On December 6th Venezuelans headed to the polls and handed a blow to the legacy of Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. But, contrary to what the majority of media outlets are reporting, while it was damaging to the Revolution, chavismo was not dealt a death blow. The opposition, known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), won a two-thirds majority, a landslide victory with 112 parliamentary seats, while the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) only won 55 seats.
Worth remarking on a few bits in the article.
The article said "... of government to help people and redistribute the immense wealth of a petro-state. "
-- Ah, but the problem is the curse of oil. Before Hugo Chavez Venezuela built a welfare state, but during the 1980s and 1990s when oil prices were down they couldn't pay for their welfare state. They weren't as wealthy as they thought. They are going through another round of that right now, with oil prices now < $50/barrel.
-- Worse, Chavez and before-Chavez fouled up economic production so that Venezuela was unable to produce anything except oil, and had to import practically everything. It seems that Venezuela couldn't even produce a decent quantity of cocaine. [Compare with Colombia.]
-- -- The foulness is still there.
The article said "... the massive difference in value between the bolívar official and black market rate (which is dividing the society between those who have access to dollars and those who have not), ..."
-- Hardly mentioned in the article but worth mentioning is the contrast between currencies. The situation tells us that people prefer the currency (and economy) of the "evil empire" USA over that of the "glorious Bolivarian Revolution" Venezuela. If socialism was so great, so successful, wouldn't the reverse be true?!
Only if all the important bits of the economy were socialist, as in Cuba. In Venezuela, Capitalism still dominates.
A comparable situation exists in the US with respect to food co-ops. There is little network-level integration, so prices are higher even without retail profit because profit is being taken at every other level. Many co-ops have banded together and created second-level co-ops, and some have hooked up co-op farms, but at whatever level the integration stops, the entities at that level have to buy within the for-profit system, and are squeezed.
Install real socialism throughout the economy, such that everything transfers at cost, and then you can evaluate in what ways it is or isn't an improvement over Capitalism.
Until recently there has been a train of people leaving Cuba headed to the USA. Up to a month or two ago people from Cuba were headed to Ecuador, one of the few places that lets Cubans in, and then they head north. They were getting stopped at the Costa Rica/ Nicaragua border. (Interesting to note that Nicaragua is another socialist nation...) Then Ecuador closed the door and started requiring visas.
Cuba is so socialist and people still want to flee and go to the evil USA. So do Salvadorans (now ruled by the Farabundo Marti (FMLN) revolutionaries). Are you Mairead saying that Cuba and El Salvador aren't socialist enough?
Elsewhere I've seen the reverse. A place that allows a little bit of free markets, such as the Soviet Union's kitchen gardens, does better than before, and the more they permit the better things improve.
If the referendum has been used successfully in Venezuela, why don't they use it to make all important decisions instead of depending on politicians to lead?
No leaders, all leaders!
The art of running a country demands the ability to compromise--on the part of all parties. Failure to be able to do so will mark the doom of anything remotely resembling a representative government. In its place will be a dictatorship enforced by either military force or the economic manipulations of oligarchy.
For the past 15 years the Chauvistas have had their fun pumping their fists and snarkily demeaning their opposition. Their opposition has responded by deliberately fomenting political violence and promoting economic sabotage. The drop in the price of petroleum has not only eliminated Venezuela's chief source for the funding of the Bolivarian revolution, it has and will continue to plague whatever plans the opposition has to establish their control over the country.
In a civil society men and women of good will would seek to reach some sort of a compromise agreement. The current climate in Venezuela is not conducive to such dialog. Expect the next debate to be over who ruined the country and the lot of the common citizen to only grow worse.
An enduring institution started by the Chavez government - and what may end up being it's greatest accomplishment, has been the neighborhood and small-town popular assemblies (formerly called "Bolivarian Circles"). Any future right-wing government will not dismantle these without a major fight.
I listened to Maduro's speech after this last election put the opposition into control of the Parliament. He called for the counter-revolutionaries to work for the best interests of Venezuela and its citizens and not succumb to the easy flash of predatory capitalism.
The Saudis are pumping oil as fast as their infrastructure allows, and their remaining reserves are dropping rapidly because of it. The aims seems to be to attack the Russian and Venezuelan economies, while bankrupting the small to medium fracking companies and renewable energy while they're still carrying a lot of debt. Masterful timing, since the energy mega-corps are still flush with cash from the last few years of price gouging they should be able to take over most of those market sectors without a struggle. Too bad for them that Putin and Maduro aren't cooperating, and that they don't travel in small planes over wooded areas . . .
There are still plenty of Venezuelans who are old enough to remember what life was like under the oligarchs, there's no way in hell that they'll allow their country to go back to that.
I am not surprised to hear that such things exist. They are a direct import from Cuba, and are organized and controlled by the ruling party. They are less about popular representation than they are about control of the populace, by mob methods.
I find it pretty comical that claim knowledge all these lurid characteristics of the popular assemblies - immediately after admitting never even having heard of the popular assemblies. Like most right wingers, you are a fucking idiot who cannot even present a rational argument!
But you may want to read this:
Perhaps Cuba got them from the US, then, where they've been called "New England town meetings", imported from Britain, where they date back to the Angles, Saxons, and Vikings.
I have heard that Cuba has 'popular assemblies' described in that way.
I hadn't before heard of such assemblies being established in Venezuela. That was inattention on my part. Knowing of the close ties between Cuba and Venezuela, I should have earlier suspected and checked whether Venezuela had imported the concept of such 'popular assemblies' from Cuba.
I have read both articles. Always worthwhile to read material from so far to the left, even when there are mistaken ideas in it. Consider this excerpt from the article, "the vote was a vote against the PSUV, not for the MUD. In other words many, if not most, of those ballots cast for the opposition were simply a rebuke of the government, rather than an endorsement of the neoliberal capitalism that MUD represents."
-- First, that tells us that the government, in spite of its professions, hasn't been listening to the popular assemblies.
-- Second, it reflects the 'black-white' logical fallacy, that what is not one thing is the exact opposite, that anything that isn't the socialism of PSUV is what PSUV describes as the distinct opposite, in this case 'neoliberal capitalism'. No appreciation of shades of other colors. I have heard elsewhere that MUD is a coalition of very many parties that are opposed to ruling party policies and practices. One of MUD's upcoming difficulties will be in agreeing on, putting forward and implementing policies they all can agree on. The first thing I have heard them agree on is that several prisoners, about 80 of them, will be acknowledged to be political prisoners and will be released.
While corruption is always possible, the popular assemblies are not run by gangsters. They are organizations for community mutual aid and support - assuring adequate infrastructure, healthcare, and welfare for the neighborhood's or small town's inhabitants. And are you expecting me to think that because an idea came from Cuba, it is somehow bad? The popular assemblies in Cuba are probably a good thing too. Yes, it is my hope that MUD understands that a lot of beneficial things the PSUV/Bolivarian movement instituted since 1998 will not be dismantled.