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page 7 | Analysis:

page 8 | Opinion

Socialist leaders question opposition candidacy

An Englishman an in Venezuela

Friday | June 22, 2012 | Nº 114 | Caracas

New decrees for communities

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

Venezuela: A Mission for Life and Security

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decreed a series of new laws aimed at boosting employment, fostering greater community control and providing improved access to affordable housing. In addition to a job training law to reduce unemployment, a Community Services Management Law was passed to push forward grassroots democracy by facilitating greater community control over social services. | page 3 Social Justice

Building socialist communes The small farming community of Hato Arriba promotes participatory democracy. | page 4 Integration

Greek leftists admire Venezuela Syriza leader hails Venezuela as an inspiration. | page 5 Analysis

Our man in Caracas Opposition candidate Capriles Radonski in the palm of Washington. | page 6

This week the Venezuelan government launched a new government program aimed at reducing violent crime and delinquency in the South American nation. Named “A Life For All Venezuela”, the initiative takes a holistic approach to fighting crime. Focusing on prevention, institutional reform, social awareness and more effective policing, with the aid of communities, the new plan pledges to tackle one of the most urgent issues concerning Venezuelans today. | page 2

At Rio+20, ALBA defends right to choose model T/ AVN


he countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) received support from the international community to include the principle of the sovereign right to choose a model of sustainable development in the draft declaration of Rio+20.

This news was announced Wednesday by Venezuelan delegate Claudia Salerno. “I can say with pride that ALBA countries put up a good fight at the United Nations”, Salerno said. “The ‘green economy’ is no longer a model, it’s a mask for capitalism, a neocolonial instrument. We were able to inclu-

de the sovereign right of each country to choose its model of sustainable development, because there are multiple models of development, not just one”, she said. Salerno added that the text includes another item proposed by ALBA which states that among all the models and visions that exist with regard to sustainable development, the green economy is a tool that all states can use to address issues such as control of energy consumption, but not as a

Big win Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez forecast he would win October’s election with more than 60 percent of the vote after a new poll showed on Tuesday he held a large lead over his rival. The survey taken in May by opposition pollster Datanalisis found that 43.6 percent of voters favored Chavez, versus 27.7 percent for opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles. “The opposition know we are going to win the election. We have to win it by K.O. We are going to win the election with more than 60 percent of the vote”, Chavez said. The Datanalisis survey was in line with most of the country’s best-known pollsters, who give Chavez a double-digit lead with less than 4 months remaining until the ballot. “Almost 100 days now (before the vote)”, Chavez said. “A gap of 20 points is impossible to reverse”. “All the serious polls, including one that is totally opposition, give Chavez an advantage of between 16 and 25 points”, said Information Minister Andres Izarra. “And the campaign has still not started”, he added, referring to the formal July 1 beginning of the election race.

single model designed by industrialized countries. Salerno noted that Rio+20 is not unfolding in the same way as other recent UN climate change conferences, such as 2010 in Copenhagen, when a small group of countries created a document behind closed doors and then tried to impose it on others. “Thanks to the government of Brazil and its attempt to give space to everyone in the discussion, it wasn’t just 20 countries holed up and imposing things”, she said.


2 | Impact

NoÊ££{ÊU Friday, June 22, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Chavez leads electoral landscape, calls for greater environmental consciousness T/ COI


ith little over 3 and a half months to go before the nation’s presidential elections on October 7, current incumbent Hugo Chavez of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) continues to hold a considerable lead over all other electoral challengers. “We’re not desperate like the opposition. We’re calm and without nervousness”, Chavez said during a telephone call to a PSUV press conference on Monday. According to all major polls, the head of the socialist party maintains an advantage of between 16 and 35 points over his closest rival, Capriles Radonski of the conservative Democratic Roundtable (MUD) coalition. Reuters recently reported that a poll carried out by the

firm Datanalysis has placed support for Chavez at 43.6 percent while that of Capriles remains at 27.7 percent. Another survey carried out by the company GIS XXI, headed by former Chavez Minister Jesse Chacon, puts the gap even wider with the current President receiving 57.8 percent of voter intent as compared with the MUD candidate’s 23 percent. While speaking to party activists on Monday, Chavez expressed his confidence in electoral victory and chided the opposition for its links to the United States and its denial over the shortcomings of its campaign. “They can laugh with clenched teeth, yell, pretend, and say ‘yes, we’re winning’ but they know deep down in their soul that they are not going to win the elections”, he declared.

