Venezuela: Chavista debate more than pragmatists vs radicals

Former planning minister Jorge Giordani, whose open letter criticising Nicolas Maduro's government has sparked wide-ranging debate among Venezuela's revolutionaries.

Federico Fuentes

The publication of a document highly critical of the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, authored by one of the longest-serving ministers in former president Hugo Chavez’s government, has triggered an unprecedented debate among Venezuelan revolutionaries.

Jorge Giordani dropped the bombshell on June 18, a day after he was replaced as planning minister. This was preceded by his dismissal from the boards of Venezuela’s Central Bank and state oil company PDVSA, the state oil company. He had held the post almost uninterruptedly since Chavez first came to power in 1999. .

Many view Giordani as a principal architect of the Chavez government’s economic policy and representative of a more orthodox Marxist strand within cabinet.

His removal has been portrayed as evidence of a widening rift between “pragmatists” and “radicals” in the government.

Giordani’s testimony

In the document, titled “Testimony and responsibility in front of history”, Giordani highlights what he views as the three key achievements of the Bolivarian revolution.

These are the dramatic cut in poverty; the dismantling of power relations that allowed foreign and domestic capital to control the state, in particular the state oil company PDVSA; and the creation of a public sector that now dominates key economic sectors.

But Giordani says these gains are at risk due to a “new path taken” after Chavez’s death last year.

Combined with the impact of a right-wing offensive and a president “who lacks an ability to project leadership”, he said this has led to “a power vacuum in the presidency”.

Giordani said this resulted in “its concentration in other centres of power, thereby destroying the work of institutions such as the Ministry of Finances and the Central Bank, and consummating the independence of PDVSA from the government”.

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