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Government promotes food production Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro led an inspection of one of the country’s leading coffee producers last Thursday in a bid to ensure greater efficiency in government run enterprises and guarantee basic food products for the population at large. The government’s food programs have been crucial in fighting the hoarding and lack of supply that normally occurs during the holiday season in Venezuela, often for political reasons. page 4



Opposition seeks to force Chavez out, again page 7

The Cubanss are coming! g! page 8

Friday, January 11, 2013 | Nº 141 | Caracas |

ENGLISH EDITION/The artillery of ideas

President Chavez’s inauguration postponed due to illness

PSUV heads parliament


State fights hoarding

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, re-elected with 55% of the vote last October, was unable to appear for his swearing-in ceremony on January 10 due to his ongoing battle against cancer and delicate recovery from a complicated surgery in December. Chavez, 58, has undergone four surgeries during the past 18 months for pelvic cancer that has greatly affected his normally proactive work style. Chavez named his Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, as his political successor should he be unable to continue in office. Maduro and other members of Chavez’s PSUV party invoked Article 231 of the national constitution to delay the President’s inauguration until he recovers. The National Assembly and Supreme Court backed the decision. Page 2

Efforts are underway to tackle private enterprise stockpiling of consumer products. page 5 Social Justice

A year for sports

Latin America supports Chavez Athletism was celebrated in 2012 with great achievements by Venezuelan sports stars. page 6

Supreme Court rules inauguration legally delayed T/ Agencies


The United Socialist Party of Venezuela won leadership posts in the National Assembly. page 3


Heads of states and high-level representatives from different Latin American and Caribbean governments arrived in Venezuela Wednesday and Thursday to participate in activities in solidarity and support with the President Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan people.

Vice President of the Cuban Council of Ministers, Miguel Diaz Canel, was welcomed on Wednesday morning as was Uruguayan President Jose “Pepe” Mujica. President Evo Morales of Bolivia arrived for Thursday’s mass public celebrations in sup-

port of Chavez’s continuing governance, along with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. The Latin American leaders present also participated in a joint Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) and PetroCaribe meeting Wednesday in order to further strengthen regional ties.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has ruled that the postponement of President Hugo Chavez’s inauguration for a new term in office is legal. On Tuesday, the National Assembly voted to give President Chavez as much time as he needed to recover from cancer surgery, under Article 235 of Venezuela’s constitution. The opposition argues that Chavez’s current mandate expired on January 10, the day he was due to be sworn in, and therefore a power void exists. Chavez is recovering from surgery in Cuba and has suffered complications caused by a lung infection. Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales said it would be “absurd” to consider Chavez’s treatment in Cuba as an unauthorized absence since the parliament gave him permission to go there back in early December. The amount of time he could be away was not specified. She said that the oath of office could be taken at a later date, as the constitution states, and since President Chavez was re-elected, there would be “continuity” in government. Morales said there was a clear distinction between the act of taking the oath and the beginning of a new mandate. The Supreme Court considered the swearing-in an important formality, but not indispensable for the start of the new presidential term, she said. The panel of seven magistrates who handle constitutional issues before the court made a unanimous decision. The swearing-in ceremony would no doubt happen, assured Morales. “But at this moment, we can’t say when, how, or where he [the president] will be sworn in”.

2 Impact | .ŽsFriday, January 11, 2013

The artillery of ideas

The legal status of Venezuela’s presidency: what the constitution states T/ COI P/ Presidential Press


ith recently re-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez unable to attend his office’s swearing-in ceremony slated for January 10 due to a delicate surgery performed last month in Cuba, the Venezuelan political landscape has been set ablaze by incessant accusations of illegality, juridical manipulation and outright misinformation regarding what the absence of the leader means for the immediate future of the country. The right-wing, in calling for protests against Chavez’s inability to attend his inauguration, has taken a militant, if not somewhat ironic, position against his absence which, in its pugnacity and callousness, recalls the unsettling events of 2002 when the opposition embarked on an ill-fated coup d’etat against the democratically elected President. The Chavez camp, on the other hand, has convened a mass rally in Caracas to support the convalescing leader with the presence of Latin American presidents, including Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Uruguay’s Jose “Pepe” Mujica, and international messages of solidarity declaring the head of state as the country’s only Commanderin-Chief, regardless of the mere “formalism” of his attending the inauguration. Despite these recent actions, what remains unclear to many is the actual legal status of Chavez as well as the Executive branch of the national government. While the Venezuelan constitution specifically mentions a number of possible scenarios surrounding an elected president’s inability to attend the office’s swearing-in ceremony, various interpretations of the nation’s magna carta have been wielded by both government supporters and retractors to justify their position. The constitutional articles in question are 231, 233, 234 and 235. Article 231 states, “The candidate elected will take possession of the Presidency of the Republic the tenth of way of an oath taken in front of

