page 7 | Analysis:
page 8 | Opinion
Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe lashes out against Venezuela
NATO is a well-funded war machine
Friday | May 25, 2012 | Nº 110 | Caracas
Prison riot ends peacefully
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
Chavez: Reforming Prisons a Priority
Last week the Venezuelan government successfully ended a violent prison uprising in the La Planta penitenciary facility in Caracas. Government ofﬁcials negotiated a peaceful outcome to the dangerous situation, which had caused chaos in the city. President Chavez revealed he spoke personally with several inmates in order to end the violence. The prison, located near a residential area, was ofﬁcially shut down and all inmates were transferred to other facilities as of last Friday. The violence had erupted when several prisoners objected to the prison closure. | page 3 Politics
South America advances energy integration UNASUR nations agreed to better exchange strategic resources for regional development. | page 4
Technology for the people Venezuela’s telecommunications company invests in social welfare. | page 4 Social Justice
Indigenous University A pioneering university for indigenous peoples takes root in Venezuela. | page 5
The Venezuelan head of state announced new ﬁnancing measures for a number of social programs including penitentiary services to improve the technological capacity, communication system and overall security of the nation’s prisons. With the new spending, the government hopes to put an end to the rampant proliferation of arms in the country’s jails and curtail the maﬁas that still operate inside penitentiary walls. | page 2
Chavez: We will defeat the opposition T/ Agencies
enezuelan President Hugo Chavez reappeared on Tuesday in a live television broadcast, the ﬁrst time he has been seen in public view since returning from cancer treatment in Cuba almost two weeks ago. Chavez, 57, cracked jokes with government ministers during
Tuesday’s broadcast, which was from a cabinet meeting in the presidential palace, and repeated his plans to register his candidacy for the Oct. 7 election in early June as set out by the country’s electoral commission. “The defeat that we’re going to deal to the opposition will be unprecedented”, Chavez said.
“It’s part of our challenge to move to a new phase,” he said, adding that his government would strive for annual economic growth of 8 percent and single-digit inﬂation if elected for another six-year term. Prior government’s averaged annual inﬂation around 60%, whereas the Chavez administration has reduced it to 26%.
Happy birthday Alo! This week Venezuela celebrated 13 years of a television program that has transformed the South American nation and created a new notion of governance and transparency. The program, Alo Presidente! (Hello Mr. President), began as a radio show slated to provide interaction between newly-elected President Hugo Chavez and his constituents in 1999. The show later became televised and eventually occupied a steady spot each Sunday for a period ranging from two to eight hours, depending on the weekly subjects. During the 378 editions of the program, the Venezuelan President has interacted live on television with more than 8,000 people, received 900 phone calls live on air and attended to more than 25,000 letters from people across the nation. Chavez held the 378 programs in 259 different venues through the country and 7 international cities. Each Sunday on Alo Presidente, Chavez discusses his government’s agenda and sets policies into action, live and with people’s participation. There is no greater transparency than that.
It was only Chavez’s third appearance in public since mid-April. He called state television twice in recent days but Tuesday’s speech was his ﬁrst in public since he returned from Cuba after completing radiotherapy sessions on May 11. Most opinion polls give the former soldier a double-digit lead over opposition challenger Henrique Capriles, a young governor from the neoconservative party Primero Justicia who would turn back all of the social advances from the past decade.
2 | Impact
The artillery of ideas
NoÊ££äÊU Friday, May 25, 2012
Venezuela's Chavez announces new penitentiary funding, praises economic growth T/ COI P/ Presidential Press enezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced new ﬁnancing measures for a number of social programs including penitentiary services last Friday during a telephone call to the state television channel Venezolana de Television (VTV ). Calling in to the program Dando y Dando (Giving and Giving), the socialist head of state detailed the new initiatives and took time to inform the nation on the progress of his continued cancer treatment - a regiment which he reported to be following “rigorously”. Describing his work ethic over the last 13 years as that of “a runaway horse”, the twotime incumbent expressed his intentions to perform his presidential responsibilities in a more measured and prudent manner throughout his convalescence. “I’m following a diet, I’m working 8 hours a day as the law stipulates and I pray to God to give me the strength of a buffalo rather than that of a horse”, the Venezuelan President said. Chavez had a cancerous tumor extracted from his pelvic area in June 2011 and has recently undergone treatment in Cuba for a relapse of the disease. Despite the health problems, the head of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela told the nation on Friday that his ability to attend to the duties of his ofﬁce has not been diminished and he has been working methodically on the issues affecting the nation. While speaking on the program, the 57 year-old head of state gave details of his administration’s new penitentiary spending measures that will provide $164.7 million to improve the technological capacity, communication system and overall security of the nation’s prisons. The announcement follows on the heels of a violent standoff that broke out in the La Planta prison in Caracas last week.
