Last week (October 8) President Maduro asked the National Assembly to grant him especial powers through an enabling law, in order to “fight corruption and the economic war.” He addressed the assembly in a three hour long, mostly read discourse. He did not give many specifics of the new laws he would decree with the especial powers, but he did reiterate some of the central themes that have become central to the government’s rhetoric in the last month: the revolution is fighting a psychological, political, and economic war against its enemies, and only by granting him more powers can he defeat this threat.
The President insisted that corruption is basically a problem of the opposition, but also acknowledged that it is found within his government. However he explained that corruption is something inherited from the “capitalist” past and will only be overcome through a new ethic based on socialism.
Here is a translation of a selection of relevant parts of Maduro’s discourse:
...we are now on the offensive in this truly decisive battle, and we will not abandon this offensive. I therefore call the People to not allow corruption and the corrupt; to not tolerate corruption, be this yellow collar corruption or red collar corruption, it is the same, dressed whichever way it is the same anti-Fatherland (apátrida) and anti-popular conduct.
Long and bloody has been the war our country has had to fight to reach full democracy, [to reach] the splendor of republican life. Democracy, a republican life, it must be said, were always under threat by the representatives of Capital, domestic or foreign, first by a ruthless colonial domination, characterized by the most barbaric of plunders. Then, after gaining our independence and after the libertarian struggles of the nineteenth century, we witnessed the emergence of a landowners cast. They reserved for themselves the rights to fence huge ranches that had as only limits the frontiers of the Fatherland. Later, with the discovery of oil we saw the emergence of a bourgeoisie and a business class who finally plundered all the riches of the land and managed to take control of governments. These governments had as their only function to keep a watch over the privileges of the bourgeoisie and of the sectors that negotiated in this country without limits.
We can conclude that all forms of government we have known until 1999 were based in complete and cowardly obedience to the economic interests of the transnationals and a parasite and unproductive local bourgeoisie.
These reflections lead us to underscore that the Venezuelan economy is currently facing a very special juncture, the productive apparatus of the country is being hit very strongly by a series of distortions such as: speculation and hoarding, smuggling, the illegal foreign currency market, a set of difficulties that perhaps we could name as “cavidismo” [in reference to CADIVI, the currency exchange government agency], as one of the most vulgar expressions of the existence of a parasite bourgeoisie in the last 100 years of Venezuelan history. This is “cavidismo”: the current trend in the obstinate tendency of certain economic sectors to claim earnings [without] producing them. It seems it is a matter of outmost importance to establish who has taken advantage of these mechanisms, who conform the power groups and their relations to banking, insurance, and financial markets. We will get to them, let no one doubt that.
This is really the core of the battle, let us not fool ourselves, this is the core of the national battle: today the bourgeoisie is still searching for different ways of maintaining the control of oil revenues. If 70% of our gross internal product still corresponds to the local bourgeoisie, this means that our economic dynamics is still far from socialism… too far compañeros, comrades, compatriots, People listening, it is no coincidence that our parasitic and importing bourgeoisie is mainly devoted to commerce, because this allows it to quickly and easily get a hold of oil revenues, and that is how they are bleeding the country, this is “cavidismo.” The Venezuela as super power that was the dream, the project that our Comandante worked for, is fundamentally antagonistic with the expansion of consumption as a function of the interests of the parasitic bourgeoisie.
Dear Deputies, we need to consolidate a revolutionary solidarity so that we can act without delay against all kinds of corrupts that are bleeding the Fatherland. If we want to be at the level of the circumstances we need to bring bag “Chávez’s whip” to punish corruption and inefficiency, to reduce impunity until we defeat it and it disappears. We need, as Bolivar himself knew, to triumph in the path of Revolution, there is no other way, a war without mercy against all these burdens that have become a tremendous threat to the Republic and to the survival of the Bolivarian Revolution itself.
I have not come here to ask to the right [the opposition] for a truce, that right that has no national consciousness. But let the decent and honest people of our Fatherland know, that the anti-national right is betting every second on my failure, on our failure, so that they can definitely get hold of the rich oil revenues of our country, so they can then hand them to the transnational interests. They have and will put obstacle to everything we do.
They are not even capable, with a minimum of rationality, to open themselves to dialogue, so that they can listen to the national clamor that Nicolas Maduro must be allowed to govern, according to the Constitutions, without sabotaging him, without war. Cease now the war and the sabotage against the democratic government that I preside! Enough is enough! The People of Venezuela say enough! Until when will we have to put up with sabotage! With dirty wars! Psychological wars!Hate wars!