Page 1

Free laptops for kids Canaima laptops have now been distributed to over 2.8 million Venezuelan school children, according to Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Manuel Fernandez. Speaking on Monday, Fernandez praised the Canaima Program for improving technological literacy among primary school students. Launched in 2009, the Canaima Program provides free laptops to schoolchildren for study purposes. The child-friendly Canaima laptops are mostly imported from Portugal, as part of an oil deal signed in mid-2009. Pg. 4



Venezuelan opposition Rrallies to destabilize the country page 8

The shadow of Chile falls on Venezuela page 7

Friday, November 15, 2013 | Nº 183 | Caracas |

ENGLISH EDITION/The artillery of ideas

Venezuela wages war on economic sabotage and speculation

Urban renewal saves Caracas

In a move designed to combat usury and price gouging by private venders around the country, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the national government to intervene in a number of electronic and appliance retail outlets last weekend. The measure marks an escalation in the socialist government's offensive against unscrupulous businesses owners who have abused the nation's foreign exchange commission, CADIVI, to reap super profits from the Venezuelan people. Page 2


New book reveals “How Chavez became Chavez” Ignacio Ramonet’s book on Hugo Chavez delves into the former president’s life story. P.5 Integration

ALBA nations condemn US spying The Bolivarian Alliance harshly criticized NSA espionage and violation of sovereignty. P.5

Orinoco Oil Belt to produce 4 million barrels a day by 2019 T/ AVN


A new state-sponsored program to rejuvenate Caracas neighborhoods sees great success. P.3


Venezuela & Uruguay renew ties President Maduro met Tuesday with Uruguay's President Jose 'Pepe' Mujica in Caracas, to reaffirm the continuity of the business and political alliance both nations share. They created a joint venture between Venezuela's electricity company, Corpoelec and Uruguayan Urutransfor and approved the purchase of 60 Uruguayan transformers to strengthen Venezuela's power system. "For us it is an extraordinary moment when we learn from the wisdom that 'Pepe' conveys during conversation. It's a relationship based on openness and true friendship", Maduro said. During the meeting they discussed the importance of the

Union of South American Nations in the coming years, and the improvement of exchange between Latin American nations, which "has to do with efficient response mechanisms", said Mujica.

This is based, he added, on building a complementary economy serving the people of Latin America. "It is not just about selling merchandise but to some extent, helping to transfer knowledge and skills to our people".

By 2019, the Orinoco Oil Belt will be producing four million barrels of oil per day, according to estimates announced on Tuesday by Oil and Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez. “The belt currently produces 1.23 million barrels a day, but in the future, by 2019, we will be producing 4 million barrels a day”, Ramirez said during the opening of the Orinoco Oil Belt International Seminar that is taking place in PDVSA offices in Caracas. Ramirez, who is also President of PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, indicated the over $200 billion was invested in developing the belt. “It is a very important effort and commitment that our mixed enterprises have taken in developing the belt’s reserves. The investments are already there and the process has begun, which is why today there is intense industrial activity [related to] perforation and development in the belt”, he stressed. “This effort will let us meet our production goals and achieve one of our nation’s strategic goals: diversifying the economy and using this immense belt of natural resources located to the north of the Orinoco river as an industrial conglomerate, a new oil and non-oil development that will supply our Republic for the next 200 years”, Ramirez added. The Orinoco Oil Belt, which holds the most reserves of liquid hydrocarbons in the world, is over 55,000 square kilometers in size, of which nearly 12,000 square kilometers are already being used. It is located in the southern parts of the states of Guarico, Anzoategui and Monagas.

2 Impact | .ŽsFriday, November 15, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Venezuelan government ramps up efforts to fight price speculation

T/ COI P/ Presidential Press


n a move designed to combat usury and price gouging by private venders around the country, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the national government to intervene in a number of electronic and appliance retail outlets last weekend. The measure marks an escalation in the socialist government’s offensive against unscrupulous businesses owners who have abused the nation’s foreign exchange commission, CADIVI, to reap super profits from the Venezuelan people. On Friday, the Maduro administration ordered the home appliance chain Daka to lower its prices after finding evidence of cost hikes exceeding, in some cases, more than one thousand percent. Similar actions have been taken against retailers around the nation, obliging stores to remark their products with prices in-line with the acquisition costs of the imported goods being sold. “We, as the national government, are not going to allow for this type of usury targeted at the salaries and Christmas bonuses of the Venezuelan people... They are taking advantage of the cash flow to sell at whatever prices they want”, said Herbert

Garcia, head of a presidential commission created to protect the country’s economy. Various owners of retail outlets have been arrested after official investigations revealed the intentional manipulation of Venezuela’s foreign exchange system. “The managers of these stores have been detained...and will face the Attorney General’s Office. The owners of these businesses have to pay for this theft being carried out against the Venezuelan people... Enough of the abuse of the people”, President Maduro said. The “theft” refers to the manner in which retailers and importers have utilized government financing to enrich themselves.

