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PostSocialism, Venezuela vs. Sweden (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 02/19/14 10:45 am)
Regarding Nigel Jones's comments on Venezuela (18 February), the following article might be useful to understand the current situation:
I would like to add, however, some remarks on the issue of "socialism" that may help to explain and better understand current Venezuelan events. Though modeled mostly in Castro-Cuban communism, the Venezuelan socialist regime is unique in several senses, and might be difficult to understand for outsiders.
The Venezuelan regime is socialist insofar as it was originally inspired by Marxist ideas, based in the frustrated expectation of the lower, poorer and uneducated classes; fostering hatred or resentments, or what euphemistically here is called "class struggle" or revolutionary struggle.
The revolution claims to be "Bolivarian," supported by the legendary hero figure of the independence war, Simón Bolívar, thus adding the autochthonous or idiosyncratic element needed for political clichés or demagogic propaganda.
Venezuela socialism is authoritarian, set up by military or ex-military, therefore it tends to be very repressive if needed. It is proclaimed by the regime that the Venezuelan Revolution is through a civil-military alliance. The severe control over the economy, the repression of the press, the current and criminal persecution of dissidents and opposition members, are just the materialized expression of its authoritarianism.
The regime is pseudo-democratic in the sense that its political power was not achieved through violence but through elections, perhaps originally valid and legitimate; but when power was achieved, the electoral system eventually became corrupt and manipulated. It is also not democratic in the sense that seeks the dominance of just one political party or that, in practice, the executive, judicial or legislative powers are not separated.
All these elements, added to the economic strength provided by oil during recent years, helped the regime to survive despite his incompetence, corruption, and repression. The charismatic figure of Chávez, abundant oil income, repression and propaganda supported the regime all these past years. It remains to be seen if in the absence of the first two the regime will survive.
Anyway, considering these characteristic of the Venezuelan regime, it is difficult if not impossible to compare it with any other current socialist developed country, such as Sweden. Perhaps the Swedish and Norwegian examples illustrate that socialism, at least in Scandinavian sense, will only prosper in more developed and cultured societies, as John Eipper suggests.
JE comments: "Bolivarian" is one of the more curious adjectives to appear in Latin American politics. I don't think it means anything, other than to co-opt the revered figure of the Libertador for the Chavista agenda.
My thanks to José Ignacio Soler for adding a Venezuelan perspective to this discussion. This March 5th will mark the first anniversary of Chávez's death. As José Ignacio asks, one wonders how much longer President Maduro can maintain his grip on power with vastly reduced oil revenues and the absence of its charismatic leader. My crystal ball is cloudy, but I'm doubtful Maduro will still be president on March 5th, 2015.
Student-Produced Video on Venezuela Protests
(José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela
02/20/14 3:25 AM)
I'd like to share this link of a video produced by students involved in the current protests in Venezuela. The narration is in English.
There are two URL addresses, in case one of them is censored by government agents.
JE comments: I had better luck with the second link, as the first (YouTube) requires a sign-in, which for me was strangely "denied." This 6-minute video gives an excellent idea of the magnitude of the protests, as well as the violence of the government reaction. A question for José Ignacio Soler: is the Colombia-based cable news channel NTN24 still off the air in Venezuela? And what about Twitter?
My thanks to José Ignacio for keeping us updated on these historic events.
Next, Roman Zhovtulya reports on an incipient revolution in another country, Ukraine.