Vice President for up to ninety days, extendable by decision of the National Assembly for a further ninety days. If a temporary absence occurs for more than ninety consecutive days, the National Assembly will decide by majority if there is an absolute absence”. While application of article 234 would oblige Vice President Nicolas Maduro to assume the interim Presidency, no announcement regarding such status has been made by the ruling socialists nor does the constitution stipulate how such a status would be legally sanctioned.


the National Assembly. For any unforeseen reason the president cannot take possession in front of the National Assembly, he or she will do so in front of the Supreme Court”. (emphasis added) Chavez supporters have used article 231 to back their claims that the President’s situation is one of an unforeseen nature and that, as such, his presence in front of the National Assembly is not required. According to the Cilia Flores, the nation’s Attorney General, “Chavez underwent surgery and is recovering. This could have happened to any re-elected or elected president or candidate who is outside the country. What has happened is that for reasons of bad timing he cannot be present in the National As-

sembly on January 10. That’s to say that it’s an unforeseen situation, beyond his control, and he’ll have to [take the oath of office] before the Supreme Court at a later date”. As article 231 provides no timetable nor specifies geographic location for the inauguration before the Supreme Court justices, it remains to be seen exactly when and where this oath of office would be taken.

ABSOLUTE V. TEMPORARY Also in contention is the definition of “absolute” and “temporary” absence of the President as articulated by Articles 233 and 234 of the constitution. Article 233 states “Absolute absences of the President of the Republic are: death, resig-

nation, destitution decreed by sentence of the Supreme Court, physical or mental disability certified by medical staff designated by the Supreme Court and approved by the National Assembly, abandonment of the position declared by the National Assembly, and revocation by popular referendum. When an absolute absence takes place with respect to a President-elect before taking possession, a new election will be held within thirty days. During the time of the election and the taking of possession, the President of the National Assembly will be charged with the Presidency of the Republic”. The Venezuelan opposition has attempted to cite article 233 as applicable to the case of President Chavez while members of the socialist party have rebuffed such claims, pointing out that there has been no decree of absolute absence by the Supreme Court or the National Assembly. Yet, in contrast to an absolute absence, independent observers have pointed to the “temporary” nature of the head of state’s absence as stated by Article 234 of the constitution, which reads: “Temporary absences of the President of the Republic will be substituted by the Executive

Beyond the definitions of temporary and absolute absences, what seems to be Chavez supporter’s current interpretation of the constitution rests on Article 235: “The absence from the national territory by the President of the Republic requires the authorization of the National Assembly or the Delegated Commission when such an absence occurs for a lapse of more than five consecutive days”. Since Chavez received unanimous authorization by the National Assembly to travel to Cuba in December, government backers argue that his current absence is legitimate and legally sanctioned by the constitution. This interpretation is further backed by the fact that the two-time incumbent won a landslide election victory in October and that any attempts to alter this outcome would be a violation of Article 5 of the constitution which enshrines democracy and the popular will of the citizenry. “Sovereignty resides, and is non-transferrable, in the people who directly exercise it in the manner stipulated by this constitution and the law”, reads Article 5. Attorney General Flores made this lager point clear during an interview last week. “The important date is October 7, when the people expressed and exercised their sovereignty. This must be respected”, she declared. On Tuesday, January 8, Vice President Nicolas Maduro sent a letter to the National Assembly advising that President Chavez would be unable to attend the inauguration on January 10 and requesting a future swearing-in ceremony be held before the Supreme Court. The opposition continues to protest the current situation in Venezuela.

.ŽsFriday, January 11, 2013

The artillery of ideas

| Politics


Cabello sworn in as legislative head, affirms allegiance to Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution T/ COI P/ Presidential Press

