May 20, 2022 Morning Star (UK)
Discussing wages, healthcare and workers rights, Paul Dobson spoke to the Venezuelan Communist Party’s (PCV) international secretary Carolus Wimmer in the context of the financial appeal of Communist Party of Britain and Young Communist League for the besieged Latin American nation.
Paul Dobson: Much has been said about the “rupture” between the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) and the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) in 2020. What were the subjective and objective political causes of this decision?
Carolus Wimmer: We wish to emphasise that the PCV’s policy is that of unity and the widest possible patriotic, democratic and anti-imperialist alliance and today the PCV continues to seek and struggle for unity.
Naturally, this is not a unity between political organisations, but a unity which looks at the people’s wellbeing and in defence of workers’ social and political rights. This policy continues to exist and in the current climate in which there is practically no contact between the PCV and PSUV, our call is always for us to come together and debate our different positions in search of solutions.
There was a clear example of this in 2018, when Nicolas Maduro’s presidential candidature was presented and naturally we communists held a political conference before backing him. As such, the PCV discussed over 100 issues and proposals. Finally, in 2018, 19 issues were agreed upon as a good starting point [for the backing of the candidature] and we signed a unitary PCV-PSUV agreement. The agreement included a commitment to initiate joint workgroups for these 19 issues which looked at issues including workers and peasants, wages, security, etc. — and to hold monthly follow-up meetings and discuss agreements in other areas.
After 2018, the PSUV initiated the rupture. They never answered our calls and we never had the chance to sit down again with them. We want to emphasise this: in a clear political and economic crisis which affected the workers, the rupture came from the PSUV against the PCV. We never accepted this type of rupture; rather we wanted to talk politics with them.
PD: The rupture has brought a number of different consequences. What have the consequences been in the political sphere?
CW: Firstly, the distancing of the two most representative political organisations: the ruling party and the PCV. Obviously, this distancing has blocked the voice of an important communist sector which has fought for workers, peasants and the people in general for 90 years. The PSUV is increasingly social-democratic and allied to the interests of transnational capital.
This may be a surprise to some, but there are ongoing talks between them and the fascist right who staged the 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez and have prepared the onslaught since his death. Currently, the government sits down with these sectors. This is their decision, but we don’t understand why they don’t also meet with workers, peasants, professionals and indigenous groups, who are the fundamental base of our participative democratic process.
The consequences of this lack of communication, this authoritarian way of governing, really affect the worker and popular sectors as their problems aren’t being debated, no solutions are identified and any criticisms or protests are being met with repression and prison. In this sense, in our class struggle the contradictions between the PCV and sectors of the government are increasing.
Venezuela continues to fight an anti-imperialist struggle for national liberation as part of the nation-imperialism contradiction. History teaches us that this struggle requires the amplest unity to be able to overcome imperialism, with fractures in popular forces only benefiting large capital. How has the rupture impacted on this struggle?
For those outside Venezuela it is very important to understand that after Chavez’s death the country entered a new phase. There is a before and after, a revolutionary left anti-imperialist government which defended the peoples’ rights and Latin American unity and now the current government which has completely changed this course.
Internationally, things are often seen in an idealistic way, with just a change of person and a continuity of policy, but this is not certain. We see a daily increase in capital’s influence over government policy.
As such, the PCV and other leftist sectors created the Popular Revolutionary Alternative (APR), which is an organisation in construction and growth which should define co-operation remits in the revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle to build socialism. This is the political line of the PCV: anti-imperialist unity.
From a theoretical perspective, many criticised the past alliance between the communists and government sectors. Do you think the alliance was a tactical error in its time which is being corrected today?
We are in a class struggle, where the correlation of forces naturally defines the successful results. The PCV was the first political party to back Chavez in the 1998 electoral campaign. This came from a deep-rooted analysis of Venezuela’s reality at the time and after a long discussion in the central committee. The PCV backing and analysis were shown to be correct: without our support Chavez may not have won those elections.
This unity between Chavez’s group and the PCV was successful and threatened the interests of capital and the US. Logically, this class struggle led to the 2002 coup d’etat, which was led by far-right Venezuelan sectors and backed by the US and the majority of European governments. Unfortunately, this alliance was broken today due to the class content of the ruling party, which is completely different from the project proposed by Chavez.
Taking into account the persistent enchantment with the PSUV in the Venezuelan popular masses, how does the PCV and APR propose to penetrate social consciousness with their proposals?
The PCV has always been with the workers, the working class, the peasants, the middle strata and professionals, who have suffered as a result of the government policies but also US sanctions.
From abroad, there is certain confusion due to the fact that the current government, which is social democratic-right leaning and seeks tactical accommodation with the US and EU governments, continues to symbolically use language which reminds us of Chavez.
It often talks about “Bolivarian socialism” which is absurd for us as no socialism exists here. To talk about socialism here is mere propaganda, because wages are below extreme poverty levels and our healthcare and education sectors are destroyed.
We made huge achievements under Chavez, but we are in complete rollback now; come visit our schools and hospitals and you will see the real, disastrous state of our public services which should guarantee people’s wellbeing. But the concept of Bolivarian socialism or socialism of the 21st century is still used.
Our task is to work with the working class which we have to categorise in the current stage of capitalist development. The PCV is preparing for its XVI Congress in November, when there will be a fierce debate, a Marxist-Leninist scientific study about our reality and over policies which seek a successful way out of our current crisis.
A large popular sector still backs the PSUV and as a majority votes for the current government in almost a religious or mechanical way as a reflex. The PCV’s and APR’s task is to win the consciousness of these sectors which are increasingly abstaining politically. This is very worrying, as the rejection of the authoritarian government leads many to deactivate themselves politically. As we get bigger and better organised we are stronger and are being recognised as this alternative.
Do material conditions exist which may allow the PCV to resume its alliance with the government and if so what are they?
It is unrealistic for us to resume the alliance with the PSUV in the short term. We understand this in the context of the class struggle: the agreements between national and international capital, as well as fascist elements, the renewed areas of common ground with the US and rightist European governments, are the PSUV’s priority and this sits in complete contradiction with an alliance with the working class and the peasantry and the PCV and the APR.
We recognise the dialectics in politics — so this situation can change of course! Naturally, the government must correct the policies which coincide with a deterioration of the social and economic position of the Venezuelan people.
-Paul Dobson is a Venezuela-based journalist, regional coordinator of the Committee for International Solidarity and Struggle for Peace (COSI), member of the Communist Party of Britain and of the International Department of the PCV.