The What, the How and Why of the “Strike at the Helm”

Read below the fifth work in the series of special reports that Supuesto Negado prepared on Chavismo. In this installment we analyze one of the most famous and controversial speeches of Hugo Chávez, the Golpe de Timón. Is this exhortation of the leader of Chavismo to his last Cabinet still valid?
In one of his best political moments, when he had just won an election by landslide, Chávez announced a drastic change. Let’s see.


On October 7, 2012 Hugo Chávez Frías was re-elected with 56% of the votes. That same day he announced from the “Balcony of the People” (Miraflores Palace) a new cycle in the construction of socialism. A few days later, on October 20, the first Council of Ministers was held under that premise. There, at 3:00 pm that day, he began the speech that would later be called the “Strike at the Helm.”

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What did he say?

  • At the beginning he spoke of the productive transformation associated with: 1. The democratization of economic power, 2. Change in the role of the State, 3. Self-management, 4. Democratic planning and 5. National autonomy.
  • He strongly criticized the abandonment in which the other ministries and agencies of the State had the communes. He wondered if he would have to eliminate the Ministry of Communes so that the other ministries would take care of the communal issue.
  • He said that the Soviet Union was neither democratic nor socialist, but that it also fell due to external pressures.
  • He said that what distinguished Socialism in the 21st century was its democratic character and the new democratic hegemony it had brought.
  • He criticized the inefficiency of the government itself.
  • He questioned the excessive use of the term socialism, that is, the talk of socialist avenues and traffic lights.
  • He asked for changes in the public media system.

How did he want to make the changes?

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  • Making all the dependencies of the State join the creation of communes. For example, PDVSA in the Orinoco Belt.
  • Not only introducing new elements in the economy such as factories, bakeries, etc., but creating networks.
  • Stop controlling everything from Caracas and creating “parallel and coordinated systems”; that is, less orders from above for communes and social production companies and more autonomy and coordination between them.
  • Not only building roads or infrastructure but creating a new human and territorial geography.
  • Improving the connectivity of communication between various offices of government.
  • Calling on the officials to denounce the “closed preserves” or power groups that are formed in the ministries and vice ministries.
  • He asked the public media for more spaces for self-criticism, to show workers and government management.

Why do we think he proposed the “Strike at the Helm”?

  • He knew that by then the criticisms of the government’s efficiency were very strong. That day he recognized it.
  • He seems to be aware that people had more personal confidence in him as a leader than in his government team.
  • He realized that excessive centralization, one of the causes of the fall of the USSR, was also taking root in Venezuela and directly criticized it.
  • He was aware of the danger that cliques and power groups within the government. He asked that these to denounced to “drop a bomb on them.”
  • He preferred that it be the government that gave space to criticism from the people and not the opposition or the main stream media. That is why he asked for more space for ordinary people in public media.
  • In general, he was aware of the dangers of bureaucracy, as he linked criticism to verticalism, inefficiency and cliques to the defense of self-criticism and democracy.

Source URL: Supuesto Negado

Translated by JRE/EF