CADIVI, which issues foreign currency to importers and travellers at what is called a “preferential” rate of 6.3 bolivars to the US dollar, has been transformed over the years into a mechanism for corrupt businesses and dishonest bureaucrats to bleed the country of its international revenue. Since Venezuela exercises strict capital controls, a policy enacted in 2003, the national government is charged with allocating dollars to the import/ export sector and overseeing the disbursement of currencies to Venezuelans abroad. The measure is intended to provide the country with goods at affordable prices while at the same time protecting the na-

tion’s financial sector from irrational capital flight and economic sabotage. However, beneath the official system managed by CADIVI, there has arisen a illegal parallel market for the US dollar that sells the currency for up to 10 times the preferential rate of 6.3. Importers have taken advantage of the illegal market and Venezuela’s high inflation to sell the products they acquired through CADIVI at prices up to one thousand times more than their original value. The result has been a major distortion in the cost of imported and domestic goods in the country that ultimately affects the purchasing power of the average Venezuelan.

THE BOURGEOISIE ARE THE LOOTERS Some residents took advantage of last weekend’s interventions to loot a number of appliance stores in the central state of Carabobo. The ransacking was quelled by the National Guard and quickly denounced by the national government, which has called on the population to exercise calm as Venezuela’s consumer protection agency, INDEBAPIS, continues its work. “What we have done in the past 24 hours is just the tip of the iceberg of what we are going

to do to protect the Venezuelan people”, President Maduro said of the government’s actions on Saturday. Attributing the looting to “desperation” in the people, the head of state urged the population to not engage in provocations that will taint the process of price adjustments that are providing greater access to commercial goods for residents. “[The opposition] has begun to say that ‘Maduro is a looter’. I’m not a looter and neither are the Venezuelan people. The looters are the bourgeoisie”, he charged. On Sunday night, the Venezuelan President announced that further measures would be taken to end price speculation in the retail automotive, food, shoe, textile, hardware and toy sectors. Maduro also declared that his government intends to push for tougher sentencing on those found to be in violation of the law while setting maximum profit limits on venders. “We will establish obligatory limits on profit margins just as there are in every country in the world. We will continue to strengthen [consumer protection] agencies for all of the products that have been prioritized”, he affirmed. According to socialist congressman Jesus Faria, Venezuelan business owners enjoy some of the highest profits in the world. Faria blames corruption and organized crime, backed by powerful economic players, for the exaggerated price hikes. “The behavior of the Venezuelan business owner has been to pillage the country, take foreign exchange, and put the prices at their maximum levels”, the lawmaker said on Saturday. The idea is not to eliminate the private sector, Faria commented, but to regulate it in service of the people. “The private sector doesn’t bother me but if the private sector is designed to attack the people, then it’s no compatible [with socialism]. We are interested in developing the private sector so that it generates employment, income and well-being”, he explained. For his part, President Maduro vowed to continue to confront what he has called an “economic war” being waged against his government and the Venezuelan people. “Business owners better adjust themselves to the law because we are going to impregnate the entire national territory with justice in the next 15 days. This economic war has to end”, he said.

.ŽsFriday, November 15, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Urban renewal program advances in Caracas neighborhoods

guez who was present for the launch. President Maduro referred to the mission’s corridors as “conglomerations that bind various communities together in order to consolidate a holistic urban transformation and have an impact for as many families as possible”. In Catia, the government has planned the construction of 212 new homes as well as the

parts industries in order to "back them in all that they need so that there is sufficient supply and fair prices". Members of the transportation unions present for Tuesday's march further proposed that the government create a chain of publicly owned car dealerships and replacement parts stores in order to ensure the availability of merchandise at affordable prices. "Transport workers could obtain replacement parts up to 60 percent less than the prices that are being charged in the

street", said the President of the National Urban Transportation Fund (FONTUR) Jose Bernando. Bernando mentioned that two such retail outlets have been established in the states of Aragua and Anzoategui and that a number of other dealerships are currently planned to open by the end of the year. "At the end of this month, we could have 6 suppliers up and running so that in 2014, we are able to provide for 100 thousand transportation workers", the FONTUR President reported.


