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The important Latino vote in the United States page 7

Contradictory media coverage of Argentina page 8

Friday, November 2, 2012 | Nº 133 | Caracas |

University for the people For more than nine years, Venezuela’s Bolivarian University (UBV) has been leading the fight to democratize higher education and provide opportunities for aspiring students who for a range of economic and geographic reasons had been previously unable to receive a college degree. Transforming the exclusivity of the university structure became a key policy of the Chavez administration. page 2

ENGLISH EDITION/The artillery of ideas

Venezuelan ball players lead the US Major Leagues

PSUV switches candidates Chavez’s socialist party changes governor candidates last minute. page 4 Social Justice

Venezuela’s baseball stars took fans by surprise as they stormed the US World Series and showed off their incredible athletic talents. Both teams participating in the highly-awaited baseball finale had significant Venezuelan players. The Detroit Tigers had four, including Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, and the winning San Francisco Giants had five, led by MVP Pablo “Panda” Sandoval and Marco Scutaro. These two baseball powerhouses won the series for the Giants in a 4-0 game sweep. page 3

Regional currency grows

Venezuela & Cuba have collaborated for 12 years to bring healthcare to Venezuelans. page 5 International

Aid for Haiti & Cuba in Sandy’s wrath Venezuela sends shipments of humanitarian aid to Caribbean nations affected by Hurricane Sandy. page 6

Venezuela doesn’t owe the IMF or the World Bank T/ AVN


Celebrating healthcare with Cuba


Transactions using the Sucre (Unitary System of Regional Compensation), a common currency for member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas or ALBA, are up 150 percent this year. “So far in 2012 there have been 1,700 commercial transactions [using the Sucre], a very significant increase over the 431 transactions made in 2011”, said Eudomar Tovar, the head of the monetary council for the Sucre. Tovar said the system has moved 530 million units of the currency in the first ten months of this year, and it is hoped that the number will reach 750 million by December. It is expected that 1.2 billion units will be transacted in 2013, and that other nations will join ALBA in using the currency. “We hope it will generate confidence and security for all those who want to participate in this system and adhere to the constitutive treaty of the Sucre”. Over 150 companies in the region use the Sucre, 90 percent of which belong to the private sector.

Venezuela’s public debt is equivalent to 26 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and its fixed interest rate is not linked to financial institutions like the World Bank or International Monetary Fund (IMF), as under previous administrations, said Congressman and Finance Committee member Andres Eloy Mendez. “Venezuela doesn’t owe a single Bolivar [unit of local currency] to the IMF or the World Bank. We said goodbye to a type of debt that went along with lack of investment in society and people”, Mendez said in an interview Wednesday. He said that under administrations previous to that of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s debt was more than twice what it is now, exceeding 58 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, there were higher gas prices, salary freezes, and cuts to public education. “The debt they left us had a variable interest rate imposed by the IMF and it was foreign debt that we couldn’t pay. Also, 90 percent of the debt was in foreign currencies”. He said Venezuela’s foreign debt has been shrinking alongside a growing GDP, because “the revolutionary government has administered that debt in a responsible manner taking into account social equality”. Mendez said the debt law is defined to address four key aspects of social development, including investments in electricity and broadening public services throughout the country. He compared the situation of Venezuela with that of other countries such as the US and European nations, where debt levels range from 70 to 100 percent of GDP.

2 Impact | .ŽsFriday, November 2, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Taking the university to the people: The politics of higher education in Venezuela



or more than nine years, Venezuela’s Bolivarian University (UBV) has been leading the fight to democratize higher education and provide opportunities for aspiring students who for a range of economic and geographic reasons had been previously unable to receive a college degree. With more than 400,000 current students, the new institution has sought to break with the exclusionary nature of the country’s traditional universities that held a virtual monopoly over college education until the election of Hugo Chavez as President in 1998. According to the UBV’s website, before the ascent of the Bolivarian Revolution to power with Chavez’s electoral victory, “higher education in Venezuela had become a privilege which only a minority of the population could access”, a consequence of “an unjust, classist system that provided knowledge to small groups for personal gain”. Transforming the exclusivity of this university structure became a key policy of the Chavez administration after a failed coup d’etat and a managementled oil lockout in 2002 attempted to remove the democratically elected leader from office. In 2003, the government created a number of educational programs such as Mission Robinson, which gives students who

left high school the opportunity to complete their studies, and the Bolivarian University of Venezuela which attempts to regionalize higher education by taking college classrooms to towns and villages around the nation. The Andean town of La Azulita, home to little over ten thousand inhabitants, is an example of this “municipalization” of free university education. Since 2006, the UBV has been providing a number of career options for local residents of the small town in a diversity of fields including animal husbandry, education, law, nursing and industrial mechanics. Ada Gomez is a former student of the UBV and is now working as an administrator in the career development department of the institution’s Andres Bello facilities in La Azulita. According to Gomez, who was born in the capital of Caracas, the government program has given her the chance to realize her dreams of finishing her studies and becoming a professional. “When I arrived here to this municipality, I didn’t have a career. I saw that the door was opening and I took advantage of the opportunity... Many people have had their life changed by this”, Gomez said.

