Venezuela allende el partidismo

Bolcheviques, rusos blancos, hambruna, intervenciones aliadas… Y tras la Guerra Civil Rusa y la muerte de Lenin stalinismo, purgas, gulags… pero también una excepción en el orden mundial que alumbró las esperanzas de millones de desheredados y marcó a generaciones enteras de artistas e intelectuales de todo el globo que no pudieron o no quisieron reconocer las atrocidades del comunismo.

«El maestro Juan Martínez que estaba allí» es un libro publicado en 1934 donde su autor, el periodista Chaves Nogales, recoge las andanzas de los bailaores de flamenco españoles Juan Martínez y Sole, a quienes la Revolución de Octubre pilló en una gira por tierras rusas. Recojo este extracto:

La guerra civil daba un mismo tono a los dos ejércitos en lucha, y al final unos y otros eran igualmente ladrones y asesinos […]. En cuanto la guerra y el hambre les quitaron aquellas virtudes de caballerosidad, corrección, disciplina, pulcritud y elegancia, que era su orgullo en los tiempos del zar, los antiguos militares se convirtieron en una horda que no tenía nada que envidiar en ferocidad a las de los bolcheviques. […]

Esta desmoralización del ejército blanco fue lo que puso a mucha gente del lado de los rojos. ¿Porque se creyera que los rojos eran mejores que los blancos, menos sanguinarios y tiránicos? No; no había que hacerse ilusiones. Sencillamente, porque los rojos pasaban hambre al mismo tiempo que la población civil y los blancos no. Esto fue, aunque parezca mentira, lo que hizo inclinarse la balanza, y, al fin y al cabo, decidió la guerra civil. A los ojos del pueblo, empobrecido y hambriento, tan feroces aparecían unos como otros; si tiranos eran los blancos, más lo eran los rojos y tanto desprecio tenían por las leyes divinas y humanas éstos como aquéllos. Pero los rojos eran unos asesinos que pasaban hambre y los blancos eran unos asesinos ahítos. Se estableció, pues, una solidaridad de hambrientos entre la población civil y los guardias rojos. Unidos por el hambre, arremetieron bolcheviques y no bolcheviques contra el ejército blanco, que tenía pan. Y así triunfó el bolchevismo. El que diga otra cosa miente; o no estuvo allí, o no se enteró de cómo iba la vida.

Si me voy por las ramas con estos prolegómenos es para resaltar que las más de las veces lo que acontece en el presente es complejo de entender, y que sólo con la perspectiva que otorga el tiempo la fotografía del hecho histórico gana nitidez, por más que pierda brillo a la vez.

Los medios vomitan ingentes cantidades de información viscosa y ácida en torno a Venezuela. Estos medios, incapaces siquiera de distinguir entre chavista y madurista (igual que los Informativos de TVE confunden la Corte Interamericana con una inexistente «Corte Internacional de Derechos Humanos» hablando de Venezuela), ofrecen al atiborrado espectador un clásico relato de malos lacayos (al servicio del tirano Maduro) y buenos demócratas (la unívoca e inmaculada oposición).

Interamericana
Esta captura corresponde a un vídeo de Televisión Española (TVE) del año 2011. ¿Mero error que en el titular aparezca «Corte Internacional» y sólo después «Corte Interamericana»? Puede, pero quizá de paso al telespectador le impacte más la alusión a un órgano internacional que a uno interamericano. Sea como fuere, TVE ha persistido en el error; véase si no el telediario de las 15h del 05/08/2017, minutos 14:50 a 15:10. Para mí es telebasura.

No es que me haya preocupado demasiado por informarme bien sobre Venezuela, porque tal gesta agota. Sin embargo, me he topado con este artículo escrito en inglés y que da una interesante explicación a tres bandas: una oposición (más desunida de lo aparente), los partidarios de Maduro y chavistas que ni están con la oposición ni con Maduro: Being Honest About Venezuela (revista Jacobine, julio de 2017). Es anterior al cese de la Fiscal General de la República, Luisa Ortega, o a la apertura de la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, pero aun así no pierde ni un ápice de vigencia y es por ello que extraeré de él algunas partes. El autor, Mike Gonzalez, es un historiador británico y fue profesor de historia de América Latina en la Universidad de Glasgow hasta su jubilación. Procedo:

[T]he international left has accepted the explanations government spokespersons offer, still believing that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Thus, when a helicopter attacked government buildings on June 28, some observers simply added the event to the catalog of right-wing violence.

It is, unsurprisingly, far more complicated than that.

Oscar Pérez, a retired officer of the state security services, piloted the helicopter. Pérez has close ties to ex–Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, whom Maduro dismissed in 2014. Torres, like the majority of the current cabinet and around half of Venezuela’s state governors, belongs to the military. He also leads one of a number of Chavista factions angling for power.