With the new spending, the government hopes to put an end to the rampant proliferation of arms in the country’s jails and curtail the maﬁas that still operate inside penitentiary walls. “If with this spending the problem doesn’t end deﬁnitively, it must at least minimize the problem of inmates having riﬂes, machine guns, grenades, drugs and cellular phones. This has to end! This [security] system is going to allow us to manage in a much more scientiﬁc and efﬁcient way this problem”, he said. An additional 1.49 billion bolivars ($346 million) will be allocated to the erection of 8 new prisons, which will begin construction in July, Chavez informed. “The soil and land studies are being carried out”, he said of the building project. “These should be centers of education, not deformation,” the Venezuelan head of state added, reafﬁrming
his administration’s commitment to humanize the nation’s penitentiaries. Last July, the Venezuelan government created the Ministry of Penitentiary Affairs, currently headed by Iris Varela, to deal speciﬁcally with the conditions of the nation’s prisons and protect the rights of inmates. Historically neglected by previous governments, Venezuela’s jails have been plagued by overcrowding and gang activity, conditions which have been exacerbated by a slow and unresponsive judicial process. To rectify this problem, the ministry has been working with prisoners and security forces to craft a democratic solution to the challenges facing the inmate population and to speed up the processing of individual court cases. On Friday, Chavez congratulated Minister Varela’s
peaceful resolution of the problem in La Planta prison, which ended in dialogue and the transfer of 600 inmates to other facilities. “This problem of the prisons is a debt that we have with our people and it hurts me deeply every time something like this happens”, the head of state said of the violence last week. INTERNATIONAL FINANCE & ECONOMIC GROWTH Part of the funding for the new penitentiary initiatives will come, Chavez explained, from a $4 billion loan provided to Venezuela by China. The head of state referred to the arrangement with the Asian country as an example of his administration’s international ﬁnance policy that focuses on bi-lateral agreements between allied nations rather than one-sided deals dictated by Washington.
“Now, international ﬁnance doesn’t come from the International Monetary Fund which came here to impose its conditions when Venezuela was a country subordinated to the [United States] empire, the world powers and the transnationals”, he afﬁrmed. Chavez pointed out similar lending agreements signed between his country and neighboring Brazil to improve the Caribbean nation’s air travel infrastructure. “Not long ago, we signed an accord to ﬁnance some 20 passenger jets, manufactured in Brazil, which will be designated to the [state owned airline] Conviasa. This is to continue building a modern and great Venezuelan airline with Brazilian ﬁnancing”, the socialist leader commented. International agreements based in mutual respect and autonomy are partially responsible for Venezuela’s robust economic growth for the ﬁrst trimester of 2011, something which Chavez praised on Friday. According to Venezuela’s Central Bank, the South American nation saw GDP growth of 5.6 percent in the ﬁrst 4 months of 2012. “Tremendous growth”, Chavez said of the numbers which have been attributed by Central Bank ofﬁcials to the government’s spending on social programs and the boost in the construction industry resulting from the large scale Mission Housing Venezuela initiative. The head of state also refuted claims made by Jorge Botti, president of the Venezuelan chamber of commerce Fedecamaras who alleged that the nation’s economic performance is short-term and owing to “state capitalism”. “The private sector is the sector that has gown the most. So this is a lie... The public banks have increased the amount of credits given to the private sector”, Chavez asserted.
The artillery of ideas
NoÊ££äÊU Friday, May 25, 2012
Security | 3 |
Venezuelan authorities to transform La Planta prison after violence eral’s ofﬁce representative accompanied prisoners on every transport vehicle during the transfer operation. “The aim is to continue guaranteeing prisoners’ human rights”, said public prosecutor Joel Espinoza. Valera also announced that Plan Cayapa, a program to speed up judicial reviewing of prisoners’ cases to ascertain who is due for release, is taking an immediate focus on inmates from La Planta. Six inmates from the prison were freed within 24 hours as a result. The Chavez government provided free transportation for family members to visit inmates in their new penitentiary centers as of last weekend. The Attorney General’s offﬁce also held therapy sessions on Thursday with family members of prisoners in La Planta.
T/ Ewan Robertson P/ AFP ast Thursday night Venezuelan authorities regained control of La Planta prison in Caracas after an outbreak of violence between prisoners. The government pledged to guarantee the human rights of inmates and transferred them to other penitentiary facilities. The prison was then officially closed and is set to be transformed into a space to benefit the local community. The events brought to an end almost four weeks of defiance by some groups of prisoners opposed to their eviction from the La Planta facility. Venezuelan authorities had previously decided to close the prison citing overcrowding and dangers to the local community. On Thursday morning gunﬁre broke out within La Planta, lasting several hours. State security forces maintained a presence outside the facility. Prisons minister Iris Valera
described the situation as due to “a small group of very violent people who don’t want to accept reason”. In the afternoon a peaceful solution for the eviction of the prison was brought about by negotiations between Iris Valera and National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello, a regional commander of the national guard and prisoners’ leaders. Transfers began Thursday night, with inmates leaving La Planta voluntarily, according to state press. Prisons vice-minister, Ramon Garcia, conﬁrmed Thursday night that the majority of prisoners were transferred to a new facility where “there is a structure of dignity for the prisoners, [in which] we can comfortably accommodate one thousand people”. As of last Friday all 1694 prisoners had been transferred to other facilities. Valera commented that while over the last few days the prison had experienced “a delicate situation, we managed to build a bridge and now they [the inmates] are crossing it”.
