About this blog

Venezuela: translating the revolution aims to promote solidarity with Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution by providing translations of interesting and important Venezuelan news articles and opinion pieces. It welcomes genuine discussion and debate on the posted articles.

Sunday, 30 January 2011


From the PSUV program's 'Declaration of Principles':

5.  Internationalism
Translated by Owen Richards
The United Socialist Party Of Venezuela (PSUV) must frame its internationalist practice by contributing to the unification of the peoples struggling to establish projects of emancipation and liberation in Latin America, the Caribbean and other continents of the world; in seeking to provide the greatest sum of sovereignty, independence, self determination, well being and happiness possible to its citizens.
The Bolivarian revolution, given its anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist character, will create mechanisms to consolidate alliances with similar social and political movements on the global level, with the aim of achieving a new multi-polar international order.
The United Socialist Party Of Venezuela (PSUV) will promote broadcasting and ideological training spaces for the interchange of socialist experiences with the peoples of the world.  The revolutionary Bolivarian government has deepened the humanist interchange of resources with other countries in strategic alliances in the economic, political, social, cultural spheres, etc., - for example: ALBA, Petrosur, Petro-Caribe, Telesur, Banco del Sur, UNASUR, and the project of creating the Organisation Of Latin American And Caribbean Nations - in order to combat and defeat imperialism.

Friday, 28 January 2011

From the bourgeois capitalist state to the socialist state

The following is a continuation of my translation of the PSUV's "Red Book" (i.e. party program). Here is section 4 from the 'Declaration of Principles'.

4. From the bourgeois capitalist state to the socialist state
Restore power to the people: building popular power
Translated by Owen Richards
The conclusion is clear: "to end to end poverty, it is necessary to give power to the poor" and to build socialism. This power is born in the participation and activism of the people.

The United Socialist Party Of Venezuela must be the motor of the direct participation of the people and its instrument in the construction of socialism. This participation—of workers, campesinos, youth, intellectuals, professionals, artists, housewives, small producers, city and country traders, indigenous people and afro-decendientes [those of African heritage]—must be full and democratic, in the make up and functioning of all of the organs of power, in the elaboration, discussion and resolution of programmes and strategies and in the promotion and election of its leaderships, in conditions of equality, to achieve the collective leadership of the revolutionary process.
To that end, the fundamental task of the party is to raise the revolutionary consciousness of the masses, to organize and educate them in in the struggle for the conquest of power, to raise their level of philosophical, political, ideological, moral and organisational consciousness, in order to achieve their transformation from patrons of representative democracy into patrons of participatory democracy. It means training the people for the exercise of power in such functions as planning and the drawing up of budgets, making decisions, execution and control, guided by socialist values.  It also represents, ideologically, upholding Bolivarian socialism as our chief ideal of society, as the political model of the state.  Within this framework, the party should be an instrument of struggle for emancipation, a unifying political tool and an organ of political, economic, financial and social control of the whole structure of the government, based on the foundation of a socialist conception of the party.
The party frames its strategic approach towards the construction of popular power in the elaboration, formulation, and the pre- and post- inspection of the implementation of government programmes, with a sense of equity, equality, humanism and following socialist principles, in the process of generating the new hegemony 

In building Popular Power, the focus is on territorial organisation according to the New Geometry Of Popular Power.  With this focus, the social movements will be strengthened from the grass roots.
The party must aim to give power to the organized and conscious masses, socialising political power through the direct exercise of the power of the people in the search for ethical, social, scientific, artistic and cultural development.
The party, as the instrument of struggle of millions of free men and women, likewise points out the need for centralised action in the great battles already outlined: the battle against poverty, exploitation, corruption, against the degradation of the human being, and against the internal reactionaries and their imperial overlords.
It must be the unifying political mechanism of the great majority, based on the conviction that the people face a constant military threat by the internal and external enemies of the revolution, and in doing so the party in all of its plans assumes the responsibility for defending the homeland, for confronting and defeating imperialism.
To advance towards the socialist society that we want, we must replace the bourgeois capitalist state with a socialist state.  The newly outlined state advances toward the planned and organic communal state whose concretion takes place through the dialectical interaction between the old passive and obsolete organising cells, and the new forms of superior organisation like the communes, communal councils, workers' revolutionary councils, students' revolutionary councils, among others.
The party, together with the people, must strengthen the fight against corruption, creating the conditions and mechanisms to combat this cancerous vice in the structures of the bourgeois state, a vice that spreads moral and ethical degradation in institutions and human beings and generates practices that conflict with ethical principles; as a consequence, the party must motivate a constant striving for the revolutionary transformation in the consciousness of social duty, along with the application of legal measures to liquidate impunity, and resolutely punish acts committed against public ethics and morality. As every act of corruption is a counterrevolutionary act, the party will work on the strengthening of revolutionary ethics, which is the nexus between what is said and what is done, between words and deeds.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

