A handful of Left Wing Writers (LWWs) have begun to ramp up their attacks on President Chávez, published on English and Spanish websites over the last few months in the run-up to the 2012 Venezuelan presidential elections. In some cases, the Left Media publishes the attacks, wanting to claim “neutrality”, i.e. presenting “both sides of a story” in the tradition of imperialist media like the New York Times, Washington Post and others. Axis of Logic has always held that no media can be neutral or “value-free” and that all media writes, publishes and broadcasts from an underlying set of assumptions.
The writings of these armchair authors are known by revolutionaries in Venezuela as “The Caviar of the Left.” Ironically, some of these attacks come from purist ideologies and a mindset that views President Chávez as one who has abandoned international support for vague notions of what a revolution should be in these writers’ minds. Other attacks are launched by writers who have infiltrated the Bolivarian Revolution and consciously serve imperialism, having developed and exploited pseudo-revolutionary credentials. In both cases, they are viewed by many to be members of the Left Wing on the political spectrum. Their far-flung attacks contain flagrant factual errors and they unwittingly or otherwise play into the imperialist plan to split Chávez’ power base, so as to weaken his 2012 presidential campaign and the revolution. In at least one case, a well known LWW waited to abandon earlier support of President Chávez, attacking him after the president was diagnosed with cancer last week in Cuba.
Axis of Logic editors and writers have been examining these attacks and have planned a series of editorials in rebuttal. We welcome constructive criticism within our ranks, which is vital to the health and success of the revolution, but we eschew destructive and self-serving critics and irresponsible writing that serves the interests of the enemy. In this series we will be examining the baseless and strategically naïve criticism that puts the Bolivarian Revolution at risk. The editorials will focus on the Leftist attacks in 3 critical areas:
- Chávez’ domestic policies.
- Chávez’ foreign policies.
- Chávez’ commitment to socialism.
In each article, we will look at specific criticisms against Chávez in one of these three areas in light of the facts and the strategic interests of the Bolivarian Revolution.
In this first article we will focus on what the corporate media and elements of the Left Media are saying about President Chávez and crime in Venezuela. Our second article in this series will focus on left-wing criticism of Chávez’ foreign policy, the extradition of Joaquín Pérez Becerra and his recent negotiations with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in the Cartagena Accords.
Chávez Domestic Policies: Crime in Venezuela
So one might fairly ask what’s wrong with criticizing Chávez on the issue of crime or any other domestic policy. For an answer, we must begin by looking at how the issue of crime in Venezuela has been exaggerated and used in the counter revolution.
Inflated crime statistics as an imperialist propaganda tool
Crime and particularly the rate of homicides in Venezuela is a favorite propaganda tool used to attack Chávez by the western, corporate media in the U.S. and Europe. The corporate media takes its lead from the U.S. State Department, which adopted a hostile position toward Venezuela after Chávez was first elected president in 1998. On their website, they issue the warnings, without documentation, meant to malign the Chávez administration and to discourage people from visiting Venezuela.
Below we provide a flavor of the imperialist propaganda about crime in Venezuela from the U.S. State Department.
United States Department of State:
- Violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. The country’s overall per capita murder rate is cited as one of the top five in the world.
- The Venezuelan National Counter Kidnapping Commission was created in 2006, and since then, official statistics have shown alarming increases in reported kidnappings throughout the country. In fact, kidnappings in 2009 have increased anywhere from 40-60 percent from the previous year. Surveys show that the overwhelming majority of kidnappings and other major crimes are not reported to the police.
- Armed robberies take place throughout the city, including areas generally presumed safe and frequented by tourists. Well-armed criminal gangs operate widely, often setting up fake police checkpoints. Only a very small percentage of crimes result in trials and convictions.
- Travel to and from Maiquetía Airport, the international airport serving Caracas, can be dangerous, and corruption at the airport itself is rampant. Both arriving and departing travelers, including foreigners, have been victims of personal property theft and muggings in the airport. The embassy has received multiple, credible reports that individuals wearing what appear to be official uniforms or other credentials are involved in facilitating or perpetrating these crimes. For this reason, U.S. citizen travelers should be wary of all strangers, even those in official uniform or carrying official identification, and should not pack valuable items or documents in checked luggage. Valuable documents and personal items should be kept in carry-on luggage. The embassy has also received multiple, credible reports of victims of “express kidnappings” occurring at the airport, in which individuals are taken to make purchases or to withdraw as much money as possible from ATMs, often at gunpoint. Furthermore, there are known drug trafficking groups working from the airport. Travelers should not accept packages from anyone and should keep their luggage with them at all times.
- The road between Maiquetía Airport and Caracas is known to be particularly dangerous. Visitors traveling this route at night have been kidnapped and held captive for ransom in roadside huts that line the highway.
- The embassy has received frequent reports of armed robberies in taxicabs going to and from the airport at Maiquetía. There is no foolproof method of knowing whether a taxi driver at the airport is reliable.