This Tuesday, President Hugo Chavez revealed that he had intervened in the situation, speaking via telephone with several of the prisoners involved in the conﬂict in order to ﬁnd a peaceful solution. GUARANTEEING PRISONERS’ RIGHTS State institutions have undertaken to guarantee the human rights of prisoners in the transfer process, according to Valera. She announced to press on Friday morning that, in coordination with the health ministry, medical staff were on standby to attend to the needs of prisoners coming out of La Planta. Three wounded were conﬁrmed as a result of the confrontations inside the prison including one police ofﬁcer, stated National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello on Friday morning. He explained that authorities did not enter the prison to examine the facility until all prisoners had been evicted. As a condition of the negotiations, an Attorney Gen-
MEDIA WAR Minister Valera criticized the opposition and private media for creating a “media war” over the incident. Opposition TV channel Globovision dedicated coverage to the distress of inmates’ families during the violence inside La Planta, while conservative newspaper El Universal described the events as “charged with armed confrontations, chaos in the city [Caracas] and terror in the zone”. In October last year Globovision was ﬁned $2.2 million by Venezuela’s public regulator Conatel for manipulation and attempting to create fear during a prison hostage situation in the El Rodeo maximum security facility. Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who is also governor of Miranda state where the Rodeo prison is located, used the situation in La Planta to criticize the government’s record on prisons. “The situation in La Planta is another example of this government’s failure on the issues of prisons and Venezuela’s security”, he said.
On Friday Valera described as “indignant” that opposition governors and spokespersons emitted their opinions on the incident but “didn’t do anything” to help resolve the situation. She went on to ask, if opposition governors have the “magic formula” to resolve the problems in Venezuela’s prison system, “why don’t they begin to apply it in the prisons they administer?” PRISON REFORM Since the creation of the Ministry of Penitentiary Affairs in July 2011 the Venezuelan government has been pursuing a program of prison reform in order to humanize the nation’s penitentiary system and to overcome long term problems of overcrowding and slow judicial processing of prisoners’ cases. Key measures include Operation Cambote, in which prisoners decide the priorities for improving their prison environment, then work with prison ministry authorities and prison directors to carry out the plans. The Cayapa program sees state judicial institutions working together to tackle the backlog in the processing of cases. Prisons minister Valera has previously stated that the ministry expects to resolve the backlog of cases by the end of the year. It has also began a disarmament plan to tackle organised maﬁas within prisons. Speaking on state channel VTV on Friday, Valera stressed that the evacuation of La Planta is part of a general policy this year of closing prisons in residential areas. “Here there is a revolutionary government providing a strong response [to problems in the penitentiary system]”, she said. “We are sure that we have now started on the path toward a transformation of the prison system in Venezuela”. La Planta prison was ofﬁcially shut down on Saturday. In a symbolic ﬁnish, ofﬁcials took down a metal plaque at the prison, which was built in 1964. Varela called the prison’s closing a gift to the surrounding neighborhood and said the community could have a say in deciding what will become of the prison compound in the future.
4 | politics
The artillery of ideas
NoÊ££äÊU Friday, May 25, 2012
Unasur Energy Council pushes resource integration T/ COI P/ Agencies epresentatives of the 12country Union of South American Nations (Unasur) regional alliance met in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas last Friday to discuss a new continent-wide energy treaty and discuss further steps towards infrastructure integration. The meeting was attended by the Energy Ministers of Unasur’s member states who signed a declaration dealing speciﬁcally with natural resource sovereignty and the creation of what would be an historic Regional Energy Treaty. “The greatest concentration of natural resources is found in South America. In particular, [South America possesses] the greatest oil reserves, one of the largest gas reserves, great hydroelectric potential, as well as coal and bioenergy deposits. This obliges us to exercise our sovereign rights over these re-
sources for the beneﬁt of our people”, the declaration released by the Energy Council at the end of the meeting stated. Speciﬁcally, the ministers agreed to create an Ad Hoc juridical committee to provide proposals for the drafting of the new energy treaty which seeks to “promote harmonious
development” through ties of solidarity and mutual beneﬁt. The energy council also accorded to assign a group of energy experts to create a Unasur research center to identify future “structural” projects and to “give support to complimentary and united economic growth”, the declaration read.
