Chronicle of a Very Bourgeois «Bolivarian Revolution»

(«Proletarian»; Nr. 4; November 2008)


On balance, the elections of December 2006 were an important victory by Chavez; if he did not obtain the ten million votes which his election propaganda evoked, he nevertheless obtained more than seven million, that is to say approximately 63 % of the votes against no more than 37 % for his challenger from the right. The number of registered voters increased sharply: 16 million against 11 million for the 2000 election which Chavez carried with almost 60 % of the vote; he increased his score compared to the preceding presidential election, and as compared to the referendum of 2004 (59% of the votes). The rate of abstention at 25%, remains considerable, but it is not as low as in 2000 (44%) and 2004 (30%).

The victory of Chavez over the competition from the right is also and above all a victory for democracy over the proletariat. Chavist propaganda on the “Socialism of the 21st century”, on a popular and national revolution being carried out peacefully and democratically, channelled proletarians en masse towards the ballot boxes.




After his electoral victory, Chavez announced “the deepening of the Bolivarian revolution” by nationalizations. These tumultuous declarations were in large part responsible for the Caracas Stock Exchange fall and caused a certain agitation among local and foreign capitalists. But the way in which these nationalizations proceeded could only reassure them.

There are two companies which had been privatized at the beginning of the nineties by the Government of Carlos Andres Perez: the Electricidad de Caracas (EDC) Company and the Telephone Company CANTV which the Venezuelan owners had resold to American companies. Their re-nationalization is completely opposite to an expropriation or even of a takeover but a government repurchase “at market prices”.

Thus the PDVSA (the State oil company) repurchased the EDC from the American company AES Corporation for 740 million dollars, which corresponds to its value on the stock exchange. After signing the contract, Paul Hanrahan, chairman of the AES, declared: “I think that this transaction is in order. It didn’t form part of our plans to sell EDC. We understand that this is a strategic decision of the Venezuelan government and we respect it”(1). He didn’t have too many reasons to complain about Chavez, but in the year 2000, and already president, Chavez had given his green light to the purchase of EDC which proved to be juicy business; moreover Chavez had even encouraged AES to repurchase CANTV! However, it was finally the VERIZON Company which became its principal shareholder.

Last year VERIZON announced that it wanted to sell this company along with its other subsidiaries in Latin America. Long negotiations took place during the year between the Mexican, Carlos Slim (who had dethroned American Bill Gates as the richest man of the world) and owner of the telephone company TELMEX, VERIZON and the Venezuelan authorities (including a Chavez interview with the former Spanish Prime Minister, the Socialist Felipe Gonzales, who works for Slim!). Finally, the government itself decided to repurchase the concerns. According to VERIZON statements; “the operation was satisfactory for the two parties” (2).

The Chavez government also decided “to nationalize” the oil interests, i.e. the state was to assume the major share in the exploitation of the huge oil deposits in the Orinoco (the largest deposits of this type of oil in the world) at 60 %. Certain companies then withdrew, but others like the French Total accepted the new conditions. According to “le Monde”, not very suspect of sympathy to Chavez: “This ‘re-nationalization’ of the oil sector, in the form of majority takeover surprises no one. The contracts signed in the years 1990, wherein oil was sold for 10 dollars a barrel, had granted the multinationals extremely favorable conditions. ‘The current oil boom would have sorely tempted any government’ commented an ex-Total engineer” (3). In almost all the oil-producing countries, from Chad to Russia, one attends the same will of the governments to try to appropriate a larger slice of the pie.

These Venezuelan nationalizations thus do not represent anything extraordinary, and even less anything anti-capitalist. “One is still far from the wave of nationalizations of 1981 in France” (4). It is unnecessary to explain to the readers that the wave of 1981 left French capitalism intact! In fact, it consolidated it, by recapitalizing certain sectors where the private capitalists did not have sufficient means to invest. Moreover it was the right-wing government of Giscard-Barre which had, without employing the word, nationalized the French iron and steel industry then in complete insolvency, the government of the left then accomplished the “dirty work” of liquidating sufficient supernumerary work sites and laying-off a sufficient number of redundant workers so that it again became profitable. And it is then another left government which will again privatize it, the private capitalists then reselling it to Mittal... Marxism has always combated the reformist lie according to which the nationalizations carried out by bourgeois States are socialism. Engels already explained in its work “Anti-Duhring” that the bourgeois State is a collective capitalist in idea; the more it seizes productive forces, the more it becomes a collective capitalist in fact: the capitalist relation is not removed, it is pushed to the extreme”.

The alleged revolutionists, who swallow or diffuse Chavist propaganda on the socialist and anti-imperialist nature of the current re-nationalizations, are thus not only completely ignorant of Marxism; they are also completely ignorant of the recent history of the world and of...Venezuela: was there socialism in this country, before the privatizations of Carlos Andres Perez? Or before Chavez bolstered the American AES? It is obviously not from ignorance, but from duplicity...




“Business Week”, the economic review most influential in the business milieus in the United States, gives the point of view of the American capitalists on the situation in Venezuela: “There is no doubt that these days Venezuela is a rather nerve-wracking place to invest. But on certain sides, things are better there than ever (…) One could call that a love-hate relation with Chavez. Local and foreign companies garner profits as never before. Commercial intercourse between Venezuela and the United States has also never been so large (...). But since Chavez declared that President George Bush was the publkc enemy n°1, the Americans prefer to keep a low profile, even if the 11,000 companies which are members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Venezuela employ more than 650,000 people (...) Even the international oil companies - preferred targets of Chavez up to now - according to all probabilities will not move. Although they were obliged to yield control of their projects to the State Company, PDVSA, Chavez cannot allow himself to get mixed up with them. The enterprises in which foreign oil companies take part account for 40% of the oil production of Venezuela (...). Other companies not only do not resist Chavez, but profit from his programs. This is the case with INTEL, etc.” (5).

Thanks to the uninterrupted rise of the price of oil, Venezuela which is one of the largest producers, increased its revenue from oil exports fivefold since 1999. This made it possible for the government to buy social peace by redistributing a part of this “manna” to the poor population (in particular in the form of “missions” which provide education and medical care, and of the subsidizing of the prices of certain necessities, etc). According to official figures, poverty in consequence has decreased recently from 62.1% of the population in 2003, to 33.9% in 2006. One can discuss the reality of these figures, but there is no doubt that the success of Chavist reformism among the proletarians rests on the basis of this material redistribution.

