September 2011        


Congress of the Communist Party of Venezuela

The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, led by Hugo Chávez, has brought about enormous changes. It put a stop to the privatisation of national assets, reasserted national sovereignty, and challenged the dominance of US imperialism in Latin America.
     It is faced with continuing threats from the United States, aided by local reactionaries, who have never ceased plotting to destabilise and overthrow the government, by whatever means. The Venezuelan opposition remains indissolubly linked to the coup d’état of 2002, and continues to be subsidised by the United States.
      The defence of national sovereignty remains the priority of Venezuelan revolutionaries. In this process the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) has played an indispensable part from the beginning.
     The importance of this role was emphasised by the representatives of forty communist parties, including the CPI, at the 14th congress of the party in August. A high-level delegation from the Socialist Unity Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the party led by President Chávez, including leading members of the government, attended the inaugural session. The president himself addressed the congress by telephone, as he is receiving treatment for cancer.
     The PCV, while reasserting its commitment to the Bolivarian Revolution, which it characterises as a national liberation struggle, and supporting the re-election of President Chávez in 2012, calls for the establishment of a Broad National Patriotic Front, with representation from political parties and from social organisations and with a collective leadership.

The weakness of the state as an agent of change

The congress discussed the many weaknesses in the process. For example, the state apparatus has hardly been changed and is incapable of carrying out the changes decreed by the National Assembly or the government. Social projects, known as “misiones,” are administered in parallel form outside of the government departments that should be responsible, and are often funded directly by the state oil company, PDVSA. These include the health and education programmes, which brought services to the poorest districts for the first time. Had they been entrusted to the government departments they would never have been implemented.

The class struggle within the revolution

The functioning of the state is influenced by the emerging bourgeoisie, which does business with the state and acts as a brake on change that would favour the working class. The unions, in demanding rights, and even recognition in some cases, often encounter as much opposition in state companies as in private businesses, even to the extent of the sacking of trade union representatives. The unions have a difficult struggle to implement what is official government policy, even in state enterprises.
     The PCV is demanding the passing of a new labour law, and a law setting up workers’ councils (to complement the community councils already established). These are agreed in principle but have been held up for years and would pass into law what are the declared objectives of the PSUV as well as the PCV.
     When the steel industry was renationalised (privatised in 1998, just before Chávez was elected), Chávez declared it would be run on socialist lines. In so far as this is true, it depended on the organised workers to enforce it.
     The PCV is committed to the deepening of the revolution and building the role of the working class within it. Only with working-class leadership, it declares, can the revolutionary movement advance beyond anti-imperialism to the construction of a new, socialist society.

The cases of Joaquín Pérez Becerra and Julián Conrado

The main ally of the United States on the South American continent is Colombia, where it has allied itself with brutal state forces, paramilitaries and drug-traffickers in a vain attempt to defeat the armed insurrection led by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
     There is nothing the United States would like better than an armed conflict between Colombia and Venezuela. To forestall this, the Venezuelan government has developed ostensibly friendly relations with the Colombian state, unfortunately to the extent of appeasement. This appeasement involved the shocking deportation to Colombia, without legal process, of Joaquín Pérez Becerra, a survivor of the massacre of the Unión Patriótica’s elected representatives, and a Swedish citizen.
     The PCV protested vigorously at the time and now has taken up the case of Julián Conrado, a FARC commander who was held in Venezuela and is now held in prison there, pending extradition. At the congress of the PCV three letters were read out, from the FARC, from Julián Conrado, and from President Chávez (in that order).
     There is no evidence that these particular acts of appeasement have brought any benefit to the Venezuelan government. Colombian paramilitaries continue to operate in Venezuela, where they have assassinated peasant leaders and trade unionists at the behest of landowners and businessmen and have added to the already sufficiently high crime rate, which is a threat to the society and the state.
     President Chávez previously made great efforts to help bring about a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in Colombia, for which he suffered abuse. He should continue with that policy.

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