of the works, defending the program from outside threats, and boosting productive enterprises in the city’s neighborhoods. “We are undertaking a farreaching social planning process with the communities”, he said. Barrio Nuevo, Barrio Tricolor will also be linked to other social programs created by Venezuela’s socialist government to provide employment, housing,

health care, and security for the nation’s population. Eleven geographic “corridors” have been established in the capital district to prioritize the program’s work, two of which were set in motion on Saturday in Catia. “Today we are activating corridors number two and three which correspond to the neighborhood of Sucre in Catia”, said Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodri-


creation of various pedestrian walkways, sports complexes and health clinics. The works will be carried out in conjunction with the different community councils of the area. Officials report that 79,000 families will benefit from the initiative. “This experience is going to be multiplied in all urban zones and neighborhoods”, Mayor Rodriguez affirmed. For residents, the opportunities to trade-in their precariously built residences for new, dignified homes has been a welcomed change. 80 year-old Caracas resident Gladys Coba is one of the first in the area to have received aid from the government program after her home was considered unfit for habitation. “It was really bad and had a lot of leaks. One day I was in the small dinning room and it was raining. A piece of concrete fell from the roof and landed on my foot. When the engineers came from the Mayor’s Office, they told me that it was impossible to repair and that the house had to be torn down”, she explained during a televised broadcast on Saturday. Coba was provided with a new home with two floors and seven bedrooms. “I’m grateful to God, Comandante Chavez, President Nicolas Maduro, and Mayor Jorge Rodriguez. Without them, none of this would have been possible”, she said.

T/ COI P/ Presidential Press enezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was in attendance last Saturday for the launch of the second phase of the urban renewal program Mission Barrio Nuevo, Barrio Tricolor in the Caracas sector of Catia. The mission, which seeks to improve living conditions for residents in run-down areas, has been organized along geographic lines and includes five strategic points that, Maduro said, will transform the nation’s sprawling slums into thriving neighborhoods. “Tourists from around the world are going to come to see Caracas’ neighborhoods. They are going to be tourist centers made up of physical beauty”, the head of state commented during a meeting with local residents. While addressing the public, Maduro outlined the program’s organizational scheme which includes promoting community assemblies, fostering the democratic planning of public works, ensuring comprehensive logistics for the execution

| Politics

Venezuelan President announces creation of new transportation mission T/ COI P/ Presidential Press


ontinuing his government's fight against price speculation and the reaping of superprofits by private business owners, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of a new social program on Tuesday to protect the nation's consumers and small business owners. Mission Transportation, the head of state informed, will ensure that Venezuela's automotive sector is shielded against dodgy business practices and will ultimately guarantee access to cars and replacement parts for the The program's creation was proposed by transportation workers and announced following a march of more than 15,000 Maduro supporters in Caracas who are backing the socialist

government's efforts to end the economic sabotage currently under way in Venezuela. "Today more than ever the people are in the street, supporting Nicolas Maduro, supporting the economic measures that are being taken. The transportation workers are with this government", said demonstrator Manuel Montanes at the rally. During his address, President Maduro urged the public to continue backing his administration's new measures, which have been implemented to curb artificially inflated prices and contrived shortages of basic products in the country. "I'm asking the people to understand our plan and for their maximum collaboration, consciousness and patience. We're going to progressively heal the economy from sabotage", the Venezuelan President said.

With respect to the new mission, Maduro informed that the focus of the government's efforts would be placed on private wholesalers who are receiving foreign exchange from the government at a preferential rate in order to import commodities. Those goods are then being sold at exorbitant costs to the people and small businesses "Just as we are protecting consumers, we're going to be strict with the wholesalers who receive preferential dollars and then sell overpriced merchandise to the small and mediumsized vender. We guarantee that we are with you. Enough of the theft", Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, told the crowd. The head of state informed that his first step would be to meet with representatives of the manufacturing and auto

4 Economy | .ŽsFriday, November 15, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Free Canaima laptops for 2.8 million Venezuelan school children T/ Ryan Mallett-Outtrim P/ Agencies


anaima laptops have now been distributed to over 2.8 million Venezuelan school children, according to Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Manuel Fernandez. Speaking to state broadcaster VTV on Monday, Fernandez praised the Canaima Program for improving technological literacy among primary school students. “The program has continued to grow, it’s a wonderful idea of Comandante [Hugo] Chavez; it’s truly inclusive, concrete socialism, because they’re in the hands of children and families”, said Fernandez. The minister also applauded the work of government institutions involved in the distribution of the laptops. “It’s an inter-agency effort, involving tens of thousands of public servants”, he said. “It’s a party when the Canaimas come to a school”, Fernandez stated. Launched in 2009, the Canaima Program provides free laptops to schoolchildren for study purposes. The childfriendly Canaima laptops are mostly imported from Portugal, as part of an oil deal signed in mid-2009. The machines run on the open source operating system Linux, though most of their educational programs are developed at the National Center for Information Technology (CNTI). While most of the Canaima laptops currently being used by Venezuelan school children were manufactured in Portugal, according to Fernandez 705,000 machines in use were produced in Venezuela. In January, the national government announced plans to increase domestic production of the educational laptops, with a target of 1.2 million units by the end of the year. The Canaimas were originally only distributed to first and second year students, but have now also been handed out to students up to sixth grade, under a second phase of the scheme. This week, Fernandez announced that the rollout of

this second phase of the project had also been completed, and the laptops are now also being delivered to high school students. The minister also stated that a similar initiative would be launched next year for university students. Last month, Minister for Higher Education Pedro Calzadilla announced that from 2014 the government would aim to

provide over two million tablet computers to tertiary students. “This is part of the plan to strengthen education in the country through access to new technologies, it’s intended to ensure continuity from the Canaimas in primary [school] and now in college with tablets, both tools that are produced in our country”, Calzadilla. Fernandez’s announcement came just days after the govern-

ment presented the program to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during its General Conference in Paris last Friday. After addressing the UNESCO conference, Calzadilla told AVN that the international organization had recognized the “importance, achievements and originality” of the Canaima Program.