Given this scenario, Chavez warned of potential destabilization attempts emanating from the Venezuelan right-wing upon their electoral defeat. “Once the elections are over on October 7, the opposition is going to go out to the streets yelling fraud, foul play and that the dictator-tyrant Chavez won’t accept defeat. They’ll try to generate violence, looking for blood, injury and death. My Lord! May God free us from these perverse plans! It’s not right that a single Venezuelan is injured by the evil plans of those who won’t accept the will of the majority”, he said. PROMOTING ENVIRONMENTALISM Taking advantage of the opportunity to inform the nation on a series of other topics, the Venezuelan President also reported during the press conference on his government’s

plans to launch a new satellite with Chinese assistance in the coming months. “At the end of September or the beginning of October, we’re going to be launching from Chinese territory the second Venezuelan satellite”, he noted. The satellite will be named after independence leader Francisco Miranda and will be used strictly for observational purposes as opposed to the telecommunications role being played by the first satellite, Simon Bolivar, also launched with Chinese assistance in 2008. Additionally, Chavez gave an update on the work groups created to advance the agenda of this year’s Earth Summit Rio+20, currently taking place in Brazil. The head of state related the progress being made by the different commissions and called on developed nations like the United States, that have ob-

structed the progress of global environmental treaties in the past, to take a leadership role in addressing the crisis of global warming. “It’s necessary that all of us take up this topic with consciousness and responsibility. Those who pollute more should have more responsibility. One cannot demand the same level of responsibility from all countries equally”, he pointed out. Chavez also blamed capitalism for much of the planetary problems that have occurred over the past century. “Here we are confronting barbarism and the terrible possibility of the destruction of life. It’s capitalism, a depraved and destructive model, that has caused this horrible damage of global warning, the thawing of polar caps, and the raising of the ocean’s temperature”, he asserted.

important security mission and declared that in addition to addresses the results of crime and violence, it aims to understand the causes that may lead to such acts. He explained that one of the main objectives of this project is to give “special attention to the most vulnerable, children and adolescents”. El Aissami explained that in order to achieve this objec-

tive the government will focus on regaining public spaces in urban centers, which will help “develop clean and healthy lives”. As part of the initiative, 790 sports facilities are being either recovered or built. Audiovisual training schools will also be developed for youth, and 39 centers of the National System of Youth Orchestras (El Sistema) will

be launched in different municipalities. The Venezuelan government has been taking preventive measures to lower the crime rate in the nation over the past few years. The creation of a communal police force, a new Security University to professionalize police, and a law banning private ownership of guns, are a few of the recent efforts.

A mission for life and safety T/ COI P/ Presidential Press


n Wednesday, President Hugo Chavez launched a new government program to reduce crime and violence. The initiative, A Life For All Venezuela aims to work towards the safety of citizens. During the program’s launch, Chavez recalled that insecurity in the country “is a problem that this revolution has not failed to address even for a minute, since we arrived in 1998”. “Violence in the streets doubled during the decade of the 80’s, compared to the 70’s and during the 90’s it tripled and quadrupled”, said the President. Venezuela’s murder rate is 48 deaths per 100,000, in a country with a population of 28.9 million.

6 STRATEGIES Chavez called on citizens and communities to work together to enable the new security initiative. “I call on all individuals and the collective will of the nation to come and join. We need to add together our efforts and contributions, collectively, to address and resolve this serious national problem”, he invited. The new program has 6 strategic areas of action, including, 1) Comprehensive prevention and solidarity among citizens; 2) Strengthening public security institutions; 3) “The state must assume responsibility to serve and assist victims of violence”, noted Chavez, referring to the 5th strategic vertex of the program. Venezuela’s Minister of Interior and Justice, Tareck El Aissami, also commented on this

NoÊ££{ÊU Friday, June 22, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Social Justice | 3 |

Venezuela’s Chavez passes new employment, affordable housing laws T/ COI P/ Presidential Press


uring an official act held in the Presidential Palace of Miraflores last Friday, Venezuelan head of state Hugo Chavez approved a series of new laws intended to boost employment opportunities, foster greater community control over local services, and provide improved access to affordable housing. The revelations were made as Chavez met with cabinet members and invited members of the Venezuelan business community in the Ayacucho Room of Miraflores to discuss the progress of the Caribbean nation’s economy and devise new strategies to expand growth and social development. “We’ve been increasing the productive economic base of the country in order to leave behind the mono-production model of oil that was imposed on us by imperialism”, Chavez said during the encounter. Significant among the group of laws is a major new employment and jobs training initiative called the Law of Work and Knowledge designed to stimulate socially productive work opportunities for those Venezuelans seeking a fulltime profession. Formally a social program that began earlier this year, the law, according to Chavez, will help to “activate micro-businesses” and provide government training in important economic sectors such as construction and the oil industry. The final purpose behind the Law of Work and Knowledge, Chavez said, is to continue his government’s trend of lowering the nation’s unemployment rate. Since the former lieutenant colonel came to office in 1999, Venezuelan has seen unemployment cut in half from 16 percent to its current level of 8 percent. Also among the eleven new legal measures passed on Friday was the creation of a new government fund, Petrorinoco, designed to distribute surpluses

from the state oil company PDVSA to social programs such as retirement pensions and other work benefits. Additionally, a Community Services Management Law was passed to push forward grassroots democracy at the local level by facilitating greater community control over important social services. “With this law, we’re creating the basis for a communal government, or self-government which is the central political

