Pg. 7 | Analysis
Pg. 8 | Opinion
Dan Kovalik on why the US should not The US government continues to play a key, ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia interventionist role in the events unfolding in Egypt
FRIDAY | February 4th, 2011 | No. 50| Bs 1 | CARACAS
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
Celebrating 12 years of Revolution in Venezuela Universal healthcare, accessible, free education and community organization are achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution
Promoting food sovereignty
Despite major threats, risks, setbacks and errors, the Bolivarian Revolution, led by President Hugo Chavez, has made extraordinary advances during the past 12 years in Venezuela. Poverty has been reduced by more than 50%, communities have been organized nationwide and empowered with key roles in national policies and economic development and diversification of trade partners and industry has increased exponentially.
A new program directed at developing domestic agricultural production in the country has enlisted more than 150,000 farmers and local producers to work together, with public and private funding, to rebuild Venezuela’s weak agricultural industry. The Chavez administration has made food security and sovereignty a key priority of his government, seeking ways to avoid the affects of the world food crisis, reduce imports and diversify national industries.
Venezuela calls for “nonintervention” in Egypt Denouncing US interference, President Chavez urged the Egyptian people determine their own destiny.
Achievements of the Revolution A rise in national conscienceness and organization amongst Venezuelan people is a major achievement of the Bolivarian Revolution.
Human rights progress in Venezuela Increased access to healthcare, education, nutrition and political participation in Venezuela advance human rigths.
For now, forever
Venezuelan president Chavez’s support at over 54%
upport for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s response to the flood emergency provoked last year by heavy rainfall is very high, and his general support has increased slightly, according to the latest polls by the Social Investigation Group XXI (GIS). The GIS investigation, titled “Barometer of management and political situation”, was based on 2500 interviews distributed proportionally according to voter numbers across all of Venezuela’s 24 states. It was conducted in early January 2011.
When asked to rank the “three main problems in the country”, 72.7% of respondents selected insecurity or crime, 37.0% selected unemployment, 28.1% selected inflation or cost of living and 21.1% selected housing. The GIS report observed that crime and insecurity has been perceived as the main problem for a long time, but that since August 2010 the number of people selecting it has dropped 4%. Few Venezuelans feel that the new composition of the national assembly, with an increased number of opposi-
tion legislators following elections in September last year, will change the political situation of the country. 29.2% said that nothing will change, 24.4% said it will change “a lot” and 22.4% said it would change it “a little”. When asked about the general performance of President Hugo Chavez over the last year, 54% of respondents said it was very good or good, 21.4% said it was regular, and 21.8% said it was bad or very bad. According to GIS, that approval percentage is up 1.6% from October last year.
ineteen years ago, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Venezuelan Army led a military rebellion to overthrow the corrupt and murderous government headed by Carlos Andres Perez, a staunch US ally. The Commander of the rebellion, Hugo Chavez, a skinny, charismatic idealist, failed in his attempt and went to prision for the uprising, spending two years in a jail cell - most of it writing his dreams for the future. But on that fateful February 4, 1992, Hugo Chavez became a national hero for many. As his military uprising fell apart, Chavez did something unheard of in Venezuela - he took responsibility for his failure, and he did so on national television. Shocked Venezuelans nationwide, used to politicians who fled abroad from any accusation of wrongdoing, and who constantly shunned responsibility and tried to pawn accountability on others for their own actions, were appeased by the Lieutenant Colonel, who not only publicly claimed responsibility for the failed rebellion, but also gave hope with two words: por ahora (for now). “For now, our objectives have not been met”, declared Chavez, planting a seed of hope for many that he would be back to participate in the future of his country. Six years later, he became President.
2 | Impact
NoÊxäÊUÊFriday, February 4th, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Twelve years of Revolution: transforming Venezuela This week Venezuela celebrated the 12th anniversary of the Bolivarian Revolution and the inauguration of President Chavez into the position he has held to date, reelected twice with landslide victories. The achievements have been extraordinary, and the challenges immense, but overall, Venezuelans support the changes their country has undertaken during the past decade
hese have been twelve solid years of Revolution for us”, declared President Chavez during a whirlwind of activities on Wednesday, February 2, in commemoration of the Bolivarian Revolution. “But this is a Revolution of centuries, we are merely continuing what was begun by our founding fathers”, he added. President Chavez was elected in December 1998 and sworn in to office for the first time on February 2, 1999. He was reelected in 2000 after a new constitution was ratified in a popular referendum, making new presidential elections mandatory, and again in 2006, with a landslide majority of over 64%. Chavez has announced his candidacy again for the 2012 presidential elections. Terms are six years in Venezuela for the presidency, with option to run again without limits.
A DECADE OF ACHIEVEMENTS Poverty reduction, universal, free healthcare and accessible, quality education were the main achievements celebrated by Venezuelans nationwide, and internationally, this week. When Chavez first took office in 1999, poverty in Venezuela neared 80%. His government’s policies have reduced that figure dramatically, to less than 25%. “I will not rest until misery is eliminated in our country”, declared the Venezuelan head of state, reiterating his principal goal of providing all
Events are also being held for the important date of February 4th - the day when a military uprising led by then Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez in 1992 attempted to unseat the vastly unpopular and neoliberal government of Carlos Andres Perez.
