nachfolgend dokumentiert ein Beitrag von Morad Shirin von der Webseite Marxist Revival, verwiesen sei hier auch noch auf den Artikel Contradictory legacy of Hugo Chávez auf World War 4 Report … ansonsten hier noch einmal der Hinweis auf Berichte zur Ermordung des venezolanischen Indigena-Aktivisten Sabino Romero vor einigen Tagen:
Did Chavez leave a “socialist” legacy?
There are few, if any, presidents whose death, especially after ruling for well over a decade, can cause such an outpouring of genuine grief among many thousands of citizens. Soon after it was announced that Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías had died thousands of people came into the streets weeping for the president they had lost.
Lieutenant Colonel Chávez, who was first elected President of Venezuela in February 1999 (after failing as a putschist in 1992), made a real difference in lifting the material conditions of the lives of millions of poor Venezuelans through his multi-facetted reform programme – the so-called “Bolivarian Revolution”.
Using the vast oil wealth of Venezuela to create many missions – unlike most other oil-rich countries where this revenue is nearly all appropriated by a very small minority – over the past 14 years the poverty and the illiteracy rates were drastically reduced and the health and living standards of the workers, the poor and ordinary Venezuelans were raised.
That is why the masses voted him in at three further presidential elections and came on to the streets on many occasions, particularly at the time of the 2002 coup that briefly removed Chávez, to support him and his policies.
When Chávez was elected in 1999 14.5% of the total labour force were unemployed and per capita GDP stood at $4,105. By 2009 unemployment had nearly halved (7.6%) and the per capita GDP had more than doubled to $11,404! And this took place within the context of a significant growth in the population from 23,867,000 in 1999 to 28,583,000 in 2009. Poverty also decreased: from 23.4% in 1999, the recorded rate of people in extreme poverty fell to 8.5% in 2011.
The policy of launching missions to tackle various social problems has made a significant impact on society. For example, infant mortality is now lower than in 1999, falling from a rate of 20 per 1,000 live births to a rate of 13 per 1,000 live births in 2011. This is as a direct result of the work of Mission Barrio Adentro (healthcare), Mission Mercal (food distribution) and Mission Habitat (housing).
Mission Robinson has enabled around 1.5 million adults to rid themselves of illiteracy. Some commentators have even described Venezuela as “illiteracy free” now.
There are many other missions trying to address a wide range of problems in society. These have been financed through the oil export boom, earning Venezuela $60bn in 2011 (in 1999 oil revenues stood at $14.4bn).
But even the Chávistas cannot ignore the big problems facing today’s Venezuela:
- Inflation that stands at 31.6% (compared with 23.6% in 1999).
- The massive rise in violent crime, which reached over 16,000 murders in 2012. One NGO puts the number at nearly 21,700 (meaning a national homicide rate of 73 per 100,000, more than double the 31 per 100,000 in Colombia, which has two guerrilla wars taking place on its territory!).
Above all, the economic prospects of Venezuela do not look good when compared to other Latin American countries. This is primarily because capitalists (domestic and foreign) do not think it a ‘stable’ place for investing their capital! Net inflows of foreign direct investment stood at 2.9% of GDP in 1999, nearly double the 1.7% in 2011. Stock market capitalisation of companies listed on the Caracas Stock Exchange has shrunk from a 7.6% of GDP in 1999 to 1.6%. In addition, according to most industry estimates, Venezuela’s oil production has fallen from about 3.2 million barrels a day to around 2.5 million.
The 32% devaluation of the Bolivar in February will, of course, affect many economic indicators to the detriment of workers and the poor. Already in 2011 the per capita GDP had declined to $10,801 as Venezuela remained in recession for two years when much of Latin America recovered more quickly. Unemployment also rose to 8.6% in 2010.
This mixed bag of results is after many years of high, or even record, oil prices. The “Bolivarian Revolution” will be in serious trouble if the price of oil dips too much.
“21st century socialism”
Although there have been many important advances in Venezuela, it is important for revolutionary Marxists to not get carried away and to be able to produce a concrete class analysis of the Venezuelan situation based on the lessons we have gained over 160 years of struggles.
In reality the “Bolivarian Revolution” and the “21st century socialism” that Chávez talked about were never anything more than a reform programme. Of course, revolutionary Marxists have nothing against reforms that improve conditions for workers and the masses. What we do oppose, however, is reformism. We oppose the concept of reforming and improving conditions under capitalism in the hope that somehow we will one day reach a tipping point where we arrive at socialism. This reformist approach equates socialism with nationalisation, and, consequently, the more industries a country nationalises, the more “socialist” it becomes!
There now seems to be an entrenched belief among a wide section of the left, even perhaps the majority of the ‘Trotskyist’, that there is some kind of an unbroken continuum from moderate left-wing politics to radical left-wing positions and continuing right the way through to the Bolshevik-Leninist tradition. This ‘received wisdom’, however, is a total fallacy!
There is a definite dividing line (i.e., no continuum) between those who want to achieve all the demands in their programme after smashing the bourgeois state and those who think that “socialism” is something you can achieve incrementally – starting today in bourgeois society itself. Those ‘Marxists’ who think that “socialism” is something that can be posed in society by a caudillo – no matter how well-meaning – and that certain reforms and the nationalisation of some industries mean that we can talk about socialism in a society, are clearly abandoning the basic lessons that our movement learnt at the time of the Paris Commune: i.e., to smash the bourgeois state.
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