But there is no doubt either that these are only the crumbs of the trickling down of the oil revenue. Social inequality increased during the same period according to a report by the central Bank (6): the very richest grew even richer under the “Bolivarian revolution “! The governmental economic policy especially profited the banking environment and the various intermediaries, without wishing to or being able to modify the structure of Venezuelan capitalism, whose economy depends more than ever on oil.

The proletarians remained proletarian, the 20% inflation caused by the swelling of the incomes of the parasitic middle layers, increasingly eating away real wages.

The well-off good bourgeoisie of Caracas hates the socializing propaganda of a Chavez and scorns his partisans. But it is above all guided by its interests and it has noted the increase in its profits. Emblematic on this subject is the attitude of Cisneros, the media tycoon, the largest fortune in Latin America and the most powerful bourgeois family in Venezuela. Cisneros had formerly financed the coming to power of the popular colonel Chavez, as a remedy for the deep crisis of legitimacy of the political structures of the country. Then, opposed to his reformist policy, however limited, he had been one of the principal supports of the opposition and the coup against Chavez. Confronted with the imminent risk of social explosion which they had not calculated for, after a few hours the same putschists reinstalled Chavez to power, demonstrating his role as a fire-wall for the bourgeoisie. The opposition of the right, always virulent, then had to express itself on a less explosive terrain (lockouts, etc.) (7).

In 2004, before an anti-government referendum launched by the opposition, a meeting was held between Chavez, Cisneros and his friend, former American president Carter who had come to oversee the regularity of these elections. According to Chavez, at the end of this meeting, Cisneros “understood that he could coexist with the transformation of the society in a socialist direction to which [Chavez] aspired” (8). That the leading private capitalist group in Venezuela can coexist with a socialist transformation, speaks volumes on the reality of this pseudo transformation!

What Cisneros in any case has well understood, is that Chavez did not wish to find fault with the capitalists. And at the time of the last presidential election campaign, the Cisneros television chain took a clear role: it devoted 84% of its political programming to the positions of Chavez against only 16% for his rival...

Supported by the big capitalists, ensuring record profits to the banks, the pseudo “Bolivarian revolution” is especially well tolerated by the bourgeoisie in that it continues to succeed in anaesthetizing the great proletarian masses. But the illusionist number of a Chavez can only last for a certain time, the limited time of world economic growth and high prices of oil.

The rumblings of the stock exchange are the harbinger of the economic crisis which, under capitalism, is the inevitable result of prosperity. The consequences of the crises being always been made felt with more violence in the peripheral countries, the Venezuelan proletarians will then see “their” State, “their” army, align themselves brutally against them to save the national capitalism. From now on Chavism prepares for this possibility while trying to equip itself with a single, popular and patriotic party, having the trade unions under control, and with an embryo of a militia.

The avant-garde proletarians of must also prepare themselves, while working against the current, to provide the foundations of the single party of a mono-classist and international revolution: the communist revolution.





On the spring of 2007 the Chavez government decided not to renew the licence of an opposition television channel, RCTV; owned by a major bourgeois Venezuelan family; RCTV, unlike the network belonging to the tycoon Cisneros (9) had not ceased its opposition to the government and its broadcasting of the anti-Chavist positions of the American administration.

This decision had consequences that the Venezuelan authorities had not envisaged.

On the international level, its condemnation by the American government in the name of “freedom of opinion” was relayed not only by organizations such as “Reporters without Borders” (which receives funding from U.S. imperialism through its notorious dispensary the “National Endowment for Democracy” ) or Amnesty International, not only by many media (including so-called “leftist” organs such as “Libération” in France), but also by European and Brazilian parliamentary deputies (the latter accused by Chavez of being “lackeys of Yankee imperialism” which provoked a diplomatic mini-crisis with Brazil).

Within the country, the decision against RCTV on May 27, 2007 immediately provoked student protest demonstrations, which spread throughout the country. Initially launched by students of private (Catholic) universities and by the most prestigious independent universities with the support of their teachers and leaders, the movement continued until the summer. Besides defending the autonomy of the universities, they focused on demands for democracy typical of this kind of petit-bourgeois movement: against “polarization”, for freedom of expression, national reconciliation, the good of the homeland, democracy, and peace (one of the symbols of the movement was prayerful white hands). Situated as it is between the two opposite classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the conflict threatens to crush it; - the petit-bourgeoisie aspires to social peace, the reconciliation of antagonistic class interests in the name of the “general interest”, to the supreme interest of the nation taken to be common to all.

Only one must not get the narrow-minded notion that the petty bourgeoisie, on principle, wishes to enforce an egoistic class interest.” Marx writes in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” “Rather, it believes that the special conditions of its emancipation are the general conditions within whose frame alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle avoided.”

In mobilizing themselves for the defence of RCTV and democracy, the students affirmed that they wanted “to save Venezuela” while specifying they did not play at politics: “We are not Socialists, we are social beings; we are not neo-liberals, we are free beings; we do not make opposition, we make proposals!” etc, etc.





With the holidays onset the movement died out on its own while the government reacted by denouncing it as an operation organized by “American imperialism” and calling for the support of its partisans and the proletarians. Since the masses were not significantly mobilized, the various currents of extreme left rushed in to support Chavez. From a proletarian point of view there was no reason to support the government - and even less the right-wing opposition: it was necessary to defend independent class positions. That was not the position of the International Communist Current which didn’t hesitate “to greet and support” the student movement, with arguments that would make the hair stand up straight on one’s head.

According to this organization: “The movement goes further than opposition to a government, it contains the seeds of a challenge to the capitalist system of exploitation, thus indisputably situating itself in the struggle of the wage-workers, of the working class. Owing to the means and methods which it gave itself for the struggle (assemblies, elections of delegates accountable to them, appeal for debate outside the universities, etc.), characteristic of the proletariat when it fights on the terrain of the defense of its interests, there exists in this movement, though of course in a minoritarian and unconscious way, tendencies which express the interests of the wage-workers, who push it forward” (10).

The reader will note that for the ICC it is only the methods - and obviously democratic methods! - which make this movement a movement of the working class! Here is a theoretical projection which without any doubt opens new horizons: for example, shouldn’t assemblies of shareholders be enlisted, in an unconscious way of course, in the working class struggle? The ICC tries to explain why, according to them, this movement is situated in the working class struggle. Initially it affirms peremptorily that “the majority [of the students] belong to proletarian families or are reduced to poverty by the crisis”: actually in Venezuela as elsewhere, and particularly in the private establishments, the children of proletarians are only an insignificant minority. But the essential thing is that:

“A large proportion of these young people who protest today in the street were the witnesses of the devastations in their families and society by political polarization caused by the Chavist leaders and the opposition in their struggle for power. They were victims of the division of society [!] and a weakening of the bonds of solidarity [?]; many of them and their parents were caught in the traps of political polarization to become fanatics of one faction or another, losing all perspective”.

