Where We Can Progress When the Government Is in Our Hands
Thus far, I have given a broad overview of some of the characteristics of twenty-first century socialism. Now I will go into some of the concrete measures that—using the state bequeathed to us but run by revolutionary cadres—can be taken, in order to move toward that goal, provided that the political will to do so exists.
Move toward a New Regional Integration
Left governments can gain a lot of ground in the international sphere. Since we know how powerful the Northern Empire is, Bolívar’s ideas about the need to unify our countries are more and more relevant. Isolated, we will achieve very little; working in coordination, we will gain respect and be able to find economic, political, and cultural solutions that make us less and less dependent on the big world blocs. The creation of ALBA, Petrocaribe, Telesur, Radio del Sur, Bank of the South, UNASUR and its Defense Council, the Sucre (ALBA’s trading currency unit), and many other initiatives means we have moved fairly far in this direction.
Conquering Spaces Formerly Capital’s Domain
It is possible, using the inherited state, to start a process of recovering spaces that were lost as a result of the privatizations during the neoliberal period and of beginning to create new spaces under the control of the people’s government.
The clearest example of this in Venezuela was the recovery of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) , the oil company. Although formally in the hands of the state—it was nationalized August 29, 1975, during Carlos Andrés Pérez’s presidency—it was not run by the government but by neoliberal managers, who had their own agenda that coincided with the interests of the dominant economic groups. The oil sabotage of late 2002 and early 2003 allowed the Venezuelan government to get rid of the coup-supporting, anti-national managers and replace them with new managers who supported the Bolivarian process. This meant the government could recover control of the company and use the surplus for social use.
The Venezuelan government has also been able to nationalize or renationalize such important strategic companies as the Orinoco Steelworks, cement, plastic, and telecommunications companies, food processing installations such as Conservas Alimenticias La Gaviota (a sardine tinning plant), Lácteos de los Andes (Andes Dairy Products), sugar mills, silos, coffee roasting plants, and refrigerated storage companies.133 The state also took over one of the biggest private banks, the Banco de Venezuela, which belonged to the Spanish-owned Grupo Santander; more recently it took control of the Exito chain of supermarkets and intends to hand it over to the workers to manage. Ownership of the means of production must become increasingly social, but there is a role for small-scale private property.
Implement a Coherent Strategy Aimed at Changing the Relations of Production
These changes won’t happen overnight. It is a complex process, which needs time. As Lebowitz says, “It is not simply a matter of changing property ownership. This is the easiest part of building the new world. Far more difficult is changing productive relations, social relations in general, and attitudes and ideas.”134 It is necessary, therefore, to design a coherent strategy aimed at transforming the existing relations of productions into the new relations that are the hallmark of twenty-first century socialism. The steps to be taken and the speed with which these can be implemented depend on the starting point and on the existing balance of forces.
To explain this more clearly, I list below some of the steps that will have to be taken: first, when dealing with state-owned companies; second, when dealing with cooperatives; and third, when dealing with capitalist companies.
It goes without saying that the easiest transition is the one that can take place in state companies, since these are formally owned by society in general and are explicitly directed to serve the interests of that society. In such companies it would be possible to move from formal ownership to real appropriation by:
- Creating councils of workers that would allow workers to play a part in running the company;
- Organizing production to satisfy communal needs;
- Opening the books and ensuring complete transparency, which would allow workers to exercise a social accounting function and to combat waste, corruption, and bureaucratic interest;
- Electing managers who share this vision and who have the trust of the workers;
- Applying a new type of efficiency in these companies, one which, as it improves productivity, makes it possible for the workers to achieve more and more human development (e.g., introducing a workday that includes time for worker education so workers’ involvement in management is truly effective and not merely formal); and applying a new type of efficiency that also respects the environment.
According to Lebowitz, it is possible that specific companies that follow this type of social policy may not, initially, be profitable. However, since these are policies that can be thought of as social investment, all of society should cover their cost.