End capitalism and build socialism

The following is part 3 of the PSUV Red Book's 'Declaration of Principles'.
3. End capitalism and build socialism to end poverty and establish social justice
From social inclusion to the construction of Bolivarian socialism

Translated by Owen Richards
To fight and end poverty and misery in all its manifestations - abandonment, marginalisation and exclusion - is another priority inseparable from the aforementioned: without ending exploitation, the polarisation or concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and the growth of poverty beyond anything ever known before in history, war will be inevitable.
World history, and especially the Venezuelan experience, show that capitalism, in the era of imperialist crisis, in its irrational metamorphoses, in its daily growth, far from ending poverty, demonstrates to the world that to stop imperialism and build socialism - the people taking power and transforming the capitalist mode of production- is the only way out, the only rational, necessary and possible goal at this crossroads of humanity.
The socialist party should be the true guide and unifier of the class and exploited sectors in the battle to definitively liberate the Homeland from extreme poverty, backwardness, and dependence; it should be the driver of social consciousness and of the historic changes, the promoter of social, moral and economic justice.  Education in socialist ideological consciousness for all the population will enable the defeat poverty.
The party should commit itself to struggling against injustice and exclusion, to promoting new forms of organization and social policies that improve the standard of living and guarantee the greatest sum of happiness possible.  To promote a sense of belonging, respect, equality and dignity, criticism and self criticism, to combat all the threats that confront the revolution by the fourth generation war (developed by the capitalist means of communication), bearing in mind the revolutionary socialist and anti-imperialist character of the process, avoiding cultural imitation, supporting everything that unites exercising social control over governors and public functionaries, especially those who are members of the party.
Mission Robinson adult literacy program
At the moment, we can affirm that during the years of the revolutionary Bolivarian government, the priority has been given to social inclusion, which has required massive, rapid responses; resulting in the birth of the missions as a strategy to flout the bureaucratic and slothful structure of the inherited bourgeois state, using oil profits as a source of financing. we can demonstarte the advances in social inclusion, the social indicators are there in education, health, nutrition and access to fundamental human rights.  The eradication of illiteracy, generalisation of the right to education, having the highest level of growth in higher education graduates in Latin America, the increase in the percentage of the population with access to clean water, in the recycling of waste water; the growth in the percentage of the population with access to medical attention and medicine, the reduction of malnutrition and infant mortality, are some of the achievements that have allowed us to reach some of the millennium goals before the set time (2015).  Also, we have leapt above the mean level on the Human Development Index (IDH) to a high IDH, and according to a report by CEPAL [the Economic Commission For Latin America And The Caribbean], Venezuela is today the country with the least inequality in Latin America.  All this, thanks to the enormous efforts in social inclusion made by the revolutionary Bolivarian government, led by our Comandante Hugo Chavez.
Recognizing the Bolivarian revolution's advances and achievements in social inclusion, it becomes necessary to leap to a new stage of the process: to build Bolivarian socialism.  This requires deepening the structural and strategic changes.  We need to build as an alternative to the model of capital accumulation - that generator of poverty and social exclusion - a sustainable model.  Our Comandante Hugo Chavez has called it Bolivarian socialism, based on the grand outlines and principles of socialism applied to the concrete historical and cultural reality of today's Venezuela, a socialism that must, above all, be built with the participation and active leadership of the people.
The Bolivarian revolution recognizes the historic role that women have played throughout our history in general, and in particular in the revolutionary process, and for that reason promotes public policies that guarantee gender equity.  The party rejects any kind of discrimination towards women and does not permit their use as sexual objects or commodities.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Hugo Chavez - Letter from Yare prison, 1993

Here is one of Hugo Chavez' letters from Yare Prison, published in Casa Editora Abril's 'Oculto en mi pecho bravo - cartas de amor y de combate', ('Hidden in my brave heart - letters of love and combat'), 2005.
I will return to translating the PSUV Red Book soon.

To his daughter Rosa Virginia, from prison
Translated by Owen Richards

Yare prison, 14 November, 1993.
Rosa Virginia, dear daughter:
Once again they have prevented me from seeing you, my love.  But just as I carry you in every beat of my heart, I sense you even in my dreams.  And at the same time, I am certain that I am in your breast and in each beat of your heart, in your every  tender springtime step.
Here in these small spaces that I now know, I sense the sweetness of your vision and I hear your crystalline laughter penetrating my interior worlds, strengthening me in this tireless advance, in this struggle that has always had the tinge of children without toys and without schools.
Do not dismay, dear Rosa.  I need you strong and I know that you are.
Exercise your will and dedicate yourself with great care to your education, to your preparation for the intense life that you will lead.
Know that I feel very proud of you and that each day I love you more, as I love my people and my struggle.
An enormous hug, my love, from Papa.
P.s. Read, Rosa, read…

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Crisis of global capitalism

[Section 2 of the PSUV's 'Declaration of Principles', from the Libro Rojo.]

