictator.

Sean Pelette said...

On PBS Newshour today one of the guests pointed out that turnout was low compared to the presidential election. He speculated that the governors and mayors who are otherwise mostly loyal to Chavez, did not mobilize the neccessary support because they felt threatened by Art. 136.

It seems Chavez has created a political class whose loyalty and enthusiasm for him and the revolution is circumscribed by their desire to protect their privileges and power. Ironically, Chavez attempted to diminish the power of the very class whose efforts were neccessary to secure the expansion of his own power.

Brian said...

I'm glad this was defeated. No revolution can be sustained when it degenerates into a cult of personality around a single individual. If the revolution is to be truly transformative, it must not be dependent on one person occupying the presidential chair.

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

The referendum defeat means Venezuela's Chavez's support dried up.

When the people who elected you in the first place stay home in droves, they're sending you a message.

Chavez should get the plane warmed up for the Riviera, while the getting is good.

Renegade Eye said...

Sonia: Nobody is talking about assasinating Chavez amongst his friends. I think he did right by conceding, and dropping any issues related to the vote.

Larry: I doubt the Miami reactionaries, would trust the Venezuelans.

Beatroot: The main factor deciding the vote Sunday was abstantions. Venezuela is a country with no political center to speak of. Chavez builds community councils, alternative food shopping sources etc, alternative media etc. In Venezuela that is seen by the oligarchy as a dual power threat.

There still is no October 1917, and if Chavez doesn't reorganize his army and police, it'll be September 1973 Chile.

Farmer John: There is layers of entrenched, corrupt bureaucrats in Chavez's government, who are with him as long as he has power. The kind of reforms that were voted on Sunday, threatened them. They did a poor job of explaining them. They are responsible for the loss.

Sean: Welcome back. Bingo you are right.

Dave: Now the opposition loves the CNE (election commission). There is no doubt if Chavez won by a small margin, they would do everything to destabilize the country.

Brian: Chavez raised expectations particularly amongst the poor. There is more political involvement than almost any country in the world. Chavez from above caused motion from below, ie occupying factories and taking land.

Renegade Eye said...

Beamish: That link requires registration.

Even what I read of it was incorrect. His concession speech was upbeat, with jokes included.

Lke the post said, people get tired of elections and demonstrations and want more.

Venezuelans commenting on this blog, believed Chavez will take their children. The CIA payed for full page ads to push nonsense like that.

There is no demand to go back to IMF austerity.

Tom Cleland said...

I haven’t been following the specifics of Venezuelan politics, but it sounds like they need to go back to the drawing board on the constitutional changes. Keep the parts that empower the people, but take out the parts that give too much power to the executive. Chavez has five years to groom a successor. He seems to be tremendously popular with the poor. Hopefully he can leave a positive legacy.

blackstone said...

its funny, i remember reading about the voting before it occurred in a news story and a venezuela man said, he was scared the State was going to take away his son. i was like, where did he get that random ass idea?

Now i know.

lol

sonia said...

Ren,

Nobody is talking about assasinating Chavez amongst his friends.

if Chavez doesn't reorganize his army and police, it'll be September 1973 Chile.


You are contradicting yourself.

And you forget that Pinochet was Allende's CLOSEST FRIEND, chosen and promoted by him...

Remember, CIA cannnot betray Chavez. Enemies cannot betray. Only FRIENDS can betray.

bureaucrats in Chavez's government(...) The kind of reforms that were voted on Sunday, threatened them. They did a poor job of explaining them. They are responsible for the loss.

Another logical contradiction, a true non sequitur. It's like saying: "Nazism threatened Jews. Jews did a poor job of supporting Nazism. Jews are responsible for Nazism's demise". Why would turkeys vote for Thanksgiving ?

Té la mà Maria - Reus said...

el pueblo es soberano y ha decidido en las urnas y sobre esta cuestión no hay nada que objetar

saludos amigo

Graeme said...

How exactly do you "purge" the bureaucrats in a manner that is consistent with human rights? They won't go easily. I was critical on ending term limits for Chavez, but I wonder if that was one of the steps needed in order to get rid of the careerists. Giving Chavez more power does, however, open up other problems. I think Chavez understands his role, but he does tend to get carried away.

Beatroot,

Are you always so cynical? There are changes in Venezuelan society that many of us find interesting and that is that. What would you rather discuss?

Anonymous said...

One thing this referendum proved to the eyes watching around the world is that Venezuela IS a true democracy.

Too often Chavez is labelled a dictator. Let's just make one thing clear...

Dictators do not lose referendums. Dictators do not even do referendums... they just change constitutions without even telling the people.

The result of the referendum was extremely close. Voters rejected the reforms by 51% of the vote to 49%.

