Morning Star, Editorial Comment
February 28, 2018 
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s comment, after
meeting his Communist Party allies, that he had “received
criticism” and appreciated it marks him out as a special
kind of revolutionary leader.
Too many rulers in different forms of society, especially
those used over a period of time to winning mass popular
support, have a tendency to imagine that they are the font
of all wisdom.
Maduro, a revolutionary since his youth and a man who
came to understand the value of collective discussion and
action during his time as a bus driver, retains a willingness
to listen and learn.
The current president, who faces an electoral challenge
in April, was a loyal supporter of Bolivarian revolutionary
leader Hugo Chavez, continuing and extending the Chavista
commissions financed by the country’s oil wealth and
directing pensions and other special allowances, housing,
farmland and health benefits to the poorest Venezuelans.
In the decade from 2004 to 2014, the revolution reduced
poverty by 49 per cent and extreme poverty by a stunning
63 per cent.
These priorities were in stark contrast to the indifference
shown by previous liberal and conservative governments,
which were content to allow the benefits of the country’s
mineral riches to be monopolised by energy transnational
corporations and Venezuela’s comprador bourgeoisie.
But, as the Communist Party (PCV) points out, it is not
possible to build a socialist society by simply sidelining
the bourgeoisie. The economic and political power of this
class has to be broken.
Using oil wealth profits to take people out of poverty
benefits individuals and creates loyalty to the revolution and
its leader, but it doesn’t weaken the grip that the corporate
elite has on the economy and mass media.
The collapse in the oil price to less than half of its previous
value, compounded by an economic blockade imposed
by the US, created real hardship for working people.
It was exacerbated by shortages of essential goods deliberately
engineered by big companies hoarding imports and
refusing to release them.
PCV insistence on moving beyond the current well-meaning
government model to tackling ruling-class wealth and
power by nationalising the finance sector would indicate
that the gloves are now off.