Cooperatives must be encouraged to overcome their narrow orientation only toward the interests of the group that makes up the cooperative. One way to do this is to develop organic links with the rest of society. It is therefore important to encourage them to forge links between themselves (the cooperatives) so they relate to each other in a cooperative way instead of a competitive way. In some cases, it might be possible to integrate their activities directly without their being separated by commercial operations.
It is also important to forge relations between cooperatives and the communities. This is the best way to begin to move away from the private interests of each cooperative and focus on the interests and needs of people in general.
It might be possible to transform capitalist companies gradually by finding various ways to subordinate their economic activity to the interests of the national economic plan. Lebowitz has called this “socialist conditionality.” These measures could include:
- Demanding transparency and open books so that communities and workers can inspect them;
- Using a system of prices and taxes that obliges companies to transfer a portion of their surpluses to other sectors of the economy, and thus making it possible to set up new companies or to improve social services for the population;
- Using competition with state companies or with subsidized cooperatives to oblige capitalist companies to lower their prices and reduce their profits;
- Using government regulations that require companies to transform the workday, so that a given number of hours is set aside for educating workers; and requiring companies to implement specific ways for workers to participate in making decisions about how companies will be run.
But why would capitalist companies accept such impositions, if they can simply move to other parts of the world where these costs do not exist? They might be willing to do so if the owners have a strong patriotic consciousness and if the revolutionary government rewards their collaboration with the national development plan by giving them easy credit from state banks and by guaranteeing that state companies or the state itself will purchase their products at prices acceptable to them. That is, the state can use its power to change the rules of the game under which capitalist companies can survive.
If, however, the revolutionary government’s aim is to begin to move toward a society without exploiters and exploited, why design a strategy to incorporate capitalist companies into the national plan, if, by definition, they continue to exploit workers? The reason is simple: because, overnight, the state is not capable of running all these companies. It has neither the economic resources nor the managerial experience needed.
We must never lose sight of the fact that capitalist companies placed in this situation will continually try to reduce the burden of the aforementioned “socialist conditionality.” At the same time, the revolutionary government, with the cooperation of workers and communities, will try to introduce more and more socialist features into these companies. There will be, therefore, a process of class struggle in which some will attempt to recover lost ground by returning to the capitalist past, and others will attempt to replace capitalist logic with a humanist, solidarity-based logic, which makes it possible for all human beings to develop fully.
Changing the Rules of the Game and Creating New Institutions
One of the first tasks of left governments has been to change the rules of the institutional game by means of a constituent process that has allowed them to develop new constitutions.135 This step must not be taken in a voluntarist manner. If a government is to promote a constituent process, it must be certain that it will win. It only makes sense to promote this kind of process when revolutionary forces think that they can create a balance of electoral forces that will allow the constituent process to lead to the necessary changes. There is no sense advocating a constituent process that won’t result in change.