Before departing for Cuba, Chavez gave specific instructions to his followers to vote for Maduro in he event he is unable to continue as the nation’s President. On Friday, the Vice President reiterated that Hugo Chavez is still the country’s head of state and that regardless of his medical condition the movement built by the charismatic head

of state will last far into the future. “Despite what the opposition says, the children [of the revolution] are here in order to guarantee that this socialist and Bolivarian homeland continues”, he said. In taking up his second term as AN President, Diosdado Cabello also pledged to improve the legislature and to maintain the legal body as the voice of the people in government. The congressman vowed to confront the Venezuelan opposition in the AN and promised to “not permit another betrayal against the people” as happened with the failed coup d’etat against Chavez in 2002. In addition to Cabello, legislators Dario Vivas and Blanca Eekhout were also sworn in on Friday as First and Second Vice Presidents of the AN respectively. Both are from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which has an ample majority in the legislative body. “I take this oath for the happiness of our children, for peace, for life, for the future and for our Comandante Chavez who will be the beneficiary of all the love that he has planted in this homeland”, Eekhout said during her swearing-in. She is the only female legislator currently in the parliament’s leadership.

creasingly universal and firm struggle for the complete emancipation of the people”. The signatories of the text hail from 70 countries including the US and Canada, India, Senegal, France, Italy, Spain and across Latin America. SinceChavez’sannouncement on December 8 that he would

undergo surgery for cancer, he has received expressions of solidarity and prayers from around the world. The Venezuelan government has frequently offered news of Chavez’s condition. The last statement issued on January 7 said that he is “stable” and responding to treatment.


iosdado Cabello was sworn in for his second term as President of Venezuela’s congress, the National Assembly (AN), last Saturday after receiving a strong majority of votes from the body’s legislators. The confirmation of the former military leader and current congressman from the state of Monagas maintains last year’s configuration of important government posts decided by the majority-controlling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). During the swearing-in ceremony which was presided over by Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Cabello affirmed his allegiance to the mandate of head of state Hugo Chavez, currently convalescing in Cuba after undergoing cancer-related surgery on December 11. “Hugo Chavez was elected to be President of the Republic and he will continue to be so beyond January 10. Let there be no confusion about it”, the AN President said in reference to the Venezuelan Commanderin-Chief’s inauguration, which was scheduled for Thursday. As Chavez was unable to attend Thursday’s ceremony, much of Venezuela’s conserva-

tive opposition has attempted to capitalize on his absence by alleging a power struggle between Cabello and VP Maduro, the two leading figures of the ruling government. On Saturday, both high ranking members of the socialist party demonstrated their unity and their allegiance to the Bolivarian movement by unequivocally affirming the leadership

of Hugo Chavez, despite his precarious health situation. Cabello proclaimed his “supreme loyalty” to the revolution, commenting that the leaders of the PSUV “will never defraud the people”. “You can be sure, comrades, that we will never betray the will of the people and the orders of President Chavez”, the AN President said.

Intellectuals from 70 Countries send message of solidarity to President Chavez T/ Telesur P/ Agencies


n a letter signed by more than 2,000 people worldwide, the Network of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity has expressed solidarity with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in light of his health issues. Signatories from the United States include former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the actor Danny Glover, Professor James Petras and peace activist Cindy Sheehan. The letter, which calls for unity among Venezuelans, sends a message of support for

the quick and complete recovery of President Chavez, who is receiving medical treatment in Havana after undergoing a fourth cancer surgery on December 11. The group expresses hope that the Venezuelan leader “will overcome all difficulties and soon resume his daily tasks” and states that it is “of paramount importance to reiterate the call made by President Hugo Chavez’s for unity”. The statement goes on to emphasize: “The Bolivarian Revolution in its strong and sovereign road to socialism, requires of all those of us who support it that we dedicate our strength, seren-

ity and clarity to combating and neutralizing any offensive actions by the empire and its allies and internal operators”. “The pain and the concern of the people are not symptoms of weakness”, the letter states, for “difficult times are always an opportunity to secure the best convictions and the highest values of the human condition”. Finally, the statement adds: “All men and women in the world have become brothers and sisters in ideas and in action thanks to the work and humanistic convictions of President Chavez. We want to see you very soon with full health and at the forefront of this in-

4 Economy | .ŽsFriday, January 11, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela government ramps up food production, continues fight against hoarding T/ COI P/ Presidential Press

in 2012 through the state’s public retail networks. More than ninety thousand open air markets were held around the country to provide subsidized and price-regulated food items to the population at large over the past year, Osorio informed. Vice President Maduro commented that the government’s food programs have been cru-

cial in fighting the hoarding and lack of supply that normally occurs during the holiday season in Venezuela. On Thursday, Maduro declared his intention to create a plan to ensure the supply of basic staples for the national market. This was followed on Friday by a meeting with a number of high ranking government officials with the aim of investigating and sanctioning the businesses who engage in speculation and hoarding to the detriment of the Venezuelan population. “We’re going to find out who the hoarders are. There is sufficient production and exportation for the market to be supplied. We’re going to be tough and confront the hoarders”, Maduro said. At the same time, the VP extended the government’s full intention to work with the members of the private sector to improve the country’s national domestic production. “We need to tell all the small, medium, and large businesses that love this country and have Venezuela in their heart that they should feel welcome. We are extending our hand so that we can work together”, Maduro assured. “The great battle of this year is the battle for a productive economy”, he added.

