Pg. g 7 | Analysis: y
Pg. g 8 | Opinion
International reports attempt to discredit Venezuela and advise regime change
Ralph Nader on the painful lessons of 9/11/01 and US Empire’s self-destruction
FRIDAY | September 2, 2011 | No. 79 | Bs 1 | CARACAS
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
Venezuela Inaugurates First Socialist City
Chile’s President vs. public schools
President Chavez oversaw the formal launching of Caribia City, a communal town outside of Caracas where residents can live and work
Venezuela’s Chavez tweets chemo
The new city will be self-sufficient in services and counts on in-town markets, schools, medical clinics and other installations. Communal work spaces will be used for local cooperatives, urban agricultural production and other small businesses to provide for the city and its residents. In an event led by President Chavez, hundreds of Venezuelan families received title to their new apartments in Caribia on Saturday, the majority from high risk, low-income areas unsuitable for living, along with those who had lost their homes during last year’s heavy rainfall. | page 2
President Hugo Chavez is undergoing his third round of chemotherapy this week at a military hospital in Caracas, Venezuela. But he’s not absent at all from the public eye. The Venezuelan head of state has been tweeting his way through the cancer treatments since he entered the hospital late Sunday evening. Through his Twitter account @chavezcandanga, which reached over 2 million followers this week, the President has kept in touch with supporters and informed on his health status. | page 5
US-Nato war crimes in Libya More than 20,000 dead have resulted from NATO’s war on Libya this year. | page 3
Freedom of expression reigns in Venezuela Judicial independence & free speech were evidenced clearly this week. | page 4
Clubs shut down for refusing admission to blacks Several Caracas venues were closed this week for racial discrimination. | page 6
Chavez: Speed up takeover of foreign owned tree farm
enezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged his agriculture minister on Wednesday to speed up the government takeover of land owned by Ireland’s Smurfit Kappa in Venezuela. In 2009, Chavez ordered the seizure of a eucalyptus tree farm owned by Smurfit Kappa, a major cardboard packaging company, vowing to clear the trees and use the land for crops. He said the plantation and its water-hungry trees were drying out local rivers. “We have to take the last square meter of land from Smurfit because it’s destroying our ecosystem...Let’s move more quickly,
that’s an order”, Chavez said in a telephone call to state TV where he spoke with Agriculture Minister Juan Carlos Loyo. It was not immediately clear if Chavez’s comments suggested he planned to seize more land belonging to Smurfit Kappa or accelerate the takeover of the tree farm. The land seizure ordered two years ago involved 3,700 acres, which analysts said represented a small part of the company’s landholdings. Loyo said Smurfit Kappa still owned 29,650 acres. Chavez has nationalized large
swaths of Venezuela’s economy, including much of its vital oil sector. He has sought to double the amount of land under cultivation in the South American country. In the past, Chavez has taken over big farms deemed idle and given them to small farmers to stimulate farming in an effort to combat poverty in the countryside. Chavez made the comments from a military hospital in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, where he is having a third round of chemotherapy for cancer. T/ Agencies
hilean President Sebastian Piñera has refused student demands to make education a right and provide for free public education in schools. He has declared that “tax payers should not foot the bill for those with less resources to get an education”. Responding to 3 months of student protests, Pinera said he would try to guarantee scholarships for poorer students and doesn’t believe in state-funded free education for all. “We don’t believe in state-funded education”, the Harvard University-trained economist and billionaire investor said in a speech in Santiago Wednesday night. Student leaders have been pushing for tuitionfree schooling and banning profits in the industry. The protests have been going on since January. Last week Piñera’s government detained 1300 youth protestors and killed a 14-year old boy with police gunfire. Chile’s education system was privatized during the US-backed Pinochet dictatorship in the 1970s. There are no free public schools at any grade.
2 | Impact
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, September 2, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Solving the housing crisis: Venezuela inaugurates ﬁrst socialist city The Venezuelan government, together with the private sector and international partners, is ﬁnding creative solutions to the nation’s housing deﬁcit, including the construction of new, communal-oriented cities
ushing forward with its large-scale public housing program that seeks to construct two million new homes in the next 6 years, the Venezuelan government opened the doors of 602 apartments to needy families in the socialist city of Caribia last weekend. The delivery represents part of Mission Housing Venezuela, a social program launched earlier this year with the explicit goal of eliminating the Caribbean nation’s housing deficit, estimated at 1.5 million. “In the future, there will not be a single family that doesn’t have dignified housing like the ones being handed over today in Caribia City”, President Hugo Chavez said during the inauguration ceremony on Saturday. Broadcasting from the presidential palace of Miraflores in Caracas, the Venezuelan head of state praised his government’s efforts in making affordable homes a reality, commenting that such a program would never be possible under a capitalist system. “Only with a socialist government would this be possible”, Chavez affirmed.
