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page 7 | Analysis

page 8 | Opinion

Students make voices heard as protests in chile demand free public education

Noam Chomsky on the growing movement worldwide against global capitalism

Friday | November 4th, 2011 | Nº 88 | Caracas

South America: a zone of peace Regional meetings over the weekend in Paraguay further advanced South American integration and cooperation through the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), while organizations such as the Ibero-American Summit appeared outdated and distanced from an increasingly independent Latin America. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa protested the presence of World Bank representatives at the Summit, evidencing the break in the region from international financial institutions. At the Unasur meeting, South American leaders declared the continent a “peaceful, democratic zone”. | page 3

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

Venezuela: Jobs program to create employment for millions President Hugo Chavez announced the commencement of a new program to generate millions of jobs for Venezuelans and to stimulate national production Called “Mission Knowledge and Work”, the new government initiative is aimed at eliminating excessive bureaucracy in the public sector in favor of training new workers for meaningful employment. The program will focus on generating new jobs in the areas of tourism, agriculture, commerce, construction and manufacturing and will include skills training programs to assist those without prior experience or knowledge. The mission pledges to create at least three million new jobs over the next eight years while also advancing and investing in domestic production. | page 2

Social Justice

Poverty reduced by 50% in Venezuela Socially-oriented policies of the Chavez government have substantially diminished poverty. | page 4 Politics

Study shows strong democracy in Venezuela The independent Latinobarometro report places Venezuela high on the list of democratic nations. | page 5 Social Justice

Generation of gold scores high in games Venezuela earned dozens of medals at the Pan American Games in Mexico. | page 6

Venezuela’s “Simon Bolivar big band jazz” to perform in New York & Boston T

he Simon Bolivar Big Band Jazz will perform on Friday, November 4, at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 8:00 pm, in a concert sponsored by the Consulate General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in New York and the Banco Industrial de

Venezuela. Additionally, the recognized orchestra will perform on November 5 at 9:00 p.m. at the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in Boston. The Simon Bolivar Big Band Jazz was created in November 2007 by Valdemar Rodriguez, conductor of the Simon Bolivar

Conservatory of Music, and the recognized Venezuelan drummer Andres Briceño to promote and spread jazz in Venezuela. The band is comprised of 40 Venezuelan musicians from the Simon Bolivar Conservatory, which is part of the National System of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela, also known as “El Sistema”, a program that has transformed the lives of thousands of Venezuelan young people through music. The band

Opposition “out of touch” President of private pollster Hinterlaces, Oscar Schemel, said Wednesday that Venezuela is currently undergoing deep cultural changes and one of the main failures of the opposition to President Chavez’s government is that it has not understood how profound a transformation is taking place. “There is a process of social and political maturing, which we had not seen during the last 40 years”, Schemel said. He also commented that the opposition lacks leaders, “especially leaders with a persuasive discourse that convinces and moves people. That is a characteristic of President Chavez. He has a high-impact moral and social discourse, with great influence on the majority”, he said. Schemel commented that opposition candidates, more than talk, “have an accumulation of disordered proposals...without a framework of interpretation, values nor a discourse of their own”. Event though this sector has tried to copy the presidential discourse, the population is more identified with Chavez’s ideals, so “today, Chavez leads the chances of winning option for next year’s elections”. According to Hinterlaces, 6 out of 10 Venezuelans consider the Chavez Administration as excellent.

has displayed its talent at many different international venues as well as within Venezuela. In March 2010, it performed as part of a fund-raising initiative of the Embassy of France in Caracas to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti. On May 18, 2010, the Simon Bolivar Big Band Jazz performed at the National Institute of Female Guidance (INOF), a Venezuelan women’s penitentiary center, where it brought rhythm and happiness to the female inmates.


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2 | Impact

NoÊnnÊUÊFriday, November 4th, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela implements ambitious jobs program for millions Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announced last Sunday the formation of a new government initiative intended to create nearly 3 million jobs over the next 8 years T/ COI P/ Presidential Press

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he new program, Mission Knowledge and Work, will be focused on eliminating excessive bureaucracy in the public sector in favor of training new workers for meaningful employment. “Creative and productive work; work and knowledge. These are the areas we will focus on because there are many people who are not trained for any specific job. We’re going to begin to prepare ourselves for the launching of this great mission”, the head of state said. The announcement came during a political meeting of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the city of Maracay, broadcast live by the state television station VTV. Most of the new employment opportunities, the socialist leader explained, will be located in areas of tourism, agriculture, commerce, construction, and manufacturing with special emphasis on replacing the nation’s high level of imported goods with more local production. Although specific details were not yet forthcoming, the program follows the creation earlier this year of Mission Agro Venezuela and Mission Housing Venezuela which are also intended to stimulate employment opportunities for small farmers and the construction sector. “We need to convert bureaucratic work into truly productive employment which serves our national interests...that’s why the mission will carry the name of Knowledge and Work, because there are many people in need of training”, he said.

