Page 1

page 7 | Analysis

page 8 | Opinion

Television station falsifies claims linking Venezuela to terrorist plot against US

Corrupting Unions: The AFL-CIO’s covert ops in Venezuela

Friday | December 16, 2011 | Nº 94 | Caracas

Battling speculation, hoarding & inflation A new law in Venezuela aimed at setting price controls in order to combat speculation, hoarding of consumer products and rising inflation has caused controversy in the South American nation. While the law regulates some basic products, it does not set controls on all items, and merely attempts to regulate the distribution and sale of food staples and hygienerelated products. Private distributors and businesses in Venezuela have been caught engaging in massive hoarding of products such as milk and corn flour, in an attempt to provoke instability and panic amongst the population, and drive prices higher.| page 5

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

Venezuela: Helping those in need

Overcoming poverty in Venezuela

The Chavez administration launched two new programs this week aimed at assisting senior citizens and single, low-income mothers

D

Building on the numerous successful social programs the Venezuelan government has enacted during the past decade under the administration of Hugo Chavez, two new programs geared towards pregnant women, single mothers with low or no income and the elderly were launched this week. The programs, known as Mission Children of Venezuela and Mission Greater Love, focus on ensuring the most vulnerable sectors of the population have access to healthcare, nutrition, shelter, education and economic aid. While the program for senior citizens will ensure pensions for all, including those who did not work in formal employment, Mission Children of Venezuela will help mothers out of poverty by providing them a living stipend and access to education and job training skills. | page 2-3

Politics

New labor law for worker’s rights A diverse coalition that includes workers is participating in drafting the new Venezuelan law.| page 4 Integration

Helping US families to keep warm Venezuela’s heating oil program in the US, via CITGO, is helping families for the 7th year in a row. | page 6 Integration

China to become Venezuela’s top partner The Asian giant is leaving the US behind as the oil nation’s key trade associate. | page 6

Venezuelan successes in drug war: Kingpins captured T/ Agencies

V

enezuela handed a top Colombian drug trafficking suspect to US authorities on Thursday, deporting him to face charges of shipping tons of cocaine to the United States. The US had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, known as “Valenciano”,

who was also on Colombia’s mostwanted list. Bonilla was captured in Venezuela last month. He was turned over to US authorities at Caracas’ international airport Thursday morning. The US State Department had listed Bonilla among its eight most-wanted Colombian drug traffickers. US officials say Bonilla sent tons of cocaine to the United States through Central America

and Mexico, dealing extensively with Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel. Venezuela also deported a second Colombian suspect, Gildardo Garcia Cardona, to Colombia on Thursday. Garcia, an alleged member of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was captured in Venezuela in October. Garcia is charged with drug trafficking, and Colombian officials had issued an order for

uring the past 13 years, the Chavez administration has destined 62% of public resources towards social programs to pay social debts inherited from the previous governments (1958-1998) and promote policies aimed at overcoming poverty. Social investment in 2012 is already over $395.35 million, highlighted Labor and Social Security Minister, Maria Cristina Iglesias in an interview this week. Iglesias recalled that over 49% of the population lived in poverty in 1998. “That is to say, almost half the population. Nonetheless, as of 2011, [poverty] has been reduced to 27.4%, meaning that we can overcome it when the political and social will exists, as it does with President Chavez and our Revolution”. In this regard, Iglesias explained that poverty is not exclusively linked to low economic incomes, but also to exclusion from healthcare, food, culture and education. “We have implemented programs to address all of these issues, and they have been effective”, she pointed out, “which is how we have reduced poverty by half in the past decade”.

his arrest through Interpol, Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said. When Bonilla was captured the central city of Maracay, both Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called it an example of improved counter-drug cooperation. Bonilla, 39, allegedly headed a Medellinbased criminal organization dating back to the 1980s that once recruited hit men for the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.


|

2 | Impact

Noʙ{ÊUÊFriday, December 16, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela: Reducing poverty by helping those in need

by the Chavez administration to improve living standards by providing benefits for previously excluded members of the country's population. Since coming to power in 1999, the Bolivarian government has succeeded in reducing poverty in the OPEC member state by more than half while wiping out illiteracy and cutting down significantly on child malnutrition rates. Mission Mothers of the Neighborhood (Madres del Barrio), as well as the Women's Bank, Banmujer, and Mission Baby Jesus have also helped to provide important services and economic opportunities for mothers through maternity care, grants and micro-credit lending.

TEEN PREGNANCY More, however, remains to be accomplished, the Venezuelan President pointed out, drawing attention to the rising number of teenage pregnancies in the South American country. "We're carrying out a census and one of the things that is rising is the number of children becoming pregnant. We already knew about this but the numbers are alarming. We have to deal with this problem of teenage pregnancy", Chavez said last month while announcing the creation of the new program. According to official numbers, a full 20 percent of all births in Venezuela are to mothers between the ages of 13 and 19. Poverty, President Chavez argued, is the root of this problem and must be eliminated in order to continue advancing in the social development of the country. "We've been reducing the instances of impoverishment but now we have to increase our efforts to break this final seven percent of extreme poverty [in Venezuela]. We had 5 million people living in extreme poverty and now we have half of that... Poverty represents many problems all at once", he said. Minister of Communes and Social Protection, Isis Ochoa, reported on state television last Monday that the first wave of some 530 "quartets" of volunteers will be deployed throughout the national territory to register participants in the program until the end of 2011. "We're going to start in the areas of the capital, especially the neighborhood of Sucre where there exists the highest degree of the population and extreme poverty", she announced.

