The International League of Peoples’ Struggle commemorates El Caracazo, the first popular rebellion against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on February 27, 1989.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War and the impending demise of the Soviet Union, 1989 seemed to proclaim the triumph of neoliberal capitalism and the defeat of the working class revolutionaries. In Venezuela, neoliberal policy met resistance from the toiling masses in February 1989. Then-president Carlos Andrés Pérez rose to power with false promises of improving the economy. Supported by the ruling elite, Pérez began implementing policies aligned with the neoliberal agenda of the IMF known as the Paquetazo: the deregulation of prices for consumer products, an increase in the rates of public utilities such as electricity, water and telephone, oil price hikes, among others. As Venezuela suffered an economic freefall, it was the poor who bore the brunt of the chronic crisis.
On the 26th of February 1989, Pérez announced the elimination of gasoline subsidies, which resulted in the increase of transportation fares. On February 27, the poorest Venezuelans living in the barrios in the mountains surrounding the capital, Caracas, took over the streets. The protests continued over the following week, becoming a nationwide movement. In response, the Pérez government formally suspended constitutional civil liberties. State repression was quick and brutal, with forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, tortures, raids, and other abuses such as indiscriminate firing at houses, happened throughout the week. The death toll of civilians is estimated to be in between 300 to over 3000.
El Caracazo served as a prelude to the popular rebellion led by Chavez in 1992, marking a turning point in Venezuela’s history — it exhibited the strength of the toiling masses of Venezuela as a serious political force. It showed that despite the world’s turn to neoliberalism in the 1990s, it would be opposed by the toiling masses.
The ILPS remembers the Venezuelans who were massacred for refusing to accept neoliberalism in their country. The toiling masses of the world must unite to uphold and defend the victories of the peoples of Venezuela, and continue the struggle against imperialism.
Today, U.S. imperialism continues its economic sanctions against Venezuela. This has hindered state-owned companies’ partnership with foreign countries and has led to the freezing of their bank accounts in the U.S. It refuses to recognize the Maduro government and is instead endorsing opposition leader Juan Guaidó, threatening military intervention out of its self-designation as the world’s guardian of democracy. Behind this facade lies its interests in exploiting Venezuela’s rich oil reserves.
The ILPS calls on its member organizations, allies, networks and friends to launch online and offline activities that will highlight El Caracazo, and the struggles of the peoples of Venezuela.
The following are suggested activities for regions, country chapters, and member organizations to show support for the peoples of Venezuela:
- Webinars and discussions
- Online and offline protest actions
- Film screenings
- Solidarity statements and video messages
Long live international solidarity!
International League of Peoples’ Struggle