While the creation of the UBV has helped to improve the lives of thousands of people like Gomez, its genesis has not been unaccompanied by a level of tumult emanating from the country’s conventional institutions. In recent years, more established universities, such as the ULA in the city of Merida, have become political battlegrounds where radical anti-government student groups supported by conservative administrations have converted the educational centers into bastions of opposition activism. Indeed, Merida is a fitting example of the degree to which the universities have become politicized. The former dean of the ULA, Lestor Rodriguez, was elected mayor in 2008 as a member of the rightwing opposition party, Copei. Rodriguez, a former oil engineer trained in the United States, is cur-

rently making a bid in Merida state’s gubernatorial elections slated for this December 16. Threatened by the rising enrollment and funding of institutions like the UBV, universities like the ULA have been fighting to maintain their hold over higher education in Venezuela, rejecting the government’s initiatives and criticizing the quality of the degrees being offered in the state programs. “They say that we’re mediocre and that we don’t have real professors, but that’s totally false. Those who want to study are going to study no matter where they are, whether it be in a public or private institution or in one of the government’s missions”, Ada Gomez affirmed. Yet as the antagonism between the old guard universities and the Chavez administration continues, some ULA students have decided to break with the exclusionary nature of the country’s traditional education. Julio Manzilla is president of the student organization, Humanist Consciousness, which has been working to share the knowledge and skills of the ULA with the communities of Merida through workshops and lectures. “We’ve been carrying out this program for three years with the purpose of taking the university to the isolated communities where there doesn’t exist any kind of collaboration with the ULA. If we want the university to last, the people need to feel connected to it”, Manzilla said. The project has been received enthusiastically by the residents of small mountain towns like La Azulita where the organization has worked together with government-sponsored programs such as the UBV. “For me, this program of integrating the UBV with other educational institutions has been a success. It has allowed us to work as a team and to share knowledge and experiences”, Gomez asserted. Humanist Consciousness does not profess to be a political organization nor does it claim direct affiliation with the national government, preferring to maintain an independent status for all students who wish to participate. Nevertheless, the work being done by this group is taking place in a manner similar to government programs and is assisting in the establishment of a new educational paradigm in Venezuela. “The interesting thing is that it’s the students who are promoting these types of activities”, said Edwing Panza who gives talks on sexual education to high school students as part of Humanist Consciousness’ work. “It’s the student organizations that are opening the university to the community”, Panza added.

.ŽsFriday, November 2, 2012 .ŽsFrida

The artiller artillery e ry of er of iid ideas deas

Venezuelans make their mark on the US World Series T/ COI P/ Agencies


enezuelan major league baseball players shone bright this postseason with Marco Scutaro and Pablo “Panda” Sandoval of the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants leading the pack of native players on the big stage. Sandoval, from the city of Puerto Cabello in the state of Carabobo, put his name in the history books being the first Venezuelan player to win the World Series MVP after an astonishing performance in the Giants’ four game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. The “Kung Fu Panda” hit .500 during the Fall Classic and joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players in history to achieve three homeruns in a single World Series game. Two of those long balls came off one of the best pitchers in the American League, Justin Verlander. “I still can’t believe that that happened. It’s the game that you dream about and that you

don’t want to wake up from”, Sandoval said. The bat from the three-homer game has been donated to baseball’s hall of fame in Canton, Ohio. The third baseman from the Venezuelan Navegantes of Magallanes team became only the eighth Latino player to claim the World Series MVP, joining the ranks of players such as Roberto Clemente, Mariano Rivera, and Manny Ramirez. For Sandoval, the success in the postseason is the fruit of his

training and hard work in the off-season. After having broken into the majors in 2008 and having batted for .330 in 2009, the third baseman struggled in 2010 and was eventually benched before rebounding in 2011 and having a decent season in 2012. “You learn from all the things that happen in your career. You have highs and lows, but you never give up. I thank God for the fact that the things that have happened in my career happened earlier rather than later. I feel simply blessed to