Venezuelans with a “good standard of living”. “We may not all be rich, but there is no justification for allowing misery and poverty in our country”, he rationalized. On Wednesday, President Chavez began the day at a local school, celebrating the extraordinary advances his administration has made in education, including the construction of thousands of new schools and the inclusion of students’ voices in curricula and educational policies. “We are the voices of the future”, declared one junior high student at the event with the Venezuelan President. “We want to participate to create student unions and organizations that work together with our government to enact policies that advance our rights and educational opportunities”, he commented. Later in the afternoon, Chavez visited an Integral Diagnostic Clinic, one of hundreds of advanced medical care facilities built by the Revolution. “Now there is healthcare for all in Venezuela...Not one Venezuelan hasn’t benefited from Barrio Adentro [the name of the healthcare mission]...” The program, Barrio Adentro, was created with the help of the Cuban government and Cuban medical personnel, who have administered unprecedented aid to the Venezuelan people to provide medical care for free, with quality and personal attention.
Ending the day, President Chavez held an event in the presidential palace, Miraflores, with representatives of the People’s Power - the essence of the Bolivarian Revolution. “It’s extraordinary and incredible to see communities now organizing to build their own homes and create their own cooperatives and communal businesses...This is an achievement of the Revolution”, declared Chavez. Former Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, now a journalist with an influential weekly television show on private media, also attended the event as a special guest. “There is no other option for Venezuela except revolution”, declared Rangel, also urging President Chavez to “dialogue” and conduct real politics by “listening to all sides”. Chavez heeded the call and also implored others to do the same. “Real politicking requires dealing with all forces and all those involved...this is what we need to do for our country”, he declared. REBELLIOUS FEBRUARY To mark a series of important dates in the Bolivarian Revolution’s calendar, President Chavez’s party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) organized a range of activities this week, commemorating what is being called “Rebellious February”. On Tuesday, an event in the Tuy Valley in the state of Miranda
celebrated the 194th anniversary of the birth of General Ezequiel Zamora, the 19th century agrarian reform leader who called for land redistribution to small farmers throughout the country. Zamora is regarded as the inspiration behind Venezuela’s current agricultural reforms, which seek to provide land for those who work it and strengthen food sovereignty in the country. On Wednesday, general mobilizations by the nation’s social movements and political activists were carried out in support of the PSUV’s revolutionary program and to celebrate 12 years since the arrival of Hugo Chavez to the presidency. International rallies and events were also held in some 70 countries around the world in support of the Chavez administration and Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. “These have been 12 years of revolution, of democracy, of participation and quality of life. Twelve years of concern for the problems of the people and an extremely high dedication to the permanent defense of democracy and the constitution. Twelve years of victory after victory”, PSUV lawmaker Dario Vivas declared on Monday. On Thursday, an event was held in the state of Sucre to commemorate the 216th anniversary of the birth of independence leader Antonio Jose de Sucre.
PSUV DEBATES Venezuela’s largest and most dominant political organization, The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), continued with its rounds of debates and discussions this week, revising its national strategic plan in preparation for regional and presidential elections in 2012. The PSUV, which boasts an official membership of more than 7 million citizens, has been engaging in forums and feedback sessions with party officials and grassroots activists regarding regional coordination and alliances with other leftist organizations to boost the party’s base. According to PSUV representative, Dario Vivas, the exchanges have been designed to incorporate all viewpoints democratically as to enable the formulation of a national plan to be implemented in the coming months. “This is not a debate that is going to be lost in space”, Vivas said on Tuesday. “On the contrary, we have been collecting, through various instruments, all the proposals, initiatives and reflections that all those who have participated [in the sessions] have contributed”. Thousands of party members have attended the meetings which have centered on five strategic lines outlined by PSUV president and President of the Republic, Hugo Chavez. The lines include strengthening the party’s communication with the public, instilling a socialist ethic in contrast to capitalist values, improving internal democracy in the movement, promoting popular power, and forming a coalition of various leftist political tendencies in what is referred to as the Great Patriotic Pole (Gran Polo Patriotico). T/ Eva Golinger and Edward Ellis P/ Presidential Press
NoÊxäÊUÊFriday, February 4th, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Venezuela’s Chavez calls for non-interference in Egypt President Hugo Chavez made statements in reaction to the uprising in Egypt, warning of US interference and attempts to “divide” the Arab world and impose its own agenda, against the will of the Egyptian people
n reaction to the protests in Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak, who has led Egypt for 29 years, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez criticized US “meddling” in the issue, and expressed solidarity with the “Arab world”. So far, according to medical sources, there have been over 100 deaths in Egypt, resulting from police repression. “We call for peace, and hope the people of Egypt, the Arabic people, search for the path to peace, understanding, progress, and unity of the Arabic world”, Chavez said on Saturday, saying he was worried about the situation in Egypt, especially since one of the aims of “North American imperialism... and its allies, has been to divide the Arabic world”. “The people are fighters and they have imposed tyrannical and dictatorial governments on them”, he continued. “[The US] is scared of a united Arabic world”. The Venezuelan government