Undoubtedly the ICC is obliged to speak about the “dangers” to the student movement represented in democratic illusions (as if democratic orientations did not constitute the very substance of the movement) and by its “proximity” to the right-wing opposition (as if this movement did not represent an unhoped-for support for the latter); but these are only mental reservations which don’t prevent the ICC from being filled with enthusiasm:

“The movement of the students which we greet and which we support had the great merit of trying to break from the vicious and harmful circle of polarization, by proposing dialogue through assemblies where one decides what one discusses and under which conditions [Ah, to vote to decide why and on what to vote!]. It is a gain for the students themselves, for wage-workers and for society as a whole [!], since this reinforces the true bonds of social solidarity [?]. (...)This movement will have genuine fruits if the proletarian factors which exist in its centre succeed in bringing it not only closer to the local neighbourhoods, but especially to employees of factories and companies, private and public. This rapprochement should not be sought by means of the trade unions and political parties, but by the assemblies where the workers of all sectors and the unemployed would be invited. In this way the workers could perceive the proletarian vein which exists in the movement, which would impel in its turn the reflection, and, why not, the struggle of the workers (...).”

It is not a question here of a simple alignment without principle towards a petit-bourgeois democratic movement, but a petit-bourgeois profession of faith: who other than the petit-bourgeois indeed groans on about “fanaticism”, “political polarization” and especially the “division of society”? Capitalist society is a society divided into classes and with all due respect to the petit bourgeois who fear being its victim, this division cannot be denied or overcome by democratic chattering. On the contrary it needs to be recognized and proclaimed so that the proletarians can draw all the consequences, i.e. so that an effective political polarization, of class, based on the fundamental social polarization can take place.

Pretending that “today Venezuela is everyone”, Chavist reformism endeavours to present obstacles to this polarization by making the proletarians believe that their enemies are only a small privileged minority supported by American imperialism. Without any doubt the proletarians must get out of the fatal dead end which this Chavist reformism represents, but certainly not to initiate “dialogue and debate on the principal social problems afflicting society” (11) (to dialogue with whom, moreover?)!

What they need is not to go (and what is more, to go not in an organized way, but individually) into the student assemblies to discuss the problems of the petit-bourgeoisie, nor inversely, to rush to lend active support to the government; but to organize themselves for struggle, the defence of their own class interests against the capitalists and their State, which repainted in red, Chavism protects,. To the false alternative Chavism/anti-Chavism as with the misty dreams of social dialogue and reinforcement of “society as a whole” (therefore: all classes confounded together), the proletariat will inevitably be forced to respond by taking the path of real confrontation: class against class. And they will see that, on this day, the petit-bourgeois democrats, the pacifists and their political representatives will also inevitably be on other side of the barricade.





Another organization, this time Trotskyist , the “International Workers League”, also took a comparable position: Declaring, with reason, that Chavez never tackled capitalism in 8 years of being able to and that it got along with the bourgeois milieus at the time of the failed coup, the IWL affirms that it is necessary to defend democracy and the freedom of expression against the measures taken by his government (12). This is based on an article by Trotsky (although actually the fact that survey institutes estimated that 60 to 85% of the population were hostile to this measure, has without any doubt weighed much heavier in its standpoint!). In this article from 1938, Trotsky criticizes a campaign of the Mexican Stalinists to get the (“progressive”) government to take measures against the reactionary press. He writes: “a leader of the working class who provides the bourgeois State with exceptional weapons of control on public opinion in general and on the press in particular is very precisely a traitor. In the final analysis, with the aggravation of the class struggle the bourgeoisie of all stripes will end up in accord and will then direct all the laws of exception, all the restrictive rules, all species of ‘democratic censure’ against the working class”(13).

All this is incontestable; just as Trotsky’s remark that one cannot make an analogy between the repressive measurements taken by the dictatorship of the proletariat and those taken by a bourgeois State is incontestable.

But on the other hand what is very contestable, is that when, in order to criticize the Stalinist bureaucracy, it goes on from there to justify freedom of the press under the dictatorship of the proletariat: “(...) even from the point of view of the interests of dictatorship of the proletariat, the prohibition of bourgeois newspapers or their censure do not constitute in the least a program or a principle nor an ideal regime. Such measurements can only be an inevitable and temporary evil”. According to Trotsky if these exceptional measurements employed against the bourgeoisie become lasting, they entrain the risk of seeing the appearance of a bureaucracy which can become a source of degeneration! “the real tasks of the proletarian State consist, not to muzzle public opinion by police measures, but to release it from the yoke of the capital (...) once this fundamental socialist measure is carried out, all the currents of public opinion which do not fight with weapons in hand against the dictatorship of the proletariat must have the possibility freedom of expression. The Workers’ State has the duty to place at their disposal the necessary technical means (...)”.

One rubs one’s eyes: the Workers’ State having the duty to provide to the bourgeoisie the means of free expression, this is no longer Trotsky, but Kautsky, the name of that renegade from socialism who fought the proletarian power pen-in hand, while at the same time, according to the law of the division of labor, the soldiers of the bourgeoisie fought it with weapons in hand! To answer, let us leave the final word with.... Trotsky.

In his “Terrorism and Communism” which he wrote in 1920 against Kautsky, he indeed devoted a whole chapter to refute the liberal petit-bourgeois jeremiads of the latter on the non-respect of the freedom of the press by the Bolsheviks: Trotsky writes: “Our task, does not consist in punishing “the liars” and encouraging “the truthful” press of all tendencies, but only in stifling the class lies of the bourgeoisie and ensuring the triumph of the class truth of the proletariat (...). The press is not the arm of an abstract society, but of two irreconcilable camps, which fight with weapons. We suppress the press of the counter-revolution just like we destroy its fortified positions, its communications, its espionage services” (14), also knowing that the allegedly socialist and “workers” political currents like the revolutionary Mensheviks or Social-Revolutionaries had lined up in this enemy camp and were to undergo, on behalf of the proletarian dictatorship, the same fate as the avowedly bourgeois parties.