Translated by Owen Richards

2. Crisis of global capitalism

Capitalist imperialism is formed, developed and realized through its contradictions, of which the most basic are between the social relations of production (legal forms of property) and the development of the material forces of labour (science and technology); the increasingly social forms of production and the individual private capitalist appropriation; the workers and the other exploited and oppressed social sectors and the bourgeoisie, the oligarchy and imperialism; imperialism and its super transnational monopoly corporations and the nation states and their independence and sovereignty; the extreme rationalisation of the units of production (reengineering and quality control) with the growing anarchy of production and society.
Most recently, during the hegemonic neoliberal phase of imperialist capitalism, these contradictions have sharpened to an extreme level.
This situation occurs, paradoxically, at a time in which we witness the greatest scientific and technological revolution that humanity has known and that no previous society could have imagined in such things as the discovery of the human genome, developments in artificial intelligence, information and communication technologies and the achievements in biotechnologies, to mention just some of the most important scientific and technological advances today, which have created a material basis to ascend to a superior social order but which, on the contrary, has only served to increase inequality and injustice.  The consequence is an exceptional level of poverty that affects all the peoples of the world.
The system has had to become everyday more parasitic and pillaging and this is expressed in the growing contradiction between the preponderance of money and the market (exchange value) and the production of goods and services to meet real needs (use value), which increasingly means less possibility of satisfying these needs.  This contradiction explains the tendency towards financial crises such as that which caused the latest crisis of capitalist imperialism, which just like all the crises of capitalism always ends up with a deeper exploitation of labour power, deterioration of working conditions and greater suffering for the the world's exploited peoples.
The voracious appetite of imperialism does not just affect humanity.  It also affects nature.  The irrational exploitation of nature by the big monopoly corporations has taken the planet and all its life forms to the brink of collapse.  The reduction of the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, climate change and global warming, the contamination of waters and oceans, deforestation, are all symptoms of the approaching danger and the acceleration towards disaster.
This obviously unsustainable, dire situation has led to the establishment of mechanisms of absolute bourgeois ideological control, those which Marx so strongly denounced, as instruments to obscure the degradation of life and to try to legitimise capitalist imperialism, by debasing social consciousness through the use and exploitation of the communication networks based on the information and communications technologies, which have imposed a crazy level of alienation of social consciousness across the globe.
We witness the growing control of the dictatorship of the owners of the massive means of ideological diffusion that have greatly contributed to the debasement of social consciousness and the individualist paralysis of society, through their identification of human rationality with commercial rationality and the exacerbation of egoistic and possessive individualism in the context of an exaggerated commodity consumerism.  The consequence is a social subject that constantly loses its spirituality, sensitivity, life purpose and sense of social belonging and that sinks in its deep instability.
The consequence of these processes is an extreme sharpening of the polarising character of capitalism: accumulation of wealth, property, production and privileges at one pole, and the concentration of misery, arduous labour, slavery, ignorance, brutalization and the moral degradation of the workers and the peoples of the world at the other.  Behind this process develops the tendency that strives toward the elimination of the peripheral nation state and its sovereignty and the superiority of the hegemonic nation state, with the United States and its transnational organisations planning to re-colonise the planet under their control, with the strategy of the struggle against terrorism and narco-trafficking, within a process of a reordering in the struggle for world hegemony.
These are some of the current characteristics of capitalism's functioning that demonstrate the  the sharpening of its contradictions and raise the urgent need for socialist revolution as the condition for the salvation of human life and the planet.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The imperialist threat

