page 7 | Analysis
page 8 | Opinion
Is Venezuela the next US target: After Iran, Venezuela?
Philosophers from around the world reflect on Latin America and social progress
Friday | January 13, 2012 | Nº 97 | Caracas
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
Iran and Venezuela: Axis of evil or axis of peace and sovereignty? A program for jobs & knowledge Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez jump-started 2012 with a major comeback on his Sunday program, Alo Presidente. The Venezuelan head of state announced the creation of new program to stimulate employment, job skills and the necessary know-how to capacitate millions of Venezuelans and enable them to enter the workforce. Nearly 3 million new jobs will be created under the program over the next seven years. Chavez also discussed the expansion of oil and gas production in Venezuela and announced production will increase by 500,000 barrels daily to a 3.5 million barrel output per day. | page 4
Despite mass media hype and warnings from Washington, Iran and Venezuela are not plotting the next terror attack on the United States Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stopped ﬁrst in Venezuela on his four-country Latin American tour this week, where he met with President Hugo Chavez and signed several additional commercial agreements to further strengthen relations. The visit came as Washington intensiﬁed sanctions against Iran and warned Latin American nations not to receive the Iranian leader or to increase relations with the Persian nation. In response to Venezuela’s openness with Iran, Washington expelled a Venezuelan diplomat serving as Consul General in Miami and warned that further actions could be taken against the South American nation. Presidents Chavez and Ahmadinejad reiterated their agenda against US aggression and in pro of policies to combat poverty, exclusion and hunger. | pages 2-3
Peru & Venezuela strengthen ties Peru’s new president Ollanta Humala made his ﬁrst ofﬁcial visit to Venezuela this week. | page 5
Reducing judicial delays Prison reform is a top priority for the Venezuelan government as it cracks down on judicial efﬁciency.| page 5
Opposition candidate Leopoldo Lopez An exposé of candidate Lopez, known for his prettyboy looks and corrupt actions.| page 6
No World Bank for Venezuela
enezuela will pull out of a World Bank-afﬁliated arbitration panel and won’t accept any of its rulings, including a multi-billion claim for a nationalized oil project by ExxonMobil, President Hugo Chavez said. The Washington-based International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, is considering Exxon’s claim in one of about 20 suits
ﬁled there against the Venezuelan government. Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc. and Owens-Illinois, Inc., the world’s largest maker of glass containers, are among other companies seeking compensation. “We won’t recognize any decisions from the ICSID”, Chavez, who has nationalized assets in the energy, mining and telecommunications industry during
his presidency. Exxon is “seeking the impossible, that we pay more than deserved”. Exxon, the world’s largest oil company by market value, left Venezuela after an area of investment in the Orinoco River Basin was nationalized in 2007 and the US corporation refused to abide by the new terms. The New York-based International Chamber of Commerce, an arbitration court, ruled last month that state
Venezuela helping Haiti
his week Haiti commemorates the 2nd anniversary of the devastating magnitude-7 earthquake that left 316,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless. The Haitian government is stepping up its resettlement campaign to resolve the problem of displacement, as many remain in makeshift camps and await the full reconstruction of their nation. Venezuela was one of the ﬁrst countries to deliver emergency assistance to Haiti after the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, and in the two years since, it has remained committed to helping rebuild Haiti by sending humanitarian aid workers, supplies, fuel, ﬁnancial resources, and other types of aid. Now, Venezuela is helping provide permanent homes for the displaced. Haitian President Martelly said in December that Venezuela has already helped build 4,000 new houses through the energy program PetroCaribe. Venezuela is the country that has offered the most aid to the Caribbean nation, which is the poorest in the hemisphere.
oil company PDVSA must pay Exxon a net $746.9 million for the Cerro Negro nationalization. PDVSA said it would pay $255 million in cash for the ICC judgment, after accounting for about $300 million in a frozen New York bank account and $191 million of Exxon debt that it will cancel. The total amount of the ICC ruling was for $907.6 million, minus a $161 million counterclaim by PDVSA. Exxon originally demanded $12 billion.
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, January 13, 2012
The artillery of ideas
Venezuela and Iran strengthen commercial ties, not “evil” plans
Despite warnings from the Obama administration that Latin America should not engage in relations with Iran, President Ahmadinejad held a successful four-country tour in the region forging commerce and trade and consolidating relations
T/ COI P/ Presidential Press
enezuelan President Hugo Chavez received his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Caracas last Monday for a meeting that yielded a series of new bilateral accords between the two allied countries in areas of industry, science, technology, and politics. The visit formed part of Ahmadinejad's tour of Latin American countries where he met with Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, and Cuban head of state Raul Castro. “We have a willingness to continue working together in order to put the brakes on the imperialist insanity that has been unleashed around the world with terrible, threatening power”, Chavez said as he received Ahmadinejad in the presidential palace of Miraﬂores on Monday. The accords signed between the two countries focused mainly on knowledge transfer and research initiatives in nanoscience and technological development. Memorandums of understanding were also signed, laying the groundwork for new areas of cooperation as the two heads of state reviewed earlier industrial and agricultural projects. :6=,9,0.5;0,: During their encounter, both Chavez and Ahmadinejad defended their right to maintain their mutually beneﬁcial relationship despite US threats of consequences for those countries that carry out commercial activity with Iran's central bank.
