According to the pollster Hinterlaces, between 37 and 41 percent of people surveyed in Venezuela define themselves as chavistas , and their relationships with the current political process are complex.
Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 27 -- Convincing yourself of your own lie can be a fatal mistake. It wouldn't be the first time the Venezuelan right-wing made it.
Since the attempt to form a parallel government began this January, the have repeated that Chavism is nothing more than Nicolás Maduro locked up in the Miraflores Palace surrounded by the top military leaders tied to him by corruption. All that needs to be done, they say, is push over this dead, no, extinct tree.
In 2017 they said the same thing: They overestimated their strength, they underestimated Chavism – the Bolivarian revolution. That reading led them to carry out violent assaults and was followed by a succession of political defeats. These brought them to today’s scenario in which they claim they will overthrow Maduro, again by force.
"We're workers ans chavistas and we say Long live Socialist Venezuela!"
The reality of Chavism is different. First, it is still mobilized. The pro-government forces expressed itself not only in the Jan. 23 march – which the right wing and the big media tried to make invisible - but also in the mobilizations that followed the next two days, such as Friday's (Jan. 25) in Vargas, a town near Caracas.
It’s useful here to smash two right-wing myths. First, that the support for Maduro is due to a clientele network, and second, that those who mobilize do so because they have to. There are between 37 and 41 percent of people who define themselves as chavistas, according to the numbers of the pollster Hinterlaces.
The people’s relations with the current political process are various, with complex combinations such as alienation and exhaustion due to the depths of the economic difficulties pushing in one direction, and the desire to close ranks when it is evident that Venezuelans are facing a coup d'état directed from the United States.
This chavismo also has another characteristic: its levels of organization and politicization. There is an organizational fabric in the popular neighbourhoods, rural areas. These consist of communal councils, communes, local supply and production committees, communal markets, peasant councils, productive enterprises, Bolivarian militias, among other initiatives.
Chavismo has an associative and territorial dimension. The right does not have an organized presence in this area, which is why it resorts to armed and paid groups to create focal points that can gain the backing of the local people.
Add to this network the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the main political instrument of Chavismo. It’s the largest party in the country, which has not shown splits. The reflection of unity in the face of aggression is powerful. The right seeks to split it, to provoke defections, defectors who are later presented as heroes.
This political strength is combined with the lack of response to the call for a coup d'état within the Bolivarian National Armed Force (Fanb) and the different State bodies. In 2017, the right had managed to get the Attorney General to turn around with respect to the government; not this time, however, as only one Supreme Court justice left his post and applied for asylum in the United States. It is not enough for a forceful action like the one on the table.
The situation of absolute weakness of chavismo presented by the right is therefore an invention having no basis in what is happening either in popular neighborhoods or high state bodies. Do the right believe what it claims?
Of course, the government also has weaknesses, products of the attacks, its own errors, and unstable internal balances. The prolonged economic downturn is the most corroding factor. That is why one of the strategies announced by the United States resides in deepening the fronts of the blockade on the economy to dry an economy dependent on oil and imports. So it is also clear that the strength of the parallel government's plan depends not on its support at home but from international actors.
The international arena
The mismatch between the two variables is crystal clear as seen from Venezuela. Saturday (Jan. 26) made it obvious: While the day passed peacefully in Caracas and the countryside, the extraordinary meeting of the United Nations Security Council was an arena of confrontations between the bloc led by the United States on one side and the countries opposed to advancing the intervention on the other. That is where the main movements are at play today.
The right wing in Venezuela seems to be waiting to receive instructions from abroad, depending on how the different actions undertaken play out. International positions have sharpened. There is clear support for Maduro from Russia and others. There is also the consolidation of the alliance called the "international community." This latter includes the United States, France and Germany - the real leaders of the European Union - and Spain - which sets the agenda towards Latin America for neo-colonial tasks, Great Britain, Canada, and the Lima Group without Mexico.
It is too risky to predict how these variables will evolve, although so far it seems that the United States is advancing step by step within an established plan. The question that circulates at this hour is: What is their timeframe for carrying out the overthrow of Maduro? Do they plan to accelerate at the Venezuelan level once the international framework is established according to their needs? With which actors? Or do they plan to enter a medium-term framework?
There is one element that so far has not entered into action with the force that was expected: the government of Colombia.
Politics does not work like chess, particularly when the world is no longer unipolar as it was in the 1990s when the United States could make and unmake at will. The way in which the war in Syria has mutated is a clear example.
Nor is Venezuela an arena where the calculations so far have given them the results Washington expected, and the Venezuelan right has turned out to be a lousy and costly investment. The current coup attempt is the fourth assault on the government in six years.
One of the explanations for understanding why they have failed in this coup objective time and again is their evaluation of Chavism, its complexities, powers, architectures, and its response capacities when Chavism finds itself against the ropes.
Underestimating the adversary, in this case the enemy because of how the opponents of Chavism have posed the conflict, is a central error. The right-wing is still committing it. Will the United States do the same?