Venezuela Without Chavez, What to Expect?

January 5, 2013 | Print Print |

Archive/photo by Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — What can we expect if Hugo Chavez leaves the Venezuelan political scenario in the near future? What will happen to the Bolivarian Revolution that he leads at home and in other ALBA countries and the region? These questions are addressed in a commentary published on the Lagurura.net webpage from Maracaibo, Venezuela, which we are publishing here in full (HT translation).

Possible policy scenarios

By Roberto Lopez

1) Chavez’s leaving power seems to be a certainty in the short term (from a few months to a year), either through death or because his health will prevent him from returning to active office. If he returns and is sworn in on January 10 or at a later date, his precarious health condition will keep him almost permanently in Cuba and the real running of the country will fall on one or more other individuals.

2) This implies the beginning of a period of profound change in the political leadership of the Bolivarian Revolution. This period could last several months or even several years.

3) The recent and resounding electoral defeats suffered by the opposition in October and December place the post-Chavez political dispute within Chavismo itself. This will continue for at least several months and perhaps a year or two. Currently, the right wing is not in a political position to act offensively to regain power within the country, but obviously that weakness can change as time goes on.

4) We can infer that the present pro-Chavez leadership headed by Maduro and Cabello will deteriorate as time passes. Causes: none of them have the leadership qualities of Chavez and therefore none of them are able to generate the consensus that existed when Chavez was in office. The deterioration of consensus implies a deterioration of governance over national, regional and local institutions. Generally, one can say that the long-term continuation of the Bolivarian Revolution is not assured with the current leadership, which has constituted Chavez’s inner circle and his immediate environment for the past 14 years. We will witness an on-going crisis of governance that will result in constant rearrangements whose actors and trends cannot be accurately predicted.

5) Several processes will occur simultaneously:

a) An internal struggle for a new distribution of power within chavismo (redistribution of control over state institutions and over effective control of the national budget). Although formally they might manage to reach agreements for slicing up the bureaucratic pie, strong shocks will in fact begin to be produced because the country is not a sum of its parts but an organic whole. Those clashes will be concealed initially, but will progressively become more public. This could even lead to violent scenarios, such as attacks against certain leaders of the various pro-Chavez fractions.

b) The deterioration of this leadership for Venezuelans who support the process. This may occur due to the government’s inability to address popular demands around critical issues; for example, labor disputes and collective negotiations involving significant sections of the state (teachers, academics, Guyanese industries, etc.). Chavez will no longer be there to appease people’s emotions with the refrain of “the president didn’t know” or “they’re not complying with the president’s directives.” The errors of the bureaucracy will not be forgiven by the people, as occurred when Chavez firmly held the nation’s leadership.

c) A widespread conspiracy by the “empire” [the US primarily] to penetrate the various civilian and military pro-Chavez leadership circles to promote the reversal of the revolutionary process. This could be supplemented with future scenarios in which pro-Chavez forces and opposition forces unite to achieve the goal of ending the revolution. At the moment, however, those scenarios are not yet possible (thankfully), but they could be created in the short term.

d) In the internal struggle within Chavismo, imperialist forces and their local allies will constantly seek to exert their influence. The empire is likely to attempt to carry out various actions on its own, even violent ones, which could then be blamed on the intra-Chavista struggle. The goal of this would be to add more fuel to the fire and encourage the strengthening of internal tendencies that are more likely to compromise with imperialism.

6) The imperial forces will seek the right moment to end the Bolivarian Revolution. In promoting their initiatives, they will not rule out Libyan or Syrian-type scenarios (i.e., fostering a civil war) to overthrow the Bolivarian government and restore imperial rule over Venezuela.

In conclusion, the removal of Chavez from power opens up a scenario of uncertainty and political crisis in Venezuela, which seriously threatens the continuity of the revolutionary process and opens the door for the international bourgeoisie and their allies to attempt to regain domestic political power.

Given this reality, it is essential that revolutionaries strengthen their organizational activities and joint actions based on broad and democratic debate over the political agenda being raised by popular organizations.

Ensuring the continuation of the revolutionary process will depend on the emergence of new forms of popular collective leadership, which will be born in the heat of the difficult political confrontation that will characterize the months and years ahead.

If this strengthening of alternative revolutionary leadership does not occur, it is likely that reformist trends will end up predominating within the Chavista bureaucracy, pushing for a general agreement with the local bourgeoisie and US imperialism as a way to “save and sustain” the Bolivarian process.

If this latter trend prevails, the re-taking of power by imperialism would progressively occur and the reformist leaders and facilitators of Chavismo would gradually be displaced by more reliable traditional bourgeois leaders. That process could take several years, possibly the entire current presidential term (2013-2019).

