Written by Susan Spronk
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 06:31
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announces new initiatives to address current economic problems, arguing that population’s universal welfare is a key aim behind policymaking.Source: New Socialist
The recent destabilization campaign waged by the right-wing opposition has yet again made Venezuela a darling of the international media. While there is always a deafening media silence when the Bolivarian government wins an electoral mandate, throughout the month of February 2014 viewers were assailed with images of “innocent” student protesters—mostly from the academic bastion of the Venezuelan elite, the Central University of Venezuela—being brutalized by state security forces.
Apparently the ax that has chopped budgets for investigative journalism has fallen heavily on Venezuela. Mainstream media outlets re-broadcast images from twitter without bothering to fact-check, not realizing that they were actually from places like Egypt and Syria or that they depicted Venezuelan state security forces that had been disbanded two years ago. The February traumas were almost another “media coup” in the making.
The mainstream media’s attempts to manufacture consent and condone the opposition-sponsored violence against the Maduro government should ring alarm bells for anyone on the left. While we can have legitimate debates about how anti-capitalist the Bolivarian revolution has truly been, since Hugo Chávez took office in 1999 “the process” (as it is known in Venezuela) has achieved the greatest redistribution of social wealth since the Cuban Revolution in 1959. As well, “twenty-first century socialism” should be distinguished from earlier historical versions because of its commitment to democratic forms of decision-making. By fostering forms of democratic control over the economy through systems such as workers collectives and community councils, Venezuela is experimenting with what may be the most radical attempts to decentralize decision-making to the local level.
For these reasons, socialists ranging from Karachi, Pakistan to Toronto, Canada have demanded that imperialist powers keep their “hands off Venezuela.” Not only does Venezuela give us much to learn from this creative experiment with “twenty-first century socialism,” but it also continues to play a crucial role in Latin America and the rest of the world—opening spaces for the election of left governments and inspiring extra-parliamentary movements that demand radical social change.
However, it is important to recognize that as with any socialist experiment, it has been riddled with contradictions and tensions. Nonetheless, the Bolivarian revolution is worth defending because of its importance to the region and its worth in its own right.