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What’s Left of the Bolivarian Revolution?

By: 
Sujatha Fernandes

There have recently been a number of pieces featured in NACLA and the progressive media outlet Jacobin evaluating the Nicolás Maduro government in Venezuela and questioning the ongoing viability of Chavismo. Leftist commentators have proclaimed the end of the Bolivarian Revolution and the failure of twenty-first century socialism, and have offered a takedown of the alternative media outlet TeleSUR. These leftist commentators have joined the chorus of mainstream media in their negative evaluations of the Nicolás Maduro government, albeit with differing diagnoses. Electoral setbacks, economic crisis, the end of the commodity boom, corruption, top-down management – all are presented as evidence that the Bolivarian project was unsustainable and has reached its limits.

While some of these observations, such as Eva María’s piece on the inability of state-led projects to challenge global capital, are accurate in their diagnosis of the problems faced by the country, they are all hampered by the longstanding failure to truly grapple with questions of working class political life and consciousness. Analysts Steve Ellner and Gabriel Hetland offer a more nuanced exchange about the complexity of challenges faced by the Maduro government, and they are clear about the need to oppose imperialist intervention. But beyond the intellectual evaluations of the Maduro government, we need to go deeper to understand the political struggles of social movements on the ground in Venezuela, and to offer solidarity to the many urban and rural organizations to the left of the Maduro government who continue to critically support it, and who constitute a vital part of the ongoing revolution.