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Opposition claims unified but dis-unity abounds page 7

Ecuador: Rafael Correa’s victory a success page 8

Friday, February 22, 2013 | Nº 147 | Caracas |

Venezuela fights speculation Vice President Nicolas Maduro spoke out against members of the Venezuelan business community who through illicit hoarding and speculation have attempted to destabilize the South American nation’s economy and sow dissatisfaction among the general population. The VP called recent practices of price-hiking and the withholding of products following the announcement of a devaluation in the Venezuelan bolivar earlier this month as “parasitic” and a consequence of a “looting” capitalist system. page 3

ENGLISH EDITION/The artillery of ideas

President Hugo Chavez Returns Home, Venezuela Celebrates


Private media necrophilia Media attacks against President Chavez continue. page 4 Economy

Labor rights advance A new labor law ensures Social Justice and fair hours and benefits for workers. page 5


Wikileaks shows US interference

Internal documents from Stratfor show heavy US hand against Chavez government. page 6

Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets last Monday to celebrate the return of President Hugo Chavez and wish the recovering head of state a heartfelt welcome back to his native soil. Chavez returned to Venezuela in the early hours of Monday after having spent more than two months in Cuba convalescing from cancer surgery performed in Havana on December 11th. “We’ve arrived again at the Venezuelan homeland!” Chavez wrote via his Twitter account on Monday morning, announcing his arrival. Page 2

Digital television The Venezuelan people now count on digital terrestrial television or digital over-the-air television as of Wednesday, a service free of charge launched by the Chavez administration and which may be used even on mobile phones. The digital broadcasting is part of significant changes carried out in Venezuela’s technological capacities, only comparable to the debut of color television. The Venezuelan Government will distribute converter boxes to the population, allowing them to use the service with conventional televisions. Several national private and public TV stations are viewable in the new system, such as VTV, ANTV, Vive TV, Televen, Televisora del Sur, Venevision, Colombeia, Meridiano and La Tele. Among other features, the over-the-air television provides picture and sound quality, correcting all errors caused by any interference. It will also provide information about climate, road traffic, meteorology, among others, through the use of teletext service.

INTERNATIONAL Venezuela rejects US government interference T/ COI The Venezuelan government has responded firmly to the latest statements made by the Obama administration regarding President Hugo Chavez’s health and the current political situation in the country. Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US wants to see a “transition” in Venezuela, and insinuated that President Chavez should no longer govern. “The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects in the strongest terms the declarations made by United States State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland on February 19, 2013, which constitute a new and rude interference by the government in Washington in the internal affairs of Venezuela”. “The statements by this US government spokesperson are in perfect keeping with the destabilizing and corrupt discourse of the Venezuelan right wing”, read the declaration from Venezuela. “The speculations by the spokesperson regarding the situation of President Hugo Chavez and the institutions of Venezuela have generated deep indignation among the Venezuelan people”. “The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela upholds the rule of law and justice, and has solid institutions that, by the sovereign will of the Venezuelan people, are enshrined in the constitution of 1999. In the framework of the democratic revolution constructed by people’s power over the last 14 years, the only transition being proposed is the transition toward Bolivarian socialism under the leadership of the revolutionary government of Commander Hugo Chavez”, detailed the Venezuelan government communique.

2 Impact | .ŽsFriday, February 22, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Chavez returns to Venezuela amidst jubilation of supporters

T/ COI P/ Presidential Press


housands of Venezuelans took to the streets last Monday to celebrate the return of President Hugo Chavez and wish the recovering head of state a heartfelt welcome back to his native soil.

“The beloved son of Venezuela has arrived. This great man has given his life to the people and today has brought the people onto the streets full of happiness and emotion because [he] is back in our country”, said Arnilu Serrano, socialist activist in the Plaza Bolivar of Caracas.

Chavez returned to Venezuela in the early hours of Monday after having spent more than two months in Cuba convalescing from cancer surgery performed in Havana on December 11th. His arrival comes just three days after the government released a series of photographs of the socialist leader in the

company of his two daughters in Cuba. “We’ve arrived again at the Venezuelan homeland!” Chavez wrote via his Twitter account on Monday morning. Upon touching down in Simon Bolivar International Airport, the Venezuelan President was taken to the Dr. Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital in the capital of Caracas where he will continue with his medical recovery. For government supporters, Monday’s return marks a sharp rebuff to the skeptics who have questioned the veracity of the photographs released on Friday and the periodic medical reports divulged by the government. It also demonstrates the tenacity of the socialist President, something that has been hailed by backers at dozens of solidarity rallies. “You pay back love with love”, said Eucaris Centeno during a demonstration in the state of Anzoategui on Monday. “Chavez deserves this and every minute of our lives. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is in the streets ready to defend this revolution”, the activist said. During a press conference held by the PSUV on Monday, leaders of the party declared that there is no given timetable for Chavez to take his oath of office, something left pending since January 10th. Aristobal Isturiz, senior member of the PSUV, com-