he Miami-based lawyer representing former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide says the Haitian government has agreed to issue a diplomatic passport to the ousted leader. Ira Kurzban told reporters that he was notified of Haiti’s decision last week. He said he sent a letter to Haitian authorities requesting that Aristide’s passport be “issued immediately”, and that plans for his return commence immediately. “To expedite this matter, President Aristide’s passport
“desires peace and we’ll be with you, Arabic brothers”, he said. Chavez repeated his statements later in the week, as the revolts continued in Egypt, emphasizing that the “sovereignty of these countries [Egypt and Tunisia] be respected” because “declarations are emerging from Washington and from other countries in Europe... it’s shameful... to see the interference of the United States, wanting to take control”, he said. US officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have publically urged “an orderly transition to democracy in Egypt to avoid a power vacuum” and have not called on Mubarak to step down. However, the Tehran Times reported an anonymous tip that “Two senior Israeli officers and three US generals have arrived in Cairo to take control of the military command in Egypt”. The Mubarak government is one of the few governments in the Middle East to have very close ties with both the US and Israel, making it of strategic importance. The Venezuelan government however has openly criticized Israel’s attacks on Palestine. RESPECT FOR SOVEREIGNTY “We don’t want to meddle [in Egypt’s business], but we demand that the sovereignty of [Egypt and Tunisia] is respected and we hope to god that they find a peaceful solution, peaceful agreements, within the legal
framework of each country”, Chavez exclaimed. He said he was confident that in Egypt they will “know how to find the route to harmony, justice, and wellbeing, using their own methods”. A press release from Venezuela’s foreign affairs office stated that President Chavez had spoken with, “the main political leaders in the Middle East...to exchange points of view on the momentous events occurring in the region”. The Venezuelan President held talks with Libya’s President Mohamar Gaddafi and Syrian head of state Bashar Al Assad.
Finally, on Saturday he said it was important to “be careful” when making statements about the revolts since a lot of “contradictory information” is coming out about the situation in Egypt. PROTESTS IN CARACAS On Friday there was a peaceful occupation of the Egyptian Embassy in Caracas. Some Egyptian-Venezuelans entered the Embassy saying they were going to request some documents, but once inside, they occupied it. The Egyptian ambassador in Caracas requested help from the Venezuelan government.
Explaining the incident, President Chavez said he told the Minister for Interior Affairs, Tareck El Aissami, that they should dialogue with the protestors. “A young [leader of the protestors] spoke with [Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolas] Maduro and said they would leave [the Embassy] for Chavez, as respect for Chavez and the Venezuelan people, although they wanted to protest, but it wasn’t necessary to do it like that”, Chavez implored. The protesters told RNV they were in Venezuela because here they could have “complete freedom and work...something that is very difficult to obtain in Egypt”. Yahya Zakaria, an ex-worker in the Embassy, told Telesur that the protest was in solidarity with the people of Egypt as “they are being massacred in the streets of Egypt”. Following the protest, Maduro also talked to the press, expressing his frustration that the United States “tries to involve itself in everything that goes on in the world. Every day they declare and interfere in internal issues of other countries”. A survey conducted in May 2009 found that people in Egypt, Saudia Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates named Hugo Chavez as the world leader (outside their own country) they most admired. T/ Tamara Pearson www.venezuelanalysis.com
Aristide to return to Haiti may be delivered to the government of South Africa or to me”, Kurzban wrote in a letter addressed to two Haitian government officials. A senior Haitian government official, under the direction of President Rene Preval, told reporters that the government was prepared to issue a new passport to Aristide “without delay”. Political observers say the decision is a significant reversal for Preval, who had refused Aristide’s request for a passport
for years, primarily in response to international pressure. Aristide, the Roman Catholic priest who became Haiti’s first democratically-elected president in 1990, was ousted from power twice. The last time was in 2004, under intense pressure by the United States and the threat of invasion by armed insurgents. Since then, Aristide and his supporters have made numerous public appeals asking officials to allow him to return to Haiti.
Those appeals intensified two weeks ago when the former Haitian dictator Jean Claude Duvalier managed a surprise return home, ending 25 years in exile in France. The United States and several other countries, including France and Canada, which provide millions of dollars in support to Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest country, have expressed concern that Aristide’s return could destabilize the country as it struggles to resolve a hotly-contested presi-
dential election, which has been subject to enormous pressures from Washington. Kurzban said Aristide wants to return as “a private citizen, to help his country”. Kurzban’s request comes after Aristide wrote a January 19 letter in which he reiterated his interest in returning to Haiti after he was forced into exile in South Africa by the US during the Washington-backed 2004 coup d’etat. T/ Agencies
4 | Politics
NoÊxäÊUÊFriday, February 4th, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Causes unknown in explosion in ammunitions deposit The Venezuelan government is conducting a full investigation into the causes of a massive explosion in the country’s main ammunitions deposit, CAVIM, which occurred early Sunday morning and frightened residents in surrounding areas. President Chavez suspected sabotage of the facility may have been a factor in the dangerous incident
en thousand residents of the city of Maracay in the central state of Aragua were temporarily evacuated from their homes in response to a sudden explosion of an arms depot that rocked the city early Sunday morning, leaving one person dead and three others injured. The blast occurred at 4:30 am in the Venezuelan Military Industry Company (CAVIM) of Maracay and lit up the sky as flames engulfed three warehouses, detonating munitions of all types.