The historical task of the proletariat is to destroy capitalism so that a classless society can finally be established, Communism. This task cannot be achieved without a violent revolution which overthrows the political power of the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, and which destroys its apparatus for domination and the protection of capitalism, the bourgeois State, to establish proletarian power in its place. But even while politically overthrown by the victory of the revolution, the bourgeoisie still has an economic and social power which cannot disappear tomorrow or the next day, quite simply because capitalism cannot be removed tomorrow or the next day. It takes a whole period, more or less lengthy according to the countries involved and the more or less rapid victory of the international revolution, so that the economy can be gradually reorganized on a socialist basis and so that social classes begin to disappear. As long as this does not take place, as long as the capitalistic mode of production is not extirpated, the bourgeois class which corresponds to it (and which moreover receives assistance from the international bourgeoisie) carries out a fierce struggle to defend its social position and to destroy the proletarian power.

In order to overcome this one cannot respond by democratically granting freedom of expression, but while intervening despotically in the economy, and also despotically on the political plane by depriving it and its allies, of all their means of struggle and expression. In a word, the proletarian power can only be the dictatorship of the proletariat - a dictatorship overtly affirmed.

In contrast, bourgeois States are actually nothing other than the dictatorship - dissimulated - of the bourgeoisie. Even in the most democratic bourgeois States, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press actually exists only for those who have sufficient means to possess newspapers, radio and television stations, i.e. for the capitalists, who make use of this to fashion “public opinion” according to their own particular interests and those of their class.

In attacking RCTV the government undoubtedly delivered a blow to that fraction of the capitalists who augment the right-wing opposition - and the latter protest because they are seen as being denied their freedom of expression. But whether the RCTV broadcasts or not, will change nothing either with the real domination of capitalism in Venezuelan society, or with the rights of expression of the proletarians. But the reactionary RCTV never gave the proletarians a voice and Chavez, no more than the reformists in any country, does not plan to deliver into the hands of the workers what would be only one of the State television channels. As revolutionary as he pretends to be, Chavez will not hesitate to cooperate tomorrow with the capitalists of the opposition just as he has already gotten along with the most influential capitalists, Cisneros and other bankers or owners, yesterday’s putschists, and today’s supporters of the government.

On the other hand with respect to the proletarians who start to obstruct the capitalists, it uses and will use of all means: traditional forces of repression (police, army) meaning nothing has changed, to the para-legal bands, like the Tupamaros, this group of Maoist origin which has lately devoted itself to various exactions and even murders on behalf of the regime.

The proletarians should not await their freedom of expression and especially their freedom of action, from any bourgeois law; they can obtain it neither from an alliance with the petit-bourgeois layers nor with support for the Chavist government and the bourgeois State. It is not a right which can be guaranteed to them by a law or a constitution, but a conquest, always threatened, which they can tear off and maintain only by their struggle and their class organization.

That imposes on the avant-garde proletarians a very precise immediate task: to work to provide the foundations of this class organization, starting with organizations for economic struggle and of immediate defence and then to the political organization, the revolutionary class party, anti-democratic and anti-legalist, anti-pacifist and anti-patriot, internationalist and international, charged with centralizing and leading the proletarian struggle against capitalism.





On the heels of the electoral victory in the presidential elections, the Venezuelan government decided to reform the Constitution. According to the words of Chavez himself, the purpose of this reform was to “deepen the Bolivarian revolution”; in his opinion it was essential to demolish the nodes (entanglements) which “prevent us from reversing the obstacles formed in the Constitution” - which he had had adopted in 1999!  - “and in reality, to equip us with new tools to be able to advance and deepen the changes” (15).

The Venezuelan right mobilized against this modification of the Constitution, denouncing it as some sort of “coup d’etat”, with the international support of the pro-American imperialist milieus. For example the pro-imperialist rag “Latin Reporters” wrote: “Non-existent in the current supreme Charter, the words ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ are introduced sixteen times into the reform of the Constitution of Venezuela which president Chavez subjects to the referendum of December 2. They apply to the State, to its political, social, economic and territorial system. A popular power becomes evident which is born from neither the vote nor any election”. Chavez regards it as ‘the fundamental core’ of his socialism of the 21st century. It is thus a change of regime and not a simple reform, as it is called officially, which has materialized from a yes vote in the referendum with the recasting of 69 of the 350 articles of the Constitution” (16).

On their side, the extreme left currents rushed to greet the march to socialism which this constitutional reform was supposed to represent. Orlando Chirino, head of the principal left trade-union current, C-CURA, with “classist” pretentions, declared in the UNT trade union: “the reform which the president proposes demonstrates that we are in a process of changes, a revolutionary situation more profound with each step, in which Chavez takes again in his own manner what the people and the workers develop through fights and mobilizations to put an end to exploitation and imperialism” (17). The Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Marxist Current (Corriente Marxista Revolucionaria: CMR) were even more enthusiastic:

“On December 2 Venezuelans are once again called to the polling stations to democratically decide on a new step forward in the revolution (…). Against this reform we find international imperialism, our own bourgeoisie, the Catholic Church, that is, all the forces that have been holding back the development of our country and that for decades have benefited from the sacrifices and misery of the workers, peasants and poor, that is, the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans. On the side of the “Yes” is President Chávez and the great majority of workers, communities, peasants and youth who for decades - but especially since Chávez came to power - have been struggling to overthrow capitalism, to expel imperialism from the fatherland of Bolivar once and for all and to create a new socialist society in Venezuela as a first step towards a socialist revolution in the whole of Latin America.

(…) The victory on December 2 will be a new step forward for the revolution a new, decisive stage, which should mean a change in the social relations of production and the end of the bourgeois state apparatus. (…)The struggle of the Venezuelan people is the guiding light for all the oppressed of the world; that is the reason for the hatred embedded in the hearts of the oppressors, slave-owners and imperialists of all nations, from G.W. Bush to the King of pain. On our side is the love and solidarity of millions of workers and poor all over the world. Along with them we will build in Venezuela and on the whole planet a socialist society, free from oppression and misery.

The Fatherland, Socialism or Death! We will overcome!”(18)

To justify their assertions of its revolutionary character, the partisans of the reform put forward the social promises that it contained: 36 hour working week, extension of voting rights to 16 year-olds, broadening of social security to include self-employed workers ?(small shopkeepers, salesmen, artisans, etc), as well as the creation of new forms of property (alongside private property which will remain intact) and of the introduction of an ill-defined “popular power” at the local level.

