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Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Bolivarian revolution

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This weekend’s victory for the Bolivarian revolution in the Venezuelan National election has demonstrated once again that the transformative, socio-economic programme being implemented by the Government of Hugo Chavez enjoys widespread support. Venezuela was a different place completely, however, when Chavez first came to prominence in 1992.

The President at that time, Carlos Andres Pérez, had just introduced a neo-liberal economic policy, which was designed by the US and the IMF and which inflicted immeasurable suffering on the poor of the country. State violence was used to suppress the widespread rioting which took place against the cuts to public expenditure and 276 protesters were killed in a massacre which became known as El Caracazo. Chavez, a General in the Venezuelan army at that time, organised a failed ‘coup’ against the regime and ended up spending the next two years in prison as a result.

Following his release from prison, Chavez launched a new political party called the Movement of the Fifth Republic which swept to power in the elections of 1998. In the following years, the government introduced modest reforms which were based on the social democratic model, as Chavez, at that time, believed in the ‘third way’ which lauded capitalism with a ‘human face’. When he was re-elected in 2000, he strengthened his social reform package with the formation of community councils, worker led trade unions, as well as a comprehensive reform of land distribution which resulted in major industries being nationalised. It was his challenge to the oil industry however which galvanised angry opposition from the country’s wealthy class and their international alliances.

They organised a ‘coup’ against the Bolivarian government, with support from the Bush Government in the US, in April 2002. Anti-Chavistas in the army, along with their co-conspirators in the political and business class, took over the Government palace and Chavez was forced to stand down, even though he refused to resign as President. With Chavez held by the army, the wealthy business owner, Pedro Carmona, announced that he was to preside over a provisional government and that the constitution of 1999 was to be annulled. Within hours, the barrios, home to thousands of poor Venezuelans, emptied and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in support of the Bolivarian revolution and to demand the return of their President. Chavez was back in power within a couple of days.

Chavez and his Bolivarian movement were radicalised by this experience and they became convinced that you could not apply a ‘human face’ to capitalism. At the World Social Forum in January 2005, Chavez announced to the world that he was socialist and he recommended a new approach and model fit for the new century; ‘We have to rethink the concept of socialism and it will not be the model that was used in the Soviet Union…but a new socialism, a human version, which places people and not machines or the state above all else…It will be based on co-operation and not competition’ Chavez said.

The transformative socio-economic changes began to gather pace, with state profits from the nationalised industries moving towards education, health and employment opportunities. A remarkable reduction in poverty levels helped Chavez win the 2006 election comfortably with 63% of the vote. From then on, state resources were dedicated towards the government programme which strengthened social ownership, social production and production for the benefit of social reform. In the attempts to build the socialist state from the bottom up, power was transferred to community councils and worker led factories.

The reduced majority that Chavez achieved in the latest of his remarkable election victories demonstrates that the right-wing opposition is becoming more sophisticated in its battle against justice. Equally, there are internal impediments within the Chavez movement which carries real danger to the movement and could undermine its advances, the bourgeois government official or the party official who is opposed to re-distributing power to those at the bottom in the community. The cult of personality built around Chavez could also be seen as an long-term obstruction to achieving these aims.

Whatever fate lies in store for the Bolivarian revolution of Venezuelais secondary, however, to the genuine hope that it has awoken in people across the globe that there is an alternative to neo-liberalism and to the logic of ‘capital’. It has been demonstrated clearly that society can be planned and structured in a way which places human development at the centre of ecomomic development. The future of the world and the human race is dependent upon the long term success of this new socialism.

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Hugo Chavez agus Réabhlóid Bholavarach Veiniséala

Léiríonn bua na réabhlóide Bolavaraí sna toghcháin náisiúnta in Veiniséala ag deireadh na seachtaine go bhfuil tacaíocht fhorleathan sa tír don chlár claochlaithe soch-eacnamaíochta atá á chur i bhfeidhm ag rialtas Hugo Chavez. Bhí Veiniséala in áit dhifriúil, áfach, nuair a tháinig ann do chlú Chavez an chéad uair thiar in 1992.

Chuir uachtarán na tíre ag an am, Carlos Andres Pérez, polasaithe eacnamaíochta nua-liobrálacha i bhfeidhm, a mhúnlaigh Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá agus an IMF, agus a rinne léirscrios neamhthrócaireach ar bhochtáin na tíre. Úsáideadh an lámh láidir chun na hollchíréibeanna in aghaidh na gciorruithe ar chaiteachas shóisialta a chur faoi chois agus dúnmharaíodh níos mó na 276 agóideoir i slad an El Caracazo. D’eagraigh Chavez, agus é ina cheannfort míleata san arm ag an am, ‘coup’ teipthe in éadán an tsean-réimis, agus chríochnaigh sé ag caitheamh dhá bhliain i bpríosún dá bharr.