- Popular tourist attractions, such as the Avila National Park, are increasingly associated with violent crime.
- Political marches and demonstrations are frequent in Caracas and in Venezuela. Travelers should be aware that violence, including exchanges of gunfire and tear gas, has occurred at political demonstrations in the past.
All these claims are patently false. Of course, every type of crime known to humankind exists in Venezuela as they exist in all countries. But the above narrative from the U.S. State Department is a work of fiction. The only documentation the fiercely-biased State Department gives for these claims is that it presumably received “multiple, credible reports”. The editors of Axis of Logic serve as eyewitnesses who have neither seen nor heard reports about any of this runaway crime despite visiting Venezuela numerous times, traveling extensively within the country, living in the country for several years and having followed statistics on crime and law enforcement in Venezuela.
The U.S. State Department’s claims are based on its own authority rather than evidence, logic and a complete analysis. If they have received “multiple, credible reports” of this level of criminal activity at the airport for example, we must bear in mind that a high percentage of the travelers leaving and entering the country are members of the wealthy opposition who hate President Chávez and arguably, hate their own country. These individuals routinely and systematically fabricate stories that are then published in privately-owned, opposition newspapers, broadcasted on opposition television stations, and passed on to the corporate media as being factual. The corporate media then disseminates the stories throughout the west. The majority of Venezuelans support President Chávez, but most of them cannot afford to travel internationally or are denied visas by the U.S. Embassy in Caracas for travel to the United States. The U.S. State Department sources might be multiple, but they are hardly credible.
The reasons for this propaganda are three-fold:
- To malign President Chávez;
- To frighten tourists and prevent them from seeing Venezuela as it really is;
- To prevent selected Venezuelans from carrying the revolutionary message to the U.S. by denying them visas.
The leftist writers attacking President Chávez exist in two camps:
- Those who seek ideological purity and armed revolution.
- Those who are consciously counter-revolutionary.
The Ideological Purists - Politically & Strategically Inept
These attacks from the U.S. are now enjoined by LWWs who depict crime in Venezuela as a major issue that the Chávez government has failed to address. In doing so, these writers fail to separate the strategic interests and tactics of the capitalists from the strategic interests and tactics of the revolution. They myopically measure the strategic political decisions by the Chávez-led government against their own 19th Century Marxist orthodoxy, and they fail to adapt the principles of Marxism to the politics, laws and needs & profiles of the working class in different historical periods, cultures and languages. Vladimir Lenin, for example, revised Marx’ view that peasants are always conservative and would always support the existing capitalist regime, and that only the workers could be the motor of a socialist revolution. Lenin realized that, because in Russia the working class was so small, the peasants also had to be a part of the socialist revolution.
Marx himself stated:
“It is absolutely impossible to transcend the laws of nature. What can change in historically different circumstances is only the form in which these laws expose themselves.”
This particular LWW group views itself as following and defending what we will call their brand of “orthodox Marxism.” Their orthodoxy is in some ways like that of religious fundamentalists who follow and defend the dogma of religions such as Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, Judaism or Islam. These LWWs see any perceived departure, by word or deed, from their orthodoxy - as heresy and they are all too quick and willing to burn their ‘witches’ too.
Their fundamental error: A problem with this quasi-religious attitude towards Marxism can be seen in the fact that Marxian theory was never adopted as a whole by any socialist group or political party. Rather, a successful liberation of the working class must need pass through and be subordinated to a political revolution. The Communist Manifesto of 1848 proclaimed “every class struggle as a political struggle." It assumed that the working class would be organized into a political party and that their work as a class would be led by political leaders. Members of this group of LWWs have never organized a political party to lead the working class as President Chávez has done; nor have they led an entire nation in revolt against a formidable enemy, formed international economic blocs, developed international partnerships for national defense and brought wealth and power to the working class. Rather, they heckle from the sidelines, condemning decisions he and his administration have made – or not made – according to their dogma and rules for revolution.
"Let the dead bury their dead. The proletarian revolution must at last arrive at its own content."
- Karl Marx
Romanticizing Revolution: These LWWs dream of revolution “now” at the barrel of a gun, a militant redux of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, romanticizing guerilla battles in the mountains and jungles of South America. They envision a revolution that must need involve military campaigns, violence and extra judicial killings, the very methods now being used to advance capitalism in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, Libya and other countries that find themselves in the cross hairs of the enemy.
In 1994/1995 President Chávez and his followers abandoned this approach for a systematic and peaceful revolution that adheres to the rule of law, now enshrined in the 1999 Venezuelan constitution. Chávez is a bulwark against another violent revolution in Latin America and he protects the human rights even of his enemies. He has institutionalized the rule of the proletariat and changed the social and political power structure in Venezuela. In doing so, he serves as a model for revolution in the current period of militant imperialism, redefining international law based on universal values and exposing the hypocrisy of the enemy. The pace of the Bolivarian Revolution is too slow for these LWWs and its methodology too mundane.
