Venezuela Heart of America: Maduro YES Trump NO

Source: ALBA Movimientos / The Dawn News / May 8, 2018

Next May 20 the presidential elections will be held in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in a context of a multi-dimensional war organized by the empire. The Venezuelan people are suffering from a terrible economic embargo, diplomatic isolation, with paramilitary deployments in their territory as part of this strategy to overthrow the legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro. This is why on May 20 Venezuela will give a new battle, in the electoral field we are sure that chavismo will be victorious and it will ensure the continuity of Nicolas Maduro, but in the international front there will be continued efforts to try and delegitimize this process and they will put all of their power against the revolutionary government.

From Social Movements of ALBA we call social movements in Our America and the world to carry out actions, concentrations, activities, etc. in solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and Nicolas Maduro. Social Movements of ALBA will be receiving pictures, videos, texts and all material expressing solidarity with Venezuela and Nicolas Maduro to help us wage the battle for ideas in social media and our people’s media.

The following is the statement from the campaign.

VENEZUELA HEART OF OUR AMERICA: Maduro YES Trump NO

In these moments in Venezuela a good part of the destiny of Latin America and the Caribbean is played. All the artillery of the conservative sectors -in particular the communication- is focused on delegitimizing the Bolivarian Revolution and the government of Nicolás Maduro, who managed to won politically to an “opposition” that no longer knows how to fulfill the mandates of their imperial leaders.

The Venezuelan people and their revolutionary government neutralized the fascist violence with more democracy and participation, as demonstrated by the Constituent Assembly and the electoral processes of 2017, which once again positioned Chavismo as a faithful representative of popular interests, despite the nefarious economic blockade that it is exercised against this country, and the fourth generation war against it.

While Venezuela resists this war, the elites of the continent do not stop defamatoryly defacing the government of Nicolás Maduro, the well-known cartel of Lima, it is nothing more than a group of mobsters, government usurpers in some cases, repressors of their people in others, little thieves in so many others, or directly all things at once in many. We are talking about of the golpista Michel Temer; of the Honduran Orlando Hernández and his vote stealing; of the Santos that does not comply with the peace agreements; del Peña Nieto who finished delivering Mexico; Macri of adjustments and political prisoners.

All these looters from their own villages obey the White House and the supremacist and overtly imperialist government of Donald Trump; a nefarious person who openly bares the vision of the American elites in their process of decadence as imperial hegemony. Their xenophobic, sexist, racist, colonialist and militarist speeches generate admiration in their puppies of the Lima and OAS cartel, while they lie again and again about Venezuela and Chavismo. It is the hatred of those who poison the people who measure the achievements that have been made. That’s why we say TRUMP NO.

In difficult moments like the ones we are going through throughout the Great Homeland, where the friends and allies of yesteryear, from the victorious times, jump the fence to criticize from the abstract purity, the popular movements of the continent continue shoulder to shoulder defending the Bolivarian Revolution.

As we have been doing in recent years, every time the storm rages, the movements, organizations and peoples aware of the battle come out with more strength and willingness to exercise internationalist solidarity and the diplomacy of the peoples.

Venezuela is the heart of this historical moment, there beats the revolutionary integration project to achieve the second and definitive independence, we continue to maintain that “Venezuela is the heart of America”. That’s why we say MADURO YES.

The peoples of Our America and the world continue to raise the flags of Comandante Chávez, we are anti-imperialist and we stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people and we defend the legitimate government of Nicolás Maduro. It is for all this that we launched the campaign “Venezuela Heart of America: Maduro SI, Trump NO”, and we call on all movements, organizations and groups to join.

#VenezuelaHeartofAmerica

#MaduroYESTrumpNO

#WeareVenezuela

Image result for venezuela corazon de nuestra america

The People of Venezuela Go to Vote

Chávez The Radical: ‘Peoples criticism, self-criticism doesn’t hurt the revolution, it helps’

TatuyTV – In Chávez The Radical XIII, Chávez calls on his movement and government to engage in self-criticism and to welcome criticism from the people. This does not damage the revolution, he says; it strengthens it. Contrary to what some politicians from his party suggest, the revolution is not flawless, and criticism is not tantamount to opposition.