axis of the socialist and democratic process - the government of the people”, he stated. Modifications were also made last week to the nation’s Housing Loans Law in order to better regulate mortgages and, as explained by Vice President Jaua, “guarantee that the Venezuelan population has access to home loans in order to buy a house”. Similar legal instruments were introduced to further Venezuela’s fight against crime and

expedite government loans to small agricultural producers. ENABLING THE REVOLUTION The new laws passed last Friday were done so via presidential decree, an authority granted to the head of state by the Venezuelan congress, the National Assembly, at the end of last year. “You know that the National Assembly gave me, a year and a half ago, the power to make laws. We’ve been exercising this right with great responsibility, above

Communal power by law T/ Rachael Boothroyd


ommunities organized into communal councils and communes are to be given increased power and access to funding under new legislation approved last Friday by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Making use of the enabling law power granted to him by the National Assembly in December 2010 in the wake of heavy flooding, Chavez approved a series of

11 far-reaching laws relating to communal government, tourism and housing. One of the new laws, entitled “Law for Community Management of Functions, Services and other Powers”, will open the door for organized communities to have greater responsibility in the running of local life and access to more direct funding from the government. The new law comes under Article 184 of the 1999 Ven-

ezuelan Constitution, which states that local and national government must progressively start delegating their responsibilities to Venezuela’s various local bodies of communal power. Commenting on the new law, Venezuela’s Commune and Social Protection Minister, Isis Ochoa, said that communities would have increased control over the management of local services, as well as more input

all with respect to social and economic laws”, Chavez said. That power came to an end last Sunday as the 18 time period life of the right to decree expired. While members of Venezuela’s conservative opposition have attempted to criticize the socialist leader for his utilization of the constitutionally sanctioned “Enabling Law”, Chavez has defended the use of decree, citing the legal advances that have been made in the country over the past 18 months. “This isn’t intended to take power away from the National Assembly. Just about every president in Venezuelan history has used [the Enabling Law] but for other interests. We’re using it for the people”, the head of state said. For his part, Vice President Elias Jaua praised Chavez’s prudent use of his decree power, citing a number of concrete improvements that have made in the average Venezuelan’s living standards as a result of the Enabling Law. With the 54 pieces of legislation passed by the Executive since the Enabling Law took effect at the end of last 2011, Venezuela has seen an expansion of workers’ rights, a massive increase in housing construction, a reigning in on price speculation, and a democratization of the banking sector. “Venezuelan people know that when the President legislates, it’s to provide more instruments for a better life”, Jaua said on Friday, remarking that the laws have been created “to attend to emergencies, build homes, help farmers, fight poverty, give more to the people and reorganize institutions to battle [price] speculation”.

into Venezuela’s “changing” productive model. “In this law, mechanisms are established through which community participation can take on functions such as the maintenance of public infrastructure, such as schools,” said Ochoa. The other laws passed include modifications to the country’s housing legislation to guarantee that all Venezuelans have access to mortgages in order to buy their homes, as well as the establishment of legal guidelines for state purchase of land for the government’s mass house building program.


4 | Social Justice

NoÊ££{ÊU Friday, June 22, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Building the socialist commune in rural Venezuela


This, according to Bastia, is the final objective of the communes - foster local, democratic self-governance that empowers communities and lessens the role of the state over time.


he small farming community of Hato Arriba doesn’t appear on most maps of Venezuela. About three hours drive from the small city of Tocuyo in the western state of Lara, the agricultural settlement is tucked away in the Andes mountains and boasts a population of approximately 500 families. Public transportation to the settlement leaves only once a day from the nearest urban center and has the capacity to accommodate about six people. Yet, despite its emphatically rural character and its lack of a steady Internet connection, Hato Arriba, like many of the agrarian caserios in this part of Venezuela, is an example of the kind of 21st century socialism that the government of Hugo Chavez has been promoting since 2005. With one major dirt road that traverses its modest geography, Hato Arriba is home to no less than ten community councils - grassroots organizations of popular democracy created by the Chavez administration to facilitate greater

access to political power for the country’s population. Community councils in Venezuela have the constitutional right to petition the national Executive for development projects and services in order to improve the quality of life for those represented by the neighborhood organization. It is through the community councils that the inhabitants of Hato Arriba have been able to attain agricultural credits, greater electricity services, literacy programs, a subsidized food market, and a number of new grammar schools. “Since about seven years ago, one of the advances that we’ve seen from the revolutionary process is the decentralization of power through the formation of community councils. We’re seeing a break with the model where the [urban centers] control development. There is

a new kind of horizontalism where every space has its own importance, particularities and necessities”, explained Carlos Bastia, a community leader of farming community. Currently, a major project of the residents of this hamlet and its neighboring villages has been the consolidation of what is denominated as “the Commune in Construction”, an umbrella organization that attempts to link the different community councils of any given region under a single banner. In the case of Hato Arriba, the Commune in Construction is attempting to join together with six other nearby settlements in order to amplify residents’ voice, satisfy local needs, and achieve greater autonomy from the bureaucratic structures that can obstruct progressive change at the regional level.

