Quarantine: Breaking the Siege of Venezuela. Notes on Politics, Economy and Migrants (III)

By Reinaldo Iturriza

  • The progressive dismantling of the mechanisms of Latin American and Caribbean integration and the encirclement of Venezuela take place in parallel to the mass exodus of Venezuelans. They are three closely related phenomena.
  • The massive dismantling of integration mechanisms, the recent prominence of the Organization of American States, the creation of the Lima Group, the aggressive lobby of the Venezuelan ultra-right, etc., are part of the diplomatic correlate of advance of the continental right, and they aim fundamentally at the isolation of Venezuela. The political and economic siege on Venezuela has had a direct impact on the mass exodus of Venezuelans, a situation that has been systematically instrumentalized to reinforce that siege
  • Paradoxically, the more you try to politically and economically isolate Venezuela, the more Venezuelans spread throughout the world, with an emphasis on South American countries.
  • Venezuela is both plague and smallpox. The intention is to isolate Venezuela not only politically and economically, but also on the symbolic level. Even part of the left conceives of Venezuela as a contagious subject, which must be isolated, contained, proscribed, as a precondition for the left to have any power option again. It is a lost case, an incurable patient who must be left to its fate, confined. Close the door, throw away the key and do not look back. Before unspeakable reality, then reality that it’s better not to talk about, then reality that cannot be thought of. Venezuela no longer as the possible, but as the unthinkable. The left in particular, or a part of it, and in general the population of the continent, have been vaccinated against the Venezuelan disease. Political use of Venezuelan migrants to vaccinate against the Chavista disease.
  • But there is also a blindness of the revolutionary forces in Venezuela. Although there seems to be little doubt about the causal relationship between the general encirclement and mass economic migration, opacity prevails over the political and economic conditions that predate the application of the first unilateral US coercive measures (2015): enough balance, and much less consensus exists on the errors and successes of the Venezuelan government when making decisions to face the severe contraction of income as a result of the fall in oil prices (2014). There is a dispute to a large extent buried in the sense, the orientations and political implications of the decisions taken or never taken in the period of coercive pre-measures,
  • This singular caesura on the insufficient strategic thinking of the political leadership of the Bolivarian revolution to deal with a hostile economic situation, which was gradually expressed as chaotization of economic and social relations, drastically accentuated by unilateral coercive measures (with the important exception that the US economic aggression dates from the very beginning of the Bolivarian revolution), is coupled with the very obvious difficulty in dealing with the migratory phenomenon. Regarding the latter, the reaction of the revolutionary forces has responded mainly to the logic of the besieged fortress: not only any dissent, but also any defection is treason.
  • The migrant is usually assimilated to the figure of the traitor who flees the fortress, renouncing the ethical imperative to resist. In this way, a curious phenomenon of cloistering resistance takes place: only the one who remains within the fortress is able to resist. For the cloistered resisting subject, the migrant, in the act of emigrating, renounces his condition as a subject of resistance.
  • The result is the depoliticization of the migratory phenomenon. Anchored in the imaginary of Caracas, city of farewells (2011) , an ode to the diaspora of the upper-middle classes, unable to deal ethically and aesthetically with a country in which popular majorities identify with Chavismo, we fail to understand that the migrating subject is another very different one: of eminently popular extraction, even from the lowest strata, severely affected by the de facto neoliberalization of Venezuelan society.
  • This depoliticization of the migratory phenomenon is a consequence or is expressed, among other things, as a loss of class coordinates: by thinking and acting as cloistered resisting subjects, we are not able to stand in solidarity with our class commons. In the most extreme cases, we even refer with a sneer to the overexploitation of victims in receiving countries, without asking ourselves for the reasons that make them emigrate, even knowing that they will have to deal with a hostile political, economic and cultural environment. Perhaps the sneer works as a defense mechanism: it prevents us from questioning the overexploitation of which the working class is a victim in Venezuela.
  • Breaking the isolation passes, therefore, through investigating in depth the mistakes and successes of the Bolivarian revolution in political and economic matters, in particular about the strategic orientation of the measures adopted mainly since 2016, and by repolitizing the migration phenomenon, in the sense of making it intelligible from class coordinates, to begin with.
  • If the economic migrant subject does not recognize himself in the Bolivarian revolution, rather than stigmatize him for his “depoliticization”, one would have to question the deep reasons for his political disaffiliation. Additionally, and taking for granted the political efficacy of vaccination tactics against Chavista disease , which is expressed precisely as pure and hard stigmatization of everything associated with Chavismo, we should be able to identify a certain astuteness of the emigrant: not recognizing himself in Chavismo may well be a mechanism of survival in a particularly hostile environment, in which xenophobia also predominates.
  • In summary, the popular, democratic, revolutionary and left-wing forces of the entire continent, contrary to sitting in relation to Venezuela obeying the miseries of political calculation in the short term and of little or no strategic importance, assume that the imperial encirclement strategy is not only against Venezuela, not even against the population of the entire continent, but against these same forces and their possibility of retaking or assuming political power, and especially against the possibility of retaking Latin American and Caribbean unity as a strategic horizon. The Venezuelan revolutionary forces, specifically, are responsible for promoting this unity, resisting the siege, in the first place, but fundamentally doing everything possible to reverse a de facto neoliberalization process that expels huge contingents of Venezuelans, most of them our class commons.

Source URL: El Otro Saber y Poder

Translated by JRE/EF

Reinaldo Iturriza
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Reinaldo Iturriza, Venezuelan sociologist and writer, who was Minister of Popular Power for Culture as well as Minister of Popular Power for Communes and Social Movements

Reinaldo Iturriza

Reinaldo Iturriza, Venezuelan sociologist and writer, who was Minister of Popular Power for Culture as well as Minister of Popular Power for Communes and Social Movements