page 4 | Opinion:
Interview: Paraguayan coup is a setback for democracy; protests continue
Friday | June 29, 2012 | Nº 115 | Caracas
Venezuela’s youngest conductor
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
Latin America condemns Paraguay coup d’etat
Venezuela & Iran housing, not bombs
t 2 years old, he was given his ﬁrst musical instrument: a “cuatro”. or small four-string guitar. At 8, he cried with emotion at a brass band concert. Now, at just 14, Jose Angel Salazar is Venezuela’s youngest orchestra conductor - the latest prodigy from his nation’s famed El Sistema music development program and possibly the youngest in the world. Since the mid-1970s El Sistema has taught hundreds of thousands of youths, many from impoverished homes, to play in orchestras. Supporters say it gives them discipline, cuts truancy and boosts selfesteem. “For a boy of 14 to be conducting an orchestra at the same time as going to school is a miracle that only happens in Venezuela”, Salazar remarked. Salazar, who also plays the guitar and the “cuatro”, said the ﬁrst time he directed the orchestra it was spontaneous. “I was playing (the violin) and there was a teachers’ meeting so our teacher had to leave. Since no one was left in charge, I put down the violin and began to conduct”, he said with a smile. Before long, Salazar was conducting kids twice his age.
Last Friday’s “parliamentary coup” deposing President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay has been condemned by the region and declared an illegitimate power grab. Several nations, including Venezuela, have frozen relations with the South American country and withdrawn their ambassadors. Venezuela also temporarily ceased oil sales and shipments to Paraguay. The Union of South American Nations (Unasur), the region’s most important organization, called a special meeting to discuss the urgent situation. | page 2
Ecuador: No more soldiers to School of the Americas T/ Agencies
cuador will not send its military and police to be trained in the US School of the Americas (SOA) based on the institution’s record of human rights violations. The announcement came this week and was made public by Ecuador’s Defense Minister, Miguel Carvajal.
The government “has decided that it’s not going to send more ofﬁcers or soldiers or members of the Armed Forces or the police” to the SOA, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, he told journalists during a press conference. This decision reﬂects “a democratic clamor from history”, said
Carvajal. Some of the “ex-ofﬁcers trained at the US facility have been responsible for mass human rights violations” in Ecuador and the region, he explained. The withdrawal from the notorious training center for Latin American dictators, torturers and violators was also conﬁrmed by Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, who cited the words of US Senator Martin Meehan, who said, “if the School of the Americas held a meeting of alumni it would be the most undesirable and infamous thugs in the hemisphere”.
Despite media portrayal of relations between Venezuela and Iran, this week’s meeting between President Chavez and Iranian head of state Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proved once again that the two countries are not involved in dangerous plots to harm the US or its allies. Ahmadinejad’s visit focused on strengthening accords with the South American country in the areas of housing, energy and technology. Iran is one of Venezuela’s many international allies involved in a nationwide housing construction program to build 3 million homes over the next 6 years. | page 3
Ecuador had 116 students at the US facility between 2010 and 2011. Carvajal and Patiño formalized the important announcement after a meeting between President Rafael Correa and US priest Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch. “It’s a school that has caused suffering to many countries, and President Correa’s decision is an inspiration”, exclaimed Bourgeois. With its decision to leave the SOA, Ecuador joins Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela all who canceled all cooperation with the center during the past decade.