mented that formalities regarding oaths of office would take a back seat to time that Chavez needs to recover. “We celebrate his return but we are saying, ‘Continue with your treatment, President. Trust the people”, the PSUV leader and governor of Anzoategui state. According to the Venezuelan constitution, the President can be sworn in by the country’s congress or by the Supreme Court. This latter option will most likely be the method for the inauguration of Chavez who was re-elected for a new 6-year term on October 7th. For his part, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro referred to the recently returned commander in chief as “an example of the permanent battle” being carried out in the South American country and that the nation must “continue the march daily”. Speaking from the military hospital where the head of state has been admitted, Maduro praised the Cuban government for its support throughout Chavez’s illness and lauded the Venezuelan people for their unity in the face of destabilization attempts by the opposition. “We must thank the people in the face of this minority that has tried to disturb the life of the country. Despite them, the homeland is advancing, getting stronger and supporting President Chavez”, Maduro said.

Both Correa and Chavez also share a vision for greater South American unity as exhibited by their advocacy for the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) and the Union of South American States (Unasur) regional blocs. On Sunday, Correa dedicated his electoral victory to the Ven-

ezuelan President, currently recovering from cancer surgery performed in Cuba on December 11th. “I want to take the opportunity to also dedicate this victory to the great Latin American leader who changed Venezuela, Comandante Hugo Chavez Frias”, Correa said. The newly re-elected head of state additionally expressed his desire to see “the best for Chavez and his family, a quick recovery, and of course, for the future of the much-loved Venezuela”. Correa’s nearest competitor in Sunday’s election was Guillermo Lasso from the CREO (I believe) party who received a distant 23.6 percent of the vote. Lasso, a conservative banker with a history of public service, quickly recognized the outcome of Sunday’s contest, congratulating Correa on his victory for a second 4-year term. The incumbent “has triumphed. He has obtained reelection and this deserves our

respect and recognition. We’re going to congratulate him and his organization for having achieved this”, Lasso said. According to national and international observers, last weekend’s election were carried out in an efficient and exemplary manner, with few holdups at the ballot box. Argentine Congressman and Election Observer Claudia Giaccone called the voting “impeccable, calm, and participatory” while Luis Abidanere, head of the InterAmerican Union of Electoral Organizations, referred to the process as “positive for democracy and the different countries of Latin America”. For Correa, the vote was a clear sign of the democratic maturity that has characterized the growing political participation of the people in the continent-wide movement for greater social justice. “Democracy and revolution is being consolidated in Our America”, Correa said.

Ecuador: Correa wins second term on strength of economic reforms T/ COI P/ AFP


he South American left further consolidated its regional ascendancy last Sunday with the victory of Rafael Correa in Ecuador’s presidential elections. Correa, the 49 year-old economist from the capital of Guayaquil, easily won a second term, taking just under 57 percent of the popular vote and avoiding the need for a second round of elections. “This victory belongs to all of you”, Correa said to Ecuadorian people on Sunday evening after the initial results of the election had come in. “I thank each of the 14.5 million Ecuadorians. I thank those who supported us and those who did not because the roads, hospitals, and schools

are for everyone”, the head of state asserted. Correa’s political movement, called the “Citizen’s Revolution”, has built itself upon a new social agenda that marks a stark break with the neoliberal economic policies of previous Ecuadorian administrations. Through large-scale public expenditures and greater regulation of the financial sector, Ecuador has weathered the global economic crisis with greater success than most small countries, boasting a 27 percent reduction in poverty and an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. The move away from freemarket policies has been similar to the economic philosophy being practiced by the Chavez administration in Venezuela and is part of the reason for the strong relationship between the two OPEC member states.

.ŽsFriday, February 22, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Venezuelan VP vows to fight speculation, hoarding

measures against businesses that attack the economy of the people”, he affirmed. As part of this policy, the former union leader will be traveling around the country to meet with different sectors of civil society and the business community to devise actions to curb the illicit activity. This includes fostering stronger relationships between the Chavez administration and honest representatives of the private sector, Maduro explained on Saturday.

APPROVAL REMAINS HIGH In addition to exploiting low production costs to reap super profits, much of the subversion of price controls taking place in Venezuela has the political goal of creating uncertainty in the government, officials have argued. Yet despite these intentions, Hugo Chavez continues to enjoy high levels of support from the Venezuelan population. A new poll released by Hinterlaces, one of the most accurate agencies working in Venezuela, places Chavez’s approval rating at 64 percent. An additional 66 percent of the population believes that the conservative opposition in the county is not capable of replacing the socialists in government and 56 percent of the people believe the opposition has been negative for the country, the survey reports. The poll also states that if new elections were to be held in Venezuela as a result of President Chavez’s health issues, Nicolas Maduro would be the projected winner over opposition candidate Capriles Radonski by a margin of 14 points. The results of the survey were announced by journalist Jose Vicente Rangel during his weekly television program on the station Televen.