Current numbers place Venezuela’s unemployment rate at 8.3 percent, down from 15 percent when Chavez took office as President in 1999. GEARING UP THE PARTY During Sunday’s meeting, Chavez reflected on the state of the PSUV as it gears up for the President’s re-election bid in 2012 and called for a greater commitment to the revolutionary process on behalf of the party’s membership. “A revolution cannot be made without a revolutionary party. At the same time, you can’t have a revolutionary party without revolutionary men and women, an active core of supporters, criticisms and selfcriticisms, loyalty, discipline... You also can’t have a revolutionary party without revolutionary theory”, he said. In this sense, the head of the party encouraged his supporters to analyze new and old theories and to participate in the formation of grassroots “pa-

trols” intended to push forward the President’s campaign while at the same time assist community members in the resolution of local problems. Thus far, the socialist party has registered more than two million activists in the patrols whose deployment in the streets will be determined by the end of November, First Vice President of the PSUV, Cilia Flores, informed last weekend. A new coalition of social movements and political parties supporting the current President, known as the Patriotic Pole, has also attained more than 10,000 institutional registrants over the past month. On Sunday, Chavez pointed out that some polls place his approval rating at nearly 80 percent in certain regions of the country and despite his recent illness, there is no doubt that he will stand in the presidential contest slated for October 7, 2012. “Next year I will be the candidate and we will win the elections”, he promised.

OPPOSITION: MORE OF THE SAME “Despite all that the candidates of the bourgeoisie do, they are not going to be able to avoid the triumph of the Revolution next October”, Chavez said of the nation’s conservative opposition last Sunday. Referring to the coalition of forces running against him as “imperialist lackeys”, the head of state described the opposition as the representatives of Venezuela’s outdated political run by the parties Democratic Action (AD) and the Social Christian Party of Venezuela (COPEI) in the second half of the 1900s. “Now we see the wanna-be [opposition members] allying themselves, trying to present themselves as the carriers of something new...they don’t want to appear to have anything to do with the past while they fight for the support of the old parties, AD and COPEI. They’re more of the same”, he said. For the Venezuelan President, there are only two paths for the

country that voters must decide upon in the coming elections: that of capitalism and “that of the Venezuelan people”. “The door is open for those who want to go with [the opposition] or for those who want to be with the homeland”, he said. EXPROPRIATION OF AGROFLORA Apart from the announcement of the new employment mission and his speech to the PSUV membership, Chavez also informed viewers of the expropriation of a major animal agriculture firm that had operated 11 ranches throughout the national territory on nearly 300,000 hectares (716,000 acres). The take-over of Agrof lora, which formed part of the already nationalized Compañia Inglesa (English Company), will include the seizure of 130,000 heads of cattle and is aimed at strengthening Venezuela’s food production and security measures. Although the company had demanded payment for its assets in foreign currency, Chavez rejected the stipulation last weekend commenting that the firm operates “in Venezuela”. “We’re going to carry out a just evaluation to see if we if we pay them part in bonds”, he said. Last August, the Venezuelan government bought-out the Compania Inglesa, a subsidiary of the England-based Vestey Group, under what Chavez considered to be “a friendly agreement”. Sunday’s announcement advances that acquisition, bringing more of Venezuela’s agricultural sector back into the public domain. “We already have control, now we’re nationalizing the property of what once belonged to the so-called English Company”, he explained. In addition to Agrof lora, President Chavez also announced during the broadcast the seizure of 14,000 hectares (34,000 acres) of underutilized lands in the states of Aragua and Carabobo to be converted into a Social Production Company (EPS). “We’re combating the latifundio and the inadequate use of land...These are agricultural soils that used to be in the hands of the bourgeoisie”, he declared.


NoÊnnÊUÊFriday, November 4th, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Integration

Venezuela leads efforts to build sovereign “peace zone” through integration T/ COI P/ Agencies

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n a tireless round of regional diplomatic summits last week, Venezuela led a surge of political momentum in favor of the integration of Latin America into a “zone of peace” that solves its problems without foreign or domestic military action, as part of the construction of a multi-polar world that is independent of major superpowers. “We’ve been presented with the opportunity of forming this united bloc of nations that will allow us to consolidate South America as a zone of peace, a democratic zone”, declared Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, referring to the summit of heads of state of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), which took place last weekend in Asunción, Paraguay. “We are convinced that we are in a new era, re-measuring dimensions, solidifying a new project”, said Chavez. During the summit, Unasur General Secretary Maria Emma Mejia highlighted the effectiveness of the nearly three year-old bloc in peacefully resolving regional conflicts such as the struggle with secessionists in Bolivia in 2008, the attempted coup in Ecuador in 2009, and the recurring rupture of diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Colombia. As a precautionary measure and at Ecuador’s request, the organization launched an official truth commission to investigate the events surrounding the attempted coup that took place in September 2009, in which five people were killed and 250 were injured. Mejia described Unasur’s conflict prevention strategy as “capable of maintaining peace without even a single bullet in order to resolve the differences that have confronted us, in contrast to the process adopted by NATO”, alluding to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s violent military intervention in Libya. The peaceful diffusion of conflicts has partially been the work of the South American