2 | Impact
NoÊ££xÊU Friday, June 29, 2012
The artillery of ideas
Ouster of Paraguayan President sparks outrage around Latin America T/ COI P/ Agencies
ast Friday’s “impeachment” of Paraguayan head of state Fernando Lugo has provoked a wave of diplomatic indignation from key governments around Latin America this week, leading to the possible expulsion of the country from important regional alliances and trade blocs. In what is being referred to as an “institutional coup d’etat”, Lugo’s dismissal as president occurred after a 5-hour Senate trial last Friday found the leftist politician guilty of a series of misconduct charges. Following a 39-4 Senate vote in favor of impeachment, Vice President Federico Franco, was sworn in as the new head of state with a little more than a year to go before the nation’s scheduled presidential elections in August 2013. Lugo, an ordained Catholic priest, has called the outcome of the Senate hearing and the swearing in of Franco as “a parliamentary coup”, denouncing the proceedings against him as a setback to democracy in the region. Given almost no time to defend himself before the senate, Lugo has cited his support for land redistribution and protection for the nation’s poor as the true reason behind his ouster. Of the ﬁve charges held against him by the nation’s conservative senate, two are related to agrarian issues. This includes holding Lugo responsible for a violent confrontation that broke out last week between landless farmers and members of the Paraguayan police that left six ofﬁcers and 11 agricultural workers dead. Security forces were attempting to evict some 150 squatting farmers from a large estate when the violence erupted. Although he expressed his nonconformity over Friday’s trial, Lugo accepted what he called an “illegitimate” decision in order to avoid any bloodshed that might result
from his unwillingness to step down. That acceptance has become less and less adamant, however, as international solidarity has served to isolate the Franco government, painting the expedited trial as a violation of the democracy currently being fostered by governments around the region. Over the weekend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez referred to the events in Paraguay as a “coup d’etat” during a speech given on Sunday celebrating the OPEC member’s armed forces. “They judged him without any evidence and it took place in one day... When the bourgeoisie and the right govern, this is always what happens”, Chavez said, comparing the events in Paraguay to the junta that removed Manuel Zelaya from power in Honduras in 2009. “This is the bourgeoisie who are accustomed to humiliate the people, who are accustomed to trample on the constitution and the laws. For them, there is no constitution nor laws but for us there are”, the Venezuelan head of state afﬁrmed. While addressing the nation, Chavez declared the re-
moval of the Venezuelan ambassador from Paraguay and announced the cessation of oil shipments to the country until further notice. “This is something that we lament greatly but we’re not going to be able to support this coup d’etat, not directly nor indirectly”, he stated. The cutting off of fuel could hurt economically the impoverished, landlocked southern cone nation which has seen an increase in oil supply from Venezuela as a result of the robust relations fostered between Chavez and Lugo over the past 4 years.
Chavez’s remarks were also proceeded by street demonstrations in the Caribbean nation on Saturday that saw a number of protestors voice their indignation over the sacking in front of the Paraguayan embassy in Caracas. “What has been attacked has been the will of the people”, said Hernan Vargas, a social justice activist during the demonstration. “That’s why we’re condemning the bourgeoisie in Latin America and those Paraguayans who are involved in this dirty judgment”, he declared.
In addition to Venezuela’s denouncements, other important Latin American nations have made known their discontent over the Paraguayan senate’s summary dismissal of the nation’s democratically elected president. Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez referred to the impeachment as “without a doubt” a coup d’etat, citing the trial as a reoccurrence of “situations that we thought we had overcome in South American and the region in general”. According to Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, the Paraguayan subversion of democracy carries with it concrete international penalties including the “no participation in multilateral organizations”. This includes possible expulsion of the country from the Mercosur trade bloc and Union of South American Nations (Unasur). Like Venezuela and Argentina, Brazil has also expressed its solidarity with Lugo, refusing to accept the legitimacy of the newly installed government in Asuncion. Adding to the list of countries refusing to recognize the “coup” government are Bolivia, Cuba, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador was the ﬁrst head of state to announce his non-recognition of the Franco presidency, claiming that the events in Paraguay “go beyond Fernando Lugo”. “It’s about true democracy in all of our Americas. It is for this reason that the government of Ecuador will not recognize the new government of Paraguay”, Correa said, adding that measures against Paraguay could include a closure of international borders. The governments of Colombia, Chile, Peru, Nicaragua, Uruguay and El Salvador have also expressed their misgivings over the recent ouster. In a statement, the Chilean government described the Lugo trial as “not complying with the minimum standards of due process”, while Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos referred to the legal procedures as an “abuse”. “We will analyze [the situation] well to see what position to take and we hope to do this together with the rest of the South American countries”, Santos said.
NoÊ££xÊU Friday, June 29, 2012
The artillery of ideas
joyed since the ex-lieutenant colonel ﬁrst came to power in 1999. “This [independence from Western inﬂuence] has allowed us to create a network that each day is growing stronger as a result of our bilateral and multilateral efforts. This is the way that we are contributing to the birth of a new world, a pluri-polar world that is leaving behind imperialist domination”, Chavez declared.