But would the adoption of these measurements have meant a change of the mode of production - the end of capitalism - or the end of the bourgeois State apparatus in Venezuela? Can you escape from capitalism by the simple vote on a reform of the constitution?

To clarify the ideas and to put things back into a proper perspective, let us take the example of the draft presented by the Bolsheviks at the Constituent Assembly which opened in Russia in January 1918; presented at the time under the title “Declaration of the rights of the toilers and exploited people”, it will then become the first part of the Soviet constitution:


“The Constituent Assembly Decrees:



1. Russia is proclaimed a Republic of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies. All central and local authority is vested in these Soviets.

2. The Russian Soviet Republic is established on the basis of a free union of free nations, a federation of National Soviet Republics.


The Constituent Assembly sets for itself as a fundamental task the suppression of all forms of exploitation of man by man and the complete abolition of class distinctions in society. It aims to crush unmercifully the exploiter, to reorganize society on a socialistic basis, and to bring about the triumph of Socialism throughout the world. It further resolves:

1. In order to bring about the socialization of land, private ownership of land is abolished. The entire land fund is declared the property of the nation and turned over free of cost to the toilers on the basis of equal right to its use. All forests, subsoil resources, and waters of national importance as well as all live stock and machinery, model farms, and agricultural enterprises are declared to be national property.

2. As a first step to the complete transfer of the factories, shops, mines, railways, and other means of production and transportation to the Soviet Republic of Workers and Peasants, and in order to ensure the supremacy of the toiling masses over the exploiters, the Constituent Assembly ratifies the Soviet law on workers’ control and that on the Supreme Council of National Economy.

3. The Constituent Assembly ratifies the transfer of all banks to the ownership of the workers’ and peasants’ government as one of the conditions for the emancipation of the toiling masses from the yoke of capitalism.

4. In order to do away with the parasitic classes of society and organize the economic life of the country, universal labor duty is introduced.

5. In order to give all the power to the toiling masses and to make impossible the restoration of the power of the exploiters, it is decreed to arm the toilers, to establish a Socialist Red Army, and to disarm completely the propertied classes.


The third and the fourth part of this declaration are devoted to foreign policy, while defining that the Soviet power must continue to fight against international banking and financial capital “until the complete victory of the international workers’ insurrection against the yoke of capital”; and decreeing the primacy of the power of the Soviets, the (Constituent) Assembly having to restrict itself “to establish the fundamental bases of the socialist transformation of society” (19).

Socialism can indeed be established neither by decree nor within the framework of a single country, even more emphatically in a socially and economically backward Russia. The Russian revolution was hybrid, “double”, insofar as it was the result of the revolutionary struggle of the peasantry - representing the very great majority of the population - against the vestiges of feudalism and national oppressions; and that of the working class against capitalism.

This is why this declaration speaks about “toilers”, “Workers and Peasants” State, etc. But the fact that the working class was the element leading the revolution (without this proletarian leadership which was incarnated by the Bolshevik party, the revolution was destined to failure) allowed it to fix its objective of moving towards socialism, within the framework of the international revolutionary proletarian struggle: not one patriotic note in this declaration entirely distinguished by its internationalism!

The various points of this declaration define the conditions for victory in a real revolutionary situation: arming of the workers and disarmament of the bourgeoisie, suppression of landed private property, workers control over all production (before having the force to be able to expropriate all the capitalists and reorganizing production from top to bottom), expropriation of the banks, obligatory labor service, handing over of all power to the Soviets.

The Bolsheviks were not democrats respectful of the constitutional forms of universal suffrage, but revolutionary Marxists. They knew that the revolution is a relentless struggle between social classes; they had just proven this during the seizure of power.

“Any attempt, direct or indirect, to consider the Constituent Assembly from a legal, purely formal point of view, within the framework of customary bourgeois democracy, without taking account of the class struggle and the civil war, is equivalent to betraying the cause of the proletariat and of adopting the point of view of the bourgeoisie” Lenin wrote at the time (20).

When the constituent Assembly, elected before the revolution, refused to recognize the power of the Soviets (and to discuss the declaration of the Bolsheviks), it was dispersed without problem by the revolutionary sailors. Four days later the pan-Russian Third Congress of the Soviets opened; its first act was to approve the dispersion of Constituent Assembly, its second to approve the above declaration.

The adoption of a new revolutionary constitution was not possible other than by the victory of the revolution smashing the power of the bourgeoisie and its allies (in fact the new constitution was only completely drafted and adopted a few months later: most pressing was the need to triumph in the civil war).


*  *  *


The Chavist reform bill employed the word socialism or socialist 16 times in vain, not even once did he make the least allusion to the points which we have just read, which define the essential conditions of a real social revolution. Not once did the bill speak about attacking private property, of expropriating the banks, of exercising the power of the workers over the exploiters, of giving all power to the proletariat, of arming the workers.

On the contrary! In July Chavez reaffirmed that he always wanted to maintain private property: “It is not a question of nationalizing the whole economy (…), No our socialism accepts private property. But this private property must lie within the scope of a constitution, certain laws and in the social interest”, an assertion which would garner him the congratulations of the president of the employers’ organization, Fedecamaras (21).

Instead of weakening the power of the bourgeois State, the bill reinforced the powers of the Executive, the Presidency in the first place; in short it obviously did not mention the question of the arming of the workers, while at the same time dozens of worker, trade unionist, and peasant militants fell victim to the employers’ armed gangs which operate with impunity!

This constitutional reform went no further that a simple cosmetic retouching in red tones of the bourgeois constitution of a bourgeois state. Politically, its immediate goal was to reinforce the government in the face of its internal right wing and vis-à-vis external imperialism; but in the last analysis it was a question of maintaining control on the proletarian and petit-bourgeois masses by the allure of reformist demagogy, and not at all to oppose or give fright to the bourgeoisie. A former Chavez chief of staff, General Alberto Muller Rojas, explained last summer to a London financial paper:

“Some of Chávez’s speeches are for the gallery,” says Alberto Muller Rojas, a retired army general who was until recently the president’s chief of staff. “And I’ll give you an example: the attack on the bourgeoisie.” As evidence, General Muller singles out the banks: “the most extreme expression of the bourgeoisie” but “the most favoured sector” of the economy since Mr Chávez came to power in 1999. (22).

