Pg. g 7 | Culture How Venezuela’s innovative programa, El Sistema, is transforming the lives of thousands of children and making an impression on the world
FRIDAY|October 8th, 2010 |No. 32 |Bs. 1|CARACAS
Pg. g 8 | Opinion p
Cindy Sheehan on dissent in the age of Obama and how the FBI is silencing critical voices
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
Coup in Ecuador
Venezuela & Colombia advance relations
Regional solidarity and people’s power overcame an attempted coup against President Rafael Correa last week
Last week Ecuador became the fourth ALBA nation subject to a coup during the last eight years. As mass media tried to portray the events as a mere “police uprising”, South American nations immediately came together to express solid support for what was clearly a coup in motion against ALBA’s newest member, Ecuador. Political forces involved in the coup began to show their faces as the day progressed, only to be met by the popular will of the Ecuadoran people, over 70% of whom support President Correa.
Venezuela’s school yearbegan this week and the government inaugurated dozens of new schools nationwide. Over the past decade, access to education in Venezuela has increased by 130%. Just last month, UNESCO declared Venezuela one of top five nations worldwide with the highest number of university enrollment,even surpassing the United States. Education for all has been a major priority of the Chavez administration.
Land for the people By investing in farmer productivity and converting unused land into agricultural centers, Venezuela´s on its way towards achieving food sovereignty.
Expropriation of Monsanto-like agro-business Agroisleña was expropriated by the state this week, after its disturbing practices were uncovered.
Venezuela & Cuba help Haiti with literacy The successful literacy program “Yes, I can” will help Haiti’s 49% illiterate to read and write.
Venezuela denies ties to Spanish-terrorist group ETA O
n Monday, the Venezuelan government denied an allegation by a Spanish judge that two suspected members of the militant Basque nationalist group ETA received training in weapons from a suspected ETA member in Venezuela. Judge Ismael Moreno said the suspected ETA members Javier Atristain Gorosabel and Juan Carlos Besance were trained in July and August of 2008 by Arturo Cubillas, an alleged ETA member who has resided in Venezuela for more than two decades. In response, Venezuelan Ambassador to Spain Isaias Rodríguez
stated to media, “The Venezuelan government is not linked in any way with any terrorist organization, especially with the Basque group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). We ratify our most energetic condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”. President Hugo Chavez said the allegation was a “broken record”. “It all forms part of the orchestra that continues to play against the Bolivarian Revolution”, he said, suggesting the allegations are meant to justify an eventual
military aggression or intervention in Venezuela. A statement by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry asserted that the government “refutes and denies... any assertion that attempts to link it with the terrorist organization ETA, whose activities it rejects unequivocally”. The ministry also said the allegation threatens the “relations of respect that the governments of Venezuela and Spain maintain” and that Venezuela is willing to fulfill “judicial agreements” that exist between the two governments if necessary to prove it does not support ETA.
n Thursday, the Foreign Ministers of Colombia and Venezuela met in the border city of Cucuta, on the Colombian side, to continue repairing relations after a severe crisis in August brought the two nations to the brink of war. In late July, outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused Venezuela of collaborating with terrorists from the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) and providing training facilities and weapons to attack Colombia. The accusations were made before the Organization of American States (OAS) and were based on unsubstantiated evidence. Venezuela reacted by rejecting the allegations and later breaking relations with the Uribe administration, which clearly had sought to provoke a crisis before leaving government. Colombia’s new president, Juan Manuel Santos, made reestablishing relations with Venezuela a priority, and met with President Chavez just days after his inauguration. Since then, relations have been back on track. This week’s meeting between Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and Colombian Maria Angela Holguin set the stage for Santos’ upcoming visit to meet with Chavez in Caracas.