Evelyn Marrero, 36-year old mother of three and resident of the area, died while at home from shrapnel projected from the blast. “I very much regret this event, this tragedy”, said President Hugo Chavez during a tour of the affected zone on Sunday. “We’ve lost a fellow Venezuelan, a neighbor of the area…This is the saddest part of everything that has happened”, he said. No immediate cause for the explosion has been determined by Venezuelan authorities, who have launched a full investigation into the incident. Without venturing a hypothesis as to the cause, Chavez referred to the blast as “strange”. “It’s the least that I can say about a fire that takes place at 4 am”, he said. PROTECTING SURROUNDING AREAS Schools have been indefinitely closed and residential areas on the outskirts of the depot have been evacuated to allow search teams to collect any errant munitions that may have been projected from the warehouses. According to General Cliver Cordones, Commander of the 4th Armored Division of Maracay, the evacuation “will be maintained
until security in the streets and schools can be fully guaranteed after an exhaustive search by the state’s security bodies”. All damage to private property will be repaired by the govern-
ment, assured Aragua Governor Rafael Isea. “We’re going to determine the damages and assume the costs of housing repairs. These repairs will be carried out swiftly”, he said.
Chavez highlighted on Sunday the role that the firefighters who confronted the blaze played in controlling the situation and preventing further danger. “An event such as this could have produced a much bigger tragedy. I’m here to recognize the tremendous efforts that [the firefighters] have made. I feel very proud of you”, he said. This is the first time since CAVIM was created in 1975 that such an event has occurred. In order to ensure greater residential security, over the past five years, the government has been transferring arms away from the CAVIM facility to sites of greater security. “We arrived and we began, five years ago, to transfer thousands and thousands of war munitions to more secure areas. Seventy-five percent of the arms from here have been sent to other sites”, Chavez explained on Sunday, calling for officials to quicken their efforts to transfer all remaining arms. “Count on all of my support to hasten all the plans necessary to finish removing all the munitions from here”, he added. T/ Edward Ellis P/ Agencies
Venezuela and Uruguay sign 12 bilateral cooperation agreements V
enezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Uruguayan counterpart, Jose “Pepe” Mujica, met in Caracas last week, to strengthen ties between the Latin American nations. They signed a dozen bilateral cooperation agreements, the bulk of which promote agricultural development, production and manufacturing. They discussed Venezuela’s pending “full” membership in the Mercosur Trading Block. This is Mujica’s second official visit to Caracas since taking office less than a year ago.
AGREEMENTS SIGNED In the area of agriculture, Venezuela and Uruguay committed to establishing the institutional framework for the interchange of scientists and technicians, in addition to scientific information and agricultural products. In 2011 alone, Venezuela is expected to import 40 metric tons of rice, 20 metric tons of wheat, and
3 metric tons of frozen chicken from Uruguay. The Ministries of Agriculture of both nations are going to design and implement numerous development projects relating to rural development and family farming, as well as product transformation and registration. Genetic research and development to improve dairy cattle production was highlighted, as Uruguay is an international leader in the field. An agreement was also signed to build two animal feed processing plants, one in Venezuela (Puerto Cabello) and the other in Uruguay (Nueva Palmira). Other agreements signed include: the unification of Puerto Cabello and Nueva Palmira as ports of maritime entry; the establishment of a bi-national company for the import and export of goods and services; the development of actions that promote solidarity, “social protection and communal economies” in both
nations; the promotion of cultural exchanges, including youth orchestras, within the context of fighting poverty and hunger; transfer of technology to improve production of electrical generators; licensing and importation of 1,200 vehicles built in Uruguay, 1,000 personal vehicles and 200 trucks; and, the formation of joint scientific research teams in Antarctica. According to the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), Venezuela
has exported 46 million barrels of oil to Uruguay since 2005 as part of bilateral trade deals. And through the Caracas Energy Cooperation Agreement, originally signed in 200, Uruguay will pay a quarter of the cost over the course of fifteen years, with a two-year grace period and two percent interest rate. MERCOSUR “We came to Venezuela, among other things, to tell the continent that