Cantv: 5 years of giving back to the Venezuelan people T/ COI P/ Agencies enezuela’s publicly-owned telecommunications company Cantv celebrated ﬁve years since its nationalization last Monday, marking an important milestone in the Chavez government’s policy of redistributive business practices. Cantv is the largest telecommunications ﬁrm in Venezuela, providing telephone and Internet services to millions in the country as well as mobile services through its subsidiary company Movilnet. Since its nationalization in 2007, the company has grown substantially, doubling its cellular phone clients to over 15
million, tripling its proﬁts, and doubling the number of Venezuelans connected to the internet to over 1.7 million. “It’s been ﬁve years since our telecommunications have been put at the service of the people to provide the greatest happiness possible for the population. Cantv and Movilnet are giving back to the people and we can see it with the numbers”, said Venezuelan Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza during an interview on state television earlier this week. According to Arreaza, the company has cleared more than $488 million in revenues over the past ﬁve years. These surpluses have been reinvested in the social programs
of the Chavez government including public housing, education and health initiatives. This contrasts sharply, Minister Arreaza said, with the policies of previous governments, which, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, sought to turn the nation’s most important industries over to private investors. “In the decade of the 90s, just about everything was being privatized in the country. One of the jewels was Cantv which had a monopoly on telecommunications at the time”, Arreaza said. The cabinet member pointed out that the nationalization of the ﬁrm is sanctioned by article 302 of Venezuela’s constitution
The summit was held last Friday at the headquarters of the Venezuelan state oil company, Pdvsa, and was hosted by the Caribbean nation’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez. “The topic of natural resources and the articulation of an energy policy is fundamental to
that makes provisions for state control over strategic industries including oil, energy and telecommunications. SERVICES FOR THE PEOPLE Apart from maintaining strategic industries under public ownership and injecting funds into social programs, Cantv has also been providing other beneﬁts to the Venezuelan population. Through its collaboration in different projects and the offering of important services to the country’s residents, the state company has been able to make an important contribution to the raising of living standards in Venezuela. An example of this is the Vergatario, a high quality and affordable cellular phone distributed by Movilnet, which has made technologically-advanced mobile devices available to just about everyone in the country.
achieve the integration of our countries”, Ramirez said during the meeting. Other topics touched during the discussions included the proposed Venezuela-Colombia oil pipeline, which intends to link the Orinoco Oil Belt with the Paciﬁc ocean, thereby facilitating greater access to Colombian and Asian markets for Venezuelan crude. According to Energy Minister Mauricio Cardenas, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos continues to hold discussions with Chinese investors to help bring the plan to fruition. “This means we’re advancing. We’re carrying out the conceptual engineering studies to identify the costs of the pipeline which will permit us to transport crude at the lowest cost”, Cardenas said. Future meetings of the Unasur Energy Council are set to take place in Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil between the representatives of state-owned energy companies and tech ﬁrms interested in furthering integration strategies. The ﬁrst of these will take place in the coming months in Caracas and will deal with the topics of oil and gas followed by additional meetings in the Colombian capital of Bogota addressing the issue of electricity and the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro regarding energy technology.
With a price of between $35 and $42, the Vergatario is the product of an agreement signed between the Chavez government and the Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei to manufacture phones in Venezuela. Cantv has also been a major player in the Canaima minilaptop program, which by the end of 2012 will have distributed more than 2.5 million free computers to grade school students around the country. This year the company hopes to increase Internet speed as well as access to some of the most remote areas of the country through its ﬁber optic network and Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar satellite. “The decision of [President Hugo Chavez] to nationalize Cantv was not only the right decision, it was also humane and strategic - one of the best decisions that Comandante Chavez has made”, Arreaza said last Monday.
The artillery of ideas
NoÊ££äÊU Friday, May 25, 2012
Social Justice | 5 |
Venezuela's indigenous university T/ Rhodri Davies P/ Leliberalnews aracas Pemon has abundant space on his university campus - it is located across 5,000 acres of forestland in Venezuela’s southern Bolivar State. He is one of 67 students who have classes in a thatched roundhouse, water sports in a river and, along with human rights and law, a curriculum that includes buffalo rearing. Pemon is enrolled at Venezuela’s indigenous university - established to develop community leaders to safeguard lands, rights and ancient cultures. “The importance of the university is to protect the community”, said 20 year-old Pemon. “To raise awareness and see the world and universe from an indigenous, as well as a Western, way of thought. First is the struggle for territories and landless groups, because without land there is no education or customs. Land
is the mother of all indigenous culture”. The native peoples of Venezuela comprise just two per cent of the country’s 29 million people, and many communities have been established in the jungles, swamps and waterways along the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts for centuries. There, they worship the land, employ shamans, and use traditional healing. An indigenous rights organization, working with Jesuit priests, established the university at Tauca in 2001, in response to threats to their communities. Since the Spanish ﬁrst took control of the region in the 16th century, native populations have seen their lands seized and their struggle for survival has continued ever since. Illegal mining, evangelical Christianity and ranchers invading territories have increased the pressure on communities ﬁghting to retain their culture, language and independence. Indigenous people are also drawn to cities bloated by local oil and
mineral wealth, but typically remain excluded from any economic progress - often passed over for job opportunities and treated as second-class citizens. The spread of modernity has overpowered customary practices and cultures. In 1999, President Hugo Chavez’s government became the ﬁrst national administration to constitutionally recognize indigenous groups. Chavez is portrayed as a talismanic defender of native rights, and has made highly public pronouncements supporting their claims to land and culture. His administration has provided social programs, or misiones, for indigenous populations, aiding in their rise out of poverty and abandonment. Chavez’s 19th century archetypal role model, Simon Bolivar, made education for indigenous people one of his ﬁrst policies in an independent Venezuela - and Chavez’s administration has also backed indigenous education.