Us expels venezuelan diplomat prior to Ahmadinejad visit
Chavez, calling the Obama administration's stance on Iran “ridiculous” lashed out against the US which accuses the Middle Eastern country of bellicose intentions and cites Venezuela as a destabilizing force in the Western Hemisphere. “We are not war-like people. Iran has not invaded anyone and neither has the [Venezuelan] Bolivarian Revolution. We haven't dropped bombs on anyone. Who has launched missiles and thousands of bombs, including atomic ones, on unarmed people? ... It's not us. We are part of the people who have been attacked and continue to be attacked while they attempt to portray us as aggressors”, Chavez said. For his part, the Iranian president condemned the hos-
tile stance that the US has taken against his country as well as the continued threats emanating from Washington. “We are two counties who are against the greed of the arrogant and the preponderant. We are resisting and we defend our rights”, Ahmadinejad said. Caracas and Teheran have maintained diplomatic and commercial relations since the 1930s, mostly focused on energy related interests.Both nations are founding members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and have maintained close energy ties for over ﬁfty years. *644,9*, (.90*<3;<9, Since 2005, Ahmadinejad has visited the South American na-
tion several times in what has been a growing trade relationship. Venezuela, looking to diversify its commercial activities with countries less beholden to US interests, has received a good deal of beneﬁts from the bilateral relationship, especially in the areas of housing and agriculture. Recently, pacts signed between Venezuela and Iran have resulted in the construction of more than 14,000 homes in the South American nation and the development of 26 agro-industrial food processing plants. Iranian tractors made with Venezuelan raw materials have also become a common sight in the South American nation’s countryside and the Ahmadinejad government has assisted the country in fostering its own vehicular industry. Automobiles are another area where Venezuela and Iran have invested heavily, creating the joint venture Venirauto in 2007. Currently, the car factory produces several thousand new and affordable vehicles annually sold under the name “Turpial”. “We have this great expectation that Iran and its government as well as its institutions are going to continue to work in the public interest. We're going to continue counting on the support of Iran for our own development”, Chavez said on Monday.
enezuelan President Hugo Chavez Monday night backed the South American country's consul general in Miami, who was expelled by US authorities over the weekend and was tenuously linked to an alleged plot to launch a cyber attack against the US government. President Chavez said he would be evaluating an appropriate response with his Foreign Ministry, but added that the Venezuelan diplomat, Livia Acosta Noguera, would continue working for his government. “We give our words of solidarity to the madam consul. She is going to continue working for our foreign policy as she has done for many years”, Chavez said in response to a reporter's question during a televised press conference with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was in Caracas as part of a regional tour. Chavez added that Acosta “is a very digniﬁed professional” and blew off allegations against her as “a demonstration of the prepotency of the ridiculous empire”. On Sunday, a US State Department ofﬁcial said Acosta had been declared a persona non grata. The announcement came after the State Department conﬁrmed in December that an investigation had been opened into allegations raised by a documentary called “The Iranian Threat”, aired by the US-based TV network Univision. The Spanish-language channel reported that in 2008 Acosta was among a group of Venezuelan, Iranian and Cuban diplomats, then based in Mexico, who explored plans to attack the computer systems of the White House, the FBI, the CIA and several nuclear power plants. No evidence was presented to substantiate these claims. On Monday, Chavez said the allegations against Acosta were part of an attack by “the ultra-right wing of Miami”.
NoĂŠÂ™Ă‡ĂŠUĂŠFriday, January 13, 2012
The artillery of ideas
Washington has made no secret of its disdain for Venezuelaâ€™s President Chavez and mass media have turned a democratic leader into a dictatorship. Does Venezuela really represent a threat to the United States or is the hype just an excuse for regime change?
Venezuela: The threat of a good example?
T/ Eva Golinger P/ Presidential Press
he visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Latin America this week caused a frenzy in Washington. The thought of US Enemy #1 just miles away, south of the border, cozying up to nations once dominated by Washingtonâ€™s agenda was too much to bear for a government desperately trying to isolate Iran and rid the Persian nation of the Islamic Revolution. Days before Ahmadinejadâ€™s arrival to Venezuela, his ďŹ rst stop on a fourcountry Latin American tour, the US State Department warned the region of receiving the Iranian President and strengthening ties while Washington was intensifying sanctions against Iran and increasing pressure on Ahmadinejadâ€™s government. As a sign of its severity, Washington also expelled a Venezuelan diplomat serving as General Consul in Miami, for alleged links to an unsubstantiated Iranian plot against the United States. Venezuelaâ€™s President Hugo Chavez laughed off Washingtonâ€™s warnings as words from a â€œridiculous empireâ€? that no longer â€œdominates us in Latin Americaâ€?. â€œWe are sovereign nationsâ€?, Chavez made clear, as he received the Iranian President with open arms. Chavez even ironized about Washingtonâ€™s accusations that the Iranian-Venezuelan relationship represents a threat to the United States. â€œThey accuse us over and over again of plans to attack the United States. They say we are building a bomb to launch against Washington. See that hill right thereâ€?, said President Chavez to journalists at the presidential palace covering Ahmadinejadâ€™s arrival. â€œThe grass will open up to reveal a big atomic bomb that President Ahmadinejad and I will launch against the White Houseâ€?, he joked.