If the revolution does not open space for criticism, then the only criticism available will be that coming from the opposition’s corporate media apparatus, which aims to injure and ultimately destroy the revolution by pounding the population with manipulated information that casts socialism as evil.

Government workers should have the courage to expose problems and errors so that they can be addressed, and the humility spend time in the poorest communities to listen to people’s feedback, Chávez says. Likewise, public media outlets should reserve space for critical debate, in order to make revolutionary leaders more responsive to the people’s demands.

Chávez’s encouragement of criticism was longstanding. In 2007, Chávez called for a process of “revision, rectification, and re-advance” to correct the government’s errors after its constitutional reform proposal lost at the polls. The ‘no’ vote was driven by voter abstention, miscommunication of the proposal, and popular frustration with public officials. Chávez’s response was to call for critical review of his administration, driven by the people.

Chávez did not just call on his administration to be self-critical; he himself was profoundly self-critical. In the video, he cites both Che Guevara, a strong advocate of revolutionary self-criticism, and Jesus Christ, who said people should look at themselves before judging others. He emphasized consistently that revolutionary leaders need to be in constant dialogue with the people.

Chávez The Radical: ‘We have to dismantle the capitalist state as we build up the communal state’

TatuyTV – What would governing institutions look like in a just, peaceful, and democratic society? Would they be essentially the same as the current institutions, but with less corruption, less abuse of power, better representation of women, and other progressive gains? Or would they be fundamentally transformed?

In Chávez The Radical XII, President Chávez says that the Bolivarian Revolution should create new institutions from the ground up, starting with the communal councils, which are local democratic assemblies formed by families and neighbors. These councils must avoid focusing narrowly on the logistics of soliciting public funds and coordinating community improvements, he says. They must also have a broader vision and form relationships with other community councils, and these regional bodies must then link up to form a national confederation.

This new institutional structure will be based on “constituent power”, says Chávez, meaning it will draw its power from direct links to the people participating in their local councils. Therefore, it will be an alternative to the centralized, hierarchical, and bureaucratic structure of the corporate capitalist state, which Chávez refers to as “constituted power”.

Constituted power, according to Chávez, still lives in the traditional governing institutions of Venezuela, specifically the mayoralties, governor’s offices, and regional and local legislatures. These institutions have typically served the interests of the capitalist class, the Catholic hierarchy, and the traditional land- owning elite. This bourgeois state must be transcended and gradually rendered irrelevant as new forms of participatory democracy emerge and the communal state coalesces.

Chávez draws inspiration for this vision from Venezuela’s independence fighter Simón Bolívar, who declared shortly after Venezuela became independent that he trusts the will and the voice of the people much more than that of the elites. He said there is no purer or less corruptible way of ensuring that people have control over their own lives than to consult with them directly, even on the issues managed at the highest level of national power.

The crucial element in the new communal state is the people’s will. Chávez emphasizes that people must be conscious that the power lies in their hands and that a new and better society will not arrive like a river that flows to the sea; we have to give birth to it through our collective efforts.

Chávez The Radical: ‘You can’t construct socialism with the worn out weapons of capitalism’

Tatuy TV – Throughout the revolutionary period led by Comandante Chávez, the Venezuelan state managed to control an important part of the economy in the form of state property despite the hegemony of the bourgeoisie and its forms of private property over most of the Venezuelan economy.

During the planning, management, and organization of the state controlled sectors, the policies for industrialization and the relationship between the market and a planned political economy within the framework of a project of transition to Socialism has been vigorously debated. Similar debates were held during the 20s in the Soviet Union by Bukharin, Preobrazensky, and a group of revolutionary activists. Others were held in Cuba during the 1960s between Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, Charles Bettelheim, Ernst Mandel, Ché Guevara and another group of revolutionaries who focused on what was called “The Great Debate,” a profound and irreverent evaluation of the essential aspects of the political economy during the transition to socialism. The discussion however, is far from over.

