In the document of Santa Fe IV Bush’s advisors already marked the Chávez government as one of its targets. The imperialist hatred resulted in a coup d’état that was defeated by the Venezuelan masses who, above all, desire sovereignty and liberty.
The recent events in Venezuela, centred on the coup d’état that had been prepared for some time by the Yankees, the chambers of commerce and the top layers of the church, reached their culmination in the uprising by the people and young officers and troops who restored Hugo Chávez to the presidency and reactivated the Assembly. There are undoubtedly lessons that the Latin-American peoples should draw from what took place in order to reinforce their unity in their struggles against our common enemy, U.S. imperialism.
1. A pro-imperialist coup
The Yankees have been carrying out a propaganda offensive against Chávez for some time, one that was supported by the big press of Venezuela and others led by CNN. The fictitious country that was created allowed them to overestimate the anti-democratic opposition. This opposition had reaped all the benefits of 40 years of Social-Democratic and Christian-Democratic governments (AD and COPEI), which enriched themselves by means of corruption, in which the trade union bureaucracy took part.
The fact that Chávez did not completely break with neo-liberal economic policies allowed popular sectors and particularly middle-class ones, who did not see improvement in their living conditions, to fall into the trap of the opposition directed by Washington. But the coup leaders grouped around themselves the businessmen, corrupt bishops and some high-ranking officers who were willing to sell their souls, using anti-Cuban and anti-communist rhetoric, to support possible attacks against the Colombian rebels and being entirely servile to imperialism. A programme that undoubtedly came from the Yankees’ manual.
At the end of last year, the government promulgated more than 49 laws, among which were two of nationalist and democratic importance. These were the Law of the Land and the Law of Oil. They led to the preparation of the coup by expanding the campaign of international slander and initiating street actions by the opposition. The plan included a shameful alliance among the Catholic Church, businessmen and union leaders. The coup’s bourgeois and dictatorial character became clear as soon as Carmona, the main business leader, assumed the ‘Presidency,’ refusing to recognize the National Assembly and other institutions of constitutional government, persecuting Chávez’s supporters, cutting the delivery of oil to Cuba at a reduced price, naming as Chancellor Rodríguez Iturbe, a man of Opus Dei, and placing his taking office above the Constitution.
The Yankees gave all-out support to the preparation of the coup and, once it took place, they laid all the blame for what happened on Chávez, thus as usual blaming the victim. They did not make a single statement in defence of democracy, which they always preach about, nor did they demand respect for the rights of those who were detained. There were only expressions of satisfaction openly expressed by the IMF and officials of the State Department.
This it is the first lesson: the Yankees today have shown that they are once again willing to use open military dictatorships, to utilize the armies of the region against their own peoples. If the neo-liberal ‘Washington Consensus’ spoke of the free market plus democracy, the new Monterrey Consensus speaks of the free market at any cost. The difference from the coups of the 1970s is that now the military coups count on mass actions of support and the full support of the communications media, and the fact that the armed forces, as in other countries, have shown themselves to be divided.
2. The hypocrisy of other governments
The governments of Latin America delayed in reacting. The OAS [Organization of American States], for its part, had proposed a visit by its president, but none of them openly condemned the coup. Particularly the most pathetically servile governments such as the President of El Salvador rushed to recognize the ‘new government,’ something that not even the Yankees did (certainly to await the popular reaction). Only the Argentine president denounced the coup, but as one who tries to cover up the fact that he is himself an illegitimate ruler.
The so-called ‘Democratic Charter’ signed by all these governments, was not even seriously mentioned in terms of threatening the coup leaders with joint actions to defend the constitutional order.
The second lesson is already known: that this Charter will only be used against popular insurrections and that the OAS is another institution utilized only to benefit the Yankees.
3. The power of the media
It was said that 300 thousand people took to the streets against Chávez. The television stations used technical means to make it seem as if there were much larger numbers than there were and they spoke of ever stronger and larger rivers of people. More than 2 million people were mobilized to overthrow the coup leaders, but the private television stations preferred to broadcast soap operas and speak of short disturbances.
Those two events graphically demonstrate the action of the communications media in the hands of the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie. But the months-long campaign against Chávez, supported by dubious surveys, that daily attacked the government and called for its overthrow, was much more important. They glibly declared that the government no longer had support, but they were never able to collect signatures calling for a plebiscite, afraid that Chávez would win in an election for the seventh time.
The communications media, however, created a fictitious Venezuela, filling the airwaves, newspaper pages and the internet with lies, giving an unreal picture of what was taking place. Therefore, through the popular actions, the media journalists were questioned or rejected by the people. The lesson, if anyone doubted it, is that those media, in Venezuela or Ecuador, are neither independent nor impartial but are propaganda instruments that succeeded, at least partially, to confuse popular sectors who marched under anti-communist and anti-popular banners. The media are a tool for creating public opinion, as important as weapons for the seizure and maintenance of power.
4. It is the people who decide
It was the ever-growing marches of the inhabitants of the neighbourhoods perched on the hills above Caracas, that reached two million people, that also gave confidence to the soldiers to confront a group of traitor generals. The poorest sectors did not stand aside waiting (which is a form of letting others decide), but made the decision to not let the big bourgeoisie seize the government.
This people, who sang with pride the Venezuelan National Anthem which calls on the ‘brave people’ to fight for freedom under the ideals of Bolivar, will have to wage many more battles. Their situation pushed many of them to break into the warehouses of the rich, because they still have far to go for the materialization of their dreams of well-being and justice.
That it is the people who should take the historic decisions into their hands is the clear lesson. Together with this, that a people united and in struggle can defeat imperialism and its puppets. This is very important for the Andean peoples, who together form one of the weak links in the chain of imperialist domination.
5. Our solidarity
Together with all our people, we share the joy of the workers and peoples of Venezuela who defeated a reactionary coup. The land of the Liberator [Bolivar] has once again given clarion calls of popular action for freedom which must go much further. The present situation places the government at the crossroads: either radicalize or give in, as the Yankees are demanding by all means. Therefore popular solidarity with Venezuela and its people, solidarity with Chávez and his government, is most important.
The Yankees, with the greatest disdain, are trying to force Chávez to rectify himself (that is to say, to become submissive), or otherwise they will threaten him with another coup. For the time being, the reactionaries are weakened, but the imperialist threat should be taken into account, because after this battle follows the war over the government of Venezuela and control of its wealth.
Against the information control of CNN and the Yankees, against the bourgeois propaganda, we must put forward a broad explanation of what took place in Venezuela and promote solidarity with this fraternal people who defeated the attempts of Bush and his puppets. Let us advance in anti-imperialist unity to open the way to the new homelands that we must build by seizing power.
Central Organ of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador
April 19-25, 2002.
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