Additionally, the Food Minister said that 80 percent of Venezuelans eat three times a day, according to research conducted by the National Institute of Statistics in populous sectors of the country. Meanwhile, 16.2 percent eat three or more times per day, and 3.4 percent of the population eat only twice daily. “This wasn’t the case under previous governments, when a great amount of the population would go hungry”, Osorio said. During the past seven years, the Chavez administration has implemented several key

policies to address nutrition, agricultural production and access to affordable food in the country. State subsidized markets, such as Pdval and Mercal, have enabled a majority of the population to access basic food products at prices just a third of those in private supermarkets. Other programs providing low-interest loans to local farmers and food producers have increased the amount of agricultural production in the country, adding to the diversity of affordable products available to consumers.

A new program providing assistance to single mothers living in poverty was launched this week by the Chavez administration as part of ongoing, effective measures to raise the standard of living T/ COI P/ Presidential Press

V

enezuela's latest anti-poverty social program was formally signed into legal existence last Monday as President Hugo Chavez exercised his power of decree to grant a monthly stipend to the nation's mothers living in critically difficult economic conditions. Mission Children of Venezuela, first announced last November, will provide a benefit of $100 per child to women living in extreme poverty and caring for up to three children under the age of 18. Mothers caring for disabled children will also receive a monthly benefit of $140 regardless of the child's age. "This is a revolutionary law", Chavez said on Monday. "I wanted the Great Mission Children of Venezuela to be signed into law through decree so that it exists as a law. This is much more than a social program", he told those on hand for the inauguration ceremony on Monday.

Registration for the new mission began at the Concepcion Palacios Maternity Center in the capital of Caracas and will be administered by volunteers from different government agencies and the youth organization Francisco Miranda Front. Chavez highlighted the fact that although the mission does not stipulate a time limit for benefits beyond the age of the children, the measure is meant to act a temporary assistance program for mothers and should include a plan for work or study. "One of the commitments that you [mothers] should have upon registering for the mission is to study. Of course, [the government] should facilitate that possibility. The mission will have

teams to help guarantee access to study and guarantee special attention for children with disabilities. The ministries related to this area will be responsible. I'm promising you on my life that not a woman nor child will live in misery in Venezuela", the head of state declared. As a way to provide additional economic incentives to women, the socialist leader pointed out that 10 percent of the total amount disbursed for the mission will be dedicated to a social investment fund for sustainable and productive community projects. REDUCING POVERTY Children of Venezuela is the most recent measure taken

Venezuela among countries with highest per capita food consumption T/ AVN

F

ood sovereignty and security policies have seen increasing postive effects on the population over the past few years, revealed Venezuela’s highest officials in the areas of food and agriculture this week. “We have met with ambassadors from different countries to

analyze food data in Venezuela, which has led us to determine that we have the advantage of being one of the countries with the highest per capita food consumption in the region”, explained Venezuela’s Minister of Food, Carlos Osorio. During a televised interview this week, Osorio said that Venezuelans consume twice

as much animal and vegetal protein, cereals, rice, corn and precooked corn meal than those in most other countries. Osorio, together with Agriculture Minister Juan Carlos Loyo, also detailed that Venezuela has the third highest rate of consumption of many wheat products such as pasta, bread and wheat flour.


Noʙ{ÊUÊFriday, December 16, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela launches program to aid the elderly

While European nations and the United States are cutting back benefits for the elderly and those in need, Venezuela is increasing aid for senior citizens and the most vulnerable sectors of the population T/ COI P/ Presidential Press

V

enezuelan President Hugo Chavez continued to expand the reach of his nation's social programs last Tuesday when

he inaugurated in Caracas a new plan to provide heightened support for the nation's seniors. Mission Greater Love will provide benefits to elderly Venezuelans who, although having worked for the majority of their lives, had been unable to claim social security income for lack of sufficient contributions to the system. The new program was launched in the Rios Reyna Room of the Teresea Carreno Theater where former artisans, fishermen, and athletes were on hand for the official inauguration of the benefit plan. Singing alongside the Venezuelan musical group

Cuero, Madera y Costa Cumaco, President Chavez explained that Greater Love is meant for those "who never registered [for social security] or who worked in the houses of other families and don't appear in the enrollment lists for pensions". "This isn't fair", the head of state said of the neglected seniors, "the Revolution must recognize their pensions". Jesus Nieve, an life-long artisan in attendance for the event expressed his satisfaction with the program that seeks to honor the labor of older citizens who act as "the guides of the newer generations".

