on 1989 ‘Caracazo’ Uprising Against Neoliberalism in Venezuela

Remembering the Caracazo:

The fight against cuts and austerity has to be a fight against capitalism

By: Pablo Vivanco  –  www.barrio-nuevo.org

In mid-February of 1989, newly elected Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez announced a 100% increase of the price of petroleum following meetings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address a ‘deepening economic crisis’.  When these increases came into effect and translated into 30-100% increases in transit fares on February 27, the people of Venezuela went out into the streets in protest. The palpable anger was exacerbated by the shortages of food in the weeks prior to the announcements, and the revelations of hoarding at many stores once the looting began to take place.  By the afternoon of February 27th, 1989, what began as student-led protests outside of the Nuevo Circo bus station had escalated into confrontations with the brutal Metropolitan Police Force and National Guard, along with blockades across Caracas and other cities. Following a full week of heavy-handed government response involving the deployment of the army and the declaration of martial law, the lowest official body count declared 396 dead, over 2000 injured, thousands arrested and 3,073 million bolivares in damages.  This popular uprising against an austerity package, known as the Caracazo, would set the stage for the rise of the current Bolivarian government and is a reminder to the people building socialism in Venezuela of the brutality and inhumanity of capitalism.

If we look at what is happening not only in Canada but also around the World, it is clear that the stage has been set for other Caracazo’s to take place.  In Ontario, former Bank Economist Don Drummond issued a report calling for massive spending cuts.  All over the province, manufacturing plants like the Caterpillar plant London, ON have been laying off workers and closing their doors in spite of millions of dollars in public subsidies.  In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford has been pushing for ongoing cuts of social services, slashing of public jobs and sell off of municipal assets.  At the Federal level, the Harper government is moving to increase the retirement age to 67.  In Quebec, the Provincial Liberals are trying to double of tuition fees to Universities and Colleges.  All of these are just a few very recent examples of the austerity agenda in Canada.

In Europe, Italy unelected, technocrat Prime Minister who was advisor to the Goldman Sachs investment bank has brought forward a cuts package estimated at €30 billion.  In Greece where unemployment is now well over 20% with youth unemployment reaching almost 50%, the Greek parliament approved spending cut of over €3.3bn which included reduction in pensions and the minimum wage as well as lay-offs of public sector workers.  There are many more examples of this and they are happening all over the world and with greater frequency.

Our class and our allies need to understand this for what it is – a globally coordinated transfer of wealth from the poor and working classes to the rich, an offensive by the ruling classes (the rich, the capitalists) against the rest of us.

23 years after the Caracazo, we need to learn the lessons that our Venezuelan brothers and sisters have learned.  If we want to secure not only a better life and world for ourselves and the people of the World but also a decent future for our children and future generations, we have to build people’s power and do away with capitalism all together.

Aplauden, aplauden no dejan de aplaudir! El capitalismo se tiene que fundir!



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