Lainseáil Chavez páirtí polaitiúil úr darbh Gluaiseacht an Chúigiú Poblacht ar scaoileadh saor ón phríosún dó, a tháinig chun cumhachta in 1998. Sa tréimhse seo, cuireadh córas measarthach i bhfeidhm a bhí bunaithe ar an daonlathas shóisialta, mar gur chreid Chavez ag an am sa ‘Tríú Bealach’ a mhol caipitleachas le ‘haghaidh daonna’. Nuair a tóghadh arís é sa bhliain 2000, chuir sé leis an chlár leasuithe sóisialta le bunú comhairlí pobalda, comharchumann oibrí-bhainistithe, chomh maith le clár leasuithe ar chóras na talún a chríochnaigh le náisiúnú déanta ar roinnt tionscal áirithe. Ach is é an dúshlán a cuireadh roimh an tionscal ola in 2001 a spreag freasúracht fhíochmhar ón eite dheis rachmasach sa tír agus a comhghuaillithe idirnáisiúnta.

D’eagraigh siad ‘coup’ in éadan an réimis Bholavaraigh, le tacaíocht ó Rialtas Bush i Meiriceá, in Aibreán 2002. Ghlac ceannairí frith-Chavez san arm, agus a gcomhghleacaithe polaitiúla agus gnó, seilbh ar Phálás an Rialtais agus b’éigean

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do Chavez seasamh síos, bíodh is gur dhiúltaigh sé éirí as mar Uachtarán.

Le Chavez faoi choimeád an airm, d’fhógair an ceannaire gnó rachmasach Pedro Carmona gur uachtarán ar rialtas sealadach a bhí ann agus cealaíodh bunreacht 1999. D’fholmhaigh na barrios ina mhaireann cosmhuintir na tíre láithreach agus spreagadh na céadta míle chun agóidíochta ar son an chórais Bholavaraigh agus i dtreo Phálás an Rialtais. Bhí Chavez ar ais i gcumhacht taobh istigh de chupla lá.
D’éirigh polaitíocht Chavez agus an Ghluaiseacht Bholavarach níos radacaí mar gheall ar an eispéaras seo agus iad ag tuiscint nach féidir ‘aghaidh dhaonna’ a chur ar an chaipitleachas.

D’fhógair Chavez ag an Fhóram Sóisialta Domhanda i mí Eanáir 2005 gur shóisialach a bhí ann agus é ag moladh cur chuige úir a fhóireann don mhílaois úr; ‘Caithfidh muid sóisialachas a athcheapadh agus ní an cineál a bhí san Aontas Sóivéadach…ach sóisialachas úr, leagan daonna, a chuireann daoine agus ní meaisíní nó an stát os comhair gach rud eile…Beidh seo bunaithe ar chomhoibriú seachas comórtas’ a dúirt sé.
D’ardaigh luas an chlár claochlaithe soch-eacnamaíochta láithreach, le brabús stáit óna thionscail náisiúnaithe ag bogadh i dtreo an oideachais, na sláinte agus cúrsaí fostaíochta. Tháinig ísliú suntasach ar bhochtanas agus bhain

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Chavez bua cuimsitheach i dtoghchán 2006 le 63% de vóta an daonra iomlán. Ó shin i leith, cuireadh acmhainní an stáit i dtreo chlár rialtais a fhorbraíonn sealúcháis shóisialta, táirgeadh sóisialta agus táirgeadh ar son leasa shóisialta.

Tugadh cumhacht do na comhairlí pobalda agus monarchana oibrí-bhainistithe mar chuid den iarracht chun an stát sóisialach a thógáil ón bhun aníos.Léiríonn an móramh laghdaithe a bhain Rialtas Chavez le déanaí go bhfuil an freasúracht rachmasach ón eite dheis ag éirí níos eagraithe sa troid in éadan an cheartais. Le cois, tá constaicí inmhéanacha sa Chavezachas féin a thógann contúirtí fosta, ar nós na n-oifigeach rialtais buigéiseach agus na bhfeidhmeannach páirtí atá in éadan cumhachta ón bhun aníos sna háiteanna oibre agus pobail. D’fhéadfaí áitiú fosta go mbeidh an cultas pearsan a tógadh timpeall ar Chavez féin ina bhac fadtéarmach don chuspóir chéanna.

Cibé cinniúint atá i ndán do réabhlóid Bholavarach Veiniseála, áfach, is é an príomhthionchar atá aicí ná dóchas a hathmhuscailt agus léiriú go bhfuil rogha eile ann seachas an nualiobrálachas agus loighic an ‘caipitil’. Taispeánadh go soiléir gur féidir sochaí a phleanáil agus a reáchtáil ina bhfuil ‘forbairt dhaonna’ i gcroílár na forbartha eacnamaíochta. Tá todhchaí an domhain agus an chine dhaonna i gcoitinne ag brath go mór ar bhua fhadtearmach an tsóisialachais úir seo.

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