Venezuela should join Mercosur”, said Mujica on Thursday. “Venezuela must join Mercosur – if we don’t do it we are a group of idiots and anti-patriotic Americans”, he said. The Mercosur trade block currently includes full members Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Venezuela officially became an “associate member” in 2005, but awaits the approval of the Paraguayan parliament to gain “full member” status. Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru are currently also “associate” states. Though Mercosur’s original goals were neo-liberal and “freetrade” in nature, a 2006 summit re-defined the process of regional integration as a means to promote integral development, confront poverty and social exclusion and based on complementarity and solidarity and cooperation. T/ Juan Reardon www.venezuelanalysis.com
NoÊxäÊUÊFriday, February 4th, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Venezuela: Promoting Food Sovereignty A new program directed at developing national agricultural production has successfully registered over 150,000 farmers interested in participating. The program combines both private and public funding to support domestic farming and distribution of food products
enezuela’s new farming initiative, Mission Agro Venezuela, got off and running last weekend as thousands of small agricultural producers from around the country registered with the Land and Agriculture Ministry in order to participate in the government’s latest food sovereignty program. President Hugo Chavez suspended his weekly television broadcast “Alo Presidente” as to not interfere with a nation-wide census being carried out for the measure, which he announced last Thursday. Over 400 centers have been established throughout the national territory to receive enrollment in the farming program, which seeks to increase Venezuela’s agricultural production and lessen its dependence on foreign food imports. According to Viceminister for Rural Development, Dan-
icxe Aponte, the centers will be open until February 15th and are accepting registration from anyone interested in boosting agricultural production in the country. “All producers who wish to plant and join the mission will receive support from the national government. This includes support for urban agriculture which is fundamental for the food needs of those Venezuelans who live in the urban centers of major cities”, Aponte said during an interview with the state television channel on Sunday. FROM AGRICULTURE TO OIL Venezuela, a heavily urbanized country, has been afflicted by low agricultural production since the
burgeoning of its oil economy in the early 1900s. For decades, the country has been dependent on food imports from neighboring countries as vast tracts of fertile land have gone unused by large, wealthy landowners. Although previous government measures have helped to increase production in staples such as corn, beans and rice over the past few years, major flooding brought about by torrential rains in late 2010 created a set back for food security measures. The government reports that, due to the downpours, over 65 thousand hectares (160 thousand acres) of productive farmland were affected by the downpours in the coastal and western regions of the country.
STIMULATING PRODUCTION Mission Agro Venezuela, announced by President Hugo Chavez to deal with the crisis, will be the government’s most recent attempt to stimulate greater agricultural production by providing low-interest loans, machinery, and technical assistance to farmers in the country. A fund with one billion bolivars ($232 million) will be established for the completion of the first phase of mission’s census, which will update the agricultural information gathered by the government in 2007. “We’re calling upon all small farmers, fishermen and producers from the state to leave the countryside by mule, bicycle, motorcycle or car in order to register”, said Faustive Gonzalez, activist from the state of Cojedes.
MASSIVE PARTICIPATION Participation in the census until now has been described by activists and officials as “massive”. According to the Land and Agriculture Ministry, during its first day of operations last Saturday, more than 50 thousand farmers singed up for the government’s new mission while, as the Correo del Orinoco International goes to press, more than 100,000 additional thousand farmers have registered. Apart from reaching out to solely small producers, President Chavez has also made it a point to appeal to landowners with larger holdings to participate in the mission’s efforts. “The small, medium and large landowners who want to work with us should register in order to receive financing and deepen our agricultural production. We need to be free and sovereign with respect to food”, he said. Chavez has also not ruled out the possibility of using the decree powers granted to him by the National Assembly last year to create a constitutional law to further the agricultural program. “If it a special law is needed to sustain and support Agro Venezuela, to create associate businesses, to provide loans and ensure our harvests, we will be obliged to have a law”, he announced during a cabinet meeting on Friday. T/ Edward Ellis P/ Presidential Press
Consciousness and social organization are achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution A
growth in consciousness and social organization amongst Venezuelan people are two of the great achievements reached by the Bolivarian Revolution, which has also strengthened the current development model and defended the national Constitution, underscored Elias Jaua, Vice President and member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). The statements were made this Monday during an ideological debate of the PSUV about the strategic lines of action of the party.
