Attack on power grid arouses mobilization of Venezuela’s workers and poor to resist
March 17 — A massive anti-imperialist march filled the streets of Caracas this Saturday, March 16, celebrating another victory against the latest wave of U.S. aggression against Venezuela.
This mobilization is another example of the increasing organization and mobilization of the Venezuelan masses. The latest phase of imperialist aggression was designed to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution, but instead it has sparked a new wave of working-class, anti-imperialist organization.
Venezuela’s conflict with imperialism seems to be entering a period of prolonged siege, where the Venezuelan masses’ ability to organize and develop domestic production, along with the strength of the international solidarity movement fighting to end the blockade, will be the decisive factors.
According to official sources, as of March 15 electricity has been restored in Venezuela after a power outage that began on March 7. The outage, which lasted a week in some parts of the country, was caused by a failure in the hydroelectric plant known as “El Guri.”
The Venezuelan, Cuban and Russian governments have denounced various forms of attack against the electrical grid. The primary attack was digital, with various cyber attacks originating from Houston and Chicago, according to statements made by President Nicolás Maduro.
These attacks managed to take down the electrical grid’s central data capture and control system. Even Forbes magazine, which describes itself as a “capitalist tool,” published a report March 9 which detailed exactly how the U.S. could realistically carry out such an attack.
Journalist Max Blumenthal revealed that CANVAS, an organization that evolved out of destabilizing groups in the former Yugoslavia, had published a plan for regime change in Venezuela. This plan included a power outage as a “watershed event” for “galvanizing public unrest.” CANVAS, which receives funds from various U.S. state agencies, trained Juan Guaidó and several of his political allies inside Venezuela. (tinyurl.com/yxl6th8w)
There have also been reports of physical attacks, such as detonating explosives at substations and high-technology attacks using electromagnetic waves to disrupt distribution stations. TeleSUR has also reported explosions at the state oil company’s main facility. (tinyurl.com/y53dy9lt)
Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed “interim president,” blames the government for failing to maintain the electrical grid. While it is true that the grid needs further investment, the U.S.-imposed financial blockade has cost Venezuela billions of dollars that could have been used to upgrade computer systems, buy spare parts or otherwise improve the system.
Media and imperialist hypocrisy
The U.S. corporate media have focused on Venezuela in the last few months, publishing story after story about the suffering of the Venezuelan people. This has nothing to do with genuine concern for Venezuelans. The media’s reporting has demonized the legitimate government and manufactured the narrative now being used to justify the Trump administration’s economic and covert attacks.
During the blackout, CNN and the New York Times rushed to blame the “corrupt dictatorship” in Venezuela for images of black-colored drinking water and other horrors. They seem to have forgotten Flint, Mich., where the water remains undrinkable years after cameras stopped filming.
Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams and Marco Rubio talk a lot about “humanitarian aid” and their concern for the Venezuelan people. To even entertain that claim is insulting given their collective public records.
The only thing Bolton and Abrams have done in their entire political careers is destroy countries and commit war crimes. Marco Rubio spends his time on Twitter and the Senate floor as an enforcer of imperialism’s will in Latin America.
Since Pompeo was a CIA director before he was Secretary of State, only a few people in the world know the extent of his crimes. But as an example of his great humanitarianism, he recently barred entry into the U.S. of International Criminal Court investigators looking into crimes committed in Afghanistan. (AP, March 15)
While his government threatens war with Venezuela, Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to get funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border — a racist border wall. He recently went so far as to use a presidential veto to stop it from being overturned by Congress. This is the latest step on a path that included the separation of migrant families and the placement of refugee children in concentration camps.
But perhaps the most insulting example of imperialist hypocrisy is Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria, the archipelago was without power or running water for months. Some areas still haven’t recovered 18 months later.
While the U.S. government used the fiscal control board, known in Puerto Rico as “la junta,” to destroy anything that survived the hurricane, the Venezuelan government sent a tanker of fuel. Now police and mercenaries violently repress Puerto Rican dissent and people travel for hours to find a working dialysis clinic. The worst lies that the imperialists have spread about Venezuela have been a reality for almost two years in Puerto Rico.
Solidarity and organization resist imperialism
Despite what the corporate media claim, there has been no descent into chaos. The response to the power outage has been a surge of grassroots organizing to meet the people’s needs. That’s the report from a delegation of U.S. anti-war leaders in Venezuela. (workers.org, March 16)
The government, for its part, enacted plans to ensure that hospitals would continue functioning and distributing drinking water. In the areas the government trucks couldn’t reach, communities organized themselves to collect and distribute water from springs and wells.
Grassroots organizations like CLAP, which distribute food boxes, continued operating throughout the week, and some communities organized spontaneously to share resources and information.
Popular power has placed itself on the frontline in Venezuela’s battle to defend the country’s sovereignty against imperialism and ensure that the people’s basic rights are met. Popular power is expressed through the more than 500 communes, which represent thousands of communal councils in poor and working-class neighborhoods.
Besides coordinating efforts to meet the people’s basic needs, the communes are also the vehicle for organizing communal militias. Thus they are defending the country both in a literal sense, through the armed and organized masses, and in the more abstract sense of guaranteeing the distribution of food, water and other needs.
The only imperialist tactic that has worked as intended is the financial blockade in the form of unilateral sanctions. The violent “guarimba” street protests in 2014 and 2017 failed to overthrow the Bolivarian government by force. Guaidó’s self-proclamation on Jan. 23 and the attempt to bring in U.S. trucks with so-called humanitarian aid on Feb. 23 failed to split the Bolivarian National Armed Forces.
For now, the U.S. financial blockade, which as of January has also become an oil embargo, continues to cause problems for the Venezuelan economy. The danger of further attacks against the country’s infrastructure remains, as the demonstrators in Caracas know, as they shouted, “U.S. hands off Venezuela!”