BREAKING THE SOUND BARRIER Last Sunday, Hato Arriba took a further step towards consolidating its commune when the community celebrated the launch of a new grassroots radio station that that has the capacity to reach all six of the surrounding caserios. The initiative is part of a community media movement in Venezuela, which over the past ten years has seen a profound democratization of the airwaves. Sunday’s inauguration in Hato Arriba took place in a local grammar school and was the site of a festive environment that saw the performance of local music groups, traditional dancing, raffles, and the cooking of a community stew known in Venezuela as sancocho. “For us, it’s a great pleasure to see this radio operational because through it we’re going to be able to communicate and let the people know everything that is happening politically,

socially and culturally in this area”, said Norkys Dugarte, a community member and spokesperson for Hato Arriba’s community council. One of the fundamental aspects of the new radio station, as explained by Dugarte, is the emphasis that it places, not only on the construction of the commune, but also on the political and social role that women are playing in the communities. Yanahir Reyes, a gender activist working in popular education in the caserio, commented on the heightened need for media programming in areas such as Hato Arriba that deals specifically with the issues faced by women and girls. “The beautiful thing about this community is that we’re linking different struggles. All of this has been a process that has taken time and the radio is a tool that is going to help us change paradigms”, Reyes said. Reyes, who works with mothers and children as part of Ministry of Education program mentioned that initiatives like the new station have the potential to break with traditional, male-dominated practices and empower women to take a more active role in shaping the politics of their communities. “The women of this community have been underestimated and have been told that we aren’t capable of putting together a radio station, that we don’t know how to use microphones or a transmitter. We believe that this radio is fundamental for us to be recognized and valued so that people understand that we aren’t these kind of women that appear in magazines or beer commercials”, she asserted. Although the radio inauguration could be considered a small development in light of the wider revolutionary process taking place in Venezuela, the residents involved in the erection of the new station see the event as another important advancement towards the building of a new ideal for their community. It is their contribution, or “grain of sand” as is commonly said in Spanish, to a greater vision that sees Venezuela and Latin America moving further away from an externally-imposed development model and closer to the local communities and heritages that make up the essence of the country’s character.

NoÊ££{ÊU Friday, June 22, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Integration | 5 |

Greece: Syriza leader hails Venezuela’s anti-capitalist example

He pointed out that for many years, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela had followed the same recipe of neoliberal shock measures that are being applied to Greece today.

Tsipras insisted that the Greek debt “is an old story, nothing new”, and has been accumulating for a long time. He said it “formed at the base of a model that was based on borrowing” and extreme consumerism. “No one expected that in 2012, Greece would be at the threshold of a humanitarian crisis … left with debts we couldn’t pay. “Greece wasn’t ready to enter the eurozone. We’re still paying off debt from the Olympic games and corruption … all those years of development, those years, a bit before and a bit after entering the euro we were left without a social reserve”. Tsipras said that the social, economic and political development of Latin America is a “shining example” that he would consider if elected prime minister in the June 17 general election. “Chavez would not be in power today if his people had not supported him when those dark forces carried out their coup to overthrow him”. In 2002, a military coup backed by the United States and Venezuelan capitalists was defeated by a popular uprising of the poor and many soldiers. “We too know that here a dark past confronts a hopeful future (…) our greatest opponents aren’t [New Democracy’s Antonis] Samaras and [Pasok’s Evangelos] Venizelos; our opponents are the forces of the financial power of bank capital”.

Minister remarked during an OPEC meeting on June 12 to decide production quotas. Global reserves advanced to 1.65 trillion barrels at the end of last year, a 1.9 percent increase from a revised 1.62 trillion in 2010, BP said. Venezuela now holds 18 percent of the world’s reserves, according to BP data. BP revised its estimates on reserves in part because the company publishes its report in June, before most governments issue their annual reserves figures, said Robert Wine, a BP spokesman. Last year’s record average oil price also had an effect, increasing the commercial viability of hard-to-reach deposits, he said. Venezuela’s deposits may be difficult to extract, according to Strategic Energy & Economic Research. “People still know that a lot of that is very hard to

develop and is not as readily accessible the way Saudi reserves are”, Michael Lynch, the researcher’s president, said from Vienna. “It’s the same with Canadian oil sands”. Global oil consumption increased 0.7 percent or 0.6 million barrels a day to reach 88 million barrels a day in 2011, marking the weakest global growth rate among fossil fuels in BP’s statistical review. “Despite strong oil prices, oil consumption growth was below average in producing regions of the Middle East and Africa due to regional unrest”, BP also reported. China was the largest contributor to a rise in global oil demand growth in 2011, increasing its total oil demand by 505,000 barrels a day or 5.5 percent in 2011, although the growth rate was below its 10-year average, BP said.

