The outcome of the referendum in Venezuela this Sunday was perhaps more than even the most optimistic Chavez supporters could have hoped for. President Hugo Chavez held his place in office by a vote of 58-42 percent. Apparently muting, at least temporarily, the Opposition's cries of fraud, both Jimmy Carter and the Organization of the Amercian States (OAS), who were observing the elections, confirmed that the results were entirely "clean." It would seem that there is now no legitimate path remaining for the Opposition to unseat the now exhaustively confirmed, democratically-elected president of Venezuela.
The meaning of the results announced Monday, however, are far from closed. Two years of Chavez' leadership remain, and still much work to be done. Having preserved a leader's seat of office, a much more difficult task lay ahead: the advancing of the revolution. The Bolivarian revolution was not the invention, nor is it the mouthpiece, of Hugo Chavez. It is the word "revolution," not Chavez, that was on the lips of many Venezuelans in the days leading up to the referendum. It is understood not an end state marked by a Hugo Chavez' presence in office, nor a fight to replace him, but an open process which effects communties in the cities and throughout the countryside of Venezuela. These communities, sometimes (though not always) termed "Bolivarian circles," are the true voice of the people expressed in the organized actions of their everyday lives. While Chavez has done some to improve the lives of the poor in Venezuela, the revolution can only advance when the people themselves seize control of all the resources and means of production owed to them.
In the two years to follow, one scenario that is impossible to imagine is the acquiesence of the Opposition. They have simply gone too far to turn back now. A failed coup attempt, and now a failed electoral process. What remains after one has exhausted both ones legal and extra-legal options? One shudders to consider it. While opinions of Chavez are diverse among leftits, most are in agreement that the backbone of the Opposition is a conglomerate of right-wing business interests. The progressive of Chavez's critics might not cry over his loss, but they certainly fear the victory of the Opposition. With Colombian paramilitaries still dispersed around Venezuela, and enormous weapons caches still missing, it seem clear that at least some of the most radical elements of the Opposition were making a contigency plan. This is most certainly the period of contigency for the right wing in Venezuela if ever there was one.
One scenario, at least, which many Bolivarians feared prior to the referendum, was a Chavez victory followed by accusations of fraud by the Oppositon—leading to a coup attempt that would be tacitly, if not militarily supported by the U.S. The prospect of support by any public elements of the U.S. Government seems enormously complicated at this point, as the results of the election were confirmed not only by observers Jimmy Carter and the OAS, but the State Deparment itself. A coup of the sort the opposition carried out two Aprils ago cannot succeed. Less auspicious or even “dirtier” tactics will likely be required by those who seek to unseat Chavez. Popular support has never been a guarantor of stability, not has it made any leader less vulnerable to the path of an assassin's bullet.
In certain ways, then, the Bolivarian revolution has been made much more difficult by Chavez' victory. Difficult, and yet more profound. Venezuelan revolitionaries must not only work to defend against chaotic forces driven by a sense of class preservation, but also to not let up one notch from the furtheranve and development of their own autonomy. As with the comrades who struggled during the Spanish Revolution of the 1930's, the struggle for survival and revolution become the same.
The goal, of course, is not a “national” revolution of the State, which would end only in the same dispair of all failed revolutions, but a continental or “Pachamerican” revolution of many struggles, igniting simultaneously in opposition to a shared threat, and in pursuit of their essential needs. It is only by the connections that cross borders, languages and cultures that we may effectively confront the Machine that seeks to make us all the same.
For a Pachamerican Liberation Front,
From the Bolivarians of the North