The elections in Venezuela to be held this Sunday, May 20, have important implications, not only in Venezuela but also across the region, as the socialist nation remains one of the only surviving progressive countries in Latin America, which continues to be a beacon of hope and resistance for revolutionary movements across the world.
The Dawn News spoke to Zuleyma Vergel of Corriente Revolucionaria Bolívar y Zamora, a grassroots peasants and workers organization, to learn about the perspectives of social movements in Venezuela on the elections
-What are people feeling days before the elections?
I would start by saying that these are crucial days and it is necessary that we, as Chavistas, remain alert about the plans of the right-wing to destabilize this process again before elections. May 20 is the key date, when, hopefully, the reelection of Nicolás Maduro as President of the Republic will occur. This is necessary because precisely the dimensions of the conflict today are such that we cannot afford to lose the revolutionary momentum, and much less can we afford the loss of political power. So all of us, the Venezuelan people, will come together again on Sunday May 20, mobilized for the final moment to defend the revolution with our vote.
-What are the major challenges for Chavismo in these elections? And for the social movements?
First, we think that we must guarantee the victory this May 20 with a high-level of participation, and with the greatest number of votes. And after this, we have to defend the results.
On the other hand, after winning the elections, it will be necessary to put into action a national emergency plan with regards to economy, to address both the urgent and the strategic needs. This means beginning to revise the key areas that make up our economy, amongst other things.
Thirdly, from the political point of view, it is urgent to work further on revolutionary aspects of the democratic nature of this project, such as the greatest participation of the people and the construction of this people’s protagonism that we have been building since the beginning. As well as from different organizational forms like community councils, communes and any other expression of organization. So I believe it is a key task, and fundamental to do from the social movements.
This is the challenge for the social movements in Venezuela: building unity within Chavismo, we should convert this into a political instrument that accompanies the people in their struggles. From the social movements we should continue working towards ideological and political education for our grassroots, which will allow us to continue elevating levels of consciousness of the people. Until this has been achieved, the Venezuelan people will continue to resist in the face of imperialist attacks, and we will defend the project of Chavez.
-What does a vote for Maduro mean right now?
In this electoral process, Chavismo in its totality is lead by the candidacy of Nicolás Maduro for reelection. It is important to remember that we are coming from three electoral victories. One of which was the victory in the National Constituent Assembly, which neutralized the siege of and destabilization by the Venezuelan right-wing, whose plan was led by the United States.
The second victory was of the governorships, where we were able to win 18 governors of the 23 up for reelection. Then came the elections for the mayor’s offices, in which we won 308 out of the 335 that there are in the country. Now, a possible victory on May 20 will allow us to stabilize the political power in Venezuela.
The candidacy of Nicolas Maduro is challenged by candidates of the right wing, which is in a crisis. Apart from the high-level of fragmentation that has been happening in the right wing as they faced defeats after defeats in prior elections, they also do not have the support of the people and are not regarded as real leaders. So this is why it is important to bring Nicolás Maduro back to the presidency. A vote for Nicolás Maduro in this moment means the continuity of the project of Chávez, that is the project in which the majorities in Venezuela see ourselves represented.
It is also necessary to say that today in Venezuela there are two antagonistic models in dispute. One is the model of peace, led by Nicolás Maduro and the other is the model of war, led by the Venezuelan right-wing, the international right-wing and of course the United States is at the forefront of this.
-What do you think will be the actions of US imperialism in response to a victory of Maduro?
To stop Maduro’s victory is of utmost importance to United States. Their plan is now in an accelerated phase. For example they won’t recognize Nicolás Maduro as President if he wins. They will increase their methods of economic embargo. There is also the possibility force being initiated against the country from within, using the the right-wing, or from outside, by using complicit governments like with the Government of Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, the Government of Mauricio Macri in Argentina, the Government of Michel Temer in Brazil, among others. But the logic of the conflict tells us that nothing will stop with the victory of Nicolás Maduro.
-What are the proposals of presidential candidate Henri Falcón for Venezuela? Why must his project be resisted?
His principal proposal which has been the base of his campaign, is the dollarization of the country’s economy, something that is not the solution for the economic problem that Venezuela is facing today. Additionally it has been clearly generated by distinct actions of imperialism against us, and this perverse attack has asphyxiated the Venezuelan economy. So this is the motive for which the Venezuelan people resist this proposal of Falcón. And therefore, despite the aggressions and the hundreds of attempts that they have made to morally break Chavismo, the Venezuelan people, I would say, are not willing to back down. We, the Chavista people, are going to continue building the project of Chávez, in order to defend our achievements as well as to continue fighting for what is left.