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page 7 | Culture

page 8 | Opinion

Revolutionizing Venezuela’s film industry through greater inclusion and focus on new artists

Protests in the US expand as the “roar of the people” is heard nationwide. Will change come?

Friday | October 14, 2011 | Nº 85 | Caracas

Human Rights applauded in Venezuela Venezuela passed a United Nations Universal Periodic Exam on Human Rights with flying colors this week. The review took place at the headquarters of the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The Venezuelan government was represented by a delegation led by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, and gave a several hours-long, in-depth presentation on major human rights advances, setbacks and areas in development in the South American country. A majority of member nations lauded Venezuela’s clear steps towards improving human rights in country, while others, such as the US, used the opportunity to attack the Chavez government. | page 2

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

Venezuela backs Palestinian statehood President Chavez met with his counterpart, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Caracas this week, where the two leaders forged ties and pledged to develop a bilateral agenda The meeting occurred as part of the Palestine Authority chief’s Latin America tour to garner support for Palestinian statehood. While Venezuela had already formalized its support for the independence and sovereignty of a Palestinian nation during the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Hugo Chavez reiterated his nation’s unconditional support for a Palestinian state. Chavez and Abbas also agreed to develop cooperation accords for future exchange in the areas of agriculture, healthcare, technology and communication. | Page 3



Thousands join grassroots coalition The Chavez reelection campaign 2012 is kicking off with strong, diverse support. | page 3 Integration

ALBA nations support Syria A delegation from Latin America denounced USled aggression against Syria. | page 5 Social Justice

New social services for senior citizens As Western nations cut back social programs, Venezuela increases them. | page 6

Venezuela defeats legendary Argentina

Venezuela’s electoral system is solid and transparent


resident of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, spoke during a series of meetings in Washington this week about the improvements made to her country’s electoral system over the last ten years. Lucena indicated the CNE is a solid, transparent entity that guarantees the inclusion of all Venezuelans across the political spectrum. “The Electoral Power has defeated abstention and increased democratic participation thanks to

mechanisms that today guarantee the political participation of all Venezuelans. Electoral participation has grown and the CNE has various control mechanisms to guarantee the transparency of all electoral processes”. Regarding the advances made by the CNE, Lucena said that it has defeated corruption that existed under previous governments and elevated inclusion due to the solidity of the system and factors such as increased voting stations. “While in the past there were only

7,000 voting stations, today we have 40,000. We are [in] communities that never before had access to electoral participation. These advances have made our electoral system the safest in the region”, Lucena said. Last June, the Venezuelan electoral system was certified as the best in the world in terms of compliance with democratic norms and social equality, according to a study by the Canada-based institution known as the Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA).

enezuela claimed a huge win over Argentina on Tuesday night, beating the Albiceleste 1-0, in the second soccer game of the CONMEBOL 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. The Vinotinto’s, (Venezuela’s team), hero of the night was Fernando Amorebieta, who netted the lone goal of the game in the 61st minute of the match on a corner kick. A lot of the blame for the legendary Argentine team’s loss has been placed on Argentine World Superstar Lionel Messi, but Venezuela was the superior team on Tuesday night, as they played harder and faster, and kept a constant attack throughout the match. They also disrupted a lot of Argentina’s attacks and attempts to score. If it weren’t for Argentina’s goalkeeper, Mariano Andujar, the Albiceleste might have been embarrassed by suffering defeat by a larger margin. The Vinotinto have been excelling worldwide over the past several years as the Chavez administration has invested heavily in sports excellence.


2 | Impact

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United Nations review: Venezuela excels in Human Rights T/ COI P/ Agencies n Tuesday the Venezuelan government welcomed the results of what it called “an open and extensive” human rights assessment carried out this week by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Temir Porras said the Human Rights evaluation had “provided an opportunity to revise, deepen, and perfect those public policies directed at protecting and promoting human rights in Venezuela”. The diplomat thanked the UN body for its review, saying he spoke on behalf of “the millions of Venezuelans who, walking hand in hand with their government, continue to make Human Rights a tangible, concrete, living reality”. Porras’ comments came at the end of a lengthy UN review process known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a newly-implemented mechanism created to evaluate the Human Rights situations in all 193 UN Member States. As part of the process, each country presents a selfassessment, which is later thoroughly reviewed by fellow members of UN Human Rights Council. In July 2011, Venezuela submitted its report to the UN body, entitled “Human Rights for Good Living”. In it, the Venezuelan government placed advances in Human Rights into the context of the Bolivarian Revolution, highlighting for example, the total eradication of illiteracy, dramatic reductions in poverty rates, important increases in nutrition and food security, universal access to health care services and higher education. During the 12th Session of the UPR Working Group, held in Geneva late last week, the UN body reviewed the Human Rights situation of 16 countries ranging from Ireland and Iceland to Syria and Venezuela.


