[Marta Harnecker, author of Rebuilding the Left, argues that once again, an attack by the opposition has resulted in a very positive event for the Bolivarian process: a new social actor, full of force, of ideals, has entered into the political sphere. To read the original Spanish version of the article click here. --Ed]
Venezuela: Blows and Counterblows
By Marta Harnecker - Abiven
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
1. The failure of the military coup in April 2002 (more than 80% of the generals in operational positions remained faithful to Chavez and the constitution) constituted the first great defeat of the opposition and a real gift to Chavez. These new circumstances allowed for the different actors to become unmasked and the people to acquire a much higher level of political understanding (both within the military ranks and within the civilian cadres, it was now known who could be counted on and who could not be counted on). It created a favorable playing field in which to move forward with cleaning out the military institution. It divided the opposition. It reminded an ever increasing number of the middle classes, who were previously against the process, of the anarchy which would result from the marginalization of Chavez.
2. The frustrated attempt to bring the country to a halt on December 2, 2002, was the second great defeat of the opposition. They could not stop the country. Chavez did not bow to their pressure. But most importantly, the petroleum industry came to be truly under the control of the Venezuelan state. This was the second great gift from the opposition. Due to their subversive and saboteur attitudes, around 18,000 upper and middle-level managers who opposed the government – and who actually exercised control of the company – created the conditions in which they could be legally dismissed.
3. The ratification of President Chávez’s mandate in the recall referendum of August 15, 2004 – a never-before seen process in world history – was the third great defeat that the Venezuelan opposition suffered in attempting to end the government of President Chávez. The triumph, by an enormous amount of votes, and under the attentive gaze of hundreds of international observers, who unanimously ratified the results, was the third gift from the opposition.
4. It constituted, as one of the observers, well-known Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, put it, “an injection of optimism in this world where democracy has lost so much prestige” due to the fact that it has been unable to resolve the problem of poverty.
5. This was not the victory of a single man, but rather of a humanist and solidarity-based project for the country, as much in the national as in the international arena; of a project for the country which had emerged as an alternative to the voracious and predatory neoliberal model: a model of endogenous development and social economy.
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