A million Venezuelans affirm support for revolution
By Teresa Gutierrez
January 29, 2013
"The people’s love for Chávez continues.”
This is not a quote from a worker in Caracas. Nor from a revolutionary
anti-imperialist fighter. This is the title of a New York Times opinion video
dated Jan. 23. Whether it was laced with cynicism and full of sarcasm or not,
it is the absolute truth.
No other conclusion could be made by either the friends or the enemies of
the Bolivarian Revolution as the streets of Venezuela filled with over a
million people on Jan. 23. It was indeed a good day for those around the world
who struggle to break from U.S. imperialism.
In a resounding show of support for President Hugo Chávez, Vice
President Nicolas Maduro and the revolutionary process sweeping Venezuela, the
masses of the country poured into the streets in record numbers under the
slogan, “The people will never be betrayed again,” to commemorate
Jan. 23, known as Democracy Day.
It is a historic day for Venezuela. On Jan. 23, 1958, a military and civil
movement overthrew the brutal and repressive dictatorship of Marcos
The date has historically been celebrated with many events in Venezuela. But
after the wealthy right wing called for a march on Jan. 23, the date took on
greater significance. The wealthy called for the march to “reject the
unconstitutional measures” of the government. This is part of their many
efforts to destabilize and sabotage the Chávez government and to roll back
the revolutionary gains of the Bolivarian movement. They have been emboldened
since Chávez has been in Cuba, recovering from cancer surgery.
According to Venezuelaanalysis.org, the major left party, known as
the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and other popular sectors
organized for the march. The right wing then cancelled its main march; a mere
6,000 turned out in the wealthy Caracas neighborhood of Miranda Park, where
they felt most comfortable.
In Mérida, with a population of only 300,000, a large pro-government
march was held on Jan. 23, the second one that week. Earlier, 4,000 people had
demonstrated to defend Cuba after right-wing students burned a Cuban flag and
an effigy of Fidel Castro.
The demonstration in Caracas gathered in three main points around the city
and marched to a neighborhood that is itself rich with a history of struggle,
aptly named January 23.
This writer had the good fortune to visit the neighborhood in a solidarity
delegation from the U.S. in 2005. Community leaders and activists told our
delegation of the long history of revolutionary struggle in that neighborhood.
Pictures of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and of course Hugo Chávez filled the
walls, many faded from years in the Venezuelan sun.
Contingents marching this year included those organized by unions. One of
their leaders, Francisco Torrealba, stated that his organization had mobilized
35,000 workers in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution. The Bolivarian militia
and the social missions that organize for the people’s well-being also
met at various points and marched.
Social media organized a “chain marathon” to report on the
marches happening throughout the country.
The main chant throughout the day, which was also picked up in events held
in the U.S., was “Todos somos Chávez” (“We are all
Significance of January 23
At the end of the historic march, Venezuelan leaders spoke on the
significance of January 23. Journalist Jose Vicente Rangel declared, “We
have to be clear that 23 January is a symbol of a people who don’t give
When Vice President Maduro took his turn to speak, the people chanted,
“With Chávez and Maduro the people are secure.” Maduro spoke
of the significance of a people who have woken up after being “tired of
torture, disappearances, misery, lack of education, unemployment, and a state
that was called democratic but only had that name because the Venezuelan
bourgeoisie called it that.”
The gains the people have made under Hugo Chávez are why the Bolivarian
Revolution is secure today. The masses have had a taste of what is
possible when a government has the political will to defend the interests of
the workers over the interests of finance capital.
Oil in Venezuela is now at the “service of the Venezuelan
people,” as Chávez and Maduro have stated. That fact puts fear in
the hearts of both the oil companies and the Venezuelan wealthy.
The movement in Venezuela has a long road ahead of it. U.S. imperialism will
not resign itself to accepting the Bolivarian Revolution. The people in
Venezuela and around the world must remain vigilant to strengthen and defend
the revolutionary process there.
In a Jan. 22 interview with Venezuelaanalysis.com, Maduro said,
“There is one thing the right can never understand. We say dig into the
ground to defend independence. The right says drop to your knees on the ground
when you see a gringo. There is a big difference between saying drop to your
knees before the U.S. Empire and saying dig into the ground to defend