T/ Aporrea and Owen Richards P/ Agencies


n the June 17 elections, antiausterity Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) came a close second with 26.9% of the vote. The right-wing New Democracy came first with more than 29%, amid huge blackmail and threats from major governments and financial institutions, and will now attempt to form a coalition government. Syriza’s vote rose just over 10 points from the May 6 poll, after which no party was able to form government. In the 2007 elections, Syriza won about 5% -- its drastic rise a sign of widespread rejection of the bail-out package and associated savage austerity measures imposed on the people of Greece. During an interview with Latin American TV station Telesur on June 12, the leader of the Greek left-wing coalition Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, pointed to Venezuela as a model to follow to leave behind the capitalist model dominant in Europe.

“The example of Venezuela is characteristic”, Tsipras said. “[Venezuela’s socialist President] Hugo Chavez was able to achieve important things for his country through

a peaceful process. He carried out the nationalization of the natural sources of production. And he did so while under the constant attacks of the big end of town”.

Venezuela world’s largest holder of proven oil reserves T/ Agencies


enezuela surpassed Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest holder of proven oil reserves, the BP “Statistical Review of World Energy 2012” said. Saudi Arabia now trails Venezuela with a 16 percent share of world proven oil reserves, according to the report. Canada ranks third with 175.2 billion barrels, or 11 percent of total, unchanged from the revised number for 2010. The South American country’s deposits were at 296.5 billion barrels at the end of last year, data from BP show. Saudi Arabia held

265.4 billion barrels, the BP report said. The 2010 estimate for Venezuela increased from 211.2 billion in the previous report. “These reserves are quantified and certified by third parties and recognized by the entire world as being the biggest proven reserves of the world”, Venezuela’s Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said from Vienna, where the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is headquartered. “We have always said that in the future natural resources will become scarce and when the economy recovers and demand returns then we will be one of

the few countries able to respond to that”, Ramirez added. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wants to more than double the country’s oil- production capacity to 6 million barrels a day by 2019, according to a government plan released June 12. The world’s biggest oil-exporting nations faced a 15 percent slump in crude prices last month, the biggest decline since December 2008, on speculation Europe’s debt crisis would derail the global economic recovery. Ramirez has said oil prices need to be higher than $100 a barrel. The recent slump in crude is dangerous for producers, the Oil


6 | Analysis

NoÊ££{ÊU Friday, June 22, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Our man in Caracas: The U.S. media and Henrique Capriles T/ Keane Bhatt – Nacla P/ Agencies


he presidential candidate of Venezuela’s coalition of opposition parties, Henrique Capriles Radonski, hosted a rally on June 10 to formally initiate his campaign against President Hugo Chavez. “Hundreds of thousands” of Venezuelans—according to Reuters, AP, and The Miami Herald—flooded the streets of downtown Caracas to support his candidacy. The “good looks of the bachelor candidate” helped attract a huge crowd to the event in which Capriles walked or jogged six miles to register with electoral authorities, “burnishing his image of physical fitness”, per Reuters’s account. He “exuded youthful energy”, said the AP, and had won praise for being an “energetic and dedicated leader” as the governor of Miranda State, according to The Miami Herald. [Ed. Note: Media failed to report that Capriles actually fainted as he arrived to register his candidacy after the “6 mile walk/jog”. He also fainted and fell on the crowd a few days later during another electoral event. Hardly the sign of “health”.] All three news outlets contrasted Capriles’s vigor with Chavez’s frailty (he is recovering from cancer), while conveying Venezuelans’ disgruntlement. Even some Chavez supporters “have grown tired of a murder rate that rivals some war zones, sputtering public services such as electricity and periodic shortages of staple good”, asserted Reuters. It was only natural, then, that a marcher was quoted stressing, “It’s time for a change”. So it came as no surprise that just one day later, the US press reported that Chavez’s own rally to officially inaugurate his presidential campaign attracted a crowd an entire order of magnitude smaller than that of Capriles. The AP’s headline, “Chavez rallies thousands launching re-election bid”—a figure also used by NPR

and the Los Angeles Times— implied that the number of proChavez participants could have been anywhere between 20 to 500 times smaller than the number present at the previous day’s pro-Capriles rally. The AP’s Fabiola Sanchez cited a higher estimate of “tens of thousands” in the body of her piece, but even this number amounts to just a fraction of Capriles’s “hundreds of thousands” of supporters. Reuters went further in minimizing Chavez’s support. Correspondent Brian Ellsworth provided a sinister explanation for a 66-year-old pro-Chavez retiree’s observations, as she danced in the city square during the rally. “Look at this sea of people; look at the happiness”, she urged. “For every person that came out yesterday, we’ve brought out 10, 20, 30 more. And that’s going to be reflected in the election”. But Ellsworth countered this with circumstantial evidence that the event was little more than a Potemkin spectacle: Hundreds of buses that ferried his followers to Caracas stood parked in side streets. Critics accuse Chavez allies of using state