It is not enough just to change the rules of the institutional game. It is necessary to look for never-before used ways to fight against the inherited bureaucratic apparatus. This is what the Bolivarian revolutionary government did in order to provide assistance to the most neglected sectors: it decided to create institutions that set up programs outside of the old state apparatus. This is the objective of the different social missions that were created by the government: Misión Barrio Adentro (to provide health care to the poor neighborhoods); Misión Milagro (to attend to those who have vision problems); Misión Mercal (to supply food and essential products at lower prices); the educational missions for various levels (literacy, primary, secondary, and higher education); Misión Cultura (to expand culture all over the country); Misión Guicaipuro (for the indigenous communities); and Misión Negra Hipólita (to provide services to those living in extreme poverty and the homeless). These missions, as Diana Raby says, are not “populist” or “paternalistic charity” from an oil-rich government; they stress popular participation in their planning and administration.136
Why did the Bolivarian government create these missions outside the inherited state apparatus? The example of the Barrio Adentro Misión will allow the reader to understand. The Ministry of Health’s bureaucratic apparatus wasn’t able to respond to demands to provide health care to the very poor who live in faraway areas or areas that are hard to access, such as the cerros of Caracas and poor neighborhoods in the large cities and villages. The doctors working in the inherited health system didn’t want to go to those places, and they weren’t really interested in providing services; their aim was to make money. Additionally, they were not prepared to give basic health care; they were largely educated as specialists, not as general practitioners, though general practitioners are what are needed for this kind of medical care. While a new generation of Venezuelan doctors is being educated to meet this demand, the government decided to create the Barrio Adentro Misión, building medical clinics in the cerros and in the barrios to provide basic health care to the poorest people. It sought cooperation from Cuban doctors to work in them. Whereas the poor joyfully welcomed these doctors, the opposition criticized the measure, saying that the Cubans had come to take jobs away from Venezuelan doctors and nurses. They also accused the Cuban doctors of not being trained professionals and made other ridiculous accusations. However, this Misión has generated such positive results and has had such an excellent reception from the Venezuelan people that the opposition’s electoral campaigns are now saying that it will keep the missions but make them much more efficient.
The government is not only capable of creating new institutions better suited to the new tasks; it is also capable, up to a point, of transforming the inherited state apparatus by promoting greater popular protagonism in given institutions. For example, the Venezuelan National Assembly is practicing what is known as “street parliamentarianism,” holding discussions with the people about the draft laws that will most affect them.
The point, according to Pedro Sassone, head of the National Assembly’s research department, is that there exists “a possibility that what happens in the legislative branch could also be part of a new decision-making system. This means that in order to legislate we must build new spaces.”137 There is no doubt that, if this legislative proposal is well implemented, it could mean a veritable revolution in the way laws are drafted.
Sassone is thinking about a totally decentralized parliament, a parliament where the ability to draft laws is built up from the social base, where the people “appropriate the legislative process itself.” He thinks that social street parliamentarianism should move toward a different, more advanced, concept of parliament: a people’s parliament, a permanent parliament where participation takes place not only when the law has been written but also when the communities themselves propose bills.
Transforming the Military
One of the most important tasks facing our governments is that of transforming the military. But is it possible for a body that has been part of the repressive, disciplinary apparatus of the bourgeois state, impregnated with bourgeois ideology, to transform itself into an institution at the service of and increasingly identified with the people?
Historical experience in the last few decades in Latin America allows us to think that this might happen. In the years following Chávez’s election as President in Venezuela, the armed forces have played an important role in defending the decisions democratically taken by the Venezuelan people. It was the armed forces that were mainly responsible for Chávez’s return to government when a group of top officers, most of whom commanded no troops, sadly played the role of pawns of big business interests, in April 2002, in a frustrated coup attempt.138
In most of our countries, the military has been a repressive institution at the service of the established order. What order are we talking about? The order that has allowed capital to reproduce itself and that is enshrined in the inherited constitution. Every time the popular movement, through various forms of struggle, has threatened the reproduction of the capitalist system, every time that capital’s interests have been even slightly threatened, or an attempt has been made to reduce the privileges of the groups that have ruled up to that point, the armed forces have been called in to impose order. That is to say, to keep bourgeois order, the inherited system of institutions. It is symptomatic that in Bolivia the armed forces had concentrated—and to some extent still concentrate—their soldiers around the mines in the rebellious Altiplano and the Chapare, that is to say in the rebellious zones of the city and the country. The logic of this was social containment.
Today, however, an increasingly large number of left governments in our continent understand the importance of changing this order and of creating new rules for the institutional game, which could serve as a framework to make it easier to build the new society. For this reason, they have organized constituent assemblies to draft new constitutions that will institute a new way of organizing society and establish a social order that will serve the majority of the population, rather than the elites. These constitutions will ensure that the natural wealth of these countries, which was ceded to transnational companies, will be returned to our governments and will ensure the construction of independent and sovereign states. The military, by defending this new order, will thus defend the homeland and the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.
