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Venezuela, capitalism & climate change Pag. 4

Friday, June 6, 2014 | Nº 203 | Caracas |

ENGLISH EDITION/The artillery of ideas

El Salvador’s new leader enters accords with Venezuela and Latin American left

INTERNATIONAL Venezuela highlights Bolivarian Revolution’s achievements during OAS General Assembly T/ AVN

Promoting culture in Venezuela The Venezuelan government is launching a strategy to promote cultural expression and education, as well as finding ways to make some cultural activities community run and economically self-sustainable. The strategy is spearheaded by the new “Mission Culture”, which supports the cultural development and expression of the Venezuelan population. In line with recent reforms, which have fused social programs with similar aims and target populations, the new Mission Culture is an amalgamation of several already existing programs. Pg. 3 Impact

Widening social programs

A series of reforms to social programs will improve outreach and performance. Pg.2

President Maduro warmly congratulated the new President in El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, as he formally assumed the presidency this past Sunday. Sanchez Ceren took over from Mauricio Funes, who also comes from the FMLN party, and who oversaw profound changes in El Salvador since 2009, including close relations with Venezuela. The day following the inauguration, the formal entry of El Salvador as a full member of Petro-Caribe was approved at the 13th Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the body, held for the first time in San Salvador. Pg. 2

Venezuela named leading member of ILO T/ AVN

Venezuela was elected as a titular member of the governing body of the International Labor Organization, according to announcement made by Venezuela’s Perma-

nent Mission to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland. The announcement was made by Vice Minister for Labor Elio Colmenares, who led Venezuela’s delegation in the 103rd International Labor Conference which took place in Geneva. Colmenares emphasized that this election reiterates the recognition the Bolivarian government has received for its important achievements in labor.

“Venezuelan laws and our government’s actions are oriented towards a historic dignifying of workers, following the humanist example of Hugo Chavez that is continued by President Nicolas Maduro, who is a living example of what the working class has achieved in our country”, he said. The Governing Body is made up of 28 member governments (14 titular and 14 deputies), 14 employers’ representatives and 14 workers’ representatives.

On Wednesday, during the 44th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Elias Jaua highlighted his country’s achievements since the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution in 1999, when President Hugo Chavez came into office “In 1999, when Commander Hugo Chavez first assumed the Presidency of the Republic, of so-called Saudi Venezuela, called by that name because of its vast oil income, it was the country with the highest social inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean”, Jaua said in Asuncion, Paraguay, where the General Assembly is being held. The Foreign Minister explained that through the implementation of social programs and after 15 years of Bolivarian and socialist revolution, Venezuela now has the most equality in the region and is second highest in purchasing power according to World Bank figures. He indicated that the democratization of oil incomes, which during prior administrations remained in the hands of the Venezuelan elite, contributed to an improvement in the wellbeing of the people and is leading to development and the elimination of poverty. Venezuela has reduced poverty from 26% to 6% by 2012, thereby meeting the United Nation’s millennium development goal. The country has also managed to reduce hunger, from 21% to 2.5% in 2012, which led the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN to recognize Venezuela for being among a group of 15 nations that have made exception progress in reducing the prevalence of malnourishment.

2 Impact | .ŽsFriday, June 6, 2014

The artillery of ideas

Maduro congratulates new leftist President in El Salvador, welcomes entry into regional blocs

vadorian President, the formal entry of El Salvador as a full member of Petro-Caribe was approved at the 13th Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the body, held for the first time in San Salvador. El Salvador was previously an observer to the Caribbean oil-based alliance. Sanchez Ceren explained that, “we wish to join PetroCaribe not by chance, but as part of a well-articulated strategy and vision of the government of change to be able to count on a secure energy supply for the country, but also one with a deep social component”. President Maduro welcomed his counterpart into the bloc. Petro-Caribe, which was founded in 2005 by Hugo