Allied parties back Maduro’s economic offensive, call for more radical changes T/ Paul Dobson


he political parties allied to the governing Socialist Party backed the economic announcements and actions of President Maduro this week, while at the same time fulfilling their vital role as the voices of internal criticism and the expression of plurality of ideology within the revolutionary process. They called for more extreme measures and tax reforms to accompany the policies announced. Following the occupation and supervised selling of appliances by the National Guard, the political groupings compromising the Great Patriotic Pole, such as the Communist Party of Venezu-

ela (PCV), Redes, Patria Para Todos (PPT), and Tupamaro, all announced their backing of the measures, which they described as “necessary”. National Secretary for PPT, Ilenia Medina, announced that her party “definitely supports the government, which is taking the necessary economic measures to protect consumers”. Among such measures, they applaud the creation of the National Center for Exterior Commerce, which will centralize, organize, and plan the importation of goods, as well as following up on private firms which apply for subsidized foreign currency to import into the private market. “The creation of the National Center seems very import to us”, explained Medina. “It is a

good mechanism which attends to the necessities of the country, struggles against inflation, and adequately manages foreign currencies, not to speculate on prices, but to favor the economic development of the country”. However, the PPT party would have liked to see tax reform among the economic actions announced by Maduro: “We are going to propose a document which we will give into the President, proposing that the productive industrial sector should have their tax burden reduced, acting as a stimulus”. Representative of the Tupamaro party, Ronal Mercado, expressed his “complete” support for the measures, reinforcing that the economic problems are very real: “It’s no lie that you go

“UNESCO officials and others...have appreciated and very positively evaluated what we have done for years with this wonderful project”, Calzadilla said. Calzadilla argued that the distribution of the laptops is part of a larger effort by the Venezuelan government to increase access to information technology, including Internet access. “We received a special award for Venezuela for the Canaima project of Comandante Chavez”, President Nicolas Maduro stated. “Venezuela has recognized the Canaima project as a great educational project for children. We have given an international award at the highest level in the world, we should be proud”, the President said. Calzadilla also used the opportunity to reaffirm Venezuela’s commitment to UNESCO. “We’re making an unprecedented effort to recognize our ancestral traditions, without exclusion”, Calzadilla said. However, while Venezuela reiterated its commitment to the organization, the United States was stripped of its voting rights at this year’s conference. The US lost its vote after missing a two-year deadline to restart contributing to UNESCO. Before Washington suspended donations in 2011 in response to UNESCO’s recognition of Palestine, US funds made up 22% of the organization’s budget.

to the supermarkets and you don’t find certain foodstuffs, but outside you see the street sellers selling the goods, this is a weakness of the government”, he explained. The PCV, the second largest revolutionary party after the ruling PSUV, also expressed their support for the measures, but declared that in their opinion they do not go far enough, and that Maduro should have declared more radical, deeper, structural changes. “The political bureau (of the PCV) expresses its total support for the measures of occupation and supervised selling which the National Executive is doing to hit hard at financial speculation and hoarding”, expressed Oscar Figuera, General Secretary of the PCV. “We consider that the measures announced by the President point in the correct direction, however we consider them to be insufficient”.

.ŽsFriday, November 15, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Spanish journalist presents book on how Chavez became Chavez

Ignacio Ramonet also argued that with the election of President Nicolas Maduro in April,

as well as Caribbean islands Dominica, Antigua and Barbados, and San Vicente and the Grenadines. Collectively, they pronounced that international relations should be based on equality, respect, and sovereignty between nations, and not the aggressive, arrogant, power-mongering characterizing US foreign policy. “No government, however powerful it may be, has the right to stomp over the rights of its own citizens, nor those of the citizens of other countries, intimidating them, violating their privacy, intervening and collecting data about their communications and using this data for commercial, military, and political ends”, read the statement. Recent revelations have shown that Venezuela is one of the most spied-upon countries in the world, due to its vast oil wealth and leftist government. The ALBA bloc called on the UN to take “rapid, firm and

efficient measures to put an end to these acts, to protect the rights of all of the citizens of the world, and put rigorous rules in place to penalize such practices”. In the same terms, the ALBA congratulated the initiative of Germany and Brazil, who have jointly presented a project to the UN to curb and regulate such violations of privacy in the Internet, and to punish the US Government for its abuses in cyberspace. “We salute the initiative presented to the UN by Brazil and Germany, which moves towards the creation of clear rules (for the internet) to protect the rights of all of human beings to privacy and to plainly practice their civil liberties, and we add ourselves to this request to the UN to promote an open system of government which is participative, plural, shared, accessible, and genuinely democratic regarding the internet, for the benefit of the common good”.


