The following is a letter sent to the WSWS by a correspondent of the newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! raising concerns of their recent coverage of Hugo Chavez
I was appalled by the 8 March article on the World Socialist Website entitled 'Hugo Chavez and socialism' (see: www.wsws.org/en/
The article admits that there is 'popular support for the undeniable, albeit limited, improvements in social conditions for the country’s most impoverished layers under his presidency. This includes a halving of the poverty rate, which still remains above Latin America’s average.' In fact, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, Venezuela now has the third lowest levels of poverty in Latin America. When Chavez was first elected in 1998, poverty stood at 50.4%. By 2011 it had fallen to 27.8% and it continues to fall. About 2.5 million Venezuelans were helped out of extreme poverty in the same period and Venezuela achieved a drop in inequality 'unparalleled in Latin America' (Brookings Institute), falling over 2% year on year to achieve the lowest levels of inequality in the region (after Cuba).
Venezuela has wiped out illiteracy, brought infant mortality down from 25 to 13 per 1,000 live births, provided free health care and education for all, and built 700,000 units of social housing in the last two years alone. At a time when crisis-ridden imperialist states like Britain are viciously cutting back on welfare and attacking the right of working class people to housing, the Venezuelan revolution allows Marxists to show that there is an alternative.
The WSWS deserts Marxism and ignores these facts to back up its reactionary position that 'the “Bolivarian revolution” has done nothing to alter Venezuela’s status as a nation dependent upon and oppressed by imperialism.' Venezuelans know that this is a lie. For most of the 20th Century Venezuela was ruled by a corrupt elite allied to imperialist oil interests. Venezuela is an oppressed nation fighting for national liberation and socialism. The WSWS assertion that Chavez was a 'bourgeois nationalist' is not only false, but ignores the central point. As Lenin wrote in 1914, 'The bourgeois nationalism of any oppressed nation has a general democratic content that is directed against oppression, and it is this content that we unconditionally support'. The movement towards socialism is driven by the oppressed people of Venezuela and found its expression in the revolutionary leadership of Hugo Chavez.
The WSWS fails to identify where support for Chavez came from. It is the working class which has directly radicalised the revolutionary process, from defeating the imperialist-backed coup in 2002 to the growth of communas and new forms of socialist democracy. The WSWS is right to say that 'the class struggle in Venezuela and throughout Latin America will intensify under the impact of the deepening global capitalist crisis' but sees the only prospect for socialism as through setting up local branches of its own Trotskyist trend. But the Venezuelan people are fighting in the real world. In continuing their struggle after the death of their heroic leader, they have the support of socialist Cuba and revolutionary movements throughout Latin America. They have the solidarity of oppressed people from Palestine to Greece. By attacking the achievements of the Venezuelan people, the WSWS ends up on the side of socialism's enemies.
Louis Brehony, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!