From the May-June 2013 issue of News & Letters:
World in View
by Gerry Emmett
The narrow victory of Vice President Nicolas Maduro over Henrique Capriles was a surprise. Hugo Chavez’ endorsement had been expected to carry more weight. Both the Chavistas and the opposition made much of the demonstrations and street fighting that followed.
More significant for the long run was the vote itself. The close Venezuelan elections of recent years have likely represented the tensions inherent in Chavismo itself. While Hugo Chavez did do things to benefit many of the poorest Venezuelans, he also maintained a relationship with the business community.
There are limits to how far such a balancing act can be pushed, especially in the present moment of economic crisis. Doubtless, some among Chavez’ bourgeois constituents will be attracted to the policies of Capriles, a more intelligent representative of the bourgeois opposition than the coup plotters of old.
Chavez’ Bolivarian Revolution has largely been able to walk this tightrope, but the laws of capitalism still hold. At some point serious revolutionaries must come into conflict with them, and that moment of decision is fast approaching in Venezuela.
The support Maduro got from the other Latin American governments, post-election, shows the extent politics in the region have changed. Direct imperialist domination has weakened but capital has not been profoundly challenged.