T/ COI P/ Presidential Press


ice President Nicolas Maduro spoke out last Saturday against members of the Venezuelan business community who through illicit hoarding and speculation have attempted to destabilize the South American nation’s economy and sow dissatisfaction among the general population. The VP called recent practices of price-hiking and the withholding of products following the announcement of a devaluation in the Venezuelan bolivar earlier this month as “parasitic” and a consequence of a “looting” capitalist system. “They’re attacking the currency, the prices of products and they’re hoarding. But we’re in the street fighting through the food system created by President Hugo Chavez. Here we have people that won’t allow our country to be destabilized”, Maduro said. The declarations were made during the second-in-command’s attendance at an openair market in Caracas where subsidized food and domestic appliances were made avail-


able to residents at affordable prices. The market is part of the Chavez administration’s effort to ensure the availability of staple commodities and basic products through it’s public network of distribution outlets. Maduro informed that the government is taking steps to crack down on the retailers who have been undercutting price controls and raising prices exponentially. Such behavior in the private sector has led to a shortage of

certain basic products, like sugar and flour. According to Maduro, the Executive branch has been mandated by President Hugo Chavez, recently returned from Cuba, to enact policies that will combat the economic sabotage affecting many large urban centers. “As Executive Vice President, I must provide reports to the President of the Republic, Hugo Chavez, and above all, receive orders. I must propose, alongside my colleagues strong

With respect to recent attacks against the Cuban Embassy by members of the Venezuelan opposition, Vice President Maduro condemned the extremist behavior and blamed the right wing leadership of the South American country for the inappropriate demonstrations. Specifically, Maduro singled out Capriles Radonski, opposition leader and governor of Miranda state who participated in violent demonstrations at the Cuban embassy during the attempted coup d’etat against President Hugo Chavez in April 2002.

| Politics


The opposition mayor of the Caracas district of Baruta, Gerardo Blyde, was also accused by the Venezuelan Vice President. “[Capriles and Blyde] are responsible before the people and the laws of the republic for the aggression that the Cuban embassy has seen once again”, Maduro said. Venezuela’s relationship with Cuba has strengthened over the past decade as a result of the bilateral accords signed between the two nations, which have resulted in thousands of medical professionals from the island nation working in free clinics in Venezuela. Members of the Venezuelan opposition have targeted the embassy for a new round of demonstrations, decrying the absence of Hugo Chavez from Venezuela and the close relationship between the Caribbean countries. Maduro characterized the protests as a lack of respect for the important work that the Cuban doctors and other experts have carried out in Venezuela, greatly improving the lives of millions of underprivileged residents. “This hatred that [the Venezuelan opposition] has and expresses against the Cuban people is not in fact against the Cuban people. It’s against the Venezuelan poor”, Maduro said. What the Cubans have brought to Venezuela is “love, solidarity and life”, the Vice President said, reiterating the fact that the government will not allow for the security of the embassy to be breached. The Venezuelan security forces are “on guard, protecting the Cuban Embassy and providing all the diplomatic guarantees that international law decrees”, the former Foreign Minister of the Chavez administration assured. For her part, Venezuelan Youth Minister Mary Pili Hernandez described the protestors as “small group” that has been manipulated by foreign interests and that do not represent the great majority of Venezuelan opinion. In fact, Hernandez said, the country should be thanking the Cubans for the excellent medical attention that they have provided for President Hugo Chavez during his convalescence in Havana. “This love is priceless”, the Youth Minister said of the care provided for the head of state. Chavez underwent cancer related surgery in Cuba on December 11th and returned to Venezuela on Monday.

4 Politics | .ŽsFriday, February 22, 2013 T/ Ewan Robertson P/ Agencies


Venezuelan sociologist and media analyst has described the private media’s reportage of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s health as based on speculation and “constant necrophilia”. The analyst, Maryclen Stelling, argued that this reporting is part of a campaign by the rightwing opposition and its domestic and international media allies to exploit Chavez’ battle with cancer in order to create a political “crisis” in the country and seek a “transition” of power. The comments were made on Monday when Chavez returned home from Cuba after recovering from his cancer operation last December. He will continue treatment in a hospital in Caracas. Stelling recalled how the day after Chavez left for Cuba in December, leading Venezuelan conservative daily El Nacional led with “the opposition will be capable of presenting an alternative for Venezuelans”, reflecting the stance taken by the opposition coalition toward Chavez’s absence from the country. When Chavez was unable to be present for his presidential inauguration on January 10th, much of the Venezuelan opposition declared the continuance of the Chavez government illegitimate, despite a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary, subsequently backed by the OAS. However, in line with the opposition’s stance the private Venezuelan media campaign intensified. Through January and February, headlines and article titles appeared such as “Two months without seeing nor hearing from Chavez” (El Tiempo), “He’s still breathing” (Tal Cual), “Chavez’s illness is fatal”, (Tal Cual), “His options are running out “ (Tal Cual), “The death of stand-alone bosses” (El Nacional) and “Is your coup-making over?” (El Universal). Stelling also reviewed the international media’s treatment of Chavez’s illness and stay in Cuba, finding that the Spanish press went furthest in their speculation and necrophilic reportage. Leading Spanish daily ABC printed several “exclusive” reports in which the paper predicted the Venezuelan President’s imminent death, to the extent to which Vice President Nicolas Maduro was provoked to comment in an interview that the paper had become an “attack center” of lies over Chavez’s clinical progress. However another Spanish paper, El País, went further than