The 44 indigenous communities nationwide each put forward students to the university. It is a bastion and a source of self-respect, after centuries of marginalisation. Alfredo Garcia, from the Genepa Keipun community in Bolivar State, has one more year of a four-year course until he ﬁnishes his studies. “There comes a time to recover from the past - and I feel very proud, because we too are people”, he said. “From the support we receive here, we are aware of the importance of our culture and what we should do with our lives”. Students live on campus. They sleep in hammocks, cook together on open ﬁres, and walk through forestland to get to classes. Volunteers from Europe and South America also teach at the institution. A government foundation currently provides most of the university’s funding. Adedukawa Etnia Ye’Kwana, a general coordinator at the
university, explained, “It’s been really hard for other cultures to accept this university. It is strange for the state itself. According to them, it should follow the structure of the white man. But this university is from an indigenous way of thought. The highest authority at the university should be that of indigenous peoples - the wise and the elderly”. But the government assures it would not attempt to impose its system on the institution. Yaritza Aray, an indigenous representative for Bolivar State, says the government supports the group protecting its cultures against modern dangers, such as drugs, alcohol and changing diets. “It has happened in other countries, including the United States”, she said. “They say they are indigenous but they don’t speak their own language, they’ve forgotten their dances, and do not live as indigenous people. They do not know their own culture and they’ve lost their land. We cannot allow this. “It’s very important that this group is seeking to safeguard their traditional values; it is a very interesting idea. Keep what is yours and ﬁght for what is really important, without prejudice to the state. To know your culture, rather than acting like non-indigenous people”. But the university is battling restrictions of its own culture as well. Only ﬁve of its students are women. “There have been hurdles for women to study, because some say it is not their domain. But we are trying to achieve equal participation”, Ye’Kwana said. Organizers view the institution as an important step forward for indigenous communities. They believe it could be a pilot program for Venezuela, and one that could be copied throughout Latin America. Pemon envisions more immediate beneﬁts. He sees his future as being in Bolivar state, working for his community. “I would like to educate children, to be aware and have a life equally in our national culture. That’s while keeping respect for both Western and indigenous cultures. “This is the ﬁght at the university”.
6 | Analysis
The artillery of ideas
NoÊ££äÊU Friday, May 25, 2012
Media & opposition: false perceptions of Venezuela’s democracy T/ Rachael Boothroyd arlier this week Al Jazeera English published an article by Nikolas Kozloff, a former academic turned author who now spends his time writing satire and lambasting the Venezuelan government while hiding behind his Oxford PhD as a veil of objectivity. The focus of Kozloff’s latest article was the Cuban-Venezuelan “Barrio Adentro” initiative, a social mission which provides free healthcare to Venezuela’s poor, and free, communitybased training for Venezuelan medical students. Despite the program being one of the government’s most popular, and the fact that it is often cited as an exemplary case of Cuban internationalism and solidarity, in his article Kozloff instead decides to detail the alleged “harrowing” conditions that Cuban doctors are subjected to while treating patients in Venezuela. According to Kozloff’s article, Cuban medical personnel are overworked, obliged to treat 6070 patients a day, constantly spied on, and used by the Venezuelan state for political purposes. The sources of Kozloff’s outlandish statements are none other than leaked documents from the US embassy in Caracas, which, the cables reveal, has been aiding dissident Cuban doctors to apply to the US government for “humanitarian parole” so that they might be transferred to Miami as “asylum seekers”. According to the documents, 73 Cuban medical personnel were transferred to Miami by 2009. Despite the fact that over 80,000 Cubans have worked in the mission, with 30,000 Cuban medical personnel currently working in Venezuela, Kozloff ﬁnds that these 73 Cubans are representative enough of the whole Barrio Adentro mission for him to conclude that the program is “fraying at the edges” in the run-up to this year’s elections. But questionable e-mails written by staunchly anti-Cuban US diplomats might not be
