Planning the Next Six Years of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution

Published on The Bullet, the E-Bulletin No. 662 of the Socialist Project, by Tamara Pearson, July 10, 2012.

Planning the detail of the transition and revolution toward a socialist and more just society, from community and worker organization, to consciousness building, to production and distribution systems, to combating state and judicial corruption and bureaucracy, to agriculture, mining, petroleum, infrastructure, and relationships with other countries, is no small task. The truth is, it has been a hard task writing this analysis.   

It has required a certain level of restraint to force myself to be selective and pick out only the most salient points of Chavez’s 39 page proposed plan for the 2013-2019 period of the Bolivarian revolution. All of the objectives and strategic points and sub points seemed important, and that in of itself reflects something wonderful, I think. For the millions of us heavily involved in this revolution, we are so drawn in that we care what the agricultural goals are, we’re concerned about methods for reforming the utterly rotten judicial system, we’re watching closely to see how food distribution progresses – even if we aren’t ourselves directly involved. We’re reading the plan (according to the national news agency of Venezuela (AVN) one million copies have already been distributed) and realizing just how much we have to do, because we feel like this is our responsibility too, not just the state’s (or Chavez’s). It’s our project.

This plan, like its predecessor, the First Socialist Plan 2007-2013, will be taken very seriously as a guide, or reference point for where we should be heading and what needs to be done. It will be quoted at meetings, it will be a permanent fixture on office desks, it will be browsed at night. And importantly, first it will be debated. Over the next six months, various fronts, councils, organizations, and movements, will discuss the plan and send in suggestions, as the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) – Women’s Council has already done. If Chavez wins the presidential elections, the final version of the plan should be passed by the National Assembly in January next year … //

… 1. Consolidate National Independence:

In order to achieve full national independence the plan emphasises the need for sovereignty over the country’s national income, mostly obtained through the petroleum industry. This income will be managed by the people indirectly through projects – and there is nothing particularly new about that. The plan also gives a lot of weight to unleashing the country’s agro-productive potential, which is unfortunately the only key way it seeks to diversify the economy away from petroleum, apart from encouraging small and alternative type business, and smaller industries such as tourism.

The plan (of 1.) in summary: … //

… 5. Preserve Life on the Planet and Save the Human Species

The plan correctly identifies the environment as a global issue, and lays a lot of the responsibility on “first world” countries. It’s a position that most governments are too cowardly and disinterested to take on, limiting themselves instead to a few token and short term measures, if any.

However, while Venezuela’s contribution to global environmental problems may be relatively less, it’s still important that the country improve the situation in its own backyard as well, yet this is barely referred to in this section. This is an area where awareness raising workshops could be very beneficial, as environmental consciousness is very low in Venezuela. Lifting or reducing petrol subsidies (at least for private vehicles), taking measures to replace the dominance of plastic bags, penalties for companies which contaminate or commit other environmental crimes, constructing recycling plants, making bull fighting illegal, and other measures should have been included here, but haven’t.

The plan in summary: … //

… Nevertheless, it’s worth quickly going over some of the plan’s content, in order to get a sense of what angle the opposition is taking in its campaign to win the upcoming presidential elections.

The plan has 9 themes: maternal-infant care, housing and its environment, training and development, employment and entrepreneurship, health and social security, citizenry, tranquillity, justice, and social protection.

For maternity care, the two strategic lines are basically the same thing rephrased: “Guarantee optimal conditions of development in the first stage of life…” and “access to high quality maternal-infant care.” Objectives include: decrease mortality rates, increase quality coverage of maternal care during women’s pregnancy, detect pregnancy earlier, guarantee that the whole population has access to a balanced diet, recognise the bonds associated with breastfeeding, assure that all pregnant woman have the tools to care for the child and access to a network of assistance, and adequate family and social environment. As with the rest of the plan, it’s not stated how such things could or should be achieved, apart from increasing funds assigned to the area and “agreements with the private sector and with education institutions.”

The housing section is fairly predictable, with aims to improve access to housing, improve public transport and strengthen risk management, and the training section refers to things like “inclusion” and “solidarity” with the word “quality” especially repeated over and over, but of course not defined. Likewise, under health, Capriles supposedly plans to “improve” public hospitals, but he doesn’t say what he’ll do with the Barrio Adentro program.

And again, under “tranquillity,” or crime, he talks about emphasising prevention and attacking causes, without specifying what those causes might be, though in terms of prevention he does talk about the recovery of public spaces and “social programs” to prevent family based and gender violence, teenage pregnancy, and drug consumption.

For the economy, Capriles argues that “trust” is the “fundamental tool to consolidate a creative economy of wealth and social equity.” He supports a strong public and strong private sector, where the public sector “promotes and orients private initiative,” “immediately ending expropriations and negotiating with those who have been affected,” and he concludes this section with the objective of transitioning “from a model of sharing out the wealth to one of creating wealth,” presumably referring to going from an economy based on sharing out petrol income to sectors and areas where it’s needed, to one based on a lot of big, medium, and small businesses.

The no content strategy behind Capriles’ plan and his electoral campaign will only work on a minority of Venezuela’s population. Perhaps a third to a half of the Venezuelan public, though it may not have an in depth Marxist materialist understanding of things, has reached a level of political discussion which demands a good amount of analysis, and in which sloganeering isn’t good enough. For a minority though, it is good enough, with many people insisting that the mere fact of having the same president for thirteen years means that ‘change’ is needed, though most can’t articulate what kind of change they mean.

What Capriles’ plan does do, is provide a dodgy type of documental backing for Venezuela’s private and opposition supporting media to be able to publish headlines like these: “Capriles will dramatically increase the number of high schools and primary schools,” “Capriles will provide quality housing” and “Capriles’ program includes popular welfare.”

At the same time, this media has gone around distorting Chavez’s plan and making things up that simply aren’t in it, claiming for example that it “contemplates the implantation of the militias across the country in order to basically militarize the members of the PSUV and give them arms, to then plant fear in the citizenry.” It goes to show that debating the Second Socialist Plan 2013-2019 has a second purpose; apart from grassroots participation in its final version, such debate will hopefully help raise awareness of its content and help Chavez to secure a victory in October.

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(Tamara Pearson is a writer and activist living in Merida, Venezuela. Her writings have appeared in where this article first appeared).

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