Chavez, allows for a fair, socially minded distribution of the rich oil resources in the region, principally in Venezuela, to its (now) 19 members. Trade is often with extended and beneficial credit terms, and frequently allows payment in services or other goods rather than money, benefitting both parts. It is stipulated within the terms of Petro-Caribe that the monetary savings which nations make from the low cost energy supplies must be invested in social and developmental projects, such as building hospitals and schools. The Salvadorian Foreign Minister, Hugo Martinez, explained that as a full member of Petro-Caribe, his country “can

have a preferential treatment, sometimes through prices, but other times through medium and long term credits, which will permit El Salvador to spend at least 40% of what it deals in petroleum in social programs”. Furthermore, he explained that El Salvador is a county that “doesn’t possess oil resources, so this allows us to supply the country with energy under the principals of cooperation, solidarity and fair trade”. “This is a project for the people, it is a project for integration, for complementation, for efficiency, for productivity, this is a project for cooperation”, explained the President of Petro-Caribe, Bernardo Alvarez, speaking from San Salvador. “Petro-Caribe is an indisputable reality, which has its base and origin in social inclusion, and which parts from the necessity of guaranteeing access to energy, but which also combines access to energy with financing development”. Alvarez went on to highlight that since its formation in 2005, the member states of PetroCaribe have benefitted from more than $15 billion of oil contracts, of which $5 billion have been used for social projects. Furthermore, since 2008 during the economic crisis of capitalism, the GDP of Petro Caribe states has grown by 25%, the per capita income has risen by $387, and the human development index has risen from 0.60 to nearly 0.70, showing that while capitalist economies are struggling, economies based on solidarity and social progress are prospering.

Later programs have been added to the system, such as public housing construction, social welfare payments, employment and cultural programs, anti-crime strategies, and an animal welfare scheme. A total of thirty seven missions are currently in operation. Critics have either labeled the missions as “populist” and designed to buy the political support of the poor, or as ill-thought out “largesse” in public spending. Supporters meanwhile point out that both government supporters and opponents benefit from the missions, and that the programs have improved the quality of life of the nation’s majority. Nevertheless the missions’ popularity has meant that the conservative opposition now rarely dare to criticize the programs publicly. Further, the missions have been hailed as one factor behind the reduc-

tion in household poverty, which fell from 55% in 2003 to 27% currently. The country has also been praised by various United Nations organizations for achieving several of the Millennium Development Goals early. President Maduro announced last week that the missions will now be overseen by a unified Administration and Direction System in order to reduce bureaucracy and corruption. The system will also help families find out what missions they are eligible to benefit from. The missions themselves will be grouped into seven areas for sub-administration: education, public health, labour, social security, food, basic services, and housing and security. Each area will be overseen by a specific government ministry. As part of this change, missions with similar aims and

beneficiaries will be merged, also with the aim of increasing efficiency. For example, all programs focused on child and family wellbeing will be fused into a new program called Homes of the Nation. The Venezuelan President argued that the mission system was at the heart of the country’s development model. As such, in addition to “ending poverty and misery”, he said that overall aims of the mission system were “the construction and generation of a new socialist model”, “to convert Venezuelan into a productive economic power”, and “to contribute to peace and life”. “The missions and great missions acquire the character of building a socialist society…I convoke all mission members to go from simple beneficiaries to protagonists in the construction of socialism”, Maduro exhorted to listeners.

T/ Paul Dobson P/ AFP


resident Maduro warmly congratulated the new President in El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, as he formally assumed the presidency this past Sunday. “A warm hug and all our commitment to support you”, said Maduro in reference to what he described as a “historic moment”. “Here in Venezuela you have a people and a revolution which are brothers of the Salvadorian people”, he went on to state. Maduro highlighted the left wing origins of the ex-guerilla leader, who he described as being the “commander of one of the best organized groups in Central America” when “the generation of the 80’s took up arms” against the fierce, USbacked, dictatorships which savaged their countries. However, Maduro was quick to underline that the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN) which led the guerilla war in the 80’s and has won the past two elections (2009 and 2014) now promotes change in the country through peaceful means. “The left in the continent continues its road towards victory in peace, which is what we want: Latin America as a territory of peace”.