The artillery of ideas

Private media on Chavez’ health: 70 days of speculation and necrophilia

speculation when on January 24th it published a photograph purporting to show Chavez undergoing treatment, accompanied by the headline “The truth about Chavez’s illness”. The photo quickly turned out to be false and taken from someone else undergoing treatment in 2008, and while the paper apologized to its readers it didn’t extent that apology to Chavez or the Venezuelan people. Many articles printed in Spain’s national press were written by Washington-based

President Chavez reaches 4 million followers on Twitter T/ AVN


he official Twitter account of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez surpassed four million followers Monday, making him the most popular Latin American leader on the social network. The account, @chavezcandanga, which was launched in April 2010, has become a direct way for the President to engage his followers and keep the public and the world informed, as well as to attend to the demands of the people and exchange different types of messages. Now, the number of people following his Twitter account has surpassed four million and continues to grow. Chavez is the most followed Latin American leader on the

journalist Emili Blasco, who, based on supposed “sources” in Havana, wrote a series of articles with headlines such as “Chavez on the edge of death” and “Doctors consider continuing Chavez’s treatment useless”. Media analyst Stelling explained that the Spanish media had been more “virulent” than that of any other country because Spain is where the Venezuelan opposition lobby has the greatest weight. She added that media in the United States had been

social network, and is the second most popular leader in the world after United States President Barack Obama, who leads a nation of over 313 million people. Since he returned to Venezuela early on Monday morning, President Chavez has been one of the most tweeted about people on the social network. The President recently completed the first stage of his recovery in Havana after undergoing surgery for cancer last December 11th. The people have expressed their affection and solidarity for the President by writing messages on Twitter marked with hashtags like #ChavezBienvenidoALaPatria (Chavez, welcome back to the country), #VolvióCHAVEZ (Chavez returned), and #LlegóChavez (Chavez has arrived). Upon returning to the country, President Chavez tweeted: “We have once again arrived in Venezuela. Thank you, God! Thank you, dear people! Here we will continue the treatment”.

less speculative over Chavez’s health, after the US had invested a lot in the Venezuelan opposition without receiving the hoped-for results in return. However, US media have used Chavez’s absence from the political scene while he fights cancer to trash his legacy and question the constitutional situation in the country, with leading outlets such as the Washington Post erroneously describing the delay in Chavez’s inauguration as “a stretch of the constitution’s

ambiguous wording” and the San Francisco Chronicle claiming “Venezuela’s Chavez ruining the country”. Using self-justificatory and self-serving logic, the same media outlets and the Venezuelan opposition have accused the government of being “secretive” over Chavez’s health and thus having “caused” speculation over his condition and Venezuela’s political situation. The Venezuelan government has countered this by pointing to regular updates over Chavez’s clinical progress while still respecting his right to privacy as a patient. With Chavez’s apparent recovery progressing to the point where he was able to return to Venezuela earlier this week, Venezuelan Communication Minister Ernesto Villegas argued that the official information on Chavez’s health had been vindicated as accurate. “The ominous voices - those who were calling into question the information emitted by the national government with respect to Chavez’s health, are defeated”, he said on Monday. It seems that while the “ominous voices” will continue to speculate on Chavez’s health and try to create the impression of a “crisis” in Venezuela where and when they can, the surprise return and apparent improvement of the Venezuelan President has demonstrated the falsity of many of their claims, highlighting 70 days of speculation and necrophilia as exactly that.

.ŽsFriday, February 22, 2013

The artillery of ideas

| Economy


Venezuela: Banks must fund construction and low-interest mortgages Application of labor law advances T/ Paul Dobson P/ Presidential Press


abor minister, Maria Cristina Iglesias, announced this week that the Labor Ministry will be intensifying meetings with public sector and State run companies in the upcoming weeks to ensure the correct application of the Labor Law for Workers, which was passed last year and comes into practice this May 7th. Speaking at the Council of Ministers meeting in the Presidential Palace of Miraflores, the Minister declared that the Labor Law for Workers (Lottt) is currently at the stage where they are making the necessary real adjustments for its application, and that she will be presenting the applicatory regulations at the next meeting. “On May 7th we will celebrate the promulgation of the Lottt… this day it becomes valid in the nation”, pronounced Iglesias. The Law, which has been recognized as a great step forward for Venezuela and Venezuelans on the road to socialism, was described by Iglesias as “a conquest, a massively important achievement for the working class”. “We have had meetings with the public sector and we will continue to meet this week, also with State firms and with autonomous institutions”, she explained. Highlighting some of the most important aspects of the Law, she told the nation that “now we are making it a reality, this law, with the reduction of the working week from 44 to 40 hours and with 2 continuous days off for the workers”. The Lottt also corrected many historic injustices by assuring the labor rights of women and people with disabili-