Defense Council, an institution of UNASUR that is constructing “a new doctrine of defense”, according to Venezuelan Electricity Minister Ali Rodríguez, who will take office as the temporary president of UNASUR next year. “What’s most important is that this is now a territory of peace, where there is development from the economic as well as the political point of view of the entire region”, said Rodriguez in an interview with Telesur. “We are one grand nation, a nation that has every possibility to progress and, most importantly, to bring sustenance and better conditions of existence”. “All the heads of state [in South America] understand that defense is necessary, given that the region is more than 18 million square kilometers, rich in petroleum, gas, raw materials, and an abundance of water that allows for the production of electricity, and potential for solar and wind energy”, the minister added. The 12 Unasur member nations also discussed a ten-year regional infrastructure plan and the founding of a new South American Electoral Council to accompany and observe democratic processes in the region, as an alternative to the Orga-

nization of American States, which is dominated by the United States. Other items on the agenda were the regional commitment to democracy, which is an addendum to the Constitutive Treaty of the Unasur, and a proposal to create a South American university to provide access to higher education for youth across the region. Mimicking other regional blocs such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the Unasur nations arrived at a consensus on a united set of proposals to be presented by Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico at this week’s G-20 summit in France. The Unasur summit came just days after the bloc’s ascension to observer status in the United Nations. Meanwhile, Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo became the third head of state to occupy UNASUR’s rotating presidency, following Chile, Ecuador, and Guyana. VENEZUELA-COLOMBIA BILATERAL RELATIONS In conjunction with the UNASUR summit, Venezuela and Colombia held two bilateral meetings to further consolidate their diplomatic relationship, which was weakened by a

severing of relations in 2010 but has steadily improved since Juan Manuel Santos assumed the Colombian presidency on August 7, 2010. Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Nicolas Maduro and Venezuelan Internal Affairs and Justice Minister Tarek El-Aissami met in Bogota last Tuesday with Colombian Chancellor Maria Angela Holguín and President Santos. The Venezuelan state oil company, Pdvsa, signed an accord with Colombia’s Ecopetrol to supply two million liters of gasoline to poor regions of Colombia. The two countries also moved forward on plans to build an oil pipeline stretching from Venezuela to Tumaco, a port on Colombia’s pacific coastline. Minister Maduro called the oil pipeline “a project of great magnitude for the South American energy equation”. The two countries also discussed previously existing accords regarding customs and duties on each other’s imports. In the days between the Bogota summit and the Unasur summit, Maria Emma Mejia traveled to Caracas for a oneon-one visit with President Hugo Chavez to discuss the broad and ongoing project of South American integration. Echoing President Chavez, Mejia declared: “In an era as difficult as the current one, we are going to be an example of integration for the world, of the solid management of our economies and of a true zone of peace”. IBERO-AMERICAN SUMMIT: SOUTH AMERICA’S INDEPENDENT VOICE In conjunction with the UNASUR and Colombia-Venezuela summits last week, Paraguay also hosted the XXI Ibero-American Summit, which was titled, “The Transformation of the State toward Development”. Highlights of the summit included a resolution to recognize the coca leaf – which can be processed into cocaine – as an official part of Bolivian heritage, for its cultural significance as a medicinal leaf used for teas and indigenous medical treatment.

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3| Also during the summit, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa walked out of a speech by a representative of the World Bank, and later declared: “They should ask Latin America for forgiveness for all the harm they did and continue to do, as one of the principal proponents of neoliberalism”. “What, do we have to receive a lecture on political economy, on morality, or on international bureaucracy? How long will this go on? Let’s start changing things, freeing ourselves from neo-colonialism”, Correa said, emphasizing that the foreign models imposed on the region facilitate capital flight and create unemployment. Such fervid interventions by Latin American leaders during the summit highlighted the growing independent voice of the region’s leaders and governments, who have weathered the international financial crisis more successfully than Spain, Portugal, and other European governments. Spain’s apparent waning influence in the region provoked the ire of Spanish journalists, including one from the national daily El País, who offered the following explanation for the changes: “The summit has become a redundancy for the Latin American powers, who now have their own voice in other global forums”. Minister Maduro said the current process of “re-founding the state” is based on the principle of national sovereignty. “It is impossible to think of the possibility of economic and social development without the center of decision-making being in our countries”, Maduro proclaimed. President Lugo hailed the current era as one of regional integration. “Today, we find ourselves in a process of regional integration, with new paradigms and societal models, after feeling for years that we had lost the relief of social action by the state”, he said in his opening speech at the summit. “It is necessary to revive the vision and role of the state as a proactive agent, legitimate for the promotion of social development and the economic transformation”, Lugo continued. “Our peoples have learned this historical lesson and we have democratically decided on the necessity of reconstructing the state according to the new challenge of regional integration”.