The concerns, disagreements, and inherent contradictions in a debate of this magnitude reappeared in the Bolivarian Revolution taken up by Comandante Chávez, who studied in detail the policies they would have to implement in order to construct a socialist society.

In Chávez The Radical XIV, Chávez reflects on the problems of planning and managing socialist enterprises, pointing out deviations occurring in Venezuela in a “system that does not stray far from the capitalist market system.” Faced with this deviation he proposes and outlines the idea of the Budgetary Finance System as a model of planning, management, organization and control of these companies. Basing his proposals on this theoretical legacy left by Ché Guevara (who also managed to implement the model in Cuba’s Ministry of Industries,) Chávez explains clearly and simply the workings of this system, which implies the progressive suppression of fundamental capitalist categories such as the law of value, merchandise, and private ownership of the means of production, and the incorporation of socialist categories such as central planning, social ownership of the means of production, and the consciousness of social duty, which begin to take form.

The exhortation of the Comandante was left hanging. The task is still pending if we are to demonstrate the viability of Socialism not just for the satisfaction of basic needs, but for the integral transformation of the human being.

Transparency ‘At Heart of Venezuela’s Electoral System’

  • Transparency

    To understand the process that guarantees the right of Venezuelans to fairly elect their representatives, two articles of Venezuela’s constitution have to be kept in mind.

    TeleSUR – On May 20, Venezuelans will exert their right to elect their president and other local officials. It will be the 25th election of any type, and the fifth presidential elections to take place since 1999, when Hugo Chavez was elected. Venezuelans take great pride in this fact in a region that has seen far too many coups, military and otherwise.

    However, there is a persistent campaign – endorsed by the U.S. and Canadian governments – that this election will be a fraud, even though critics have given no evidence supporting their assertion. I decided to learn more about Venezuela‘s electoral system to see if such deception is even possible. For that purpose I interviewed Wilfredo Perez Bianco, consul general of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Vancouver, Canada.

    The first thing Perez pointed out was that in order to understand the process that guarantees the right of Venezuelans to fairly elect their representatives, two articles of the Venezuelan constitution have to be kept in mind.

    Article 62 of the Venezuelan constitution of 1999 establishes the democratic foundation of the electoral process in Venezuela. The first paragraph says: ‘All citizens have the right to participate freely in public affairs, directly or through their elected representatives.’ The last paragraph concludes: ‘It is the obligation of the state and the duty of society to facilitate the generation of the most favorable conditions for its practice.’ It is significant to note that both state and society have a role in this process.

    Article 63 of the constitution establishes: ‘Suffrage is a right. It is exercised through free, universal, direct and secret ballots. The law will guarantee the principle of individuality of suffrage and proportional representation.’

    The Venezuelan Electoral Power bases all its actions on the 1999 constitution; the Organic Law of the Electoral Power; the Organic Law of the Electoral Processes, and the Organic Law of the Civil Registry. According to the division of powers established in the constitution, it has functional and budgetary autonomy, which guarantees its independence from other state bodies.

    “Its governing body is the National Electoral Council (CNE), responsible for the transparency of electoral and referendum processes that guarantee, to all Venezuelans, the efficient organization of all electoral events that take place in the country,” said Perez. “It is their responsibility to regulate, direct and supervise the activities of their subordinate bodies, as well as guarantee compliance with the constitutional principles attributed to the Electoral Power.”

    Currently, the voting system in Venezuela is a fully automated process and can be audited in all its phases. In 2004, Venezuela became the first country in the world to hold a national election with machines that printed the voucher or receipt, and in 2012 the first elections were held with biometric authentication of the elector and the subsequent activation of the voting machine.

    This technological platform allows the use of a conventional voting (electronic) ballot where the voters press the name, face or party affiliation of the candidate for the election office. This method of voting was further strengthened with the use of the Integral Authentication System (SAI), the last phase of automation, which allows the voter to activate the machine with their fingerprint. “This represents another guarantee for the integrity of the vote.”