[The following is Section 1 of the 'Declaration of Principles' from the PSUV's 'Libro Rojo' - Red Book]
Translated by Owen Richards
1. The imperialist threat
At the beginning of the 21st century humanity entered into the most dangerous crossroads of its history.  Capitalism in the imperialist phase had reached its limits and has shown itself—with its policies of neoliberal development and its model of media influence—as the main enemy of humanity.  After successive paliative postponements of a structural crisis that corrodes the foundations of the system from decades ago, the planet's dominant socio economic mechanism is fettered and threatens to explode.
The crisis of this irrational mode of production is, with its uncontrolled generation of refuse and waste, exploitation of nations, peoples, classes, and individuals and the destruction of nature, is based on the competition between the imperialist centres of the world economy in a cruel struggle for markets, and the ecological crisis that threatens not only humanity, but in truth all life on the planet. Driven by the logic of competition, and also by the need to find profitable ways of investing immense masses of excess capital (especially in advanced technologies and the war industries); and also by the imperative to destroy surplus commodities in order to restructure the system and restart the economic cycle, imperialism drags the world toward war and planetary destruction.
However, with the current level of scientific and technological development, the war— in contrast to the two global conflagrations that occurred during the 20th century—would not be limited to the destruction of human life, culture and goods so as to permit them to be produced once more and sold: it would destroy all forms of life on earth.
The atrocities committed by the United States and the lesser powers, as in the invasion of Iraq, are only the ominous prologue to what the awaits humanity if it is not able to stop its deadly dynamic.  To stop imperialism, to impede the technological and media wars, are the most transcendental priorities of the peoples.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the nineties of the 20th century, the floodgates holding back capital from mitigating its crisis burst open, pouring out on the dependent nations and its workers, campesinos and other social sectors.  The price of the capitalist crisis in the central countries is the dizzying growth of misery in the countries of the periphery.  An unprecedented concentration of wealth in the hands of a few results in degradation, suffering, hunger and death for the immense majority of humanity, including, increasingly, the peoples of the imperialist countries.
This flood of poverty is the other aspect of the crisis that threatens life on earth.  In the face of a growing inability to rule through the alliances and institutions with which it maintained it's power during the 20th century, imperialism now appeals to the desperate needs of millions of human beings in order to throw them once more against each other in fratricidal wars and with no other possible outcome than destruction, degradation and death on a scale never seen before.
The US Navy's 'Fourth Fleet'
With the emergence of the Bolivarian revolution under the leadership of Comandante Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, an awakening of the social movements begins coinciding with the advance of the processes of emancipation in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The peoples rise up and unfurl the flags of sovereignty and deepen the anti-imperialist struggle; progressive governments continue emerging like that of Lula in Brazil, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, the Frente Amplio takes power and consolidates in Uruguay with the triumph of Pepe Mujica, the Lugo government arises in Paraguay, the Sandinistas, with Daniel Ortega up front, retake and hold power in Nicaragua, the government of Honduras with President Zelaya joins ALBA, the Frente Farabundo Marti wins in El Salvador, and ALBA arrives in the Carribean with the incorporation of Dominica, San Vicente and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda; these advances, with the presence of Fidel's Cuba and the leadership of Chavez provoke a change in the correlation of forces in the continent giving hope to the poor of Latin America and the world.
Today, with the advance of the emancipatory forces of the continent, the empire reacts, unleashing a counter-offensive with the aim of reinforcing its strategy of domination, expansionism, division and destruction, provoking violence, kidnapping, narco-trafficking, paramilitarism and violation of the principle of the people's sovereignty and self determination.  Thus we witness the overthrow of democracy in Honduras and the toppling of president Zelaya; the presence of the Fourth Fleet of the U.S. navy in Latin American waters, the threat of incursion into the interior of the continent via its rivers; and the expansion of the military bases in Colombia, Panama and the Antilles.  While the people go forward building Latin American and Caribbean unity, the empire tries to stop their advance, using its military presence in Colombia.  The violation of sovereignty of the sister Republic of Ecuador is registered there; the constant provocations from Colombia towards Venezuela with the aim of justifying armed intervention in our country, such as the presence of paramilitaries active in Venezuela, assassination of national guards on the border, the incursions into Venezuelan Territory by members of the Colombian political police (DAS) and the violation of air space by US planes coming from military bases in the Antilles.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Antecedents of Bolivarian Socialism

[This is the second and final section of the  'Introduction' to the PSUV's 'Libro Rojo']
Antecedents of Bolivarian Socialism