Statistics released from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) also showed that unemployment had decreased to 6.4 percent, while formal employment had grown from 48 percent to 57 percent of total employment. “Informal employment has continued to decrease from 51 percent to 42.5 percent, and around three million new formal jobs have been created during this period”, said INE president Elias Eljuri. Some analysts have predicted that the Venezuelan economy could be hit hard in 2013 as the state is forced to devalue the currency and reduce spending from 2012. However, government officials have forecasted 6 percent growth for 2013, and assure

that the economy is entering a period of consolidated growth. “The negative events of the economy are behind us. We have entered a stage of growth, and we are among the five fastest growing economies in Latin America”, said finance minister Jorge Giordani. Officials did not make any mention of a devaluation of the currency, but said that those kinds of adjustments are not announced beforehand. According to calculations by Bank of America, Venezuela’s fiscal deficit for 2012 is around 8.8 percent of GDP, much lower than the 20 percent number that has been circulating among opposition sources and used to criticize government spending.


enezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro alongside members of the nation’s Executive cabinet led an inspection of one of the country’s leading coffee producers last Thursday in a bid to ensure greater efficiency in government run enterprises and guarantee basic foodstuffs for the population at large. The visit took place at the Fama de America processing plant in La Yaguara, Carabobo state where government officials were given a tour of the facilities nationalized by the Chavez government in 2009. “Today we’re going to demonstrate, thanks the investment made by Comandante Chavez, how coffee arrives at the tables of Venezuelans”, said Agricultural Minister Juan Carlos Loyo during the inspection. Loyo detailed that the publicly owned business has grown by 23 percent since the national government took control of the entity and that the plant closed 2012 with an overall production of over twelve thousand tons of coffee. Thanks to businesses such as Fama de America, the Agricultural Minister pointed out, the state run Venezuelan Coffee Corporation (CVC) is now able to guarantee the supply of 79 percent of the nation’s overall coffee demand. This kind of production has helped to create a positive working environment as the company’s employees enter into collective bargaining this year. “The workers are aware that in order to discuss further rights we need to continue to increase the plant’s production”, said Minister Loyo. According to Vice President Maduro, a former union leader, increasing workers’ rights is a pillar of Venezuela’s push for socialism but requires reciprocity and a commitment from workers to assume greater responsibility in the planning and coordination of economic activities. “The working class must become more and more educat-

ed, more and more conscious, more and more disciplined and organized because under socialism the worker must know how to administer the business including the investments that are needed and the technology that must be added to improve production. [The working class] must debate the company’s plans in a disciplined and collective way”,

Maduro told the plant’s workers on Thursday. “There is still a long way to go but we’ve begun and you all are the bastions of this first pass [towards socialism]”, he said. In a related announcement on Friday, Food Minister Carlos Osorio reported the distribution of more than 366 thousand tons of basic food commodities

Venezuela’s economy grew by 5.5 percent in 2012 T/ Chris Carlson


enezuela’s economy grew by 5.5 percent in 2012, fuelled largely by public spending and government housing programs, according to statistics released last week by Venezuela’s central bank. The 5.5 percent growth in gross domestic product makes for 9 consecutive quarters of growth, higher than the 4.8 percent growth reported for 2011, and higher than the 5 percent growth forecast by the government.

A heavy push by the government to construct hundreds of thousands of homes in 2012 created a growth of 16.8 percent in construction, whereas government services expanded 5.2 percent, according to preliminary figures. Commerce grew by 9.2 percent and communications by 7.2 percent, whereas manufacturing grew by only 2.1 percent, and the oil sector grew by 1.4 percent. “We are above what we had forecast, even as the world is submerged in a crisis”, said central bank president Nelson Merentes.