    Once the fingerprint of the voter is authenticated, the machine is activated so that the voter can vote directly on the machine’s screen or on the electronic ballot. The selected option appears on the screen and the voter has the possibility to confirm his vote by pressing the ‘VOTE’ option.

    This vote is stored randomly in the memory of the machine and at the end of the day is recorded in the printed totaling records. Said votes are collated with the physical vouchers of the receipt box in the subsequent audit.

    Perez said: “The voting package of each machine travels encrypted through a secure network provided by the state telecommunications company CANTV. The network is isolated from the Internet and has multiple levels of security and authentication. No external computer can penetrate the election results.”

    The totaling system rests on powerful servers, which receive the electoral results from all the voting machines distributed in the country. The totaling system only receives data from voting machines authenticated and authorized by the CNE, which are protected with an encrypted alphanumeric key through an electronic signature. This key does not depend on any single party because it is shared between the CNE and all participating political organizations.

    The Automated Voting System follows various phases of vote verification protocol:

    * Audit of the automated system itself
    * Citizen verification
    * Processes following the election in the presence of representatives of the parties

    The complete system of electoral guarantees also includes an international presence – the International Electoral Accompaniment Program – to accompany and observe the electoral process, get to know the operation of the Venezuelan system, and even contribute to its improvement.

    Perez said: “The participation allows electoral experts and other accredited persons, in all the technical and institutional stages, prior to the electoral event, during its development and after it. At all times, the accompanying persons interact with electoral authorities, technical teams of the CNE, electoral officials and with technical and political representatives of the participating political organizations, as well as with the media, within the framework of the conditions set by the CNE for the sovereignty and independence of Venezuela.”

    In the upcoming elections of May 20, 15 audits will be conducted in the different areas involved in the process of the presidential elections and legislative councils, and will comply with the standards used in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections of 2015 to guarantee transparency in the exercise of the vote.

    The audits will be carried out in the presence of witnesses of political organizations, national observers, international accompaniers, and technicians from different accompaniment missions. Perez said: “These activities of revision can be followed in live broadcasts by clicking on the banner Canal CNE TV of the official site www.cne.gob.ve for anyone, anywhere to see.”

    It appears that in compliance with the constitutional mandate, the CNE has created a unique legally bound and technologically sound electoral system, backed by the most comprehensive system of guarantees, which makes elections in Venezuela a safe, transparent and reliable expression of the sovereign will of the people and a full demonstration of a vibrant, participatory and protagonist democracy.

    In concluding, the Venezuelan Consul said: “Democracy is taken very seriously and is intensely lived in Venezuela. For Venezuelans, to live in a democracy is to debate, participate and be full protagonists in the construction of their destiny. In Venezuela, the right to elect or be elected is conceived as an essential human right and the state strives to guarantee and secure that right by all means available. Transparency is at the heart of the electoral system for the May 20 elections in Venezuela.”

Venezuela: Banesco Bank Officials Arrested Over Currency Speculation Charges

Top officials were arrested over charges of currency manipulation and the government announced a 90-day intervention in the countries largest private bank.

Venezuela's Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, May 3, 2018. (Reuters)

Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, May 3, 2018. (Reuters)

By TeleSur English

May 4, 2018 – The Venezuelan government said Thursday it had arrested 11 top executives of the country’s leading private bank, Banesco, for attacks against the country’s currency, and that it was going to intervene in the company for a period of 90 days.

“We have determined the presumed responsibility (of the executives) for a series of irregularities, for aiding and concealing attacks against the Venezuelan currency with the aim of demolishing the Venezuelan currency,” said Venezuelan Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab in a televised press conference.

Saab said the arrests of the 11 senior executives of Banesco took place after the investigation carried out in the framework of an operation called “Hands of Paper”, which seeks to dismantle groups that allegedly attack the Venezuelan economy through the extraction of cash and illicit exchange.