Understanding the importance of the “open and extensive process”, in contrast to private Human Rights assessments issued by non-government organizations (NGOs) based in or funded by the United States and its allies, the Venezuelan government sent a high-ranking delegation to Geneva that included Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nicia Maldonado, and General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega. After presenting their assessment of Human Rights in their country, the delegation participated in the critical review process coordinated by Guatemala, Burkina Faso, and the Czech Republic, the three countries selected to lead the assessment of Venezuela. Open to all Member States, the review resulted in a total 148 recommendations to be considered by the Venezuelan government. POSITIVE & NEGATIVE RESULTS While most recommendations were favorable, including a suggestion by Nicaragua that “the revolutionary policies of the Venezuelan government be strengthened so that all Venezuelans can fully enjoy their

fundamental rights”, other countries such as the United States, France, and Israel criticized what they said were limitations of “freedom of expression” and a lack of “an independent judiciary”. In response to the overall assessment, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister affirmed that “positive suggestions” would be taken back to his country for consideration by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, but that recommendations made “with an aggressive spirit and absolute cynicism” would be rejected as such. Uruguay’s Laura Dupuy Lasserre, President of the UN Human Rights Council, explained that the acceptance or rejection of specific recommendations “is a sovereign decision” of each Member State. “The acceptance (of a recommendation) is a political commitment that each state assumes…Of course, follow through (by the government) is then expected so that the international community can continue to provide vigilance” on each specific issue, she explained. Of the 148 recommendations made, Venezuela accepted 95,

rejected 38, and left 15 for further discussion in a follow-up session scheduled for March 2012. According to the Deputy Foreign Minister, 75 of the 95 recommendations accepted are already being implemented in the Bolivarian Republic. “The government of Venezuela is proud to report that 80% of the observations and recommendations made by brother and sister nations are already being carried out, meaning that we are advancing in the right direction and doing so by our own free will”, Porras said on Tuesday. “Of course, there was no shortage of those who came here with unfounded, disrespectful, and interventionist affirmations, which they attempted to disguise as ‘recommendations’, comments that not only have nothing to do with Venezuelan reality but lack a genuine interest in promoting Human Rights”. “It doesn’t surprise us”, continued Porras, “that said accusations come from the same old empires that have a very peculiar way of defending human rights – bombing countries and slaughtering innocent men and women, applying criminal economic blockades against people who struggle for independence, and financing political destabilization and terrorism in an attempt to impose their will on, and to take control of, the natural resources of victim nations”. The UN review process, Porras explained, helped to “relegate to the sidelines those who come here looking to impose their policy of double-speak and double-standards, manipulating the Human Rights discourse so as to continue stepping on those peoples who seek to live independently”. The diplomat added that his country was the permanent victim of “unfounded criticisms” because is “defends the truth and does not, will not, remain silent when it comes to denouncing the blatant disregard for the people, to denouncing imperialism and war, and

to defending just causes across the world, peace and brotherhood among all nations”. Commenting on the results of the Human Rights review, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the process had resulted in “a resounding victory for the truth, a resounding victory for the Bolivarian Revolution and for the Venezuelan people”. “We are very pleased with the results of this process”, said Chavez, because Venezuela “is a country in which, some 13 years ago, we began a truly intense battle for the recuperation and defense of Human Rights”. The Bolivarian Revolution came to power in 1998 after Chavez won the first of many electoral victories spearheaded by the Venezuelan people. A year later, a new constitution was written and approved by voters which incorporated a number of important internationally-recognized elements of the struggle for Human Rights including social, economic, and cultural inclusion. OPPOSITION INTENTIONS While opposition media outlets and anti-Chavez politicians celebrated the critiques made by the US and its allies, Venezuela’s top Human Rights official questioned the use of the debates to discredit ongoing attempts to democratize Venezuelan society. “The objective of this (UPE) process is to provide the Venezuelan people a trustworthy assessment of the true status of Human Rights in the country, free of political bias and proselytizing”, explained Venezuelan Human Rights Ombudsman Gabriela Ramirez. Responding to opposition claims of “international condemnation”, Ramirez explained that, “Human Rights must be understood in their concrete form and within the context that they are exercised”. “Regrettably for our country”, she concluded, “the Human Rights discourse has been tremendously politicized and become a bastion from which certain political sectors (of the opposition) discredit the country’s democratic institutions, perverting the real essence of Human Rights and causing a great deal of harm to the Venezuelan people”.

