Venezuela: After the Referendum (another view)
Venezuela: After the Referendum
by El Libertario's editorial staff
issue 39, September/October 2004
* The August 2004 elections legitimized Hugo Chávez's presidency, approved by the multinational powers-that-be, despite the opposition's claims of electoral fraud. We, at El Libertario (issue 39, September/October 2004), presented an indepth analysis of the consecuences of the referendum, as well as proposals for action in the new circumstances. We shall now quote a couple of notes from that issue that express the essence of the venezuelan anarchists' perspective.
Social movements must tear down every wall blocking their autonomy. From the viewpoint of the leaders of the two opposing camps (the officialist, under Hugo Chávez, and the so-called Coordinadora Democrática), people's participation and bottom-up democracy are mere slogans without any basis in reality. These leaders prove once and again that, in order to remain in charge and accumulate more power, they are willing to do any kind of behind-closed-doors deal, as well as performing any political juggling necessary to channel the citizens' anger towards their own benefit.
Autonomy means everybody being capable of self-determination, able to establish their own dynamics and pursuing their own concrete goals. The self-proclaimed leaders know perfectly well that their living depends upon turning their own affairs into general interest issues. They present themselves before their constituencies as guarantors of their aspirations, which will be realised in an hypothetical future if, and only if, they are appointed as their bosses. But they never deliver, no matter their colors. For these politicians, the only thing that really matters is to perpetuate their own positions of power.
The current levels of poverty, unemployment, street violence and general ills are not going away without a deep structural change. Anything less is mere crumbs falling from the table of those who talk about "revolution" while pocketing millions. One alternative: to break up completely with the pseudo-leaderships old and new, and for the excluded and oppressed of any color to build our own paths. To create new organizations, horizontal and non-hierarchical spaces, where nobody speaks in the name of anyone else, as well as being the foundations for building a new kind of life and resist to the old one. As free-thinking individuals, we go against the tide of the established ideas and practices born out of false consensus and blackmail, deepening our
experiences through socialization and self-teaching. These spaces shall recover our best traditions of citizenship, participation and solidarity, and build a really alternative culture, one which takes into account every side of the human being.
Let's turn a deaf ear to the sirens' wails; their power is built upon lies. When they talk about "civil society against dictatorship", they are planning to occupy future ministries and governorships. When they decry against "imperialism" and "oligarchy", they are giving away the countrys' wealth to the multinationals in the privacy of five star hotels. When they propose to create "emergency programs against poverty", it is because they will not change the social structure that creates it, since it brings huge profits to them. They only call to "participation" when they need our votes. When they call to "unity" and "reconciliation" it is because they want to shut us up and reduce us to passivity.
No politician does your work; let no one make your decisions. From the diversity of common practices shall be born the community of multiple, limitless forms of association with which we shall fight every form of domination. To weave a dense social fabric, is incompatible with warlords, politicos, militarists and demagogues of all colors. Shedding out every kind of dependency, we exercise our potential for autonomy. Anything less than that would mean to remain forever under the thumbs of those who profit upon our miseries.
º Revocatory Referendum: Power's "Reality Show"
The August 2004 electoral circus was intended to perpetuate the lies that the media, both state-owned and private, had presented to us, ratified by the officialists and the "opposition" before public opinion. All venezuelan people were the spectators; they swindled us, making us choose between a "Yes" and "No" about an individual, as if this would solve our collective problems. That the event would end up in fraud was predictable. Not because the losers claim it, or because the process could be manipulated for one cause or another; but, because the real fraud are the so-called differences between the government and the opposition, just like the referendum itself is a swindle when it comes about solving poverty, the militarization of society, or the slow process of giving away the country to the multinationals. The high costs of this election circus, contrasted with the realities of health, environment, education and well-being of the population confirms it.
Social problems cannot be solved from the heights of power, nor by the economically privileged, but by society itself. Power can only be used to regulate misery, and legalize inequality. It dominates, imposes a single criterion, while at the same time keeping an ambiguous and absolutist discourse, denying any glimmer of freedom. It doesn't know any other logic. It doesn't like plurality. The Coordinadora Democrática gave multiple proof of that in the past, and the unseen players who finance it are still doing it in the present. These beggars of power have lost every right to speak in the name of a people they don't represent. People have their own voice, and the responsibility to open up their own spaces, where they can exercise their autonomy through direct democracy, and in so doing to get their own voice and action. This means: to destroy authoritarianism everywhere it exists and to pursue their own well-being.
Both the exaltation of the military persona of Chávez and its ahistorical linking to that of Bolivar, is intended to legitimise neoliberal politics with demagogical words. They have also played up the "US Invasion" scare, an ironic prelude to this government's giving away of the country's oil to corporations like Chevron-Texaco or Repsol-YPF, paladins of capitalist globalisation. This revolution is being financed with money from the multinationals, from the very same imperialism that is supposedly out to invade us. It has learned to coexist with global power, as long as it pays "our price". Those very same groups enrich themselves in Venezuela, start the Puebla-Panama Plan against the Central America peoples, pollute and loot Ecuador, and finance the troops invading Irak or any other country they want to. All of it thanks to "our price", and the Venezuelan reserves guaranteeing to the US a good 17% of its oil consumption.
Latin America has to learn that language is not always what it seems; that "revolution" is an empty word in the mouth of people like Chávez, Lula or any other who speaks from the heights of Power. In this continent, that word has been used only to describe who is better at managing Capitalism. It is of vital importance to understand that a better future won't be given to us by the State, only organised society can confront it and open the way towards real change. We need to widen the debate, to listen to one another beyond the useless squabbles about Chávez. The libertarian movement must support and join this transformation, along with that 'people' son many talk about but nobody listens to. Our battle is against Power, in any guise it adopts. Neither "humane" national capitalism nor multinational capitalism; self-management is still our theory, autonomy our practice. Going headlong against neoliberalism, inequality and authoritarianism, with direct action and mutual aid as our tools to build the possible utopia of freedom, equality and solidarity.
[For more and updated info & analysis, see the English section in El Libertario`s website]