He further attempted to calm concerns by account holders at the bank saying the crackdown on the corruption was a rather “surgical” action that would only remove the corrupt elements without harming the overall operations of the financial institution.

“I want to calm and reassure those who have accounts in this bank or in others because this is very surgical, it is only going to solve a criminal action outside the law, which in this case we have determined,” Saab added.

The news comes a day after Venezuela’s Vice-President Tareck El Aissami announced that 1,133 bank accounts have been blocked for irregularities revealed during investigations into illegal currency exchanges.

Operation Paper Hands has revealed that 90 percent of the accounts were held by the bank Banesco. According to Aissami, the fact that Banesco doesn’t carry out home checks on clients facilitates “criminal fixation of the dollar.”

The vice-president also said the bank has not reported to the Superintendent of Banking Sector Institutions (Sudeban) clients whose banking activity doesn’t correspond to their financial profile.

Venezuela: Workers are the ones who defend the most and lose the most

Source: Corriente Revolucionaria Bolívar y Zamora / The Dawn News / May 4, 2018

Photo Credit: Corriente Revolucionaria Bolívar y Zamora

A year ago we were trapped in a spiral of political violence and open economy. It was May 1st when President Nicolás Maduro made the call that led to a political victory over this issue: the National Constituent Assembly was the key that broke the tie in our favor. That same day Maduro talked about the necessary victory over prices, which he promised the Constituent Assembly would bring once in government.

Last year a political initiative was consolidated, which soon will have a key date, in the presidential elections, preceded by last three triumphs at the polls. The economic situation in contrast continues to suffer, with price increases reaching a level of hyperinflation, the loss of our purchasing power, scarcity of key products like medicines, repeated blows to our currency, as the basis of aggressions and destabilization.

In this scenario, the ones who have lost the most are, paradoxically, the very basis of the revolutionary process, the workers in their different forms: peasants, commoners, laborers, state employees, self-employed persons, homemakers, middle class, the majority of our country. There, is where the principle impacts of the economic war are felt, and it is there where the revolution was born and is resisting. We are the working class who marched again this May 1st, and it is from us where the large part of votes in favor of Nicolás Maduro will come on May 20th.

That is why, it is essential to defend our conquests, our social, legal and political rights, rights to quality of life, which we never had before, which were achieved by the power of organization, mobilization, conscience, construction of the political revolutionary process. The announcement of the President to increase minimum income, for example, was necessary to try and impact the amount of money in our pockets, though it doesn’t attack the root of problem.

But defending our conquests is not enough; we must fight for what is missing, both politically and economically. It means that the workers should be put in the center of the scene, as protagonists in fields, in factories, in institutions, in the productive and the participative. It will not be the big private entrepreneurs who will build the answers to the crisis and to the country we need, it will be us.

This requires concrete policies by the political direction, as well as a necessary initiative by the organized workers, who provide proposals to solve the problem of public services, such as electricity, communications, to save and cultivate productive lands. We must assume and construct importance being side by side with the people, their needs, from our historical experience, knowing that bureaucratic sectors exist that do not want this to happen, and seek that the organizations be subordinate and do not question or propose anything. This way we will take steps forward, pressurize and demand economic measures that go to the roots, the implementation of a national emergency plan necessary from today. We need it as people, as the central architects of this revolution, as every day we support this country.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro: ‘Our democracy is about protecting our people’

Incumbent presidential candidate publishes an op-ed in Spanish newspaper El Pais in which he mentions the elections, economy, and the direction of the Bolivarian process.

Maduro has confronted international threats to the democratic order of Venezuela (AFP)
Maduro has confronted international threats to the democratic order of Venezuela (AFP)

Venezuela Analysis – Nicolas Maduro is the incumbent candidate to the upcoming presidential elections in Venezuela, scheduled for May 20. He is running with the backing of his Unified Socialist Party, the Communist Party, the Homeland for All Party, Tupamaro Party, and a number of other independent left-wing groupings.

