A key figure from the newly-formed Popular Revolutionary Alternative talks about his expectations for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Published on Venezuelanalysis, Nov 20, 2020
Rafael Uzcátegui is a historical figure in Venezuela’s popular movement who was key to the forming of the Popular Revolutionary Alternative [APR]. The APR is a leftist and Chavista electoral bloc that represents an independent and plural option in the December 6 National Assembly elections. Uzcátegui was the longstanding Secretary-General of Patria Para Todos [PPT] before Venezuela’s Supreme Court [TSJ] intervened in the party, replacing its original leadership. In this interview, Uzcátegui talks about the APR’s revolutionary project, while analyzing the government’s “neoliberal” turn.
What is the APR and why is this group of popular Chavista parties and movements not joining forces with the PSUV (as they did previously under the aegis of the Patriotic Pole) to flip the National Assembly in favor of Chavismo?
A regrouping of popular forces is underway within Chavismo, which aims to build a revolutionary alternative. There are dozens of organizations in the APR, from old and consolidated parties such as the Communist Party [PCV] and the majority of the PPT [a party that grew out of the working class and popular struggles in the 70s and 80s] to communal and regional organizations and social movements.
Some of them had grown apart from the PSUV and the government which – through its liberal economic policies and its tendency to disregard other voices from within – has alienated many. Others had critical constructive positions from within the Patriotic Pole, and their voices were not heard either.
In any case, and beyond any critical position that we may have on particular policies and practices, what separates us from Nicolás Maduro’s project is our political vision. We aim to reaffirm a left revolutionary initiative rooted in Chávez’s radical project. The Maduro government has turned away from that. Ours is a left Chavista project… and when we identify with Chavismo, we are talking about a radical Chávez.
Can you be more precise regarding the APR’s identification with a “radical Chávez”? Are we talking about the Chávez of the commune, about the Chávez that moved towards limiting capital’s logic, or about the Chávez that nationalized means of production?
We defend a Chávez that understood capitalism’s catastrophic tendencies and actively opposed its logic both in his discourse and in action. We stand by the Chávez that understood contradictions but had a strategic objective: socialism. We are talking about the Chávez of the “Strike at the helm” [2012 speech], about the man who called-out his cabinet and insisted on an urgent change of course toward the left.
This was the Chávez that understood popular power as the force that is charged with building the revolution – by communes, workers’ and campesino organizations… In other words, we identify with the Chávez committed to the people that work and struggle, the Chávez that understood the people’s needs and desires and projected a better future instead of the grey-on-grey “pragmatic” politics that characterizes Maduro’s government.
Can you characterize Maduro’s government for us with more precision, understanding also that Venezuela is under a harsh blockade?
The sanctions are criminal, and they have a real impact on our economy. However, when a country is under siege, the solution cannot be to turn away from society and opt for a project of a few. What is happening is that the sanctions have become a pretext to abandon the socialist project and the perfect excuse to foster the creation of a “revolutionary bourgeoisie,” as they like to identify their kin!
If you look at the government spokespeople’s discourse (and their actions), you will see that for them the subject of change is no longer workers, the poor men and women from the barrio and from the campo. As they see it, the people who will build the future are the bourgeoisie, in a process of rapid capitalist expansion fostered by laws eliminating workers’ rights and privileging opaque privatizations and investments.
A sector of Chavismo in government became rich. They are millionaires locked here because of the sanctions, and they are not satisfied with that. Now they want to be bourgeois, so they are looking for an openly neoliberal solution.
To give you an example, yesterday I learned that casinos are operating again [they were prohibited during Chávez’s government]. Obviously, casinos are places where money laundering is the goal. On top of that, opaque privatizations are the order of the day. Add to that the Orinoco Mining Arc, which is the opening of one-sixth of our territory to the most predatory mining practices, and you get the picture. We have shifted from a rentier economy based on oil extraction to a rentier economy based on gold exploitation that liquidates nature to privilege a dangerous speculative economy.
The composition of the political direction has changed. Its leaders are no longer the young revolutionary soldiers that rose up against the rule of the few in 1992 [a failed military insurrection led by Chávez]. Now they are millionaires that aspire to be bourgeois with the word “revolutionary” as an epithet.