A SOCIALIST CITY Caribia City, a socialist megaproject first conceptualized by Chavez in 2006, is envisioned as a planned, holistic community, complete with schools, health clinics and employment opportunities for its residents. With the recent birth of Mission Housing Venezuela, the city’s development has been accelerated as the social program incorporates the work of various minis-
tries and building strategies to boost housing availability. The government is planning a total of 1,400 new homes, totally furnished, to be delivered to residents of the city this year and a total of 20 thousand to be provided in the urban center by 2018. Located in the sector Camino Los Indios just outside the capital of Caracas, the majority of the first residents to benefit from the initiative have been the victims of torrential rains that left more than 100 thousand people homeless at the end of last year, as well as those living in high risk areas too dangerous for permanent residence. “I’m happy and really pleased with this new home”, said Jessica Suarez, mother of three, upon receiving the keys to her new apartment last Saturday. “Now we’re going to be able to start a new life”, she stated. The new units are financed by the Venezuelan government with varying rates of subsidies including up to 100 percent, depending on a family’s income. JOBS CREATION “The government’s investment has been 2.9 billion bolivars [$674
million] up to this point and we’re approving another important allocation in order to accelerate the work”, Chavez said of his administration’s financial commitment to the project. Officials report that each 3 bedroom apartment has a cost of 290 thousand bolivars [$67,000] and is being constructed by a Venezuelan-Cuban enterprise formed under the auspices of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americans (ALBA) regional block. Nearly 2,000 Venezuelans have been employed by the project. “This is a city for the people… not for the machine of capitalism that allows a small group of people to benefit at the cost of the rest”, Chavez declared on Saturday. ANOTHER HOUSING INITIATIVE: PETROCASA In addition to the acceleration of Caribia City, the Venezuelan government has also been speeding up its construction of Petrocasas to fulfill its housing commitment. In the state of Carabobo, more than 27 thousand people have benefited from the construction of 6,000 homes fabricated from
materials originating from the nation’s massive oil industry. The idea of using the country’s dominant oil sector as a motor for housing construction was first proposed in 2004 as a way to adopt locally available materials to the needs of residents living in precariously built shantytowns outside major cities. “Petrocasa comes from the idea of designing a construction system that can utilize the raw materials of the petro-chemical industry. For this reason, we sought out the best technology in the world, selecting it from Austria, Italy and Germany in order to create the machines and the designs to build the first Petrocasa factory in the state of Carabobo”, explained Enrique Majo, Director of the socialist business. The homes are built with highly resistant plastic frames filled with concrete, steel and iron girders. There are currently three factories in Venezuela producing the Petrocasa “kits” in the states of Carabobo and Apure. The houses, which can be built in 10 to 12 days, are not “plastic homes”, Majo argued, but are of high quality, exceeding Venezuelan health and safety standards.
“The Petrocasa system is in compliance with quality and safety standards. The residential units are anti-seismic, non-flammable, durable… and hurricane resistant”, the Director assured. Many organized residents, participating in the their grassroots community councils, have taken the initiative in preparing the grounds and erecting their new homes. Neida Marin, a spokesperson for the community council Cacique Guacara in Carabobo, described the leadership role that activists have played in the transformation of their living environment. “We, the organized community, received the dimensions and profiles of the Petrocasas and we created teams with the participation of men and women from the area. We put together our homes in stages and in less than a year we had an entire neighborhood built”, Marin said. The activist informed that 530 Petrocasas have thus far been constructed in her residential area, substituting what were once flimsy built shacks for new dignified homes. “This neighborhood is the product of a big struggle. The community council got organized and formulated the project and with the assistance of [the state petro-chemical company] Pequiven and the institutions involved, we could solidify the construction of our homes”, she declared. Initiatives like Petrocasas and Caribia City are part of the reason why the Chavez administration will meet its goal in the coming months of constructing 153,000 homes in 2011, Housing and Habitat Minister Ricardo Molina reported last weekend. “Our conviction is that we will meet the goal because, according to our calculations, many homes are in stage of being finished. Beginning in September, different construction processes throughout the country will be coming to a close”, Molina stated. T/ COI P/ Presidential Press
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, September 2, 2011
The artillery of ideas
As resistance continues, imperialists use ‘rebels’ to further plunder Africa
hile the United States and the other NATO countries express their satisfaction over the destruction of the North African state of Libya that they are engineering, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the assault on Tripoli and other parts of the country since Aug. 20. So-called rebel units operating under the banner of the Transitional National Council, after being transported into the capital of Tripoli, are engaging in widespread abuse that includes looting, the destruction of public property and the killing of government loyalists and civilians. On Aug. 23, the Bab al-Aziziyah compound formerly inhabited by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and his family was bombed again by NATO forces. After severe damage to the massive structure and its surroundings, the TNC rebels entered the area. They were filmed by international media outlets breaking up and destroying everything in sight and later carting away ornaments, consumer goods, furniture and art work. This orgy of destruction and theft was portrayed in the West as symbolic of the fall of the Libyan government. The compound had been bombed for months by US and NATO warplanes. It was the scene of numerous assassination attempts against Gaddafi and other government officials. The war has been characterized by large-scale air strikes since March 19. These criminal acts have been carried out jointly by NATO fighter jets, special forces and intelligence units from the US, Britain, France, Canada and Qatar, as well as the Westernbacked rebels. HUMANITARIAN CRISIS Since March 19, US and NATO forces have executed more than 20,000 sorties over the country, resulting in at least 7,500 air strikes. This coupled with sabotage, theft and murder by the rebels, beginning on Feb. 17, has made the humanitarian situation in Libya and its neighbors reach critical proportions. The country’s oil industry, factories, water supply systems, food storage facilities, communication installations and hospitals