Jaua emphasized that thanks to the rise in consciousness and social organization over the past ten years, the government was able to face severe difficulties last year, such as the heavy rains that left thousands of affected families. “The high level of consciousness and organization of the people, which is heightened when overcoming tragedies, is a great achievement of the Bolivarian Revolution”, Jaua reiterated. Another expression of social organization was evidenced last
weekend through the mass attendance of farmers nationwide to register into the governmental program Mision Agro Venezuela, aimed at recovering domestic agricultural production which was affected by the heavy rains late last year. Over 150,000 producers have joined this initiative in just one week. Likewise, the PSUV leader commented that the Dwellers Movement, an organization created to fight against urban land-estates and find solutions for Venezuelans with housing problems, is other achieve-
ment of the revolutionary process. “All the seeds that have been sowed throughout these 12 years are starting to flourish”, Jaua exclaimed. So as to keep strengthening the Bolivarian Revolution, Elias Jaua made a call to Venezuelans to leave aside the capitalistic culture that has existed for years to the detriment of the most vulnerable sectors in the country, while a small elite group grew wealthier. “One of the main areas we are working on in the Revolution con-
sists of suppressing, deleting and fighting within our own minds, souls and daily lives the manifestations and effects of a capitalistic culture, which prevents the seed of Revolution from flourishing”, he stated. For such reason, added Jaua, “it is necessary to create a militancy loyal to the revolutionary process and strengthen a patriotic alliance to promote the integral development of the country”. T/ Venezuelan News Agency
6 | Social Justice
NoÊxäÊUÊFriday, February 4th, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Venezuela continued progress in human rights throughout 2010 H
istoric turnout in legislative elections, regionleading drops in poverty and inequality, steady progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals. These are just a few examples of the progress Venezuela made in 2010 in the promotion and protection of human rights. This progress was seen in political, economic, social, and cultural rights, a demonstration of Venezuela’s government continuous commitment to the integral development of its people
POLITICAL PARTICIPATION Over 11 million Venezuelans – 66 percent of all voters – turned out to peacefully cast their ballots in the September 26 legislative elections, Venezuela’s sixteenth election since the first election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998. The turnout was the highest for any such electoral process in the country’s history. This election was also significant because signaled the reincorporation of the opposition to the democratic game after having participated in the 2002 coup, the 2003 oil sabotage and the 2005 boycott of legislative elections. In the September elections, a coalition of 10 opposition parties won 65 out of 165 seats in the Venezuelan National Assembly. The success of the legislative elections follow a decade worth of advances in promoting political and civil rights in Venezuela
by increasing and deepening citizen participation at every level of government. It also reflect the consolidation of an Electoral Power transparent and trustworthy. According to a 2010 regionwide survey conducted by polling firm Latinobarometro, support for democracy in Venezuela reached 84 percent in both 2009 and 2010, the highest in the region. Venezuela’s support for democracy has climbed steadily during President Hugo Chavez’s tenure. In 1996 and 1997, before
he was elected, it stood at 62 and 64 percent, respectively. LED REGIONAL DROP IN INEQUALITY Venezuela’s gains in human rights also extended to economic, social and cultural rights, which are vital to the full enjoyment of political and civil rights. According to an October 2010 OAS/ UNDP report, between 1998 and 2008 poverty in Venezuela fell by 44 percent, representing the single biggest decrease in the region. Ad-
ditionally, and just as importantly, economic inequality fell 17.9 percent, a rate five times higher than Venezuela’s regional neighbors. The decreases can be attributed to increased government spending on innovative social programs addressing health, education, and employment. Between 1988 and 1998, the year President Chavez took office, social spending stood at 9.5 percent of GDP. Since then, it has averaged 17.5 percent – amounting to more than $330 billion in social spending.
That spending has gone to programs like Barrio Adentro, an innovative health initiative that places doctors and medical clinics in low-income communities. It also funds programs like Misión Milagro – Miracle Mission – which in 2010 reached a significant milestone by having offered one million free eye surgeries to Venezuelans and citizens of other countries. It has also offered basic food at subsidized prices to over 14 million Venezuelans. During the UN Millennium Development Summit in New York in September 2010, Venezuela announced that it had achieved a number of its development targets ahead of schedule and would meet the remaining ones by the 2015 deadline set by the organization. According to the 2010 Latinobarometro report, 52 percent of Venezuelans stated that the government’s policies improved their lives, third in the region behind only Uruguay and Chile. They also ranked their country highest in the region in terms of distribution of wealth, with 38 percent saying it was “Very Just” or “Just”. The regional average was 21 percent. When asked whether or not they were satisfied with their lives, 84 percent of Venezuelans answered affirmatively, second only to Costa Rica in the region. T/ Agencies P/ Presidential Press
CITGO-Venezuela heating program launched again in US C
ITGO Petroleum Corporation has announced the start of the sixth consecutive year of the CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, which helps approximately 500,000 individuals every winter, including those in more than 250 tribal communities and 234 homeless shelters across 25 states and the District of Columbia. “CITGO is very proud to mark the sixth anniversary of our Heating Oil Program, our flagship social development initiative, which is in alignment with the humanitarian and solidarity principles en-
dorsed by the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela through its national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A (PDVSA)”, said CITGO President and CEO Alejandro Granado. “Since its beginning in 2005, this program has been fully supported by President Hugo Chavez and it has been maintained over time thanks to the solidarity that exists between the people of Venezuela and the US. It is without doubt one of the most important and long-lasting social development initiatives implemented by
any large energy corporation in the US and around the world”. Mr. Granado pointed out that according to official figures, 8 million US households are forced to choose between heating their homes and covering other vital necessities. “What would each one of us choose if we could only afford one or the other? Would you warm your home or feed your family? Those are decisions no one should have to make”, he said. CITGO has partnered with Citizens Energy Corporation, a
non-profit organization created by Joseph P. Kennedy II to help implement the program. Citizens Energy works across the country to support families in need of home heating oil assistance and ensure that the CITGO-Venezuela heating oil donations reach the people that need help the most. Since 2005, 170 million gallons of home heating oil have been donated to needy families across the United States to help them stay warm through the winter months. “We hear from families who struggle each and every day to
put food on the table and heat their homes”, said Kennedy. “We are deeply grateful to CITGO and the people of Venezuela for their generosity to those who need help keeping their families warm. Every year, we ask major oil companies and oil-producing nations to help our senior citizens and the poor make it through winter, and only one company, CITGO, and one country, Venezuela, has responded to our appeals”. T/ CITGO
NoÊxäÊUÊFriday, February 4th, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Analysis | 7 |
Why the US should not ratify FTA with Colombia Dan Kovalik, a prominent United States labor and human rights lawyer, lays out his reasons why Washington should not ratify a free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, and why he thinks President Obama will not do so
ovalik, who serves as Assistant General Counsel to the United Steelworkers (USW), believes that President Obama’s mention of the Colombian free trade agreement in his State of the Union address does not indicate his commitment to passing it. “In his final debate with John McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama himself stated that he opposed the FTA because the unionists were being killed and because the Colombian government was doing little to stop this”, he explains. So what has changed now that we are in 2011?