The artillery of ideas

NoÊnxÊUÊFriday, October 14, 2011


Venezuela supports Palestine statehood; Chavez & Abbas met in Caracas T/ COI P/ Agencies n his continuing global odyssey for garnering larger support for the initiative of securing Palestinian statehood and membership in the United Nations, President Mahmoud Abbas succeeded Tuesday in getting Venezuela on board. Venezuela, a fast growing economy, is an oil giant with tremendous diplomatic clout. President Hugo Chavez extended his country’s full support to the Palestine UN membership bid during a Caracas meeting with visiting President Abbas. At present Palestine enjoys UN observer status. Venezuela’s jittery neighbor, Colombia declared last week its intention to vote against Palestinian statehood in the UN Security Council. Colombia’s right-wing government, led by


President Juan Manuel Santos, is a close ally and dependent of the United States. During remarks to the press after Tuesday’s meeting at Mi-

raflores presidential palace in Caracas, Chavez assured that “all Venezuelan people were united in not just supporting the Palestinian cause at the United

Nations, but their struggle to reclaim historic Palestine”. In return, President Abbas thanked the Venezuelan leadership for supporting Palestine and its people. The Venezuelan President also expressed his hope to “visit Palestine soon and meet with President Abbas”. The two leaders spoke of cooperation accords between both nations once Palestinian statehood is formalized. “We have agreed to create a commission to review the new horizons of cooperation in all possible areas”, said Chavez. “They have lands fit for agriculture, but lack technology and resources for production”, he added. Currently, 37 Palestinians study at the Latin American School of Medicine in Venezuela. On September 29, 2011, President Abbas formally presented

Thousands of organizations join pro-Chavez grassroots campaign coalition T/ COI P/ Presidential Press n a massive sign of popular support, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced last Monday the enrollment of more than 4,000 grassroots social movements, organizations and activists throughout the national territory into a new progressive coalition formed to prepare the grounds for next year’s presidential elections. The Great Patriotic Pole, formally launched last Friday, is open to any and all organizations that wish to support the current President and assist in consolidating the country’s progressive and democratic revolution led by Chavez. Although it is widely understood that the 7 million-strong United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) will play a key leadership role in the new coali-


tion, participation in the umbrella organization does not depend on party membership. “I see the Great Patriotic Pole as a network of networks where social movements maintain complete freedom and their own internal methods as well as their own identity, but they also have the consciousness to link

themselves to the great network of movements that transcends the local”, Chavez said. Referring to the registry carried out in the capital of Caracas and the central states of Miranda and Vargas as a “flood of people’s power”, the head of state gave the official count of affiliated members.

“I was looking over the numbers and we have 4,158 organizations enlisted”, he informed. While the Great Patriotic Pole will play a major role in organizing support for President Chavez’s re-election bid in 2012, it is also envisioned as a forum to stimulate debate, criticism and reflection with respect to Venezuela’s revolutionary process. According to Lorena Freites, youth activist from the cultural group Tiuna El Fuerte in Caracas, the coalition represents “a space where the Revolution can discuss itself”. “New spaces are being opened in order to diversify participation… It’s giving space to youth and people who felt there was no place for them. It has authentic potential because it’s arising from critical revision”, Freites said during an interview earlier this week. The activist also placed emphasis on how the Great Patriotic Pole has the capability


3| the Palestinian statehood dossier to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Currently the fifteen members of the Security Council are deliberating over the decision. Already at least nine members have shown their support for Palestine, despite retaliatory US veto threat. The Security Council consists of five permanent members: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the US, and ten non-permanent members Bosnia, Brazil, Colombia, Gabon, Germany, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal and South Africa. China, Russia, India, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, Bosnia, Portugal are reported to have already decided to vote in favor of Palestine in the forthcoming Security Council meeting. The world community, fearing a daily rise in number of arrogant global conflicts, view the current phase of the Middle East situation as quite ripe for final settlement with a two-State solution: Palestine and Israel. But US threat to veto the possibility of Palestine statehood could prevent this from happening.

of bringing a new participatory and revolutionary ethic to the everyday lives of residents. “The false division between the social and the political, the ideological and the day-to-day is being transcended. By beginning to understand that there is no such division and that politics transcends everything – this is going to open the possibility that many more people feel engaged”, she asserted. Thus far, the coalition has been joined by a wide diversity of activist groups and social movements including student, women, LGBT, indigenous, farmer and worker organizations. In terms of political parties the Patriotic Pole has received, in addition to the backing of the PSUV, the support of both the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and a division of Patria Para Todos (PPT). “This is part of the process that needs to continue to mature, a process that will continue to develop through debate and discussions with different sectors, social organizations, political parties and individuals so that we can advance in the consolidation of the Revolution”, said PCV leader Yul Jabour.


4 | Politics

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Venezuelan city councilors Visit socialist municipality in Spain T/ COI ast Tuesday, a delegation of city councilors from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela departed for a two-week visit with the City Council of Marinaleda, Spain, to exchange ideas about promoting inclusive democracy and economic equality at the local level. The councilors from the Libertador Municipality in Merida, Venezuela received a special invitation from Mayor Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, whose administration has established collectively owned property and humanist social programs in the largely rural municipality of Marinaleda. In a joint statement, the Venezuelan city councilors said they would attend “a series of working meetings to exchange ideas within the framework of complementarity, respect, collaboration, and multi-polar relations between both municipalities”. The statement referred to Gordillo as “a revolutionary mayor who shares in the Bolivarian Project” and who “has totally