Sanchez Ceren took over from Mauricio Funes, who also comes from the FMLN party, and who oversaw profound changes in El Salvador since 2009, including close relations with Venezuela. The new President was previously Vice-President, Minister for Education, and a legislator for 8 years, comes from a family of craftsmen, and used the pseudo name ‘Leonel Gonzalez’ during the revolutionary guerilla wars. He won the second round of the election in March with 51.32% of the votes with a turnout of 61%.

EL SALVADOR JOINS PETROCARIBE AND ALBA The day following the handover of power to the new Sal-

Venezuela announces reforms to “widen” social programs T/ Ewan Robertson


enezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced a series of reforms to the system of state-run social programs, known as “missions”, in order to improve their reach and performance. Key initiatives include unifying the missions’ administration, merging programs with similar aims and beneficiaries, and passing a law to ingrain the mission system into the nation’s legal framework. Maduro said the reforms would be carried out this coming month to unify the missions into an integrated national welfare system.

“I’m going to declare June the month of the National System of Missions and Great Missions. The whole month is going to be dedicated to launching, re-launching and widening the spectrum of benefits for the Venezuelan people through the missions”, he said last week on his radio program Contact with Maduro. The first missions were launched by former president Hugo Chavez in 2003 as programs funded by oil income and aimed at directly addressing the various social needs of the population. They sought to guarantee free medical attention, widen access to free education, and eliminate hunger and illiteracy.

.ŽsFriday, June 6, 2014

The artillery of ideas

New strategy to promote culture launched in Venezuela

T/ Ewan Robertson P/ Agencies


he Venezuelan government is to launch a strategy to promote cultural expression and education, as well as finding ways to make some cultural activities community run and economically self-sustainable. The strategy is being spearheaded by the new “Mission

Culture”, a social program which supports the cultural development and expression of the Venezuelan population. In line with recent reforms, which have fused social programs with similar aims and target populations, the new Mission Culture is an amalgamation of several already existing programs. Fidel Barbarito, the culture minister, explained on Monday

that a key aim of Mission Culture would be to integrate communities into cultural activity via collaboration with community councils. This will involve integrating more artists and cultural figures into the program and creating “culture committees” with representatives from community councils and Mission Culture. Courses, workshops and forums will

| Culture


then be held in educational, community and work centers to support the spread of cultural activities and strengthen cultural education. “We first need to incentivize organization, activate and strengthen the culture committees…to generate reflection from within our communities on the history of our culture, of decolonization”, Barbarito said on Alba Ciudad radio. The culture minister went on to say that as part of the new Mission Culture, his ministry would pursue three strategic policies to foment greater cultural activity and expression. The first of these will focus on teaching training to enable artists to transfer their knowledge to schools and communities. “[Teacher training] will be strengthened to share experiences and knowledge in schools, focusing on liberating arts [such as] theatre, painting, dance and circus”, explained Barbarito. The second policy is to further integrate artistic activity with community organizations. The third is to invest in community socio-productive projects that support artistic activity. The culture minister referred to these as “socio-economic cultural enclaves” and explained what kind of projects his ministry has in mind. “The cultural community cannot remain outside of this [societal] transformation, and this community has

great potential. We give as an example the experience of a group of artisanal weavers who buy wool from a supplier. Well, they could present a socio-productive project [to Mission Culture] and with this investment buy sheep, to then produce the raw material themselves and generate a productive activity related to food”, he said. The minister added, “We’ve already begun to approve financing and the handing over of resources. With these, social production companies (EPS) focused on the cultural sector will be organized, which will have the opportunity of incorporating themselves into the new productive economic model”. Mission Culture was originally launched in 2004 by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Its main objective is to “consolidate national identity framed within the process of decentralization, democratization, and spreading of Venezuelan culture”. Other projects related to the mission have included promoting reading through book festivals and subsidized bookstores, as well as increasing opportunities for new Venezuelan authors to get published. The government has also played an important role in the revival of Venezuelan cinema, through founding a new studio Villa del Cine and providing greater funding for cinematic projects.