be here and be part of the 2012 World Series”, Series” Sandoval said aff ter his team’s victory. According to Giants Manager Bruce Botchy, his number three hitter “got hot at the right moment”. “I know it was difficult for him when he was benched in 2010... He has a lot of talent and he showed it at the right time and when we needed it. This is what makes this team so special”, Botchy said. Not only did the Panda excel during the playoffs, but so did his compatriot Marco Scutaro from the city of San Felipe in the Midwest state of Yaracuy. Scutaro, playing second base for the Giants, was awarded the MVP award for the National League Championship Series in which San Francisco defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, granting the team their pass the to the Fall Classic. In the NL Championship, the Yaracuyano went 16 for 32, scoring six times and tallying four RBIs. “That was my goal as soon as I got to this team. To contribute and try to do my best to help this team”, the 36 year-old second baseman said. Scutaro took a vicious hit early in the championship from Cardinal’s left fielder Matt Holiday as the latter barreled into second base during a potential double play in game one. The Venezuelan bounced back from the collision and re-

| Sports


sponded with a number of clutch hits that would eventually give the Giants a come-from-behind victory after trailing the best of 7 series by a difference of three games to one. Scutaro was also responsible for the go-ahead RBI that sealed the Giants’ World Series victory in game four last Sunday. During his entire playoff performance at the plate, the San Felipe native swung 89 times and failed to strike the baseball only twice for a staggering contact percentage of 98 percent. “I have a plan and it’s to battle on every pitch... You have to make the pitcher work, put the ball in play and in that way get runs”, Scutaro said. In total, nine Venezuelans played for both teams during the 2012 World Series, a record for the South American country. Miguel Cabrera, who made history during the regular season by winning baseball’s triple crown for the first time since 1967, helped the Detroit Tigers to sweep the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Cabrera and the Tigers came up short, however, against the Giants whose flawless play allowed no room for error from the opposing side. “It’s painful. I would exchange all that I’ve accomplished this year for a World Series ring”, the 29 year-old from Maracay said after making the final out of game four. But where one third baseman feels pain, another feels exhilaration. “What can I say, it was something unforgettable for me, my family and the people around me”, Sandoval commented. “To be part of history is something that I will never forget.” In the end, 2012 was a very good year for Venezuelans in the major leagues. Apart from Miguel Cabrera’s triple crown, Pablo Sandoval’s World Series MVP, and Marco Scutaro’s gutty postseason play, Merida native Johann Santana returned to the MLB and pitched a no-hitter with the NY Mets while Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners threw a perfect game. With 2012 play now over in the United States, the country’s attention turns to the Venezuelan winter league, which began it’s season in mid-October. Venezuela will also compete in the World Baseball Classic in March 2013 with games set to be played in Japan, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Germany and the United States.

4 Politics | .ŽsFriday, November 2, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela’s PSUV Switches Candidate for Governor to “Preserve the Revolution”

William Izarra, a political strategist for the proChavez movement, also stated through the social network that he believed “other rectifications like Trujillo are coming. Now the voice of the [grassroots] collectives carries stronger weight”.

The PSUV received criticism from the GPP and other activists for some of its candidates put forward for the regional state elections, where 23 governorships as well as local legislative councils will be elected. The nomination of Cabezas was one of those that went against a list of recommended candidates sent to the PSUV by the GPP. According to alternative news website Aporrea, sources from the PSUV have indicated that they are considering switching the PSUV candidate for Bolivar state, Francisco Rangel Gomez, who has been accused by grassroots organizations of undermining the worker control movement in the region. Meanwhile, during a phone call to Monday evening’s PSUV press conference, Chavez ratified the PSUV candidate, Alexis Ramirez, for Merida, where the PCV is also set to run Florencio Porras, a candidate who was previously PSUV Governor for Merida from 2004 – 2008. “The candidate of the revolution, of socialism, is Alexis Ramirez”, said Chavez. “The candidacy of Porras isn’t socialist, it’s not a candidacy recognized by the socialist leadership”, he declared. Henry Rangel Silva was appointed Defense Minister in January this year. He will now be replaced by the head of the Navy, Admiral Diego Molero Bellavia, confirmed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Monday evening.

For this reason, Maneiro said that the satellite’s signal benefits 3.7 million Venezuelans. “It’s important to note that this type of thing happens in our country, because generally it goes unseen”, she said. According to the website of the news agency TeleSUR, Venezuela has 5,297 satellite antennae, of which 985 are at schools, and 826 are at Bolivarian information technology

centers and other community centers. Others are at border patrol stations, governmentsubsidized supermarkets, and other facilities. The Simon Bolivar satellite is a platform integrated into the National Land Communication Network of the national telecoms company, CANTV, and supports the development of social programs in education, medicine, mobile technology, and other areas.