combated unemployment and insecurity, and provided solid waste management and other services with a socialist revolutionary program, which has improved the quality of life”. The group of Venezuelan officials hopes to “show the advances of the Bolivarian revolution and break through the media blockade that exists against the Venezuelan revolutionary process, in particular within the European Union”, according to Cesar Angulo, the president of the Commission of Inter-Insti-

tutional Relations of Libertador City Council. “The people of Marinaleda will learn about Venezuela’s transformation from a neoliberal model to a society based on communal power, through the public policies of the Bolivarian Revolution”, Angulo said in an interview with COI. Councilor Luz Mayeli Molina, who is also part of the PSUV delegation to Marinaleda, said she hoped to learn from Gordillo’s 30-year experience as mayor in order to improve the performan-

Venezuela to turn “illegal” vacation homes into affordable hotels on Los Roques T/ Rachael Boothroyd enezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Sunday that “illegal houses” on the archipelago Los Roques would be expropriated and converted into low-cost hotels for poorer Venezuelans. The cluster of islands is famous for being the playground of Venezuela’s rich elite and international tourists, who often vacation on the Caribbean islands. Despite the fact that the group of islands was declared a protected area in 1972, numerous vacation homes and private buildings have been constructed there, particularly


in el Cayo Madrisqui, where Chavez claims various houses were illegally built. “The upper-class bourgeoisie illegally privatized all of Los Roques and that’s what we are going to expropriate”, he

said, adding that yachts expropriated from fugitive bankers would also be used for sightseeing tours in the area. In August the President used the special decree authority granted to him by the Vene-

ce of the PSUV in local government. “We recognize that our municipality in this moment has certain difficulties mostly in providing services to our communities, and we want to learn about their experience [in Marinaleda] and bring these experiences not only to Libertador Municipality but also to many municipalities around the state and even the country”, said Molina. The councilor added that among her objectives is to “to be able to convert the state that we have into the true socialist state led by President Chavez”. Each Venezuelan councilor is expected to make a presentation about a major aspect of the PSUV’s political strategy in Merida, including its policy toward healthcare, education, agricultural development through a community-led process known as endogenous development, and other public policies that receive limited exposure in the international media. The two groups of city councilors also plan to discuss the impact of the international economic crisis, and their responses to

zuelan National Assembly to create the Insular Territory of Miranda. The recently founded territory includes Los Roques, La Orchila and the Archipelago Las Aves, some of Venezuela’s prime Caribbean islands. “Some people believe that those are autonomous territories. Wealthy sectors and the oligarchy do not event think that they belong to Venezuela”, said Chavez at the time. On Wednesday, the President appointed Vice-Admiral Armando Laguna Laguna as head of the newly-established territory. Laguna will oversee the implementation of government projects on the islands, which the government hopes will begin straight away. RESIDENTS INVOLVED A popular consultation process with the islands’ inhabitants began last week through a governmental commission,

the crisis. “We know that a large part of Spain, like in other countries, has been severely affected by this crisis, and we want to know what was Marinaleda’s experience compared to ours,” Molina commented. Angulo said the Venezuelan delegation would “be in solidarity with the movement of outraged people who have been trampled by the neoliberal measures of the government of [Spanish President Jose Luis] Rodríguez Zapatero”. SOCIALIST SPAIN Mayor Gordillo was first elected in 1979 on the Workers’ Unity Collective platform, which won an absolute majority of seats on the Marinaleda City Council. He has been continuously re-elected by the municipality’s 2,600 residents, and is now serving his ninth term as mayor. Over the past 32 years, the Marinaleda City Council has promoted full employment policies, expanded social benefits for the poor, and undertaken radical reforms often through land occupations. Gordillo’s administration also changed the names of city streets from the names of Franco-era military generals the names of Latin American socialists such as the Cuba’s Antonio Maceo and Chile’s Salvador Allende. Marinaleda’s official flag bears the slogan: “In Utopia Toward Peace”.

which was sent to consult citizens regarding the needs of Los Roques’ population and to organize a debate of the country’s popular power laws. United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) representative and member of the commission, Odalys Monzon, related that one of the primary concerns expressed by inhabitants of Los Roques was the absence of a health clinic. “We spoke with the President of Social Security, Carlos Rotondaro, and construction of an outpatient’s department is already underway here”, said the representative. As well as low cost hotels for ordinary Venezuelans, Chavez also stated that a fishing center would be built on the islands and confirmed that the move was a result of years of study, carried out by governmental political and geo-political research teams.