Behind a façade of governmental unity, another struggle is developing, but none of the groups are fighting to continue the revolutionary project or to reconstruct the mass movement that saved it after the attempted coup and the bosses’ strikes of 2002–3.

Este artículo se escribió días después de que un helicóptero atacara el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia y el Ministerio del Interior, en Caracas, con una granada y disparos.

The opposition is also split into rival factions. Some advocate dialogue with the president, while others, especially the group that Leopoldo Lopez and his partner Liliana Tintori lead, almost certainly support the most violent street fighters. They aim not only to get rid of Maduro but also to destroy Chavismo itself.

Most Venezuelans know the major players on the Right: they belong to the wealthiest and most powerful families, who controlled the economy until Chávez arrived. Since the first street barricades went up, Maduro has tried to work with representatives of these right-wing sectors. In 2014, for example, he called in Lorenzo Mendoza, head of the Polar multinational and one of the richest Venezuelans.

Gustavo Cisneros, another member of that exclusive clan, has remained untouched in the nearly twenty years of Chavismo.

Pasa en toda clase de regímenes. Hay plutócratas demasiado poderosos, que sobreviven sin grandes sobresaltos a gobiernos de todos los colores políticos. En fin, parece claro que hay que superar el esquema simplón de dos bandos estancos y homogéneos enfrentados.

Prosigo con extractos que aluden a la economía:

Those who are bearing the brunt of the crisis are also those who most passionately supported Chávez’s Bolivarian project and its promise that the nation’s oil wealth would go to social programs in health, education, and housing. Chávez promised to invest the surplus for the future, diversifying the economy and escaping from the trap of oil dependency.

This project has failed. Today, 95 percent of Venezuela’s external income comes from oil, as opposed to 67 percent twenty years ago. Meanwhile, GDP has fallen by 18 percent as industrial and agricultural production has collapsed in many sectors. State reserves have fallen to 40 percent of their 2012 levels. Almost 90 percent of the population cannot buy enough food, which explains the average weight loss of eight kilos. […]

The situation was already very serious when Venezuelans went to the polls for the December 2015 National Assembly elections, in which the Right won just under a two-thirds majority.

This result did not represent a major ideological shift. Rather, two million Chavista voters abstained — a message to the leadership and a clear expression of pain and despair from those who had to wait for hours for basic goods at rocketing prices. […]

Maduro no es Chávez. Pero tampoco es que la oposición haya ampliado su base social. Una cosa es que parte del electorado chavista retire su apoyo explícito a Maduro, y otra muy distinta es que reniegue del proyecto de Chávez y vote a quienes desde el principio trataron de torpedearlo.

The currency exchange system’s complexity allowed importers to apply for dollars at a extremely low rate — around twelve bolivars per dollar until very recently — and then sell imported goods at prices based on a market rate hundreds of times higher. Many of those goods simply passed through Venezuela on their way to Colombia, where the profit rates rose even higher. The bank bosses, state bureaucrats, the customs service, and the National Guard all took their cut. En route, fortunes were made.

It came as little surprise that the commercial bourgeoisie hoarded goods and raised prices at will or that the industrial and financial sectors sent their capital abroad to starve the national economy. But it is surprising that those who were responsible for transforming the Venezuelan state — for attacking corruption and for introducing redistribution policies — also took their share.

Aquí quien ha podido ha hecho negocio a costa de los demás. Daba igual que llevara traje y corbata o chándal de cremallera y gorra roja.

Chavismo’s defenders will argue that the fall in the price of oil caused this crisis, but that is simply not true. […] The government based its budget on selling oil for sixty dollars a barrel even when prices were double that. This additional income disappeared into a corrupt system that the Chavista state administers and sustains.

Of course, the bourgeoisie have fared well. They happily colluded with the new Chavista elites to embezzle public funds, speculate in the currency markets, and invest their profits abroad. […]

En adelante el autor del artículo analiza los dos supuestos bandos. Sobre el primero de ellos describe los cambios producidos entre la administración de Chávez y la de Maduro:

[W]e can pull three clear themes out of the government’s behavior: a revival of foreign investment in extractive industries, a growing militarization of the government, and the transformation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) into an instrument of political control.

Maduro has suggested one solution to the massive hole in the state budget: the Arco Minero, Venezuela’s Amazon region. The area represents 12 percent of the national territory and holds a cornucopia of minerals, oil, and gas. Additionally, it is the country’s principal source of freshwater.

Chavez rejected a development proposal some years ago for environmental reasons and in recognition of indigenous communities’ human and territorial rights. But last summer, Maduro began inviting multinational corporations to bid for concessions.