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE REMAIN “The fact is that the grave situation of anti-union violence has not changed since President Obama made those statements”. Where 51 unionists were killed in 2008, Kovalik notes that 2009 witnessed the murder of 47 unionists, while “at least 47” endured the same fate in 2010. “Colombia remains ‘the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists”, he says, citing the International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) most recent world survey. “Impunity for such killings is still around 96%”, while Colombia’s “draconian labor laws” mean that only “about 1% of Colombian workers are covered by a labor agreement”. Kovalik is certainly well-versed to discuss the situation of trade unionists in Colombia, having helped work on the 2001 case brought against Coca-Cola by Colombian trade union Sinaltrainal, over the supposed murder of thousands of their members since 1986. Yet if Obama was committed to Colombia labor union rights before his election in 2008, and if the situation has remained much the same, he has been far from out-
spoken over human rights in Colombia since assuming the presidency. In this respect, as Kovalik concedes, it appears that American strategic interests dictate the United States government’s stance on human rights. “Usually, US administrations, and the Obama administration is no exception, are more apt to criticize the human rights policies of US rivals than those of countries it perceives as its friends - even when the human rights practices of the latter are far worse than the former”. Colombia, in other words, is considered a key strategic ally in the region, and although “the US is forever criticizing Cuba and Venezuela for their human rights policies, any objective observer would have to conclude that Colombia’s human rights policies over the last 15 years, which have included the wholesale murder of its own population, are many times worse”. REPUBLICAN PUSH Indeed, where foreign policy may determine the US inclination to speak out about human rights, it is domestic politics that may now shape the future of the Colombian FTA. Republican control of the House, since November 2010, “is obviously critical on this issue”. Many Republicans have long been advocates of the FTA and Kovalik
Republicans urge Obama to back Colombian FTA A group of Republicans voice their support for President Barack Obama’s “commitment” to act upon the stalled free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia in his State of the Union address, according to a Republican press release. In a “Sense of the Senate” resolution submitted earlier this week, Republican senators urged the President to immediately implement pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. This type of resolution has no force in law but is typically used by the Senate to appeal to the president or to send a message to foreign governments. There has thus far been a mixed response to the President’s adaccepts that if it were to be introduced by Obama, “it would be very difficult to stop its passage”. “For those of us opposing the Colombia FTA, the key is to prevail upon President Obama to refrain from introducing [it] in the first place”. The Pittsburgh-based lawyer also points to the Economic Policy Institute’s conclusion in a 2010 report that the Colombian FTA “would in fact cost 55,000 net US jobs by 2015”, although he asserts that both his objections and those
dress from Colombian leaders. Although President Obama did mention the FTA, he offered no definitive timetable for a deal with the Latin American countries. Texan Senator John Cornyn, one of the original co-sponsors of the resolution, criticized the President and the Democrat Party for having “allowed these agreements to languish, shutting the doors to fertile markets for US products and preventing key partnerships with Latin American neighbors to strengthen and progress”. “The penalty for inaction is clear”, he added. T/ Colombia Reports of American labor unions are “first and foremost” due to “principled concerns regarding antiunion violence in Colombia”. It is for this reason that Kovalik argues in favor of “creating a fund for the victims, which the US should help support financially given its complicity in the state violence in Colombia”, even if this is just “the first step towards justice”. Ultimately, however, the problem lies with the “continued human rights abuses by illegal
armed groups”, and the failure of the Peace and Justice process in ensuring that the demobilized “stay demobilized”. COLOMBIAN WANTS FTA If the Colombian FTA has languished primarily during former President Uribe’s controversial rule, perhaps Kovalik perceives a change in direction under incumbent President Santos. Santos has “certainly expressed good intentions”, accepts Kovalik, but unfortunately “there appears to be no difference in the actual results of his policies”. As Human Rights Watch recently stated, quotes Kovalik, there was still a “spike in massacres committed in 2010, which surpassed all annual totals since 2005”. “Until President Santos’ professed good intentions translate into a reversal of such horrific trends, Colombia should be denied the Free Trade Agreement”. The US-Colombia FTA was signed by former Presidents George W. Bush and Alvaro Uribe in 2006, but was never ratified by US Congress. Despite ongoing Colombian lobbying to have the pact approved, the Obama administration has not yet put the deal up for a congressional vote. T/ Tom Heyden and Dan Kovalik This article was originally published on www.colombiareports.com
FRIDAY | February 4th, 2011 | No. 50| Bs 1 | CARACAS
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
A publication of the Fundacion Correo del Orinoco • Editor-in-Chief | Eva Golinger • Graphic Design | Alexander Uzcátegui, Jameson Jiménez • Press | Fundación Imprenta de la Cultura
Washington’s Plan B: Why Obama fears democracy in egypt R