The book argues that it was Chavez’s experience of poverty in early life while receiving education from his teacher parents and engaging in a great deal of self-study which formed him into the Chavez that would become the leader of the country’s Bolivarian Revolution.

Ramonet appeared particularly interested in the late President’s intellectual development, highlighting how the young Chavez avidly read on history, politics and philosophy. The Spaniard concluded that despite Chavez’s image in the international media, “He was an unbreakable man; true to

ALBA nations denounce US spying program T/ Paul Dobson


he leftist, anti-imperialist grouping- The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America/Trade Agreement for the People (ALBA-TCP)- issued a collective statement this week, adding their names to the long list of nations that have denounced the US espionage program which has caused so much scandal in recent weeks. The collective statement harshly criticized the violation of human rights by the US Government, and called on the UN to set rules to protect both the Internet and the rights of citizens and nations to privacy. The NSA espionage program, which has been unveiled to the world by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has caused dismay both amongst US allies,

such as Germany, France, and Spain, as well as economic and political adversaries, such as China, Russia, and Iran. ALBA described the NSA espionage against sovereign countries as “a flagrant violation of the human and international rights, an aggression against the sovereignty of the peoples, and an attack against the pacific coexistence between nations”. The statement went on to “categorically reject the existence of an espionage network in the most advanced communications system that human history has seen- which is operated by the agencies of intelligence of the US government”. The regional bloc is made up of anti-imperialist nations including Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador,


Chavez’s political project will continue. According to the journalist, the right-wing opposition thought that the Bolivarian revolution would end with Chavez’s death, and after the election of Nicolas Maduro, have launched a plan to sabotage the economy and achieve that goal. “Because of that, this situation has been created of hoarding, electricity sabotage and difficulties in everyday life. Now the opposition says everything is the government’s fault…it’s exactly the same situation that was created before the military coup against [former Chilean President Salvador] Allende”, he said, while dismissing that a similar coup would happen in Venezuela. Ramonet predicted that progressive politics would continue to predominate in Venezuela and Latin America, arguing that only a few countries in the region were still governed by conservatives. “Thanks to Chavez this country is in the center of Latin American dynamics once again, which curiously hadn’t happened since [Venezuela’s 19th century founder] Simon Bolivar. Venezuela is politically more important than some of the Latin American colossi!” he remarked. The promotional tour for “Hugo Chavez: My First Life”, which was published earlier this year, also includes visiting Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Spain. The book is to be translated to German and Portuguese.

T/ Ewan Robertson P/ Agencies n Monday this week Spanish journalist and antiglobalization intellectual Ignacio Ramonet presented his book on the life of Hugo Chavez to Venezuelan media. The book, titled “Hugo Chavez: My First Life”, narrates the life of the late Venezuelan President from his birth up to when he assumed the country’s top office in 1999. Chavez governed from then until March 5th this year, when he lost his two-year struggle against cancer. During his fifteen-year period of office Chavez introduced sweeping progressive political, social and economic reforms to Venezuelan society. He gained the overwhelming support of the country’s poor and won three reelections as well as several national referenda. However, the domestic conservative opposition and international media painted him as heavy handed and dictatorial. Ramonet’s book on the iconic Latin American leader is based on the editing of a series of interviews held between Chavez and Ramonet from 2008 to 2010. Chavez himself reviewed the book before its publication, and even had a hand in choosing the title. Speaking to Venezuelan media, Ramonet said the book was “not flattering, but sincere”. “When you converse for one hundred hours, you can’t hide anything”, he added. Explaining the motives behind writing the book, the Spanish journalist said, “I wanted in some way to finish with the opinion that existed of President Chavez, because from the outside they made him seem like a tyrant who was uncultured and didn’t know about politics”. Specifically, the book explores Chavez’s political, intellectual and sociological formation, as well as sharing some unique personal anecdotes. Ignacio Ramonet said that he had been impacted by Chavez’s rise from childhood poverty in the rural town of Sabaneta to enter the National Military Academy, from where he would burst onto Venezuela’s political scene.

| Integration

his thoughts, loyal to his people, extraordinary in his thinking, and with great love for his country”.


6 Security | .ŽsFriday, November 15, 2013

The artillery of ideas

T/ COI P/ Agencies


nvestigative journalist Jose Vicente Rangel warned this weekend that extremist members of the Venezuelan right-wing intend to use political violence in ongoing attempts to destabilize the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Just days before campaigning begins for nationwide municipal elections, Rangel cautioned the Venezuelan people that violent extremists frustrated by their failure at the polls may soon return to acts of terrorism. Speaking specifically about opposition spokesman Leopoldo Lopez, Rangel revealed that the 2012 Campaign Coordinator for Henrique Capriles visited a paramilitary training camp while on a recent trip to southern Florida.