the best sources for judging the merits of a social program which has, by all accounts, dramatically increased Venezuelans’ standards of living. So much so, that despite the vast amounts of propaganda against the healthcare program, the opposition’s candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, has been forced to pledge that he will maintain it should he by some miracle win the elections this year. Kozloff’s selective analysis of the state of the Barrio Adentro program is typical of most “political commentaries” covering the Venezuelan elections in the international press, which are currently contributing to a distorted understanding of Venezuela’s political reality in the run up to the October elections. OPPOSITION OUT OF TOUCH While most commentators either stress Capriles’ youth (he’s 39) and his energetic campaign, or apparent “indecision” on the part of Venezuelan voters, the reality on the ground is quite different in Venezuela. The opposition have faced defeat after defeat
for the past two months. Not only do nearly all polls in Venezuela give Chavez a 20-30% lead over his opponent, but the Capriles campaign has also made several tactical mistakes. In a move that alienated working class voters in May, Capriles announced that he did not attend the country’s International Workers’ Day march because he was an “employer” and not an employee. His campaign has also been responsible for the persecution and assault of several community media journalists, harking back to the days of repression under previous governments. In the international arena, in a subtle snub against the Venezuelan opposition coalition, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stated in an interview that Chavez represented “stability” for the continent that was both essential for regional unity and beneﬁcial for Colombia. Meanwhile US ally and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe’s vocal support for Capriles has backﬁred, only serving to reinforce the perception of Capriles as the candidate of US imperi-
alism amongst the Venezuelan public. Just this week, Capriles’ US advisor, Peter Greenberg, also admitted that Chavez’s lead over Capriles was “irreversible”. These concerns are also being echoed by conservatives inside the country with even rightwing journalists such as Rafael Poleo mourning Capriles’ “hopeless” election campaign and members of the opposition coalition demanding that the campaign be restructured. “Capriles could be out anywhere today, but the rest of the country does not know about it... (his) strategy is not working, his candidacy is not growing, and Chavez’s illness has hyper-personalized electoral debate. People are only talking about Chavez”, explained Oscar Schemel, President of the Hinterlaces polling company. Throughout this election campaign the opposition’s most serious failure is to have misunderstood the extent to which new mechanisms of participatory democracy have grown in Venezuela. The concept of democracy has taken on new meaning and
the working class and organized communities are currently at the helm of an unprecedented experiment with radical new forms of democratic participation. Citizens’ democratic participation is now channelled through communal councils, communes, socialist workers’ councils and cooperatives, which extend the democratic process into their everyday lives and allow them to transform their own socio-cultural surroundings. Venezuelan democracy is no longer reducible to national elections every 6 years, rather it is something constructed every single day. Following an unsuccessful 12-year battle against Chavez waged on its own terrain, the opposition is now attempting to compete on the Revolution’s terrain and the results are perhaps even less rewarding. The opposition has totally failed to understand just how Venezuela’s political terrain is constantly shifting and continuously being propelled forwards by the country’s new grassroots democratic format. Just like Kozloff, the Venezuelan opposition continues to look at Venezuela from a distance. Their sources are US diplomats, US political advisors or the Venezuelan elite. From this perspective, Barrio Adentro is merely a political strategy. For Kozloff, it is merely the product of a transient deal with Cuba which can be rolled back should another government take power. For Capriles it is a program he must pledge to maintain in order to have any chance of winning votes. But for many Venezuelans Barrio Adentro is more than a political strategy and more than a program, it is a social process which has become an integral part of their everyday lives, which has brought dignity, value and identity, and shaped their communities and changed their educational possibilities. These are changes that can’t be perceived from the upper class district of Altamira in Caracas, and much less from a newsroom in New York.
The artillery of ideas
NoÊ££äÊU Friday, May 25, 2012
Analysis | 7 |
Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe attacks Venezuela T/ COI P/ Agencies eeking notoriety as an international spokesman for Venezuela’s anti-Chavez sector, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe issued baseless and malicious claims in international media aimed at isolating the Venezuelan government. Openly campaigning for the opposition’s presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Uribe’s most recent tirades include Twitter messages calling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez both an “assassin” and “dictator” as well as publicly accusing the Chavez government of being “an accessory to terrorism” during an interview on CNN.