resources to swell demonstrations and forcing government employees to attend. Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez said the ruling Socialist Party had ordered ministries to help bring 120,000 people to the march, citing what he called an internal party document. Reuters provided no follow-up on the veracity of the unnamed critics’ accusations, nor did it verify the existence of the internal party document that Leopoldo Lopez cited. Ellsworth’s article also failed to include any estimate of the number of participants at Chavez’s rally, despite a Spanish-language dispatch by Reuters, which stated in its first paragraph that Chavez was “accompanied by hundreds of thousands of sympathizers”. Far more troubling than partial reporting on the popularity of the two candidates is the US media’s superficial portrayal of Capriles as simply a “a polite, non-confrontational politician”, above the fray of Chavez’s insults and negativity. “I want to be everybody’s president, not the president of a single

group”, the AP quoted Capriles as saying. “I am not anybody’s enemy”, he continued. “I’m the enemy of problems”. At times, Capriles deviates from this persona, as when he referred to poll numbers— many of which consistently show Chavez leading by doubledigit margins—as the work of “immoral mafiosos”, according to Reuters. More importantly, his political record betrays farright tendencies that contradict his inclusive, conciliatory image. As the BBC notes, Capriles “was involved with a group of other young politicians in setting up in 2000 a new opposition party Primero Justicia”. In the lead-up to the 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez, which killed dozens, Primero Justicia indirectly received hundreds of thousands of dollars and training from a foreign government— in this case, the United States, through the National Endowment for Democracy, an agency largely financed by Congress. Leopoldo Lopez and Leopoldo Martinez, two of Primero Justicia’s other top leaders, went on to play key roles in the 2002 coup

government of Venezuelan business magnate Pedro Carmona. Lopez—who Reuters deemed fit to comment on the supposedly authoritarian nature of last week’s pro-Chavez rally—himself signed on to Carmona’s 2002 decree to abolish the General Assembly, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution. During this US-backed twoday coup, hundreds of antiChavez demonstrators destroyed cars outside the Cuban embassy in the Caracas municipality of Baruta. They also cut off water and electricity to the building. Capriles, then the mayor of Baruta, was filmed climbing over the embassy’s wall with a ladder and then approaching the Cuban ambassador to ask for proof that there were no Chavez administration officials inside the embassy. The Cuban embassy later released a statement condemning Capriles’s behavior. As all of the press coverage duly notes, Capriles has an uphill battle, and the poll numbers are not in his favor. It’s hard not to see why. As journalist Stephanie Kennedy notes in the Huffington Post, Venezuela was ranked the “happiest” country in South America by Columbia University, which she attributes, in large part, to serious improvements in Venezuelans’ material conditions under the Chavez administration: The country currently boasts the highest minimum wage in Latin America and its latest bill for workers rights hails in a new era of legal protection and social security to a large part of the population who had up until recently been labouring within informal and vulnerable frameworks. Domestic workers, voluntary full time carers of family relatives and housekeepers now too have rights and a state pension, whilst peasants, fisherman and others practicing the more traditional trades, who have always been omitted from formal registers, will now enjoy the same rights as their urban peers. There are local clinics where people had never seen a doctor before, new bricklayered houses for people who had been living in cardboard slums, and subsidized food products and medicines. A leader seeking reelection with a track record of spearheading the policies listed above can surely afford some bravado on the campaign trail.

NoÊ££{ÊU Friday, June 22, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Analysis | 7 |

Socialist leaders question opposition candidadacy T/ COI P/ Agencies


ver the weekend leaders from within Venezuela’s ruling socialist party discussed opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski in the context of this year’s presidential election. With all signs indicating the US-backed candidate will suffer an October 7 defeat, Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua and President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello, both of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), reflected on the opposition’s inability to woo voters.

“UNPRESENTABLE” PLATFORM In an interview with Correo del Orinoco over the weekend, PSUV leader and Venezuelan Executive Vice President Elias Jaua discussed the stagnant campaign of opposition hopeful Capriles Radonski. Speaking to investigative journalist Vanessa Davies, Jaua said he regretted that opposition campaigning “is going to be more of what we’ve seen thus far”. Though formal campaigning is set to begin July 1, the US-backed candidate has been campaigning ever since he won an opposition primary election in early February. According to Jaua, “everything seems to indicate we aren’t going to see much more than the little dance they do – their three poorly-written slogans and a platform they can hardly describe to voters”.

