Meanwhile, in Venezuela

Geraldina Colotti

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Venezuela has vanished from the international spotlight. Why?

Translated by: Alessandra Perugini

After months of media overexposure, Venezuela seems to have vanished from the spotlight. Maybe because Maduro, after being given up for dead at every step, is still president? Is it because his government has diminished the golpista aim of the opposition? Perhaps because he made a series of unexpected diplomatic maneuvers and has received support from movements and countries of the Global South?

The Chavista counteroffensive, focused on the proposal of a new Asamblea Nacional Constituyente (the Constituent National Assembly, or ANC), is bearing fruit. It has brought peace back to the country, once again centering politics and popular participation. It seeks to deal effectively with the historic wrongs that Bolivarian socialism inherited from the “camouflaged democracies” of the Fourth Republic: from corruption to dependence on oil, a central resource for a country that has the world’s largest supplies.

The first order of business for the ANC is the question of autonomous production, which has been the primary focus of 22 labor commissions. In the lead-up to Sunday’s regional elections, the Right sabotaged itself by inadvertently demonstrating its incoherence. The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), a coalition consisting of roughly 20 opposition parties, barely made it through the primaries amid much uproar and several scuffles. Now their aim is to retain governorships, particularly those in control of rich and strategic areas such as Miranda, the state which until now has been the focus of ex presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonsky of the Primero Justicia party. Where, today, Hector Rodriguez, the young PSUV leader proposing a substantially different government program, is currently well established.

Meanwhile, Julio Borges, the coordinator of Primero Justicia, is performing political pirouettes, both within and beyond Venezuela’s borders. First, he asked Trump and Europe for more sanctions and even armed intervention. Then he put himself in a delicate dance. On one hand, he endorses the elections without condemning the violence. On the other, he has opened up dialogue with the government while denying doing so, eventually ignoring their agreements.

An opposition so profoundly unreliable and antidemocratic is always ready to take advantage of any opportunity to 'overturn the table'. In this case the 'table' in question is the dialogue between the government and the opposition in the Dominican Republic, under the aegis of various ex presidents and led by the former Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. This cross-eyed and two-faced Right is creating headaches even for its western godfathers, as emerged from reports by the Pentagon's Southern Command. Despite Chavismo’s limitations, having the MUD in power would prove far more ruinous for the country.

In the meantime, Washington has approved new sanctions on Venezuela, establishing an economic and financial blockade similar to the one imposed on Cuba. Maduro is trying to contain the excessive power of the dollar on the market by accepting financial transactions in other currencies, including the Chinese yuan and Russian ruble. Because of Venezuela’s large certified gold reserves, gold is also an important referent.

Leaders in other countries of the Global South have been willing to adopt similar measures, but many—such as Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi—were swept away before they could put such plans into action. Chávez instead decided to repatriate the country's gold before the 2008 financial crisis. He was correct to do so. Will his successor have similar foresight?

For its part, the government held its annual celebration of international solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution—called Todos Somos Venezuela—in Caracas from September 16th to 19th. More than 200 representatives from 60 countries discussed and approved the Caracas Proclamation, which defines lines of action and campaigns in favor of a laboratory of ideas and practices that, in any case, has brought back hope a century after the Bolshevik Revolution. And not only in Latin America.

This is the first installment in an ongoing series from Geraldina Colotti on the ground in Venezuela.