URIBE’S CLAIMS Last weekend in Miami during the Sixteenth Biennial Conference of the Cuban American National Council (CNC), former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe described the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a “new-style dictatorship”. According to Uribe’s novel thesis, Venezuela’s participatory democracy and its record-breaking electoral history is “dictatorial” because the Venezuelan executive uses public resources to advance social programs that beneﬁt the country’s majority. Uribe, who used unfounded opposition claims in an attempt to strengthen his argument, said that “when you begin to have a government that expropriates private companies, wastes (public) resources, doesn’t respect freedom of the press, goes about, little by little, manipulating the justice system and placing justice in the hands of criminality, that’s where you have the consolidation, not of a democratic government, but of a dictatorship under the cover of elections”. Uribe, who tried and failed to have the Colombian courts permit him a third term in of-
ﬁce, made similar accusations just two months ago. Speaking in March at a US-backed International Freedom Foundation (IFF) conference titled “Latin America: Opportunities and Challenges”, Uribe included Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa and Bolivian President Evo Morales in the pool of popular leaders imposing “new-style dictatorships” through social programs and democratic elections, according to him. Uribe also renewed his previous unfounded accusations that Colombia’s leftist guerrilla organizations “are protected in Venezuela by the Venezuelan dictatorship”, adding that “Venezuela under the Chavez dictatorship has become a paradise for drug-trafﬁcking”. Uribe’s repeated use of baseless claims of Venezuelan “support for terrorism” almost brought the two countries to war during his eight years in ofﬁce. Relations have greatly improved, however, since the election of current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Uribe is currently under investigation for his role in wide-
spread paramilitary violence unleashed on Colombia’s rural poor during his eight-year term (2002-2010). TWITTER ATTACK Aware of Chavez’s successful use of Internet technologies to communicate with others, Uribe used his own twitter account to lash out at Venezuela’s socialist President. On May 13, Uribe unleashed a tirade against Chavez, blaming the Venezuelan President for the entirety of violent crime in the country. “Chavez (assassin), you want to cover up the yearly assassination of 19,000 Venezuelans, killed with impunity. Chavez (assassin), you want to cover up the kidnapping of over a thousand people per year”. Providing no evidence to back his claims, Uribe then described Chavez as a “dictator, who knows he can lose (the 2012 election) and who appeals to a discourse against the bourgeoisie while ignoring the corrupt bourgeoisie of his own regime”. Uribe, who openly supports Venezuela’s opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, titled one of his Twit-
ter messages “CaprilesPresidente” and wrote that “hopefully Venezuela guarantees freedom for all citizens and not just the liberty of the Dictator and his friends”. Speaking at an opposition rally in Caracas, Capriles Radonski tried to distance himself from Uribe’s statements. “With a great deal of respect for opinions that come from abroad…I say to ex-President Uribe as well as President Santos, just like I would say to any other Head of State or ex-president, don’t involve yourself in Venezuela’s electoral process because we Venezuelans will resolve our own problems”, he said. Asked if he would continue commenting on the Venezuelan election, Uribe wrote via Twitter, “so long as there is a dictatorship protecting terrorists, we will continue to give our opinion about Venezuela”. VENEZUELANS RESPOND One of the ﬁrst to respond to Uribe’e dangerous claims was Ivan Zerpa, Secretary of the Venezuelan National Assembly. Using his Twitter ac-
count to do so, Zerpa wrote to Colombia’s ex-president stating, “Uribe, it is you, you and your narco-paramilitary government, that are the assassins”. He reminded Uribe that “many of your (Uribe’s) principal advisors are now detained, accused of drug trafﬁcking and paramilitary involvement” and asked, “How many deaths are you responsible for?” Zerpa also insisted that Uribe, “respect President Chavez” and afﬁrmed that Venezuela’s socialist lawmakers as well as the country’s growing pro-Chavez majority will continue “to defend him” at all costs. Venezuela’s Minister of Information Andres Izarra also responded, adding, “the declarations made by Mancuso have Uribe going crazy”. Salvatore Mancuso, one of Colombia’s top paramilitary leaders who now sits in a US prison, recently told investigators that his organization had direct ties to the government of Alvaro Uribe. GOOD TIMING? In an article titled, “Uribe: Advisor to the Titanic”, Rebelion.org writer Juan Manuel Karg noted that Uribe’s vocal support for the Capriles Radonski campaign “comes at a time when the Governor of Miranda begins to lose out in public opinion, after a campaign launch that expected to be much closer (to Chavez) in the polls, and just months before the election”. With opinion polls that place President Chavez “between 20 and 30 points ahead of Capriles Radonski”, Karg said, “one can understand the necessity the MUD has, or that Capriles himself has,” to get additional support from “international advisors”. Kang also noted that public comments by Capriles Radonski distancing himself from Uribe are purely for show, and that as this year’s electoral contest approaches, “there they will be, on the one side, beyond their cosmetic differences, Capriles Radonski, Uribe, and the international lobbyists that are still trying to prevent the sinking of the Titanic better known as the MUD; and on the other side, Chavez and the courageous Venezuelan people”.