The National Antidrug Office held hundreds of public educational activities across the country this week, as part of the National Anti-tobacco Program which aims to make Venezuela a 100% tobacco-free country. Health Minister Armada explained, “we have had thousands of people incorporat-

ing themselves into the campaign across the country”. Similarly, Herrera explained that the currently in fashion ‘e-cigarettes’ are still not authorized in Venezuela, as their “efficiency nor therapeutic affects in the treatment to stop smoking have still not been demonstrated”.

Venezuela 100% free from smoking T/ Paul Dobson P/ Agencies


s part of its celebrations for the International Day of Non-smoking, the Venezuelan government announced further plans to stimulate a reduction of the already diminished levels of smokers and tobacco addition in the country. Venezuela currently has one of the lowest levels of smokers, tobacco related illnesses, some of the strongest laws regulating the industry, and some of the best attention for tobacco-related illnesses in the continent. Venezuela is part of the 5% of the worlds’ nations which have legal bans on smoking in public places, bought in in 2011. They also have a full ban on cigarette advertising, and cigarette packages are obliged to

carry health warnings from the Ministry of Health, policies bought in in 2004 and 2005 under the government of Hugo Chavez. This past May 31st, the government unveiled new, updated health warnings, which must be printed in larger size on cigarette packages, as well as mentioning that they are currently evaluating increasing the already high taxes on tobacco, following the World Health Organization’s call on governments to increase taxes on cigarettes this year, a proven method to reduce consumption levels. Rose Melkon, a legal advisor to the Health Ministry, explained that “we are doing well on this… we already have a very high tax of 70%, which makes our cigarettes very expensive. Many sellers have stopped selling because they

are so expensive”. Nonetheless, Health Minster Francisco Armada promised to revise and further increase tobacco taxes this year as part of the fight for a healthier society. Natasha Herrera, from the Pan-American Health Organization, explained that “Venezuela comes from a history of strong tobacco control measures”. She highlighted that the country has seen a reduction in smokers since such measures, from 39% of the population to just 17% currently. Similarly, the per capita consumption of cigarettes has gone down from 2,000 per capita per year to 900. Cardiologist Eduardo Briceño backed up this information: “We have been pioneers in the region and the world, implementing strategies against this illness… there is still work to do, but we can say that we have started well”.


Friday, June 6, 2014 | Nº 203| Caracas | !PUBLICATIONOFTHE&UNDACION#ORREODEL/RINOCOsEditor-in-Chief%VA'OLINGERsGraphic Design Pablo Valduciel L. - Aimara Aguilera- Audra Ramones


Venezuela, capitalism & climate change T/ Caleb Maupin


he problem of global climate change is distressing almost everyone. While a small minority may deny its existence, or question reports on its causes among the scientific community, it is universally recognized as a serious cause for concern. The super-hurricanes over the last decade are closely linked to rising temperatures of sea water, and this is just a small taste of what may lie ahead. Something must be done, the question is what? The responses of governments around the world to the environmental crisis, and its catastrophic weather events, have

varied. Various treaties have been signed. Various international conferences have been convened to discuss the issue. A great deal of research has been conducted, and many different plans for changing the relationship of humans to the ecosystem have been proposed. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has just announced its plan to fight climate change. Claudia Salerno, Vice Minister for North America at the Venezuelan Mission to the United Nations, explained her country’s proposals fight climate change at a special meeting with the press May 30. She summed up the plan saying: “Venezuela’s contri-