Translated by Owen Richards
The Caracazo (1989) and the military rebellion of the 4th of February, 1992
The collapse of the Washington consensus and the failure of neo-liberalism brings to light and obliges a revision of its true political face: the old liberal bourgeois democratic model based on representative and fundamentally political democracy, where the right to elect, to be elected and to vote are sufficient.  In the name of these "freedoms", in the name of this formal democracy, the process of capital accumulation was assured, favouring the few amidst growing poverty, social exclusion and an enormous cost on account of the destruction of nature.
Capitalist expansion demands the imposition of a free-market and in consequence the dismantling of the National State, obliging our countries to pay the so called external debt, condemning our people to exploitation, to hunger and to misery.  Seeking this objective they imposed on us the recipe book of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Our people were to suffer the impact of the privatisations of state enterprises, labour deregularisation, the elimination of subsidies, the liberation of prices and interest rates, substantial increases in the cost of public services, the loss of social security gains, the reduction of social investment, among others.  The application of these measures affected the conditions of life of the great majority, generalising the discontent and provoking the reaction of the people.  The people lost their confidence in governments, in parties, and in all institutions; the despairing people took it upon themselves to exercise justice by their own hands.
In Venezuela this phenomenon was definitively expressed on the 27th of February, 1989; the historic event known as the Caracazo.  The uprising of the people began in the city of Guarenas (Miranda State) and from there spread to Caracas and to the rest of the cities of the nation.  The popular masses, without any direction, without identified leaders, poured out on to the streets. The people in the streets sought justice.
The Caracazo
The government reacted by protecting the interests of the oligarchy and the elites and ordered the National Armed Forces and police to crack down on the indignant people.  This produced one of the most bloody acts known in our history, the people were massacred; no one knew the number of victims; it was necessary to bury many of the dead without identification in mass graves sadly known as "The Stench".
The Caracazo, as an historic event, was a crack in the consciousness of all sectors of Venezuelan society, including the National Armed Forces with the consequent reaction of the young officers, who refused to participate in this crime against the people.  This accelerated the process of discontent that already existed within the FAN [National Armed Forces] that was expressed through the organisation of a movement of the patriotic sectors. This movement, led by Comandante Hugo Chavez, took up arms in favour of the people in the insurrection of the 4th of February, 1992.
The people immediately and fully identified with Comandante Chavez who, imprisoned and not having reached "for now" the planned objectives, as he himself revealed to the nation, kept hope alive with the prediction that there would come new moments to advance towards the Homeland.
Hugo Chavez on national television after his failed coup attempt of 1992.
Comandante Hugo Chavez and a group of officials and patriotic soldiers revealed to the people their identity, their pride, their hope and the people stayed in the streets tirelessly pressing to achieve the release of their Comandante from the "prison of dignity" and from there to the 1998 electoral victory that took him to the presidency of the Republic and the summoning of a National Constituent Assembly that resulted in the Constitution of 1999.  There is contained the project of change and  the consciousness of the people that has irreversibly ensured that the revolution that we live through today, led by Comandante Chavez, advances towards Bolivarian socialism. The United Socialist Party Of Venezuela (PSUV), in the framework of the bicentennial era that has begun, assumes as vanguard the commitment of leading the struggles to come, towards definitive liberty, independence, sovereignty and social justice for our people, under the following principles:

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Red book—Fundamental documents

[A reader has alerted me to a problem with submitting comments. If you are having this problem please email your comment to me so I can add it myself. I will try to sort out the issue in the meantime.   The following is from the introduction to the PSUV's Libro Rojo (i.e., 'Red Book'). It was issued last year and is available on the PSUV website (http://www.psuv.org.ve/temas/biblioteca/libro-rojo/). I will translate more of this in subsequent posts.]        

Red Book - Fundamental Documents

Translated by Owen Richards
The First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) approves the Declaration of Principles, the Statutes [constitution] and the Programmatic Foundations of the Party, in the framework of the bicentennial era.

The First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), completes this important phase with the approval of the documents that formally give birth to the socialist party: the Declaration of Principles, the Statutes and the Programmatic Foundations of the Party.  This historic event takes place in the context of the development of a revolutionary process whose protagonist is the people, with Comandante President Hugo Chavez at its head, and that has as its aim of providing continuity to the emancipatory heritage  initiated 200 years ago by our Liberators.  Today as yesterday, all socialist militants, all Venezuelans who love this homeland, have the obligation to fight for liberty, for sovereignty, for independence and social justice for the wellbeing of our peoples.
Two-hundred years after the start of the process of a still-unfinished emancipation, we are obliged to reclaim the struggles developed by our Liberators, for such men and women of our peoples as shed their blood and gave their lives and for the Homeland.  Yesterday our peoples confronted the Spanish empire, today we are confronting the U.S. empire with the same aims: liberty, independence, sovereignty and social justice.
2010 to 2013: Bicentennial era
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), as the expression of the people's unity, must assume the role of vanguard in the coming struggles, in the framework of the bicentennial era that has begun, until the definitive independence of our peoples has been achieved, in terms that, in agreement with history, were raised by the leader of the revolution, Commandant Hugo Chavez Frias: 2010 to 2013.  On the bicentenary of the death of the Liberator Simon Bolivar, our Homeland should not just be definitively free, independent and sovereign, but also must have consolidated Bolivarian socialism with the construction of a society where social justice and equality, solidarity and love reign.  Liberty cannot walk alone, she is obliged to guarantee justice, as both are inseparable sisters. As Grand Marshall Jose Antonio de Sucre said:
"When America was at war to achieve liberty, it understood that it would also have to achieve justice…  Liberty and justice are inseparable sisters (and), and if we don't achieve justice, the war of independence will not have made sense."