He made the first offer to Barrick, the giant Canadian gold-mining concern that had been excluded from Venezuela a decade earlier. After Chávez nationalized the mines, the company demanded hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation payments. As a gesture of his good faith, Maduro has agreed to pay this debt as well as offer a ten-year tax holiday and develop the regional infrastructure at the state’s expense. […]

Indeed, the Maduro administration immediately placed the region under military control, suspending constitutional rights. A newly formed company, Camimpeg, will administer the resources.  Although the ministry of defense will run this new organization, the enterprise is autonomous — that is, private — and not publicly accountable.

The military has become a uniformed sector of the ruling state bourgeoisie, with both political control and a central economic role. Even before the recent changes, over half the cabinet belonged to the military as well as half the state governors.

Esto supone una enmienda a la totalidad contra el ideario de Chávez, el tiro de gracia al empoderamiento de los pueblos originarios y al ecologismo de la Pachamama que siempre reivindicó un aliado tradicional del chavismo: Evo Morales. Por supuesto, tienes que hacer partícipe de tus planes de negocio a los mandos del Ejército.

¿Y qué dice el autor de la oposición antichavista?

Immediately after the 2015 elections, Maduro declared a state of emergency and suspended both gubernatorial and trade-union elections.

The new National Assembly, led by the right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), couldn’t offer any solutions to the economic crisis, the electricity and water shortages, or the rising tide of crime either. Instead, it had two obsessions — the release of Leopoldo Lopez, who had been imprisoned in 2014 on charges of incitement to violence, and the removal of Maduro. Whatever its politicians said in public, they only wanted to gain power and overthrow Chavismo — a project that Washington vigorously supports.

Venezuela es una república presidencialista: hay elecciones legislativas y elecciones presidenciales por separado; presidente y parlamento tienen, por ende, la misma legitimidad, y si son de signo político distinto deben “cohabitar”. Pero desde que la oposición obtuviera la mayoría parlamentaria, Gobierno y Asamblea han tratado de anularse el uno al otro empleando de manera torticera todas las argucias legales a su alcance: la Asamblea intentó activar un referéndum revocatorio, convocar elecciones presidenciales, nombrar a nuevos magistrados… Maduro, por su parte, se sacó de la manga un parlamento nacional comunal con que intentar hacerle sombra a la Asamblea, empujó al Tribunal Supremo de Justicia a despojarla del poder de legislar y recientemente convocó a los electores como poder constituyente primario para cepillársela por completo.

In March, when the National Assembly refused to vote for the Arco Minero project, Maduro once again tried to avoid democratic measures, by having the Supreme Court strip the body of its powers. Luisa Ortega Diaz, who has served as attorney general since 2005 and who has unquestionable loyalty to Chavismo, declared the government’s actions unconstitutional. Maduro quickly withdrew his tame court’s decision.

The Arco Minero vote clearly demonstrates the paradox of Venezuela politics. A Chavista government was negotiating its return to the global market and to the extractive industries it had fought to escape. The deal will lay waste to the country and return the majority of the population to the misery of the pre-Chavez years.

The bourgeoisie whose purpose was to hasten that process were simply concerned that they should administer the surrender and destroy even the memory of Chavismo at the same time.

Throughout all of this, the MUD has been calling for protests. The initial marches, led by dramatically masked members of the upper class, also attracted many middle-class Venezuelans. Other protesters, however, didn’t belong to any right-wing party: frustrated, angry, and desperate, many who would describe themselves as Chavistas marched behind the nation’s elite. […]

What Maduro intends remains unclear, but it will certainly involve pushing through the Arco Minero plans and privatizing parts or perhaps all of PDVSA, the state oil corporation. It may also legitimize the increasing concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands, selected not by a participatory process, but by an internal war between powerful groups thirsting for control.

Llegados a este punto, los dos presuntos bandos parecen haber quedado completamente desdibujados. Pero hay más actores en escena:

Other more sinister forces have been responsible for some of the more barbaric actions that have been reported. They wear balaclavas and have taken to firing ball bearings into the chests of young men, passing pedestrians, drivers.

Their actions go beyond protest; these thugs almost certainly draw a paycheck from the far right. They are likely paramilitaries who work for the drug traffickers whose influence is growing.

They do not narrowly support the right: they aim to make the country ungovernable, to deepen the despair and the fear that affects growing numbers of Venezuelans. At the same time, the state security forces, the National Guard in particular, are increasingly involved in the violence. It is hard to tell how far these networks have interpenetrated.

Meanwhile, multinational corporations are waiting to seize the country’s enormous oil, gas, and mineral wealth under the complacent eye of an openly neoliberal government. This includes not just the United States but also China, Russia, and the other giants of global capitalism.

Complejo, ¿eh?

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