That was what happened in Venezuela. The first gesture made by the newly elected government was to organize a constituent process to change the rule of the inherited game and to refound the state by creating a new set of institutions better suited to the changes people wanted to make. The Constituent Assembly led to a new Constitution.139 The new Constitution became an important ally of the process, because defending the Constitution means nothing if not defending the changes undertaken by Chávez’s government. It was this Constitution that allowed the majority of high-ranking officers—under pressure from the people—to declare themselves as rebelling against the coup-supporting officers and to disobey the orders of their superiors. Many young officers and soldiers used this same constitution to organize resistance from below, putting pressure on their officers to reject the coup.
Our governments have been implementing various measures in order to get the process of transforming the armed forces under way—a process which will allow them to defend and implement the new institutional order in a more consistent way. Let us examine some of these.
Give the Military Responsibility for Social Projects: Assigning social projects to the armed forces so that they use their labor power, their technical knowledge, and their organizational abilities to help the most destitute social sectors is a key measure. The most obvious example of this is Plan Bolívar 2000, which Chávez instigated in Venezuela when he began his mandate. In Plan Bolívar 2000, a program designed to improve living conditions of the popular sectors, the military cleaned streets and schools, cleaned neighborhoods to fight against endemic diseases, and helped restore the social infrastructure in urban and rural zones. Venezuelan soldiers accepted this work with a great deal of enthusiasm. In fact, their direct contact with the social problems of the population’s poorest helped to raise consciousness and social commitment among the young officers who worked on the program. These young soldiers are today among the most radicalized sectors of the process.
In Bolivia, the military has been given the job of providing the most destitute sectors with economic aid, such as the Juancito Pinto bonus, to provide help to schools for the children of the lowest income families, and the Juana Azurduy bonus, for single pregnant mothers.
Provide Education in the Spirit of the Constitution: It is important that top military officers and those under their command have a vision of the world that is consistent with the new society we want to build.
Interestingly, in Hugo Chávez’s generation, most officers were not educated at the School of the Americas in the United States but in the Venezuelan Military Academy, which had undergone far-reaching changes in 1971. “What was known as the Andrés Bello Plan raised the level [of education at the Military Academy] to university equivalent. Army cadets began to study political science, to learn about democracy theorists, and analysts of Venezuelan conditions. For military strategy they studied Clausewitz, Asian strategists, and Mao Zedong. Many of these soldiers ended up specializing in certain subjects in the universities and began to interact with other university students. If any did go off to study in the U.S. academy, they went with their rucksacks filled with progressive ideas.”140
Give the Armed Forces Big Infrastructure Projects: Our armies and our peoples, even though they desperately wish to live in peace, must be prepared to defend national sovereignty as long as imperial forces want to dominate the world and impose their vision of what we must do, ignoring our projects for national development. It may be worth remembering that, in the beginning, the Cuban Revolution wanted to turn barracks into schools, but it had to change its plans and spend huge sums of money on strengthening its military to prevent U.S. intervention. Faced with an unreasonable enemy, there is no option but to prepare for war as the best way to prevent it.
However, in countries like ours, which have so many development needs, it makes no sense for our armies only to train for war and then just sit around and wait for an invasion. Some of the soldiers can be used for strategic economic tasks. Moreover, it is important that the armed forces feel they are not simply defenders of national security but are also builders of the new society. Much of the knowledge they acquire to defend the homeland can be used to repair those elements of the infrastructure that have fallen into disrepair for lack of maintenance (e.g., hospitals and public schools) or to collaborate in managing new strategic companies, or to undertake work that, for example, improves communication systems throughout the country. In Cuba, for instance, excellent results have been achieved by employing members of the military in economic tasks. Companies run by the army have, on the whole, achieved better results than other state companies.
