The confrontation in Venezuela between class-oriented and reformist trade unionism and their organic groupings is not outside the universal historical struggle to win over the working masses, either to fight to break the chains of capitalist exploitation and gain the full social liberation, or to meekly accept the modern wage-slavery and condemn all humanity to the oppression exercised by the capital.
It is well known that the organic and political division of trade unionism has its origins in the very history of international labour movement, from the moment when the class enemy suceeded in developing the reformist and opportunist trends within the movement and they acted strongly within the same. Thus, with the division of the Second International in 1914, the contemporary bourgeois social-democarcy, the bearer of class collaboration, was born,.
The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), founded in 1945 as the international center that expresses the genuine interests and objectives of the workers of the world, was divided a few years after its creation as a result of a conspiracy orchestrated by U.S. imperialism. In recent years, the right wing of the trade union movement at a global level, responding to the global strategy of domination of transnational capital, decided to unite in a single center, founded in November 2006, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), resulting from the merger of the social-democrat ICFTU and the social-christian WCL. In America, they united the Inter-American Regional Labor Organization (ORIT), continental ICFTU affiliate, and the Latin American Central of Workers (CLAT), a continental CMT affiliate, in the Confederation of Workers of the Americas (CSA). In Venezuela, the right-wing trade union confederations, CTV, CGR and CODESA - the last two almost extinct – joined the ITUC and the CSA.
Meanwhile, the Unity Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CUTV) has been a member of the WFTU since the 60's. For decades, this confederation, even relatively weak in the organic sphere, was a class-oriented reference in the struggles of the Venezuelan workers, particularly in the 80's and 90's, when denouncing and fighting against the neoliberal policies of labour flexibility, removal of social security and company privatizations, being the counterpart of the pro-imperialist bosses and the CTV, which since the 60's became a trade union instrument in the service of the Venezuelan oligarchy and their governments.
The beginning of the Bolivarian revolutionary process, with the election of President Chávez and the adoption of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, intensified the class struggle but also created conditions for the displacement of the hegemony exercised by the CTV union and the search of trade union unity, from the regrouping of the very diverse occupational factors supporting the revolutionary process. The National Union of Workers (UNETE), linked to the WFTU and which supports the revolutionary process from a position of class independence, is born under these dynamics.
Despite the progress meant by the anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist process developing in Venezuela, despite the existence of the UNETE, the Venezuelan labour and trade union movement still faces the historic tendency of the bourgeoisie and the state to submit it to their guardianship and subordination. In addition to the openly counterrevolutionary trade union currents, there are other currents that, while touting a position in favour of the revolutionary process, have a reformist and opportunist vision and practice, choosing an employer-oriented and officialist trade unionism, and advocate the division of UNETE and the formation of another trade union confederation, bureaucratically constructed from areas of the state power. This situation complicates the struggle of the workers against the public and private employers, even when from various levels of the political power there is a tendency to assume an openly anti-union position, or in any case, contrary to the independent existence of the workers' organizatons.
For PCV, the need to defend and strengthen the autonomy and independence of the labour and trade union movement, as well as all the mass organizations, against the employers, the State and the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties becomes the first priority for the class-conscious workers, both from the unions and the activity of the prevention delegates (representatives of the workers to defend the health and safety at work) and the Socialist Councils of Workers, which arise as a result of the constitutional premise of participatory democracy and as tools that claim the exercise of worker's control in processes of the production, administration and distribution of goods and services from every workplace and in the various branches of production.
This need is highlighted by the fact that a widespread tendency to place all social organizations under the subordination of the national government and other bodies of state power is developing. The issue is particularly serious in the case of working class organizations: as the petty bourgeoisie has the hegemony in the leadership of the process and the national government, it is intended that the workers decline their class independence, indispensable to demand their rights and claim their individual and collective economic, social and political interests, which are basically the same of the popular majority of the towns and countryside and, at the same time, are contrary to the interests of the sectors that basically exert much of the political power. This situation is generating continuous and increasing conflicts.