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4 | Social Justice

NoÊnnÊUÊFriday, November 4th, 2011

Poverty reduced by 50% in Venezuela over past 12 years

T/ COI

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he President of Venezuela’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), Elias Eljuri, reported on his country’s continued progress in the fight against poverty and malnutrition last Monday during an appearance on the television program Toda Venezuela. Eljuri informed that, among other advances, the South American nation has seen a more than 50 percent cut in extreme poverty over

the past 12 years of the Hugo Chavez presidency. “Extreme poverty in Venezuela has been reduced since President Chavez came to power. Close to 2.5 million people in Venezuela have been able to rise above extreme poverty between the years 1998 and 2011”, the statistician affirmed, citing data that places the indicator at 6.8 percent of the population. In terms of child malnutrition, the country has seen a decrease from 7.7 percent to 2.9 percent, thanks mainly to

the government’s free school meal programs. “Through [the government food programs] Mercal, Pdval, and the School Food Program, children are now receiving the nutrition they need to grow in their educational institutions”, Eljuri said. This improved nutrition, the head of the nation’s statistic institute mentioned, has also resulted in higher school attendance rates. Eljuri attributed the advancements in living standards to

The artillery of ideas the massive investments made by the current government in social welfare programs in the areas of health, education, and food security. “One needs to compare the social investment made in the 11 years preceding this government. Social investment has risen from 36 percent to 62 percent [of the total budget]. This government, whose policies have been directed towards the sectors with the least amount of resources, has invested nearly 400 billion dollars in social spending”, he stated. The data revealed by the President of the INE on Tuesday, forms part of the information collected by the government during its on-going 2011 census. For the past two months, members of the census team have been going door to door and traveling to remote rural communities around the nation with mobile technology, updating government information on key indicators. “We proposed making it to all areas of the country. Undoubtedly, the conditions are difficult for us to arrive, but we’re doing all we can to make sure that the greatest number of Venezuelans are taken into account”, Eljuri said. According to the functionary, the census has collected data from some 5 million families, representing 73.3 percent of the population.

With approximately a month to go before the end of the national effort, the government official estimates that Venezuela’s total population is closing in on 30 million. The official results of the 2011 census, he informed, will be available in the first quarter of 2012. The INE President also spoke on Tuesday of the value of the statistics being collected and countered allegations from the nation’s opposition which have attempted to discredit the government’s efforts. “This is data collected by the INE through the census, its not any kind of invention as some politicians of the opposition have claimed. The census is a scientific study and can be demonstrated as such by any type of research”, Eljuri declared. Other preliminary statistics of note include fertility rates in the country which have dropped in recent years from 3 children per woman in the late 1990s to a current 2.4. The INE also reports an average inflation rate between 22 and 23 percent, down from the levels of 45 and 60 percent of previous governments. Thus far the census has been carried out efficiently and effectively without any type of inconvenience, Eljuri said, owning to the collaboration of the nation’s organized communities and the recognition of the importance of the effort on behalf of the Venezuelan people.

rrently live in shacks with metal rooftops, he added. Many of the new homes will first go to the 130,000 people who lost their housing during the heavy rains and flooding in 2010. Affected families have been living in government shelters since last December, though more than half have al-

ready been provided with new homes across the nation. In order to meet the goals of this ambitious housing program, the Chavez administration has hired companies from allied countries, including Iran, Belarus, and China, to build the houses in joint ventures with local Venezuelan companies.

Venezuela: millions benefit from state-sponsored housing program While millions lose their homes in the United States with no aid from the Obama administration, in Venezuela, the Chavez government is helping families and those in need with housing T&P/ Agencies

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ore than a third of Venezuelans have registered for housing aid as part of an initiative by leftist President Hugo Chavez, according to Ricardo

Menendez, Minister of Science, Technology and Industry and head of the housing program. President Chavez has made housing a key theme ahead of his campaign for reelection next year and has pledged to build two million housing units for the country’s poor over the next several years under his latest Grand Housing Mission Venezuela project. The program also aids working and middle class families to obtain new homes or provide necessary adjustments to current housing. Nearly 3.7 million people applied to the program in the

latest registration phase ending Sunday, Ricardo Menendez, also the Vice President of national economic production, told state television station VTV. That brings the total number of applicants to 10.9 million, out of Venezuela’s estimated 29 million people. Under the initiative, Venezuelans are able to apply for new housing units or state aid for remodeling or extensions on existing homes. At least 2.7 million families registered in the program are seeking their own home, Menendez told VTV. Nearly 57% of those registered in the latest phase cu-


NoÊnnÊUÊFriday, November 4th, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Politics

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Independent study: venezuelans support participatory democracy, despite image abroad T/ COI P/ Agencies

Since first coming to power in 1998, the Bolivarian Revolution led by President Chavez has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure, national production, science and technology, sports, education and health services, as well as numerous social programs aimed at improving the quality of life for the most excluded sectors of Venezuelan society. Recent investments in housing, for example, are said to be largely responsible for a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 4.5 in 2011, up dramatically from -1.4 in 2010.

