On Thu. 27th Feb., the Socialist Fightback Club, in association with the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, hosted an event at York University titled, “Stop the Right-Wing Coup! Defend the Venezuelan Revolution!” This attracted an audience of about 50 attendees from all walks of life, with the overwhelming majority being youth.

Camilo Cahis, a member of Fightback’s editorial board and spokesperson for the Hands Off Venezuela campaign in Canada, delivered a thirty-minute presentation that provided insight into the attacks on the government and revolutionary movement of the masses in Venezuela.

The presentation highlighted the current campaign by the far-right wing to replicate another coup d’état, similar to the one orchestrated by the rich inside and outside Venezuela in 2002.  Camilo highlighted that the riots that began over the past few weeks, were coordinated and organized by elements of the Venezuelan right-wing that played an active role in the attempt to overthrow President Hugo Chávez in 2002. This is counter to the perception put forward by the private media in Venezuela, and their allies in the international press, that the protests were a “spontaneous expression” from students and the middle class in Venezuela. Nor are the protests representative of genuine mood of the Venezuelan masses. Camilo explained that the opposition protestors only make up a very small percentage of Venezuelan society. Yet hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan workers and youth came out to defend the revolution immediately, in the days following the protests, but these mobilizations have been completely ignored by the international media.

Despite significant improvements in the living standards for the majority of Venezuelans, the rich and upper middle classes in Venezuela remain viciously opposed to the revolution and the government and will use every mean at their disposal to destroy the social gains made by the poor and the working class. Despite the propaganda about the supposedly “peaceful” nature of the current protests, the opposition has resorted to terrorism, assaults, murders, and other forms of violence in the past few weeks. The fact that the opposition remains a threat to the revolution lies in the fact that the revolution has not yet been completed in Venezuela and that the opposition’s base of wealth and power remains in their hands.

Following the presentation, a vibrant discussion took place. Many self-identified members of the opposition were present and contributed to the discussion. To their credit, the discussion remained quite civil. Within the discussion, there were several points that acknowledged some of the social problems that continue to exist in Venezuela, such as scarcity of common and basic goods, high inflation, and high rates of crime in cities like Caracas. Camilo highlighted the fact that the revolution is not yet finished, and that there is a tension between trying to resolve the class struggle in Venezuela while the majority of the economy still remains in capitalist hands. Venezuela desperately requires revolutionary leadership to complete the aspirations of the Venezuelan people. A revolution that would go all the way, by nationalizing the key industries, taking hold of the wealth held by the bourgeois and oligarchy in the country, and that placed power into the hands of the workers in the country, would be able to solidify, and expand, all of the gains made over the past 15 years. It would also spreading a powerful revolutionary spirit across the continent.

The contributions, commentary, and questions brought forth by Marxist and non-Marxists alike were expressed in a respectful manner and the tone of the conversation was kept at a high political level. Two hours was not nearly enough for the many interested to share their opinions , but the discussion continued into a restaurant on campus.

The interest around this event serves as a reminder to all that there is an urgency today to openly discuss Marxist perspectives. We must continue to facilitate and organize a welcoming environment, to educate and explore socialist ideas that provide a viable alternative in light of capitalism’s failure.