[Marxism] Venezuela: prospects for recall (5 June 04)

michael a. lebowitz mlebowit at sfu.ca
Sat Jun 5 16:15:26 MDT 2004

Re: new megafraud controversy raging in Venezuela: imperialism or Chavez
by Perelman, Michael
04 June 2004 21:26 UTC 
<http://csf.colorado.edu/forums/pen-l/2004II/msg01794.html>< < <
<http://csf.colorado.edu/forums/pen-l/2004II/threads.html#01795>Thread Index

What a wonderful example of American imperialism!  On a more serious
note, Michael, what are the prospects for a recall?
Hi Michael,
         I've dated my response because I can only say what it looks like 
at this very moment. Any discussion of the prospects has to recognise that 
there is a long history of electoral fraud here, that in addition to the 
domestic tradition there is the support that can be expected from the usual 
suspect (which won't bother to function through the National Endowment for 
Destruction) and, of course, that there is the potential and likelihood of 
further disruptions to the economy with the idea of creating despair in the 
population which currently supports Chavez.
         That said, it is essential to recognise that all that was 
necessary to trigger the recall referendum was 20% (or roughly 2.4 million) 
of the electorate from the last time. Very few semi-objective observers 
last year thought it unlikely that the opposition had much less than 30% 
support. Although the opposition goal during the signature campaign at the 
end of last November was to get 3.8 million (thus giving them more than 
Chavez had received to win--- which would have allowed them to say, "Chavez 
out now!"), despite an incredible amount of fraud they were well below 
this. Because of irregularities (some innocent), the Electoral Council 
threw out many signatures and assigned others to be 'repaired' (ie., people 
had to show up and prove their legitimacy); in the end, they barely got 
their necessary signatures. On this count, the opposition does not look 
especially strong.
         But, they are organised--- the NED-financed SUMATE organisation 
has extensive computer records on the electorate, and the party 
organisations that compose the opposition have experienced, committed and 
disciplined cadres able to bring out their support. In contrast, the 
Chavist supporters, although likely more in number, demonstrated on this 
occasion that they were very poorly organised. The Commando Ayacucho, the 
group assembled from the various Chavist parties to coordinate this recent 
campaign (which included the attempt to recall opposition legislators), 
revealed that it had strong individual spokespeople able to attack the 
opposition and to make rousing, confident speeches but that it lacked the 
organisation and discipline to deliver what it promised. (This has led to 
considerable criticism from the barrios and elsewhere.) So, the central 
question, I think, is whether the Chavist forces will learn adequately from 
these events. The referendum campaign is an excellent opportunity to deepen 
the Bolivarian Revolution and to raise both the consciousness and the 
organisational capacity of those who support it.
         It is important to recognise that at every step of the way, the 
process here has been propelled forward by the action of the opposition. In 
achieving the threshold for a recall referendum on Chavez, the opposition 
has provided the government with a gift--- the opportunity to turn this 
into a request for a mandate on its education, health and social 
programmes, on its attempt to create a new social economy, indeed into a 
mandate on the constitution itself. Chavez himself will certainly frame the 
issues this way. But, the results will depend on the concrete steps taken 
at the base to organise the masses of poor who have been the principal 
beneficiaries of the government; if new, effective forms of organisation 
are not developed--- in the face of everything that the opposition, the 
Bush government and capital will throw at the government, then a successful 
recall is possible.
         In short, to coin a phrase, pessimism of the intellect, optimism 
of the will.

         in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz

Professor Emeritus

Economics Department

Simon Fraser University

Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at

Residencias Anauco Suites

Departamento 601

Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1

Caracas, Venezuela

(58-212) 573-4111

fax: (58-212) 573-7724

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