Strength and Weakness of the Bolivarian Revolution
Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2004
By Omar Gómez
Caracas, August 5th, 2004
Translated by Jutta Schmitt
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Revolution (concerning the role of the telecommunications company, CANTV)
The revolution that we are experiencing in Venezuela differs in an absolute manner from the processes that have developed in other countries. In Nicaragua, for instance, the Sandinista Forces, when coming to power, could not count on the enormous resources of an industry like PDVSA, that were able to finance the development of social welfare, and which had the potential to constitute a weapon against North American interventionism. In Chile, Salvador Allende could not count on loyal Armed Forces that would allow him to counter the coup d'état. In Cuba, Fidel Castro had to battle against more than 40 years of economic blockade and attempts of invasion, what resulted in the revolution not having been able to advance at the pace and capacity it could have, if given a chance. There are innumberable examples that show the differences and advantages of the Revolution in Venezuela with regard to other revolutionary processes.
To be in the possession of one of the world's most important oil industries, to have the Armed Forces at one's side and, above all, to have the most widespread and categorical backing of the people, like has been proven by all polls concerning the upcoming referendum, all this indicates that our Revolution has an important solidity. But still, the Revolution has a limping leg.
In our present, competitive world, globalized and technologized to a high degree, energy and communication are the most important strategical elements of any nation, for the control of which violent wars are being waged like that in Iraq, or referendae being held like that in Bolivia, concerning its natural gas resources. Who controls energy and communications, controls the world. This is what the United States of America know all too well, and they do not even bother to hide these goals as their imperial policy unfolds.
In Venezuela and as evident in the course of the April 2002 coup d'état, as well as during the sabotage of the petroleum industry in December 2002/January 2003, the objective of the insurgents was to eliminate and privatize PDVSA on a national level, and to liquidate OPEC on the international level. This goal remained present during both assaults, in the coup d'état and during the sabotage, and it still remains present in the opposition's "Consensus Plan for the Country" or "Consensus Plan for Bush", as renamed by our president. However, the Revolution has actually managed to see that the energy sector stays firmly in the hands of the Venezuelan people to their own benefit, day after day. If this, unfortunately, does not apply to the electricity sector, at least it holds true in the realm of oil and gas production.
Now, when we pointed out the limping leg of the Revolution, we refer to the other aspect that makes today's world go round, which is the aspect of communications, controlled here by people sympathetic to the interests of the United States. The neoliberal package as introduced in Venezuela under the second government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, had included, amongst other measures, the privatization of almost all State-run enterprises. Particularly, in the year 1991, the Venezuelan Investment Fund, via international bid, sold 40% of the nation's telecommunications company CANTV to VenWorld Consortium, shareholder of former GTE, today Verizon Communications Inc. Later, under Rafael Caldera's government and trhough a public bid, a 34,8% of the shares that were still in possession of the State, were being sold. Today, these shares are dispersed among diverse shareholders around the world. It is important to point out, that when CANTV was sold, the opening up of the telecommunications sector had not yet been legalized, as would only be the case in the year 2000; that means, that CANTV constituted a monopoly, which was logical given that it had been a State owned company, and when being privatized, it kept enjoying the advantages of its market monopoly for various years.
Today, it is precisely communication that is the weak point of the Revolution. The private mass communication media constitute an undeniable majority in charge of twisting - for now in vain - the will of the people. These mass communication media have committed and keep committing their daily offences with impunity and under the passive eyes of a judicial power, that does not exercise the role it should, above all in times of revolution. Also, the Law of Social Responsibility of Radio and TV is still waiting to be approved. So, with the majority of the mass media being in the hands of the opposition, and if we add to this the fact, that the main telecommunications enterprise in the country also is clearly compromised with the interests of the United States, this constitutes categorical proof that the communications sector is the limping leg of the Revolution.
In the face of this situation it is imperative to analyse the proposal to re-nationalize CANTV. After a meeting with CANTV's CEO Gustavo Roosen, on July 28th this year, the very Vice President of the Republic, José Vicente Rangel, declared, that he had never been in favour of privatizing CANTV because he considers it as detrimental to the interests of the Venezuelan State as the privatization of the country's oil industry, PDVSA, for being a matter of high, national security interest. Thus, the re-nationalization of CANTV and the approbation and implementation of the Law for Social Responsibility of Television and Radio, are necessary strategies to fortify the Revolution.