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he results of an annual study conducted by Chilean NGO Latinobarometer suggest that domestic support for the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and its socialist policies is much stronger than is understood outside of the country. A report released over the weekend found Venezuelans outranked most of their Latin American neighbors in popular “support” for their government and in assessing “how democratic” their society has become. 2011 REPORT: “CHANGE WELL UNDERWAY” Published last Friday, this year’s Latinobarometer highlighted important developments in democratic participation and improvements in the rights of people across the region. Calling into question preconceived notions about life in the Americas, the report’s authors suggest that “the greatest task for Latin America today may not be overall change, which is well underway, but changing the image the world has of the region”. “While the world continues to see us (Latin America) through the stereotype-filled eyes of Hollywood,” the authors write, the region is living “the massification of rights including an expansion of health and education services”. The realization of these “rights”, the authors affirm, plays a key role in the democratization of society “as it results in citizens pushing their political systems in a democratic direction…More democracy brings with it the demand for even more democracy” and “today, Latin America is demanding social equality”. KEY INDICATORS: VENEZUELA TODAY While this year’s study of public opinion in the region includes a diverse set of social, economic, and cultural indicators, one of the most telling

is the so-called “perception of democracy indicator”. Asking those interviewed “how democratic” their country is, the 2011 report found that Venezuelans outranked almost all of their Latin American neighbors in this field. Measured on a scale of 1 to 10 – with one (1) being “not at all democratic” and ten (10) being “absolutely democratic” – average Venezuelans ranked democracy in the country at 7.3, placing their county 3rd just behind Costa Rica (7.5) and Uruguay (7.7) in popular perception of living in a democratic society. The Brazilian people, who live in a country often celebrated as a “model” for socioeconomic development, ranked their society a 6.4 (the regional average) while Hondurans, who continue to suffer the results of a US-backed coup in 2009, ranked their country a 5.2 – the lowest result obtained in all of the Americas. Asked if they support “presidential reelection” in general, a strong majority (61%) of Venezuelans said yes, placing them above the regional average of 53%. While the issue of presidential reelections is often used to attack the Bolivarian Revolution and its leadership, even larger percentages of people in Argen-

tina (77%), Brazil (72%), Uruguay (69%), Ecuador (66%), and Chile (66%) support the idea. Presidential elections in Venezuela are scheduled for October 7, 2012, with socialist president Hugo Chavez expected to defeat any one of the numerous opposition candidates currently struggling through presidential primaries scheduled for February. When asked about “the most important problem” facing the country, 61% of Venezuelans responded “public safety and delinquency” while only 10% said “unemployment”. Often criticized by right-wing politicians and opposition media outlets for not doing enough to reduce crime in the country, the Venezuelan government has spent years developing the personnel needed to launch the recently-established National Bolivarian Police (PNB), a national police force trained in Human Rights, prevention of street violence, and combating corruption by local police agencies. According to PNB Director Luis Fernandez, in its first six months of policing residential areas in and near Caracas, the PNB has helped reduce the murder rate by 60%, robberies by almost 59%, and gender-based violence by 66%.

When asked if personal economic conditions “are insufficient and cause great difficulties”, only 10% of Venezuelans agreed with the statement. In comparison, 23% of people in the Dominican Republic and 19% of those in Honduras responded affirmatively to the same question. Private media reports in Venezuela and abroad often describe the country’s economic situation as “unbearable”. While annual inflation in the country does average at around 30%, a range of public policies have been developed to combat the effects of the global economic crisis on the Venezuelan people. The Chavez government currently implements, among other things, annual wage increases, subsidized pricing for basic foods, and free health care services through the Barrio Adentro Social Mission, a revolutionary medical program supported by Cuban medical staff. Also part of the report’s findings, 86% of people in Venezuela believe the state has the material and economic conditions needed to resolve society’s problems and 74% of respondents in the country feel the state is capable of resolving “all” or “a large part” of said problems.

MEDIA PERCEPTION VS. REALITY: A DISCREPANCY Noticing common contradictions between domestic support for national governments and international assessments of Latin American governments, the authors of Latinobarometer 2011 compared the current political and economic situations faced by the people and governments of Chile and Venezuela. According to the report’s authors, while international capital and its financial advisors praise the “fiscal policies” of the Chilean government, “the (Chilean) people pour out into the streets by the hundreds of thousands, first on behalf of education, then for a number of different motives, and finally to make calls for structural change”. “At the same time you have the opposite case in Venezuela, where the people respond positively to the governing actions of President Chavez but the world classifies him (Chavez) negatively”, the authors noted. The international community, the report affirms, “focuses on things that aren’t what matter most to the people in the country”. To produce its 112-page report, Chile’s Latinobarometer conducted 20,204 interviews between 15 July and 16 August 2011. To assure representative results, the authors of the report claim to have selected a diverse segment of each country’s population in all 18 countries included in the study.


