There are two reasons. First, the revolution led by Hugo Chávez from the period 1994 until his death in 2013 and led today by Nicolás Maduro has established the sovereignty of the nation. Prior to Chávez, natural resources were used to promote the economic development the United States and other developed nations of the North; and beginning in the 1980s, such superexploitation was deepened through imposition of the neoliberal project. These dynamics were possible through the cooperation of the Venezuelan elite with transnational corporations, responding to their particular interests rather than the wellbeing of the nation. Chávez had the capacity to explain to the people the dysfunctionality of the system for Venezuela, and to denounce the elite as traitors to the nation. When the Chavist Revolution took power in 1998, it took steps to attain control of the production and sale of oil, integrating them into a national project that developed social missions in response to the needs of the people. As a result, today 72% of the state budget is dedicated to the social sector, including education, housing, and health. Thus the Chávist Revolution has been a force in defense of the nation and the people. Why wouldn’t the people support it?
Secondly, current economic difficulties, political divisions, and violence are a consequence of the behavior of the opposition, which seeks a return to neoliberal policies and subordination to U.S. interests. Using its ownership of trading enterprises, the opposition has blocked the importation of necessary goods to the people. And it has organized violent gangs to attack citizens and government buildings. Moreover, it has used its control of the parliament since December 2014, not to propose an alternative national project, but to sow division. The behavior of the opposition has been unpatriotic, standing in opposition to the good of the nation and the needs of the people. Why wouldn’t the people reject the opposition? In fact, if it were not for the capacity of the elite to confuse some of the people through its control of the private mass media in Venezuela, the Chavist Revolution would be able to attain a higher level of electoral support, standing as it does in defense of the interests of the majority.
The international news media has portrayed the Venezuelan situation so negatively that those believing these distortions find it impossible to believe that the Chavistas won the elections of October 15. Accordingly, seeking to maintain their credibility, the media refuse to accept the results. The New York Times, for example, cites supposedly informed persons who claim that the elections were fraudulent. These claims, however, offer no specific explanation with respect to the possible means of fraud in an electoral system with automated voting machines and international observers. They are merely general claims, whose credibility is ensured by previous distortions of Venezuelan reality.
On October 17, Nicolás Maduro held an International Press Conference, explaining the openness and security of the electoral process; and proclaiming that Venezuela is a free and democratic country and that the Chavist Revolution is peaceful, electoral, democratic and constitutional. It lasted for more than three hours, and it included video connections to the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Spain, and Trinidad, from which questions were submitted. It was broadcast live on Venezuela’s public television channel, Telesur, which is regularly transmitted on one of Cuba’s educational channels. However, the English-speaking peoples of the North for the most part did not see it, for Telesur is not among the numerous channels that are offered in cable packages of the North. The peoples of the North are being exposed to a rehashing by “experts” of the claims of the U.S. allies and lackeys in Venezuela, but they do not hear the political leaders who speak for the majority.
All of this distortion, deceit and denial from the North has its logic. The United States cannot accept a sovereign nation in Latin America, for national sovereignty contradicts the structures of the neocolonial world-system. As a neocolonial power, the USA depends on political-economic structures that ensure access to natural resources, cheap sources of labor, and markets for surplus goods; its foreign policy thus cannot tolerate any nation than seeks to sovereignly make decisions with respect to its natural resources, human labor, and foreign commerce. If the United States wants to preserve its position of power in the neocolonial world-system, it must pursue a policy of regime change with respect to governments that seek sovereignty, such as Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. The economic and ideological campaign against Venezuela, waged by the United States and the global powers in cooperation with the Venezuelan elite, reflects this neocolonial situation. Accordingly, the United States is compelled to continue its efforts to undermine the Chavist revolution as a threat to its interests; it cannot accept the results of the October 15 elections, regardless of what the facts actually are.
Although consistent with short-term interests of the global elite, the policy of regime change is not intelligent in the long run. The neocolonial world-system is not sustainable. Constructed on a foundation of conquest and colonial domination of the nations, kingdoms, and empires of the world from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, the European-centered world-system has run out of lands and peoples to conquer. Moreover, during the course of the last two centuries, the colonized peoples have rejected the basic structures of the world-system imposed on them, and they have arrived to demand a new international economic order and a more just, democratic, and sustainable world. Meanwhile, as the world-system has reached the ecological limits of the earth, the use of vital natural resources has become overextended. Common human problems have emerged, such as climate change, uncontrolled international migration, terrorism in a new form, organized crime networks, systemic poverty, and the militarization of the foreign policies of key nations. In this scenario of collective self-destruction, the global powers have a long-range interest in a change in direction, moving to cooperation with other nations in pursuit of a sustainable world-system.
Venezuela is a key player in an unfolding world-historical drama that is a confrontation between two forces. On the one side, there are the transnational corporations and their political representatives in core states, who seek to maintain the structures of the neocolonial world-system. On the other side stand the socialist and progressive states and popular social movements that seek to construct a more just and sustainable world-system. In addition to Venezuela, other key states in the current movement for an alternative world include Cuba, China, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Iran, Brazil, and Argentina. Brazil, Argentina, and possibly Ecuador are experiencing contradictions at present, but unfolding dynamics favor that these nations will retake the alternative road. In given historical moments during the course of the twentieth century, other nations participated in the alternative project for a time: Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Ghana, Tanzania, Chile, and Libya.
Among the people of the United States and the other peoples of the North, there is a general lack of awareness of the significance of the alternative world movement, based primarily in the Third World, for the future of humanity. This is a consequence of the ideological distortions generated by the global powers through their control of the media of communication and institutions of higher education. And it is a consequence of the failure of the Left in the North to encounter the Third World movements, to arrive to see the unfolding world historical drama, and to call upon their peoples to take power from the corporate class and the politicians who function de facto as their representatives, in order that the states in the North can cooperate with the neocolonized peoples of the world in the construction of a more just, democratic, and sustainable world-system.
All of this is understood by the Chavistas in Venezuela. In fact, I learned by listening to them and their like-minded compañeros in other lands, based on the premise that they have something important to say. Such encounter with the movements of the Third World is the key for the Left in the North. Encounter with the global popular movements formed from below would empower the Left in the North by enabling the discovery and proclamation of the necessary road.