Friday | May 25, 2012 | NÂş 110 | Caracas | www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
A publication of the Fundacion Correo del OrinocoĂŠUĂŠ `ÂˆĂŒÂœĂ€Â‡ÂˆÂ˜Â‡ Â…ÂˆivĂŠEva GolingerĂŠUĂŠĂ€>ÂŤÂ…ÂˆVĂŠ iĂƒÂˆ}Â˜ĂŠAimara AguileraĂŠUĂŠ*Ă€iĂƒĂƒĂŠFundaciĂłn Imprenta de la Cultura
Should NATO be handling world security? he North Atlantic Treaty Organization (better known as NATO) is in the news once again thanks to a NATO summit meeting in Chicago over the weekend of May 19-20 and to large public demonstrations in Chicago against this military pact. NATOâ€™s website deďŹ nes the allianceâ€™s mission as â€œPeace and Securityâ€?, and shows two children lying in the grass, accompanied by a bird, a ďŹ‚ower and the happy twittering of birds. There is no mention of the fact that NATO is the worldâ€™s most powerful military pact, or that NATO nations account for 70 percent of the worldâ€™s annual $1.74 trillion in military spending. The organizers of the demonstrations, put together by peace and social justice groups, assailed NATO for bogging the world down in endless war and for diverting vast resources to militarism. According to a spokesperson for one of the protest groups, Peace Action: â€œItâ€™s time to retire NATO and form a new alliance to address unemployment, hunger, and climate changeâ€?. NATO was launched in April 1949, at a time when Western leaders feared that the Soviet Union, if left unchecked, would invade Western Europe. The US government played a key role in organizing the alliance, which brought in not only West European nations, but the United States and Canada. Dominated by the United States, NATO had a purely defensive mission â€” to safeguard its members from military attack, presumably by the Soviet Union. That attack never occurred, either because it was deterred by NATOâ€™s existence or because the Soviet government had no intention of attacking in the ďŹ rst place. We shall probably never know.
In any case, with the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, it seemed that NATO had outlived its usefulness. But vast military establishments, like other bureaucracies, rarely just fade away. If the original mission no longer exists, new missions can be found. And so NATOâ€™s military might was subsequently employed to bomb Yugoslavia, to conduct counter-insurgency warfare in Afghanistan, and to bomb Libya. Meanwhile, NATO expanded its membership and military facilities to East European nations right along Russiaâ€™s border, thus creating renewed tension with that major military power and providing it with an incentive to organize a countervailing military pact, perhaps with China. None of this seems likely to end soon. In
the days preceding the Chicago meeting, NATOâ€™s new, sweeping role was highlighted by Oana Longescu, a NATO spokesperson, who announced that the summit would discuss â€œthe Allianceâ€™s overall posture in deterring and defending against the full range of threats in the twenty-ďŹ rst century, and take
stock of NATOâ€™s mix of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense forcesâ€?. In fairness to NATO planners, it should be noted that, when it comes to global matters, they are operating in a relative vacuum. There are real international security problems, and some entity should certainly be addressing them. But is NATO the proper entity? After all, NATO is a military pact, dominated by the United States and composed of a relatively small group of selfselecting European and North American nations. The vast majority of the worldâ€™s countries do not belong to NATO and have no inďŹ‚uence upon it. Who appointed NATO as the representa-
tive of the worldâ€™s people? Why should the public in India, in Brazil, in China, in South Africa, in Argentina, or most other nations identify with the decisions of NATOâ€™s military commanders? The organization that does represent the nations and people of the world is the United Nations. Designed to save the planet from â€œthe scourge of warâ€?, the United Nations has a Security Council (on which the United States has permanent membership) that is supposed to handle world security issues. Unlike NATO, whose decisions are often controversial and sometimes questionable, the United Nations almost invariably comes forward with decisions that have broad international support and, furthermore, show considerable wisdom and military restraint. The problem with UN decisions is not that they are bad ones, but that they are difďŹ cult to enforce. And the major reason for the difďŹ culty in enforcement is that the Security Council is hamstrung by a veto that can be exercised by any one nation. Thus, much like the ďŹ libuster in the US Senate, which is making the United States less and less governable, the Security Council veto has seriously limited what the world organization is able to do in addressing global security issues. Thus, if the leaders of NATO nations were really serious about providing children with a world in which they could play in peace among the birds and ďŹ‚owers, they would work to strengthen the United Nations and stop devoting vast resources to dubious wars. >ĂœĂ€iÂ˜ViĂŠ-Â°ĂŠ7ÂˆĂŒĂŒÂ˜iĂ€ĂŠÂˆĂƒĂŠÂŤĂ€ÂœviĂƒĂƒÂœĂ€ĂŠ ÂœvĂŠÂ…ÂˆĂƒĂŒÂœĂ€ĂžĂŠiÂ“iĂ€ÂˆĂŒĂ•ĂƒĂŠ>ĂŒĂŠ-1 9Ă‰Â?L>Â˜ĂžÂ°ĂŠ ÂˆĂƒĂŠÂ?>ĂŒiĂƒĂŒĂŠLÂœÂœÂŽĂŠÂˆĂƒĂŠ7ÂœĂ€ÂŽÂˆÂ˜}ĂŠvÂœĂ€ĂŠ*i>ViĂŠ >Â˜`ĂŠĂ•ĂƒĂŒÂˆVi\ĂŠiÂ“ÂœÂˆĂ€ĂƒĂŠ ÂœvĂŠ>Â˜ĂŠVĂŒÂˆĂ›ÂˆĂƒĂŒĂŠÂ˜ĂŒiÂ?Â?iVĂŒĂ•>Â? Â1Â˜ÂˆĂ›iĂ€ĂƒÂˆĂŒĂžĂŠÂœvĂŠ/iÂ˜Â˜iĂƒĂƒiiĂŠ*Ă€iĂƒĂƒÂŽÂ°