Politics

Nieve, 62, continues to work but explained that with the new mission, "the government is going fulfill what is left for me to be able to receive my pension. This is going to be a relief. Now it's time to work less and rest more, pass time with my children and grandchildren and above all, teach them what I know how to do", he related. The same is true for Amparo Garcia, a 61-year old woman from Caracas who, having worked her whole life as a housekeeper, had not been recognized by the social security system. Articulating her contentment "to be taken into consideration", Garcia thanked the Chavez administration for its efforts to support the elderly while at the same time highlighting other essential service that are now available to her and her community. "I'm happy to benefit, but before this I've received other assistance from the government. In [the medical program] Barrio Adentro, they care for me while the community councils are always able to provide corn flour or a can of sardines for me", the native of Petare said.

|

3|

EXPANDING THE SAFETY NET Since the election of Hugo Chavez to the presidency in 1998, Venezuela has seen steady growth in its social security services to benefit vulnerable sectors of the population. This trend marks a sharp break with the privatization attempts of public services by the neo-liberal administrations that

governed the South American nation in the 1980s and 1990s. The Venezuela News Agency reports that in 1998, only 387 thousand people were enrolled in the state's social security system while in 2011 that number has climbed to 1.9 million. According to lawmakers, the nation's proposed 2012 national budget is planning to increase the number of pensioners registered with the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) by 144,000. Speaking to the Venezuelan Congress on Tuesday, the president of the National Assembly's Finance and Development Commission, Ricardo Sanguino, outlined the gains made by the IVSS and urged for further investment in the public insurance program. "Who can be against putting resources towards the development and benefit of the Venezuelan people? This is why we're saying that our proposal is fundamentally human in the sense that its an investment in social inclusion as well as the strengthening and improvement of our population's quality of life", he said. For Carlos Rotondaro, President of the IVSS, Mission Greater Love and programs like it have to do with giving back to those who were ignored by governments in the past. "Love is paid with love. That's why this mission has been born. The Revolution has prevented the privatization of social security and has strengthened the IVSS... We're paying back the social debt pervious governments left us", he said.

energy consumed in the Caribbean country comes from two plants that Venezuela installed after his country was hit by an earthquake in 2010. Also, almost all the fuel consumed in Haiti comes from Venezuela.

Following a rise in its sales volumes, Petrocaribe has distributed about 178 million oil barrels since its creation in 2005, bringing in more than 2.7 billion dollars profit for its 18 member countries.

Venezuela increasing influence in the region through Petrocaribe T/ Ricardo Rojas P/ Agencies

V

enezuela's position as OPEC's biggest producer in Latin America has allowed the administration of Hugo Chavez to provide energy resources to Caribbean and Central American countries as the cornerstone of its regional geopolitics and diplomacy policies that aim at strengthening ties with its allies. Through Petrocaribe, Venezuela offers oil to the member countries at preferential payment conditions.

Petrocaribe is an agreement for supply of Venezuelan oil on easy terms for the signatory countries. The bloc was founded in June 2005, after the Energy Cooperation Agreement was signed by 14 Caribbean nations. Today, this regional integration initiative gathers 18 countries. According to the Minister of Petroleum and Mining, Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela's state oil company Pdvsa currently covers around 43% of the Petrocaribe's energy needs, shipping an equi-

valent to 95,000 barrels per day of by-products. Analysts claim that Venezuela is not in conditions of giving away its assets since current domestic conditions get worse every day. They also believe that the terms under which the shipments occur do not bring any profits to Venezuela. The President of Haiti, Michel Martelly is one of the leaders of the region who has highlighted the benefits his country has received from Petrocaribe. According to the Haitian president, 20% of the


|

4 | Politics

Noʙ{ÊUÊFriday, December 16, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Coalition to draft new venezuelan labor law, includes workers

Worker’s rights have increased substantially during the past decade under the Chavez administration, as has citizen participation in the creation of new legislation to improve social justice T/ COI P/ Presidential Press

M

oving forward with his commitment to union members and workers throughout the country, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez revealed last Saturday the creation of an executive commission that will help draft the South American nation’s new Labor Law. The commission, Chavez outlined in Caracas’ Municipal Theater, will be made up of a mix of Venezuelan ministers, union officials, industry representatives and legal experts including judges from the nation’s Supreme Court. “This law arises to provide redress for Venezuelan workers after the great scam of capitalism and the bourgeoisie”, Chavez said at the ceremony last weekend. During the act, representatives from the recently formed Bolivarian Federation of Socialist Wor-

kers from the City, Countryside and Sea presented the Venezuelan President with the signatures of more than 650 thousand workers from around the country in favor of passing the new law. Wills Rangel, President of the Bolivarian Federation and a member of the new commission, explained that the signatures are expected to exceed 1.2 million in the coming months and represent the outcome of an educational campaign occurring throughout the country. “They’re not just signatures. We’ve carried out 15 events in different states and we’ve found, unfortunately, that there are many sectors of workers who don’t know about the law. That’s the way it was in the past, when the bosses were in charge of keeping the workers in the dark about their rights”, he said. In addition to Rangel, the members of the presidential commission include Nicolas Maduro, Vice President of Government Policy and Foreign Minister; Maria Iglesia, Minister of Labor and Social Security; Jorge Giordani, Minister of Finance and Planning; Miguel Perez Abad, President of the industrial association Fedeindustrias; and Omar Mora and Juan Perdomo, Supreme Court Judges.