â€œThe only war Venezuela and Iran are waging together is the war against hunger, against poverty, against exclusionâ€?, clariďŹ ed Chavez in a stern tone. For years now, US government ofďŹ cials, outside analysts, think tanks, government consultants and media commentators have made wild-eyed accusations against Venezuela, claiming it is building missile bases with Iran to plan attacks against the US and hosting terrorist training camps for members of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. These absurd claims go as far to allege Venezuelan-Iranian joint ventures, such as car and bicycle factories and milk processing plants are fronts for secret underground uranium enrichment sites where nuclear bombs are being made right now for use against the United States. Even a commercial ďŹ‚ight between Caracas and Teheran was claimed by these US â€œanalystsâ€? and some members of Congress, such as Connie Mack and Ileana RosLehtinen (both Florida Republicans), as a â€œterror ďŹ‚ightâ€? used to transport â€œradioactive materialsâ€? and â€œterroristsâ€?. As ridiculous as Washingtonâ€™s allegations against Venezuela may seem, these dangerous, unsubstantied accusations are being used to amp up hostilities against
the South American nation, channel multimillion-dollar funding to anti-Chavez groups in an attempt to destabilize the Venezuelan government and to further perpetuate a media campaign demonizing the Venezuelan head of state, painting the oil-producing country as a dictatorship. Over the past few years, as the campaign against Venezuela has intensiďŹ ed, common jargon in mass media referring to Venezuela and President Chavez includes terms such as â€œdictatorâ€?, â€œauthoritarianâ€?, â€œtyrantâ€?, â€œterroristâ€?, â€œthreatâ€? and portrays the Latin American country as a â€œfailed stateâ€? where human rights are constantly â€œviolatedâ€? and freedom of expression is non-existent. Anyone who has ever visited Venezuela during the Chavez administration knows that not only is there no dictatorship, but democracy is open, vibrant and participatory, free speech ďŹ‚ourishes and Venezuelans enjoy more human rights guarantees than their northern neighbors in the United States. Media need be reminded that President Chavez has been elected by more than 60% of the vote in transparent electoral processes with 80% voter participation certiďŹ ed by international observers. As President Chavez pointed out recently, the Venezuelan government is investing more in
social programs and anti-poverty measures each year while countries such as the United States are cutting back social services. In Venezuela, poverty has been reduced by over 50% during the last ten years, thanks to the social policies of the Chavez administration, while in the United States, 1 in 5 children are currently living in extreme poverty. Unemployment in Venezuela was 6.5% in December 2011, while in the US, the rate sat at 8.5%. Exclusion, lack of opportunity, voter abstention and other social ills are on the rise in the United States. â€œObama, forget about it. Mind your own business and take care of your own country, where you have a lot of problemsâ€?, suggested President Chavez during a recent speech. Chavez was also quick to point out that Obama just cut federal assistance for home heating oil costs for low income families, leaving thousands to suffer through a bitter cold winter, choosing between food or warmth. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government just renewed and expanded its home heating oil assistance program to communities in the US through Citgo, its US-based oil company. For the past 7 years, the Venezuelan company Citgo has been the only oil corporation in the US willing to provide
reduced-cost home heating oil to those in need. Itâ€™s ironic that the Venezuelan government is helping people in the US while the US government and US companies refuse to do so. =,5,A<,3( 09(5! ;/,9,(3;/9,(; The relationship between Venezuela and Iran may cause alarm in some circles in Washington, but itâ€™s not for the reasons portrayed in the media. As founding members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960, Venezuela and Iran have shared close relations for decades. Both countries have strategic interests around the world. However, it wasnâ€™t until recently that these relations broadened beyond energy. Iranâ€™s entry into Latin America as a trade partner, along with China and Russia, is the real threat to US hegemony in the region. US companies, that have monopolized the hemisphere for over a century, are now being replaced by Asian, Middle Eastern and European ventures willing to provide more enticing offers to countries such as Venezuela. Agreements with Iran, for example, include technology transfer, not just the purchase of products. The car factories Iranian companies have built in Venezuela are not just for assembly of an Iranian product. The agreements include providing Venezuelans with the know-how to produce cars from the raw materials to the end product. This knowledge is essential to ensure long-term development, growth and economic stability. The hyped-up, falsiďŹ ed accusations of terrorism and warmongering against Venezuela â€“none of which have ever been substantiated with real evidenceâ€“ are dangerous attempts to scare public opinion into justifying some kind of aggression against a peaceful nation. Venezuela has never invaded, attacked, threatened or intervened in another country, nor has it bombed or assassinated the citizens of other nations. Venezuela has a policy of peace, and itâ€™s never broken or violated that promise. Venezuela also has the sovereign right to engage in relations with other nations as it sees ďŹ t and to develop its own internal policies to best beneďŹ t the well being of its people. That seems to be the greatest threat of all to the United States.