“The (opposition) candidate isn’t even capable of explaining his own program”, said Jaua, “and the right-wing’s platform, in of itself, is unpresentable”. Questioning the opposition coalition, Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), and its US-friendly platform, the Venezuelan Vice President posed several simple questions: “How do you tell the Venezuelan people that you are going to sell oil as carbon and that, as a result, you won’t have enough resources to maintain free, public education nationwide…? How do you tell grandparents that those who have not paid in enough will not be receiving Social Security?” Jaua’s reference to “oil as carbon” is a critique of Fourth Republic (1958-1998) policies in which Venezuelan crude was sold as carbon so as to benefit transnational oil firms, the United States, and other oil-consuming nations. “It is impossible to think of a socialist system of social inclusion and protections such as the one built by President Chavez without the control of the nation’s oilbased income”, Jaua explained. Meanwhile, he said, “the opposition insists that the state need not hold a majority share in joint oil projects, going as far as to propose the state need not participate at all”. Contrasting the Bolivarian Revolution’s “defense of sovereign control over Venezuela’s rent-based income” with

“the conservatives’ proposal of handing over the country’s strategic resources”, Jaua explained that an opposition government would result in “no more Barrio Adentro, no more public schools, and no more pensions”. Barrio Adentro, one of the Bolivarian Revolution’s many publicly-financed programs aimed at social inclusion, is the Chavez administration’s flagship national healthcare program. With the support of some 20,000 Cuban medical professionals, it currently provides quality health care services to millions of Venezuelans. “Even for those who are against the President (Chavez)”, Jaua said, “it must be rather difficult to back a candidate such as Capriles”. According to Jaua, the opposition platform “is a commitment to distributing the nation’s pie among national and regional power-holders, to repartitioning wealth among oligarchs”. SOMETHING IN THE AIR Speaking on the weekly television program Jose Vicente Hoy, National Assembly President and PSUV Vice President Diosdado Cabello called on the Venezuelan opposition to respect the country’s electoral authorities. Discussing polls that give Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a double-digit lead over Radonski, Cabello said he is “certain that the 20point advantage is reflective of reality”.

“There is something in the air”, he said, and with polls that give President Chavez “2.8 million more votes than the opposition candidate...they (the opposition) need to convince some 700,000 Venezuelans per month, that is, change the minds of 23,000 Venezuelans per day, in order to overcome those 20 points in the four months that remain before the election”. “Electorally”, Cabello explained, the opposition is “saying it will respect the socialist missions while at the same time proposing to free up oil production from controls and bring an end to OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)”. These two proposals, he insisted, “are absolutely contradictory”. Discussing a June 10th opposition rally celebrating Radonski’s formal inscription at the National Electoral Council (CNE), Cabello said opposition forces “tried mounting a grand media show with their candidate, but that show is falling apart”. “Radonski’s discourse is empty, he says nothing, and he makes no concrete proposal at all”, affirmed Cabello. Suggesting the opposition plans to circumvent the CNE, Cabello also said that right-wing “attacks on the CNE and their plans to dismiss results are directly related”. “Let them make no mistake”, he warned, “because they have no idea the response we are ready to give”. In a recent interview with Venezuelan daily Ciudad CCS, CNE director Socorro Hernandez reflected on the opposition’s maneuvering as it relates to the country’s top election authority. “Holding their primaries with the CNE implies an acceptance on the part of the opposition”, she explained, “as does coming to the CNE to register (for the presidential election)”. “What has not occurred”, Socorro lamented, “is an explicit declaration that they will recognize the election results”. “They always leave you with that doubt,” she said. “No breach should be left open through which external factors could come and claim fraud…No one should provide loopholes for internationals to interfere politically”, she concluded. DEMOCRATIC EXPRESSION US professor and political analyst James Petras recently affirmed that the Venezuelan opposition, with the support of Washington, “is looking at various options” to deal with their pending loss in this year’s presidential election. “First, they are going to try disqualifying the (Chavez) victory”, he said. “Second, they are planning a campaign of actions to create the destabilization of the government, looking to combine different types of actions and provoke violence”. In short, he affirmed, “they seek to prevent the democratic expression of the Venezuelan majority”.

Friday | June 22, 2012 | Nº 114 | Caracas |

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

A publication of the Fundacion Correo del OrinocoÊUÊ `ˆÌœÀ‡ˆ˜‡ …ˆivÊEva GolingerÊUÊÀ>«…ˆVÊ iÈ}˜ÊJosé Manuel Hernández ChacínÊUÊ*ÀiÃÃÊFundación Imprenta de la Cultura