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Government, consciousness, and practice

By Antonio Aponte
Translated by Owen Richards
Arriving in government is indispensable for a revolution, because only from there can it socialise the revolutionary spirituality, radiate it across society, place it in the centre of the struggle for hegemony, for leadership.
The revolutionary government is the command centre in the battle for the substitution of consciousness.  As such, the spirituality that radiates from the government, will guide, will determine the meaning of partial actions.  In other words, the way, the speed, the the rhythm of the central battle of the revolution, which is the replacement of the capitalist egoistic consciousness, will be determined by the spirituality that the government reflects on society.
Nevertheless, in the government, a ferocious ideological and class struggle takes place in the heart of the revolution, and this ideological struggle reveals itself in the practice of the government: it is its reflection and is itself reflected in it.  The dominant ideology in the government will be the dominant ideology in the practice of the government.
This phenomenon was clearly seen in the Revolution of Independence: [Simon] Bolivar was in power, but the ideas that he embodied were not dominant, and so he was unable to impose the liberation of the slaves, that was a demand that would have marked the character of that revolution.  Despite such effort and such battle by the dispossessed and their leaders, in the end the ideology and practice of the oligarchy was dominant, and the Liberator ended his days in Santa Marta thinking that he had ploughed the sea.
Our revolution lives intensely through this situation of confrontation, taking place at all levels, from the individual level within ourselves, all the way up to the highest levels of leadership.
In this situation, the question arises: What should revolutionaries do, what should be their practice?
Revolutionary practice will be that which underpins and is itself underpinned by revolutionary theory, that which contributes to strengthening the revolutionary option.  This is, that practice which accompanies the rhythm, the speed, the limits proposed by Comandante Chavez, and within these limits strengthens the Consciousness Of Social Duty, the integration of society as the essence of socialism, and the social property of the means of production administered by the state as a cornerstone of this consciousness. 
Revolutionary practice should contribute to making ideology, the revolutionary spirituality hegemonic, entwining itself with, mutually influencing, enriching and being enriched by theory. It must demonstrate through results, in the first place, that it results in support  for the revolution, forms revolutionary militants, new men, new human relations, and that this militant support is based on the understanding of belonging to a sublime cause:  the defence of Humanity, of the Homeland.  With this sentiment rooted in the soul we will be invincible.
Our revolution has reached a point where one can measure the effectiveness of the different ideological proposals by their results.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Socialist industrialisation

By Victor Alvarez Rodriguez
Translated by Owen Richards
Socialist industrialisation is a planned process of rapid growth and development of productive capacities and dedicated technologies towards transforming raw materials into basic inputs, intermediate goods and products of final consumption, with the aim of satisfying the growing demands and needs of the national productive apparatus and of the population.
It is the engine driving the transformation of the rentier economyin which almost everything is imported and little is producedtoward an independent and sovereign new economy.  It's the only possible strategy to change the primary export model that the major industrialised powers imposed on us, condemning us to be exporters of oil and raw materials, into a new model of production able to efficiently replace imports, diversify exports and, in this way, to save and generate new sources of foreign exchange that makes us less dependent on oil revenues.
Socialist industrialization is a fundamental component of an economic policy designed to advance towards the achievement of the goals of food and productive security and sovereignty.  It's the best way of creating genuinely useful jobs, whose remuneration has as its counterpart the production of an abundant supply of goods and services destined to meet the basic and essential needs of the working people, without upsetting the balance that should prevail between supply and demand and which helps stabilise prices.  Furthermore, to meet domestic demand with domestic production will avoid exchange rate settingswhich push up the import components and rebound on cost structureexceeding inflationary pressures.  This therefore requires the intelligent management of macroeconomic and microeconomic policy; i.e., setting the exchange rate to express the true productivity of the non-oil economy; a tax and tariff policy that discourages imports and encourages domestic production; and monetary and financial incentives for productive investment.
And, most importantly, socialist industrialisation is based on new forms of social property that liberate the worker from the exploitation of capital.


