[Marxism] Venezuelan Election and Cuba – The Links that Bind

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 12 10:26:52 MDT 2013

(Forwarded from Derrick O'Keefe)

Mike Carr is a writer and activist who splits his time between Havana 
and Vancouver.

Venezuelan Election and Cuba – The Links that Bind

Mike Carr, Wednesday April 10th, 2013.

Huge stakes are involved in the looming Venezuelan election this Sunday, 
April 14th. For Venezuelans, it’s a crossroads for the Bolivarian 
Revolution inspired by deceased leader Hugo Chavez. If the Chavistas 
win, the continuation of their developing model of a democratic 
socialism for the 21st century is assured for at least another six 
years. However, the opposition party Primero Justicia, a coalition of 
right wing groups, may very well attempt to throw chaos into the 
revolutionary plans of the United Venezuelan Socialist Party. Their 
candidate for president, Henrique Capriles, claims his program is 
modeled on Brazil’s social democratic politics. However, Primero 
Justicia, and Capriles in particular, supported the right wing military 
coup in April of 2002 against the democratically elected President 
Chavez. Moreover many Venezuelans fear the loss of the many social 
“missions” launched by the Chavistas – health, housing, education, 
culture, sports and more– subsidized by government control of oil 
production and profits - if Capriles wins. Capriles has promised to keep 
the social missions, but because of his anti-democratic past many do not 
trust him. And today, Capriles failed to commit to recognizing the 
election results.

Cubans also have a big stake in the election outcome. Most importantly, 
Capriles has categorically stated that, if he is elected, "Not another 
drop of oil will go toward financing the government of the Castros." 
Cuba is a big issue for Venezuelans. Capriles and the old right wing 
oligarchy who finances him are fiercely anti-communist and anti Castro. 
They accuse the Cuban state of dire plans to insinuate Cuban “communism” 
into Venezuela. Cubans, on the contrary, have a great admiration and 
love for Chavez as I witnessed myself in the days of national mourning 
here after Chavez died on March 5th. They also very much need the 
Venezuelan oil. Since the beginning of the agreement between the Chavez 
government in Venezuela and the Cuban government of Fidel Castro 13 
years ago, Cuba has depended on Venezuelan oil at discount prices in 
exchange for Cuban doctors, nurses, social workers and teachers to 
assist in the Venezuelan social missions. The deal, launched by Chavez 
and Castro, is an example of a new type of inter-state trade based not 
on market profitability, but on economic complementarity. It has lead to 
an end-run around the old Washington Consensus marked by harsh 
conditionality agreements under the World Bank and the IMF. It is 
anathema to market friendly politicians such as Capriles. Under the new 
arrangement, Cuba gets 100,000 barrels of oil per day. This amounts to 
an estimated six billion dollars over the life of the current agreement. 
The Venezuelan oil was a much appreciated life-line for Cubans whose 
former oil supplies came to an abrupt halt with the collapse of the 
former Soviet union in 1989.

Cuban doctors, nurses, teachers and social workers are a very 
controversial issue in Venezuela, according to right wing Primero 
Justicia supporters. They have been accused of spreading Cuban communist 
ideology in Venezuela. However, the many poor in the barrios of 
Venezuela benefit from free medical care given by the Cuban doctors who 
are also training Venezuelan doctors as well. It is here where Chavez 
has his biggest support. Capriles has promised to send the doctors back 
to Cuba.

Beyond the oil for doctors issue, there was a deep friendship and 
comradeship between Fidel and Chavez. Chavez has looked to Fidel as a 
mentor. Together they launched ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative for the 
Americas in 2004. ALBA now has ten member nations. The oil for doctors 
deal was arranged under ALBA. Although ALBA is a state to state 
organization, it encourages and supports peoples participation in its 
planning and administrative operations. Social movements contribute to 
forming ALBA’s goals. Given the rabid hatred of anything Cuban by 
Venezuela’s right wing oligarchy, ALBA too would be threatened under a 
Capriles government. Cuba would loose a very valuable ally. Venezuelan 
Chavistas and others around all of Latin American now regard Cuba as a 
beacon, an inspirational leader in the struggle to free Latin America 
from the yoke of U.S. imperialism. Cuba stood alone against the US giant 
and the many Latin American military dictatorships in the 70s and 80s 
that cow-towed to US policy. On the other hand, Venezuela is now seen by 
many Cubans not only as an ally, but also as hope for the future, a new 
model of a democratic Bolivarian socialism. A Capriles victory would 
represent a return to the horrible past under neo-liberal Washington 
Consensus politics and economic oppression.

CELAC, the Community of States of Latin America and the Caribbean, would 
also be threatened by a return to the party of the Venezuelan oligarchy 
under Capriles. Cuba is now the chair of CELAC. Cuba was chosen as the 
first chair to honor the fact that it did stand alone against 
neo-liberalism and US imperialism for over 50 years. CELAC is composed 
of all states in the hemisphere minus the US and Canada. It represents a 
regional effort of Latin Americans for an independent cooperative 
approach to common problems in spite of political differences, a forum 
for dialogue and solidarity. A return to the party of the old oligarchy 
who supports Capriles with finances and media campaigns (they still 
control the majority of the Venezuelan media in a free Venezuela).

How likely is a Capriles win? Well, according to nearly all polls, not 
very likely. Nicolas Maduras, the former vice-president under Chavez and 
Chavez’ pick to follow him if he died is an excellent bet. He holds a 
commanding 17 point lead over Capriles. Maduras himself is a strong 
candidate. A former bus driver and trade union leader he is a powerful 
speaker. However, the right wing, or at least a section of it, has plans 
to destabilize the country during the elections. These plans have been 
exposed by the Chavista forces. They include fomenting crime and murder, 
attacks on the electrical supply system and subway stations, and the 
assassination of Maduras. These group(A & B) believe they can create an 
atmosphere of violence and chaos around the elections. In short, they 
are terrorists. One of them, David Koch Arana, is a retired colonel from 
the Salvadoran Army. He has links to Luis Posada Carriles, the well 
known - to Cubans – terrorist who masterminded the bombing of Cubana 
airliner 455 in 1976 that killed 73 passengers. He lives free in Miami 
under the protection of the US government after he escaped from jail in 
Venezuela. The US refuses to send him back to Venezuela under an 
extradition order of the Venezuelan government. Posada Carriles was also 
involved in the Bay of Pigs U.S. backed invasion against Cuba in 1961 
and fought with the Contras in Nicaragua. All of this and more, combined 
with the fact that Capriles has refused to honor the results of the 
election, make for a tense few days that remain before Sundays election. 
Cubans, of course, are hoping for a Maduras win.

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