The head of the Islamic Republic of Iran took advantage of his participation in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 in Brazil last week to pass through Caracas for his second ofﬁcial visit of the year. The two leaders met in the presidential palace of Miraﬂores where they discussed ways to deepen the strategic relations in certain key sectors. One of those, as expressed by Venezuela’s Chavez, is housing. In 2011, the Chavez government created a far-ranging social program, called Mission Housing Venezuela that has projected the construction of some 3 million homes in the Caribbean country by 2019. To make that goal a reality, the country’s socialist government is counting on the assistance of international allies like Iran to contribute expertise and technology in order to boost construction efforts. Thus far, the program has built 217,000 new homes in what Chavez called a “record” for housing construction in Venezuela. “This is one of the programs that has had the most success in the last 2 years. One of the reasons for this success has been the support provided by the government and businesses of Iran”, he said. As part of that collaboration, the two presidents witnessed, via satellite on Friday, the deliv-
ery of 384 homes to Venezuelan residents in the New City of Fabricio Ojeda in the western state of Zulia. The homes along with their property titles were handed over as part of a larger project that has planned the construction of 7,000 living units complete with schools and health facilities on 383 hectares (946 acres) of land donated by the Venezuelan state oil company Pdvsa. President Chavez pointed out that the erection of community infrastructure of this magnitude in Zulia is one of the fundamental ways that Iran is helping to advance Venezuela’s largescale public program. “This is the concept that we see in Iran - new, holistic cities that include industrial zones, agriculture, and areas for education, health and recreation”, Chavez said. For his part, Iranian President Ahmadinejad praised the socialist leader for his attention to the needs of the nation’s citizenry through programs such as Mission Housing Venezuela. “This is the revolutionary gaze of President Chavez. Revolutionary leaders are always with the people. The worries of the people are the worries of these leaders”, he said. “I’m sure that the Venezuelan people are capable of reaching their goal thanks to the this government and the revolution”, the Iranian head of state declared.
“It’s our condemnation of capitalism... [Lukashenko] knew how to hold the ship steady during the disastrous fall of the Soviet Union. Belarus was shaken but it created a democratic and productive system that maintains its own development model”, he added. A private meeting between the two heads of state lasted approximately one hour and a half, followed by the inauguration, via satellite, of a tractor trailer factory built with Belarusian assistance in the Venezuelan state of Barinas. The plant, which employs 147 workers, has been created through the collaboration of the Belarusian company MAZ and is projecting the production of 1,000 tractor trailers for 2012. That production is set to increase to 5,000 per year by 2017. A major goal of the new factory is to address the transpor-
tation needs of the Venezuelan countryside in order to improve food sovereignty through greater distribution of domestic agricultural products. Other projects reviewed during the meeting Tuesday include a system of natural gas delivery for residents in Caracas and a factory of building materials designed to aid housing construction in the Caribbean nation.
The encounter closed with the signing of a series of other energy, housing, agricultural, and industrial development accords intended to boost infrastructure and encourage technology transfer. Lukashenko’s visit to Venezuela earlier this week was his third such diplomatic mission in the past 5 years to the South American country.
Venezuela & Iran build houses, not bombs T/ COI P/ Presidential Press
enezuelan President Hugo Chavez met with his Iranian counterpart Mahmud Ahmadinejad last Friday in Caracas for an ofﬁcial visit that saw the two leaders review a series of bilateral accords dealing with energy, housing, and industrial development.
During the encounter, the Venezuelan President pointed out that the two allied nations have signed more than 300 pacts in recent years, resulting in greater “development and happiness for the Venezuelan people”. The close diplomatic relationship with Iran, Chavez said, is due to the growing political and economic independence that the South American nation has en-
Venezuela and Belarus inaugurate truck factory T/ COI P/ Presidential Press
elarusian President Alexander Lukashenko arrived in Caracas Monday as part of a Latin American tour that has seen the Eastern European nation strengthen ties with countries including Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador. During his visit, Lukashenko met with President Hugo Chavez Tuesday afternoon to sign more than 20 mutual accords addressing areas including transportation, energy, and housing. The new agreements have been added to the more than 200 collaborative projects that the two
governments have established over the past 5 years in sectors ranging from sports and agriculture to industry and culture. “Today Venezuela is full of jubilation as we greet our brother, President Alexander Lukashenko... We’re very happy to have your presence here”, Chavez said upon greeting his Belarusian counterpart at the presidential palace of Miraﬂores. Before his arrival, Chavez called Lukashenko “a great leader” and dismissed corporate media portrayals that refer to him as “Europe’s last dictator”. “They also call me a dictator”, the Venezuelan President said.