ties, as well as complementing these legal rights with practical steps to improve the quality of life for such workers, such as obligatory work-based crèches for large firms. One of the other major advances in the 2012 law was the elimination of subcontracting. Iglesias went on to emphasize that the increase in free time for the working classes “opens important spaces… to work more for the development of the country and also free days to enjoy family time, recreation, to study, or for the National Recreation Plan, which is being extended to all public spaces”. The human right to family time, time for recreation, sport, to study, and for voluntary or community work is guaranteed in the Constitution on an equal footing as the right to work. Regarding the meetings with the firms, the Minister explained that the Ministry wishes for the public sector and State run companies to “lead by example in the application of the norms”. The Ministry is also meeting with social organizations and institutions, with workers and workers groups, with businessmen and women, all of whom will “of course receive the support of the Ministry”, she explained. At the same meeting, Vice President Nicolas Maduro emphatically stated that “we are calling on all of the working class to play a more protagonist and active role in their localities, in their workplaces”. “We are building socialism here, which is not an easy task!” “A society can only advance towards true prosperity”, Maduro explained, revealing his trade unionist roots, “if its workers are protected, and from that moment onwards it’s possible to elevate efficiency and to grow”.

T/ Ewan Robertson P/ Agencies


he Venezuelan government has increased the banking sector’s financial obligation to fund construction and provide low interest mortgages as part of policies to broaden access to affordable housing. The financial obligation, known as the “mandatory mortgage portfolio”, requires both state-owned and private banks to assign a percentage of their gross annual loans toward housing construction and controlled-interest mortgages to low income Venezuelans. It is an important means through which Venezuelans are able to get affordably priced mortgages or loans for housing construction. The government announced on Wednesday that the mandatory mortgage portfolio was to be increased from 15 to 20%. With the change, the portfolio is expected to raise around 80.4 billion bolivars (US $12.8 billion), of which 65% must fund housing construction, 30% go towards mortgages, and 5% for self-construction, housing improvements and extensions. The percentage of the fund destined toward mortgages has increased 4% from last year, with the president of Venezu-

ela’s National Housing Bank (Banavih), Mario Isea, explaining that the move is aimed at “increasing the people’s access to mortgages”. Further, the head of the government’s Housing Commission, Rafael Ramirez, reported that the funds raised will be important for achieving the government’s goal of constructing 380,000 new homes in 2013. Venezuela has long suffered from a structural shortage in housing, something President Hugo Chavez’s government is attempting to remedy through a mass housing building program, launched in 2011. Over 300,000 new housing units have been constructed by the program so far, with the aim being to construct as many as 3 million by 2019 to end the country’s housing deficit. Officials also confirmed that mortgages granted under the mandatory mortgage portfolio will continue to have their interest rates regulated; at 4.33% for those earning between one and four times the monthly minimum wage, currently at 2,047 bolivars ($325), and 10.66% to those earning between eight and fifteen times the minimum wage. The government also announced that for the first time mortgages granted to wealthier Venezuelans, those earning over fifteen times the mini-

mum wage (30,712 bolivars / $4,875), would also be legally capped, at 16.4%. Officials claim that banks had been charging speculative interest rates to this sector, at an average of around 24%. Speaking in an interview with public channel VTV, Isea responded to concerns that forcing banks to put such a high percentage of their credit toward construction and low-interest mortgages would threaten their stability. Explaining the government’s continued increasing of the mandatory mortgage portfolio, he said, “We went from 10% to 12%, 12% to 15%, and now to 20%, even last year when demands for loans increased and some in the banking sector said we were going to put their liquidity at risk, which didn’t happen”. “They (the banks) have very high profits and a great deal of liquidity that they must invest, and we knew they could support the increase”, he continued. Isea further argued that the government had calculated the controlled interest rates for mortgage lending carefully, and that “there’s no reason this year that banks can’t fulfill their obligation”. He added that if any bank did not fulfill its contribution to the fund, the state would take the corresponding legal actions.

6 Analysis | .ŽsFriday, February 22, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Wikileaks discloses more US interference in Venezuela T/ Paul Dobson P/ Agencies


his week the group dedicated to revealing US government secrets to the public, Wikileaks, published over 40,000 secret documents regarding Venezuela, which show clear US involvement in efforts to topple democratically elected leader Hugo Chavez. The documents, which date from July 2004 to December 2011 and which were published through Wikileaks’ Twitter account @wikileaks and are now available on Wikileaks Global Intelligence Files online, are based on emails from the private US intelligence company, Stratfor. This company claims to provide analysis for multinational corporations looking to invest in Venezuela, and uses a number of local sources to develop their reports. However, their emails prove that their motives and objectives are far from independent, and they are working as an intelligence and strategy agency for those looking to develop suitable political conditions for economic subordination, exploitation, and intervention in the country. Wikileaks describes Stratfor as “a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency”. “The emails”, Wikileaks explains, “show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods”. The leaked emails cover a range of issues, but concentrate on the energy sector, especially petrochemicals and oil; political change and the state of the counter-revolutionary forces; and the state of the military and armed forces. They also touch on Venezuela’s relations with Cuba, China, Russia, and Iran, as well as providing bleak projections of the economy and future of the financial sector.