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NoÊnxÊUÊFriday, October 14, 2011


Latin American Nations Express Support for Syria, Oppose Foreign Attacks T/ COI P/ Agencies ver the weekend Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and his colleagues from within the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA) met in Damascus to denounce ongoing violence in Syria aimed at toppling the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the Latin American delegation said it was in Syria to prevent “another Libya” and called for an end to “all forms of interventionism” by the US and its allies. “Aren’t the existing aggressions against the Arab people enough; the slaughtering of the Iraqi people, the bombardment of the Libyan people? How is all this justified?” asked Maduro. Speaking on behalf of the ALBA delegates, the Venezuelan diplomat said the regional alliance “will continue to reject all forms of interventionism by the (US) Empire which seek to apply the same format used in Libya to incite a process of violent regime change” in Syria and other countries that oppose US foreign policy. ALBA, a social, economic, political and cultural initiative spearheaded by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, currently includes member states Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela. With respect to the Middle East, Maduro explained, “ALBA is a proposal based on solidarity; a solidarity that includes defending the sovereignty and dignity of both the people and government of Syria”. Venezuela’s Foreign Minister was joined in Damascus by his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United Nations Maria Rubiales, Ecuadorian Vice Minister for North American and Europe Pablo Villagomez, and Bolivian Minister of Communications Ivan Canelas.


The Cuban Foreign Minister told reporters that his country stood with ALBA in its support for the Syrian people’s “right to self-determination, without any foreign intervention or interference at all”. Nicaragua’s Rubiales added, “to defend Syria is to defend all our peoples against imperialist aggression” because, she argued, “an attack on Syria is an attack on all of ALBA, against all the people of the South”. ALBA CONCERNS “We have no doubt whatsoever that the US and western powers want to take advantage of the internal problems Syria has so as to conspire against, damage and destroy” the Al-Assad government, affirmed Maduro. “It remains for the people of Syria to decide, with their great capacity for patriotism, if they will allow this to happen or not. And it’s up to international public opinion to decide if we will allow a crime to be committed against the people of Syria”, he said. In an open letter to the United Nations read at the UN General Assembly last month, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez questioned the international community’s role in toppling Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and new attempts aimed at Syria’s Assad: “It is intolerable that the powerful of this world intend to

claim for themselves the right to order legitimate and sovereign governments’ rulers to step down. This was the case in Libya, and they want to do the same in Syria. Such are the existing asymmetries in the international setting and such are the abuses against the weakest nations…” “It is not for us to bring forward a conclusive judgment about the national situation in Syria; first, because of the inherent complexity of any national reality and, second, because only the Syrian people can solve their problems and decide their fate in light of the people’s right to self-determination, which is an inalienable right in all respects”. In recent weeks, US President Barack Obama and his British, German, and French counterparts have all openly called for an end to the Al-Assad government. The US and Europe also imposed unilateral sanctions against Syria, failing to pass a UN resolution as Russia and China opposed such a move for fear that a Libya-style intervention would later occur. In an official statement, Obama said the United States had done everything possible to have Syria’s Al-Assad “lead a democratic transition or get out of the way”. “He has not led (such a transition). For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for

President Assad to step aside”, Obama affirmed. REFORMS A “SOVEREIGN DECISION” Syrian President Bashar AlAssad, who thanked the ALBA delegation for their solidarity on Sunday, contextualized the widespread political violence suffered across the country since protests for political reform began earlier this year. “Foreign attacks against Syria intensified as soon as the internal situation began to improve, confirming that it isn’t reform that they (outside forces) want, but instead, that Syria pay the price for maintaining political positions that go against foreign plans for the region”. The “process of reform underway”, explained Al-Assad, “will be implemented, and is being implemented, based on the sovereign decision to do so, independent of any external dictates coming from abroad”. The Syrian government has often differed from US, European, and Israeli policies with respect to Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran, among others. Domestically, the Al-Assad government is backed by the ruling Ba’ath Party, a political party founded on Arab nationalist and socialist doctrines that defends, among other things, the right to selfdetermination. Demonstrations for political reforms in the country first began in January, with numerous


5| mass demonstrations in Damascus and other large cities. These protests were largely peaceful until, on March 15, 2011, clashes between state security forces and unidentified gunmen left dozens of people dead or wounded. Since then, there have been hundreds of civilian and military casualties. International human rights organizations and mainstream media outlets, including many of the same that exaggerated data in the build-up to war in Libya, accuse the Syrian government of outright repression, including “crimes against humanity”. The Syrian government, however, reports that 1,400 people have been killed to date, half of which are members of the police or armed forces. International agencies such as the UN Human Rights Council place the number of dead at or above 2,400. Ending his comments in Damascus, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister explained that while ALBA fully supports those “efforts aimed at addressing the internal affairs of this beautiful nation in a peaceful and political way”, it rejects “the manipulation and lies in the mainstream media that attempt to impose a situation of civil war and continuous violence on Syria”. In an article published by the New York Times last month, writer Helene Cooper reported that widespread unrest in Syria had led US State Department officials to begin “pressing Syria’s opposition leaders to unite as they work to bring down the Assad government”. “While other countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from Damascus, Obama administration officials say they are leaving in place the American ambassador, Robert S. Ford, despite the risks, so he can maintain contact with opposition leaders and the leaders of the country’s myriad sects and religious groups”, Cooper wrote. Just this week, anti-government forces in Syria formed what they called the ‘Syrian National Council’ (SNC), looking for international support and recognition as the future replacement of the AlAssad government. Libya’s National Transition Council (TNC), backed by NATO in the overthrow the Gaddafi government, was the first to recognize the SNC as Syria’s “legitimate government”.


