On April 16, newly elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on workers to resist the wave of right-wing violence that broke out after the recent presidential election. Speaking defiantly to a crowd of workers in Miranda state on Tuesday, April 16, Maduro said, "If they continue with violence, what we can do is to radicalize this revolution."
In the two days since Maduro's victory, the Venezuelan right-wing opposition has attacked supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution and resorted to violence to oust the democratically elected president. These confrontations left seven people dead and more than 60 people injured. Armed bands of opposition forces, angry at their defeat in the election, attacked Venezuelans who gathered to celebrate the victory of Maduro in several states. These dangerous attacks are part of a deliberate attempt by the U.S.-supported opposition to destabilize the revolutionary Venezuelan government.
Lacking any commitment to democracy in Venezuela, opposition gangs firebombed the United Socialist Party of Venezuela's (PSUV) party headquarters in Anzoategui and Tachira while people worked inside, April 16. Elsewhere, upper class students led deadly confrontations with Venezuelan security forces. According to Russia Today, these opposition mobs attacked a government-run clinic in a central Venezuelan state.
Maduro denounced the opposition's violent tactics in the harshest terms. He vowed to protect the will of the Venezuelan people, saying, "I will fight fascism and those who attack democracy with a firm hand. If they want to topple me, they can come get me."
In the recent special presidential election, Maduro defeated opposition candidate Henrique Caprilles by a margin of 50.8% to 49.0%. Maduro, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), succeeded the late President Hugo Chavez, who died just months after also defeating Caprilles in the 2012 election.
Maduro won by a narrow margin of about 270,000 votes. Despite the National Electoral Council (CNE) and at least 100 international observers affirming that the election was fair, Caprilles and the opposition are demanding a full recount. Venezuela's election process is consistently rated by international observers, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as one of the most democratic in the world.
Caprilles' demand for a recount follows in a sinister tradition of U.S.-backed counter-revolutions in socialist and anti-imperialist countries. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) works closely with the rich and wealthy elites in these countries to delegitimize democratic elections and violate the will of the people. In 2002, the U.S.-backed a coup d'état in Venezuela that temporarily removed then-President Chavez from power. The workers of Venezuela and progressive elements in the military battled these U.S. puppets in the streets and eventually restored Chavez to power. A similar CIA-backed destabilization attempt took place in Iran in 2009, with the so-called "Green Revolution.”
This most recent election marks the second time that the people of Venezuela rejected Caprilles' anti-worker, pro-corporate agenda at the ballot box. Caprilles currently serves as the face of the wealthy Venezuelan opposition. The corporate elites who funded Caprilles' campaign lost much of their wealth and power because of the Bolivarian Revolution led by Chavez. They fear Maduro's presidency will continue the trend towards a more just society.
Maduro indicated that the threat of a coup would open the opportunity to radicalize the Bolivarian Revolution. Even after the privately owned media and major corporations conspired to overthrow him in 2002, Chavez stopped short of outlawing or arresting most opposition leaders. This latest wave of counter-revolutionary violence may open the opportunity for Maduro and the Venezuelan people to break the power of the rich oligarchs once and for all.
Revolutionaries and progressives in the U.S. have an obligation to the Venezuelan people to oppose intervention by their own government in the conflict. Venezuela has a right to national self-determination and progressives in the U.S should support the ongoing national democratic process under the leadership of President Maduro. We should demand, "U.S. hands off Venezuela! U.S. hands off Latin America! Victory to the Bolivarian Revolution!"