Democratize Access to Top Ranks: It is important that all forms of societal discrimination impeding access to the highest ranks in the military be eliminated. In Venezuela, many projects were easier because, unlike in other countries, no military caste existed. Most of the high-ranking officers came from low-income families, both rural and urban, and knew firsthand the difficulties the Venezuelan people had to face in their daily lives.141
In Bolivia, as in most of our countries, an officer who had trained in the United States had more chance of being promoted. In the future, things will work in the opposite way: whoever shows the greatest nationalist sentiment, the greatest commitment to institutions, the greatest support for social and productive tasks will be the person with the best chance of being promoted in the armed forces.
Include People in the National Defense: Our nations must be prepared, as we have already said, to defend themselves from any foreign interference. It is obvious that, because of numerical and technological imbalances, our armies would not be able to resist an imperial invasion, unless our people join on a mass scale with military personnel in the task of defending our sovereignty. As Álvaro García Linera says, our only option for living or resisting, if faced with a possible invasion, is if there are
strong links between military and social structures. In Bolivia they are rediscovering a tradition of struggle from the past: something that there was called “las republiquetas” [the little republics]. These arose to fight against Spain during the struggle for independence. In these republiquetas the military was merged into the local community structure. That was how they stood firm and developed during the fifteen years of the battle for independence and were able to build the Bolivian state. This is the logic being used by members of the military themselves to create Bolivian military doctrine.142
To defend the sovereignty of Cuba, a country that is only ninety miles from the United States, it was and is of fundamental importance to develop people’s militias to defend the homeland, in conjunction with the standing army, in the event of an external threat. In Venezuela, similar progress is being made in this area.
History has shown that no empire can be victorious when confronted with the combative morale of our peoples who have risen up in arms. The decision to form the Defense Council of UNASUR has been another important step forward in the defense of our sovereignty as a subcontinent.
Recover Patriotic Symbols and Traditions: Another effort our governments have made is to restore traditions and values by modifying national symbols so that these fit better with the characteristics of each national reality. The most recent example of this is the decision that the armed forces of the plurinational Bolivian state should adopt, as one of its flags, the indigenous symbol of the Whipala.143
Build Territorial State Sovereignty: There are countries in our continent, such as Bolivia, that have not yet gained complete sovereignty over their territory. Until a very short while ago, the state did not control about 30 percent of its national territory. In the eastern strip, in a part of Beni up to Santa Cruz, power was in the hands of landowners, drug traffickers, wood smugglers, and raw material and mineral smugglers. There was no state there, and the strongest—the drug trafficker’s thugs or the landowner’s thugs—ruled. “Now we are getting this territory back as never before in our history. The state’s presence in this area has multiplied by two thousand,” says Bolivian Vice President García Linera. “Previously a visit to Pando was a once-a-year visit for the President. Now, not a week goes by but a minister visits. We have managed to make the state present in all of these territories in the country. Now there is a permanent state present with its armed forces, bringing resources, bringing health care, bringing education.”144
Transforming the State: Building from Below
Since, in Venezuela, the inherited state didn’t make enough room for popular protagonism, Chávez had the idea of encouraging new forms of popular organization and began to transfer power to them. Chávez is convinced, and on innumerable occasions has said, that the problem of poverty cannot be solved without giving power to the people. One of the most original creations of the Bolivarian revolutionary process was the communal councils, which gave decision-making power on a range of matters to the inhabitants of small territorial spaces. Chávez understood that he could not just talk about this, but that the state should help people to take power. He understood that it was essential to give each community a certain quantity of resources along with the power of decision over how these were to be used.