The firm’s emails are listed with the addresses of the sender and receiver, as well as mentioning, amongst other things, the reliability of the source from which they take the information. One email, which exposes the political requisites for reliability, according to Stratfor, uses a source described as a “Venezuelan economist in Caracas” who is described as having “source reliability: B (solidly anti-Chavez)”. The emails mention meetings with, and biographies of, various prominent Venezuelan opposition leaders, such as Antonio Ledezma (Mayor of Caracas), Henrique Capriles, Leopoldo Lopez, as well as right wing media tycoon Rafael Poleo: “I spoke to Rafael Poleo [a very prominent Venezuelan political analyst] a couple of days ago” reports one source. The emails to and from the Stratfor staff mention various political events during the period, but focus on the student protests of 2009-2010 when youth opposition sectors manipulated an electricity crisis in the country brought about by the worst drought in 100 years which left

the hydro-based energy system completely dried up. They also address the RCTV protests following the refusal to renew the public broadcasting license of the right wing TV channel after they backed the 2002 coup d’état and publicly called for the assignation of President Chavez. The emails make frequent reference to a Serbia-based right wing policy group called Canvas (Center for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies). This group was integral in the NATO based actions that that overthrew the government in Yugoslavia, and makes frequent comparisons between Venezuela and Yugoslavia. Representatives of Canvas state in an email to Stratfor that “the RCTV protests were a taster. More is to come, but Venezuela does not offer as good of networks as those countries behind the (iron) curtain”. They also make clear their objective and political tendencies based on past work by Canvas, also known previously as Otpor: “Chavez is nothing compared to going against the old Soviet regimes”. There are numerous Word documents sent amongst the

emails, many of which are classed as “not for publication” and which detail the steps recommended to enact a “revolution” which would see Hugo Chavez thrown out of power. One is indeed referred to as “a how-to guide for revolution”. They go on to class Venezuelan people as “retarded” and who “talk out of their ass”. The country is, according to Canvas, “absolutely a joke”. Canvas explains clearly their recommended strategy for toppling governments: “when somebody asks us for help, as in Vene case, we usually ask them the question ‘and how would you do it’. That means that the first thing is to create a situational analysis (the word doc I sent you) and after that comes “Mission Statement” (still left to be done) and then “Operational Concept”, which is the plan for campaign” explain Canvas to Stratfor. “For this case we have three campaigns: unification of opposition, campaign for September elections and parallel with that a “get out and vote” campaign”. “In NORMAL circumstances” they go on to explain, “ac-

tivists come to us and work in a workshop on exactly this sort of a format. We only guide them. This is why plans end up being so efficient later on, because the activist themselves created them and are absolutely theirs, i.e. authentic”. Referring to such destabilizing plans, such as the RCTV protests, Canvas go on to state that “we only give them the tools to use”. Making reference to the opposition alliance of parties, they further state that “in Venezuela’s case, because of the complete disaster that the place is, because of suspicion between opposition groups and disorganization, we have to do the initial analysis. Whether they go on to next steps really depends on them, in other words depends on whether they will become aware that because of a lack of UNITY they can lose the race before it has started”. “This year we are definitely ramping up activity in Venezuela” they write. Referring to the 2010 Parliamentary elections, the explain that “they have elections in September and we are in close connection with activists from there and people trying to help them (please keep this to yourself for now, no publication). The first phase of our preparation is under way”. The emails also leave the reader in no doubt about whom these people are helping the Venezuelan opposition activists: “to answer your question, the US networks are definitely involved. I cannot confirm for you if that specific gentleman is involved, but the usual establishments are”. Other emails contains various attached files which provide rundowns of the exact status of the Venezuelan army, air force and navy, including numbers, equipment, and expertise. “(We) will be sending along more info soon on the whole rundown of how Chavez has revamped the military/security apparatus over the past several years” states the sender. “It’s all scribbled on paper right now from my notes, but gotta say, I’m quite impressed with ‘ol Hugo”. The fully detailed documents explain that “the army’s reform has stretched beyond the procurement of new assault and sniper rifles and now comprises of a modernized doctrine too. New concepts include asymmetric warfare and reliance on the country’s communication and supply infrastructure as well as popular support to resist a large scale US invasion”.