JOSE VICENTE WARNS Speaking on his weekly television program this past Sunday, Venezuela’s widelyrespected investigative journalist Jose Vicente Rangel warned that there are elements within the Venezuelan opposition who may use political violence to disrupt municipal elections set for December 8th. In addition to the “economic war” already underway, Rangel affirmed that certain members of the extremist opposition will do “anything” to harm the socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. “They have no scruples in their use of shortages and economic sabotage – strategies that harm the people much more than they do the government”, Rangel affirmed. Speaking to the most extreme of the Venezuelan opposition, Rangel cautioned that the country “has changed a great deal since 2002” when a US-backed military coup successfully ousted democratically-elected President Hugo Chavez. Though the violent ouster of President Chavez lasted only 48 hours, the opposition did succeed in bringing together a short-lived coalition of representatives from the mass media, the church and business community, as well as the armed forces. “The National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) are now shielded against any sort of adventurism”, Rangel explained. “Important sectors of the business community categorically reject repeating errors of the past, people on the street no longer respond to their (the

Journalist warns against extremist violent plans opposition’s) calls, the oil industry is now in the hands of the state, and within the catholic church there have been changes thanks to the new orientations coming out of the Vatican”. “Nevertheless”, he warned, “the extremist opposition doesn’t want to recognize that things are different now. Back then, they had successfully penetrated high-ranking officials in the armed forces, they had tremendous support from the business community, they had the capacity to mobilize people onto the streets, and they controlled (the state-owned oil company) PDVSA”. “They now lack all of those elements”, he said. “There are sectors within the opposition however”, Rangel added, “that believe they are experts on the matter, who pretend not to perceive the difference between then and now, or who prefer to ignore said difference so as not to alter plans already underway and the commitments made by the most naïve of the country’s opposition. That is why some choose not to head warnings”. Calling out to more moderate sectors of the opposition, Ran-

gel offered “one word of advice: Don’t make the same mistake twice. They (radical extremists) are waiting for you down the way”. His mention of “the same mistake” is in reference to the unarmed protestors killed in the run-up to the 2002 coup against President Chavez. On April 11th, 2002, as pro- and anti-Chavez demonstrators marched on downtown Caracas, unidentified snipers opened fire on both crowds, killing 19 and wounding another 60. Though they fled the country before facing trial, the

gunmen are suspected to have been contracted by right-wing elements so as to provoke chaos and deaths, the reasons used by those who backed the 2002 coup.

TARGET PRACTICE In addition to his general warnings about the possible use of violence in the context of next month’s municipal elections, Rangel also revealed that opposition spokesman Leopoldo Lopez recently visited a paramilitary training camp in southern Florida where young Venezuelans are now receiv-

ing military instruction. . Leader of his own right-wing party, “Voluntad Popular” or “Popular Will” in English, and Campaign Coordinator for Henrique Capriles in the October 2012 presidential election, Lopez is said to have offered financial assistance so that an additional 10 Venezuelans be trained in the camps. Venezuelan daily Ultimas Noticias first reported on Lopez’s visit to Miami on November 2nd. In an article describing his public speaking engagements with Venezuelans living in Miami, the paper described how Lopez sought only to “exchange opinions about the situation in Venezuela and invite them to actively participate in the change needed in their country”. According to the paper, Lopez told those gathered at a public event that the opposition plans to “vote and take to the streets” in next month’s municipal elections. “We must vote and at the same time articulate the discontent in diverse sectors of society, thus achieving, in a very short period of time, the change we want for Venezuela”, he said. What Ultimas Noticias didn’t report, perhaps for lack of sources, is that while in Florida Lopez accepted an invitation by Maria Elvira Salazar and Luis Conte Aguero – leaders of the Cuban exile community in Miami – to visit a paramilitary training camp in Los Cayos. According to Jose Vicente Rangel, Lopez visited the camp alongside Conte Aguero and Regulo Semidey Crassus, watching as a group of some 30 people fired weapons at printed images of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Rangel also affirmed that Lopez spoke to the paramilitaries in training, encouraging them to prepare themselves to “defend democracy and liberty in Venezuela”. Lopez’s host, Luis Conte Aguero, is a known confidant of confessed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and is described by the New Times of Miami as “a leading anti-Castro voice in Miami”. Rangel explained that, “Lopez also offered to cover the costs so that 10 additional Venezuelans could receive similar military training, making Conte Aguero the contact person for these actions”. Rangel also warned that plans are now underway in southern Florida to establish a non-governmental organization (NGO) in support of the “victims of Marxist terrorism in Venezuela”.