AN EVOLVING PROCESS Venezuela’s new labor law has been under debate and discussion for over 8 years as community engagement and consultation has brought forth thousands of proposals to be included in the replacement of the current law which saw its last reform during the neoliberal government of Rafael Caldera in 1997. Many of workers’ concerns including illegal sub-contracting, collective bargaining rights, social security, a reduction in the length of the work day, an end to violence against union activists, and the retroactivity of workers’ benefits are all intended to be addressed by the new legislation. “The unity of the Revolution is fundamental, but the law is our central axis and this is why the workers have made the decision to ask President Chavez to take the leadership on the discussions of this legal instrument”, Rangel said of the need to push the bill forward during an interview on state television in November. As a response, Chavez has committed to having the law ready for passage by May 1, 2012. “By the first of May, we will have the new Socialist and Revolutionary Labor Law in

order to do justice and provide social benefits, salary protections and protections for workers’ savings, housing and social security”, Chavez said during the ceremony. The head of Venezuela’s United Socialist Party also pointed out that the new legislation must be passed in the context of greater systemic changes which seek to move the country further from away from a market-dominated society. “Workers of the nation, you need to take part in a deep examination of what the struggle of the working class is. It can’t be just about fighting for your own benefits because this results in selfish class interests”, Chavez said, calling for a “transition to a socialist model based on work, knowledge, equality, and social justice”. 10 YEARS OF VIOLENCE & AGGRESSION The announcement of the creation of the new commission came during a ceremony held in celebration of the 10th anniversary since the passage of Venezuela’s expansive land reform initiative and its sweeping Hydrocarbons Law, both of which have sought to break up the monopoly of

power held by the nation’s entrenched elites. To protest the redistributive measures, the nation’s business sectors in collaboration with corrupt union leaders organized a general strike on December 10, 2001 in a measure that was defeated by Chavez’s popular support and the will of the Venezuelan people. For followers of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, December 10 signifies the true beginning of the opposition’s attack against the Chavez government, led by the Venezuelan chamber of commerce, Fedecamaras, and the conservative labor union federation, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV). “10 years ago, the aggression of the bourgeoisie began openly and in earnest... For them, there is no law, no constitution, no respect for life nor for the rights of others... They only defend their obscene interests”, Chavez said on Saturday. This right-wing resistance to the country’s new administration would eventually lead to the events of April 11 2002, when a violent coup d’etat organized by the Venezuelan opposition in collaboration with the United States government attempted to remove the democratically elected Chavez from office. Although the coup attempt left more than a dozen innocent bystanders dead, the briefly ousted Chavez was brought back to power after 2 days of exile when an outraged citizenry descended upon the presidential palace demanding his return. The attempted coup was then followed by a managementled shut down of the nation’s oil industry intended to force the president from power. Just as with the coup, the oil lockout failed, discrediting the once powerful CTV and leading to a rise in new labor federations throughout Venezuela that support to various degrees the country’s pro-working class agenda. According to Bolivarian Workers’ Federation President Rangel, those who had hijacked earlier labor unions for the benefit of the bosses “will not return because a revolutionary and socialist federation has been born which represents Venezuelan workers with dignity”.


Noʙ{ÊUÊFriday, December 16, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Economy

New venezuelan law intensifies efforts to combat price speculation and hoarding T/ COI P/ Agencies

T

o combat price speculation, prevent hoarding, and control inflation, the Venezuelan government has activated local auditing commissions made up of students, workers, and ordinary citizens and sent 4,000 public inspectors to impose fines and temporary closures on businesses that violate price controls. The nation-wide effort coincides with the Law on Costs and Just Prices, which was passed on July 18 of this year and officially went into effect on November 22. “The flagrant abuses by monopolistic powers in many sectors of the economy have caused the accumulation of capital to materialize in increased profit margins, which implies a constant rise in prices without any reason except the direct or indirect exploitation of the people”, states the law in the exposition of motives. Compliance with the new law is obligatory for all who produce, import, or market products that are subject to regulated prices, whether in the formal or informal economy. The law empowers the Superintendent of Costs and Just Prices, a new regulatory agency, to review and adjust regulated prices and implement carefully defined sanctions, including fines calculated in terms of the minimum wage, which currently stands at 1,400 bolivars ($325) per month. Businesses that interfere with inspections, lie to inspectors, or fail to register with the superintendent will be fined 15 minimum wages. Those that increase prices without authorization will be fined between 15 and 30 minimum wages. Repeated infractions will increase the fine by 50% and could lead to a temporary closure of the business during which the owners must continue paying salaries and benefits to employees. Sanctions must be implemented based on the principles of equality before the law and