.ŽsFriday, February 22, 2013

The artillery of ideas

T/ COI P/ Agencies


n another attempt to present themselves as a viable political movement, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition recently affirmed that a “transition is now underway” in the oil-rich Latin American nation. Ignoring President Chavez’s sweeping 2012 electoral victory and a Supreme Court ruling that allows the President to “fully recover” from cancer-related surgery before continuing his 2013-2019 term, the opposition’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition promised “unity” among right-wing forces is set to “overcome all challenges”. Contradicting these assertions, Reuters recently reported that “old strains are emerging” within the opposition while Miami-based El Nuevo Herald affirmed the opposition currently finds itself both “weak and divided”.

Opposition claims unity, allies disagree

MAKING PROMISES Though reality indicates otherwise, the Venezuelan opposition recently declared change is coming to the nation. Speaking in Colombia at a forum titled “The Venezuelan Transition and Latin American Electoral Scenario”, opposition figurehead Ramon Guillermo Aveledo told a captive audience that “there is no doubt that a transition is now underway”. Aveledo, who is Secretary General of the opposition’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), tried explaining how Chavez’s authorized medical leave means a pending “transition” is “indubitable”. “The President has now been absent for over 60 days”, he said, “limiting the capacity for political maneuvers (by Chavez’s cabinet), combined with a difficult fiscal situation that impedes unlimited public spending and the eventual social discontent that will be directed at those in charge of the government”. Aveledo, who failed to elaborate on how his views meant a transition was “evident”, was joined by two notable Colombian figures – Jorge Humberto Botero and Andres Molano Rojas. Botero, who served as the 2002 Campaign Manager to none other than former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, later become Colombian Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism from 2003 to 2007. He is said to have been one of the major players behind the US -Colombia Free Trade Agreement and is now the World Bank’s representative in Colombia.

| Analysis


ty Roundtable (MUD), should undergo a deep revision and overcome internal maneuvering that serves only to benefit certain political parties”. Delgado, who frequently publishes hostile rants aimed at Venezuela, Cuba, and other ALBA nations, cited “experts” such as Venezuela-based “analyst and columnist” Orlando Viera-Blanco as well as Diego Moya-Ocampos, Senior Analyst at US-based IHS Global Insight, a company dedicated to analyzing “energy, economics, geopolitical risk, sustainability and supply chain management”. According to Delgado, these men believe that “the Venezuelan opposition, which had amassed considerable strength on the eve of last year’s presidential election, is currently both weak and divided”. According to Viera-Blanco, for example, “no real unity currently exists within the Democratic Unity Roundtable”. “The MUD is living through a moment”, explained VieraBlanco, “in which attitudes are absolutely cupular, pyramidal, and hierarchical, where decisions are being made by four political actors”. “Obviously”, he said, “this creates internal tensions”. According to Moya-Ocampos, “the opposition has become systematically weaker since last year’s presidential election”. “It became even weaker after regional elections (in December) and, since then, we’ve watched the opposition fail to consolidate itself as a viable alternative”, he said.

NORIEGA RECOMMENDS Rojas, meanwhile, is a graduate of the US National Defense University’s Center for Hemispheric Studies and currently teaches at Colombia’s School of Intelligence and Counterintelligence as well as the country’s Advanced War College, among others. Aveledo told Botero and Rojas, among others gathered at the Bogota forum that opposition leaders such as himself “know that the country must not be abandoned”. “The situation is bigger than any one of us, and the nation comes before the individual. United we speak to the nation”, he said, “and united we act”.

UNITY STRAINED? Aveledo’s claims come just two weeks after Reuters published a piece by Diego Ore in which he explained that “Venezuela’s multiple opposition parties took a decade

to unite against President Hugo Chavez, but old strains are emerging again just as he could be forced from power by cancer”. “After years of in-fighting, election defeats and chaotic attempts to remove Chavez through street protests, an oil industry strike and even a brief coup, some 30 ideologically diverse political groups formed the opposition coalition (MUD) in 2008”, Ore wrote. “It stayed united”, he continued, “and kept egos in check, during a long primary race to elect state governor Henrique Capriles as its 2012 presidential candidate”. “Capriles’ defeat by Chavez was crushing for many in the opposition ranks”, he explained, and “a thrashing by Chavez’s ruling Socialist Party at regional elections held in December, where the coalition took just

three of 23 governorships, accentuated the malaise”.

WEAK AND DIVIDED In another telling piece published in last week’s El Nuevo Herald, anti-Chavez reporter Antonio Maria Delgado described the Venezuelan opposition as both “weak and divided”. Analyzing the opposition’s conduct during President Chavez’s recent health-related stint in Havana, Delgado wrote that “their decisions seem to obey personal interests over a true desire to maintain unity”. “Experts consulted by El Nuevo Herald”, Delgado wrote, “suggest that the Venezuelan opposition, organized under the auspices of the Democratic Uni-

Earlier this year, right-wing conservative Roger Noriega voiced similar frustration with the Venezuelan opposition, writing that in the context of Chavez’s current medical leave the opposition “is virtually invisible”. Noriega, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs during the W. Bush Administration, suggested that “the putative opposition leaders could capture some relevance if they were to reject Cuban interventionism and demand that the regime come clean about Chavez’s condition”. Interestingly, recent opposition strategy has done just that. Opposition lawmakers are now making daily claims that Cuba controls the Chavez administration and, late last week, a group of right-wing students chained themselves outside of the Cuban Embassy in Caracas demanding an update on the President’s health.