He will face both left and right wing competition in the elections, with one ultra-left candidate (Reinaldo Quijada) and three right-wing candidates (Alejandro Ratti, Javier Bertucci, and Henri Falcon).

The following is an op-ed he wrote in Spanish newspaper El Pais.

By Nicolas Maduro – El Pais

Our democracy is unlike any other. Because all other democracies – in practically every country in the world – were created by and for the elites. In these democracies, what’s fair is what is convenient for a few. They are class-biased democracies, where the many are viewed as greater in number but lower in quality.

But not in Venezuela. In Venezuela, democracy is there for the many, and what’s fair is what’s good for all the people. And because people’s needs are undergoing constant change and renewal, ours is a revolutionary project in a permanent state of change.

For instance, 20 years ago it was quite normal in Venezuela to be born in violent obstetric conditions. None of us ever considered that at the moment of birth, it is not just the newborn’s health that is at risk, but also the health and the rights of the mother and her family. But the revolution changed and it became feminist. And everyone decided to remove sexist violence from our health system and to empower women through a national humanized childbirth program, respecting their personal project and decisions about how to give birth and rear their children.

Twenty years ago, before our Bolivarian revolution, it was normal to blame young people for their own unemployment, and it was a widespread belief that poor people were poor because they were lazy, and thus deserved to have poor health, miserable wages and no roof over their heads. But things changed when we reached government. We firmly asserted that it is not fair for people to stay poor if they are working all day long. That is why, under the Chavista administrations, we pursued full-employment policies, and why my own government has launched – through the “Carnet de la patria” (homeland card) system that digitally integrated all Venezuelan women and men – the Chamba Juvenil youth employment plan to guarantee that our young people will have access to jobs and a future.

Twenty years ago, we also said that it was unfair for home ownership to be a pipe dream for the people and a reality just for the elites, and so we created the Gran Misión Vivienda housing plan, which has enabled us to build and deliver over two million quality homes to families free of charge, and with which we plan to reach five million completed homes in just a few more years.

Starting this year, additionally, I will implement a new Social Security plan so that Venezuela can once again have the kind of education and healthcare it used to have before the onslaught of economic warfare, and which had once made us a role model for all of Latin America. This Social Security will be built on an economy that is productive, stable, sovereign and prosperous, not one subjected to the ups and downs of oil prices.

The economic revolution in this new Bolivarian period needs to be innovative and creative. We have decided to respond to the inhuman commercial blockade that the governments of the United States and Europe are subjecting us to, and which has hurt our people so much, with the creation of the world’s first ever cryptocurrency backed by reserves, the petro, whose benefits are already and immediately being invested in the people, as we have always done.

Because to us, it is an essential part of democracy that the economy should be at the service of the people and not the people at the service of the economy. An economy that is pure speculation, an economy that does not prioritize the prosperity and sovereignty of the people, means famine today and feast tomorrow (but feast only for the empire). The economy is at the heart of our revolutionary project. But in my heart, people come first of all. Either the economy is at the service of the people, or it is abuse. To us Bolivarians, economy means justice and democracy means protection.

In Venezuela we use a beautiful expression to describe our friends: “Mi pana” (my buddy). There are several explanations for it, but to me it is because in this country, a friend is like a part of yourself. And that is precisely what democratic coexistence is all about to us Bolivarians. Ours is a democracy of panas, because to us, the Homeland is our pana, and other people are part of ourselves. Because to us, there can only be freedom and democracy when there are others who think differently, and a space where they can express their identity and differences. That is why we have passionately worked towards transparency, respect, and respect from others for electoral laws with a view to the upcoming May 20 elections. We are competing with four other candidates, each one of them different, but all respectful of the democratic guarantees agreement subscribed by 14 of the 18 existing political parties in Venezuela. The process will be clean and exemplary, as much or more so than the dozens of elections in which Venezuelans have participated in the last two decades.