T/ Ewan Robertson P/ Agencies


enezuelan Defense Minister Henry Rangel Silva has been announced as the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) new candidate for Trujillo state in the upcoming state elections on December 16. The move was officially announced by PSUV Vice-President Diosdado Cabello in a press conference on Monday evening, and comes a day after the current PSUV governor for the Andean state, Hugo Cabezas, announced he was withdrawing his candidacy for re-election. When Cabezas renounced his candidacy, he commented to the press that there had been some opposition to his postulation from within the pro-Chavez camp. He said that in response to his nomination for re-election, “some [different] groups had formed, and we don’t have the leadership that Chavez has to hold them all together”. Cabezas went on to say that “we’re doing a job, not clinging to positions” and that he would support whichever candidate the PSUV designated in his place as “we don’t just switch sides when things don’t go our way. Here, we are revolutionaries no matter what role we’re in”. The Governor for Trujillo confirmed that he had met with Diosdado Cabello and Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday to share his reflections, during which time Cabezas emphasized to them the need for him to stand down to “preserve the revolution” in Trujillo state. Maduro and Cabello both lauded Cabezas’ stance, with Maduro calling for public recognition his conduct, which “demonstrated humility, capacity for reflection, discipline, and loyalty to President Chavez and the people of Trujillo”. Parties allied to the PSUV such as the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) and Homeland for All (PPT) also accepted the move. Several pro-Chavez and opposition sources have interpreted the switch in candidate as a victory for the grassroots of the PSUV, as well as the coalition of allied parties and movements, the Grand Patriotic Pole (GPP).

Conservative newspaper El Universal has reported that some grassroots PSUV activists wanted a different candidate for governor from Trujillo, with Henry Rangel Silva previously being mentioned as a possible alternative candidate.

Pro-government political analyst, Nicmer Evans, also argued via Twitter that Cabezas’ decision was due to the “success of popular pressure from the PSUV grassroots” and that Merida and Bolivar states were others in which the PSUV may change candidacies.

Venezuela Taking on New Role in Aerospace at UN T/ YVKE Mundial P/ Agencies


hen Venezuela launched its first satellite four years ago, the country assumed an important role in the United Nations by establishing an official spokesperson for aerospace at the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, according to Mariana Maneiro, who holds a Ph.D from the University of Aeronautics and Astronautics of Beijing. In an interview on YVKE Mundial radio, Maneiro said that Venezuela is hoping to enter into the group as a member, along with participants like Brazil and Argentina, in order to help develop new proposals on aerospace. “Our voice is respected and listened to at the UN, and we

continue to accumulate experience, as the satellite [called Simon Bolivar] is being operated one hundred percent by Venezuelan personnel”, she said. She said the government has plans to launch another satellite much like the first one, which is a communications satellite. A group of professionals provides technical and organizational support for this technology. Recently Venezuela released a second satellite, Miranda, which will aid in the acquisition of indepth images of the nation’s topography. In four years, the satellite Simon Bolivar has made possible the technological independence of Venezuela, democratizing access to technology, education, medical science, and other areas of knowledge.

.ŽsFriday, November 2, 2012

The artillery of ideas

| Social Justice


Venezuelans celebrate 12 years of health care collaboration with Cuba Venezuela’s Mission Robinson literacy program at 9 years T/ Ewan Robertson


T/ COI P/ Agencies


ore than 53,000 Venezuelans have received free health care for chronic diseases in Cuba thanks to a bilateral agreement signed between the two Latin American nations that has increased social services and improved the quality of life for residents of the South American country. “The Cuba-Venezuela pact is a program of solidarity”, said Venezuelan Health Minister Eugenia Sader during an interview with state television on Tuesday, the 12th anniversary of the initiative. During the interview, Sader outlined the benefits received by Venezuelans with difficult to treat illnesses who would otherwise be unable to access the care necessary to handle their specific cases. The Health Minister explained that when the accord was first signed, the limited health care infrastructure of Venezuela prevented individu-

als from receiving adequate attention. “We didn’t have what we needed to attend to people. We didn’t have the capacity that we’ve generated today. This agreement is the product of solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela doesn’t pay a dollar for it. It is free assistance for Venezuelan patients”, she said. Flights leave from Venezuela nation every Friday for Havana filled with patients who receive free care in Cuba, Sader informed. One of the patients who has received free treatment has been Ana Gonzalez, an 11 yearold born with short femur. Ana has been traveling to Cuba for eight years and will receive her final operation in January of 2013 which will allow the youngster to initiate a process of unassisted mobility. According to the girl’s grandmother, Ana Rivero, the bilateral initiative has provided optimism after initial diagnoses recommended amputation.