Later, it was decided that the ideal size in which to develop self-government was a geographical space smaller than a municipality but bigger than the area of the communal council. This is a space which is, to some degree, economically self-sustaining, and to which certain government functions and services, which had previously been the province of the municipalities, could be transferred. These functions and services include, among other things, the upkeep of the electricity service, street and road maintenance, tax collection, rubbish disposal, and preservation of educational and health installations. The idea is to create communal governments where the members are elected and recallable by voters. These communal governments have autonomy to make decisions within their areas of competence and receive resources to implement public works. As far as is possible, they will move toward economic self-sustainability.
Transition: Coexistence of Two Types of States
It is necessary to understand, as Lebowitz contends, that during the transition process, two states will coexist for a long time: (1) the inherited state, whose administrative functions are taken over by revolutionary cadres that use it to push through the process of change; and (2) a state that begins to be born from below, through the exercise of popular power in various institutions, including the communal councils.145
The uniqueness of this process is that the inherited state fosters the emergence of the state that will replace it. Therefore, a complementary relationship should be developed, rather than one in which one of the states negates each other. Of course, the assumption is that the organized movement must control and exert pressure on the inherited state, so it moves in a forward direction. After all, the inherited state will suffer from tremendous inertia, exacerbated by the fact that the cadres occupying leadership positions in it may not always be imbued with a genuinely revolutionary spirit and may slip into the same behavior patterns as the officials of the past.
It cannot be ignored that the seeds of popular power springing up from below might be contaminated by the inherited culture, and that they might deviate into bureaucratism or other things. As Gramsci says, and Chávez never tires of repeating, a struggle exists between the old that hasn’t finished dying and the new that is being born.
One of the characteristics of the state that emerges from below is its tendency to have a “local view” of reality, seeing the trees but not the forest.146 It is similar to a phenomenon familiar in the trade union movement, which often, focusing on the interests of workers in particular workplaces, loses sight of the interests of the working class as a whole.
The inherited state, however, because of its national character, necessarily tends to have a “global view” of things.147 It should have a plan for the overall development of the country, designed with as much participation by the people as is possible. This plan must advance the kind of economic, political, educational, and cultural transformation that will lead to the building of a new society—a society that makes possible the full development of all people, that is in solidarity with the poorest areas, and will foster balanced national development.
Guide to Judging Progress
Thus far, we have tried to analyze the characteristics of the processes of building socialism in our subcontinent. We have indicated how progress can be made on this project by using government power, and we have said that, in order to judge our governments, it is more important to look at the direction in which revolutionary states are going than the speed at which they are advancing. Now, we would like to propose some criteria that could allow us to make an objective assessment of the progress of our governments that have explicitly set themselves the goal of building twenty-first century socialism.
Attitude to Neoliberalism: What is the attitude of our governments toward neoliberalism and capitalism in general? Do they lay bare the logic of capital? Do they attack it ideologically? Do they use the state to weaken it?
Attitude to Unequal Income Distribution: Are they moving to diminish the gap between the richest and the poorest? Are they giving the latter better access to education, health, and housing?
Are they taking measures to ensure there is a fairer distribution of wealth between the poorest and richest municipalities?
Attitude to Inherited Institutions: Do they convene constituent processes to change the rules of the institutional game, knowing that the inherited neoliberal state apparatus places huge obstacles in the way of any progress in building a different kind of society?
Do they strive to increase the number of people registered to vote, given that the poor are usually less likely to be on the electoral rolls?
Attitude to Economic and Human Development: Do they consider that the goal of satisfying human needs is more important than that of accumulating capital?
Do they understand that human development cannot be achieved in a state that is merely paternalistic, one that solves problems by transforming its people into beggars? Do they understand that human development can only be achieved through practice and, therefore, strive to create spaces in which popular protagonism is possible?
Attitude to National Sovereignty: Do they reject foreign military intervention, military bases, and humiliating treaties? Are they recovering their sovereignty over natural resources?
Have they made progress in finding solutions to the problem of media hegemony, which until now has been in the hands of conservative forces? Are they promoting the recuperation of national cultural traditions?
Attitude to Role of Women: Do they respect and encourage the protagonism of women?