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, January 13, 2012
The artillery of ideas
Creating jobs and stimulating knowledge on Venezuela’s 2012 agenda President Hugo Chavez returned this week to his regular Sunday program, Alo Presidente, announcing the creation of a new jobs program and expanding oil and gas production T/ COI P/ Presidential Press
enezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the creation of another major policy initiative last weekend as part of the recommencement of his celebrated weekly television program, “Alo Presidente” in the oil-rich state of Anzoategui. The new “Mission Work and Knowledge” will focus on providing jobs for the un- and under-employed in what Chavez termed a liberating and productive labor environment as opposed to a bureaucratic and redundant one. Opportunities for youth and women will be emphasized, the head of state explained, setting as his goal the creation of 2.8 million jobs in the next seven years. Highlights of the new program include the creation of a national job offers registry, a redeﬁnition of the organization of the labor force compatible with the nation’s new Labor Law to be passed later this year, a jobs training program, and a reconceptualization of the nation’s productive apparatus geared towards maximizing social inclusion and well-being rather than boosting corporate proﬁts. Enrollment for the mission will begin on January 14 in the capital of Caracas and the states of Vargas and Miranda where a high concentration of the Caribbean nation’s population is located. The second wave of registrations will take place in February while a third is planned for April, thereby covering all 23 states in the country. *9,(;05.,4736@4,5; Although its launch has been hailed as the deﬁnitive jobs creation program in the past 12
years, the new program is just the latest employment initiative devised by the Chavez administration since coming to power. “Mission Work and Knowledge is part of a process of deepening of the revolution that began in 1999 and that has generated greater social inclusion, democracy, equality and freedom as the data and numbers supplied by international institutions reﬂect”, a government statement reads. Mission Che Guevara, along with the government’s strengthening of a previous occupational training program known as INCE have been working to give Venezuelans the tools necessary to enter the skilled work force and ﬁnd meaningful jobs in both the private and public sector. The government has also invested heavily in the development of cooperatives, dedicating billions in micro credits to small scale entrepreneurs who can develop community-oriented and socially responsible businesses at the local level. These measures have led to a current Venezuelan unemployment rate of
6.5 percent - a more than 16 percent decrease from the double digit unemployment rates when Chavez came to power in 1999. 9,;<956-(36 ;/,7,673,»:603 Before Sunday’s transmission, Chavez had not broadcast his weekly program for seven months as he recovered from a cancerous tumor removed from his pelvic region in Cuba last June. In his ﬁrst Alo Presidente appearance since the successful completion of his treatment, the socialist leader displayed no signs of fatigue, maintaining contact with the Venezuelan people for more than 5 hours. Other than announcing the birth of Mission Work and Knowledge, the Venezuelan head of state also spoke to a number of relevant economic and social issues. Broadcasting from the state of Anzoategui, part of the oil-rich Orinoco River belt, the President extolled his administration’s ability to reclaim control of the strategically-critical area was once dominated by foreign energy companies.
Asking for state agencies to investigate the possibility of exploiting gas reserves in the Orinoco Belt, estimated to be as high 700 trillion cubic feet, Chavez called on oil production in the region to increase by 500 thousand barrels daily, meaning a 3.5 million barrel output for the country daily. “This great richness is for the people, not the bourgeoisie nor the yankees. It’s national property to generate beneﬁts for investment in the social development of our people: education, health, work, and agriculture”, the President of the OPEC member state declared. With respect to the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an arbitration body that has demanded Venezuela pay ExxonMobil $12 billion for the nationalization of its stakes in the Orinoco Belt in 2007, the socialist leader dismissed the ruling and suggested that his country cease its participation in the organization. To justify his nonconformity with the ruling, Chavez cited a more recent decision by the
International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris which resolved that Venezuela should pay the US multinational $900 million, a ﬁgure that has been subsequently reduced to $255 million. “ExxonMobil wants to charge [Venezuela’s national oil company] PDVSA $12 billion and in the end we’re going to pay $200 million. They’re immoral. Despite the decision in Paris, they want to threaten us with the ICSID, an organization from which we need to leave. We’re not going to recognize the decision of the ICSID. They want the impossible”, he said. During the program, the head of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela also spoke out against US attempts to meddle in the foreign policy of his nation and reminded viewers of the Iranian President’s visit to the country. “Today [Sunday] the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be honoring us with his visit and spokespeople in Washington and the US State Department are saying that it’s not convenient for any country to get closer to Iran. That really is cause for laughter”, Chavez said reminding the Obama administration that, as an independent nation, Venezuela is free to foster relations with whatever country it chooses. “Forget about it Obama, forget about it. Dedicate yourself to the many problems that your country has. We’re free... the people of Latin America will never again kneel or be dominated by the yankee empire. Never again”, he said. 469,7<)30*047<; Sunday’s Alo Presidente saw a greater level of interaction by Chavez with the public - something that the head of state practiced regularly in earlier episodes but had gradually diminished over the years. Haydee Gonzalez, a public medical worker form the El Valle sector of Caracas, called into the program to address a problem related to irregularities in her pay. “This is the ﬁrst call from the people for the new Alo Presidente”, Chavez said as he received Haydee on the line. In addition to receiving telephone calls, the President mentioned the incorporation of new media into the show such as Twitter and Facebook to boost popular participation.
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, January 13, 2012
The artillery of ideas
Peruvian President Humala strengthens ties With Venezuela’s Chavez T/ COI P/ Presidential Press
enezuela and Peru took a further step towards strengthening bilateral relations last Saturday when the two nations entered into ten new agreements during President Ollanta Humala’s visit to city of Puerto Ordaz in the central state of Bolivar. Energy cooperation and a memorandum of understanding addressing joint hydrocarbon exploitation in Venezuela’s Orinoco River belt - site of the largest oil reserves in the world topped the agenda last weekend as the two heads of state met for the second time since Humala won Peru’s presidential elections in June of last year. “From today on, we have a new business partner in the [Orinoco] belt: Petro-Peru”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the press after a helicopter tour over parts of the oil-rich zone. Although details of the planned collaboration with Peru’s state
owned oil company must still be worked out, the move highlights the Venezuelan government’s intentions to bring in international partners to develop the production of the country’s massive reserves. The Venezuelan state through its own company, PDVSA, has planned to invest $5 billion in the Orinoco Belt in 2012 in order to boost output in the zone from 1 million barrels daily to 1.5 million.