bution is to change the system, not the climate”. As Salerno laid out the details of the plan, it became clear that the Venezuelan government is aware of what so many environmentalists in the United States cannot bring themselves to say. The failure of governments around the world to address the unfolding ecological crisis is caused by one thing: profits. The changes that desperately must be made to human civilization to stop the climate crisis all cut into the ability of billionaires to make money. They require that restrictions and regulations be implemented. “Our economies are damaging the environment”, Salerno declared. Salerno pointed out what Venezuela has done. She talked of how the Bolivarian constitution protects the environment. Though Venezuela produces a great deal of oil, 70 percent of the country’s energy is hydroelectric. Venezuela invests $500 million per year into alternative energy. Already, the Bolivarian government has replaced 155 million inefficient light bulbs with newly developed eco-friendly ones. A program to replace other household appliances with more eco-friendly ones is in the works. A total of 58 million hectares of forest in Venezuela are protected, and a mass program of refores-

tation is being carried out. The Venezuelan government has created a massive public transit system, and is the in process of expanding it. Plans specifically include connecting the countryside with the cities, and breaking down the division between the rural and urban parts of the country. Public transportation is much cleaner, much more efficient, and much better for the global environment. Salerno explained that the effort to fight climate change must be “beyond the government”. A mass movement of public awareness must be created. The Venezuelan plan to fight climate change, as articulated by Salerno, includes expanding participatory democracy, and involving everyday Venezuelans in actively changing the economy and the culture. They include providing more free education, because “When you educate people, they pollute less”.

CHANGES MADE POSSIBLE WITH REVOLUTION The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the product of massive struggles. Hugo Chavez began the process after being democratically elected, but almost immediately he faced an attempted coup by “opposition” forces aligned with the United States. After a mass uprising of everyday Venezuelans, and rank-andfile soldiers, the coup was pushed back and Chavez returned to power. Chavez built a mass movement of trade unions, community assemblies and others who backed his presidency and supported his policies. With a new constitution, Venezuela is now seizing the property of foreign capitalists, and promoting worker cooperatives. Chavez successor, Nicolas Maduro seeks to continue the “Bolivarian Process” begun by Chavez and the mass popular movement behind him. Their goal is the creation of a socialist society, and the debate goes on each day about how to reach this end.

The wealthy capitalists in Venezuela, and their allies in the United States and Britain, are seeking to overturn the Venezuelan government. US media demonizes Maduro and the United Socialist Party, calling them “dictators” despite their record of legitimately winning elections by large margins. The Venezuelan “opposition” has grown increasingly violent, burning buildings and rioting, all while being supported by the United States. Venezuelan officials have stressed that these massive efforts are “not enough”. They want to be part of a global conversation about creating a longterm plan to combat the climate crisis, and to ensure safety and security for future generations. Salerno called for a “revolution within the UN” to allow programs to be implemented on an international level. Venezuela hopes that a legally binding agreement can be established to fight climate change, and all states can be obligated to take certain measures. If the economy continues to be structured as it currently is, under the command of a small group of western bankers on Wall Street, in London, and in Berlin and Frankfurt, things will not change. Venezuela, moving toward socialism with its “Bolivarian Process” is leading the world in fighting climate change. It has taken great measures within its own borders, and it hoping to pull other countries along the road of ecological security. It should be no surprise that such sweeping measures toward building a better future for the planet by restructuring the economy, come from a country that has broken out of Wall Street’s control. As China leads the world in green technology, and Cuba is being praised for its urban gardens and energy efficiency, why should anyone continue to think that Wall Street has the answer to the climate crisis? Commercials about “beyond petroleum” and marketing gimmicks about “organic” and “ecofriendly” products will not save us. Salerno described the process in Venezuela as “changing things from the bottom up”. Such changes are only possible with the overturning of the current economic set up, where billionaires lead us toward war, poverty and climate disaster.

Coi 203  

El Salvador’s new leader enters accords with Venezuela and Latin American left