.ŽsFriday, November 15, 2013

The artillery of ideas

T/ COI P/ Agencies


n the context of ongoing attempts to destabilize the Venezuelan government, members of the country’s USbacked opposition protested this weekend against what they called the “dictatorship” of democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro. Responding to anti-government messaging disseminated across social media, members of the opposition demonstrated in a handful of cities across Venezuela. Part of a strategy aimed at achieving “social discontent” and altering the electoral tide before mayoral elections early next month, the protests included vague calls for “a new president” and “an end to crisis”.

Opposition rallies look to destabilize country, elections

RALLYING IN CONTEXT As was recently revealed by investigative journalist Eva Golinger, Venezuela’s USbacked opposition is currently carrying out a series of events aimed at “debilitating the government before the December 8 municipal elections”. These elections, in which all of the country’s 377 mayoralties are up for grabs, are the first since Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro defeated opposition hopeful Henrique Capriles in the unexpected presidential election of April 2013. In December 2012, as widely-popular Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez fought his final battle with a deadly and resurgent cancer, pro-Chavez candidates won 20 of 23 governorships. In April 2013, a month after Chavez lost his life, pro-Chavez socialist candidate, Nicolas Maduro, was elected president for the rest of the 2013-2019 period. In response to their repeated electoral defeats, anti-Chavez forces elaborate a strategy titled the “Strategic Venezuelan Plan”. Prepared by right-wing leaders from within the Venezuelan opposition – including Maria Corina Machado, Julio Borges, Ramon Guillermo Avelado, and J.J. Rendon – the plan was developed in June of this year with the assistance of Mark Feierstein, Director for Latin America at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), ex Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Internationalism Foundation, and the US consulting firm FTI Consulting. Revealed last week by Golinger, the plan includes a

series of objectives “essentially geared towards the municipal elections set for December 8, while at the same time including the accelerated deterioration of the government, facilitating an opposition victory for this event”. To achieve said “deterioration”, the plan includes actions aimed at “generating emotion with short messages that reach the largest quantity of people and emphasize social problems, provoking social discontent”. Rallies held this weekend included just that – short messaging targeting President Maduro, demanding unspecified “change”, and insisting that street protests are “the solution” to people’s problems.

TO THE STREETS Though the internet-based messaging that brought protestors to the streets said nothing more than “Enough Already”, demonstrators brought out a typical selection of right-wing rallying cries. Held in a handful of large cities including Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia, and San Cristobal, where the opposition has a significant number of voters, demonstrators held placards that read “we

urgently need a new president”, “change is coming”, and “we are not Cuba”. Opposition daily El Nacional, which spent the entirety of the Chavez period (1999-2013) discrediting his socialist platform, reported that protestors held signs reading “Maduro is not Venezuelan, he’s Colombian” and “out, out, out – to all the street rats”. Both xenophobic and derogatory, these signs were backed by anti-Cuba and anti-communist street chants. Journalist Sofia Nederr, who wrote the El Nacional piece, affirmed that, “banners at the demonstration were directed

at the president’s nationality, at corruption, scarcity, unemployment, the crisis in hospitals, at the entirety of the government’s policies”. Though she failed to specify which policies she, or protestors, were referring to, Nederr cited one student who affirmed, vaguely, “Change is urgently needed to move forward”. “I want change in Venezuela”, the student said. “I want change in all aspects – political change, social change, economic change – economic change in particular”. In a separate quote, published in Ultimas Noticias, a different

| Analysis


protestor said she went to the weekend rally to protest “the human rights violations”. “Maduro is a puppet”, she affirmed, “at the service of Raul Castro”.

FREE OF GUILT? In an interesting shift of opposition maneuvering, and clearly part of the “Strategic Venezuelan Plan”, no formal “leader” of the so-called Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) was present at the weekend event. Instead, right-wing spokesmen such as Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles Radonski went only as far as to make statements expressing their “solidarity” with the demonstrators. Leopoldo Lopez, through his party, “Voluntad Popular” or “Popular Will” in English, said he supported the “grassroots, non-violent demonstrators that have come out to transform Venezuela”. Capriles, meanwhile, sent out a Twitter message praising the “peaceful protests”. According to Miami-based El Nuevo Herald, the Saturday rally “included strong messages against the major leaders of the opposition for having shown weakness”. “The demonstration”, it explained, “was held to show Maduro, as well as the opposition leadership, that their time is up – to show that the way out is by taking to the streets”. The “Strategic Venezuelan Plan” states specifically that the opposition should create “situations of crisis in the streets that will facilitate US intervention, as well as NATO forces, with the support of the Colombian government”. “Whenever possible”, it reads, “violence should result in deaths or injuries”. According to President Maduro, who spoke about the protests late Saturday, proChavez forces “know what kind of election numbers to expect from the opposition”. “However”, he explained, “they are now calling for marches without leadership, blocking traffic, etc. The financing for these protests is coming out of Miami, the demonstrators aren’t specifically linked to anyone in the opposition, and this makes them dangerous”. “They tried setting the streets ablaze”, Maduro said. “They didn’t achieve their objectives and they never will”.