proportionality to the gravity of the infractions. The Superintendent will collaborate with the Integrated National Administrative Service for Customs and Tariffs (Seniat), the National Institute for the Defense of People’s Access to Goods and Services (Indepabis), the National Guard, and the National Superintendent of Silos and Agricultural Storage (SADA). “We need a lot of institutional strengthening in order to apply the necessary corrections immediately”, National Assembly Deputy Jesus Faria told the state television station VTV. “The law is not a static mechanism, it is a necessary instrument because we are in a profit-driven and speculative economy”, he said. Karlin Granadillo, the head of the Superintendent, said the new agency will begin its work by freezing the prices of 19 personal hygiene products, including soap, shampoo, bathroom tissue, sanitary pads, and toothpaste, that were identified as having suffered the largest price increases. Granadillo added that the government would take over businesses and industries that

refuse to comply. “If the private sector is not in agreement with the state’s measures, if it can no longer speculate and thus it prefers to withdraw from production, well then the national government will move forward with industrial development policies in that sector”, she said. CAMPAIGN AGAINST HOARDING The government’s latest round of efforts to beef up price controls comes amidst a new wave of revelations of speculative hoarding by major food companies. Venezuelans have denounced shortages of coffee, sugar, oil, and powdered milk, despite constant increases in the production of these regulated food items over the past eight years. In late November, the National Guard and INDEPABIS discovered 25 tons of powdered milk being illegally hoarded by the food giant Nestle, after receiving a tip from communal councils in Anzoategui state. Indepabis also found 66.5 metric tons of corn flour illegally stored by Venezuela’s largest food company, Polar. Meanwhile, national authorities discovered 210,000 kilograms

of powdered milk hoarded by the dairy company Parmalat in the region south of Maracaibo Lake. The state-owned food company CASA had imported the milk and turned it over to Parmalat to distribute in the Andean region, but the company had unduly locked it away in storage. Since the passage of the new Law on Costs and Just Prices last July, the National Guard has found 127,000 kilograms of rice, 132,000 kilograms of corn flour, 256,000 kilograms of powdered milk, 85,000 liters of vegetable oil, 246,000 kilograms of sugar, and 10,500 kilograms of coffee that were illegally hoarded. “We cannot talk about shortages when we find this large quantity of products in storage; this is hoarding – that is why these products are disappearing from the shelves”, said the Commander in Chief of the National Guard, General Alfredo Motta Domínguez. The general also called on ordinary citizens to participate in the nation-wide price auditing. “This is the opportune moment to call on the communal councils and citizens to denounce any situation of hoarding or price speculation”, he said. President Hugo Chavez said the repeated occurrence of hoarding warrants stronger action by the government to guarantee the food supply to the people. “We have to get to the root of this; this is not about putting on band aids. We have to apply the Bolivarian Constitution and the law in a radical manner”, said the President. Miguel Gonzalez, the regional coordinator of Indepabis, remarked, “The law establishes that when merchandise is found, whether or not it is concealed, the state can intervene so that it arrives more quickly to the people. What we are going to accelerate is the process of distribution”. OPPOSITION DESTABILIZATION According to Food Minister Carlos Osorio, price speculation and food hoarding are old tactics used by the opposition to disrupt and destabilize the country, and

|

5| the privately-owned media take advantage of the resulting food shortages to generate panic in the population. The opposition achieved serious disruptions in the food supply during the strikes of 2002 and 2003 and again in 2007 because the food supply was still largely under private ownership. “That hegemony existed in 2003 and 2007, when they paralyzed the sale of food in order to cause political destabilization”, said Osorio. “Now, they do not have [that hegemony] and they cannot do it again”. Over the past five years, the state has expanded its own network of food producers, distributors, and markets, and nationalized the largest producers of sugar, coffee, milk, and rice after accusing them of evading price controls. The government’s measures have significantly reduced the severity and impact of the current shortages caused by private hoarding, said Osorio. “The idea is to protect Venezuelans from speculation; in no way is this an attempt to attack production”, said the minister. “The Bolivarian government has implemented all its mechanisms to supervise, control, and inspect all chains and distribution centers, including production and processing, to assure that the Venezuelan people have access to all goods and services”. The government began implementing price controls on a series of essential products more than seven years ago. WORKERS & NATIONALIZED FACTORIES Several national worker unions and nationalized companies have expressed their support for the effort to enforce price controls, and joined in the effort to audit prices. Carlos Lopez, the general coordinator of the Bolivarian Workers Central, said the new Law on Costs and Just Prices “defends the workers’ wages – that is why the Bolivarian unions and peasant federations have now turned themselves into auditors, to help enforce the law”. The workers at the nationalized sardine factory La Gaviota also declared their support for the new law and called on the Superintendent of Costs and Just Prices to conduct a review of sardine prices.


|

6 | Integration

Noʙ{ÊUÊFriday, December 16, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Citgo-Venezuela heating oil program helps US families in need for seven years in a row T/ Citgo P/ Agencies