So, the struggle to move towards programmatic and organizational unity of the workers' movement is part of the struggle to transform Venezuelan trade unionism, rearming it with the principles that should guide the liberating action of our class, essentially defeating reformism within itself and serving, in its different struggles and achievements, to the formation of class consciousness and the rise of the proletariat to the condition of ruling class, in strategic alliance with other classes and strata which also exploited and oppressed.
As stated by the 13th Extraordinary Congress of the PCV (March 2007): “... among the most significant tasks of the party of the revolution is designing a policy capable of conquering the trade union movement to clean it up, to eradicate the enormous incubated vices which result of the tremendous perversion of reformism, the practices developed by the company unions, and the effects of patronage, to definitely break with their fragmentation, to become a frontline force in building a new society.”
The existance and strengthening of the party of the working class is necessary in the frame of the Venezuelan political process
Those from the Bolivarian process who believe that the working class is not the subject of history of social revolution, either because of the ignorance of the theory of scientific socialism or because they consider that their class interests are under threat, conclude that the working class must not organize itself independently, as a class. Therefore, they disdain and question the validity of the revolutionary party of the working class, trying to discredit the Communist Party of Venezuela, trying to make it invisible, pushing for its liquidation.
In this respect the Theses on the Party of the Revolution, issued by the 13th Extraordinary Congress of the PCV, held in March 2007, at a time when our party was proposed to integrate the nascent United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), a party with a multi-class character, integration that would lead to its liquidation, reads as follows:
“In referring to the participation and involvement of the masses, we must make a special emphasis on organic effort for us to meet the working class and other sectors of workers. If we consider eradicate capitalism, we must become the political organization, the genuine interpreter of the interests of the social class which, by its position in the socioeconomic structure, is not only the most directly affected by capitalist exploitation and, therefore, objectively more interested in the suppression of wage slavery, but also the one that, by achieving this ultimate goal, frees the rest of society of the exploitation regime because, devoid as it is of the means of production, does not want to conquer them for the exploitation of other classes.”
Afterwards, the document follows: “... the party of the revolution must be in its content, its politics, its composition, its ideology, the interests that it embodies, the party of the working class and all working people. Of course, this party would also accept members of other classes and strata of society, but on condition that they assume as its own the interests representd by the party, which would be the interests of the working class, if we want to be consistent with the programmatic objective of strategic nature that we pursue, socialism.”
“The precise definition of the class content of the party of revolution is a historical necessity, and is not at odds with the anti-imperialist character of the Bolivarian Revolution today. This phase of our revolution demands, in effect, a broad alliance of classes around the objectives of national liberation. Taking advantage of all the contradictions and differences that may exist between sectors of the large and petty bourgeoisie, on the one hand and imperialism on the other, is one of the primary tasks of the anti-imperialist alliance, but this alliance should not occur within the party of the revolution, especially when we recognize that the course of this revolution aims to socialism.”
“The party of socialist revolution can not fulfill its historic purpose if it is shaped under a multi-class concept that ultimately subordinates all classes, social strata and sectors of popular character to the interests of dominant economic bloc within the respective organization. The limitations of this type of party are well known in our history: the revolutionary character of the party is diluted, the anticapitalist interests of the working people are subordinated to the interests of capital based on rearrangements, concessions and handouts, the class struggle as a mechanism of transformation is substituted by class conciliation in order to stabilize the system, the revolution is replaced by the reform, the historical horizon of socialism and communism, with which only the working class is organically linked, blurs.”
Thus, our party fixed position and made contributions to the debate then open around the character of the party needed by the Venezuelan revolution. In this 13th Extraordinary Congress, the PCV reaffirmed its status as the revolutionary party of the working class, based on the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism, as assumed from its founding in 1931 and, using this theoretical and methodological tool, designed a political line based on the need to resolve the main contradiction of the historical moment, between the hegemonic interests of imperialism and the Venezuelan nation and the fundamental and irreconcilable contradiction present in capitalist society between capital and labour . Hence the need for the working class, with his party and its revolutionary ideology, to take the forefront in the struggle for national liberation and socialism in the communist perspective.