“This program has meant a lot to us because through it, our hope has returned... It was free and the care was first rate”, Rivero said. The Venezuela-Cuba pact that sends patients to the Caribbean island is one of the first such agreements to be signed between the two allied nations after Hugo Chavez became President in 1999. Since 2000, the collaboration has continued to create programs including the social mission Barrio Adentro, which has brought thirty thousand medical professionals to Venezuela to boost free health treatment for residents of the OPEC member state. Officials report that Barrio Adentro has carried out more than 745 million medical examinations over its 9-year history and has saved the lives of 1.5 million Venezuelans. Another 1.5 million Venezuelans have also received free eye surgery from Mission Miracle, a similar health care program founded in 2004 to provide costfree optical care to residents.

enezuela’s literacy and primary education program, Mission Robinson, celebrated its 9th anniversary this week, with the program having taught over 1.75 million Venezuelans to read and write since its founding. Launched by President Hugo Chavez on October 28, 2003, the program uses the Cuban literacy methodology “Yes I Can”. One of the program’s greatest achievements was to teach almost 1.5 million Venezuelans basic literacy skills in its first two years, with Venezuela being declared an “Illiteracy Free Territory” by United Nations body Unesco in October 2005. Of those taught reading and writing skills, over 39,000 are indigenous people, 7,249 are disabled persons, 1,442 are prisoners and over 7,250 belong to Socialist Production Units (UPS). Mission Robinson encapsulates not only a basic literacy program, but primary education (Robinson II) and reading circles (Robinson III) to encourage continued practice and assimilation of skills learned in the first stages of the social program. In recent years, a key focus of Mission Robinson has become reaching out to those who lack basic literacy skills and have still not incorporated themselves into the program, in order to turn Venezuela into “one big classroom;” according to the program’s director general Marisol Calzadilla.

Speaking to Venezuelan state news agency AVN, she said “there’s still a tough residue [of people] that’s very hard [to reach], and we won’t give up and will continue convincing them [to participate]. They are senior citizens, the majority over sixty years, due to which it’s been an uphill struggle”. Last year Mission Robinson was extended with a special focus on incorporating senior citizens, particularly those in remote or rural areas, into the program. There are currently almost 247,000 Venezuelans enrolled in some aspect of Mission Robinson, supported by 33,757 volunteer teachers, or “facilitators” as they are known. Calzadilla made reference to the effort made by facilitators to encourage people to incorporate themselves into the social mission. “It’s so beautiful to see how the facilitators fight to get people involved. They look for you in your house, they convince you, and they make you fall in love [with education] so that you study”, she said. Mission Robinson works in conjunction with a variety of other educational programs launched by the Chavez government to incorporate citizens who had been previously excluded or had missed out from the traditional education system. These include Mission Ribas (high school education), Mission Sucre (insertion into free university education), and the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, also founded in 2003.

6 International | .ŽsFriday, November 2, 2012

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela sends humanitarian aid to Cuba and Haiti in the wake of Sandy

many problems, their hearts are so big that they still help the Haitian people who, alongside their government, don’t know how to thank President Chavez, his government and his people”, she added.

CUBA T/ Rachael Boothroyd P/ Agencies

said Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe. Lamothe also confirmed that the hurricane had caused floods in “almost all of the country”, where 370,000 citizens still remain homeless following the 2010 earthquake. “We have numerous towns which are cut off from the rest of the country, which are flooded”, he said. Venezuela was one of the first countries to send aid to Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake and also played an instrumen-

tal role alongside Cuba in the country’s post-disaster reconstruction efforts. “We just manage to get ourselves out of one problem and then we find ourselves in another”, said the Haitian ambassador to Venezuela, Leisy Davies. “But we have always found that the Venezuelan people are concerned for the welfare of the Haitian people. In spite of everything that is happening in the East (in Valencia, Venezuela) where the rains have caused

On Tuesday evening, the Cuban government also confirmed that it had received its first aid shipment from Venezuela, which included 14 tons of milk, sugar, beans, rice, oil, tuna, sardines, lentils and pasta. Although the Cuban government has not yet officially confirmed how much damage has been caused by the hurricane, estimates currently place the figure at over $80 million in Santiago alone. “Sandy has had a huge effect in our country and has seriously and fundamentally affected thousands of houses that were partially or totally knocked down, as well as severe damage to our harvest, electricity, communications and transport links, especially in the East”, said Cuban ambassador to Venezuela, Rogelio Polanco, “That is why I want to take advantage of this opportunity, at a time when thousands of Cuban citizens are preparing for the process of recovering from this problem... to deeply thank this gesture of solidarity, our people greatly appreciate it”, concluded Polanco. Other countries such as Russia have also pledged to send humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people.