US-NATO escalate war crimes in Libya
were targeted during the ongoing war, which has lasted more than 6 months. As a result the country has suffered growing shortages of medicines, food, technical supplies and potable water. The Middle East North Africa Financial Network said the war has created the worst social conditions in Libya since the revolution of 1969. Ali Hamed, a supporter of the attacks against the government, nevertheless revealed that in Tripoli as of Aug. 29: “For nearly four days, we have no water, no electricity, no gas...We worry especially about the water”. The article goes on to admit: “The few open stores here have mostly bare shelves. People stand in line for bread, pay greatly inflated prices for black-market fuel and scrounge for water to drink or bathe. They still hear daily bursts of gunfire”. Many residents of the capital fear the city could be completely without water in a few days. Many neighborhoods in and around Tripoli already have no water or electricity. The sickness and deaths are reaching critical proportions. The rebel forces were trained by NATO to seize the city, not run it. A TNC official said: “We don’t know the electricity problem, we don’t know the water problem, we don’t know the communication problem. In the next few
days we will have answers”. One of the most gruesome scenes resulting from the NATO bombing and the TNC rebel onslaught on Tripoli was the discovery of hundreds of bodies at a hospital that had been attacked by the invading opposition forces. The British air force played a major role in the bombing of Tripoli. The state-owned BBC reported on the mass deaths at the hospital: “More than 200 decomposing bodies have been found abandoned at a hospital in a district of the Libyan capital Tripoli that has seen fierce fighting”. Reports are surfacing of other massacres throughout the country. The TNC forces and NATO are trying to blame the supporters of the Libyan government, but these claims remain largely unsubstantiated. However, what is clear is the central role of the US and NATO in the destruction of Libya, a country that had enjoyed the highest standard of living in Africa and had achieved tremendous gains in the technical and scientific fields over the last 4 decades. Today it has been tremendously set back by Western-imposed sanctions, a naval blockade, blanket bombings and media vilification. WAR OUT OF CONTROL Although the TNC rebels and their NATO backers have been
proclaiming victory over the government and people of Libya since Aug. 21, fighting still rages on throughout the country. In Tripoli, the security situation remains unsettled as loyalist forces remain in defensive postures against the rebel units. The rebels are facing formidable resistance in their efforts to advance on the city of Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown. TNC officials said they were forced to retreat from positions near Sirte amid a barrage of rockets fired by the Libyan military operating in the region. The Western-backed rebels are still unable to reopen the main highway between Tripoli and neighboring Tunisia — an essential supply route for oil and food. The rebels have again called upon NATO to intensify its bombing operations over Sirte so they can advance toward the city. In the port city of Misrata, which has seen heavy fighting for several months, there have been demonstrations against the TNC rebels over their appointment as security administrator of a former Libyan governmental official who defected from Gaddafi. The TNC is by no means a cohesive alliance. Without the backing of the US and NATO, its poorly trained units would have been defeated early on. Further evidence of the total
reliance upon NATO by the TNC rebels was revealed when their chairman, Abdel Jalil, was quoted on August 29 from Qatar as saying, “Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO”. AFRICAN UNION AGAINST REBELS Despite enormous pressure coming from the US and NATO, the 54-member African Union has refused to recognize the rebel TNC forces as the legitimate rulers of Libya. Meeting at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the continental organization is still demanding that a government of national unity be established in Libya that would include loyalists from the Gaddafi government. The AU since March 11 has called for a ceasefire, the removal of foreign forces from the country, a halt to the bombing by the US and NATO and the holding of internationally supervised elections. The rebels have not been elected by anyone inside of Libya and therefore their presence in the capital is not considered legitimate by the AU. The US-NATO military alliance and the rebels have rejected all overtures by the AU to mediate in the Libya crisis. T/ Abayomi Azikiwe P/ Agencies
4 | Politics
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, September 2, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Offensive newspaper back on newstands; freedom of expression reigns in Venezuela Venezuela is a victim of media warfare, executed in large part by private media outlets who years ago decided to become the loudest voice for the country’s political opposition
Caracas tribunal revoked the suspension last Monday of the publication Sexto Poder (Sixth Power), a newspaper temporarily shut down by Venezuelan authorities for printing slanderous and offensive material against women members of the national government. On August 20, the weekly tabloid published an article entitled “The Revolution’s Powerful Women” where it depicted high ranking female public officials, including the President of the Supreme Court, Luisa Morales, as cabaret dancers in a show orchestrated by Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez. The article immediately provoked the anger of women’s rights groups who held an impromptu demonstration against the newspaper in the capital on August 21. The nation’s highest legislative body, the National Assembly also demanded an investigation of Sexto Poder for violations of Venezuela’s Law on Social Responsibility in the Media which prohibits the publication of hateful, slanderous, discriminatory and false information. The tabloid was prohibited from operating during the investigation and its Director, Dinorah Giron, was detained for two days on charges of defamation, instigating hatred, and committing a public offense related to gender. Giron was released on August 23 while the paper’s President, Leocenis Garcia, has also been sought by investigators. Garcia fled the investigation for “fear of political persecution” and only recently agreed to turn himself over to authorities in light of the court’s decision to lift the ban on the publication.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH Although members of the paper