An Englishman in Venezuela /ÉÊ*>ÕÊ œLܘ


orld Bank president Robert Zoellick said last week that the days of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were “numbered” economically and politically following a wave of nationalizations. Zoellick spoke ominously of “an opportunity to make the western hemisphere the first democratic hemisphere” by exploiting Chavez’s hypothetical downfall to force “rapid policy changes” on other countries, naming Cuba and Nicaragua. Without a trace of irony he talked of how the US could make Latin America “a place of democracy, development and dignity” rather than one of “coups, caudillos and cocaine”. A bit rich from the country which organized the coups, bankrolled the caudillos and bought the cocaine for decades before the progressive movement spearheaded by Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution began to reshape the continent. But Zoellick may be underestimating his target. The Bolivarian Revolution has made tremendous gains for Venezuela’s democracy, development and dignity precisely by challenging the might of exploitative transnational companies. Here we can look at just one example - Venezuela versus a British man nicknamed “Spam”. Or to give him his full title, Samuel George Armstrong Vestey, third baron Vestey, lieutenant in the Scots Guards, peer, ex-chancellor and lord prior to the Order of St John of Jerusalem, deputy lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Master of the Horse of the Sovereign, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. He’s 27th in the Order of Preference for Gentlemen in the UK - a who’s who of the nobility - the exhusband to Prince Harry’s godmother and owner of

the 2,430-hectare Stowell Park estate in Gloucestershire. More importantly he’s the head of Vestey Group. The group is a British food conglomerate founded in Liverpool in 1897, which made its fortune importing meat. It moved into Venezuela in 1903 and bought 11 ranches in prime-quality land (classified in the country as “A1”, the best possible for farming), setting up the Compania Inglesa subsidiary in the country which itself set up Agroflora, the cattle-ranching arm of the business.

The company did well, buying up land in a range of other countries from Australia to China and making vast profits for its owners William and Edmund Vestey. William managed to get ennobled as a baron despite opposition from King George V, who was irritated by his demand for taxexempt status at the height of World War I. When this demand was refused they went into tax exile in Argentina before setting up a dodgy if legal scheme involving a French trust fund that enabled them to evade almost all tax in Britain until the loophole was closed in 1991. A Sunday Times investigation once revealed that in 1978 the firm had managed to pay just $15 in tax on a profit of around $3.6 million. They were at their height called “the richest dynasty in the land apart from the Windsors”. Biographer Philip Knightley wrote: “They did not live on the income, they did not live on the interest from their investments. They lived on the interest on the interest”. Business and tax evasion went excellently for William’s successors until 2001, when the Chavez government passed a new land law allowing it to look into all landholdings of over 5,000 hectares and forcibly nationalize them with compensation if they were deemed inactive, idle or no project was presented for their development. Spam had a problem - he owned over 420,000 hectares of land in Venezuela and over 130,000 head of cattle. Twelve of his ranches surpassed the 5,000 hectares mark. So he held a one-man protest outside Venezuela’s London embassy in February 2001. Squatters began to settle on his lands and cultivate crops. Though they were making use of previously inactive land, there are reports of these landless farmers being shot at and even murdered by men allegedly paid off by Spam. In 2005 things got even worse for the tycoon. The government sent troops into his Charcote ranch and confiscated 13,000 cattle. After coming to an agreement with the government Spam received the equivalent of $4.17 million in local currency as compensation for two ranches he was forced to give up. In October 2010 he faced his biggest prob-

lem yet when Chavez declared: “All the lands of the so-called Compania Inglesa will be nationalized now. I don’t want to lose another day. Free the land, free the slave labor”. That meant around 300,000 hectares of land, all his remaining ranches and 120,000 cattle. The Central Bank immediately approved funds for buying up the ranches. Chavez pointed out: “We must recognize what is really private land, we’re not stealing it from anyone. Some companies like this insist we pay them in foreign money. No - we are in Venezuela”. The ranches passed to the state and the jobs of the workers were guaranteed. Some land was distributed to those who lived or worked on it to set up co-operatives, some continues production under state administration and some areas are being restructured for crop rather than cattle-farming. Spam said: “We have been in constructive discussions with the Venezuelan government for some time now and we continue in that vein in order to find a friendly agreement”. These discussions went on for about a year. But in October 2011 talks fell apart over the payment issue and lands were ordered to be taken by force. Spam was offered compensation in the overvalued local currency and no other, a total of 274 million bolivars ($63 million). Many economists, landowners, cattleranchers and general bigwigs were up in arms over these land-grabs. Many peasants, workers, patriots and general country folk supported them. But the government pointed out that Spam’s deeds had not been in order - and that anyway if you went back far enough the land had been nicked off the people in the first place. It also reminded us that 90 per cent of the meat produced on these ranches was to be sold in Britain. Venezuelan land, Venezuelan cattle, Venezuelan labor, but virtually no meat for Venezuela at a time when the country was importing 70 per cent of meat consumed. That this was A1 fertile land - perfect for crop production, not cattle-ranching. And finally that there were millions of Venezuelans without land, houses or businesses who could benefit from the lots of all three owned by the absentee landlord. So 2011 was the year that concluded the story of Spam in Venezuela. But not to worry - the third baron Vestey’s colonial adventures continue in, among other places, Australia, Brazil and China. /…ˆÃÊ>À̈ViÊÜ>ÃÊwÀÃÌÊ«ÕLˆÃ…i`ʈ˜Ê/…iÊœÀ˜ˆ˜}Ê-Ì>À

Edition Nº 114  

Venezuela: A Mission for Life and Security