C

itgo President and CEO Alejandro Granado and Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II launched the seventh consecutive year of the Citgo-Venezuela Heating Oil Program this week. The program will help more than 400,000 people this year in 25 states, including members of over 60 Native American tribes, families living in tenant-owned cooperatives, residents of over 250 homeless shelters, and thousands of single-family households. “Over the years, the program has become the most important energy assistance program by an oil company. For Citgo, it aligns with the humanitarian and solidarity principles endorsed by the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela through its national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) that we echo in everything we do”. “Citgo is very proud to mark the seventh anniversary of our Heating Oil Program. Increasing energy costs continue to affect the quality of life for millions of people and impact community organizations that provide criti-

cal social services. As an energy company, we believe it is our obligation to use the strength of our resources to help alleviate the burden for those struggling to pay for home heating costs”, said Citgo President and CEO Alejandro Granado, who was joined by Camden Mayor Dana Redd at the launch event. The 7th edition of the program was launched with a delivery of fuel to the Camden, NJ, rowhouse of a grandmother living on a limited income. Arlene Grier, who raised three children in her home on Merrimac Road, thanked Granado and Kennedy

after they made a delivery of free heating oil to her home. “I want to thank Citgo and Citizens so much”, said Grier. “This helps a lot. Prices are going up but not my income, so I’m always having to decide between paying for food, heat, electricity, gas, or my mortgage. I wish other oil companies were as generous”. Since 2005, Citgo has invested more than $400 million in energy assistance to those in need (’05-‘11). Last year alone, more than $60 million in heating oil was donated to low-income families and individuals. With higher costs for heating oil and reduced

government funding for energy assistance programs, the need this year is greater than ever. “We don’t want families to have to choose between heating their homes or buying basic necessities such as food or medicine. No one should be forced to make those types of decisions”, said Mr. Granado. “We are grateful that through our Citgo-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, we can make families’ lives a little warmer”. Citgo partners with Citizens Energy Corporation, a nonprofit created in 1979 by former US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, to implement the program. Citizens Energy, which has used successful ventures in the energy and health care industries to finance charitable programs in the US and abroad, has provided energy assistance to families in need for over 30 years. “Senior citizens and low-income families are facing a terrible hardship this winter”, said Kennedy. “Heating oil prices are close to record levels, while federal fuel assistance has been more than cut in half. Households that got over $1,000 in assistance two years ago will be getting less than half that this season – barely enough for half a tank of oil”.

Kennedy said he approached major US oil companies and oilproducing nations asking them to assist the poor in bearing the burden of rising energy costs. “They all said no”, said Kennedy, “except for Citgo and the people of Venezuela”. “As the nation continues to recover from the global economic recession, I am delighted to see that Citgo and Citizens Energy Corporation will once again provide many eligible working families and seniors with free heating oil this winter”, said Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd. “Thanks to the generosity of Citgo and Citizens Energy, eligible participants will not need to make a decision between paying for heating oil or food for their families. I highly encourage eligible families to apply as soon as possible to this wonderful program”. Families struggling to pay for home heating oil can call Citizens Energy at 1-877-JOE-4-OIL (1-877-563-4645) to see if they are eligible for heating oil assistance. If approved, the household will receive an authorization letter and details on how to arrange for a one-time delivery of 100 free gallons of oil.

rican country’s oil industry. China has swiftly become Venezuela’s biggest foreign lender in recent years. The Asian giant had previously agreed to more than $32 billion in loans. Venezuela, in

turn, is increasing oil shipments to China. Venezuela has increased oil sales to China in the past several years while trying to diversify the country’s oil clientele. The US still remains the top buyer of Venezuelan oil.

China could soon surpass US as Venezuela’s top trade partner T/ Christopher Toothaker P/ Presidential Press

P

resident Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that China could surpass US as Venezuela’s No. 1 trade partner due to a strategic alliance between the two countries. Chavez says trade between Venezuela and China has reached $20 billion this year, up from $600 million just over a decade ago. It is growing at a rate of $2 billion a year. Trade between the United States and Venezuela has reached $33.5 billion so far this

year, according to the US Census Bureau. Chavez has long been embroiled in tensions with Washington, and trade between the two countries is not expected to increase significantly until a long-standing diplomatic spat is resolved. The US Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since July 2010. Chavez rejected the US nominee for ambassador, Larry Palmer, after the diplomat made disrespectful and meddling remarks about the Venezuelan government and domestic affairs. Washing-

ton then revoked the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that diplomatic relations with the US are frozen and he sees no possibility of improving them. He added that there’s no immediate solution to the diplomatic dispute. President Chavez has said Venezuela’s growing ties with China are vital to his country’s economic development. Last month, Chinese officials signed $6 billion in new loans to Venezuela aiming to boost the South Ame-


Noʙ{ÊUÊFriday, December 16, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Analysis

Dangerous lies: US media outlet falsely accuses Venezuela of terrorist plot T/ COI P/ Agencies