.ŽsFriday, January 11, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Government warns food distributors against illegal activity T/ Paul Dobson P/ Agencies


his week, Vice President Nicolas Maduro gave a clear and affirmative response to certain problems that occurred this Christmas period regarding the shortages of basic food items. The standard factors which normally cause distribution difficulties during the Christmas holiday, such as workers’ vacations and increased demand, have been exasperated by certain private producers and retailers stockpiling goods for politico-economic ends in recent weeks. Speaking to the sectors that look to hold the alimentary status of the nation to ransom by monopolizing, stockpiling, or speculating with basic foodstuffs for political ends, Maduro stated that “there is sufficient production for the market to be satisfied. We are going to confront the hoarders with firmness”. His words were echoed by Ricardo Menendez, Vice President for the Economic-Productive Area, who exclaimed, “nobody can play with the food of the people!” The government has proceeded with various planning meetings, both with state and private producers/retailers in sectors such as bird foul, sugar, oil, flour, meat, wheat, and oils, in what Maduro calls “a measure to satisfy the national market”. The state run producers and distributers form a key part of this measure, and this week the fifth anniversary of state food distributor, PDVAL, was celebrated with thousands of open air markets across the country. The public markets offered basic goods at up to 70% discount from private market prices. The PDVAL food distribution network uses oil revenues to provide basic food products at subsidized prices to the people. Over 17 million citizens benefit from the PDVAL network. Alimentary Producer and Distributer of Venezuela (PDVAL) was established by Presidential decree on January 6, 2008 as a branch of PDVSA, the state oil company which

administers the largest known oil reserves in the world. In July 2010 it was brought under the control of the Ministry for Alimentation, alongside other similar networks as Mercal, Food Kitchens, and the Bicentenario Supermarkets. More recently, state owned and subsidized restaurants, the Socialist Areperas, named after a traditional Venezuelan food, the “arepa”, were created. Figures released in October 2012 show there are currently 831 fixed PDVAL outlets across the national territory. Apart from these fixed PDVAL outlets, PDVAL operates alongside other public food projects in open-air markets, which are normally organized in coordination with the communal councils and local authorities to distribute basic goods to communities most in need. Carlos Osorio, Food Minister, announced this week that 90,558 such open air markets had been held during the last year, distributing over 366,508 tons of food. He also announced that real material benefits are being reaped from the policies of the Chavez government. In 1999, the nation consumed 13.7 million tons of food, a figure

that has nearly doubled to 24.9 tons in 2011. The long term aims of PDVAL and other such networks include tackling inflation, increasing the nutritional status of the population, democratizing the industry, satisfying the consumption needs of the people, redistributing the national oil wealth in a visible and effective manner, combating mo-

nopolization and stockpiling, and ultimately improving the quality of life of the working classes and poorer sectors. Vice President Maduro further announced this week that “President Chavez’s team is working in the streets and listening to popular demands and criticisms”. He explained that consultations within the productive-alimentary sector,

| Economy


whose strategic conclusions are to be included in the Socialist Plan of Government 2013-2019, were conducted by various high level government officials, together with local communities and food producers. “There were problems with precooked corn flour”, explained Maduro as an example of the strategy that the government has developed for its people. “So, Osorio went immediately (Friday) and on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, there were big open air markets set up with Mercal and PDVAL products in the streets”. Another example was denounced by Technology Minister Ricardo Menendez involving the case of a warehouse found with over 9,000 tons of sugar stockpiled, at a time when there was a moderate shortage of sugar in some retail sectors in the country. Discussions have so far resulted in National Guard soldiers being sent to certain producers known for illegal hoarding to assure products are delivered to retailers, as well as agreeing on production levels with both the State and private producers. Other measures include limiting exportation levels in sectors where there is little surplus production and making the necessary changes, as Minister Osorio explained, to “improve efficiency in each factory without affecting the pocket of the consumer”. The problem of hoarding food and consumer products has decreased in Venezuela in the last 14 years, but continues to occur at different moments, often for political reasons. Many multinational corporations, such as Nestle and the supermarket chain Cada, have previously run into problems with Venezuelan authorities for stockpiling key products, such as milk, which have led to high level court cases, and in extreme cases the nationalization of certain companies or expulsion from the country. Some large-scale producers and distributors still hoard products, with the intention of producing higher profits by selling them when there is an imposed, or to later accuse the government of inefficiency or corruption in the productive sector when people observe a shortage on the shelves. Combatting this type of hoarding is clear in the mission statement of PDVAL from the time it was set up 5 years ago: “To put the brakes on the blackmailing from certain private sectors who try to hoard goods and speculate with food products to promote an indiscriminate rise in prices”.

