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