Venezuela Reaffirms its Social Course

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, despite US sanctions, continues to pursue the socialist course founded by Hugo Chavez. At the same time, unlike other Latin American countries that also claim a leftist agenda, it is Venezuela that demonstrates its resilience and irreconcilability with US hegemony. While Brazil used to be a regular venue for the World Social Forum, after years of Jair Bolsonaro’s rule and Lula da Silva’s current controversial policies (flirting with the US Democratic Party), and Cuba being uncomfortable with the longstanding US embargo, Venezuela has been quite successful in coping with external pressure and continues to serve as a venue for high-level events.

On April 18-19, the international forum “World Social Alternative” was held in Caracas. It was organized by the Simón Bolivar Institute and took place within the framework of ALBA-TCP. However, the geography of the participants was not limited to the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas, but was global: from Malaysia, South Korea and Bangladesh in Asia to Kenya, Guiana and even the Polisario Front, which is fighting for the independence of the Saharawi people from the domination of Morocco and Mauritania.

The event focused on the current global crisis with an emphasis on the guilt of Western countries, which were deservedly accused of artificially creating numerous problems all over the planet due to the greed of bourgeois capitalism, which is part of the system of liberal democracies. In other words, the collective West and their unipolar hegemony, which in these countries is called no other than the “rule-based order,” were criticized.

The speakers of the forum talked about this. At the same time, constructive ways of solving problems and methods of solidarity with the peoples of those countries that have suffered the most from Western aggression in one form or another—political, economic, intellectual, etc. were proposed. Of course, on the agenda were the issues of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel, the actions of the World Bank, as well as solidarity with the peoples of Cuba and Haiti. Separately, words of support were expressed for former Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glass, who was forcibly seized at the Mexican Embassy in early April of this year.

ALBA-TCP Secretary Jorge Arreaza and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro spoke at the closing plenary session. Former Bolivian President Evo Morales and former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya also shared their views. It is indicative that Nicolas Maduro emphasized that “the multipolar world has already been born” and quoted the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Incidentally, at the forum, Jorge Arreaza gave a presentation on “The Principle of Unity as a Transformative Element” and noted that the bloc’s goal is to achieve self-determination. He stated that “we are free and satisfied with needs met.” He also added that the strategy includes new projects to strengthen plans in sectors, such as economy, health, education, nutrition and environmental protection. It was also announced that ALBA-TCP member countries will hold the 23rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the bloc in Caracas, where the presentation of the Strategic Agenda 2030 is expected to take place.

In parallel, forum participants from other countries (200 people from 80 nations in total) were able to familiarize themselves with Venezuelan culture and various aspects of domestic politics. In particular, some participated as international observers two days later. Since April 21, popular consultations were held throughout the country. This initiative is supported by Article 70 of the Venezuelan Constitution, which implies that important issues are regularly discussed with the people. This involved 4,500 voting centers across the country.

In Venezuela itself, this approach is called radical essential democracy, although in the international lexicon there is a term, “participatory democracy,” when the people not only elect deputies and heads of state from time to time, but also directly participate in the political process through discussions of key issues. This is probably what ancient democracy once looked like, when citizens in the polis met regularly to work out a decision on some pressing issues.

In this case, the range of issues focused exclusively on domestic matters: roads, access to water and electricity, health (including sports and recreational facilities), and education. At the same time, the projects themselves differed, depending on the voting location due to local specificities. A total of 27,156 projects were considered nationwide, which had been previously reviewed by community councils on the ground.

Previously, in 2022 and 2023, the State of Miranda consulted with the communal councils and this experience was used in the current plebiscite.

I was able to visit four polling stations in Caracas, not only in the center (where polling places were set up in schools and a library), but also in the Atlántico district and in the commune of Antimano-Mamero, which are part of the famous slums with houses stacked on top of each other on the mountainside. Unlike the famous favelas of Rio de Janeiro, where even the police are afraid to enter, these areas of Caracas, which are called barrios, are quite socialized. Although they look a bit creepy from afar (although in some ways they resemble some traditional villages in mountainous Dagestan, where some houses stand on the roofs of others), there is running water and electricity inside the dwellings, and the locals are quite friendly and sociable. Particularly in these communities, the issues of improving infrastructure and reorganization of living space were discussed during the consultations.

The previous plebiscite was held on December 2, 2023, to discuss the annexation of the disputed territory with Guyana. The overwhelming majority, including the opposition, recognized it as the new state of Esequibo.

And the next vote will be held on July 28 to elect the country’s president. In fact, the two past plebiscites are strengthening the social base of incumbent President Nicolas Maduro and indirectly helping to improve his position compared to the Western-oriented opposition, which nominated 13 candidates who have neither charisma nor adequate political experience to be a real competition. There is no doubt that Maduro will win again, and the country’s current course in both foreign and domestic policy will continue.

Leonid Savin is Editor-in-Chief of the Analytical Center, General Director of the Cultural and Territorial Spaces Monitoring and Forecasting Foundation and Head of the International Eurasia Movement Administration. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.