Watching the BBC news I saw Leopoldo Lopez, opposition mayor of the Chacao of Caracas, municipality, proclaiming that "Venezuela had won and democracy had won, and that the victory for the Venezuelan people will have a very important impact in the rest of Latin America,"

What makes you laugh is if the votes had been the other way around can you imagine Leopoldo Lopez even mentioning the word democracy? The answer is no. It would have been a fix, a fraud, a robbery. Chavez would have been branded a cheat and a dictator and there would have been calls for international help to overthrow the tyrant!

I think that with this loss much of the lies and propaganda regarding his leadership has been shattered. It cannot be said that the man is not democratic when he loses a fair referendum in his own country and concedes defeat with humility.

After all, if we cast our minds back it was not that long ago relatively speaking that the current president in the US won a questionable election on the back of a dodgy recount in Florida under the watchful eye of his younger brother Jeb!

I believe that Hugo and Venezuelan democracy comes out of this episode with a lot of dignity and an enhanced reputation that hopefully in the longer term will quieten some of the doubters and mudslingers who slag off the man and Venezuelan politics from afar.

Aaron A. said...

Great article Ren, I missed most of the coverage.

Anon,
Yes he certainly does.

Servant said...

I've been cheering for Venezuela to accomplish complete self determination, no matter which path they chose. I don't believe the Marxist model can ever prove anything that it hasn't already proved, but I do believe in constant change and permuation and Venezuela is trying something new.

I like the fact that it's not the Chicago consensus. I like the fact that it pisses off El Norte that Venezuela doesn't ask for its opinion.

But I'm happy that Chav's massive edits to the constitution failed. First many of them were silly and unnecessary and can be accomplished through the normal parliamentary processes. I can just imagine how I'd feel about George Dubya Bush amending the constitition to keep himself in power.

Someone said above and I agree. It can't be about personalities. It has to be about collective decisions and the laws that implement those decisions.

I almost wonder if Chav didn't go overboard with silly reforms just to prove to the world that this is all accomplished via democracy and not by decree.

Chav could have been a lot smarter about his proposals. He could have presented a list that the grass roots could buy into.

Here's a pretty good analysis that I agree with.

The best result of this vote is that the whole planet now must apologize for calling him a dictator.

I don't care about Chavez or any revolution. I only want to see Venezuela become whatever it wants to become. It's important work being done there that we are all going to benefit from eventually.

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

Ren,

Registration is for novices. Any site that requires registration (and the instant sign up for spam)can usually be bypassed by using
"bug me not."


Just trying to help :)

Renegade Eye said...

Chavez said in his concession speech "por ahora." That phrase he used in 1992 as well. His followers knew what that meant.



Beamish: I know of similar sites, but they are all XXX.

Servant: I liked that link. Tariq Ali used to be Trotskyist. He used to be close to Hitchens.

Anonymous: Good writing. You need your own blog. The opposition was ready to contest the results in the streets. We have been telling people forever CNE is fair.

Graeme: Strengthening the community groups is what would weaken the bureaucrats. The parts about strengthening community groups is why they sabotaged the referendum.

Sonia: Allende promoted Pinochet not out friendship. He was scared of him and the military. He was different than Chavez, not prone toward mobilizing street demonstrations. Incorrect to say friendship.

Tom: I think Chavez will try again to have a referendum on term limits in 2011.

Dr. Fallon said...

I've linked to your excellent analysis and commentary on the referendum on my blog, IN THE DARK.

Keep up the great work.

Little Pope said...

Why do Allan Woods and “In Defense of Marxism” ask too much from Latin-American socialists? With regard to Venezuela, they talk about “carrying the revolution forward”, “expropriate the oligarchy”, “purge the right wing from the Movement”, etc., etc. But concerning Australia, they say “…The duty of Marxists is to tell the workers the truth. That means we do not build up illusions…” There is a double standard.
I think that European Marxists believe that Latin America is a laboratory for Marx’s radical ideas.
Violent radicalism is good for Latin America. Patience and softness is needed for developed countries.
This is crazy.

Larry Gambone said...

Little pope, It is a different situation in Latin America. Here you have the mobilization of millions of working people and thus the possibility (and I emphasize its possible, not inevitable nature)of revolution. In Australia , as well as Canada, the US etc., the population is not rebelling in any number and hence revolutionaries must move in a slower fashion, to help create the situation whereby the people will begin to liberate themselves.

Renegade Eye said...

Little Pope: I agree with what Larry said.

If you ever have your own blog, I better be the person you tell first. Your comments are always interestting.

Dr. Fallon: Thank you.

sonia said...

Little Pope,

Violent radicalism is good for Latin America. Patience and softness is needed for developed countries.
This is crazy.
,

No, it's not crazy. It's very smart. When you're cold, you don't burn YOUR house. It's better to burn YOUR NEIGHBOUR'S house.

Marxists are smart.

roman said...

ren,

The CIA payed for full page ads to push nonsense like that.

If that's true (highly unlikely), its about time my tax money is spent to positively affect the Venezuellan people. It will forestall our military forces having to go quell just another bloody revolution.

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