The government has also entered into agreements with other international allies over the years such as Russia and China in its attempts to accelerate extraction of the heavy crude found in the Orinoco sands. For President Humala, the agreement to work with Venezuela is a welcomed sign of growing unity between the two South American countries as they ﬁnd common ground in shared eco-
-0./;05.76=,9;@ Apart from energy pacts, the two presidents also signed agreements spelling out terms of cooperation in the ﬁght against
poverty as well as disaster prevention and student exchanges. Last October, the Chavez and Humala administrations resolved to extend preferential tariffs between their countries for three months as the two nations conceived a new trade mechanism to replace that of the Andean Community of Nations, a commercial bloc from which Venezuela departed in 2006. On Saturday, the question of trade was once again taken up, leading to an agreement to maintain preferential tariffs between the two South American nations. “I am pleased to say that we have a positive message of conﬁdence for all the Venezuelans and Peruvians who are working and exporting products to Peru or Venezuela. Today we are providing you with calmness and a horizon for expansion so that we continue to working towards bilateral commerce”, Humala said. For his part, President Chavez expressed his contentment to foster strong relations with his South American partner and assured his country’s support for Peru’s continued development. “We are at your service. We say this modestly, but we are here to assist with these great ideas that President Humala has. And we can help Peru eradicate poverty, as we are doing here in Venezuela”, he stated.
During the interview, the minister mentioned the nearly $7 million allocated on January 8 by President Hugo Chavez to help the ministry develop three projects to beneﬁt inmates, their family members, and the ministry. The funding includes $1.1 million for the renovation of a building in Ciudad Guri in the state of Bolivar to be used as a rehabilitation center for
inmates, $2.3 million for the development of an agro-productive center in Guárico state, and $3.4 million for new meeting place at the La Trampa complex in Táchira state. According to Varela, the 7,000 staff members employed by the penitentiary services will also beneﬁt from new training facilities as part of the last project, which is also expected to create jobs for the local community.
nomic and social development projects. “We want to strengthen integration in the areas of oil and hydrocarbons with companies such as PDVSA and Petro-Peru because we believe that there’s a tremendous future in this that can beneﬁt both countries”, the Peruvian head of state said on Saturday. Independent of the Orinoco Belt, President Chavez addressed the ability of PDVSA to aid further development of Peru’s domestic oil industry as well. “We want to assist in raising production in mature ﬁelds. We have a little bit of experience with this, especially with heavy and extra-heavy crude production. Peru’s oil production needs to increase so that the country can become sustainable in this respect”, he said.
Prison reform: Venezuelan authorities working to remedy judicial delays T/ VTV P/ Agencies
n Wednesday, ofﬁcials in Venezuela’s Ministry of Penitentiary Services will begin visiting eight penitentiary complexes around the country to make direct contact with inmates and ensure that they are receiving the legal beneﬁts that correspond to them under the law. The news came from the minister of penitentiary services, Iris Varela, who said in a televised interview that the deployment begins Wednesday and ends on January 18, and will cover all of the country’s 57 penitentiary facilities. Representatives of the Ministry of Penitentiary Services will
be joined by attorneys, judges, court ofﬁcials, and the staff of the Ofﬁce of the Attorney General and the Ofﬁce of the Ombudsman, Valera said, adding, “We will be responding to the entire population of the country’s penitentiary centers”. About 40,000 inmates will receive personal assistance through this initiative, which will analyze individual cases and offer beneﬁts to those who need them. 4,+0(:()6;(., The minister of penitentiary services denounced a plan by some media outlets to spread alarmist reports about prison conditions in order to sabotage efforts being made the Venezuelan government.
Valera acknowledged that problems persist in the Venezuelan prison system that cannot be solved immediately, however, she emphasized the ongoing efforts by her ofﬁce. “These media people have no accurate information at all about what is going on in the prisons. They know people there and they claim to have information”, she said, mentioning one reporter who recently said he has a brother in the Uribana prison. “Of course there’s a plan to disrupt and sabotage our prison reforms, but it won’t work. They’re making fools of themselves and are even rejected by the inmates, who really want their legal situation to be solved”.
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, January 13, 2012
The artillery of ideas
Opposition candidate Leopoldo Lopez: A corrupt “pretty boy” with extremist credentials As the Venezuelan opposition prepares for primary elections in February 2012 to choose a candidate to run against Hugo Chavez in the October 2012 presidential elections, we provide weekly exposés on who’swho in the anti-Chavez camp
“What he can’t do is hold public ofﬁce because he is sanctioned for acts of corruption”, said Venezuela’s IACHR rep German Saltron. Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights stipulates that all citizens of signatory countries have the right to political participation, to vote and be elected, and to access public services. Signatory states, however, “may regulate the exercise of these rights and opportunities” on a number of bases, including the “sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings”.