Friday, February 22, 2013 | Nº 147 | Caracas |


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

Opinion T/ Mark Weisbrot P/ AFP


afael Correa won last Sunday’s presidential election in Ecuador by a landslide and will continue in office with another four year presidential term. It’s not hard to see why. Unemployment fell to 4.1 percent by the end of last year – a record low for at least 25 years. Poverty has fallen by 27 percent since 2006. Public spending on education has more than doubled, in real (inflation- adjusted) terms. Increased health care spending has expanded access to medical care, and other social spending has also increased substantially, including a vast expansion of government-subsidized housing credit. If all that sounds like it must be unsustainable, it’s not. Interest payments on Ecuador’s public debt are less than 1 percent of GDP, which is quite small; and the public debt to GDP ratio is a modest 25 percent. The Economist, which doesn’t much care for any of the left governments that now govern the vast majority of South America, attributes Correa’s success to “a mixture of luck, opportunism and skill”. But it was really the skill that made the difference. Correa may have had luck, but it wasn’t good luck: he took office in January of 2007 and the next year Ecuador was one of the hardest hit countries in the hemisphere by the international financial crisis and world recession. That’s because it was heavily dependent on remittances from abroad (e.g. workers in the United States and Spain), and oil exports, which made up 62 percent of export earnings and 34 percent of government revenue at the time. Oil prices collapsed by 79 percent in 2008 and remittances also crashed. The combined effect on Ecuador’s economy was comparable to the collapse of the US housing bubble, which gave us the Great Recession. And Ecuador also had the bad luck of not having its own currency (it had adopted the US dollar in 2000) – which means it couldn’t use the exchange rate or the kind of monetary policy that our Federal Reserve deployed, in order to counteract the recession. But Ecuador

Rafael Correa’s Victory

Ecuador’s new deal: Nothing succeeds like success

navigated the storm with a mild recession that lasted three quarters; a year later it was back at its pre-recession level of output and on its way to the achievements that made Correa one of the most popular presidents in the hemisphere. How did they do it? Perhaps most important was a large fiscal stimulus in 2009, about 5 percent of GDP (if only we had done that here in the US). A big part of that was construction, with the

government expanding housing credit by $599 million in 2009, and continuing large credits through 2011. But the government also had to reform and re-regulate the financial system in order to make things work. And here they embarked on what is possibly the most comprehensive financial reform of any country in the 21st century. The government took control over the Central Bank, and forced it to bring

back about $2 billion of reserves held abroad. This was used by the public banks to make loans for infrastructure, housing, agriculture, and other domestic investment. They put taxes on money leaving the country, and required banks to keep 60 percent of their liquid assets inside the country. They pushed real interest rates down, while bank taxes were increased. The government renegotiated agreements with for-

eign oil companies when prices rose. Government revenue rose from 27 percent of GDP in 2006 to over 40 percent last year. The Correa administration also increased funding to the “popular and solidarity” part of the financial sector – cooperatives, credit unions, and other member-based organizations. Co-op loans tripled in real terms between 2007 and 2012. The end result of these and other reforms was to move the financial sector more toward something that would serve interests of the public, instead of the other way around (as in the US). To this end the government also separated the financial sector from the media -- the banks had owned most of the major media before Correa was elected -- and introduced anti-trust reforms. Of course, the conventional wisdom is that such “business unfriendly” practices as renegotiating oil contracts, increasing the size and regulatory authority of government, increasing taxes and placing restrictions on capital movements, is a sure recipe for economic disaster. Ecuador also defaulted on a third of its foreign debt after an international commission found that portion to have been illegally contracted. And the “independence” of the Central Bank, which Ecuador revoked -- is considered sacrosanct by most economists today. But Correa, a Ph.D. economist, knew when it is best to ignore the majority of the profession. Correa has gotten some bad press for going against the conventional wisdom and – perhaps worse in the eyes of the business press -- succeeding. The worst media assault came when Ecuador offered asylum to Wikileaks journalist Julian Assange. But here, as with economic policy and financial reform, Correa was right. It was obvious, especially after the UK government made an unprecedented threat to invade Ecuador’s embassy, that this was a case of political persecution. How rare, and refreshing, for a politician to stand firm against such powerful forces – the United States and its allies in Europe, and in the international media – for the sake of principle. But Correa’s tenacity and courage has served his country well.

English Edition Nº 147  

President Hugo Chavez Returns Home, Venezuela Celebrates

English Edition Nº 147  

President Hugo Chavez Returns Home, Venezuela Celebrates