admitted that the article “crossed the line” the tribunal’s recent decision to allow the paper to continue its operations contradicts widely disseminated notions that the Chavez administration has been clamping down on freedom of expression. Such notions, propagated by local and international NGOs aligned with the Venezuelan opposition, ignore the fact that the nation’s private media was the key player in encouraging an atmosphere of hatred that helped create the conditions for a violent coup d’etat in 2002 that cost the lives of at least 19 people. In addition to provoking a destabilizing environment, opposi-
tion newspapers and television stations also played a crucial role in distorting information about the events unfolding during the coup itself, including intentionally manipulating video imagery to incite subversion against the government. When residents of the shantytowns surrounding the capital of Caracas descended upon the presidential palace of Miraflores to bring back the kidnapped Chavez during the attempted overthrow, it was the private media that employed a blackout around the country, preventing the effective dissemination of information with respect to the coup’s imminent failure.
Yet, organizations such Venezuela’s National Press Club (Colegio Nacional de Periodistas) continue to unabashedly assert that the private media represents “one of the pillars of modern democracy”, while the Interamerican Press Society, with its history of supporting right-wing dictatorships throughout Latin America, rushes to defend opposition media outlets in what has been a coordinated attack against the government of Hugo Chavez. But when government run media outlets such as Vive TV come under attack by opposition forces as has happened recently in the states of Zulia and Lara, the international and domestic defenders of freedom of speech are all silent. JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE The recent revocation of the court order against Sexto Poder also demonstrates that the Venezuelan judiciary is not controlled by the Executive branch. Despite a statement released by the paper’s workers which criticizes “the submission of judicial power and other powers to one man – Hugo Chavez”, the suspension of the tabloid was made at the behest of Judge Denisse Bocanegra based on an investigation solicited by women’s rights activists and the National Assembly.
President Hugo Chavez played no prominent role in the demonstrations nor the National Assembly’s proceedings. In fact it was Congresswoman Maria Leon and other activists who took a leadership role in the rejection of the demeaning depiction of female professionals in a country marked by a high degree of machismo. “In just 12 years in Venezuela, for the first time we’ve been able to achieve, through the constitution, the equality of man and woman…The opposition represents the maintenance of everything that has been traditionally oppressed”, Leon said while calling women to protest against the tabloid’s caricature. And it was the same Judge Denisse Bocanegra of the ninth circuit in Caracas who signed the lifting of the temporary suspension on the condition that Sexto Poder ceases to publish material that “constitutes an offense or insult against the reputation, decorum of any representative of the Public Powers with the objective of exposing them to disdain or public hatred”. The tribunal has also prohibited the publication of material “degrading to women” and ordered the paper to remove all copies of the edition that contains the article in question from the public domain. When asked if Sexto Poder will change its editorial stance as a result of the judge’s ruling, the paper’s lawyer Pedro Aranguren affirmed the very existence of the freedom that exists in Venezuela, asserting that the tabloid’s writers will continue “talking freely in the streets, as is their slogan, informing people without gagging their readers in any way and without any fear”. As of Tuesday this week, the paper named Patricia Poleo, a Venezuelan fugitive from justice wanted in connection with a homicide against federal prosecutor Danilo Anderson in 2004, as its director. Poleo has stated she’ll run Sexto Poder from exile in Miami. T/ COI P/ Agencies
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, Septiembre 2, 2011
The artillery of ideas
utting technology to work for the betterment of the people and the country, Venezuela has now joined Brazil and Colombia as the only three countries in Latin America to embark on an digitalized national census. The announcement was made last Tuesday by Luis Reyes, Director of the Caribbean nation’s new information gathering effort at a press conference held in Caracas. “Our goal was to leave behind the pencil and paper in order to incorporate ourselves as the third Latin American country to have a digital census that will guarantee the security and quality of the data collected”, Reyes explained. The XIV National Population and Housing Census will take place from September 1 to November 30 and is designed to update socio-economic as well as demographic information of the Venezuelan people. It is the first time in 10 years that the South American nation will be carrying out such an update, officials reported. Planning for the census has been in the works for more than 2 years as the OPEC member state has employed the technical assistance of the United Nations, the Latin American and Caribbean Demography Center, as well the nations of Uruguay, Brazil, Panama, and Colombia. More than 18 thousand people will take part in the work of registering residents throughout the country, going door-to-door with mobile devices that will record responses to the government devised survey. The country has been divided into one thousand data collection
resident Hugo Chavez thanked Venezuelans on Sunday for praying for his health as he undergoes a third round of chemotherapy at a military hospital in Caracas, this time getting the cancer treatment at home rather than Cuba. The Venezuelan President walked into the Dr. Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital late Saturday, accompanied by his daughter Rosa and aides. He said his treatment has been going well and aims to prevent the reappearance of cancer cells more than two months after he underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. “From here, I join all these prayers and Masses for the health of all of us”, President Chavez wrote in a Twitter message on Sunday. “God bless you!”