complement, in urban areas, the national reforestation plans. Nearly three years ago, Ribalta began to scatter seeds along the sidewalk in the next block over. “Some neighbors asked me if I had moved to the next block, others asked if I was crazy”, she said. But today she has a plan to fulfil as part of her contract with the Unidad Provincial de Areas Verdes, or Provincial Greenbelt Unit. This state agency supports Ando Reforestando with seedlings and tools, along with the State Working Group for Sanitation, Conservation and Development of Havana Bay, the Cuban Association of Agricultural and Forestry Technicians, and the Workshop for the Comprehensive Transformation of the El Canal neighborhood. Ribalta’s rooftop is a nursery for scarlet cordia, cherry, orange and moringa trees and amaranth plants, among others, which are good for shade and for purifying

the city air without the risk of the roots lifting up the pavement. “Many people worry about this, which prevents them from planting a tree in their yards or along the sidewalks in front of their homes”, she said. “That’s why it’s important to raise awareness and make information available about alternatives for greening the city”, the activist said. She encourages the use of small trees, like fruit trees, and ornamental and medicinal plants, and only selects varieties of this kind from the Greenbelt nursery for her work. The Greenbelt Unit focuses on the care and plant repopulation of large areas like avenues and parks. By late 2011, 27 percent of Cuban territory was covered with trees, after steady growth of the country’s green areas since 1999, according to the National Office of Statistics and Information. Of the 72,800 hectares covered by greater Havana, 11.5 percent is

forested. “Community needs in this area must be met by people themselves. Citizens must be mobilized”, said Ribalta, whose work has led to the planting of nearly one hundred trees. According to international studies, a key action for mitigating the effects of global warming is to increase forest cover in each country. The Cuban government’s National Forestry Program has set a target of increasing forest cover to over 29 percent by 2015. “This work demands awareness-raising”, said Ribalta, who was elected to the municipal assembly in the Oct. 21 elections. “When we put in plants, we consult with and get the people living there involved. Planting something in their surroundings is like giving them a pet to adopt”. She said that “many people want to grow plants, and come to my house for advice and seedlings”.


he Venezuelan government has begun to send shipments of over 646 tons of much needed humanitarian aid to Cuba and Haiti after the both countries were hit by hurricane Sandy last week. The aid includes mostly non-perishable food items and water, as well as machinery to help remove debris. The hurricane first struck the Caribbean last week before heading north to the US. So far Haiti has been the worst hit by the disaster, counting a death toll of 54 people, followed by 50 plus deaths in the US and 11 in Cuba. Both the Haitian and Cuban harvests were also seriously damaged as a result of the tropical storm. Following the disaster, Venezuela was one of the first countries to send solidarity and aid to both countries, with Minister of Domestic Affairs and Justice, Nestor Reverol, categorizing the assistance as a “gesture of our commitment to our Latin American and Caribbean brothers... to whom we are sending this humanitarian aid which will allow them to cover their needs in one way or another”.

Speaking on Saturday, the Haitian government said the aid would help them to address some of the problems brought about by the storm and thanked Venezuela for its quick response to the crisis. “We have spoken to several foreign governments; Venezuela has already sent a boat containing 240 tons of food and water which will arrive within 3 days. In addition, Venezuela will send a plane on Monday with several tonnes of food and water to help the population”,

Greening Havana

T/ Ivet Gonzalez P/ IPS


andra Ribalta is no longer satisfied with getting more and more people involved in the task of greening the neighborhood of Las Cañas in the Cuban capital. She is now working to raise awareness of “climate

change, as the key reason for reforestation”. “People grow plants for aesthetic reasons, to have prettier surroundings. But the state of the environment is critical and crying out for help”, Ribalta, the coordinator of Ando Reforestando, a community reforestation project, told IPS. This selfmanaged initiative also seeks to

