Movement to Socialism (MAS)
Movement to Socialism (MAS)
At a session of the central committee of the Venezuelan Communist Party in 1969, there arose a series of differences that led in 1970 to the split of twenty-two of its members who left to form the MAS on 19 January 1971. The dissidents sought to promote a nondogmatic Marxism. They did not desire unconditional alignment with the Soviet Union, especially after the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. They also rejected the idea that socialism could be imported mechanically from one country to another, since each country has its own experiences and reality. The MAS criticized the bureaucratization, excessive centralism, and monolithic nature of the Communist Party, which they felt impeded debate and the exercise of democracy. The program of the MAS postulated the construction of a democracy that was socialist, pluralist, participatory, and self-managing. It called for the elimination of state or political monopolies, a substantial improvement in the living conditions of Venezuelans, and reforms of the education and electoral systems, all under the slogan of attaining "Venezuelan socialism."
The creation of the MAS represented an important attempt at renovating Venezuelan political thought. Since its foundation, it has participated in all electoral processes, establishing itself as the third strongest political force in the country. Nevertheless, its electoral representation has never surpassed 10 percent. It has managed to maintain significant representation in the national Congress municipal councils, and state legislatures, but does not appear to be a viable contender for power. In 2000 Venezuelan politics was fundamentally changed when populist Hugo Chávez, a former colonel, won the presidency in 2000. The more traditional parties were considerably weakened. Initially, MAS support Chávez, but later decided to join opposition parties.
No work detailing the political course of the MAS has been published. The following books, written by participants in the process, provide information on the creation and evolution of the party. Teodoro Petkoff, ¿Socialismo para Venezuela? (1970); Eleazar Díaz Rangel, ¿Cómo se dividió el PCV? (1971); Teodoro Petkoff, Proceso a la izquierda (1976); Moisés Moleiro, La izquierda y su proceso (1977); Pompeyo Márquez, Una polémica necesaria (1978); José Vicente Rangel, Venezuela y Socialismo (1978). See also Steve Ellner, Venezuela's Movimiento al Socialismo: From Guerrilla Defeat to Innovative Politics (1988).
Casanova, Richard A. Un partido para el futuro: Reflexiones para el debate. Caracas: Ediciones Polémica, 2001.
Ellner, Steve, and Daniel Hellinger, eds. Venezuelan Politics in the Chá vez Era: Class, Polarization, and Conflict. Boulder, CO: L. Rienner, 2003.