Saturday, 15 January 2011

The challenges of 2011

By Rodolfo Sanz, Saturday, 15th of January, 2011

Translation by Owen Richards
The year just begun is one of the most difficult of the process of change initiated in 1999.  The year before a huge election, it will put the political consciousness of the majority of Venezuelans to the test.  Some challenges will appear on the horizon over the next few months that will be dialectically connected to the most important events of 2012. Here are some of them:
Economically, the main challenges are: One, to recover the path of economic growth.  The indicators allow for optimism.  Another, to reduce and control inflation—which is the worst tax  the poor can pay and reduces their capacity of consumption—turning all efforts toward combating poverty.  To reach greater levels of economic efficiency and effectiveness in state activities is also crucial this year—the superiority of the socialist state  over the capitalist private sector must be demonstrated in all spheres of the economic process.
In the social sphere, to continue the process of poverty reduction, which means strengthening the social missions, starting with the production of a poverty map that will enable us to attack poverty directly in its most obvious hiding places.  At the same time, it is necessary to complete the work of social inclusion begun in the education missions, providing permanent employment to all new graduates in their professions.
Reaching the proposed goals in the area of housing appears as an unavoidable challenge, above all as this problem has been taken on directly by President Hugo Chavez.  Great determination, courage, and a sense of urgency will be required to reach these goals.
Politically, there are several challenges.  The first is turning the PSUV into a political tool for building socialism.  The PSUV should not just be an electoral machine, but the political vanguard of society, able to focus the people's social action towards the big goals of the revolution.  The second has to do with the construction of a large, inclusive Patriotic Pole, in which elements and sectors can converge, including those that don't identify with socialism, but with a clear national identity, those with an unquestionable democratic profile and all lovers of progress and social peace.  The third challenge in this field involves defeating the destabilising strategy led by the opposition forces from within the National Assembly, supported by their external allies.  Popular power plays a decisive role in this task, providing critical support for the parliamentary politics of the Bolivarian revolution.
The forces for change have built up enough power to tackle these challenges, some of which will continue to be around for the next few years.  This year it becomes necessary to unleash all this power, understood as the capacity for self-transformation of the revolutionary protagonists and the transformation of the multiple determinations of reality.
In 2011 and 2012 we will witness the end of a cycle of the Bolivarian revolution.  Hence, events of these two years will be united by a dialectical, causal link.  Hence the importance of understanding—without falling into determinism—that to a certain extent what happens in 2012 will depend on what we are able to do in 2011.  There is no time to lose.


Friday, 14 January 2011

PSUV: Six strategic lines

Translation by Owen Richards
The following is an abridgement of an article from http://www.inass.gob.ve/ providing an outline of the six "strategic lines" discussed this month by the national leadership of the Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) for 2011 to 2012.

Prensa YVKE—Commander Hugo Chavez, president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), held a meeting last Saturday with the National Directorate of the party at Miraflores Palace to debate the strategic lines of political action for 2011 to 2012.

He said the document contains ideas for tackling the tasks of 2011 and 2012, in regard to the political continuity of the Bolivarian revolution.
"The next two years will be crucial for the Bolivarian revolution.  So it must be taken up by the militants and the leadership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)", Chavez said, convoking the great socialist meeting for January 3 and 4, where six great strategic "lines of political action" will be discussed.
1.  On capitalist culture and socialist militancy
The leader of the Bolivarian revolution said that the first, and the most central of the document, is the transition from the capitalist political culture to a socialist militancy.
"This first line is the essence of the battle.  Changing customs and culture.  It's the greatest of all the challenges to a revolution.  It must be developed starting with conscience and values.  Here we must make a really big effort.  This capitalist culture of egoism, of individualism.  This must be combated and removed from our values", he said.

2.  Convert the PSUV machinery into a movement-party, that is to say, to the daily service of the people.  To satisfy human needs.
The second line will be to convert the machinery of the PSUV into a movement-party, at the service of the popular struggles to satisfy  human needs, and not only to contest elections.
"This is very important becausethe MVR (Fifth Republican Movement) ended up an electoral machine.  It is a dangerous diversion, because the MVR estranged itself from the daily struggles of the people.  We cannot allow this to happen with the PSUV.  We must attack this right away", he emphasized.

3.  Convert the party into a powerful and permanent medium of propaganda and communication
Chavez emphasized that the third line is to convert the party into a powerful means of propaganda and communication, which includes the use of non-traditional means of dissemination.
As such, he raised the distribution of flyers with accurate information, communicating by word of mouth in public places and, for example, that the Official Gazette be turned into a free nationally-distributed newspaper.  He pointed out that this official document contains information on the national interest that is not read daily by the people.
"This is fundamental.  Sometimes I authorise some housing resources and nobody knows.  Sometimes things come out in the Official Gazette and nobody knows.  We should turn this Official Gazette into a newspaper.  When they recover lands in Apure, the party has to publicise it", he said.
He explained that it is necessary for the party, together with the national government, to prepare the population—through propaganda and communication— "before something's going to happen.  This is to prepare opinion.  Because sometimes we leave this field of battle all alone.  And the enemy attacks it and we don't respond.  As if it's not important."

4.  Pass from the inertia of the machinery to lead the people's struggle
The fourth line, according to Chavez, deals with passing from the inertia of the machinery to deal with the struggle of the people, an aspect closely linked to the second strategic point.
"It's the same self-critical wave which combines a series of proposals that will see soon", he said.