aising Lazarus from the dead would be easier than reviving the Egyptian President. So Obama is on to plan B. And as it turns out, plan B looks a lot like the statusquo, minus a change of face. The new face is a man handpicked by the US, Mohamed El Baradei, a UN bureaucrat who hasn’t lived in Egypt in decades and is virtually unknown by the Egyptian people. Placing El Baradei in power will take behind the scenes political maneuvering combined with military repression, a plan that will collide with the revolutionary demands of the people. The US has already succeeded in gaining support for its plan from the Muslim Brotherhood, the strongest opposition group in Egypt, which has lost much respect from its rank and file for
collaborating too closely with Mubarak. Recently, the Brotherhood has attempted to hold back the revolution, to no avail. Now, they’ve promised support to El Baradei, who is set to negotiate some kind of transition with Mubarak. The New York Times reports: “The Egyptian uprising, which emerged as a disparate and spontaneous grass-roots movement, began to coalesce Sunday, as the largest
opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, threw its support behind a leading secular opposition figure, Mohamed El Baradei, to negotiate on behalf of the forces seeking the fall of President Hosni Mubarak...Though lacking deep support on his own, Mohammed El Baradei, a Nobel laureate, could serve as consensus figure for a movement that has struggled to articulate a program for a potential transition”. (January 30, 2011). The US media have shamefully tried to promote El Baradei as a popular figure, attempting to assign him credibility by showing non-stop footage of him speaking through a bullhorn at a protest, even as they admit he lacks “deep support on his own”. Few in Egypt know who he is. N e v e rtheless, Reuters reported that El Baradei “... had a mandate [from whom it doesn’t say] to speak to the army and organize a handover to a national unity coalition”. We must assume the “mandate” is from the US, who continues to maneuver behind the scenes. Interestingly, the same article says that El Baradei “... called on US President Barack Obama to ‘cut off life support to the dictator’. But he [Obama] remained cautious of abandoning a key Middle Eastern ally. Obama urged only a shift in Egypt’s administration to take more account of popular opinion”. (January 30, 2011). Egyptians want their dictator’s regime to end, but Obama wants only a “shift in Egypt’s administration”.
These are clashing demands. Indeed, since the events in Egypt began, Obama has been busily speaking through both sides of his mouth. His administration continued to give support to the dictator as protesters were being shot in the street. Obama called for calm “from both sides”, giving equal credibility to the murderous dictatorship and the masses of people who demanded he leave. It should be obvious that, if the protesters “show restraint”, as Obama wants, the dictatorship would stay in place. An editorial in Al-Jazeera pointed out this hypocritical approach, entitled President Obama, Use the D-Word [democracy]: “... President Obama has refused to take a strong stand in support of the burgeoning pro-democracy movement ...Mubarak [the dictator] continued through yesterday to be praised as a crucial partner of the US. Most important, there has been absolutely no call for real democracy... only ‘reform’ has been suggested to the Egyptian government so that, in Obama’s words, ‘people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances’”. (January 30, 2011). This implies that Obama’s definition of “reform” is simply a change of the regime’s face. As of this writing, Reuters reported that Mubarak might take part in talks with opposition groups, possibly with El Baradei. If the US succeeds in installing El Baradei as President, with an element of popular support via the Muslim Brotherhood, the army will remain a crucial element in Egyptian politics, whose upper stratum maintain close ties -- politically and financially -- to the US government. But Egypt’s army isn’t reliable either. The same Reuters article explains: “Protests have affected cities across Egypt. In Suez, on
the canal, one senior local [army] officer, Brigadier Atef Said said his troops would give protesters a free voice: ‘We will allow protests in the coming days’, he told Reuters. ‘Everyone has the right to voice their opinion’”. And: “In surreal scenes in Cairo, soldiers stood by tanks covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti: ‘Down with Mubarak. Down with the despot. Down with the traitor. Pharaoh out of Egypt’... Asked how they could let people scrawl anti-Mubarak slogans on their mostly American-made vehicles, one soldier said: ‘These are written by the people. They’re the views of the people’”. This army will find it difficult to suppress the inevitable protests if El Baradei is installed as a US puppet; inevitable because he will follow the path laid by Mubarak: support of US military presence in the region; support of Israeli policy against the Palestinians; support of US free-market economic policy; and support of further US aggression against neighboring countries like Iran. In short, any regime that continues to support US policies will be a dictatorship, something the Egyptian people clearly do not want. If the Muslim Brotherhood props up such a government, they will be completely exposed and discredited by their own members, and a tremendous void will be left open, to be filled by the self-organization of the Egyptian people. Egyptians will be demanding that the US stop meddling in their internal affairs by politically supporting unpopular governments, for example, by providing $2 billion in mostly military aid. Those in the US who support democracy must be demanding the same thing. - Shamus Cooke Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action
Published on Feb 4, 2011
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