6 | Social Justice

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Venezuela: new policies to benefit senior citizens As the United States and western European nations are cutting social programs and pensions for the elderly, Venezuela’s President Chavez is increasing them T/ COI P/ Agencies enezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced last week the creation of a new social program designed to benefit some of the country’s most vulnerable residents. During a phone call to the radio station YVKE Mundial, Chavez explained that the new program, or mission, will boost pension and welfare assistance to seniors throughout the nation who find themselves in a situation of need. “We need to consolidate the different programs, institutions, and the participation of seniors and revolutionary or-


ganizations. This is a mission that will attend to all the cases”, the head of state explained. The vast majority of seniors in Venezuela receive a pension from the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) in accordance with their salaries as members of the nation’s work force. For women, pensions become available at 55 years of age while men are eligible at the age of

60. Apart from pensions, some 200,000 seniors receive benefits through Venezuela’s National Institute of Social Services (INASS) which provides assistance for traditionally marginalized sectors including single mothers, indigenous groups, and the disabled. The amount of the monthly INASS benefits range from 60 to 80 percent of the minimum

nefits from the IVSS and the INASS. But this is an issue that needs to be worked on with balance and sustainability”, the socialist leader said.

wage, currently at 1,548 bolivars ($360). Chavez informed on Monday that a major goal of the new mission will be to find those seniors who are not enrolled in either program to ensure that they receive their necessary benefits. “There are many elderly people who are not enrolled in either the IVSS or the INASS, living in a situation of poverty without a pension. They never paid into the system or the companies they worked for, including the state, exploited them and never followed the law… they didn’t pay the insurance and the people don’t appear registered”, he said. The head of state made clear during the broadcast his desire to see the number of adults receiving assistance from the INASS to be gradually increased until those beneficiaries are equivalent to the number receiving pensions through the IVSS. “I have the firm intention of progressively equaling the be-

MORE ECONOMIC BENEFITS In a further strengthening of economic benefits for the elderly, Chavez also announced last week the approval of just under 9 billion bolivars ($2 billion) for various Christmas Bonuses, known in Venezuela as “aguinaldos”, which provide up to an additional two months of salary for recipients. “There is almost no country in the world that has the kind of policies that we have in Venezuela”, the President said. According to Mauro Gonzalez, host of the YVKE’s radio program, the current Venezuelan government is doing more now for seniors than ever before. “In earlier times, [the state] only gave 10 percent of the minimum wage. Now the IVSS isn’t only giving pensions, but they’re providing health care, rehabilitation, medicine and other services”, he said. In addition to announcing the new social program, Chavez also touched on the need to strengthen the “ideological battle” and spoke of the need to amplify the range of YVKE radio which, in addition to appearing on line, has five stations throughout the national territory.

advances achieved in native people’s communities. October 12th has been renamed as the Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela since 2002, through a presidential decree by Hugo Chavez, in order to recognize the struggle of the native people against the foreign conquerors. Also during the activities on Wednesday, Vice

President Elias Jaua oversaw an event issuing land titles to indigenous families and communities in the western state of Zulia. Hundreds of native families received title to their own lands and homes built with public funds. The event was repeated in several other indigenous communities throughout the nation.

Venezuela celebrates Indigenous Resistance Day; boosts social programs to protect people of native descent T/ COI P/ Agencies enezuela’s Justice Ministry Vice-Minister of Interior Policy, Edwin Rojas, emphasized Wednesday that Venezuela has implemented numerous social policies which recognize, protect and respect the culture, traditions and dialects of all native peoples of the country, rights enshrined in the Venezuelan Constitution ratified in 1999. During the activities commemorated on Wednesday, the Day of Indigenous Resistance (pre-


viously Columbus Day), Rojas listed some of the social policies most recently enacted, including the creation of a ministry of indigenous people, identity cards which respect the original name of people of native descent, social missions and programs in the areas of healthcare and education, the Plan Yukpa which is aimed at land demarcation of these native communities, and many others. “Previously, we were told that this day, October 12, was the date when we were discovered. Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) was portrayed

as a good friend of the indigenous people and the conquerors were people who came to do us good. The Venezuelan Government under President Hugo Chavez has fostered the awakening of people and indigenous people’s awareness of our true history”. Vice-Minister Rojas highlighted the role played by Indigenous Peoples Minister Nicia Maldonado in Geneva last week, where Venezuela submitted the Universal Periodic Review report on human rights and particularly stood out for its social, political, health and educational

