Re: re Rakesh's information about Venezuela

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Thu Jan 08 2004 - 02:15:15 EST

>At 14:05 02/01/2004, Rakesh wrote:
>>2. Chavez's popularity has dropped. His rallies have attracted fewer
>>people over time.
>FALSE ON BOTH ACCOUNTS. Even the capitalist press acknowledges his growing
>and say he is 'buying support' (eg., the Economist's 'if you
>can't beat them, buy them'--- ie., buy them with rent) with social
>programmes for the poor (eg., the literacy campaign, the doctors in the
>neighbourhoods, the grants and loans for the development of the social
>economy--- coops, etc).

Michael, I don't see how this paraphrase from the Economist testifies
to Chavez's growing popularity. And how sizable are these programmes?
How much have they reduced poverty?  What's their future if oil
prices weaken? What will happen to the tax base of the state as
foreign investors take more of the refining and transportation
business? What has Chavez done for the workers in industries other
than oil? Have the promises for better severance pay and social
security materialized? How is the land reform program doing? I don't
see why you and Paul B ask us to support Chavez without giving us any
details about his actual policies.

>  As for the rallies, I was there at the 6 December
>march (which, incidentally, went through the right-wing stronghold of
>Altamira unopposed and seized the square--- something never dared before),
>and several of my trade union friends were ecstatic, saying they had never
>seen a larger demonstration.

How many people were estimated to have attended? You don't say. More
or less than 10,000?

>It was certainly the biggest I've ever seen.
>So, comrade, please be frank and tell us YOUR source of information on both
>>3. Chavez's popularity was strongest among street vendors, not any part of
>>the industrial working class.
>         Is this something like saying that his popularity is strongest
>among the poor?

Marxism is not a theory for the poor per se.

>  Given that 50% of the labour force is in the informal
>sector, one would certainly hope for high support there. But, again, let's
>have the evidence for your claim about the industrial working class--- not,
>incidentally, historical evidence (eg., the actions of the CTV some time
>back) but, eg., the industrial working class during last year's lockout and
>since. Evidence, please!

So you are saying that Chavez is enjoying more support from not only
the very poor but the industrial working class? You ask me for
evidence, but even though you have traveled there you are not citing
any. I know of no evidence that would support this contention, and I
already noted what I have read.

Again the evidence of the revolutionary nature of this regime is
quite thin. He had a big march, and gets very poor people to vote for
him. And we are supposed to conclude that this is a revolutionary


>         michael
>PS. for those who are looking for information on workers in Venezuela, you
>can check out (it's in Spanish but you can use Babelfish
>from altavista to get a sense of the content); less specifically on this
>but in English, I can't tell you where Rakesh
>gets his opinions. He'll have to tell.
>Michael A. Lebowitz
>Professor Emeritus
>Economics Department
>Simon Fraser University
>Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
>Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
>Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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