.ŽsFriday, November 2, 2012

The artillery of ideas

T/ Carey L. Biron


ust over a week before the United States votes in a highly anticipated and historically tight presidential election, a new poll released Monday finds that interest by Latino voters has strengthened significantly over the past two months, and that turnout among Hispanics could be higher than the records set in 2008. According to the latest impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll of registered Hispanic voters, 45 percent say they are more excited about the current election than they were for the 2008 election, when Barack Obama was elected. That number has gone up by eight percent over the past 10 weeks, when the poll was first taken. Further, a full 87 percent of respondents say they would most likely be voting when national polling sites open on Nov. 6, with eight percent having already taken advantage of the early voting options made available in certain states. During the last presidential election, 84 percent of registered Latino voters cast ballots – far higher than the US national turnout, of 57 percent, that same year. The high levels of interest mean that Latinos will further cement the community’s importance in the current and, particularly, future election. Hispanics make up one of the single fastest-growing sectors of the US population, with around 50,000 Latino youths currently becoming eligible to vote every month. To date, they have tended to vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. The prospect has reportedly led to existential debates within the Republican Party, which has seen its voter base – which skews older and whiter than the Democratic base – continue to shrink as a percentage of the overall voting public. “The polls show that this year we can anticipate record participation among Latino voters”, Monica Lozano, the head of impreMedia, said Monday in a statement. “It looks like the ‘sleeping giant’ has woken up”. The new numbers will receive particular scrutiny given the general lack of Spanish-language polling

Latino excitement at record levels in US election

that has taken place during the campaign season, despite a massive amount of polling figures coming out on a daily basis. In mid-October, the widely watched pollster Nate Silver suggested that the relative lack of Spanish-language respondents could increase Barack Obama’s figures by around a dozen percentage points, including in some of the most strongly contested “swing” states, such as Florida and Colorado, that will eventually decide the election. Indeed, the strong new numbers will be particularly welcomed by Obama’s campaign, which has made the Latino vote a central pillar of its strategy. In an initially off-therecord interview released last week, Obama stated, “Since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason … is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastestgrowing demographic group in the country, the Latino community”. The president also noted that this “alienation” of Lati-

nos by Republicans is a “relatively new phenomenon”. This is seen as referring to a host of new and pending laws enforcing voter identification requirements that many have suggested would impact particularly on Latino and other minority voters – typically strongholds for the Democratic Party. According to a new report released last week by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (Naleo), “More than 100 years of virtually unchecked discrimination at the polls against Latino US citizens” is now being compounded by a “significant added obstruction in the form of restrictive state voting laws … (that) will have a worse effect on the Latino electorate than on all voters”. Naleo suggests that these new policies could negatively impact on around 219,000 Latino voters across the country this election, a number it calls a “conservative estimate”. Indeed, after the US courts recently halted proceedings in several states planning to institute new voter ID laws,

the report suggests that number would have been closer to 835,000. Notably, a Republican state official has been caught on tape stating that such legislation was being enacted specifically in order to help the Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s chances of election. While the presidential race is currently considered a statistical dead heat, Romney appears to hold a slight edge in the national popular vote, while Obama is seen as up in the critical state-by-state “electoral college”.

THREE-QUARTERS FOR OBAMA According to the new findings, around 73 percent of Latino voters say they trust the Obama administration more on issues of righting the economy, compared to just 18 percent that back Romney, almost identical to the numbers that say they will vote one way or another. This spread, the Latino Decisions analysis states, “matches the largest gap among Latinos this year”. Still, many Latinos have considered Obama’s tenure as president to be a letdown, at

| Analysis


least in contrast to the high expectations that met his election. Despite high hopes by immigration activists, for instance, Obama was only able to institute a limited piece of favourable legislation – an executive order deferring deportation for certain children of illegal migrants – in August of this year. The move, though widely lauded by the Latino community and others, was quickly characterised as pandering to Hispanic voters in the context of a tight election year. Beyond this, Obama’s initial pledges of a massive overhaul of US immigration law became one of the more high-profile casualties of the president’s politically costly focus on health-care reform. Still, according to the new poll, Latino voters are planning to turn out in large numbers in support of Obama. While Romney had initially hoped to build on George W. Bush’s inroads into the Hispanic vote, Romney’s strategy of focusing on jobs and the economy – mirroring his broader campaign – rather than on immigration now looks to have been fairly unsuccessful. Campaign observers are quick to note, however, that this does not mean that the Latino vote should be seen as monolithic, or that, as one Romney spokesperson noted last week, Obama should be able to take Hispanic voters for granted. “While Obama has maintained a large lead among Latinos throughout the campaign, the data shows that over one-third of Latino voters are not sure that things will actually improve under a second Obama term”, Matt Barreto, a co-founder of Latino Decisions, said Monday in introducing the new polling data. On the election’s most significant issue, the still-stuttering US economy, Barreto notes that most Latino voters blame political gridlock in Congress. Over 40 percent of respondents believe that neither Obama nor Romney will be able to forge cooperation in Washington. “In the final week of this campaign, the candidates need to connect with Latino voters”, Barreto says, “and explain how they will somehow be able to break the impasse in Congress and get things done”.