Venezuela to conduct census; opposition boycotts
points and every census team composed of 18 members will be responsible for registering between 6,000 and 10,000 homes. UN SUPPORT Reyes reported on Monday that the Venezuelan technicians involved in developing the questionnaire have been trained internationally, attending workshops and conferences in countries
around Latin America. “We’ve taken the best experience from all over, but most of all, our people have been able to develop our own mechanisms and technology for the elaboration of the questionnaire”, the Director affirmed. As with any census, the collection of statistical data is intended to aid the government in devising public policies to further reduce
poverty and increase employment, housing, and educational opportunities. “It will allow us to know what Venezuela looks like not only from the inside, which is important for public policy, but also from the outside because Venezuela has international commitments in all types of global spaces of cooperation”, said Alfredo Missair, Representative of the United Nations’
Tweeting chemo: President Chavez undergoes 3rd round of treatment for cancer Public television broadcast footage of a prayer meeting in the President’s home state of Barinas, where dozens of Venezuelans listened to a priest who urged supporters to pray for the quick recovery of Chavez. “We love you — your mother, your father and your brothers and all of your family and friends”, Hugo de los Reyes Chavez, the Pesident’s father, said at the prayer meeting. “Take care of yourself in this battle”, he added. Before entering the hospital, President Chavez said on television on Saturday that he and his
team of Cuban and Venezuelan doctors had decided after his latest round of medical tests Friday that it would be all right for him to undergo chemotherapy in Venezuela. The first two rounds were completed in Havana. “I’m determined to continue living”, he said at the hospital. “It’s not time to die. What we have to do still is a great deal”. The Venezuelan head of state said he was making arrangements with his vice president, Elias Jaua, and other officials in order to “continue with this rhythm of treatment and work”. The optimistic and energized
Chavez has appeared with his head shaved the past few weeks after his hair began to fall out as a result of chemotherapy. Supporters nationwide have been shaving their heads in solidarity with the President’s “new look”, as he termed it. The President had said Saturday that he expected to disappear from public view in the coming days but would remain in contact with government officials and his supporters by phone and Twitter. And that he has. Through his Twitter account, @ chavezcandanga, which reached over 2 million followers this week, making him the most fol-
5| Development Program at the press conference. OPPOSITION BOYCOTT Yet despite the need to maintain updated information, the conservative Venezuelan opposition has refused to support the initiative, raising the specter of political motivations while criticizing questions they allege violate the privacy of citizens. “We’re not violating the privacy of anyone. What we’re doing is asking what we’ve always asked”, said Elias Eljuri President of the National Statistics Institute (INE) on Tuesday in response to opposition criticisms. Specifically, Eljuri addressed the survey questions “Where were you in 2006?” used to identify internal migration and in no way linked to political affiliations as the opposition has claimed. He also made reference to the question “How many bedrooms do you have?” in order to define housing needs and poverty levels, not to be invasive as opponents have suggested. Some opposition figures have gone so far as to say the government plans to “confiscate” bedrooms from those residences where they are presently not in use. In the end, Eljuri dismissed the efforts of government detractors to occlude the successful completion of the initiative. “We are sure that the general population is going to respond positively to the census”, the INE President declared. T/ COI P/ Agencies lowed head of state in Latin America and second worldwide, President Chavez has been tweeting throughout his treatment. On Monday he sent messages in the morning attesting to his good health after doctors conducted lengthy exams before initiating chemotherapy. He tweeted after completing the treatment that evening and then called into a live show on public television, speaking for nearly a half hour. Tuesday was similar, with frequent tweets and phone calls to state television, to participate in publicized events and inform on his health. As of Wednesday, the Venezuelan President maintained his Twitter account interactive, even responding to followers messages. T/ Agencies
6 | Social Justice
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, September 2, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Venezuela: venues closed and ﬁned for racial discrimination I
n the early morning hours this Sunday, the Institute for the Defense of People and their Access to Goods and Services, (Indepabis) began the day by putting the brakes on discriminatory dealings related to race and physical appearance that are being carried out by some nightclubs. Consequently, the president of the institute, Augusto Montiel, urged nightclub owners to eliminate this discriminatory practice, which damages the healthy psychological development of citizens. Those are the terms in which Montiel explained the situation during the investigation of the nightclub Rosalinda, in Las Mercedes, a wealthy area of Caracas. Montiel stated that the procedures were supported by the norms established within the Constitution, in the Law against Racial Discrimination, and in the Law for the Defense of the People in their Access to Goods and Services (DEPABIS Law), a consumer rights law. A client of the establishment, Carlos Freites, a witness to the Indepabis investigation, voiced his support for the organization’s actions, since “we are in a country where racist behaviour shouldn’t exist, someone’s right to enjoyment shouldn’t be curtailed because of the color of their skin or because of their physical characteristics”. For those reasons, Montiel informed the administrator and the management of the nightclub