T

his week Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called on friends and allies to “be attentive” after mainstream media outlets in the United States released uncorroborated evidence accusing Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran of holding “secret meetings” in Mexico to plan terrorist attacks against “US interests”. While President Chavez readily dismissed the “lies” produced by Spanish-language media corporation Univision, a documentary released by the company late last week is now being used by right-wing members of the US Congress to demand Venezuela be formally designated a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”. UNIVISION: USING A LIE AS AN EXCUSE Speaking to reporters on Monday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez referred to Univision´s recently-released documentary “La Amenaza Iraní”, or “The Iranian Threat” in English, and explained that “television shows were broadcast on US networks claiming that Venezuela is scheming terrorist attacks with Iranian terrorists against the United States”. “They are using a lie as an excuse to attack us”, Chavez affirmed, and “we must be attentive”. Commenting on the timing of the documentary´s release, Chavez questioned Univision´s “assault” on Venezuela and Cuba, key members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), just days after Caracas succesfully hosted the founding summit of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (Celac). Univision´s “The Iranian Threat”, which cites uncorroborated evidence of “Iranianbacked money-laundry and drug-trafficking cartels that are used to back Islamist networks and training camps in Venezuela and elsewhere”, also accuses acting Venezuelan Consul in Miami Livia Acosta Noguera of being “very receptive” to terrorist plots in 2006 when she was

Cultural Affairs Officer at the Venezuelan Embassy in Mexico. A follow-up article on Univision.com affirms that Noguera used her time in Mexico to “cultivate relations with Mexican leftist groups such as Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) and ally to presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador”. The news company added that the Venezuelan diplomat “was linked to activists and directors from the Cuban and Iranian embassies in Mexico and with a group of students and professors of the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) who worked in a supposed cyber attack towards the United States”. According to Univision, Noguera “was very receptive” when Cuban diplomats, secret agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and undercover reporters in Mexico City talked of “cyber attacks” that would harm “US interests and undermine the US in Latin America”. Such an attack, sponsored by Iran and facilitated by Venezuela and other non-US allies in the region, could prove “worse than September 11th (2001)”, affirmed Univision´s “The Iranian Threat”. In comments to the press, US State Department Spokesman Mark Toner called the Univision documentary “very disturbing”, though he regretted the US Government has “no information to ascertain” the information in the report, “right now”.

UNIVISION: INFLUENCING US POLITICS Univision, which sold for $ 13.7 billion back in 2007, now belongs, in part, to IsraeliAmerican media mogul Haim Saban. Currently Univision´s Chairman, Saban sparked controversy in 2007 after telling Israeli daily Haaretz, “When I see (Iranian President) Ahmadinejad, I see Hitler”. In a May 2010 profile published in The New Yorker, writer Connie Bruck noted that Saban´s “greatest concern is to protect Israel by strengthening the United States-Israel relationship”. According to Bruck, Saban´selfdefined “three ways to be influential in US politics” are “make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets”. Apart from his role as Chairman of Univision, Saban is a major contributor to both ruling US parties (Democrats and Republicans) and is the financial support behind the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee´s (AIPAC) Saban National Political Leadership Training Seminar, both of which stand firm with Isreal against Palestine and regional power Iran. US CONGRESS BACKS ATTACK Responding to claims in the Univision documentary, and based on other “unnamed sources”, members of the US Congress

last week issued an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding Venezuela be formally designated a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”. According to Republican Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada), “under President Chavez, the Venezuelan government has established a growing alliance with state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Cuba and provided support for terrorist organizations such as the FARC in Colombia”. “Since 2007”, Ensign claims, “Venezuela has conducted weekly Tehran-Damascus-Caracas flights without proper controls and customs inspections”. Republican Senator George LeMieux (R-Florida) shared Ensign´s concerns, telling Congress “folks get off the plane in Venezuela, and who knows where they go”. LeMieux, who failed to cite the source of his claims, added, “Iran has now sent shock troops to Venezuela” and asked the Obama administration to pay more attention to “the gathering storm that is Venezuela”. Venezuela does not run a weekly flight to Tehran from Caracas. The Venezuelan airline Conviasa, does have a weekly commercial flight from Caracas to Damascus, which is subject to all normal controls of any other commercial airline. Pressuring Clinton, Ensign affirmed, “It’s no secret to the US people that Venezuela wis-

|

7| hes harm to the United States. What is a secret is how many more ties to terrorist organizations and State Sponsors of Terrorism does Venezuela need to be declared a State Sponsor of Terrorism”. Other senators signing the letter to Clinton include: Robert Bennett (R-UT), Scott Brown (R-MA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jim Bunning (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ), James Risch (R-ID), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). The Congress members presented no evidence other than rumors and uncorroborated reports to back their dangerous claims against Venezuela. TRADING PARTNERS If successful, ongoing attempts to demonize Venezuela could have negative effects on the economy since being designated a “State Sponsors of Terrorism” means increased restrictions on bi-lateral trade with the United States and a ban on receiving US economic assistance. Venezuela does not, however, receive any official economic assistance from the US government, although US agencies provide substantial funding to anti-Chavez groups working to oust the Venezuelan President. Though the Bolivarian Revolution has made significant progress towards political and economic independence, Venezuela´s economy is still largely dependent on the US as its major purchaser of oil and principal source of consumer goods. It is precisely because of its historical dependence on the US that the Venezuelan government has sought to diversify the country´s bi-lateral trade relations by partnering with, among many others, Iran. One example of strengthening trade relations between Venezuela and Iran is found in the rural Venezuelan state of Cojedes, where some 2,000 lowincome families now live in the Ezequiel Zamora urban housing complex designed and built by Iranian construction firms. After heavy rains displaced some 100,000 Venezuelan families in late 2010, Iran also committed to using its expertise in housing development to build 50,000 homes across Venezuela.