Friday, November 2, 2012 | Nº 133 | Caracas |


!PUBLICATIONOFTHE&UNDACION#ORREODEL/RINOCOsEditor-in-Chief%VA'OLINGERsGraphic Design Pablo Valduciel L. - Aimara Aguilera


Contradictions and discrepancies: Media coverage in Argentina T/ Claire Branigan, NACLA P/ Agencies


n May 24, 2012, The New York Times published an article regarding recent legislation in Argentina that grants transgender individuals the right to change their national ID card, foregoing bureaucratic measures that previously made this action near impossible. Under new legislation, transgender people do not have to undergo sex-reassignment surgery or a psychological diagnosis in order to obtain an ID that reflects how they self identify. This measure, as described by The New York Times, as well as other popular media sources such as the Huffington Post, Fox Latino, and most recently NPR, is “groundbreaking” and “cutting-edge” in terms of global gender equality legislation and rights. Though all of these articles should be recognized for covering unprecedented legislation for a traditionally ignored and stigmatized community, they also warrant critical attention for several reasons related to popular press coverage on Argentina and a general lack context related to the complexity of gender equality within Argentina. I was initially struck by The New York Times article as it expressed an unusually positive outlook on an Argentine matter. The predominant coverage on Argentina (unrelated to soccer or wine) possesses a demeaning tone and hypercritical rhetoric used to bash practically any policy that can be tied to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. From economic policy to freedom of the press, most coverage on anything Argentine is overtly derogatory and backed up by “experts” whose expertise affirms the publication’s opinion on how the nation should be run. In

several recent articles on the nationalization of YPF (the oil and gas company formerly owned by the Spanish Repsol), The New York Times quoted several economists, one of whom described the measure as “self destructive” while the other described Argentina as “a truant of economic management”. Recently, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Jorge Rendo advising that Argentina should best “look to the example of the United States and its commitment to protecting voices across the political spectrum”. As if the US press wasn’t sensational enough, British publications such as The Financial Times delight in publishing scathing pieces such as a recent oped that compares present day Argentina to apartheid South Africa. That said, coverage on Argentina’s new gender identity legislation possessed quite

the opposite tone and quotation style. Contrary to most of the press, which tends to quote experts and economists from the United States, these pieces published in The New York Times, NPR, and Fox Latino quoted trans-activists and individuals living in Argentina and fighting for this kind of legislation. Furthermore, all pieces validated the legislation by quoting North American experts such as Katrina Karkazis, a Stanford trained bioethicist and Harper Jean Tobin from a leading transgender policy institute in D.C., both of whom regarded the law as “deeply progressive” and “cutting edge”. Though each article highlighted the global relevance of this legislation, they also omitted insight on the grave ironies when it comes to the reality of gender equality within Argentina. Though it is true that Argentina has

passed an unprecedented amount of progressive social legislation such as gay marriage, death with dignity, and gender identity legislation, it has yet to offer comprehensive access to reproductive health care for all women including safe and legal abortion. The National Ministry of Health has estimated that about 80,000 women a year are hospitalized due to complications from unsafe abortions and that 20% of deaths recorded due to obstetric emergencies were caused by illegal abortions and the maternal mortality rate is exceptionally higher than that of neighboring countries. In March of this year, the Supreme Court passed a measure that granted rape victims the right to seek legal abortion. This was a landmark decision, considering that previously the law only granted legal abortions to raped women who were

considered to be mentally ill (“idiota” or “demente”). Though this was intended to make abortion accessible for any woman who had been raped, it ultimately left the implementation of the law up to each province. Last week, Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri vetoed this decision for a woman seeking an abortion after she had been sold into prostitution and raped. Though Argentina has made strides when it comes to general human rights, there is somewhat of an inconsistency when it comes to basic women’s health care and rights. Ultimately, gender equality and identity legislation like that in Argentina should be applauded, hailed, and covered by popular media. However, I find it confusing that the mainstream press can praise the creation of social policies such as gender legislation and gay marriage while consistently mocking the same nation’s economic decisions. Though gender identity legislation is a huge victory for gender equality in Argentina and the world, it’s still fair to question why basic health care for women has not been seriously addressed in a country that is hailed as a radical global leader in gender equality legislation. None of the articles mentioned this obvious contradiction, nor did they include any dissenting voices or criticism, thereby glossing over an issue that is much more complex and contentious. I do not endorse the overtly offensive and inflammatory approach that the popular press has taken on Kirchner and her economic decisions, however, I do think that coverage of progressive social legislation warrants just as much critique and journalistic rigor as any article on economics. And for the record, Cristina Kirchner, the same “sad and delusional” President so frequently disparaged by popular media signed this piece of globally groundbreaking legislation into law. Claire Branigan has lived and studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and conducted research on the politics of State Terror, human rights and collective memory.

English Edition Nº 133  

Venezuelan ball players lead the US Major Leagues

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