Make no mistake here: as always, and everywhere, reformism can only serve the bourgeoisie; one cannot resort to ruses with capitalism, the mode of production which has shaped the whole of society and its institutions to serve it: either combat it and its official economic and political organizations by opposing them with the force of the proletariat, or submit to it. The avant-garde proletarians can in no way, shape or form place confidence in reformist demagoguery, inevitably anti-proletarian and pro-capitalist despite all its speechifying; they must fight it in the clearest way, to unmask it in the eyes of their class brothers and to support the necessity for organization and class independence against it.

Yet in a situation of the growing menace of Fascism, the Communist Party of Italy previously underlined the need

“to mercilessly criticize the program of the bourgeois left and any program that would make use of democratic and bourgeois parliamentary institutions for the resolution of social problems.

(...)The aim of the left is not a step forward to an interim stage somewhere between the economic and political capitalist system and a proletarian system. In general, its political demands tend to lead to improved functioning conditions and the defense of modern capitalism, be it as a result of the content proper of these demands as well as the illusion they give the masses of being able to use current institutions for their emancipation as a class. This applies to demands for widening of the suffrage and other guarantees for the improvement of liberalism (...) It applies as well in the case of economic or social reforms: either they will not be realized, or they will be only on condition and with the aim of blocking the revolutionary thrust of the masses. (...)

It is the Communist Party’s duty to proclaim what it knows not only because of Marxist criticism, but from bloody experience: such governments will allow the proletariat freedom of movement only as long as it considers and supports these governments as its own representatives. But at the first assault of the masses against the democratic institutions of the bourgeois State, they will respond with the fiercest reaction.”(23).

The so-called “revolutionary” extreme left affirms that support for Chavism is necessary in order to create a favorable relationship of forces in favor of the working class, the refusal to support it playing into the hands of the right wing, the “worst enemy” of the workers. This is an old tale which under each and every circumstance is used to camouflage opportunism and to justify the refusal to take classist positions! The proletariat does not have to choose between two alternatives both of which are actually bourgeois; it does not have to choose between its enemies and its false friends.

To be able to resist capitalism victoriously, it will be necessary for the proletariat to break with these two alternatives and to find its independent class positions: not the constitutional reform of the bourgeois State, but the open struggle to overthrow it! It is not the paper rag of the ballot which can make improvements of the living and working conditions obtain, but only proletarian struggle! No confidence in supreme saviours, confidence only in class organization, in the authentic reconstituted Communist Party, internationalist and international! It is not possible to get to socialism peacefully, constitutionally and legally, but only by insurrection, the violent seizure of power and the establishment of the international dictatorship of the proletariat to be able expropriate the exploiters and to extirpate capitalism!





The referendum campaign witnessed a strong mobilization of the opposition, reinforced by the defection among the Chavists of the Podemos party and General Baduel, but above all dynamized by the student movement. However the Chavist leaders especially feared abstention; they did everything possible to mobilize their voters, dramatizing the stakes and playing the old card of the American threat, supported in this for the most part by the majority of the currents of the extreme left.

A rare exception was the Trotskyist group, Juventud de Izquierda Revolucionaria (JIR), which calls for class independence vis-à-vis Chavism. The JIR defines the current regime as a “Bonapartist regime which seeks support in the mass movement to better negotiate conditions with imperialism and the local large-scale employers, while resorting constantly to plebiscitary elections to legitimate its policy (...). the constitutional reform bill sought to reinforce these political forms of the government and the regime towards a larger Bonapartization” (24).

The fuzzy and classically Trotskyist formula of “Bonapartism” is used to avoid saying that we are in the presence here of a bourgeois reformist government. And if the JIR does not have political courage to say things black on white, it can even less have the force to break with the phony terrain of the electoral contest; it invited the proletarians not to desert the ballot boxes, but to go to vote to deposit spoilt ballots! The misery of democratic cretinism...

The Venezuelan proletarians gave a good lesson to all these pseudo-revolutionary vanguardists. The referendum failed (50.7 % for No, 49.29% for Yes), not because the right gained supporters (its score remained appreciably the same one: 4,500,000 votes as against 4,300,000 at the time of the presidential elections), but because of the very high number of abstentions: 44.39% abstentions (against a little less than 25 % previously). Compared to the presidential elections, Chavism lost more than 40% of its votes, that is to say 3 million voters. And those disappointed by Chavism are concentrated primarily in the most proletarian zones (in certain proletarian districts there were up to 80% abstentions), whereas the more petit-bourgeois districts gave their support to the governmental proposition.

This massive progression of abstention in the proletarian milieus was not caused, as the Chavists claim, by a lack of information or comprehension of the reform: “the contents [of the reform] were not assimilated, we did not know how to sell the socialist model (!), wrote a Chavist journalist. The people only saw the negative in the proposition. That showed that this society is not ripe for socialism” (25)...

In reality, millions of proletarians understood perfectly well that this reform did not concern them in the least, that it could in no way serve their interests - but that it was undoubtedly going to serve the interests of the “Boligarchy”, starting with the tycoon Cisneros and the bankers, this “national bourgeoisie” of which Chavez praises the merits. They noted that their condition did not change in this pretend revolution, whereas a whole swarm of profiteers quickly grew rich from the oil manna.

This electoral collapse of Chavism is nothing other than the deformed translation of the sharpening of social tensions, of the deepening of the chasm between classes which cannot be bridged by any “socializing” rhetoric. It is the sign that the time of social confrontation approaches.





The Chavist leaders are completely conscious of the need for reinforcing their political base and their influence on the broad masses wich cannot be automatically

granted by the speeches of the president.

The existence of a powerful political party able to support and extend their governmental action thus seemed a need made all the more pressing by the persistence weaknesses and divisions of the pro-Chavist parties (26). This party is called the PSUV: Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela; it held its congress of foundation at the beginning of March 2008.

In its “Statement of principles”, the PSUV admits to “being conceived by the government” and to act as its “transmission belt”. That explains a curious characteristic: its absence of a program. A political party worthy of this name defines itself by its program; the PSUV defines itself by its support for the government. One can read thus in the pre-project of program, at item II: “Holding fast as the starting point the demand for and the defense of the government of the Bolivarian Revolution lead by Hugo Chavez and the will of the Venezuelan people to build XXIst century socialism, etc.”. As for the Declaration of Principles, it develops the defense of the “sovereignty” of Venezuela against the United States as the central point.

Somebody may tell us that the texts of the PSUV never cease speaking about revolution and “socialism”.

