Chávez tactical u-turn on socialism

Hugo Chavez

Chavez is abandoning his socialist agenda “for now,” granting amnesty to right-wing coup plotters, replacing left-wingers in his cabinet, and signaling he wants to build alliances with the bourgeoisie.

New Statesman opines
the recent defeat of socialism at the Venezuela polls had little to do with socialism and quite a lot to do with Chavistas becoming insiders.

A closer look at electoral patterns reveals a clear protest vote, not against a socialist agenda, but against corrupt administrations, at the national and the regional level.

The vote outcome has everything to do with the accession of many a Chavista to the rank of “insider” over the past eight years. This process has been gradual, and perhaps inevitable in a society in which institutionalised rentier-mechanisms have been endemic for decades.

But the contradiction between a radical socialist government agenda and the “Chavista elite”, bent on defending its share in the oil rent, effectively came to a head last year.

In other words, it’s a battle between the left Chavista street and the right Chavista elite, many of whom hold positions of power in the administration, and pretended to back the reforms while working against them and destabilized markets to create food shortages.

Thus, says the New Statesman, a weakened Chavez hasn’t the power to fight them and must make accommodations, at least for now, until he strengthens his mass party – assuming he can.

In any system of government, a primary task is to insure that a privileged elite does not gain control, enriching themselves at the expense of others. This clearly has  happened in socialism (USSR managerial class and current day China) as well as capitalism. Somehow, we need governments beholden and responsive to all, and not primarily to the few at the top.


  • dan

    I just got back from 3 years straight in Ven. I travelled all over the country Caracas, Valencia, Barquicimato, Maracaibo, Barinas, and every little place in between. I lived and worked with the rich, the middle class, the poor and with nearly every group, black ven., indians, spanish, itialian, american, etc. I used the medical system, roads, airports. Yes I am still a gringo, but as far as that go’s I feel I know Ven. well, and saw things from the inside out during an interesting time mainly standing right next to the poor class. I will try to be objectionable in what I say…and concise.
    Chavez is smart.
    He has scared the majority of the upper class and educated out of his country.
    He wildly throws money at the poor in super inefficient ways, but the poor will take whatever they can get, and continue voting for him. While living in the country I watch convoys of armed military trucks go back into villages with food, Id printing machines, and voting machines, never to return again with food or other support, just in for the votes, not so different from the rest of the world.
    All media in venezuela fear imprisonment and fines.
    For 3 years now you can walk up to a poor class person in the street ask them about the US and they will say they love the US but are absolutely sure that the US is planning a violent invasion of Venezuela. This is due to the Chavez’s “Cadena” a regular taking over nearly every tv channel for hours while he sit’s behind his desk ranting about how Tom Brokaw was the devil, or how he is going to hit a baseball all the way to DC and put it through the white house window, all the while standing there in a baseball uniform with a bat, and scaring the piss out of everyone saying to prepare for the invasion, oh and, “I am the only president who reads his bible” always sitting on his desk and pounding it like a fire and brimstone preacher. 6 years ago when Caracas flooded and 40,000 people were killed, the US loaded up 2 aircraft carriers with the army corps of engineers and medical support, half way through the Carribbean Chavez stated they would not be allowed to land on venezuelan sovereign soil, they turned back, thousands could have been saved. As the first refferendum approached hundreds of little towns got new plazas in the presidents name, so that’s good. Oh and anyone who wanted to open a subsidized community food store in their house could do so, thousands did, and got cheap gov subsidised chicken and rice from Brazil and were able to sell it cheap and make money, 11 rice production farm/plants went out of buisness in the first 6 months, and 5 huge chicken farms went under just in Yaracuy, He doesn’t think ahead or doesn’t care, you choose which, but it sure got him some votes. He nationalized all the foriegn oil operations in Ven. thats fine with me, it’s their oil but he has been so careless with the oil money that is to stay with the oil companies for maintenence and exploration that most of is sea ports for oil operation are now…unoperational and many countries wont dock. Hugo says he want’s to build tourism, yet yanks any visa over tourist visa, he kicked every mission organization that works on the Orinoco and Amazon river out of the amazon region, about 100 people who were missionary Dr.’s Dentists Health care specialists that have been working there for nearly 70 years. So now dengue, malaria, snake bite, etc. can all take back over. And trust me he didn’t put any Cuban Dr’s out there to replace them. He also kicked out 2 organizations that provide emergency flights in and out of the amazon region to suppor those who have dedicated their lives to helping the forgotton people of he Amazon. That was all in conjunction with stopping any foreigners from getting a visa over 90 days, including myself, that’s OK it’s his country, but he just forced out hundreds more medical, social, educational, professionals, millions of dollars in support of the poor, and also revinue. He is isolating himself, but you ask the average fellow on the street and they don’t want that. I could go on and on with the bad things that Chavez has propogated through fear and intimidation and poor planning. I really think that he want’s whats best for his people and he will do anything he can to stay in power to keep trying and failing, even if that means taking away their rights, their freedom of speech, their security, and ability to come and go freely. I really believe Venezuela needs help but Hugo is not the answer. Venezuela has more resources, oil, gas, tourism, steel, diamonds, cattle, sugar, etc. than any other latin country but is wallowing in a pool of corruption and power struggles. They need to get rid of their military, exploit their tourism, manage their oil, and take a deep breath. Look at Costa Rica, safe, clean, good economy, little corruption, stable…why?? they basically got rid of the military, which takes away fear and a lot of corruption, got a stable president, and managed their resources. Venezuela can do that, but not with Hugo. I believe his people are realizing that. But the decision is up to them.

  • Joe Hartley

    The assumption on the international left is that Chavez was truly something unique and different instead of a Latin American strongman who comes to power for a while. As Dubya discovered in Iraq, it’s dangerous to base one’s assumptions about a place one knows little about.

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