Maduro’s success: Principled resistance to imperialism pays off
Public housing in Caracas built for the poor by the Venezuelan government led by Maduro. | Twitter/@jaarreaza

The world has been stunned by a double wonder: Bolivarian Venezuela’s political survival and its miraculous economic recovery: the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean has reported that it expects the Venezuelan economy to grow for the first time since 2014, by 5 percent, one of the highest in the region.

Venezuela’s rate of inflation has come down from something like 10 million percent, as reported by CNBC in 2019, and described as the “biggest economic disaster in modern history” by the Washington Post in the same year, to 7.1 percent in September 2021 and to an incredible 1.4 percent in March 2022.

The March 2022 issue of the PSUV magazine Economia Politica y Revolucion reports that corn production, essential for arepas — Venezuela’s staple food — has increased by 60 percent, rice 17 percent, with an increase in non-oil exports of 76 percent.

These developments are coupled with a strong export performance not only of oil, a sturdy revival of domestic consumption levels, an abundance of the supply of all basic necessities, a rise in the population’s standards of living, and gradual and robust reconnection with the world economy — excepting the U.S. — and a successful battle against the Covid-19 pandemic with one of the best performances in the region and the world — 5,716 deaths, that is, 20.1 per 100,000 inhabitants compared with 304.18 per 100,000 in the US.

All this within the context of the vicious U.S. blockade involving over 600 nasty unilateral economic measures. Though Venezuela’s economy is recovering, it is still suffering from the consequences of U.S. aggression since it still needs to address and reverse all the distortions caused by U.S. sanctions.

President Nicolas Maduro’s confidence in Venezuela’s economic recovery is such that he took the decisions to condone the $70 million debt to St Vincent and the Grenadines, reduce half the size of the debt of other member countries of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean (OCES), and restarted the agreement with the countries affiliated to PetroCaribe with a 35 percent discount in the price of oil.

To reduce this simply to economic confidence, however, would be misplaced since it is driven by Venezuela’s revolutionary solidarity, inspired by Hugo Chavez’s political and ethical vision whose tradition President Maduro, leading the PSUV and the Bolivarian revolution, has maintained.

None of the above would have been possible without the solid support of the people of Venezuela, especially its productive sectors, namely workers and peasants — not as atomized masses supporting the government in resisting imperialist aggression, but as conscious and active citizens organized in their class institutions.

The resistance to imperialist aggression has strengthened the relationship of the mass organizations of the people (trade unions, peasant bodies, communitarian organizations, women, youth, and so forth) with the PSUV.

The party’s authority has immensely increased while simultaneously that of the right-wing parties, especially Juan Gauido’s wing, has massively weakened. At the December 2021 regional and municipal elections, the PSUV and its allies scored a sweeping victory by winning 20 out of 23 governorships and 213 mayoralties to 120 to various right-wing oppositions.

Thus, it beggars belief that preposterous and utterly false charges have been made accusing Maduro of leading a right-wing-leaning government. The Anti-Blockade Law (October 2020) and the Law of Special Economic Zones (April 2021) have been used as a battering ram to depict President Maduro as neoliberal.

Similar charges have been leveled against the government of Cuba for setting up the special economic zone in Mariel, but also against President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua for his strategy of the popular economy, depicted as a “brand of neoliberal developmentalism.”

Evo Morales also suffered similar criticisms as being committed to a neoliberal program based on “fiscal austerity, low inflationary growth, inconsequential agrarian reform, low social spending, and alliances with transnational capital.”

The Anti-Blockade Law and the Law of Special Economic Zones stipulate the participation of private capital in the unavoidable readjustment of the productive apparatus, required to bring about the desperately needed economic recovery.

In the context of Venezuela’s economy having lost 99 percent of its revenues because of U.S. sanctions, it makes economic sense to draw and harness existing sources of capital, always under the aegis of the Bolivarian state, to generate productive activity, sources of employment, and value added, all aimed at improving the population’s living standards.

However, the positive results mentioned above ought not to be exclusively attributed to these special economic laws, but, more importantly, neither the Bolivarian government, President Maduro, nor the PSUV at any point since the death of Hugo Chavez, have abandoned their commitment to social justice as a central ethical tenet that guides their politics and actions. In fact, quite the opposite is the case.

Imperialist-driven isolation aimed at the economic collapse of socialist revolutions is an axiomatic fact of history. Lenin himself was compelled to adopt the New Economic Policy caused by the catastrophic situation brought about by the economic, political, and military aggression of 14 imperialist countries between 1918-21.

As a consequence of imperialist aggression, by 1921 the USSR faced famine, huge food queues in cities caused by acute shortages, a severe decline in energy supplies, multiple peasant revolts, military mutinies, strikes, hyperinflation, black market racketeering, and the collapse of the value of the rouble. With all the contextual historic, political, and economic limitations of the comparison, Venezuela — subjected to sustained U.S. economic warfare — has confronted a similar situation of potential collapse.

At any rate, no truly neoliberal policies anywhere in the world, from the U.S. to Sri Lanka, implemented as an emergency package to deal with a severe economic crisis have ever produced an improvement in any country’s economic performance, rise in the standards of living, expansion of the self-organization of the mass of the people (workers, peasants, women, youth, pensioners, and the poor in general) and greater political support for the government that implemented them.

This is obvious to even the most superficial observers of current affairs in Latin America who find it difficult to deny that it is neoliberal policies that lie at the heart of the catastrophic failure of domestic oligarchies in Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Honduras, Mexico, Argentina to consolidate their rule, a malaise that is currently hitting the narco-state of Colombia and fascist President Bolsonaro in Brazil hard.

Joe Biden’s desperation to obtain extra sources of oil supplies led him to send a U.S. delegation to talk directly to President Maduro — a government the U.S. does not recognize — on at least two occasions, which have resulted in a stronger reassertion of Venezuela’s national sovereignty and a massive vindication of Maduro’s legitimacy.

Thus far these peculiar encounters have produced a very mild easing of U.S. sanctions but a strengthening of Caracas’s demand for the full lifting of all sanctions and a formal recognition of President Maduros’ democratically elected government.

Contrast this with Europe’s abject submissiveness to Washington’s diktats. Nevertheless, Washington remains committed to “regime change” in Venezuela and continues to recognize the obsolete 2015-elected National Assembly and Guaido as “the interim President of Venezuela” — both confirmed in an official State Department statement as recently as May this year.

With the strong economic recovery presided over and led by President Maduro’s government and the PSUV, the revolution has entered a phase of deepening the transition from a rentier, oil-export-based economy, to economic diversification and import-substitution, aimed at continuing the socialist transformation of the state, society, and economy.

All these objectives were reaffirmed at the PSUV’s fifth national congress, held with a vibrant atmosphere in March to coincide with the ninth anniversary of Chavez’s death.

In case there is any remaining doubt about the socialist direction of Bolivarian Venezuela, there are well over four million citizens organized in the people’s militia to assuage anybody’s misgivings.

Morning Star


Francisco Dominguez
Francisco Dominguez

Francisco Dominguez is head of the Research Group on Latin America at Middlesex University. He is also the national secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign in the U.K. and co-author of "Right-Wing Politics in the New Latin America" (Zed Books, 2011). Dominguez came to Britain in 1979 as a Chilean political refugee.