|The revolutionary government of Venezuela recently announced that, in accordance with the constitution, the country will hold parliamentary elections on 6 December this year.
In this context, the imperialist yellow press has even further ramped up its attacks on President Nicolás Maduro and the gains made by the Venezuelan people in the course of the Chavista revolution, in the hope that the electoral process, held in the midst of a difficult economic situation, can serve to derail the country’s march towards socialism.
Of course, such attacks are not new or unexpected. Every country seeking to advance along the road of anti-imperialism and socialism has faced, and faces, similar attacks. In Venezuela’s case, aggressive interference by imperialism accompanied every election that was contested by the late President Hugo Chávez, and has been ramped up to fever pitch since his death. Hence the media hysteria and political and economic sabotage that was in evidence at the last presidential election, when Comrade Nicolás Maduro first stood in place of his fallen leader.
A typical example of this imperialist propaganda – in reality a form of psychological warfare – was carried by Fox News Latino on 14 May. In an article entitled: ‘Venezuela continues to deteriorate in lead-up to parliamentary elections’, Andrew O'Reilly claimed that the government of President Maduro is corrupt and dictatorial, and stated that “analysts say his administration continues to try and silence critics and shut down unrest ahead of the crucial parliamentary elections later this year – one that experts say could decide the fate of the struggling country.”
The ‘proof’ offered for this allegation of corruption and dictatorial methods was that Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello has filed a lawsuit against three newspapers that republished a highly libellous Spanish newspaper article. The article alleged, without a shred of evidence, that Cabello and other members of the Venezuelan government were involved in the illegal drugs trade – lies which have been concocted and spread by US imperialist intelligence agencies in pursuit of their regime-change agenda.
This civil action in defence of his reputation, according to the warped logic of Fox News, constitutes “the latest in a series of crackdowns on free speech in a country reeling from economic, political and civil unrest”.
We can think of many countries where the putting forward the idea that taking out a lawsuit against three newspapers for making wild and unsubstantiated allegations constituted a ‘crackdown on free speech’ would bring loud and uncontrollable laughter. Of course, when it comes to discussion of those countries where free speech really is denied or violently punished – such as Israel, Saudi Arabia or Ukraine – our gallant newsgatherers report only democracy or the (perfectly understandable) need to protect ‘national security’.
As ever, Fox’s propaganda piece was embellished by the presence of an ‘expert’ quote – in this case, from Chris Sabatini, a professor at New York’s Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), who said: “Given the lack of institutions in Venezuela, the political polarisation and the high levels of mistrust in the government, it looks like things are not going to end well for Venezuela.”
The aim here – again, not a new one – is to try and establish in the minds of readers and viewers the idea that the right-wing opposition (organised under the laughable title of the ‘Democratic Unity Roundtable’, [MUD]) is all set for a victory at the polls, so that if and when the coalition led by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) wins again, and MUD reacts violently (as it has done before), this anti-worker intimidation by its fascistic followers can be presented as a ‘popular uprising’.
Last year, anti-government riots by such pro-imperialist elements led to the deaths of many innocent Venezuelans. They were organised mainly by right-wing paramilitaries, leading rich kids and some gullible and misled sections of the masses in an attempt to destabilise the country.
In February, Leopoldo Lopez, a former mayor and key opposition leader in the area of Caracas, the country’s capital, was arrested for organising those riots. More riots followed his arrest, which left 43 people dead, many more wounded, and many working-class neighbourhoods disrupted and vandalised by burning barricades.
Of all this anti-democratic violence, Mr O’Reilly had nothing to say, stating instead that the continued incarceration of Lopez and “a few dozen protesters” (read murderers and coup plotters) was proof that the government is guilty of arbitrarily arresting its political opponents.
Mr O’Reilly’s dirty little article went on brazenly to state that “Rampant corruption is one of the main worries cited by many observers in the run-up to Venezuela's parliamentary elections.” What ‘rampant corruption’, and which ‘observers’, one might very well ask?
We were further told that the watchdog group “Transparency International ranked Venezuela as one of the most corrupt countries on the planet – putting them as the 161st least corrupt [a rather obtuse way of saying that it is very corrupt] country out of 175 nations. It cited the country's political institutions, judiciary and police as being the most affected by corruption.” And the proof offered in support of this? Again, none!
However, a cursory look at Transparency International’s internet home page reveals that it was set up in the early nineties by retired World Bank official Peter Eigen, who claims to have seen “corruption’s impact during his work in East Africa” and, together with nine like-minded altruists, to have “set up a small organisation to take on the taboo: Transparency International was established with a Secretariat in Berlin, the recently-restored capital of a reunified Germany”.
In other words, this ‘independent watchdog’ is really nothing more than yet another arms-length agency of imperialism, in whose eyes the highest level of ‘corruption’ and ‘lack of transparency’ is doubtless refusing the orders of the IMF and the World Bank and endeavouring to serve the interests of the vast majority of one’s own people. For example, with the exception of Singapore, all its ‘top ten’ supposedly ‘least corrupt’ countries are in western Europe or North America, whereas the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – a country where people’s rights are so badly trampled that they have universal free housing, health care, education and pensions, alongside guaranteed socially-useful jobs) is ranked last, alongside the dysfunctional state of Somalia.
Let us now look at what we know to be happening in Venezuela, where the primaries (the process of candidate selection) for both sides have now finished.
June’s opposition primaries held by MUD were notable for empty voting stations and elite backroom deal-making. The opposition held primaries in only 33 circuits in eleven states, accruing 543,723 votes. Meanwhile, the primaries held by the PSUV had reportedly surpassed that number by 9.00am.
In those same 33 circuits, the PSUV managed to double MUD’s turnout with 1.3 million voters crowding the polls from the early hours of the morning until 10.00pm. Indeed, the time limit for voting had to be extended from the planned 6.00pm cut-off in order to accommodate the huge numbers anxious to show their support for the revolution. Venezuelans waited in line for hours for their chance to cast a ballot for PSUV candidates in all 87 circuits of the country’s 23 states.
Unlike the PSUV, which allowed voters to choose 100 percent of its parliamentary candidates, the MUD leadership had handpicked 75 percent of its 168 candidates. The PSUV had fielded for selection a list of candidates that was 60 percent female; of those selected to go into the December elections, 30 percent are women. A mere 10 out of MUD’s 110 primary candidates were female, on the other hand, and, if proof were needed of which class this unholy alliance represents, its prospective candidates are obliged to pay a hefty registration fee.
While all the bourgeois international commentators are predicting that the December elections will see a decisive rout for the party of Chávez, a recent study by the private polling firm Hinterlaces has found that approximately 62 percent of Venezuelans would prefer the socialist party to continue governing.
The historic turnout of 3,162,400 Venezuelans voting in the internal parliamentary primaries of the governing PSUV flies in the face of those ‘news’ moulders who are trying to convince anyone us all that the party has lost popular support and that the revolution is crumbling. (See ‘PSUV parliamentary primary sees historic grassroots turnout’ by Lucas Koerner, venezuelanalysis.com, 29 June 2015)
The result in December will reveal the real support for Maduro and his party in the country, as will the numbers of those who are prepared to stand with the PSUV government in the acute struggle against the US-instigated and inspired violence that we can expect to follow another electoral victory for the revolution.
As the Venezuelan people enter this next period of intense imperialist sabotage, international solidarity with them and their revolutionary government is more vital than ever.
Hands off Venezuela!