The artillery of ideas

NoÊnxÊUÊFriday, October 14, 2011




Revolutionizing cinema in Venezuela: an interview with Victor Luckert T/ COI P/ EE ilmmakers from all over Latin America converged on the Caribbean island of Margarita last Thursday to mark the inauguration of the 4th edition of Venezuela’s most important cinematic event. The Latin American and Caribbean Film Festival of Margarita, an initiative of the Venezuelan government, has grown steadily over its young existence and is now considered by many in the industry to occupy a privileged place among some of the most notable competitions in the region. This year’s festival has included the participation of fiction and documentary filmmakers from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Panama, Brazil as well as national productions that address a range of social, political and cultural issues. Focusing on the promotion of new talent, the competition has made a special effort to incorporate community projects into its program, providing opportunities for otherwise excluded sectors of the population to learn the art of cinema and democratize what has traditionally been an audio-visual landscape dominated by foreign producers. Correo del Orinoco International had the chance to converse with the coordinator of the event, Victor Luckert, during the festival’s proceedings in the city of Porlamar where the organizer elaborated on the state of cinema in Latin America and the festival’s commitment to community engagement. COI: How did the idea of this festival arise? Luckert: The festival was born as part of the policies of the Ministry of Culture to support our cinematography. Filmmakers were never recognized by the state, so in 2008 we decided to create the first festival which, in that year, only included national productions. After the completion of


the first festival, those working in cinema at the state level met and we decided that in agreement with the state’s policies of Latin American integration we should amplify the festival and give it an international character. We also wanted to give the festival a special niche because there already exist a lot of international festivals in our region. It’s from there that the idea to make the event focused on Operas Primas [First Works] arose, believing that this would be useful because it maintains the idea of integration as well as permitting support for new talent, which has been a priority of the Ministry for Culture. That’s why the festival is always centered on new artists. COI: Is this the only festival that contains a category for

Opera Prima in documentaries? Luckert: In principle, it’s the only one in Latin America. Historically, the Opera Primas have only existed for fiction. COI: What influence has Hollywood had on Latin American cinema and what is the perspective of this festival in that respect? Luckert: In the 1960s and 1970s, film festivals used to be spaces for reflection and debate. They were political spaces that exhibited films that couldn’t be seen in other places. They were spaces for proposals, policies and actions that used to arise precisely to counteract the influence of Hollywood in our cinema. Hollywood has been powerful in the sense that it’s the owner of almost all the exhibition spaces, even if it is not the legal proprie-

tor of those spaces. The cinemas may be owned by Venezuelans or Mexicans, etc, but what they show is from Hollywood. They have become the de facto owners of these screens. So, we’ve created the festival in Margarita to renew once again a space for reflection and debate. In fact, during this edition of the festival, we had a mock forum to ask permission from Mr. Danger to screen our own films. COI: And to whom are you referring when you say Mr. Danger? Luckert: We’re referring to the United States, to Hollywood, to Obama, to the empire. It’s the empire that has dominated the screens. That’s why we gave the forum a provocative name – on the one hand to stimulate the debate but on the other hand to make a statement about reality. We in Latin America erroneously speak about having quotas of national production in the cinemas but its like asking permission to enter our own homes. If the screens are here, they belong to the nation and we don’t need to ask for quotas from Hollywood to show our films. It should be the other way around. COI: How are the policies of the Venezuelan government changing this situation? Luckert: We’re co-signers of international agreements where cultural diversity is guaranteed, for example with UNESCO. We need to use this to combat the counter-culture that has invaded us, not only from the point of view of film but in general. Now, when talking about the specific case of President Chavez in Venezuela, we’ve never had so much support from any

other government. And I’m not just talking about film but all audio-visual production. We have some extraordinary laws. Even if we have some problems that we still need to deal with in terms of distribution, we’ve had some important advances…and not only from the point of view of financing but also in the creation of the national distributor Amazonia Films and the production company Villa del Cine. We had years in the 1980s and 1990s when there was only 1 national film made each year. This has completely changed. Since 2005, there has been considerable growth in cinematic productions. Now we’re producing between 15 and 20 featurelength films a year and an infinite number of shorts and script projects. COI: Explain a little about the commitment that the festival has with the community. Luckert: The festival has had a strong commitment with the community in many ways. We’ve created the competition for Community Video and Film. This competition is fabulous because it gives the opportunity to communities to express their realities through audio-visual projects without limitations... But it’s not only the Community Video and Film competition that is planting the seeds of audio-visual production in the country. There are so many aspiring talents and for this reason our festival goes into the communities. We don’t have just two or three exhibit spaces. We have spaces distributed throughout the island of Margarita. We’re taking cinema to the people’s houses, we’re in the prisons, and we’re making the festival more and more national every year by screening the winners of the public vote award in public cinemas across the country.