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6 | Social Justice

NoÊnnÊUÊFriday, November 4th, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela’s “generation of gold” excels at Pan-American Games

“We need to congratulate all the athletes from our delegation who gave their all to leave our flag in very high regard”, said Sports Minister Hector Rodriguez during the closure of the games. While Sports Minister Rodriguez admitted the need for “greater effort in international organizations” and the need for “greater organization inside the

management of our sports federations and associations”, he also highlighted the increase in spending that the current government has allotted for the improvement of athletics in the country. “The national government has given an impressive level of support with respect to investment in sports. They have made sports massive in the country and the investment for these Pan American Games was outstanding”, Rodriguez said while asking for feedback on behalf of the athletes and trainers to improve any inconveniences that may have arisen during the competition. Mariana Gonzalez, member of the Venezuelan fencing team, and winner of a bronze medal at the games, commented on how the current administration’s focus on athletics has been a big reason why Venezuela continues to have success abroad. “The [Sports] Ministry has been strengthening the assistance and support for athletes. They’re taken us into account and I’m very grateful because if it wasn’t for this backing, none of my victories would have been possible... They gave us the opportunity to prepare for international games and our own events”, she said. For his part, President Hugo Chavez congratulated the Venezuelan athletes who participated in the games numerous times throughout the competition via his Twitter. “Long live the Generation of Gold!” he wrote.

growth in Venezuela by 2011 were over 2 percent and for 2012, will be 5 percent due to investment in social projects. During a cabinet meeting Tuesday, the Venezuelan Executive also approved extraordi-

nary funds for different social projects and programs. Minister for Youth, Maripili Hernandez, said the Executive approved over $2.3 million for her office, which will be allocated to programs designed to assist young Venezuelans. The Ministry for the President’s Office received over $38 million for the Simon Bolivar Musical Foundation, also known as “El Sistema”, which operates the successful music education program for disadvantaged youth that has inspired similar initiatives in other countries. “While in other countries young people, the elderly and workers have to protest against their governments to demand their rights, the Venezuelan government uses state funds in order to solve the needs of our people”. Hernandez said.

T/ COI P/ Agencies

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enezuela celebrated the closure of the 2011 Pan American Games last Sunday in Guadalajara, Mexico with an historic performance over the past 16 days which included winning 72 total medals and achieving a solid 8th place finish for the Caribbean nation. The total medals won was two times greater than the country achieved during the 2007 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2007 and was broken down in the following manner: 12 gold, 27 silver, and 33 bronze. The United States was the overall winner of the 16th edition of the games with 236 medals while the island nation of Cuba turned in yet another strong performance, placing second with a total of 136 medals in the 42 nation contest. Venezuela’s strongest performances came in the areas of cycling with 5 gold and 2 silver medals, better than any other nation competing. “To stop studying, leave your family and train day in and day out... those are the sacrifices that one has to make, but they’re worth it. To stand

on the podium and receive a medal is something very gratifying, something that only someone who has sacrificed can feel”, said Venezuelan cyclist Hersony Canelon, winner of 2 gold medals. Also featuring prominent in the competition were Venezuelan wrestlers who took away 9 total medals while those practicing karate and

track and field were able to obtain a total of 10. With respect to karate, the 5 medals won came with only 7 athletes in competition. Although the 8th place finish is 1 slot lower than the South American nation achieved in 2007, the athletes and the country have taken pride in the increase in the total number of medals won.

Chavez: 2012 budget boosts Social Justice T/ AVN P/ Agencies

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enezuelan President Hugo Chavez called the 2012 draft budget a “boost to social justice” after it was submitted to the National Assembly for approval this week. The draft Budget Law for fiscal year 2012 is an estimated total of 297,837 million bolivares. During a phone call carried live on television last Wednesday night, President Chavez said the budget shows the social nature of his government.

“The budget is a boost to social justice, it’s a weapon to progressively defeat what the capitalist era left us, the remains of the oligarch Republic”, he added. President Chavez explained that budgets devised during these 12 years of Revolution have allowed for the reduction of general poverty, a fact “acknowledged by international agencies. Venezuela is recognized as the country with the most equality in Latin America”. The budget bill proposes a production of 3 million 11 thousand barrels of oil per day

and 165,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, said Energy and Oil Minister, Rafael Ramirez, at a Finance Committee meeting. Planning and Finances Minister Jorge Giordani reaffirmed that estimates of economic


NoÊnnÊUÊFriday, November 4th, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Social Justice

Chile´s High School Revolution T/ Jonathan Franklin Jonathan Franklin is a Chile based writer. His articles can be found at: www.jonathanfranklin.com

