1882 Woodbine St.
Queens, NY 11385
February 10, 2019
Sunday, 5-7 PM
Juan Guaidó’s recent speech declaring himself interim president of Venezuela has triggered a crisis of legitimacy in that country. This crisis is a long time in the making, however: dating not just to the failed policies of Nicolás Maduro (head of state since 2013), but those of his celebrated predecessor Hugo Chávez (who held that position from 1999 until his death). Falling oil prices and administrative incompetence have depleted the country’s wealth and gutted its social programs, once the showpiece of “socialism for the twenty-first century.” Now aisles in stores are left empty, as food and other vital goods are in short supply. Between three and four million Venezuelans have fled over the last few years alone.
Guaidó is auditioning for the role of US puppet, to be sure, and enemies of the Bolivarian “Revolution” have been quick to recognize him as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Yet his naked opportunism should not blind us to the impoverished reality of Chavismo or prevent us from criticizing its palpable failures. While imperialist meddling must of course be opposed by revolutionaries, this need not entail support for a populist strongman managing a corrupt capitalist petrostate. Despite its leftwing rhetoric and lip-service to past revolutions, the Venezuelan government under Chávez and Maduro was never more than the rule of the Boliburguesía. Under no circumstance should we pick sides between rival bourgeois factions.
In order to counter misinformation spread by the pro-Maduro and pro-Guaidó camps, then, and offer an alternative to this crude either/or logic, we will talk to two longstanding critics of Bolivarianism who at the same time have no truck with Guaidó or his followers.
Simón Rodríguez Porras is a composer and militant in International Workers’ Unity (part of the Fourth International). He recently coauthored Porque Fracaso el Chavismo [Why Chavismo Failed] available in English and Spanish in and translated to Portuguese as well. (We may have some Spanish copies available at the event)
Rodolfo Montes de Oca is a lawyer and writer, a found of the Anarchist Black Cross in Venezuela, with a coñazo of books and pamphlets. Most recently he coauthored Contracorriente: La historia del movimiento anarquista en Venezuela [Countercurrent: A History of the Anarchist Movement in Venezuela].
Arianna Lucia is a communist originally hailing from Caracas. She moved to the United States in 2007, and now lives in NYC.
- Nuevo Curso, “Venezuela: Neither Government Nor Opposition” (January 23, 2019)
- Michael Roberts, “The Tragedy of Venezuela” (August 3, 2017)
- Sergio López, “President Chávez is a Tool of God” (April 21, 2009)