What’s really going on is that we got tired of living in this polarized manner, and decided to turn the political violence of the guarimbas [anti-government barricaders] into a constituent power, and find one another within a Constitution made by the people and for the people. That is why I can understand the despair of the elites, who spent decades turning the people into a repository of populism, insults, detestation and barbarity. Ours, on the other hand, is a democracy that is proud to be popular, no doubt about it. It is a democracy of the people.

It is a democracy that is also Latin American, African and indigenous. Because here in Venezuela we have a rite and a founding myth. We have Simón Bolívar and Hugo Chávez, who are not in the past but who are already history. And being history, they are also our present, because they provide the meaning that guides our destiny. We are a unique democracy because we are a democracy of panas: fair, Latin American, popular and Bolivarian. In this democracy, the Other is the Homeland and the Homeland is every one of us, here and now, moving forward together. Like Pablo Neruda wrote:

“Creo que no nos juntaremos en la altura
creo que bajo la tierra nada nos espera
pero sobre la tierra vamos juntos
Nuestra unidad está sobre la tierra”.

(“I believe we shall not be reunited up in those heights
I believe nothing awaits us underground
but here on earth we walk together
Our unity is here on earth”)

Translation by Susana Urra, El Pais. Introduction by Venezuelanalysis.com

May Day on the Campaign Trail: Venezuela’s Working Class Marches in Caracas

Announcing a 95% minimum wage increase, President Nicolas Maduro pledged to resolve the country’s economic crisis if re-elected to a second term in upcoming May 20 elections.

Thousands took to the streets of Caracas in commemoration of International Workers' Day and in support of President Nicolas Maduro
Thousands took to the streets of Caracas in commemoration of International Workers’ Day and in support of President Nicolas Maduro. (AVN)

Cira Pascual Marquina, Caracas, May 2, 2018 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – In May Day celebrations framed by the upcoming May 20 presidential elections, thousands of Chavista workers marched to El Calvario park near Miraflores Palace to hear declarations from President and incumbent candidate Nicolas Maduro.

Reminding the assembled crowd that on last year’s May Day he had called for the National Constituent Assembly that brought an end to four months of violent anti-government protests, Maduro promised that, if re-elected this year, he would defeat the economic war which he claims is the cause of the country’s current shortages and soaring inflation.

“Today, I say to you, trust me, and I will defeat the mafias and the economic war,” Maduro declared in an hour-long speech in which he also ratified his Monday decision to implement a 95% minimum wage increase together with important bonuses for some 10 million workers.

Maduro, who is a former public transport worker, celebrated the May Day march as an expression of the unity of the working class and its ongoing support of the Bolivarian Revolution.

“Long live the unity of workers!” he said. “Here in Caracas, cradle of the Revolution, the workers and the people are saying that the Revolution is here to stay for a long while.”

Reactions to Maduro’s speech were varied. Whereas many of those assembled in the audience emphasized the importance of continuing the Bolivarian Revolution and preserving its achievements in the face of imperialist interference, others were critical and questioning.

Leander Perez of the Trotskyist organization Lucha de Clases raised doubts about the coherence of the president’s campaign promise to solve the country’s economic problems.

“Someone who is not incumbent can say that,” Perez said, “but it is absurd that Maduro, who has been president for many years of deepening economic crisis, would say such a thing.”

Neirlay Andrade of the Communist Youth of Venezuela (JCV) told Venezuelanalysis that her organization “calls for the end of bonus‐based forms of worker remuneration, which devalue labor and favor the owner class,” referring to the government policy of supplementing wages devalued by inflation with food tickets as well as cash bonuses administered through the Homeland Card system.

She added that “salaries are not satisfying basic needs now, so we are demanding that free lunches return to schools to reduce dropouts, while we call for lunch programs to be installed in work centers.”

The Venezuelan opposition also used May Day to put forward its election pledges, with candidate Henri Falcon promising to dollarize the minimum salary at US$75 monthly.

For its part, the newly formed Frente Amplio Venezuela Libre (Free Venezuela Broad Front), which was formed in February to oppose the upcoming elections, concentrated in the affluent east of Caracas and offered discourses demanding the ouster of Maduro.