Without any doubt, but this socialism is never defined. When the Statement of Principles quotes a passage of Marx on the unfortunate aspects of the conditions of the workers, it is after having claimed to identify itself with the teachings of Christ on justice, equality and fraternity between men. And it takes great care to state that its socialism will be “original” and “creative”. It quotes the “Amerindian cosmic vision”, “primitive Christianity”, the “attempts which gave birth to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba”, the thought and action of Bolivar, etc., as elements which have inspired the PSUV, while stressing that the socialism of twenty-first century “corresponds with the creative praxis, with the exercise of the free will and the aspirations of the Venezuelan people”, etc. One would seek in vain the least allusion to Marxism, i.e. to the precise, unambiguous and imperative historical program of the struggle for emancipation of the international proletariat! One would also seek in vain for the least reference to the class struggle in the texts of the PSUV as in the inflamed speeches of Chavez on socialism and the Bolivarian revolution: it is here and everywhere a question only of the “people”, of “social and political unity of the vast majority”, of the “union of the people and the Armed Forces”, in short of interclassism.

In 1913, in an article on “the historical destiny of the doctrines of Karl Marx” after having stressed that the revolutions of Asia showed “the pronounced demarcation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie” as in Europe, Lenin wrote: “After the experience both of Europe and Asia, anyone who speaks of non-class politics and non-class socialism, ought simply to be put in a cage and exhibited alongside the Australian kangaroo or something like that.” (27). Ultramodern Chavist socialism was already an old-fashioned reactionary archaism, contradicted by history a century ago!

“Not at all!” - perhaps some partisan of the Bolivarian Revolution will answer us with indignation. Didn’t Chavez declare at the beginning of this year that it was necessary to prevent the infiltration of the bourgeoisie into the PSUV (28)?

Admittedly Chavez himself had already previously affirmed that there existed in Venezuela, beside an antinational bourgeoisie, a group of nationalist owners, interested in investing work and capital in the country and whose efforts he greeted (29). But the demonstration of the real significance of this declaration was given on February 27: a Chavist deputy who had dared ask the day before for the opening of an investigation on the corruption of a person high up in the regime was expelled from the PSUV on the request of Chavez. ‘Comandante’ also condemned the brief occupation by some of his partisans of the buildings of the reactionary Episcopal Conference and the demonstrations in front of the Globovision television station, saying he suspecting them of being infiltrated into the PSUV; he added that “it would be wise to make an investigation into the difficulties caused to Salvador Allende by the far left, on how a far left infiltrated by the CIA, without realizing it caused events which gave the justification to the right-wing to act as it did”(30)

Actually it is not the attitude of the extreme left, completely tailist with respect to Allende and of the reformist parties, but the struggles of the proletarians which extremely disturbed the Chilean bourgeoisie and which convinced it to pass over to bloody repression, along the way ridding itself of the reformist lackeys which it utilized before the noose. The Chavist government fears above all else a revival of proletarian struggles; like yesterday in Chile the Allende Government, it is a defender of capitalism; this is the reason why it accorded amnesty to the putschists of 2001, why it sends the cops against the workers: for example, in March the National Guard intervened against the workers of the Sidor iron and steel company who had been in struggle for months. The Minister for Labor, who calls himself a “Trotskyist”, had described the manifestation of February 24 of the workers of this giant company (nearly 5000 “externalized” workers and 9000 full-time) as “counter-revolutionary”; proclaiming itself as “mediator” between the company’s directors and the trade-union representatives, it is in fact aligned with the former.

When on March 14, the day following the failure of negotiations, the workers started going on strike and blocking entry to the complex (before the trade-union even issued the call), the authorities sent the National Guard at once to extricate the company by force; several dozen workmen were arrested, one of them was wounded by bullets and 11 by buckshot fired by the police, while 53 were accused of the offence of “impeding circulation” (31);

With the PSUV, the government, with the help of the financial resources of the state, wants to endow itself with a big party strong in every quadrant of the country and able to control the masses. In spite of all the pseudo-revolutionary speeches, this party which exalts bourgeois, interclassist values, of democracy, the fatherland, unity of the people, will be a pro-capitalist, anti-proletarian party: it will be the party of social conservation and the defense of the established order.

Against this party and this government, against capitalism and imperialism, the proletarians of Venezuela have no other possibility of defending themselves than by constituting their own organizations and their own party, based on their exclusive class interests, distinct and opposed to those of all the more-or-less possessing classes.

The programme of this class party whose role is to put itself at the head of the proletarian struggle, is not to discuss democratically, to imagine or invent in a “creative” way: codified by invariant Marxism, confirmed by the long history of the struggle between classes and revolutions, it is the program of the international communist revolution which implies as conditions:

the arming of the proletarians; the insurrectionary seizure of power; the dismantling of the bourgeois State and introduction of the dictatorship of the proletariat, essential not only to overcome the counter-revolution, to cut down the domination of the bourgeoisie and to neutralize the petit-bourgeoisie, but also to despotically intervene in the economy in order to start to uproot capitalism.

But even before arriving at this point, the class party is necessary to direct the daily fights of resistance against the bosses and their State, to unify and centralize these struggles into a general struggle to fight against their being sabotaged by all the pseudo-worker and pseudo-revolutionist forces.

It is in the fire of these struggles that the proletariat will find its force, that it will gather around the class party and that will be able to finally commence, objective and subjective conditions being ripe, the period of the final war against world capitalism!


(“le prolétaire”, Nr. 484/485, May-Sept 07-486, Oct’-Nov’ 07-489,March-April 08)




(1) “The Washington Post”, 2/9/2007.

(2) “The Times”, 2/14/2007. The London daily newspaper quotes also a financial analyst for whom the price “has been pretty good for VERIZON, if not they would have dragged their feet a little longer”. It seems that VERIZON was excused from retirement payments due the employees.

(3) “le Monde”, 7/7/2007.

(4) Declaration of a diplomat in Caracas, ibid.

(5) «Business Week «, 6/25/2007

(6) «The Economist», 8/11-17/2007. At the time of his departure the Japanese ambassador in Venezuela declared in an interview, with ironic Asian finesse: «We the Japanese, are much more socialist than President Chavez, because the differences in quality of life between rich and poor in Japan are much smaller than in Venezuela».

(7) See «le Prolétaire» n°462 for our analysis of this missed putsch.

(8) “El Nuevo Herald” (Miami), 7/8/2007.

(9) RCTV, the most popular television channel, belongs to Marcel Granier, a relative of Cisneros (the Venezuelan capitalist world is small! But, it appears, the two men do not speak any more). Granier claims that Cisneros supports the closing of the RCTV because that will profit his own network, Venevision, which is its principal competitor. see “El Nuevo Herald”, July 8, 2007.