T/ COI P/ Agencies
eopoldo Lopez Mendoza comes from one of Venezuela’s wealthiest families and is known for his “good-boy” looks and extreme right-wing agenda. Lopez has been an anti-Chavez media favorite for his “heroic” negation of a decision by Venezuela’s Comptroller General barring him from holding ofﬁce until 2014 for acts of corruption committed while he was mayor of Caracas municipality Chacao and during his time as a state employee of PDVSA. The former Mayor of the wealthy eastern Caracas neighborhood of Chacao (2000-2008) is campaigning on promises of “security, well-being, and progress” as well as claims he is “feared” by Venezuela’s proChavez majority because of his “winning capacity”. He runs third in the opposition primary polls behind Henrique Capriles Radonski and Pablo Perez. As a young adult, Lopez received his higher education in the United States. Starting out at Ohio’s Kenyon College, where he studied economics, the opposition candidate went on to obtain a Master’s in Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School for Government. Upon returning to Venezuela, Lopez spent three years (1996-1999) working at state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), at which time he is said to have “stolen money and trafﬁcked inﬂuences” in order to ﬁnance a right-wing startup political party named Primero Justicia, or Justice First.
963,05;/,*6<7 Mayor of Chacao during the April 2002 coup d’etat against democratically-elected President Hugo Chavez, Lopez played a key role instigating opposition demonstrators into taking an illegal march route towards the presidential palace, where snipers ﬁred on protesters as part of the opposition’s plan to justify the coup. This violence was later manipulated by private media networks and military ofﬁcials to launch the short-lived coup against President Chavez. Celebrating their violent takeover of the Venezuelan presidency, Lopez and others in the Venezuelan opposition went on to sign the “Carmona Decree”, dissolving all of the country’s democratic institutions including its National Assembly, Supreme Court, Attorney General, and Public Defender. Fortunately for Venezuelan democracy, mass demonstrations on behalf of President Chavez brought an end to the coup less than 48-hours after it began. According to investigative journalist Eva Golinger, Lopez is one of several Primero Justicia members who “made frequent trips to Washington during the pre-coup period to visit IRI (International Republican Institute) headquarters and meet with ofﬁcials in the Bush
administration”. IRI, with funding from the US State Department, became a principal ﬁnancier and advisor to Lopez’s party and the coup planners. A few years after the failed 2002 coup, inﬁghting between members of Primero Justicia led Lopez to break ranks and join Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT), or A New Time, another party heavily funded by US government agencies. Finding it difﬁcult to predominate in UNT, Lopez chose to split and formed his own political organization named Voluntad Popular, or Popular Will. On January 11, 2011, Lopez announced his “movement” had transformed into a political party, allowing him to run in the opposition’s pre-presidential primaries. (¸=0*;04¹6-1<:;0*, Back in 1998, as he was beginning his career in opposition politics, Lopez used his position at PDVSA to solicit, receive, and accept an illegal donation needed to ﬁnance the birth of the opposition’s Primero Justicia. “Putting it simply,” explained Attorney General Carlos Escarra, “this man violated the law”, After uncovering the illegal donation, worth $160,000, Venezuela’s Comptroller General Clodosbaldo Russian (2000-2011) prohibited Lopez from holding public ofﬁce through 2014. Apart from the illegality of accepting
the money from his employer (PDVSA), Lopez also violated the law by accepting the donation, in the form of a check, by his mother, who also worked for PDVSA at that time in the ofﬁce in charge of donations. Anti-corruption laws in Venezuela strictly prohibit any donation by the publicly-owned oil company to employees or public ofﬁcials, to direct family members of employees, or to foundations or entities related totally or partially to any of the said parties. Lopez was also investigated and found guilty in an administrative ruling for mishandling funds during his term as Mayor of Chacao. Together, these acts of corruption led the Comptroller General’s ofﬁce to impose the ban from holding and electoral ofﬁce until 2014. Lopez has made repeated claims that the sanction is rooted in Chavez administration “fears” towards his candidacy in the 2012 election and went as far as to take the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). After IACHR judges expressed their “concern” that anti-corruption laws in Venezuela might limit Lopez’s political positioning, Venezuela’s representative to the IACHR responded by explaining that Lopez “can still freely exercise his political rights”.
367,A(¸+0=0:0=,-0.<9,¹ :(@:<:,4)(::@ According to documents released by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, staff at the US embassy in Caracas considered Lopez “a divisive ﬁgure of the opposition” because he is openly “arrogant, vengeful, and thirsty for power”. The US embassy in Caracas noted that while his personal characteristics make him a barrier to “unity” within the Venezuelan opposition, the “social networks” of anti-Chavez voters Lopez has successfully organized using Voluntad Popular, “convert him into both a necessity and a threat to the opposition”. Voluntad Popular’s so-called “social networks” are an attempt at community organizing in which active members of the anti-Chavez minority, “promote social and political participation” to “solve problems in the community”. In reality, these networks seek to establish parallel communitybased organizations that can slow efforts of the Revolution’s Communal Councils and take votes away from the Chavez camp. Voluntad Popular has received substantial funding from US agencies, such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to set up these networks.