Trumping ideologies and “Out-Lefting the Left”
It is curious to see some LWWs join the corporate-media cacophony, attacking Chávez about crime rates in Venezuela without mentioning the government’s broad-based anti-crime policies and the resulting record of success. Instead of arguing against the exaggerated crime reports from the corporate media by showing Chávez’ success in combating crime, we have leftist writers who are agreeing with imperialist propaganda. They fail to see how the imperialist strategy instills fear in the population and attempts to erode Chávez’ influence at home and abroad.
In their head-spinning “analyses,” writers and websites, claiming socialist and Marxist credentials, argue that if Chávez were more purely socialist/communist in his ideology, there would be less poverty and therefore less crime. The same analyses either ignore or barely mention the enormous advances made under Chávez, reducing poverty, nationalizing corporations and banks, restoring and protecting workers’ rights, benefits and wages, health care, education, housing, and the list goes on. It appears that these achievements are ignored because they do not buttress the LWWs’ assumptions and ideologies.
The Left Wing Writers Consciously Serving Imperialism
Unlike the LWWs who seek a lawless, violent revolution in the name of ideological purity, there are the infiltrators, "posing Left", for personal and financial gain while directly serving imperialist designs to overthrow the Bolivarian government. These LWWs who once gained notoriety and wealth by supporting Chávez now abandon him, attacking him on faux-human rights issues related to crime and prisons. Their timing for this assault is not merely co-incidental; rather, it is tactical on two counts: First, cynically assuming the worst about President Chávez’ health, they think their alliance with him may not be useful for them much longer in terms of their own personal gain. Second, from an imperialist perspective, now is the perfect time to attack this powerful leader – when they think he’s been weakened by illness.
Left Wing Writers in both camps select those ‘facts’ that buttress their position
Some LWWs routinely criticize Venezuelan law enforcement and the courts as being corrupt without providing documentation and simultaneously complain that factual data is not provided by the government. These claims parrot the propaganda from the U.S. State Department and the corporate/government media of the west. Typically, the rocketing statistics for violent crime in Venezuela reported by leftist media are followed by complaints that no reliable data are available on crime in the country. Go figure.
Deception by Omission
Anything less than the whole truth is not the Truth. Both types of Left Wing Writers fail to cite the Venezuelan government’s strategic and practical successes in reducing crime in the country. How does a government rid itself of thousands of inherited, armed & corrupt policemen with little to no oversight or accountability and supervised by police captains who are also corrupt? The LWWs tend to omit information about the government’s success at removing (by attrition) the corrupt state, city and local police inherited by Chávez from the US-backed 4th Republic. Chávez did this by creating a new national police force, the National Bolivarian Police (PNB) in 2009 and deploying it in the streets in early 2010. Before the creation of the PNB, the murder rate in Catia, a rough neighborhood in Caracas, was 50 out of every 100,000 people. This rate was reduced to 18 per 100,000 in the first six months of 2010. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the average for the same period in the Americas was 25.6 per 100,000.
With the creation of the PNB, in March, 2011 Chávez’ administration was able to eliminate the corrupt Metropolitan Police Force that had operated like a mafia in Caracas for decades. Members of the PNB are carefully screened and professionally trained. Already we have seen a dramatic overall reduction in violent crime. In the first year of the PNB, violent crime was reduced across the country by 52.78%. In the first half of 2011, in Caracas alone, the PNB is credited with a 71.7% reduction in overall crime, a 48.61% reduction in homicides, the break up of 249 gangs (221 of which were running drugs, 20 organized for robbery and 8 for kidnapping and extortion), and the confiscation of 177 guns (compared with 159 in 2010).
The LWWs fail to see how their writing aligns them with the US-backed opposition in Venezuela, who despite the government’s success in bringing down the crime rate, continue to claim against all evidence to the contrary that crime is still rising.
Some LWWs attempt to “out-left the left”, demanding that Chávez follow their wise counsel and others intentionally serve imperialism with their misrepresentations of President Chávez human rights record. We note that in either case the Caviar of the Left have:
- Never led a revolution.
- Never organized a political party nor created in-country social institutions that serve the masses.
- Never had to worry about providing adequate services and goods for 28 million people.
- Never eliminated deep poverty and illiteracy in a nation.
- Never taken a country’s natural resources from powerful corporations and returned them to their rightful owners – the people.
- Never formed an international economic bloc.
- Never dealt with the complexities of running a country.
- Never experienced coups, kidnapping and threats of assassination as a head of state.
- Never had to worry about treachery or a Brutus behind the curtain.
- Never faced an aggressive enemy who has incalculable financial, military and intelligence resources and most importantly, bottomless avarice and greed.
In the future, we will address attacks by leftist writers on President Chávez’ in other areas of domestic policy. But in our next Caviar of the Left installment, we will consider the LWW attacks on President Chávez’ foreign policy, namely the extradition of Joaquín Pérez Becerra and his recent negotiations with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
- Axis of Logic Editors and Columnists