Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua: revolutionary movements for national salvation. by Jose G. Perez

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Sep 29 11:50:44 MDT 2002

I sent Jose G. Perez's excellent article to the CubaNews list, with a few
introductory comments.  Then I realized that these comments really belonged
in the discussion of the Marxmail list too, of course:

The following is an article written by Jose Perez for the Marxmail list.  I
think it is very important and makes some valuable contributions to
understanding what "revolutionary process" means and the character of the
revolutions that have taken place and are taking place in Latin America.
His suggestion that these movements were "aimed, not so much explicitly
against imperialism, but
rather against the humiliating state of the nation that resulted from
imperialist domination"  is highly important politically and certainly
consistent with the revolutionary conceptions held by Fidel Castro, for
example, from his youth.

I think that his basic points about the "national salvation" character of
these revolutions and the broad array of class forces that can initially
feel and react against the degradation of the country -- which the
bourgeoisie are incapable of fighting and are organically a part of --  are
completely correct.

Of course, the similarities between the processes in Venezuela, Nicaragua,
and Cuba do not mean that the leaderships are essentially identical, which I
take for granted that Jose knows as well as I do.  As of today, the
leadership that Fidel played the central role in forging still stands in a
class by itself.

While it is not  the usual thing, there is nothing unique about a
revolutionary process being opened by an election.  I still agree with Fidel
that the election of the Popular Unity government in Chile in 1970 signalled
the opening of a revolutionary process there. (By the way, I  also think
that in the 1930s, elections in France and Spain helped set off
mobilizations that were at least prerevolutionary. I imagine there are other
examples).  The difference in outcome so
far-- the fact that far more deepgoing and lasting changes in mass
organization, consciousness, and struggle capacity have taken place in
Venezuela than in Chile--is due partly to the greater experience of the
masses and objective factors, but I think the difference in the quality of
the leadership, including their ability to learn from the Cuban revolution
the Chilean experience, is a big factor.

I  am not convinced that central Sandinista leaders did not play a more
active role in creating the gulf between the leadership and the masses,
which eventually became a class gulf, than Jose thinks.  One thing that
Fidel Castro never did was make aid from the socialist countries, for
example, a PRECONDITION for anticapitalist or antilandlord measures that the
masses were pressing for or were politically prepared to carry out.  There
is no evidence at all, for instance, that Castro or other revolutionary
leaders in Cuba ever asked Moscow whether they would bankroll a radical
agrarian reform, not to mention the overthrow of capitalism. I don't think
they would have gotten an encouraging response.

I don't think that the overthrow of capitalism was on the immediate
practical agenda in Nicaragua at any time during the life of the revolution.
A lot of political ground would have had to be covered to make this a
practical possibility.

But more thoroughgoing agrarian reform measures (not on socialist but
land-to-the-tillers lines),  for example, which could have
undermined the base of support that the contras won among some sectors of
the peasantry, were possible, widely desired by sections of the peasants and
agricultural workers,  and necessary if the revolution was to survive,
let alone advance.  .

The same failure to respond to the political position of the peasantry and
more backward sections of the working class seems to have been involved in
the primary reliance at a relatively early stage of the revolution on a
draftee army  rather than a popular army  to defend the revolution against
the contras. This became another source of winning support for the
counterrevolution or demoralizing supporters of the revolution, particularly
among the peasants, artisans, small traders, and so forth.

The point is not that the revolution would surely have won if this course
had been taken.  Nothing is certain and defeat can follow the most
revolutionary policies.  But the Sandinista leadership has to be held
responsible for their own course.  The capacity of the workers and
peasants to resist the counterrevolution was never exploited to the full.

Washington committed horrible crimes against the people of Nicaragua in
order to defeat their revolution, but not all the decisions that contributed
to defeat were  made in Washington.  Some of them, in my opinion, were made
in Managua.

While I think that Hugo Chavez's leadership has its weaknesses (and I will
probably turn out to be wrong about some of them), I think he has followed a
course closer to the Cubans in his reliance on, profound identification
with,  and confidence in the Venezuelan people.

I like Jose's point that  the mass mobilizations against coups or potential
coups in Venezuela are steps toward a popular militia.  There is something
profoundly non-administrative about Chavez's approach that
appeals to me strongly.
Fred  Feldman

Subject: Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua: revolutionary movements for national
From: "Jose G. Perez" <jgperez at>
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 13:54:56
I do not think this distinction that has been made

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