Friday | October 14, 2011 | Nº 85 | Caracas |

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

A publication of the Fundacion Correo del OrinocoÊUÊ `ˆÌœÀ‡ˆ˜‡ …ˆivÊEva GolingerÊUÊÀ>«…ˆVÊ iÈ}˜ÊAlexander Uzcátegui, Jameson JiménezÊUÊ*ÀiÃÃÊFundación Imprenta de la Cultura

/ÉÊ,>«…Ê >`iÀ ,>«…Ê >`iÀʈÃÊ>ÊVœ˜ÃՓiÀÊ>`ۜV>Ìi]Ê >ÜÞiÀÊ>˜`Ê>Õ̅œÀʜvÊ"˜ÞÊ̅iÊ-Õ«iÀ‡ ,ˆV…Ê >˜Ê->ÛiÊ1Ãt nside the barricading bubbles surrounding the Wall Street plutocrats and the Washington oligarchs who service them, there must be worry. After three years of disclosed “lying, cheating and stealing” as one prosecutor put it, with nary a visible stir from the masses, suddenly the barricades are beginning to quiver. Could this “Occupy Wall Street” challenge in New York City that is spreading to hundreds of communities from Prescott, Arizona to Hartford, Connecticut, be the real thing they have dreaded? Could this be the revolt of the multitudes, the “reserve army of the unemployed?” It is remarkable what a little more than 100,000 Americans, showing up and staying awhile have done in three weeks. They’re rattling the corporate supremacists. They have become a mass media story with columnists, editorials and cartoonists grinding out the ever increasing commentary. There is fascination and curiosity about people who call themselves “The 99 percent!” People are organizing their little societies and 24/7 necessities – food, first aid, shelter, legal advice, music, posters – all without leaders. The demonstrators are deliberately nonviolent but are angry over deep inequities and entrenched greed and power that are impoverishing and harming millions in need, including hungry children and those without health care. The protesters are keeping the pundits and pontificators guessing about their “real agenda”. Perfect, so far! Keep expanding the numbers of Americans who show up all over, who stay, who discover each other’s talents and the emerging power of the powerless. Go to 300,000, then 800,000, then 2 million and onward. There are 25 million in the US who want work but cannot get it to pay their rent, their debts, their mortgages and their multiplying student loans. While big corporate profits, bosses’ bonuses and



The roar of the People

tax loopholes for the wealthy proliferate. Sparked by an urging from the culture-jamming ADBUSTERS magazine from Vancouver, Canada in July, the Occupy Wall Street effort gets more remarkable by the day. It carries the moral outrage and the moral authority of the vast majority of people in the US who are excluded, disrespected, defrauded, unrepresented, underpaid and unemployed. The American Dream has turned into a nightmare. They are taught to trust as school children the very public and business institutions that have betrayed them, looted or drained their pensions, their tax dollars and their common properties. Those protesters at the renamed Liberty Park in New York are going into the nearby stores, with other consumers, and paying nearly 9 percent sales tax on their purchases. While the Wall Streeters are buying trillions of derivatives

and stocks without paying a penny in sales tax. Taxing Wall Street speculators could produce hundreds of billions of overdue dollars a year from just a ½ percent sales tax on financial speculation. The Wall Street “occupiers” and their offspring have good picks for their demonstrations. In Washington, DC they chose the insidious corporatists at the Chamber of Commerce building opposite the White House. They went before the building that houses part of the militaryindustrial complex devouring our public budget that President Eisenhower warned us about in his remarkable farewell address in January 1961. It will be only a short time before these resisters point to these multinational corporations’ abandonment of the US by shipping jobs and industries to regimes abroad that repress their 80 cents per hour workers. Reporters write with

some surprise about this new human energy. Look at all the bystanders in suits or uniforms nodding in support at the posters, the signs and the chants. Washington Post columnist, Patula Dvorak was astonished and observed: “Every Washingtonian I talked to who stepped out to watch the action in Freedom Plaza – from the security guards to the suits – felt a solidarity with the message”. “The banks. The banks are taking all of us for a ride”, one security guard told me. “And they’re in the right place now, because Congress is behind that”. Though the Occupy surge is going in the right direction – flipping our corporate government from our masters to our servants – no one knows how far it will go, whether it will retain its burgeoning energy and what the backlash will be from the ruling power structures.

Back in October 2008, when Wall Street was crashing on US investors, workers and taxpayers -in that order – our independent presidential campaign held a major rally at Wall Street. Addressing the New York Stock Exchange, with our participators and their signs, I proposed specific recommendations for law enforcement, a financial transaction tax and accountability for those handling “other peoples’ money”, Few listened. Now the powers-that-be are starting to listen, because instead of a one day event, they see day-after-day aroused citizens rallying back home and before the perpetrators of the predatory abuses. When the corporate and political bosses hear the rising roar from the people, they start sweating. Now is time to turn up the heat without pausing. Visit for more information on how to join the movement.

English Edition Nº 85  

Venezuela backs Palestinian statehood. President Chavez met with his counterpart, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Caracas this week,...

English Edition Nº 85  

Venezuela backs Palestinian statehood. President Chavez met with his counterpart, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Caracas this week,...