Venezuela’s parliamentary elections on 6 December took place amid severe political and economic aggression, similar to that in Salvador Allende’s Chile. It greatly impacted the results of the elections. With the economic war, the country’s distribution system of food and medicine was attacked by hoarding and smuggling, forcing ordinary Venezuelans to queue for hours.
World media, Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, and spokespersons from various right-wing governments led by the US government falsely questioned the credibility of Venezuela’s democratic government and the transparency of its electoral system. The National Electoral Council (CNE)’s impeccable behaviour, confirmed in 20 elections in 16 years, belied the flood of malicious falsehoods trying to discredit the electoral system’s integrity and the democratic credentials of the Bolivarian political system. The CNE announced the results confirming a majority in the national assembly for the MUD: a coalition of thirteen centre and extreme right wing parties.
The CNE announced MUD obtained 7.7m votes, giving it a majority of two thirds in parliament with 112 deputies. Despite this, 5.6m (42%) voted for the socialist option, giving 55 Socialist deputies in the National Assembly. Undoubtedly, chavismo is still a formidable electoral force. Furthermore, the Bolivarian Revolution still has control over 20 out of 23 governorships and 76% of the municipalities.
It is also worth noting that Venezuela’s Armed Forces have expressed their unwavering support for the Bolivarian democratic system which rules out the possibility of a Chile-type coup. Besides, the right does not have a mass movement while chavismo has been in constant mobilisation before, during and after election. The chavista’s parliamentary size is the result of 2m voters abstaining – deciding to punish the government but not choosing not to vote for the right.
A two-thirds majority gives the right immense possibilities to attack and dislocate the entire constitutional edifice of the Bolivarian process. For example, it will have the power to appoint both Supreme Court judges and CNE directors.
The ghosts of Chile (1973) and Nicaragua (1990) loom large on the continuity of the Bolivarian Revolution. For five years, the Venezuelan economy has been under attack both internally and externally through large-scale hoarding and shortages of basic commodities, smuggling in gigantic proportions to Colombia, and highly damaging speculation in the national currency. To top it all up, there’s been the drastic fall in oil prices due to US fracking, from US$148 to below US$35 a barrel.
With the right’s victory, the US and its Venezuelan accomplices have created a context in which they can attempt the liquidation of the revolution. Such a prospect puts in jeopardy all the socio-economic and political gains Venezuelans have obtained in 16 years of revolution.
Already FEDECAMARAS, Venezuela’s CBI, has formally requested the new right-wing parliamentary majority to abolish the labour law, the law of fair prices and, authoritative spokespersons of the right-wing are considering the privatization of key areas of the economy. No doubt, they and their US mentors have the privatization of oil in their sight. Venezuela has an estimated reserve of 298,353,000 barrels of oil, the largest on the planet.
To counter this neoliberal offensive, President Maduro has called upon the people and the Bolivarian Armed Forces to defend the gains obtained in 16 years of Bolivarianismo. As is well known, education and health care are free, illiteracy has been eradicated, historical poverty and extreme poverty have been drastically reduced, all forms of discrimination are banned, and social inclusion has made millions of hitherto impoverished, excluded and oppressed Venezuelans active citizens.
The US has never hesitated to use any means, legal or illegal, political or criminal, to carry out its plans. From the moment of the election of Hugo Chavez to the presidency in 1998, with the support of Venezuela’s right, it has done virtually nothing else but to seek the violent overthrow of the Bolivarian government.
The revolution has entered a period of deep reflection in order to prepare its supporters to face the challenges posed by the new situation. We cannot allow the US to carry out a pinochetazo against Bolivarian Venezuela. We must redouble our efforts in solidarity with the revolution in danger.
Dr Francisco Dominguez is head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University, and secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. He came to Britain in 1979 as a Chilean political refuge.