ince 2003, Venezuela has been the backdrop for a revolutionary experiment in bringing needed medical care to poor communities. Now, a new book explores and assesses the impact the Venezuelan efforts have had. In Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care, author Steve Brouwer draws upon years of research and the experience of living in the small Venezuelan town of Monte Carmelo in his narrative on Mision Barrio Adentro, the famed social program started in 2003 by the government of President Hugo Chavez. With the assistance of the Cuban government, medical clinics
that in the past two months the organization had received multiple complaints from citizens, who reported that some nightclubs in Las Mercedes, La Castellana, the shopping centre San Ignacio and Macaracuay, had denied entrance to obese people or those of darker skin. Amongst the reported businesses were Poing in the Macaracuay shopping centre, Lulu, Barriot and Antigua Sabu in Las Mercedes, as well as other nightclubs.
Subsequently, public sector workers spread out over different zones of the area’s nightlife in order to personally verify the existence of this irregularity. In this manner it was proven at the entrance, when the doorman said to three people of larger build that they could not enter, without offering them any kind of explanation, whereas other couples who were tall and thin were permitted entrance. The president of Indepabis explained that all people are equal
before the law, which prohibits any kind of discrimination and guarantees everyone equal and effective protection from any kind of discriminatory behaviour on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, social and economic status and that this “is backed up in our Constitution”. Similarly, in the ritzy shopping centre San Ignacio, night time businesses were also inspected, where it was proven that Suka Bar Cafe denied entrance to 4
Revolutionary Doctors Sheds Light on Venezuela’s Health Achievements and professionals were brought into Venezuela’s poorest communities, offering health care to residents who in the past had to travel long distances to poorly managed hospitals. By Chavez’s first election in 1998, Brouwer writes, 17 million of Venezuela’s 24 million residents had no consistent access to health care services. But under the provisions of the new 1999 Constitu-
tion that enumerated health care as a fundamental right and the efforts of Chavez’s government, over 13,000 physicians, many of them Cuban, spread out in 8,500 primary care clinics located in Venezuela’s 24 states starting in 2003. The doctors served in communities of between 1,500 and 2,000 residents, providing vital basic health care. By 2009, the program had ex-
panded into three separate initiatives – the first dealing with primary care, the second with more sophisticated treatment and analysis at new facilities, and the third with improving Venezuela’s network of public hospitals. According to Brouwer, by 2010 Chavez announced that 482 million medical consults had taken place through Barrio Adentro, and that 83 percent of the Venezu-
people telling them that they had to reserve a table and at no point were they shown a list which allowed them to do so. The managing director of the nightclub Suka, Daniel Gomez, said that there is no discrimination within his business and that “black and fat people come here”. However, during the investigation it became evident that management and staff were using disrespectful expressions. Equally, a well dressed professional and afro descendent, Salomzi Mhna, was refused entrance. Mhna stated that she was “in agreement with the procedures being carried out by Indepabis, since there are many businesses such as this one, that discriminate on the basis of skin color”. Administrative proceedings were initiated against the companies, who could be liable for fines and were also closed for 48 hours due to the violation of the article it of the DEPABIS law. The supervision by public sector workers in nightlife zones will be permanent at a national level, in order to guarantee the wellbeing of everyone and their healthy enjoyment, without any kind of exclusion- a principle of the Chavez government, and without having to tolerate racist arbitrary action or the rejection of people for their obesity. T/ Aporrea.org P/ Agencies elan people had taken advantage of the program. “The revolutionary doctors and medical students from Cuba and Venezuela and the rest of the Americas…are offering a serious challenge to the rest of the world”, writes Brouwer. “By their daily deeds and commitment to socialist solidarity, they are demonstrating that humanity is capable of delivering medical care to everyone – not in the remote future, but right now – and they are accomplishing this while openly defying the logic of capitalist development that dominates most of the globe”. T/ Monthly Review Press P/ Agencies
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, September 2, 2011
The artillery of ideas
Analysis | 7 |