NoÊÇÊUÊFriday, January 13, 2012
The artillery of ideas
Is Chavez next? After Iran, Venezuela? “The build-up against Venezuela that began during the George W. Bush administration has rapidly accelerated under Obama”. – Eva Golinger, author of The Chavez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela T/ Mike Whitney
ttorney and activist Eva Golinger has written an excellent piece on US-Venezuela relations that’s posted on her website Postcards from the Revolution (www.chavezcode.com). Golinger details the astonishing turnaround that Chavez has effected since he took ofﬁce 12 years ago. Not only has Chavez routed the predatory oligarchs who once dominated Venezuelan politics, but his revolutionary social programs have also raised the standard of living for the poor and middle classes while strengthening the institutions that have transformed Venezuela into one of the hemishpere’s most vibrant democracies. Venezuela has seen a
50 percent reduction in poverty since Chavez took ofﬁce in February, 1999. Venezuelans are now guaranteed free, universal healthcare, a K-through-college education, and civil liberties that are protected under the constitution. US citizens have every reason to be envious of the social safety net Chavez has created for his people via his Bolivarian Revolution. Naturally, Chavez’s progressive policies have raised a few eyebrows in Washington where his successes are seen as a threat to the established order. Corporate mandarins regard Chavez as a troublemaker and they’re doing whatever they can to get rid of him ASAP. This is why one never reads anything positive about Chavez or his accomplishments in the US media, because the corporate bosses hate him, as they do anyone who diverts money from the 1 percent at the top of the economic foodchain to the 99 percent at the bottom. US-Venezuela relations have continued to deteriorate under Barack Obama, who has turned out to be as big a disappointment to Chavez as he has to his supporters in the US. The Obama admin-
istration continues to fund the stealth network of US-backed NGOs that have been working around-the-clock to depose the democratically-elected leader for more than a decade. Golinger has written extensively on US government agencies and their persistent meddling in Venezuela’s politics. Here’s an excerpt from Golinger’s post: “Ever since the US-supported coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela failed in April 2002, Washington has been pursuing a variety of strategies to remove the overwhelmingly popular South American head of state from power. Multimillion-dollar funding to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela through US government agencies, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has increased exponentially over the past ten years, as has direct political support through advisors, strategists and consultants- all aiming to help an unpopular and outdated opposition rise to power. US government agencies, including the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, National Directorate of Intelligence and the Pentagon, have pumped up their hostile language towards the Venezuelan government in recent years. The major oil-producing nation has been placed on the countless, and baseless “lists” produced annually by Washington, including “failure to cooperate with counter-narcotics efforts”, “failure to aid in the war on terror”, “trafﬁcking in persons”, and others, that are based on political decisions instead of concrete, substantial evidence to support their accusations. These classiﬁcations have enabled Washington to justify not only the millions of US taxpayer dollars channeled to anti-Chavez groups fronting as NGOs, but also to increase military presence in the region and convince public opinion that Hugo Chavez is an enemy.” (“War on Venezuela: Washington’s False Accusations Against The Chavez Government”, Eva Golinger). So, things have not improved under Obama at all, in fact, they’ve gotten worse. The US congress–whose public approval rating has plunged to single digits–is also beating the war drums against Chavez trying to garner support for direct intervention. While Obama has refrained from name-calling or explicit accusations; his underlings in and out of the bureaucracy never hesitate to connect Chavez to Iran or to suggest links between Chavez and terrorism. Obama’s role in the smear campaign is as clear as his role in eviscerating the Bill of Rights with his recently-passed NDAA. Here’s more from Golinger: “Other ‘commentators’ and ‘analysts’ are busy writing blogs and columns warning of the growing terrorist threat south of the US border. These dangerous, unfound-
ed accusations could easily be used to justify an attack against Venezuela, as weapons of mass destruction was used against Iraq and ‘protecting the population’ was used against Libya. ….Time again, Venezuela has shown there are no ‘terrorist training camps’ on its soil. Nor is it secretly building a bomb to attack the US. Venezuela is a nation of peace. It does not invade, attack or threaten other countries”. So, what does a peaceful country like Venezuela need to do to avert a confrontation with the United States? Venezuela needs to become more like neighboring Colombia that Obama and others regularly hold up as a model of “democracy” in the region. Colombia – where human rights abuses and targeted assassinations are routine and where the US spends billions on a drug eradication program (Plan Colombia) that routinely sprays toxic (re: poison) chemicals on crops, livestock, water supplies and children. Here’s a little background from Aljazeera: “In 2008, Colombian soldiers were revealed to have murdered possibly thousands of civilians and then dressed the corpses in FARC attire in order to receive bonus pay and extra holiday time. Juan Manuel Santos (who is now Colombia’s president) was serving as defence minister …when the ‘false positives’ scandal broke…. Despite this and other details – such as that, since Uribe’s assumption of ofﬁce, more trade unionists have been assassinated in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined …(Even so)…..the country has been applauded by the US State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank as a regional role model in confronting security threats ensures the fortiﬁcation of a system in which proﬁts depend on the perpetuation of insecurity.”(“Private security and ‘the Israelites of Latin America’”, Belen Fernandez, Aljazeera). So, this is how one becomes a US friend? Just follow orders, kill and imprison your own people, (preferably trade unionists) and allow the corporate looting to go unchecked. No wonder the repressive Saudi dictatorship consistantly ranks so high on Washington’s Friend’s List. So, what’s in store for Chavez, who’s done nothing except raise living standards, strengthen the rule of law, and make the world a better place for ordinary working people? The Obama administration presently has its hands full with its wars in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. But as soon as Obama is ﬁnished “liberating” Tehran, it’ll be on to Venezuela. You can bet on it. After all, Venezuela sits on the biggest ocean of oil in the world, “over 500 billion barrels”. That means it’s only a matter of time before weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaida training camps are discovered in Caracas.