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leeping on their tile classroom floor, sharing cigarettes and watching out for police raids, the students at Carmela Carvajal elementary and high school are living a revolution. Last June, hundreds of teenage girls used classroom chairs to barricade themselves inside the campus of Chile´s most prestigious all female public school. They settled in. It is now a 4-month long occupation which shows no signs of weakening as the students continue their demands for free public university. The combination of Chile´s booming economy and these highly organized students have now placed educational spending at the forefront of the national political debate. An informal tour of this “occupied” school in Santiago is a trip into the wired reality of a generation that boasts the communication tools that feisty young rebels of history could only dream of. When police forces move closer, the students use restricted Facebook chat sessions to mobilize. Within minutes they are able to rally support groups from other public schools in the neighborhood. “Our lawyer lives over there”, said Angelica Alvarez, a 14-year old, as she pointed to a cluster of nearby homes. “If we yell ´Mauricio´ really loud, he goes out of his home and comes over”. For 4 months, the students at Carmela Carvajal have lived on the first floor, sleeping at times in the gym, but usually in the abandoned classrooms where they hauled in a television, set up a private changing room and began to experience school from an entirely different perspective. After their takeover, the students organized a vote on the seizure. Approximately half the 1,800 students participated in the Yes-No vote and the yeahs outnumbered the nays, 10 to 1. The students now pass their school day listening to guest lecturers who provide free classes on topics ranging

from economics to astronomy. Extracurricular classes include yoga and salsa lessons. At night and on weekends, visiting rock bands set up their equipment and charge 1,000 pesos per person to hear a live jam on the basketball court. Neighbors donate fresh baked cakes and under a quirk of Chilean law, the government is obliged to feed students who are at school – even students who have shut down education as usual. So much food has poured in that students from Carmela Carvajal now run regular food runs to feed hungry students at nearby high schools who have also turned their high schools into permanent squats. Given the constant efforts by municipal authorities to expel the rebel students and get classes back on schedule, the momentum has been held by the youngsters. “It was the most beautiful moment, all of us in [school] uniform climbing over the fence taking back control of our school. It was such an emotional moment, we all wanted

to cry”, said Alvarez, the high school freshman as she described a pre dawn raid in which dozens of uniformed schoolgirls scaled the spiked iron fence and engaged in a showdown with police forces. “There have been ten times that the police have taken back the school and every time we come and take it over again”, said Alvarez. The students have built a hyper-organized, legalistic, little world, with votes for everything including daily duties, housekeeping schedules and the election of a president and spokeswoman. In a twist on the Ten Commandments, their school rules include several novel rules: no sex, no boys and no booze. That last clause has been a bit abused they admit. “We have had a few cases of classmates who tried to bring in alcohol but we caught them and they were punished”, said 14 year old Alvarez, who was stationed at the school entrance and questioning all visitors. Alvarez, who has lived at the school for an estimated 4 mon-

ths, laughed as she described the punishment. “They had to clean all the bathrooms”. Carmela Carvajal is among Chile´s most successful public schools. Nearly all the graduates are assured a place in top Chilean universities and the school is a magnet, drawing in some of the brightest female minds from across Santiago, the nation’s capital and a 6 million person metropolis. But Carmela Carvajal high school is just a small part of a booming student uprising which has seized the agenda for the future of public education in Chile and knocked the political establishment and the president off kilter. With imaginative protests including a kiss-a-thon in which hundreds of young couples groped and smooched for exactly fifteen minutes, the Chilean student movement has captured the imagination of a long dormant but apparently disenchanted Chilean public. The unified front of students now counts on support from an es-

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7| timated 7 of 10 adults in Chile, far higher than the nation’s political coalitions or President Sebastian Pinera whose recent approval ratings has ranged from 22% to 30%. An estimated 200 public high schools have now been occupied by students and weekly protest marches gather between 50,000100,000 students throughout the nation.The students are demanding a rollback of university fees to the 1960s, when public university education was free – as it continues to be in various universities throughout South America. With 2011 current tuition fees averaging nearly three times the minimum wage and interest rates on student loans priced to market at 7%, the students have made financial reform the centerpiece of the student uprising. Their nationwide movement continues to hijack the nation’s political agenda with unceasing demands that education be recognized as a common right for all not a “consumer good” in the education “market”. Chile’s current education system includes many for profit institutions that are bought and traded like commodities. Before the recent uprising, the classified section of leading Chilean newspaper El Mercurio featured schools for sale. The advertisements regularly noted that the institution was a highly profitable and stable investment. In recent weeks, owners of public schools have begun posting employment ads in local newspapers for security guards to fend off attempts by students to seize schools. One ad recruited able bodied men (“no experience necessary”) to use dogs in an attempt to repel the student takeovers. While politicians and many parents fret that the cancellation of classes since May has converted 2011 into “a lost year” for public education, for many of the students the past 5 months has been the most intensive education of their life. “I have become a lot more mature. I used to judge them [classmates] by their looks. Now I understand them and together we stand up for what we believe”, said Camila Gutierrez, 15, a freshman at Carmela Carvajal. “It has been 4 months and exhausting, but if you want something in life, you have to fight for it”.


ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

Friday | November 4th, 2011 | Nº 88 | Caracas | www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve

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

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elivering a Howard Zinn lecture is a bittersweet experience for me. I regret that he’s not here to take part in and invigorate a movement that would have been the dream of his life. Indeed, he laid a lot of the groundwork for it. If the bonds and associations being established in these remarkable events can be sustained through a long, hard period ahead – victories don’t come quickly – the Occupy protests could mark a significant moment in US history. I’ve never seen anything quite like the Occupy movement in scale and character, here and worldwide. The Occupy outposts are trying to create cooperative communities that just might be the basis for the kinds of lasting organizations necessary to overcome the barriers ahead and the backlash that’s already coming. That the Occupy movement is unprecedented seems appropriate because this is an unprecedented era, not just at this moment but since the 1970s. The 1970s marked a turning point for the United States. Since the country began, it had been a developing society, not always in very pretty ways, but with general progress toward industrialization and wealth. Even in dark times, the expectation was that the progress would continue. I’m just old enough to remember the Great Depression. By the mid-1930s, even though the situation was objectively much harsher than today, the spirit was quite different. A militant labor movement was organizing – the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) and others – and workers were staging sit-down strikes, just one step from taking over the factories and running them themselves. Under popular pressure, New Deal legislation was passed. The prevailing sense was that we would get out of the hard times. Now there’s a sense of hopelessness, sometimes despair. This is quite new in our history. During the 1930s, working people could anticipate that the jobs would come back. Today, if you’re a worker in

Occupy the future

manufacturing, with unemployment practically at Depression levels, you know that those jobs may be gone forever if current policies persist. That change in the US outlook has evolved since the 1970s. In a reversal, several centuries of industrialization turned to de-industrialization. Of course manufacturing continued, but overseas – very profitable, though harmful to the workforce. The economy shifted to financialization. Financial institutions expanded enormously. A vicious cycle between finance and politics accelerated. Increasingly, wealth concentrated in the financial sector. Politicians, faced with the rising cost of campaigns, were driven ever deeper into the pockets of wealthy backers. And the politicians rewarded them with policies favorable to Wall Street: deregulation, tax changes, relaxation of rules of corporate governance, which intensified the vicious cycle. Collapse was inevitable.

In 2008, the government once again came to the rescue of Wall Street firms presumably too big to fail, with leaders too big to jail. Today, for the one-tenth of 1 percent of the population who benefited most from these decades of greed and deceit, everything is fine. In 2005, Citigroup – which, by the way, has repeatedly been saved by government bailouts – saw the wealthy as a growth opportunity. The bank released a brochure for investors that urged them to put their money into something called the Plutonomy Index, which identified stocks in companies that cater to the luxury market. “The world is dividing into two blocs – the plutonomy and the rest”, Citigroup summarized. “The US, UK and Canada are the key plutonomies – economies powered by the wealthy”. As for the non-rich, they’re sometimes called the precariat – people who live a precarious

existence at the periphery of society. The “periphery”, however, has become a substantial proportion of the population in the US and elsewhere. So we have the plutonomy and the precariat: the 1 percent and the 99 percent, as Occupy sees it – not literal numbers, but the right picture. The historic reversal in people’s confidence about the future is a reflection of tendencies that could become irreversible. The Occupy protests are the first major popular reaction that could change the dynamic. I’ve kept to domestic issues. But two dangerous developments in the international arena overshadow everything else. For the first time in human history, there are real threats to the survival of the human species. Since 1945 we have had nuclear weapons, and it seems a miracle we have survived them. But policies of the Obama administration and its allies are encouraging escalation.

The other threat, of course, is environmental catastrophe. Practically every country in the world is taking at least halting steps to do something about it. The US is taking steps backward. A propaganda system, openly acknowledged by the business community, declares that climate change is all a liberal hoax: Why pay attention to these scientists? If this intransigence continues in the richest, most powerful country in the world, the catastrophe won’t be averted. Something must be done in a disciplined, sustained way, and soon. It won’t be easy to proceed. There will be hardships and failures – it’s inevitable. But unless the process that’s taking place here and elsewhere in the country and around the world continues to grow and becomes a major force in society and politics, the chances for a decent future are bleak. You can’t achieve significant initiatives without a large, active, popular base. It’s necessary to get out into the country and help people understand what the Occupy movement is about – what they themselves can do, and what the consequences are of not doing anything. Organizing such a base involves education and activism. Education doesn’t mean telling people what to believe – it means learning from them and with them. Karl Marx said, “The task is not just to understand the world but to change it”. A variant to keep in mind is that if you want to change the world you’d better try to understand it. That doesn’t mean listening to a talk or reading a book, though that’s helpful sometimes. You learn from participating. You learn from others. You learn from the people you’re trying to organize. We all have to gain the understanding and the experience to formulate and implement ideas. The most exciting aspect of the Occupy movement is the construction of the linkages that are taking place all over. If they can be sustained and expanded, Occupy can lead to dedicated efforts to set society on a more humane course.


English Edition Nº 88