6 Social Justice | .ŽsFriday, January 11, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Venezuelan athletes commemorate “Best Year Ever”

T/ Paul Dobson P/ Agencies


enezuela celebrated its National Day of Sport this January 6 with a traditional mass held in the La Pastora church in Caracas, which was attended by athletes, community spokespersons and representatives from the Ministry of Sport, including Minister Hector Rodriguez. January 6 has been commemorated every year as a day of celebrating athletics since 1945, when the priest Francisco de Paula Castillo Toro held a mass in memory of the athletes Jose Perez Colmenares and Salvador Arguelles. Minister Rodríguez used the event to give a balance of sporting achievements during 2012, a year which he described as “the best year in the history of Venezuela, from the competitive and professional point of view. The results that we had were impressive”. The past year saw major sporting achievements for Venezuela in the Formula 1 car races, soccer, baseball, athletics, cycling, basketball, boxing, and of course in various Olympic and Paralympic disciplines, including fencing, martial arts, and swimming. Venezuela also achieved its first ever Gold Medal at the London Olympics, in the discipline of fencing, and advanced in the medal table from 81st place (Beijing, 2008) to 50th place. Medals were also won in the Paralympic games.

The religious ceremony was attended by many of the most famous sports personalities in the country including Antonio Diaz (karate), Ricardo Valderrama (judo), Tomas Gil (cycling) as well as Olympian and Paralympian athletesand soccer players. Indycar driver Ernesto Jose Viso told the public at the event that the country is full of talent, just waiting to be given the chance: “We have faith, this word is key to trusting what we have, trusting in the energy and the talent which exists in Venezuela. We are here for our country”. Pastor Maldonado, Formula 1 pilot for Williams who was thrown into the world’s spotlight following his pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, told the amassed crowd that “this has been a super positive year for Venezuelan motorsport. I am content for having achieved this triumph, and this year we will work for

more”. Venezuela also achieved notable success in the Formula 2 competition during 2012. The mass was also used to pray for the health and recovery of President Chavez, who continues his difficult recovery from surgery in Cuba. Many athletes highlighted the key impact of the revolution on national sport, and directly cited the all-inclusive politics of the government as one of the factors in such sporting achievements in 2012. “Chavez is our principal athlete”, stated weightlifter Hildegar Morillo, who also is the President of the National Commission of Athletes. “With all of my heart (I hope that the President) will soon be with us, so that he can carry on alongside us in this revolution of Venezuelan athletics”. Ex-soccer player Luis Alfredo Mendoza Benedetto spoke of the impact of the 2007 continental soccer tournament,

Americas Cup, that was held with great success in Venezuela, and served to stimulate grassroots sporting participation in various fields. “We were all very happy in those stadiums which (Chavez) built for us to hold the Cup in. It was all done with passion, because he is a sportsman, and because of this he has always been careful to support all of the disciplines, not just soccer”. Venezuela is progressing positively in the qualification for the next soccer World Cup in Brazil. For his part, Sports Minister Hector Rodriguez highlighted the importance of the legal, economic, and political commitment of the government to developing Venezuelan sports. “We pray for the health of the President… who has dedicated all of his strength and has guaranteed us great economic investments”. For the coming year, Rodriguez stated that the aim is “to make 2013 a year which is even better than the previous one”. He also commented on one of the major goals of this year, which is the “further massification” of the sporting sector, making sporting facilities even more accessible and available to all, regardless of economic, geographic, racial, sexual, or class status. Rodriguez is currently overseeing the application of the new national Sports Law, passed in 2011. This law, amongst other things, stipulates the creation of various schools of national sporting talent, the democratization of

the sporting federations, and the creation of a National Athletics Fund to finance sports projects across the country. Speaking at a similar event in the coastal city of Cumana, newly elected Governor Luis Acuña summarized the importance of sports in social development, especially in the fight against crime. “We want sports to participate strongly in combatting crime. We believe that to bring athletics to poorer neighborhoods means that we can channel the potential of youth in those areas into recreational and sporting activities”. One of the major sectors that has benefitted from the sports policies of President Chavez has been the disabled. Ahiquel Hernandez, President of the Venezuelan Polisporting Federation for People with Intellectual Disabilities explained, “it was in 1999 when Hugo Chavez started to generate mechanisms that allowed for better incorporation of athletes with disabilities”. She highlighted the legal changes that permitted social changes to follow, by breaking down the barriers of elitism and including disabled athletes as equals. “When, in the constitution it was manifested that sports are a right, it became a duty of the State to ensure this right. Thanks to the fact that the constitution guarantees equal attention and resources for all athletes without discrimination, the year 2012 was a year of great achievements for the Venezuela disabled population”. She explained that previous to the Chavez administration, prior governments “told us that the swimming pools were only for athletes with high performance, or that they were a space for only established talents. For the elites”. Yet after Chavez was elected, she saw immediate changes. “For the first Pan-paramerican games held in Mexico (1999), we sent 65 athletes, all with uniforms, without having to sleep in the airport, and with the resources in hand to cover the necessities of the delegation. To send this amount of Venezuelan participants to an international competition was unthinkable during previous governments”. The most important change which the Chavez government has propelled, according to Hernandez, and which was similarly expressed by athletes without disabilities, was the dignity that they have felt as ambassadors of the country. “We came out of invisibility, which was something extraordinary”.