Friday | January 13, 2012 | Nº 97 | Caracas | www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
A publication of the Fundacion Correo del OrinocoÊUÊ `ÌÀ ivÊEva GolingerÊUÊÀ>« VÊ iÃ}ÊArisabel Yaya SilvaÊUÊ*ÀiÃÃÊFundación Imprenta de la Cultura
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just returned from the sixth International Forum of Philosophy in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where philosophers from four continents were invited to discuss “State, Revolution and the Construction of Hegemony”. The event was inaugurated by the vice-presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, televised by several channels, and on the last day, a prize of $150,000 was awarded to the best book presented within the Liberator Award for Critical Thinking 2011. Similar to the World Social Forum of Brazil, both the prize and forum aim to reﬂect not only upon the social progress that characterizes these nations, but also the progress taking place in rest of the world; this is why only thinkers whose position is essentially leftist are invited, that is, those in the service of the weak, marginalized, and oppressed sectors of society. Regardless of how effective the conference’s statement is on the governors that read it, what is interesting for us - European academics - is the institutional signiﬁcance that is given to philosophy in the region. Is there a philosophy conference or forum in the United States or EU where vice-presidents take time to inaugurate a similar event? The attendees might have all been progressive socialists and therefore have found from the start a certain sympathy from these democratically elected politicians, but our Western neoliberal governors do not promote similar conferences for their preferred intellectuals. We can only dream that the vice-presidents of Italy or Canada would ﬁnance a similar conference for 50 philosophers to reﬂect upon their policies. Perhaps the day will come, but in the meantime, we must ask ourselves what this Latin American forum tells us about the relation between philosophy and government.
Before exploring this relation, it is necessary to remember that most Latin American countries today are governed by socialist governments whose main objective is to elevate from poverty those citizens that were discarded by the neoliberal (and in some cases dictatorial) states that ruled the region in the past. This is why for more than a decade now, such renowned progressive intellectuals as Noam Chomsky,and many others have been endorsing Chavez, Morales, and other democratically elected presidents for their social programmes and economic independence from the IMF. But despite the social progress (since 2003, extreme poverty has been reduced by 72% in Venezuela), ecological initiatives (Morales has been declared the “World Hero of Mother Earth” by the president of the United Nations General Assembly), and economic efﬁciency (unlike the EU, Latin American economies
will grow by 4.7% in 2012) of these governments, a campaign of hatred and disinformation has been taking place throughout our Western media in order to discredit these achievements. Perhaps, as Oliver Stone pointed out in his documentary South of the Border, this campaign is a symptom of fear that citizens in the West might also begin to demand similar policies. After all, while in Europe we are cutting social servicesfollowing the European Central Bank demands, Latin American states are increasing them, just as so many western protesters (“indignados”, Occupy Wall Street, and other courageous movements) demand. These Latin American countries are not calling philosophers to obtain from them rational justiﬁcations or hoping that some of us write propaganda articles for their policies. Rather, they are showing their awareness that history has not ended.
I’m referring here to Francis Fukuyama’s famous theory of “the end of history” (“liberal democracy is the only legitimate form of government broadly accepted”), which has now been assimilated, if not completely incorporated, by our capitalist culture. But history in Latin America has neither ended nor started anew. It’s simply proceeding as an alternate to our capitalist logic of economic enrichment, technological progress and cultural superiority. Latin American countries do not aim to dominate others, but simply to evoke those whom Walter Benjamin called the “losers of history”, that is, the ones who have not succeeded within our neoliberal democratic system. These unsuccessful “shareholders” are represented not only by underprivileged citizens, but also by underdeveloped nations and continents. In this condition, philosophy
is called upon to think historically - that is, to maintain living history. But how? As an interpretative discipline determined to question the (cultural, scientiﬁc or political) foundations of thought, philosophy is obligated to remain unsatisﬁed, that is, to always search for alternative models, possibilities and histories. These alternatives are what keep history alive, that is, maintain the possibilities of greater freedom, wider democracy and alternative systems. In order to achieve this, the organizers of the forum decided to follow the hermeneutic principle of dialogue, that is, the conversation where truth becomes a constant exchange of different views: In a sincere dialogue, none of the interlocutors know beforehand the deﬁnitive truth or where the discussion will lead; instead, they are led by the conversation. Thus, the 50 participants of the forum were divided into separate groups, and the different themes of the conference were discussed openly from each philosophical position. A statement resulted from each group, and these are now been delivered to the governors of Venezuela in order to encourage them to continue and improve the social progress they’ve already achieved. I’m sure not all our propositions and analysis will be welcome or applied, but the fact that national political leaders requested such gatherings for over a decade now indicates the signiﬁcance they attribute to philosophy for the well-being of the state. Despite the fact we were all invited to this forum because of our sympathies for contemporary Latin American policies, the organizers knew very well that our different philosophical positions would enrich rather than damage the discussion. In sum, Latin America calls philosophers, as the late Richard Rorty used to say, “to continue the conversation” because its politicians are honest enough to recognize that history has not ended with their socialist democratic form of government.
Published on Jan 12, 2012
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