Report discredits government, advises regime change in Venezuela I
t’s hard to imagine a group of red-shirted Venezuelans catching a plane to New York or Washington and conducting an investigation into the state of the US health care system, its education system, or police brutality. And the reason it’s hard to imagine, isn’t because the US government doesn’t have a gamut of longterm inhumane policies, but because Venezuela would never meddle in another country’s internal affairs. Not only does the Venezuelan government have its hands full with national initiatives, programs, campaigns and problems, but it’s also among the numerous “third world” countries of Latin America, Africa, and Asia who know foreign intervention all too well. The Plaza Bolivar in every single city and major town is testimony to how much Venezuelans value their independence and sovereignty, and they practice what they preach. Unfortunately, the US and other Western powers regularly violate other nations’ rights, and not just with bombs. In order to manipulate countries’ internal economic and political situations to their own benefit, they are also using more subtle and camouflaged methods, such as media, movies, “aid”, and lengthy “reports” and statements by supposedly nonpartisan “human rights” groups, such as Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group. Human Rights Watch puts out an annual “report” on the rights situation in Venezuela, and International Crisis Group circulated a report this month on violence in the South American nation. While the content of these reports is interesting, though de-contextualized and distorted, the very premise for writing them is the problem. Donning their suits and human rights discourse, the writers of these reports are a cocktail of pompous arrogance and racism. They believe they have more moral authority than people and organizations within Venezuela to analyze the social and economic situation, and to tell the Venezuelan government what to do. They judge other countries
according to their own cultural and economic values, using the US as an extremely inappropriate yardstick of “democracy”, and seeing neoliberalism as the epitome of freedom and rights. In Venezuela, their main aim is to discredit the alternative society in construction and to disrupt and disturb the Revolution. Venezuela’s Revolution, not theirs. INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP Silke Pfeiffer, project director of Crisis Group in Bogota (who was also, interestingly, an international development consultant for the World Bank), speaking on an Al Jazeera news debate program “the Stream”, argued that the Crisis Group’s report criticizing the Venezuelan government’s handling of crime was “not political”. “Let’s keep politics out of this”, she said. Yet, despite describing itself as an “independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization” “working to prevent conflict worldwide”, the Crisis Group is anything but impartial. According to its own website, its board is chaired by Thomas Pickering, former US Ambassador, and Shell and Chevron are on its International Advisory Council. 54% of its funding comes from governments, 26% from institutional foundations, and the rest from individual and corporate donors.
Donors include; the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, various foreign ministries- mostly from Western countries, the UK Economic and Social Research Council, and the United States Agency for International Development, USAID. USAID began financing the opposition in Venezuela in 2002. According to lawyer and journalist, Eva Golinger, its “sole intention [here is to] aid in President Chavez’s removal from power”. It has channelled millions of dollars into “political parties, organizations and private media entities linked to the opposition, helping them to grow and unify, and providing strategic advice, support and resources for their political campaigns”. Demonstrating its neoliberal and US-centrism, in its 2009 report on Venezuela, the Crisis Group claimed the Chavez government had “progressively abandoned core liberal democracy principles guaranteed under the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights”. Its “Violence and Politics in Venezuela” report, published August 17, 2011, criticizes the government’s “policy of arming civilians” (which doesn’t exist) and Chavez’s “inflammatory rhetoric”. While the report acknowledges that a “significant part of the [crime] problem has
been inherited from previous governments”, most of it is focused on criticizing the current government, based largely on opposition media sources with no balance or objectivity, and little fact checking. HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH In a statement to the media, Human Rights Watch (HRW) demanded this week that “President Hugo Chavez’s government provide protection for an activist who had to flee Venezuela after being threatened for alleging human rights abuses in prisons”. The implication of course, is that the Venezuelan government mistreats “human rights activists”, in this case, Humberto Prado, who contends to work for prisoner rights. According to HRW, Prado left Venezuela in June after receiving “numerous threats following his condemnation of the government’s handling” of prison riots that month, and returned to Venezuela this week. HRW attempts to tell the Venezuelan government what to do: “The Venezuelan government should promptly adopt concrete measures to comply with an InterAmerican Court order to protect Humberto Prado”, and criticizes the government for responding to Prado’s critiques. That is, according to HRW, some are allowed to criticize and others are not.
