Editor's Note: July 11, 2012 - The following excerpt from a discussion about the 2012 elections in Venezuela was taken from an interview of James Petras at CX36 Radio Centenario based in Montevideo, Uruguay. Translated from Spanish by Axis of Logic.
"The Syrian people perhaps have [legitimate] criticisms of Assad and perhaps want changes, but not from imperialist intervention. They want to decide for themselves their democratic, peaceful and independent future. They do not want to pass from the government of Assad to one controlled by foreign imperialists. That much is very clear and we should respect it and put a lot of distance between ourselves and the trotskyist bands that have supported this imperialist intervention, calling it a democratic revolution. Again we have an example of this failure of the Trotskyists who confuse their illusions with the realities in the world"
ChI: Continuing in the region, how do you see the Venezuelan electoral campaign?
James Petras: The U.S. politics in this are very clear: when the candidates of their choosing win elections, the elections are free and honest. If United States or their candidates lose the elections, then those elections are corrupt, illegitimate. They do not want to accept a rout. This is the case in Venezuela and also in other cases where there are popular candidates and nationalists with socialist tendencies. In the case of Venezuela we have received information that United States continues channeling money toward NGO's –non-governmental organizations - that are always a facade for the opposition that exists in Venezuela. They are full agents, organized, directed by the United States toward several tactics. And it is the political arm of the opposition that is directed to campaign where the right does not have force, that is to say in the popular neighborhoods, the lower middle class and other sectors where their may be some dissidence.
Now, their practice is not to present an alternative because they do not have alternatives with popular resonance. Their tactic is to take advantage of some negative conditions that exist, for example, in some places the trash is not collected, or a mayor does not fulfill a promise or the problem of the delinquency; that is to say that they enter and exploit that situation, any theme of a popular complaint, without offering any solution, beyond the same old clichés of the right. Now, this work from below is complemented by some mass communication media campaigns, where the right continues controlling the main electronic media and particularly the television. In addition, there are groups that are more secret, the aggressive groups, those who are going to promote some disorder if they lose the elections which is more probable than ever. So there are functions of U.S. politics on three levels: One is that of the NGO's; the second is the mass communication media and third are the hard line aggressive groups, which I have already mentioned in other contexts.
Currently and up to the final weeks prior to the elections, we are going to see groups one and two operating, the media and the politics of agitation to promote conflicts. But those in the third group exist and are expanding their networks, maintaining their threat to the democracy, even beyond the elections - seeking to introduce a similar situation to that which they created in Syria and in Libya. The key problem [in Venezuela] is that they do not have a critical mass that could rise up. In this sense the democracy under the government of Hugo Chávez and the massive influence that it has in all sectors of the country and above all in the popular sectors, makes it very difficult to repeat in Venezuela what they mounted in Syria and other places, i.e. one based on giving armed support to dissident groups to cause violent conflicts. In that sense, I believe that Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Mr. Barak Obama and their minister of Defense, Leon Panetta, have calculated badly: Venezuela is not Syria, Venezuela is not Libya; Venezuela is a democratic country with an extensive popular base organized freely and they are willing to face any violent challenge from below.
Therefore, Venezuela has a democratic vaccine that neutralizes those efforts. But that does not mean that there may be not adventurers in that violent sector of the opposition. They can think – and this must be noted - that they can cause a detonation with a small specific and violent group; a conflict, a confrontation, in which there are injured or dead, using that small motor to start a greater motor. A type of 'foquistas' of the right. But they are wrong because that type of pyrotechnics will fail like a dud.
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James Petras latest book on Latin America co-authored with Henry Veltmeyeris Beyond Neoliberalism: A World to Win (Ashgate: Surrey 2011)