[Writing for Counterpunch, George Ciccariello-Maher argues that in Venezuela in recent weeks the so-called "endogenous right," the well-known bloc of moderate, centrist, bureaucratic-minded Chavistas, have landed a series of body blows to more leftist elements, threatening internal democracy and the radicalism of the Revolution in the process.]
Counter-Attack of the Bureaucrats: "Endogenous Right" vs. "False Left" in Venezuela
In the aftermath of the December referendum defeat, internal tensions within the Chavista coalition have begun to deepen as various sectors duke it out to control the future direction of the Venezuelan Revolution. To beclear: this process is a necessary one. But recent weeks have see the so-called "endogenous right," the well-known bloc of moderate, centrist, bureaucratic-minded Chavistas, landing a series of body blows to more leftist elements, threatening internal democracy and the radicalism of the Revolution in the process.
In this counterattack, the role of Chávez himself has been ambiguous, at times demanding revolutionary self-criticism and at times assailing such criticism as a threat to unity.
Tascón in the Crosshairs
Intra-Chavista tensions exploded after the president named José David Cabello, younger brother of conservative Chavista strongman and Governor of Miranda State (and arguably second-most-powerful Chavista) Diosdado Cabello, to head the Venezuelan tax agency (SENIAT). This choice itself was dubious: as infrastructure minister, José David Cabello had accomplished little of note. Further, former SENIAT head José Vielma Mora, a straight-shooter who could do no wrong in the agency, had revolutionized tax collection in the country (that is, established tax collection where there had been very little previously).
In response to what was arguably a political (and nepotistic) appointment, Chavista firebrand Luis Tascón (best known for making public a list of those who signed the 2004 petition for Chávez's recall), an assembly member hailing from the combative state of Táchira, came forward with what he claimed was evidence of the younger Cabello's corruption while in MINFRA. While the evidence was perhaps inconclusive, Tascón was merely following Chávez's own recent demand that revolutionaries denounce corruption, and calling for an investigation into the matter.
The counterattack was fierce and swift, and came not from José David Cabello, but from his elder brother, Diosdado. Focusing his ire on the fact that opposition news outlet Globovisión had been invited to Tascón's press conference, Cabello appeared on Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), dismissing Tascón as an "instrument of the Empire," who was only sowing discontent and division within the Chavista ranks, a charge which was to be repeated by Assembly President Cilia Flores. Cabello went on to suggest that Tascón had "traveled for a month to visit Bill Gates," saying that "that must have been where they injected him with a microchip." Tascón, according to Cabello, represents "the false left, which is our true enemy."
A "Unanimous" Expulsion?
Cabello was joined, moreover, by Jorge Rodríguez, until recently vice president and currently devoted entirely to the formation of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and both declared on national television that Tascón had been "unanimously" expelled from the yet-to-be-born party. This declaration was peculiar, not least because it would be near-impossible to get all 1,676 members of the Party's Founding Congress to unanimously agree to anything. Further, since the party has yet to officially exist, no-one is more than an "aspiring militant" at this point. Tascón, an "aspiring militant" to a party, which does not yet exist, was nevertheless allegedly expelled via a "unanimous vote" which probably never happened.
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