"Mr Chavez's claims of an assassination plot come as he is embarking on one of the most radical phases of his promised revolution," The British Guardian reported Feb. 22.
The article continued: “The [Hugo Chavez] government has announced it will take over the running of land and businesses that are not being fully exploited by their owners. Explaining the move, Mr Chavez said: ‘There is a wise old saying, the owner of the warehouse should use it or sell it.’”
Chavez said that he had been warned that U.S. covert forces were planning to assassinate him. In response to this threat, he proclaimed that if he were killed Venezuelan oil exports to the United States would be halted. At present Venezuela is the fourth largest supplier of oil to the U.S. The populist leader said that he had no intention of isolating himself from the population out of fear of a CIA hit.
Clearly, since Chavez’s defeat of the opposition trying to remove him in the Aug. 15 referendum, Venezuela’s president has escalated his confrontation with the U.S. imperialists and their local allies. The British press has been most concerned with his support of a takeover of lands of a large ranch belonging to a British company.
The British Independent, which has the reputation of being a left-liberal paper, ran a major article on this affair in its Feb. 23 issue, using heavy irony to try to denounce the move by the Venezuelan peasants and government: “Amid slogans that hark back to 1960s Cuba, President Chavez has ‘declared war’ on large, and allegedly unproductive, farms. El Charcote, among 14 ranches in Venezuela owned by Agropecuaria Flora, a Vestey subsidiary and the biggest meat producer in the country, is one of the first targets.
“Known locally as ‘the English company’ Flora is widely, if falsely, believed to be merely a front for the British crown. Many locals are even convinced the Queen not only owns El Charcote but consumes the beef it produces.”
At the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, at the end of January, Chavez adopted a very militant tone toward U.S. imperialism: “The permanent aggression that we are suffering from the United States comes from them alone—they attack, we defend ourselves. The greatest negative force in the world is the United States government.
“Our economic relations have not been much affected but they are precarious and will continue to be as long as the imperialist aggression continues. The government of the United States is becoming isolated on this continent.
“We are anti-imperialists. We are a government that opens its arms to the world. May God deliver us from a unipolar world” (from the Aporrea website in Venezuela).
On Feb. 25, Chavez took a step further in clarifying his political perspectives. In an address to an international meeting in Caracas on poverty, Chavez said that capitalism was incapable of solving global economic and social problems. “So, if not capitalism, then what? I have no doubt, it's socialism.”
Chavez stated that earlier experiences with “socialism” in the world, an apparent reference to the Soviet Union, might not be the example to follow: “We have to re-invent the socialism of the 21st century.” He has also spoken in favor of taking a new look at Leon Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, the major proposition of which is that in today’s world socialist revolution is the only solution to imperialist domination.
However, at the same time, Chavez has defended the Brazilian ex-left president, Luis da Silva ("Lula"), against the crowds who booed him because he has abandoned the historic program of his Workers Party and continued to follow the same neoliberal policies as his right-wing pro-imperialist predecessor.
Chavez has clearly reached the point of tiptoeing up to the red line that separates populism from socialist revolution. He is obstructing imperialism’s plans for
tightening its domination of Latin America. That is reflected by a stepping up of denunciations of his government by the U.S. rulers, who have even gone so
far as to claim that he is transforming Venezuela into a totalitarian state.
However, there is still no sign that Chavez is prepared to take the necessary steps to further the revolutionary mobilization of Venezuela’s workers and poor peasants on a scale necessary to overturn the capitalist economy and promote the spread of socialist revolution throughout Latin America.
As long as he does not do that, he will not really threaten the U.S. domination of the southern continent, but he may expose himself to more and more brutal attacks from the imperialists that he is defying verbally and annoying by partial actions against their interests.