China Model Can Save Venezuela's Embattled Project By Heiko Khoo

20 April 2013 — China.org.cn

Following the death of Hugo Chávez on March 5, 2013, last Sunday’s presidential election in Venezuela produced a narrow victory for the Socialist candidate Nicolas Maduro.

The final vote was much closer than expected. President Maduro won 50.8 percent of the vote against 49.0 percent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. However, instead of graciously accepting his narrow defeat, Capriles claimed the vote was rigged and used private television stations to incite bloodshed and violence. Opposition social media campaigns show false images of dumped ballot papers, and mobile phone recordings of frenzied oppositionists shouting at soldiers. This is supposed to constitute proof of fraud! On Tuesday the opposition called for a general strike, which failed to materialize, but some of their supporters took to rampaging though the streets. They set fire to 18 public heath centers and three low-cost food markets, and they attacked buildings of the ruling Socialist Party and public television stations. Seven people were killed in the violence. 

Nicolas Maduro was sworn in by the National Assembly Friday as Venezuela’s acting president on March 8 after the State funeral of the late president Hugo Chavez. [Xinhua/Presidency of Venezuela]

Venezuela’s electronic voting system is scrupulously transparent and fraud proof. It combines finger print recognition, identity card checks, electronic voting and paper records. Compare this with Britain, where there are no identity checks or fingerprinting, and literally anyone can go to a polling booth and vote, as long as they know the correct name and address of a registered elector!

If the Venezuelan opposition wishes to challenge the legitimacy of Sunday’s presidential vote, they have twenty working days to take their complaints to the National Electoral Council (CNE) or the Supreme Court. But instead of using constitutional channels they immediately embarked on a hysterical campaign of civil disobedience, violence and bloodshed. The real truth is that the opposition is not interested in verifying the results of the election. It knows that the process was transparent, despite the close result, and is using its electoral advance as a launching pad for an attempted coup d’état with the intent of overthrowing the democratic system and ending the socialist road chosen by the majority.

China, Russia, Latin America’s governments and most governments around the world recognized President Maduro’s election victory. However, the self-proclaimed world champions of democracy, the United States and the European Union, are in only favour of democracy as long as it serves their interests. So they support the campaign of the Venezuelan opposition to bring a halt to the country’s socialist experiment.

President Maduro would be justified in breaking off diplomatic relations with all countries involved in this blatant campaign of imperialist interference. He is correct to ban opposition demonstrations which aim to foster an escalation of violence. The National Militia should be mobilized to maintain peace on the streets, protect public property, and defend the election result, the constitution, and the revolution.

It should be remembered that in April 2002, the United States and the Venezuelan opposition (including Capriles) orchestrated a coup d’état against former President Hugo Chávez. It was an uprising of the masses that defeated that counter-revolution.

It is likely that the opposition’s attempt to overturn the election result by force will be defeated in the next few days. Venezuela’s petit-bourgeoisie has a tradition of hysterical behaviour when they fail to get their way. But when they are faced with the forceful, decisive and unified action of the revolutionary masses, they scatter like so much human dust.

The revolutionary movement must, however, take stock of the rise in support for Capriles and the opposition. The Venezuelan revolution is entering a dangerous period where fundamental decisions about the destiny of the revolution need to be taken. Inner demons, like crime and corruption, which undermine support for the revolution, must be contained and defeated.

The tearful send-off given to Hugo Chávez by millions of Venezuelans and their solemn declarations to continue his revolutionary mission continues to reflect the will of the majority; but eulogies to Chávez are not enough to defend the revolution. In order to neutralize and split the opposition, President Maduro must base himself on the heightened consciousness of his own constituency. He must rapidly and boldly shift the balance of forces decisively in favour of the revolution.

A weakening in the position of the United States and a leftward shift in South American politics has placed Venezuela’s socialist project at the center of the world balance of power. Just as the United States maintains its barbaric embargo against the people of Cuba, so the U.S. military, economic and political elites want to halt Venezuela’s socialist revolution by any means.

The fact is that China now plays a decisive role in sustaining Venezuela’s revolution. Infrastructure projects that were plagued by corruption and incompetence a few years ago are now being realized with the support of a US$42bn loan from China’s State Development Bank. Chinese state-owned enterprises are working wonders in railway construction, communications technology, and above all in the construction of public sector housing. China is building three million low-cost homes for the Venezuelan people and is engaged in a wide range of projects central to Venezuela’s socialist project.

The reason China is able to provide such multilayered and concrete support for Venezuela’s revolutionary process is because its economy is dominated by publicly owned banks and industries, organized around the objectives of the 12th Five Year Plan. The planned sector of the economy acts as the primary motivating force of the Chinese economy. The plan guides investment by state banks and serves the needs of the majority by improving their livelihood.

This Chinese lesson should be taught all over Venezuela and South America. Public ownership of the banks and the largest companies is what provides the foundation for China’s economic success. Despite the determination and revolutionary energy of comrade Hugo Chávez, he took decisions in a rather eclectic fashion. Economic planning remained limited to specific projects, rather than constituting the core of a unified socio-economic totality.

In order to extend the political and social base of the Venezuelan revolution, the government should commission 5, 10, 20 and 50 year plans. These should be the results of research, consultation and mass democratic participation. Public ownership of the largest banks and the commanding heights of the economy can provide the optimal resources needed to make Venezuela’s long-term socialist plans invincible.

The author is a columnist with China.org.cn.

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