Attitude to Discrimination: Are they making progress in eliminating all types of discrimination (sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.)?
Attitude to Means of Production and Producers: Is social ownership of the means of production increasing, and are workers more and more the protagonists in the workplace? Is the distance between intellectual and manual work growing smaller? Is the workers’ capacity for self-management and self-government growing? Is the distance between the countryside and the city diminishing?
Attitude to Nature: Are these governments dealing with the problem of industrial pollution? Are they ruling out the use of transgenic crops and livestock? Are they implementing educational campaigns to promote environmental protection? Are they encouraging and taking practical measures for recycling rubbish?
Attitude to International (especially Latin American) Coordination and Solidarity: Are they looking for ways to integrate with other countries in the region?
Attitude to Popular Protagonism: Do these governments mobilize the workers and the people in general in order to carry out certain measures, and are they contributing to an increase in their abilities and power? Do they understand the need for an organized and politicized people, one able to exercise pressure to weaken the state apparatus and thus drive forward the proposed transformation process? Do they understand that our people must be protagonists and not supporting actors?
Do they listen to the people and let them speak? Do they understand they can rely on the people to fight the errors and deviations that come up along the way? Do they give them resources, and call on them to exercise social control over the process? In sum, are they contributing to the creation of a popular subject that is increasingly the protagonist and gradually assuming the responsibilities of government?
- ↩ A company created as a state enterprise in the 1960s, then sold to foreign capital in 1997, and renationalized in April 2008 after an almost two-month strike by its 15,000 workers.
- ↩ Lebowitz, Building New Productive Relations Now. Most of the ideas I set out below are developed more thoroughly in that paper.
- ↩ When those who govern Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela came to power, they promoted constituent processes. The new constitutions these assemblies drafted were then passed by a vote in a referendum. The Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela became law in December 1999, the Ecuadorian Constitution, on September 28, 2008, and the Bolivian in February 2009. The Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya also wanted to convene a constituent assembly but was overthrown by a military-institutional coup.
- ↩ Raby, Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today.
- ↩ Director General of the Venezuelan National Assembly’s Department of Legislative Research and Development; Marta Harnecker, La descentralización ¿fortalece o debilita el estado nacional? (Caracas 2009), http://rebelion.org/docs/97088pd f. This book is an edited transcript of a workshop on this subject held at the Centro Internacional Miranda, September 23-24 2008.
- ↩ It is not well known that the only high level coup-supporting officers who actually had troops under their command were Chief of the General Staff, General Ramírez Prez, and the Commander of the Army, General Vásquez Velasco. Backing the coup were several retired generals and about two hundred officers who included generals, admirals, colonels, lieutenant colonels, and noncommissioned officers. Official statistics say the armed forces have 8000 officers. Eighty percent of serving officers backed the plan to rescue Chávez. The number may, in fact, be even higher because communications were very difficult at that time.
- ↩ Marta Harnecker, interview with Álvaro García Linera, March 2010 (work in progress).
- ↩ Marta Harnecker, Militares junto al pueblo (Caracas: Vadell Hnos, 2003).
- ↩ This can be corroborated by the biographies of the generals and officers interviewed in my book mentioned in the previous note.
- ↩ Marta Harnecker, interview with Álvaro García Linera.
- ↩ Indigenous, rainbow colored flag.
- ↩ Marta Harnecker, interview with Álvaro García Linera.
- ↩ “We have talked about two states here—one, the state that workers captured at the outset and that initiates despotic inroads upon capital, that is, the old state; and, two, the emerging new state based upon workers’ councils and neighborhood councils as its cells. The starting point, of course, is with the old state, and the becoming of socialism as an organic system is a process of transition from the old state to the new. But this means that the two must coexist and interact throughout this process of becoming.” See Lebowitz, The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development. Several of the ideas that I use below have been taken from this book.
- ↩ Ibid.
- ↩ Ibid.