Friday, November 15, 2013 | Nº 183 | Caracas |


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


The shadow of Chile falls on Venezuela T/ Francisco Dominguez


he mayoral elections campaign has seen an increase in economic sabotage aimed at incapacitating the government of President Nicolas Maduro and, says Francisco Dominguez, presents a threat not unlike that faced decades ago by Salvador Allende in Chile. Mayoral elections are to be held in Venezuela on December 8. Every mayoralty will be contested and, as is the case in Venezuela’s vibrant democracy, both the right-wing coalition and Chavista candidates are busily campaigning up and down the country. These municipal elections take place in a very different context to recent elections in Venezuela - they will be the first held since the death of Hugo Chavez. They are also the first following the violent response of the right-wing opposition to the presidential election in April. Venezuela’s anti-democratic opposition used the close election results to try to unseat the elected government of Nicolas

Maduro. They alleged fraud but failed to provide any evidence. Nonetheless, their leader Henrique Capriles encouraged opposition supporters to “vent their anger”. A wave of violence followed resulting in the death of 13 innocent people as well as the burning of vehicles, attacks on health centers, national electoral council buildings and houses of prominent members of the government. The opposition also attempted to internationalize its false claim of fraud. Its political leaders travelled around the world linking up with right-wing politicians such as Jovino Novoa, senator for Chile’s extreme right Union Democratica Independiente (UDI). The establishment of UDI was encouraged and assisted by Pinochet’s dictatorship. Novoa notoriously served as general government undersecretary of the military dictatorship between 1979-1982. This link with the Chilean right-wing makes sense. The opposition in Venezuela is at the moment - just like its counterparts in Chile 40 years ago - waging economic war as a strategy to destabilize and

bring down the government of President Maduro. They are organizing shortages of vital food and other day-to-day essentials, carrying out sabotage attacks against key facilities such as electricity plants, the metro and oil refineries. All this echoes the strategy of President Nixon in Chile designed to “make the economy scream” to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him”. As in Chile, they have unleashed psychological warfare in the media to sow confusion and despair among the poorest and most vulnerable as well as the middle classes. The West’s mainstream media readily and uncritically lends support to this campaign. In October alone the Washington Post ran an editorial headlined Venezuela, On The Path To Implosion, the Miami Herald right on cue announced Desperation In Venezuela and the FT followed with Chaos In Caracas. Foreign Policy magazine ran a piece called Is The US Ready For A Venezuelan Meltdown?

Just as with the ousting of the democratically elected Salvador Allende in Chile the influence of the US looms large in Venezuela. Key bodies of the US foreign policy apparatus are very actively intervening in the internal affairs of the country by channelling millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into opposition political, social and media coffers. President Maduro has denounced the destabilization efforts saying that the Venezuelan right-wing is not campaigning for elections but is instead focused on “insurrection”. Former vice-president Jose Vicente Rangel - now a well respected journalist - warned of “a terrorist agenda of the opposition seeking to selectively assassinate Chavista leaders, ministers and high military officers, as well as terrorist attacks against the metro (underground), cable cars, state oil company installations, water supplies, supermarkets and electric installations”. Maduro has explained that extremists in the opposition are seeking a “total collapse”,

exploiting difficulties in the Venezuelan economy to create chaos or, at the very least, to give the strong impression of it among anxious sections of society. It hopes to provoke a “social explosion” that could see the government ousted. In that context, one major concern is the recent statement by 45 Venezuelan retired military officers - including a dozen generals and admirals and a former defense minister - supporting a military intervention to replace the Maduro government which they claimed “would not be a coup d’état” but “defending sovereignty.” The opposition is characterizing the mayoral elections as a plebiscite against the Maduro government. They are seeking to popularize the idea that a setback for Maduro must lead to a new government. This is a baseless line of argument as the pro-Chavista forces have a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, 20 out of 23 state governors and 22 of 23 local state assemblies as well as just having just won a six-year presidential term for Maduro. Furthermore, recent polls indicate that the government coalition will win a majority of the mayors. In coming weeks calls from anti-democratic sections of the opposition for an end to the Maduro government are likely to get ever more shrill and should they, and their external sponsors, be able to carry out their plans successfully it would lead to a severe setback to democracy and social progress in Venezuela. As in Chile 40 years ago, we would see the rise of a vicious regime trampling on all the democratic, social, political and economic rights that the Venezuelan majority secured over the past 15 years. In Chile, Pinochet’s dictatorship lasted 17 years and an estimated 10,000 people were killed. So the stakes are very high in Venezuela. A setback there would be a massive blow to progress in the whole of Latin America. Global solidarity with the elected government of Venezuela is vital. As Martin Luther King once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.

English Edition N° 183  

Venezuela wages war on economic sabotage and speculation

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you