These past few months, we in the Communist Party of Britain and YCL have campaigned to support workers in Venezuela who are facing increasing pressures and contradictions. In the early spring, we, the Americas Workgroup of the International Commission, were approached by comrades in Venezuela to come to their aid and fight the growing problems which have been exacerbated by those close to Maduro in the PSUV leadership.
We had previously been aware of the APR’s split from the PSUV-led coalition following the latter’s blanket refusal to discuss concerns concerning its rightward shift, let alone rectify or fulfil the signed agreements of the PCV-PSUV agreement of 2018. However, due to the selective silence of many sectors of the left internationally, the extent to which the PSUV leadership has drifted away from the legendary vision of Chavez fails to reach the ears of many ardent defenders of Venezuela’s sovereignty against the continuing assaults from US imperialism and their lapdogs. Being informed of the extent of these problems, we knew as dedicated anti-imperialists, internationalists and defenders of socialism that we had to combine our denouncement of the imperialist blockade and other criminal attacks with support for the trade union movement in its fight against local reformism and rollbacks, which is what led to the fundraising campaign we ran between May and July.
The fundraising was a two-pronged effort. The practical fundraising is one material element, however the more important side was the education and discussion that we have begun to open up as a result of the campaign. These discussions included webinars, meetings, article publications, and documentary footage of messages from our comrades in Venezuela. In all of these settings we heard accounts from members of the Committee of Family & Friends for the Liberation of Detained Workers about the alarming extent of prosecution workers suffer, while also hearing about the noble efforts and victories against such efforts, Unitary Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CUTV) and National Working Class Struggle Front (FLNCT) hearing about the numerous workplace and other battles they face defending the workers including state oppression, restrictions of trade union rights and activities, failures to defended workers, Clara Zetkin Women’s Movement learning about the stagnation of women’s rights and fight to improve the material conditions of women within Venezuela, and the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) discussing the numerous contradictions and challenges facing the working class of Venezuela, and the way in which they, and other working class organisations, campaign to challenge these developments.
Overall, the trend is very clear but dangerous: hiding behind Chavista language, neo-liberalism and business is creeping into Venezuela at an alarming rate.
This creates a problem for the internationalist movement in a broad sense, as we find ourselves caught between the rock of US imperialism, and the hard place of neo-liberalism. The insidious and odious actors of imperialism are restless in finding a weakness which they can exploit to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela. This has been a continued assault since Chavez first came to power in Venezuela, however, their failure was a result of the continued faith of the mass movement. Each time the imperialist hawks approached – be it via Guaido, or mercenary assaults – the people of Venezuela resisted valiantly, because they knew the Bolivarian movement is a progressive and positive force which is better than any snake oil promise that US can make.
This, however, is beginning to falter. The assault and persecution of workers – though already the result of a dangerous cosying up to business over the working class – will see workers losing faith in the positive gains that were won, and even in “socialism” as a material concept. As workers, we know not a single grain is harvested or wheel turned without the permission of the working class. The noble efforts of the CUTV and FLNCT are significantly more important, as a so-called ‘socialist’ government is going against the direct needs of the workers of Venezuela. However, the PSUV leadership’s alienation and oppression of workers means their political participation is being actively weakened. These combined forces, unless they are remedied, will continue to engrain a harrowing scar in Venezuelan society which will ultimately end in failure – either through the complete reformation of the PSUV into a petty-bourgeois social-democratic party, which answers only to capital, or through imperialist forces exploiting the divide and destroying all progress which has been won.
The question is, how do we stop this dangerous trend in Venezuela – the once great bastion of socialist construction in Latin America. Firstly, the international solidarity movement needs to be bolder and self-critical. Venezuelan solidarity which merely parrots government talking points, even if the government were truly revolutionary, fails to consider its implications on the working class of Venezuela; it fails to consider how it may maintain faith amongst the masses, and ultimately fails to become a truly Marxist perspective or a revolutionary perspective which demands the best from the representatives of the noble mantle of socialism.
Solidarity needs to extend and become more deeply embedded with the class-conscious trade union and worker movement of Venezuela – the CUTV and FLNCT both fight daily to improve the lives of workers in their day-to-day existence, as do other grassroots organisations independent of the government payroll. The workers are the cogs that keep society functioning, and solidarity which speaks of the Bolivarian Revolution, but fails to bolster the voices and concerns of the workers risks only speaking of ideology and fails to consider the material struggle.
Thirdly, and arguably the most important, is to demand more of the Venezuelan government. Solidarity that fights for national sovereignty, but allows the elected representatives to betray the very mission of the revolution which it claims to represent is not solidarity, this is merely respecting international law. The PSUV leadership, if it wishes to continue to be the representative of the Bolivarian Revolution and of Hugo Chavez, must be demanded to do better by the workers.
A leadership which claims to be socialist but fails to meet the basic health needs of women (despite the difficulties created by the blockade) is failing. A leadership which claims to be socialist but continues to side with business over workers is failing. A leadership which claims to be socialist but continues to persecute workers is failing. These failures of the rulers of the PSUV are the danger within Venezuelan society. To overcome these failures, the PSUV leadership must be challenged to do better by its citizens and by the trade union and worker movement as a whole. We cannot abandon Venezuela because of revisionism, as the vultures of imperialism are waiting to be able to swoop in and rip all hints of socialism from Venezuela. But that is not a carte blanche for the PSUV leadership to rest on the laurels of the legendary achievements won during the Chavez years.
We the Communist Party of Britain will continue to fight alongside the workers of Venezuela. Our comrades in the Communist Party of Venezuela are heroes in the struggle for the working-class. Living in the dying heart of imperialism, we will continue to fight to improve the lives of the Venezuelan people, against the illegal seizure of Venezuela’s gold by the Bank of England, against the archaic and anti-human blockade placed upon Venezuela, and we will forever bolster the voices of the trade union movement and workers in Venezuela to make sure their voices are heard and so we, as the ardent internationalists we strive to be, can proactively stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers movement in Venezuela, as their struggle is our struggle.
Viva la CUTV!
Viva el FLNCT!
Viva el PCV!
Solidarity forever with the workers of Venezuela!
AMERICAS WORKGROUP, INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION of the COMMUNIST PARTY OF BRITAIN