ps re venezuela

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Fri May 21 2004 - 09:06:41 EDT

Paul Z asked about the question of arming the people, etc in Vzla. Here's 
an excerpt from a long piece by someone from the 'Revolutionary Marxist 
Current' here (a group linked internationally to the tendency of Ted 
Grant/Alan Woods in the UK):

But we must stress that Chavez in general has made a shift to the
left, one that revolutionary Marxists must support and push forward.
On Friday May 14, in a phone interview with the state television
channel, VTV, he declared that there are discussions about
the "expropriation of any building, property or installation where
t! here is proof that these paramilitary groups have been training". We
add that these measures of expropriation must be extended to means of
production as a whole, the banks, and all property in the hands of
the Venezuelan oligarchy which are involved in this attempt to
prepare an invasion. This would be the first step towards the
complete expropriation of the means of production and the banks in
the hands of the Venezuelan ruling class.

Even more significant is the speech which closed the march on Sunday.
Previously we had already pointed out that it was a mistake if such a
mass demonstration were called and not given clear tasks. But this
was not the case on Sunday. Chavez pointed out clear aims for the
workers' and peoples' leaders. He said that "in every neighbourhood,
in every mountain pass, field, university, factory, jungle, in every
place where there is a group "revolutionaries must start to organise
and to form workers an! d peoples' militias." He added that "it is time
for revolutionary s ecurity, to change the concept, reorient it,
because we are still working with (old fashioned bureaucratic) IVth
republic schemas". Chavez has understood the danger facing the
revolutionary process by leaving the bourgeois structures intact upon
which the state apparatus, including the Armed Forces, are based.

Chavez made an appeal, not only to the existing power structures, but
also to the movement of the workers and the people to take the need
of arming the people into their own hands. "In the next weeks, with
the advice of the National Defence Council, I will start to give out
directives and lines, I appeal for the support of the local councils,
the social movements, the popular currents () Adult men and women,
who are not in the reserve, but who are ready, in a different way, to
become soldiers without having to go through the barracks, to receive
military training and organise militarily for the defence of the
country. () ! Nothing, nor nobody will be able to defeat Venezuela,
with a conscious and organised people." The Minister of Defence, Gral
Garcia Carneiro has already declared that they are mobilising within
the Armed Forces to coordinate these tasks.

It is interesting to see the effect that the president's speech had
on many layers, since even some of the trade union leaders, who had
used conciliatory and pacifist rhetoric until now (calling on people
to be passive) have been pushed to change their language. UNT (trade
union) leader Marcela Maspero, declared that the UNT is already
starting to coordinate its different federations and unions to form
these Workers Brigades. (UNT leader Stalin Perez Borge has also
declared that the "UNT will ask for a meeting with the defence
minister so that the workers' militias can start receiving military
training"). It is the responsibility of the rank and file to make
sure that these slogans are put into p! ractice. Workers in all
factories must demand that their trade unio n leaders become involved
and start the formation of these Workers' Brigades. As president
Chavez said this is the duty of all. It cannot be left in the hands
of the leadership only, we must all be involved, challenging the
trade union, party and community leaders to play a role in the
immediate organisation of workers' and peoples' self-defence
brigades. This is the only way forward. This is the only real defence
when faced with the advances of counter-revolution.

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at

Residencias Anauco Suites
Departamento 601
Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
Caracas, Venezuela
(58-212) 573-4111
fax: (58-212) 573-7724 

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