(10) cf “Accion Proletaria” n°196, July-September 2007 or, in English on the Internet site of the ICC:

(11) These principal social problems are, according to this article: “unemployment, insecurity, etc.”. The capitalist exploitation of the proletarians and the means of fighting against it must undoubtedly be contained in this “etc”! All joking aside, the students intend to discuss their problems, of employment and others, and obviously not of those of the proletarians.

(12) Declaration of the June 19, 2007, Sao Paulo. The LIT is an organization known as “Morenist” (Moreno was an Argentinian Trotskyist) whose principal organization is in Brazil. In Venezuela its partisans are members of the PRS, an organization of extreme left where there are many Trotskyists and which campaigned for Chavez in the last elections.

(13) “Freedom of the Press and the Working Class” (August 21, 1938). cf Trotsky, Works, volume 18.

(14) “Terrorism and Communism”, Editions Prométhée pg. 71.

(15) “Chávez: Reforma Constitucional profundizará la Revolución Bolivariana”, Caracas, 20 de agosto (Rebelión).

(16) See LatinReporters, Madrid 11/29/2007

(17) Pagina/12, Buenos Aires, 11/24/2007. But Chirino also regretted that this project did not ascribe to itself “in a socialist perspective”. The leader of a Trotskyist current wishing to spare both the goat and the cabbage, Chirino finally called for a null vote. He was to be laid off from his employment with the PSDV at the beginning of this year.

(18) Corriente Marxista Revolucionaria, 11/30/2007. This group belongs to a Trotskyist current of British origin which is devoted to entryism into the mass reformist parties of which it makes itself the defender; in France its partisans form the group “La Riposte” which militates in the PCF. In the version of this text diffused out of Venezuela, the slogan on the fatherland or death was discretely erased...

(19) Lenin, Collected Works Volume 26. Our party text “Struttura economica e sociale della Russia d’oggi”, makes a detailed analysis of this declaration.

 (20) Lenin, “Theses on the Constituent Assembly”, December 1917. Collected Works, Volume 26.

(21) A.P., Caracas, 7/22/2007. Chavez added that on the question of the respect of the private property “Fidel Castro and Lukachenko [president of Byelorussia ] agree, we should not be prisoners of dogma, one should not nationalize the economy”. Well if those guys say it…

(22) “The rise of the ‘Boligarchs’”, The Economist, 8/09/2007. Muller Rojas has been just named by Chavez as the first vice-president of the PSUV.

(23) cf “Theses on the tactics of the Communist Party of Italy (Rome Theses), 1922. cf “Défense de la continuité du programme communiste”, Textes du Parti Communiste International n°7, p. 52-53 (“Defense of the continuity of the communist program”, Texts of the International Communist Party n°7, p. 52-53.)

(24) cf En Clave Obrera n°14, Diciembre 2007. This group recommends the creation of a “mass” independent workers’ party, based on the trade unions, in which the revolutionists would fight democratically to make their positions prevail: in short, a non-revolutionary party, a reformist party independent... of Marxism!

(25) Vladimir Villegas, El Nacional, 12/5/07. For the bourgeois, even the “reds” and Bolivarians, everything can be bought and sold, including “socialist models”...

(26) The principal Chavist parties were the MRV, Patria Para Todos, the Venezuelan CP and Podemos. The PCV and Podemos refused to dissolve into the PSUV. But while affirming that it wanted to preserve its organization, the PCV declared: “In any case, the important thing is the union of all the Venezuelan anti-imperialists to defend Chavez and the Bolivarian government (...). And we call all Communists for this unity of anti-imperialists on all questions, to defend the Venezuelan fatherland”. In any case, the PCV was and remains a fanatic craftsman of collaboration between the classes and the submission to national capitalism...

(27) Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Vol. 18, pages 582-585. See also the Fil du Temps (Thread of Time) written by Amadeo Bordiga: “Preparate il canguro”, in the newspaper of the party at that time, Battaglia Comunista, n°10/1951.

(28) Declaration at the time of the installation of the Founding Congress of the PSUV. Caracas, 12/1/08. ABN.

(29) Chavez Interview on the Dando y Dando, program 11/12/07. cf Chavez declared that “What makes Venezuela different from the remainder of the continent is that the employers’ sectors passionately defend the economy of their country”. On the other hand, in Venezuela, because of “the influence of the United States”, “there is a significant sector of the employers who are antinational”; “they are groups accustomed to draw their resources “by parasitizing the State” and not from their own efforts”. In short capitalists who are not capitalist enough...

(30) cf El Dia, 23/2/2008. Lina Ron, popular leader of the Bolivarian Circles, member of the technical Committee for the constitution of the PSUV, had directed the occupation during 2 hours of the buildings of the Archbishop’s palace and declared that the Globovision chain, which had just undergone an attempted attack, was “a revolutionary objective”. After Chavez publicly suspected him of being “an infiltrator”, he made his public apology: “Our actions displeased our commander; it is for this that we apologize but only in front of him. We do not repent anything because the Church, Globovision and Fedecamaras were implicated in acts against the fatherland and Hugo Chavez”. As if this same Chavez had not already pardoned the people implicated in these acts (the failed putsch)....

(31) The negotiations with the directors for the renewal of the employment contract have lasted for... 13 months! The principal demand is a wage increase from 20 to 60 Bolivars per day (from 9.3 dollars to 27.9 dollars) whereas the directors proposed only 22 Bolivars (10.23 dollars) initially. Management having increased its offer to 44 Bolivars (12 dollars), the minister asked for the organization of a referendum so that the workers could decide “democratically”..Several times, under the direct pressure of the workers the SUTISS trade union leaders were constrained to call strike days. As good Chavists, these trade-union leaders seek to prevent an open workers’ struggle. On March 26, after death by infarction of a worker, the Sidor workers who attributed this death to the murderous working conditions, launched a new 78 hour strike. See El diario de Barquisimeto, 3/26/8

Siderurgica del Orinoco (Sidor) is one of the largest steel-works of South America; the Italo-Argentinian group Techint is the largest shareholder (60% of the shares) since its privatization at the end of 97, while the State has 20 to 30% (in 2003, the Chavez government agreed to convert the debt of Sidor with respect to the State into shares owned by the State), the remainder of the shares having been reserved for the employees  - according to their place in the hierarchy.


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