The means of avoiding this will always be through the strength of the popular movement led by a truly revolutionary program. This cannot rely on small and tiny groups or tendencies that exist within or outside the PSUV. It will depend on a massive confluence of revolutionary activists (including the military) and social organizations to confront the imperialist conspiracy and reformist reconciliation.

In this strategy — which I believe is the only alternative that exists to save the revolution — we must try out all means for exercising democracy and achieving the broadest possible consensus for allowing unity of action throughout the country.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses

    Wow. Could this bozo be more paranoid? This post reads like a STAR WARS screenplay.
    According to Lopez, the US is responsible for both the rebellion in Libya and the civil war in Syria. These guys need to get their story straight. On one hand, they revel in reporting news stories that show how the US economy is near collapse, how Congress is unable to agree, how US hegemonic influence around the world is waning (all true by the way) and so on. Yet, these leftists extremeists will also, when it serves their paranoia, also want to portray the US as this all-present, all-powerful planet destroyer (like Star Wars!). Of course they do this to disguise the reality that these leftist movements are weak and poorly established and more likely to implode due their own internal conflicts than they are to be attacked from the big ole’ bad empire. Guys like Lopez overestimate the reach of US influence. They confuse Coca-cola and WalMart with regime change. Venezuela, even with a healthy, loud-mouth Chavez, had enough problems of their own to cause the unraveling of the Bolivarian revolution. In Chavez’ absence due to death or illness, these issues alone, without US involvement will be reason enough for the undoing of his regime.

    • Sergio

      Venezuela is going to be better off with out his lack of intelligence to guide a large country la venezuela, he depends of what castro have to indicate him to do. What a combination. Two crazy dictators, that need both to go to the cemetery for ever and leave us at peace. Sergio. Good Luck to Venezuela, still I can n ot believe that is happening all those changes so easily, well castro sent all sorts of security measures to survived and lied to the population like he have done in Cuba for 50 years. Sergio.

  • Mark G

    I kind of followed Lopez’s argument until he got to point c when he starts descending into silly conspiracy theories.

    So long as the various political factions in Venezuela respect multi-party democracy and at least a semblance of an open civil society, the country will muddle through with or without Chavez.

    The scary scenarios post-Chavez involve the highly polarized political factions not respecting the Constitution, multi-party democracy, or the rule of law. If this happens, it will be a problem not only for the United States but also for the other democracies in the region.

  • Cort Greene

    Even though I did not support the repressive regimes in Libya( where the US and the West co-opted the rebellion) and Syria ( where the US and it’s groupings of Qatar/Turkey/Saudi’s have no chance of co-opting) in fact the revolution against Assad thinks the US is keeping the regime in power, I will have to say that since day one, the US has been trying to overthrow the Bolivarian revolution either by coup, supporting the opposition through funding and economic sabotaged or trying to wiggle its way in with the bureaucracy.

    I do think the grassroots, rank and file militants and the left of the PSUV, trade unions, the PCV, the UPV and other left wing parties will unite at some point in time( soon ) against the bureaucracy, the Boli- bourgeois, the opposition and the fourth generation warfare of the US.

    Deepen the revolution, forward to real socialism!

    Rojo Rojito
    Cort

    • Griffin

      It’s nice to hear you don’t support Assad’s Syria or Gaddafi’s Libya.

      Ironically, both Chavez & Castro support Syria and they supported Gaddafi right up to the end.

      Birds of a feather.

  • Cort Greene

    As someone who has been a supporter and organizer in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution since the get go, I would say that Roberto’s C option is possible. Within the bureaucracy there are many factions not always united, same goes for the PSUV but in the final analysis it will be those who have come to the defense of the revolution on many occasions ( the people), either overthrowing the coup, winning the 12 elections, beating the violence in the streets by the opposition or demanding real socialism.

    Only the people can save the people!

    Cort

  • clern fimmel

    The empire of the 1% is resolute and relentless and people ARE EASILY DISTRACTED.

  • Griffin

    There seems to be an assumption that the Venezuelan people only want more of the same Chavist revolution and that the Empire/US wants only to expand imperialism. Is it not possible the Venezuelan people might themselves grow tired of the bogus Bolivarian bravado?

    The true record of the revolution so far has been the impoverishment of the country, the enrichment of a handful of cronies surrounding Chavez, & cheap oil for Cuba: all that in exchange for cheap gas at home and some modest improvement in the living standards of the poor. But how long can those benefits for the poor last if the economy is headed for disaster? Is the loss of Venezuelan sovereignty really worth it all?

  • Griffin

    Several writers contributed pieces on the possible post-Chavez Venezuela. Some are sympathetic, while others are critical of Chavez.

    http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/01/03/venezuela-post-chavez