[Marxism] re Venezuelan Constituent Assembly

michael a. lebowitz mlebowit at sfu.ca
Tue Aug 15 13:17:10 MDT 2017

Pretty disappointed in Joaquin Bustelo's confused ramble. Rather than 
reciting from an interview with an unknown university expert, he would 
learn a bit from the fine interviews that Fred Fuentes has been 
conducting for Green Left Weekly recently and what has been appearing on 
Links. Cf, eg,:

Steve Ellner 
Maria Helena Ramirez Hernandez 
Stalin Perez Borges 

One of these follows.

  Venezuela’s Revolutionary Sex and Gender Diversity Alliance: 'The
  Constituent Assembly has been a huge boost to the spirit of Chavistas'

Activists from Venezuela’s Revolutionary Sex and Gender Diversity Alliance.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

There has been a lot of media focus on Venezuela’s recently inaugurated 
National Constituent Assembly (ANC). However, little attention has been 
paid to the response it has generated among grassroots organisations or 
the variety of proposals being discussed in communities in terms of 
potential constitutional changes.

The ANC was put forward by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as a 
means towards a peaceful and democratic solution to months of political 
turmoil in the country. It will have plenipotentiary powers to deal with 
the current economic and political crisis, and will discuss proposals to 
reform the constitution, though any official amendments will have to be 
put to a referendum.

*Maria Helena Ramirez Hernandez, *an activist with the Revolutionary Sex 
and Gender Diversity Alliance (ASGDRe) and student at the Bolivarian 
University of Venezuela, spoke with /Green Left Weekly/’s *Federico 
Fuentes *about what the July 30 vote for the ANC meant for grassroots 
/Chavistas/ – supporters of the pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution initiated 
by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez – and the kinds of constitutional 
changes that the ASGDRe are putting forward for debate.


*Could you tell us a bit about the importance of the July 30 vote for 
the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) - what happened on the day, the 
significance of the voter turnout and the impact it has had on the 
political situation in Venezuela since.*

The importance of the July 30 elections went beyond the event itself 
because, in the minds of Venezuelans, it represented a critical turning 
point: It was an opportunity for the people to express themselves in an 
election on two very different proposals.

One proposal was to support terrorism as a means to overthrow the 
government; the other was to choose representatives from grassroots 
organisations across the country to a National Constituent Assembly to 
discuss and approve the decisions needed to solve the problems we need 
to solve.

It turned out that 8,089,320 people chose to vote for the solutions to 
be thought up, deliberated upon, taken and made reality through the ANC.

So what was important was deciding, with the support of the people, that 
we as a society were going to move forward with solving all the things 
that need to be solved.

For example: how to overcome the threat of terrorism; how to make even 
more efficient decisions regarding the control of prices of goods and 
food; establish a new strong base for building a non-oil dependent 
economy; establish the basis for the recognition of a more diverse 
society where, for example, gay marriage is included and women have the 
right to decide over their own bodies (safe abortion).

On that day, July 30, a nationwide movement of supporters went out to 
vote. Having more than 8 million people vote for a proposal sounds like 
an easy task, but it's not, especially if people don't really believe in 
the proposal or support it.

It is important to say that most of the country got the chance to vote 
in peace, but in some states, opposition terrorist groups were out 
trying to physically stop people from vote. They closed down streets, 
threaten to kill voters and burnt down some polling stations, among 
other violent street actions.

In Altamira, an area in the east of Caracas, they practically didn't 
allow anyone to vote as they took over that area. When the police went 
to settle down the situation so people could vote, the terrorists 
decided to start throwing explosives at the police.

So it is important to point out that a lot of people were not able to 
vote due to threats and due to not being able to get to their polling 

Despite all this, more than 8 million people voted.

The impact of the vote has been already seen on the streets, it has been 
felt in the streets, as the country slowly returns back to regular life.

Because these terrorist groups had threatened Chavistas with death, 
Chavistas had been very discreet when they went around the streets, for 
security measures.

But on the morning of July 31, you could feel the Chavista spirit in the 
streets, people smiling; it was a huge boost to the spirit, just when we 
all needed it the most.

Once again, the majority of people in Venezuela have proven to the world 
that we support our Bolivarian Revolution, our President and the 
proposal for a National Constituent Assembly as the right path forward.

*Prior to the vote, the ASGDRe presented a political platform for 
discussion in the ANC and more broadly. What were some of the key issues 
put forward, particularly in terms of the situation facing the sex and 
gender diverse community.*

Some of the key issues we brought to the table prior to the elections were:

·      Actions that lead to retributive/restorative justice for hate 
crimes, femicides, as well as discrimination based on sexual 
orientation, expression and gender identity.

·      Guarantee the irreversibility of collective ownership of land and 
worker-occupied means of production, and promote new models of economic 
relationships based on the needs of the people over profits.

·      Guarantee same-sex marriage and civil unions to protect the right 
to build different families within Venezuelan society.

·      Because sex and gender diverse youth are among the most 
vulnerable sectors of the population, mechanisms must be created so that 
they have the same access to decent work, housing and quality education

·      Motherhood and paternity should be a free and direct choice for 
citizens. For this to happen, it is necessary that women have the right 
to make decisions over their own bodies, whether to have children, how 
many children to have and when to have them. The state should not 
criminalise women’s sovereign decision regarding the continuation of a 
pregnancy or not.

·      Nature must be recognised as a political subject, and as such 
biodiversity must be protected and not considered as simply a natural 
resource for extraction.

*Were any of the candidates that the ASGDRe supported elected to the 
ANC? How do you intend to pursue discussion around the platform?*

We supported a platform created by various organizations called the 
“Plataforma Popular Chavismo Bravío” (Indomitable Chavismo Popular 
Platform). Some of our candidates were elected to the ANC.

There will be open assemblies where we will continue to push debate and 
where we will work on proposals together with the people in our area, 
making sure that we present our proposals for debate in the sessions of 
the National Constituent Assembly.

*What are your initial impressions of the ANC, given its composition and 
initial decisions?*

Personally, I am very happy to finally see it happening. I also welcome 
the fact that a woman was elected as the president. I see that the ANC 
members are open to proposals and that each day they understand more 
clearly their historical responsibility.

Their initial decisions have been strong in setting the tone and spirit 
of the Assembly, with a vision and genuine feeling of what the real 
problems are and the deeply-felt need to find genuine and profound 

They have also been respectful to towards the other powers of the state 
and have not steamrolled over anybody.

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1149 <https://www.greenleft.org.au/glw-issues/1149>
International News 

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Home:   Phone 604-689-9510
Cell: 604-789-4803

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