Tag Archives: Hugo Chavez

Bolivia: Gas-Oil Profits Behind Racism of Fascist Goons

LA PAZ, Bolivia, Sept. 15 — This Andean country is on the verge of a racist civil war as the governors of the “Half Moon” (in the eastern plains of the country) are in open rebellion against the central government of Evo Morales. There is a real threat of the country breaking apart. Right now, there are two governments: one led by Morales in the Andean region and the other led by the “autonomist” governors of the eastern plains. The gas and oil fields there are at stake, as well as the agricultural wealth of the “Half Moon.”  The openly fascist governors — supported by the U.S. embassy —  don’t want to share this wealth with the central government, particularly since Evo Morales is an ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador last week, accusing him of meeting with the  “autonomists.”  Ambassador Goldberg was a U.S. diplomat in the former Yugoslavia in the mid 1990s when it was ridden by imperialist-caused nationalist civil wars.

The “autonomists” are openly fascist and racist. When their attempted putsch began last week in the state of Pando, with open support from the local governor, neo-Nazi goons from the youth group Juventud Cruceñista targeted what they call the “damn Indian race.” They killed 30 indigenous workers and peasants. These thugs attacked central government offices, took over an airport, gas and oil fields, cutting off gas supplies to Brazil (which get 50% of their gas from Bolivia) and Argentina.

Evo Morales has mass support, winning 67% of the votes in an August referendum. Since then, the aim of the pro-U.S. fascists has been to provoke a military coup (Bolivia has a long history of putsches). But, Morales so far has the support of army since he put some of his loyal officers in control. Most soldiers are recruits and Indigenous (most upper and middle class white youth use their families’ economic power to avoid the draft.) Chávez threatened to send troops to Bolivia to help Morales, and even expelled the U.S. ambassador to Caracas in solidarity when he accused Venezuelan military officers of conspiring to kill him.

Given the growing instability in the region, the powerhouse of South America – the Brazilian ruling class — decided it doesn’t want the U.S. oil companies to control the gas and oil fields of Bolivia (because they will compete with Brazil’s Petrobras). So Brazil’s President Lula put his foot down and stated that Brazil will not tolerate the break-up of its neighbor, Bolivia. (El País, Madrid, 9/14). This led to a regional rulers meeting — excluding the U.S. — which came out in support of Morales.

But, the contradictions between the secessionists and Morales continue since the anti-Morales bosses don’t want the national government to cut into their share of the revenues (taxes) they get from the oil-gas profits. Also, the rivalry between the U.S. imperialists and Brazil and Venezuela is growing. And the inter-imperialist dogfight will sharpen as Russia’s Gazprom is in negotiation with YPFB (the state-owned Bolivian energy company) a $2 billion investment.

As far as workers and their allies are concerned, the solution doesn’t lie in the 21st Century socialism (state capitalism) of Chávez or its Morales’ version of Andean capitalism. Morales continues attempts to negotiate a deal with the open fascists, demoralizing workers and peasants who have illusions about his government. The only solution is to build an anti-imperialist and anti-racist movement to fight for a society without any form of capitalism: communism.

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Revolutionary Struggle, Not Chavez’s ‘Business Socialism,’ Will Win Workers’ Power

“Without a revolutionary Party, there can be no revolution.” – V.I. Lenin

The narrow December 2 loss for the Constitutional Reform referendum in Venezuela is a clear example of the above idea. The Chávez government’s plan to impose its “21st Century Bolivarian Socialism” in a bureaucratic top-to-bottom manner suffered a major political setback even though it lost by only 50.3% to 49.7%. The right-wing anti-Chávez forces only gained some 200,000 votes over the 2006 presidential election total. In 2006, 7.3 million voted to re-elect Chávez; this time approximately 4.3 million voted for his constitutional reform.

The Empire Strikes Back

There are many reasons for this decreased support for Chávez’s program. The right-wing waged a very aggressive campaign, financed by big money from both local anti-Chávez bosses as well as from the U.S. The Washington Post (12/3) reported that the anti-Reform movement was funded in no small part by the U.S. government. The Post cited U.S. documents obtained by National Security Archive researcher Jeremy Bigwood that revealed at least $216,000 was funneled through the Office of Transition Initiatives, a secret branch of the U.S. Agency for International Development, erected in Caracas in the wake of the failed April 2002 anti-Chávez coup.

As CHALLENGE has stated many times, Chávez represents a nationalist populist trend in Latin America which, under the guise of anti-imperialism, seeks a better deal from U.S. imperialism’s rivals, like China, Russia and even India. The U.S. bosses and their local allies have been fighting for their interests, using blatant anti-communism (they claim the constitutional reform would turn Chávez into a “red dictator” who would take babies away from their parents, and other lies). Coincidentally, Chávez proved to be a better “bourgeois democrat” than the right-wing opposition in accepting the December 2 loss. If the right-wing had lost, they would have raised hell. Of course, U.S. apologists never mention the many

U.S.-backed overthrows of elected leaders in Chile, Guatemala and elsewhere.

But the biggest cause of the loss was the Chavista movement’s internal weaknesses. Firstly, it isn’t really a revolutionary movement. The Chávez government attacked workers who actually fought their bosses like at Maracay (bathroom appliances) who tried to stop the closing of their plant. Chávez’s “land reform” has been limited to some unused land, without really touching big landowners. In the last few years, some 200 farmworkers have been killed fighting these landlords.

Chávez’s “anti-imperialism” has exploited Venezuela’s new oil supplies via “mixed enterprises” incorporating big foreign oil companies. While talking about “revolution” and “socialism,” his government limited itself to a few small reforms for poor workers, including medical services using some 20,000 Cuban doctors. But meanwhile poverty overall has risen. Chavista bureaucrats and bosses have enriched themselves and big companies have increased prices, squeezing any wage hikes for workers. The government did little to counter the lack of milk and other basic staples caused by hoarding bosses.

Former guerrilla leader Douglas Bravo, a left-wing critic of Chávez, exclaimed: “How can you pretend to build a 21st century socialism enriching a bourgeoisie that came about with this government through oil income…or not taking into consideration workers, poor people in the countryside, indigenous people and giving power to agro-business and rich Chavistas?” (El Mundo, Caracas, 12/3)

That’s why so many workers and their allies abstained from voting December 2. Meanwhile, the pro-U.S. right-wing forces will try to take advantage of their victory in continuing to try to topple the Chávez government through a military coup. (General Baduel, who until recently was Chávez’s Minister of Defense, and who joined the anti-Chávez forces just before the referendum, is their man for this.)

But the right-wing is not united. It represents many different bourgeois forces, included disenchanted former Chavistas. The Chávez camp will also try to regroup, building its bureaucratic Unified Socialist Party to push for its “businessmen’s socialism,” using workers and their allies as cannon fodder.

The real missing ingredient here is a revolutionary communist (not “businessmen’s socialist”) leadership to fight for the real liberation of workers from capitalism and imperialism. This liberation won’t come through electoral referendum, but through revolutionary class struggle. This is a crucial task since the dogfight between the pro-Chávez and pro-U.S. forces will sharpen and workers will wind up losing unless they break with all forms of capitalism, whether the Chavista type or the pro-U.S. type.

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