.ŽsFriday, January 11, 2013

The artillery of ideas

| Analysis


Opposition pushes forced handover T/ COI P/ Agencies


ight-wing members of the Venezuelan opposition kicked off the New Year demanding an immediate handover of the presidency while re-elected President Hugo Chavez recovers from his most recent cancerrelated medical intervention. Claiming to speak on behalf of constitutionality, the Venezuelan opposition is engaged in an international campaign to discredit anything other than a presidential handover on January 10th, the day on which the president-elect was scheduled to be inaugurated. Currently on medical leave granted to him by the National Assembly, Chavez and his socialist platform won last year’s presidential election for the 2013-2019 period.

“JUST A REPLACEMENT” Under the guise of constitutionality, the Venezuelan opposition has begun a massive public relations campaign aimed at forcing out the country’s widely popular and democratically-elected President, Hugo Chavez. In the context of his ongoing bout cancer and what has been described as a “long and difficult recovery”, the right-wing opposition held a press conference last week pushing for National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello to take over the presidency and call new elections within a month.

Speaking to dozens of reporters representing foreign and domestic corporate news networks, National Secretary of the opposition coalition, Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), Ramon Guillermo Aveledo insisted that “no one is looking to take power by force” but “if the presidentelect is unable to be sworn into office because of reasons related to his health, we must abide by what the constitution says with regard to temporary absences”. “The proposal we have in the opposition doesn’t imply a substitution, just a temporary replacement”. While Article 231 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (1999) does state that an elected presidential candidate “shall take office as President of the Republic on January 10 of the first year of his constitutional term” it also stipulates that “if for any unforeseen reason the person elected President of the Republic cannot be sworn in before the National Assembly, he shall take the oath of office before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ)”. Because President Chavez is a re-elected candidate on an authorized leave of absence, and with no constitutionally specified date on which the oath of office before the TSJ must take place, many analysts argue that there is no need to rush his inauguration. In an interview with Russia Today, political analyst Ar-

turo Villoria explained that “the opposition is looking to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding Chavez’s health in order to question the legitimacy or legality of the government”. “In one way or another”, he said, “they want to achieve through pressure and their private media networks something they were unable to achieve at the ballot box”.

“NO COUP” AGAINST CHAVEZ In response to the opposition’s repeated calls for a rushed move against the Chavez presidency, high-ranking members of Venezuela’s socialist leadership have insisted on the need for the popular vote to be respected on Chavez’s right to recover. According to Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the opposition “should re-read the constitution” and “understand” that a re-elected Venezuelan President can be sworn in “beyond the formal inauguration date” of January 10th. “The formality of his swearing-in can be resolved before the Supreme Court of Justice at the time the TSJ deems appropriate”, Maduro told reporters last week. “President Chavez”, Maduro added, “has the right to rest, to tranquility, and to recuperate”. Speaking to Venezuelan Minister of Communication and Information Ernesto Villegas in an interview last week, Maduro also explained that “what Aveledo proposes is

that we, in this case our comrade Diosdado Cabello and the National Assembly, carry out a coup d’état against President Chavez”. During the same interview, Maduro also expressed “concern” with a letter written by Aveledo and sent to numerous foreign embassies based in Caracas. In it, the opposition spokesman reiterated his position that the President of the National Assembly “take over” on January 10 while warning that “to proceed in any other way is a turn backwards with respect to constitutional norms”. According to Maduro, “Aveledo is sending this letter to all of the ambassadors that represent nations with offices in Venezuela, a letter filled with a great deal of ill intent because it sows constitutional notions that are absolutely false”. Aveledo’s claims are based on a faulty reading of Article 233 which states that “when an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic”. The term “permanently unavailable” does not apply to President Chavez, who is on a medical leave of absence granted to him by the National Assembly.