Friday | December 16, 2011 | Nº 94 | Caracas | www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

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

The AFL-CIO’s covert ops in Venezuela ‡ÊLiÀÌœÊ °Ê,Ո⠏LiÀÌœÊ °Ê,ՈâʈÃÊ>ʏœ˜}‡Ìˆ“i ՘ˆœ˜ˆÃÌÊ>˜`Ê«i>ViÊ>V̈ۈÃÌ

I

n 2002, the AFL-CIO’s international arm known as the “Solidarity Center” was greatly embarrassed when it came to light that it had been supporting actors in Venezuela participated in the shortlived coup against President Hugo Chavez. As a number of authors and publications noted at the time, the Solidarity Center, with money donated from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), gave support to the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (“CTV”) which in turn was instrumental in the coup against Chavez which, as the reader may call, involved the kidnapping of Hugo Chavez. For example, the New York Times explained in an article entitled, “US Bankrolling Is Under Scrutiny for Ties to Chavez Ouster”, that “of particular concern is $154,377 given by the endowment to the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the international arm of the AFL-CIO, to assist the main Venezuelan labor union in advancing labor rights”. As the Times noted, “The Venezuelan union, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, led the work stoppages that galvanized the opposition to Mr. Chavez. The union’s leader, Carlos Ortega, worked closely with Pedro Carmona Estanga, the businessman who brief ly took over from Mr. Chavez, in challenging the government”. And what’s more, it turns out that the Solidarity Center played a critical role, just before the coup, in bringing the CTV together with Fedecamaras (the Venezuelan chamber of commerce). This is important because the CTV and Fedecamaras went on to plan and carry out the coup together. However, quite curiously, the Solidarity Center did not stick around long

enough to see how the coup ended up. This is because it moved its office (which is in charge of the entire Andean Region) from Caracas, Venezuela to Bogota, Colombia just three weeks before the coup took place. This brings us to today. If one concerned over such bad practices goes to the Solidarity Center website and clicks on the “Where We Work” link, one might feel relieved to see that Venezuela is notably absent from the list of countries in which the Solidarity Center does business. Similarly, the Solidarity Center mentions

nothing about Venezuela in its most recent Annual Report. However, if one goes to the website of one of the Solidarity Center’s biggest patrons, the NED, one will find that this is misleading. Thus, the NED, in a section entitled, “Latin America Regional”, explains that it recently gave $400,000 to the Solidarity Center to carry out work both in Colombia and Venezuela. I note that this amount is in addition to another $2 million the NED — which on its website openly expresses contempt for “21st Century Socialism” — gave to the Solidarity Center for other

Latin American work. And, as the NED explains, “in Venezuela, the SC will build on its ongoing work with partners...” – quite ominous words given the nature of the work and partners the Solidarity Center has hitherto been involved with in Venezuela. It is not publicly known what the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center – which receives nearly all of its funding from federal grants ($28 million out of its total annual budget of $30 million), including from such sources as the NED, the US State Department and the USAID – is currently doing in Venezue-

la. Sources in the Venezuelan Embassy in DC are aware that the AFL-CIO is in Venezuela and suspect that it is actively helping opposition groups in their attempt to unseat President Chavez in the upcoming elections for President. Again, the truth is uncertain, but given the AFL-CIO’s horrendous track record in Latin America, and in Venezuela in the very recent past; given that it is intentionally concealing the fact that it is even working in Venezuela in the first place; and given that it continues to be heavily dependent upon funding from the US government and NED — two sources openly hostile to the current government in Venezuela – it is fair to have suspicions that the AFLCIO is up to questionable deeds in Venezuela. In the end, the only way to quell such suspicions is for the AFL-CIO to come clean to its membership and to the public by giving an accounting for its current activities in Venezuela and all 60 countries in which it is involved. The problem all along has been that the AFLCIO has refused calls to be accountable for its Third World activities, and instead has preferred to operate in the shadows internationally – many times on behalf of US foreign policy interests. The time for such secrecy must end. I write this article with the hope that the AFL-CIO might take a good hard look at itself and its role in the world; that it might re-evaluate the corrupting influence of taking millions of dollars from the NED and US State Department – money which inevitably makes them captive to US foreign policy interests even while the AFL-CIO, in the height of irony and hypocrisy, purports to fight what it perceives to be “government-dominated” unions in such countries as China and Cuba. And, in the short term, I hope that by calling into question its current, covert activities in Venezuela, the AFL-CIO will simply decide to leave that country for good, or at least until it decides to help countries like Venezuela in their struggle against US dominance.


English Edition Nº 94  

Venezuela: Helping those in need. The Chavez administration launched two new programs this week aimed at assisting senior citizens and singl...

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you