Integration | 3 |
Friday | June 29, 2012 | Nº 115 | Caracas | www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
A publication of the Fundacion Correo del OrinocoÊUÊ `ÌÀ ivÊEva GolingerÊUÊÀ>« VÊ iÃ}ÊAimara AguileraÊUÊ*ÀiÃÃÊFundación Imprenta de la Cultura
Interview: Paraguayan “coup” a setback for democracy /ÉÊ "
n the context of last week’s “parliamentary coup” against democratically elected Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, we spoke with Paraguay’s Adriano Muñoz, a student activist of the Campesino Organization of the North (OCN). Muñoz currently studies at Venezuela’s Latin American Institute of Agroecology (IALA). COI: How do you explain the ouster of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo? The latest developments, the massacre of campesinos, and the coup against President Lugo are all the tangible remains of the Stroessner dictatorship’s 35 years in power (1954-1989). The very same people who tortured social movement activists during those long and difﬁcult years are now murdering campesinos, sitting in congress, and decreeing “political trials” against our elected leaders. In reality, last week’s “trial” was nothing more
than a coup d’etat camouﬂaged in democracy. The violent death of 16 people, ten campesinos and six policemen, was just what the right-wing wanted to retake the presidency. In Paraguay today, the strongest movements for social transformation are the rural social movements that make up La Via Campesina - Paraguay. Though these movements helped elect President Lugo in 2008, contradictions in the countryside become more and more antagonistic each day. Currently, 1% of the population hoards 77% of the land, beneﬁtting from the privileges associated with land ownership – political, economic, judicial, and communicational control of the country. The vast majority of lands held by the oligarchy, nearly 8 million hectares (20 million acres), were taken illegitimately. While the illegal fencing off of lands began during the dictatorship, it continues on to this day. Paraguay’s landowning elite include
high-ranking military ofﬁcials, senators, and congressmen, as is the case of former Senator Blas Riquelme and the lands on which the campesinos and law ofﬁcers were massacred last week. While the local elite partners up with transnational agribusiness companies to produce and export transgenic soy, nearly half (46%) of all Paraguayans struggle to survive in the countryside as smallholder or landless farmers. These rural Paraguayans suffer a permanent campaign of displacement by agribusiness interests and have been all but abandoned by public policy. At the cost of many lives, many just aspirations, and the entirety of the country’s ecosystems, Paraguay is now the fourth largest soy producer in the world. The ouster of President Lugo by the elite – not by the majority – occurred within this context of land struggles and rural displacement, within a context of new possibilities for the democratization of Paraguay, of
land, and of the nation’s wealth. Though Lugo has his weaknesses, and though he has failed to come through on many campaign promises, his presence in government was a permanent threat to the Paraguayan elite. When the Colorado Party governed (1947-2008) – before, during and after Stroessner – the elite ruled freely, without restraints. The “President” who replaced Lugo is a man named Federico Franco. A member of the rightwing Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), Franco is a faithful ally to US imperialism. As a politician, he adamantly opposes Latin American integration, speaks on behalf of the landowning elite, and has always defended positions held by the most conservative in Paraguay. The oligarchy’s return to power through what Lugo has termed “a parliamentary coup” is a major setback for Paraguayan democracy as well as for the country’s campesino and working classes. The political crisis has only just
begun. The interruption of Paraguay’s democratic transformation is sure to lead to a larger social crisis in which class enemies are more clearly identiﬁed, and a whole series of political, social, and economic proposals are laid out on the table. In response to the coup, we in the Campesino Organization of the North (OCN) have called for a permanent mobilization in defense of democracy and dignity. As we speak, our movement is helping to organize demonstrations across the country that, in addition to protesting the coup, call for an increase in land occupations and the consolidation of rural and urban coalitions. We are also looking to deﬁne an electoral strategy that will help retake the presidency in 2013, something I am certain will occur. COI: What are your thoughts on Latin America’s reaction to the coup in Paraguay? Venezuela’s position is worthy of great respect and demonstrates true solidarity with the Paraguayan people. The position taken by President Hugo Chavez, by Foreign Minister (Nicolas) Maduro, by the Venezuelan people, by the country’s rural social movements, organizations and collectives, expresses a true internationalist sentiment in which an attack on one people, one democracy, is an attack on all people, all democracies. It’s extremely important that countries such as Venezuela maintain their digniﬁed position because what happens in Paraguay is in no way isolated. What happens in Paraguay provides tools for imperialism’s planners. The local (Paraguayan) bourgeoisie that carried out last week’s coup is the same grouping that prevents Venezuela from joining Mercosur; that prevents Paraguay from joining the ALBA. The countries that make up ALBA, Unasur, and Mercosur have said they will not recognize the Franco government and this complicates the plans of coup-mongers. The conservatives think they can oust a president and that’s the end of it – but they’re wrong. The Paraguayan people are mobilizing, as are the Latin American nations that defend democracy and human rights by way of the organizations dedicated to regional integration.