According to Venezuelan talk show host, Mario Silva, Prado was in league with the 2002 coup supporting news channel, Globovision, trying to use the prison conflict to create a climate of instability and chaos. Silva said that Prado “works together with prisoners”, while another VTV journalist, Alberto Nolia, alleged Prado had been “in prison for mugging, armed robbery, and homicide. He formed a relationship with a famous prison director [in the 80s], Dunia Farias, and she got her boyfriend to get Prado a presidential pardon, and from then on he has lived off the trafficking of inmates”. Like Crisis Group, HRW has a specific agenda of delegitimizing one the few governments in the world that puts people first. In 2008, the author of HRW’s 236 page report on Venezuela, Jose Miguel Vivanco stated, “We did the report because we wanted to demonstrate to the world that Venezuela is not a model for anyone...” Over 100 experts on Latin America rejected that report, titled, “A Decade under Chavez: Political Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela”, claiming it didn’t “meet even the most minimal standards of scholarship, impartiality, accuracy, or credibility”. These reports’ observation of crime, police corruption and problems in the judicial system are facts known, and felt, by the average Venezuelan. The government and the Venezuelan people are not stupid and do not need these reports to tell them how things are or what to do. Also, because of increased political empowerment and grassroots participation in the Revolution, there is much less political apathy, and most community and movement leaders very articulately debate the causes of crime at a national and local level. Ultimately, sovereignty and real democracy involve people organizing to solve their own problems. If foreign organizations want to “help” they should do so working with the movements, communities and people, not from above them. T/ Tamara Pearson www.venezuelanalysis.com
FRIDAY | September 2, 2011 | No. 79 Bs 1 | C ARACAS
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
he commemorative ceremonies that are planned for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11/01 massacre are those of pathos for the victims and their families, of praise for both the pursuit of the supporters of the attackers and the performance of first responders and our soldiers abroad. Flags and martial music will punctuate the combined atmosphere of sorrow and aggressive defiance to those terrorists who would threaten us. These events will be moments of respectful silence and some expressions of rage and ferocity. But many people in the US might also want to pause to recognize — or unlearn — those reactions and overreactions to 9/11/01 that have harmed our country. How, in this forward-looking manner, can we respect the day of 9/11/01? Here are some suggestions: 1. Do not exaggerate our adversaries’ strength in order to produce a climate of hysteria that results in repression of civil liberties, embodied in the overwrought USA Patriot Act, and immense long-term damage to our economy. Consider the massive diversion of trillions of dollars from domestic civilian needs because of the huge expansion and misspending in military and security budgets. 2. Do not allow our leaders to lie and exaggerate as when they told us there were funded, suicidal and hateful al-Qaeda cells all over our country. They were never here. Actually, the wholesale invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan became recruiting grounds for more alQaeda branches there and in other countries — a fact acknowledged by both then-Army Chief of Staff George Casey and then-CIA Director Porter Goss. 3. Do not create a climate of fear or monopolize a partisan definition of patriotism in order to silence dissent from other political parties, the citizenry or the unfairly arrested or harassed. 4. Do not tolerate presidents who violate our Constitution and start wars without congressional deliberation and a declaration of war (article 1, section 8, clause 11). Do not let them disobey federal statutes and international treaties in pursuing
Painful lessons from 9/11/2001
The Empire is eating itself unlawful, misdirected quicksand wars, as in Iraq, that produce deaths, destruction and debts that undermine our country’s national interests. 5. Do not have Congress write a blank check, outside the normal Appropriations Committee hearing process, for the huge budgetary demands from the executive branch for funding of the Iraq, Afghan-Pakistan and other undeclared wars, such as Libya. 6. Do not allow the executive branch to engage in unconstitutional and illegal recurrent practices such as wiretapping and other methods of surveillance of people in the US without judicial approval, in addition to arrests without charges, indefinite imprisonment, torture and denial
of habeas corpus and other due process rights established by our Founding Fathers. Congress has passed no reforms to check the continuing exercise of unchecked dictatorial presidential power. 7. Do not let the government hide the horrors of war from the people by prohibiting photographs of US casualties; operating cruel, secret prisons; harassing reporters; and refusing to count civilian casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya. There is too much intimidation of returning soldiers — so many harmed for life — from telling the people what they experienced and think about these wars and their heavy outsourcing to profiteering corporations.
8. Do not allow US leaders to violate US principles with torture or other war crimes prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. Nor should top military brass or members of the executive branch be above our laws and escape accountability. 9. Do not allow your Congress to abdicate or transfer its own constitutional authorities to the President. We the people have not exercised our civic duties enough to make our representatives in Congress fulfill their obligations under the Constitution to decide whether we go to war and act as a watchdog of the president’s conduct. The Libyan war was decided and funded by President Obama without congressional approval.
10. Call out those in the news media who become a mouthpiece of the President and his departments involved in these hostilities. What more is the military really doing in Libya, Somali and Yemen as compared with the official line? Under what legal authority? In addition, demand that news media outlets seek the inconvenient facts, wherever they might lead, unlike the pre-Iraq invasion period. The celebrated US theologianphilosopher Reinhold Niebuhr aptly wrote decades ago that “to the end of history, social orders will probably destroy themselves in the effort to prove that they are indestructible”. All empires eventually eat away at their own and devour themselves. Ralph Nader Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!