STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
We are a group of Venezuelan socialists residing in the United States, bound by our unconditional solidarity towards the working people of our country. We support workers’ and popular struggles against oppression and exploitation, and we sympathize with the fights carried out by independent socialists, feminists, and anti-extractivists against the Venezuelan capitalist state. Our goal is to encourage solidarity towards the Venezuelan working class among the Left and social justice movements in the U.S. To do this, we intend to promote informed debate about Venezuelan and Latin American contemporary history, engage in translation of critical commentary from Venezuela, and attempt to dispel state propaganda of both the Venezuelan and the U.S. governments by amplifying voices from below.
We oppose the brutal oppression that the Maduro regime deploys in order to maintain power and protect the interests of the national bourgeoisie and foreign (including US American) capital. This regime hides behind socialist phraseology, “the legacy of Commander Chávez,” and the cooptation of grassroots organizations to serve murky networks of capitalists and bureaucrats while it presides over the most severe economic and social crisis in recent Venezuelan history.
In the years of prosperity, resources were squandered and debts were acquired to provide a generalized subsidy to Venezuelan and transnational capitalists, without leaving behind industrial development or stable social welfare infrastructure. The collapse of oil prices in 2014 pushed this contradictory structure to collapse, and led the state to implement a brutal austerity plan to pay off foreign creditors and maintain power and privileges. Hyper-inflation was stoked by austerity, wiping out the values of wages by over 90% in the last five years, along with education and health budgets. Rampant corruption and gross mismanagement of the economy have strengthened the rule of networks of crony capitalists and bureaucrats. Over five million Venezuelans have migrated, leaving behind ‘dead houses’ and families that depend on remittances or aid. US financial sanctions in 2017 and sanctions on Venezuelan oil trade in 2019 have greatly contributed to worsening this crisis and must be strongly opposed, without defending the regime in doing so.
The Venezuelan state’s rhetoric of “economic warfare”, its denunciation of U.S. interventionism, and the tight hold it keeps over food distribution through a clientelist apparatus no longer suffice to guarantee a stable rule by consent. The regime has had to intensify political repression, not just on the more visible political activism of the right-wing Opposition but even more so on the working and popular masses it crudely claims to represent. To lay down the path for a wholesale auction of industries, territories and labor-power, the state has turned to a vicious persecution of labor, peasant, indigenous and community activists.
We denounce the criminalization of protest, as well as the cruel treatment, tortures, and total absence of due process involved in the detention and imprisonment of political prisoners. We demand the immediate liberation of all political prisoners, most of whom are jailed without evidence and under fabricated charges.
At the same time, we do not view the capitalist Opposition as a worthy political alternative in the current crisis due to its violent past in government, its servile attitude towards their U.S. patrons, its internal corruption, and its anti-democratic tendencies, manifested most clearly in its cheers for oppressive regimes elsewhere and in its stubborn pursuit of power through backroom deals with the military.
Our political allegiance lies exclusively with the groups and movements in Venezuela that are striving to build political independence from both Chavismo and that Opposition. We believe that only the working class’s struggle for self-emancipation will effectively pave the way towards social justice and true freedom.
As workers and students in the United States, we also request solidarity towards the tens of thousands of Venezuelan migrants and asylum-seekers in this country who have no dignified representation: while Maduro mocks them publicly for “cleaning toilets” to make a living as migrants, the Opposition allied with Donald Trump foregoes any worthy stand against the mass internment of migrants and refugees, including many Venezuelans, in ICE concentration camps.
Finally, we oppose any form of imperialist intervention and domination over Venezuela. While we seek an end to the United States’ traditional stranglehold on Latin America, alternative “multi-polar” hegemons like China and Russia, and smaller sub-imperial players like Iran and Turkey, have profited immensely off the crisis in exchange for propping up the regime. As supporters of socialist internationalism ––solidarity between the oppressed and exploited of the world––, we find important parallels and points of contact with other struggles against state brutality, capitalism and imperialism around the world.
As Venezuelans, we often find ourselves in a deeply uncomfortable situation in the U.S. and among the international left. Romantic rhetoric about past achievements and anecdotes about ongoing small-scale projects are repeated uncritically to avoid confronting a murkier picture. Campism and neo-Stalinism have proliferated as they offer pacifying narratives that stall deeper engagement based on critical honesty, and a deeper accounting of mistakes, both ours and others’. We find much to learn from the activism of Syrians, Iranians and Hongkongers in confronting these phantoms in the Left. We look to participate in building independent socialist politics, here and internationally around the basic goal of self-emancipation of the working class. This requires attention and respect to struggles for self-determination of peoples, promotion of political education, and opposing all forms of oppression and exploitation.
(Photo credit: Edgar Hernández)