5.  Building the great Patriotic Pole, an audacious policy of reunification
The fifth line is the building of the great Patriotic Pole, as an audacious policy of reunification and repolarisation.
On this topic, Chavez put out a call to the patriotic and nationalist currents and movements to join together in a great patriotic poll.
"I'm calling on all currents and movements.  The more critical the better.  The call goes out to all sectors of the national life.  Without sectarianism.  We shall cover ourselves with humility.  I say this to all party militants.  The party cannot adopt an authoritarian posture.  This party is an open system of unification and empowerment.  Here there are two paths: this one that we're going down (socialism), or to turn back, which would be a catastrophe that takes us back to the past", he warned.

6.  The PSUV to hit the streets, go on the charge, to victory
The sixth and final line of the document of political action calls on the PSUV to hit the streets,  "which is like a call to battle".
Chavez said that it's possible that during the debate other positions will surface, because the document is a first draft, prepared with a deep revolutionary self-criticism.

Another document will be added  to these lines of action to consolidate the official launch of the second strategic map of the Bolivarian revolution.
"We're working on it, it has a lot to do with these (political action lines).  But it includes the strategic field more broadly , both national and international, and covers the short, medium and long term. Strategic map; tactical window", he said.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Rentier Consciousness

By Antonio Aponte

Translation by Owen Richards

In Venezuela, an oil rent nation, the revolution has many very unique characteristics.  Here, exploitation acquires a quality more of plunder than the appropriation of others' labour.  That is to say, the bourgeoisie, the privileged class, arises and sustains itself by thriving on rent, more than it does by sucking workers' blood.  So the dispute is more about rent than liberation from the exploitation of work.

Nevertheless, the capitalist system leaves its mark of alienation on society.  We are an alienated society, or more to the point, a society deformed by alienation.  Che [Guevara] described our countries like this:

 "A dwarf with an enormous head and a bloated chest is undeveloped. Insofar as his weak legs and his short arms don't match the rest of his anatomy, he's the product of an abnormality that has distorted his development."

It is true economically as well as spiritually.

It explains our deformations: crumbling neighbourhoods with DirecTV antenors; or beggars with mobile phones; workers that seek dividends in bankrupt companies.  We're able to give our lives to save a president, but not to suffer half an hour without electricity. And what's enough to abandon any cause…  abundant dollars and abundant consumption.

Our people, difficult to organise and difficult to tame, knows as much about baseball as the traitorous smell of a political opportunist.  It can elect an angel, and likewise support the devil.  It can liberate a continent and yet expel its Liberator.  A society fit for heroism, as in April [2002], and also for the foolish egoism that puts a stop to the revolutionary enterprise.

Thus, perfect conditions for revolution exist in this country.  It's social disorder, it's irreverence, has impeded dominion from fully establishing itself, from creating the climate of obedience and self submission of the developed countries.  Here the system of domination has always been imperfect.

These special conditions require special political study, a high level of creativity, but also a high level of learning from universal experience, which is the only way to combat the natural tendency to theoretical and practical improvisation, tentativeness, unconscious experimentation and a waste of physical and mental energy.

A strong bond with the leader and a strong vanguard are indispensible. A vanguard, like disciples, who by their example and activity struggle against the selfish behaviour of oil capitalism and provide the spiritual sense of social integration and the economic reforms that the revolution undertakes.

The exemple of social integration, of Consciousness of Social Duty, is essential.  To impress upon the rent-minded  masses the need to integrate into society.  And this is only possible with a socialism that firmly and convincingly shows us a new vision of an integrated society, where the fate of one depends upon the fate of all.

PSUV: National Directorate discusses strategic lines for 2011 and 2012

Translation by Owen Richards

Prensa PSUV, 10 January, 11/1/2011 — The National Directorate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) will meet Tuesday with President Hugo Chavez to finalise the details of a document containing the strategic and tactical lines that will set the activity of the party for 2011 and 2012.

It will be the third meeting with the party’s president to discuss the document. The document will generate debate in the great socialist assembly that groups the best cadres of the organisation during a day of discussions in late January.

“Of course there are important objectives like the socialist democracy and of course the issue looming on the horizon - the 2012 presidential elections to ratify President Chavez as president reelect", said Rodrigo Cabezas, member of the National Directorate of the PSUV.

Rodrigo Cabezas
The document includes the position that no minister of the national executive is to occupy any of the vice presidencies of the organisation. It also contains positions on the regional and local spheres.

“We hope that after these discussions and with the document finalised, to convoke the Socialist Assembly with the leading party cadres, an event that will be held in Caracas but does not yet have a date", stated Cabezas, also Latin American [Parliament] president.