Sunday, June 26, 2016

Another view of Venezuela crisis

"None of the Chavista activists I spoke to, most of whom I’ve known for years, expressed any support for the opposition. All, however, expressed significant criticisms of Maduro and the government. Jesus Rojas, who has supported the government since Chávez’s 1998 election, said, “Many people don’t believe in Maduro anymore. While we still have hope in the process, we don’t see a short-, medium-, or long-term solution. There’s uncertainty.” Switching to English he added, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re fucked.” Despite this, Rojas says he continues to the support Chavismo and the PSUV and will never vote for the opposition. “If I voted for Chávez and against the fourth republic governments [preceding Chávez] that brought us neoliberalism and bad times, it doesn’t make sense to go back to the bad government of the fourth republic.”....When I asked Gimenez why she continues to support the government, she replied, “Because it’s not a lie that 3 million senior-age Venezuelans are receiving a pension that’s worth minimum wage. When Chávez got to power, not even 300,000 seniors received a pension, and the pension wasn’t even a fifth of the minimum wage. It’s not a lie that schools opened to all children with a meal every day.… It’s not a lie that they opened more opportunities for studying at the university level. And it’s not a lie that education at all levels is free, totally free. Oh, but this education has errors, we don’t doubt it. It’s part of a [process in] construction.… It’s not a lie that healthcare, with all the problems we have right now with the dollar, and the import of medicines…that they’ve provided a space for healthcare in all of our communities. It’s not a lie that our citizens with disabilities, who were rendered totally invisible before, they didn’t have machines to treat their disabilities, now we have physical therapy centers, and today [people with disabilities] are prioritized in terms of jobs, and for many things. It’s not a lie, and I’ve lived it, that people in our rural zones lived in straw houses with mud roofs…and now there are real houses in our rural zones, and not just in our rural zones, but in the urban zones, the million and some houses that have been constructed are a reality.… There’s still much to do, but this is a reality…. And it’s not a lie that in any street corner you go to, people will talk to you about politics, about what’s happening, about the international situation, if they participated or not, if the communal council stole the money or didn’t steal the money. There’s a political participation that can’t be hidden....In addition to grassroots efforts to build a new, communal system of production and distribution of food and basic goods, there are also grassroots efforts to “rescue Chávez’s legacy” and forge an alternative way of doing politics that stands in contrast to the corruption and bureaucracy of the government. This movement, referred to by some as “critical Chavismo,” has taken on several expressions. According to Jimenez, there are two networks of critical Chavismo, made up of leftist parties and social-movement organizations that support the government in a critical way, and are careful to maintain their autonomy. One network, known as the Frente Patriótico Hugo Chávez (Hugo Chávez Patriotic Front), brings together “the PPT [Fatherland for All, a left party], the Corriente Revolucionaria Bolívar y Zamora, a radical current within the PSUV, and a number of smaller movements.” The Red de Comuneros is part of a second network, “which doesn’t have a name yet, and includes the PCV [Communist Party], workers movements, some unions, including Polar, a fraction of the CANTV union, and the Alexis Vive collective [a grassroots movement based in 23 de Enero parish in Caracas and active in other states, including Lara].” Jimenez says, “Our slogan is: Neither Bureaucracy, nor a Pact with the Bourgeoisie.” This movement is trying to push the government “to really go with the people, and not just say that they are.”” (thanks Ben)