AUTHORIZED LEAVE “The President spoke to the nation”, Maduro said, “and in accordance with Article 235 of the Constitution the National Assembly granted him permission to attend to his health”. Article 235 requires “authorization” from the National Assembly when a Venezuelan President expects to be absent from the country “for a period exceeding five consecutive days”. On November 27, President Chavez submitted his formal request to the National Assembly seeking permission to leave the country and be seen by medical experts in Havana. Once approved, he traveled to Cuba only to return days later and inform the nation that his cancer had reappeared and required another medical intervention. On December 9, the National Assembly again granted Chavez permission to leave the country and attend to his health needs for an “undetermined” amount of time. Meanwhile, according to Article 234, if at any time President Chavez becomes “temporarily unavailable to serve” he “shall be replaced by the Vice President for a period of up to 90 days, which may be extended by resolution of the National Assembly for an additional 90 days”. Throughout Chavez’s difficult recovery from surgery, Vice President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly affirmed that President Chavez continues to serve as the country’s only acting President.

Friday, January 11, 2013 | Nº 141 | Caracas |




Panic in Washington the Cubans are coming! T/ Jean Jean-Guy Guy Allard


ow they don’t even bother to hide their worry: the same politicians who slandered Cuba for decades, saying Cubans “can’t travel”, and even going so far as to draft laws meant to push disaffected Cubans to hurl themselves into the sea, are now rushing to figure out how to stop Cubans from arriving in the United States and, in case they manage to arrive, how to stop them from returning to Cuba. Victims of the traps they themselves set at the height of the Cold War, when the Cuban Revolution, criminally isolated by the blockade, was forced to protect itself by any means, including restrictive migration laws, the Cuban American members of Congress and their clan have suddenly realized that they’ve shot themselves in the foot. The political structure manufactured to serve United States annexationist plans toward Cuba is on red alert and desperately seeking a solution to what it has announced is a

dangerous and unexpected inva invasion by those it has pretended to be defending. “Once the new Cuban immigration laws go into force, on January 14, a Cuban will be able to leave Cuba for two years without losing his residency, and during this time will be able to obtain residence in the United States after spending a year and a day here”, explains a Washington based US immigration expert. “This will create a new kind of Cuban-American, with dualresidency, making the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) completely obsolete and even counterproductive. The US will be under urgent pressure to change its “Cuban” policy in order to avoid this taking place. And right in the middle of a full debate on immigration reform”. Incredibly, near the end of an interview granted to her friends in the subsidized “anti-Castro” press, the head of the anti-Cuban political mafia in Washington, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, announced that she wants to revise this heretofore untouchable law, a fundamental part of

the legal framework developed against Cuba. The reporter, well known for his collaboration with US government funded Voice of America – Radio Martí, asked if she would support a change to close the gaps in the law in respect to those who claim political persecution and then go on to travel frequently to Cuba. Ros-Lehtinen’s answer was as twisted as a hot New York pretzel. “Yes, I’m in favor of a change to the CAA so that those who use this singular and unique benefit that is only available to Cuban nationals, cannot return to visit Cuba”. She added reasoning that she might have applied for quite some time: “One cannot say that one is subjected to political persecution in Cuba, and then go back to visit”. In June, one of Ros-Lehtinen’s colleagues, the legislator David Rivera, had already been talking about reforming the CAA in order to cancel the permanent residence granted to Cuban refugees who return to Cuba within five years after their en-

try to the United States States. In the meantime, the controversial Rivera – under investigation for a number of corruption charges – was kicked to the curb in November’s elections, ending up in history’s great rubbish bin, along with his proposed immigration changes. The Cuban Adjustment Act, approved in 1966, grants US residency to any Cuban who reaches US territory, while hundreds of Mexicans are hunted down in the land of the free by armed border guards, not to mention the armed vigilantes working on behalf of the repressive national system. But the most absurd treatment of the subject in the land of Groucho Marx was yet to come. El Nuevo Herald, the shining example of made-in-Florida journalism published a headline regarding the changes without even realizing the magnitude of its error. “The United States Urges Cubans to Refrain from Heading to Sea in Response to New (Cuban) Immigration Reform”. The article is based on statements by William Ostick, spokes-

man for the State Department’s Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs, acknowledging that the new Cuban immigration rules might trigger “changes” in the flow of immigrants coming from the island. It goes on to explain that “The United States’ visa requirements will remain ‘unchanged’, and a visa or other valid authorization will be required to enter this country”. No mention is made of the other panic – that of the corporate bosses in the professional market who impose a series of norms, study programs, exams, etc. in order to gain entry. They’re already trying to figure out how to rescind the privileges granted up until now in this sector, in order to provoke Cuban emigration. English translation: Machetera. Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity. JEAN-GUY ALLARD lives in Cuba. He can be reached at: jean.guy.

English Edition Nª 141  

President Chavez’s inauguration postponed due to illness

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