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n the morning of Thursday, September 30, 2010, the city of Quito, capital of Ecuador, awoke in chaos. Groups of rebellious, armed police had taken over several areas of the city, disrupting transit, burning tires and violently protesting what they alleged was an unfair law set to cut their wages. In an attempt to quell the situation, President Rafael Correa, immediately decided in-person dialogue would be the best way to explain to the insubordinate and rioting police officers that the law they opposed was actually going to improve their wages, benefits and overall job security. Around 9:30am, Correa informed his entourage he would be going to the police Regiment Quito Number One to talk to the officers. Upon his arrival, police were yelling and shouting at him, many wearing hoods and gasmasks covering their faces. The Ecuadoran President opted to grap a microphone and address the angry crowd, trying to explain the benefits of the new law to them while also pointing out that clearly, they were being deceived and manipulated by interested forces seeking to desestabilize the country and his government. The police wouldn’t listen to reason. They continued to demand Correa retract the law, while, weapons drawn, they fired tear gas at him and threw rocks and other hard items towards him and his entourage. Realizing no dialogue was possible under the circumstances, Correa defiantly exclaimed that he would not bow down to such pressure through violence and force. His government would stand by the law. “Kill me if you want, but I will not be forced to act through violence”, he declared before the crowd of armed, enraged police. Some took his challenge seriously. As his security team tried to escort him from the scene, President Correa was hit and attacked by several police officers and items hurled from the angry crowd. A tear gas bomb almost grazed his head, while the mob around him tried to kick him in his recentlyoperated knee, because of which he was still walking with a cane. Official recordings later revealed that during those tense and dangerous moments, police officers called out to “kill him” on their radios. “Kill the President”, “Kill Correa”, “He
won’t get out alive today”, ordered the higher-ranking officers on the internal police patrol radios. “Kill them all, open fire, shoot them, ambush them, but don’t let that bastard leave”, said police over the radios, referring to the President and the team of ministers and secret service that accompanied him. “Kill that ‘s.o.b’ Correa”, they shouted, with clear intention to assassinate the head of state. The President’s people barreled through the crowd, carrying him out while pushing back the violent police with force. Because of the toxic inhalation of gases during the incident, President Correa was taken to the nearby military hospital. Once inside, military and police forces involved in the rebellion wouldn’t let him leave. “You’re not leaving here until you sign”, they ordered their Commander in Chief, indicating he sign a paper retracting the law they disliked. But Ecuador’s head of state held his position. “Through force, nothing. Through dialogue, everything”, he declared. Days after, President Correa reflected on that moment. “I sincerely believed I wasn’t going to get out alive. I felt sorry for my family. More than fear, I felt serenity and sadness that we had arrived to this point”, he confessed before international media during a press conference after the whole ordeal ended. COORDINATED COUP As the President was held hostage in the hospital, military forces shut down Quito’s air force base and halted all flights from the in-
ternational airport. The coup was beginning to take shape. As thousands of Correa’s supporters filled the streets to protest the coup, they were met by police violence and repression. Security forces also impeded pro-Correa parliament members from accessing the National Assembly. Hours later, political groups supporting the coup violently forced their way into Ecuador’s state television station, Ecuador TV, to air their intentions and accuse President Correa of provoking the national crisis. In Guayaquil, looting and rioting was rampant, and insubordinate police also joined the rebellion. Several anti-Correa organizations began to emit declarations calling for President Correa’s resignation and to dissolve his government and parliament. Some of these organizations, such as the indigenous coalition Pachakutik, have members and sectors that receive funding from US agencies, including USAID, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). During an interview on CNN from Brazil, former president and coup-leader Lucio Gutierrez called for President Correa’s resignation and blamed him for the situation in the country. Hours before, Correa had implicated Gutierrez in the coup attempt underway. “I reject the accusations made by President Correa and deny that a coup attempt is taking place. It’s just a police protest and a demonstration of the terrible economic policies of Correa in Ecuador”, said Gutierrez, adding, “This could be a self-imposed coup, like Hugo Chavez did, many
international media are doubting he was kidnapped”. (Note: A coup was executed against Venezuelan President Chavez in April 2002 by an opposition coalition of dissident military officers, business leaders, political groups and private media, supported by the Bush administration. It failed after 48 hours, though Chavez was held hostage by coup forces until he was rescued by loyal military officers). Gutierrez himself was ousted by popular rebellion and imprisoned for corruption just two years after taking office in 2003. Since then, he has run against Correa in the presidential elections. Last year he lost to Correa’s 55% landslide victory, taking only 28% of the vote. After the coup on Thursday, President Correa reiterated his claim that Gutierrez was one of the forces behind the destabilization attempt. “Clearly Patriotic Society (Gutierrez’s party) and the Gutierrez brothers are behind this”. The Ecuadoran head of state also blamed right-wing US groups for supporting the coup. “Just like in Honduras, opposition groups in Ecuador receive funding from ‘right-wing’ organizations in the United States”, he declared. USAID, NED, NDI and other US agencies operate multimillion-dollar programs in Ecuador to fund and train political parties, organizations and programs that promote US agenda throughout the country. During both the 2002 coup in Venezuela against President Hugo Chavez and the 2009 coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, groups perpetuating the destabilization received US funding and support.
DRAMATIC RESCUE After nearly eight hours held hostage by violent police forces, President Correa was rescued in a late night operation by Special Forces. The heavily armed camaflouged military forces raided the hospital, engaging in dangerous cross-fire with police involved in the coup. The President was secured and taken out in a wheelchair, while the bullet fire continued. His car was hit several times with bullets, in a clear attempt to assassinate him. At least ten people were killed and over 200 injured during the coup attempt. Afterward, President Correa was received at the Presidential Palace by hundreds of supporters who cheered him on, expressing their indignation at the events of the day, vowing to “radicalize” their “citizen’s revolution”, as Correa’s policies are termed in Ecuador. Throughout the day, regional leaders expressed their condemnation of the coup attempt and reiterated absolute support for President Correa. Near midnight, South American heads of state from Bolivia, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru and Venezuela gathered in Argentina for an emergency UNASUR meeting to back Correa and seek solutions to the crisis. They embraced with relief as the images of Correa’s rescue were broadcast across the continent on Telesur, Latin America’s television station. The coup had been stopped, but the forces behind it still remain active. Ecuador imposed a state of emergency last Thursday, which was extended this week through Friday. As the dust settles on the attempted coup, the parties and actors involved become more visible. US-funded organizations, big business interests, police and military trained at the US School of the Americas, Cold War relics from US agencies, including Norman A. Bailey, veteran intelligence specialist working closely with opposition groups, and politicians such as Lucio Gutierrez, a strong Bush-ally, were all involved in trying to overthrow Rafael Correa’s government. They failed this time around, but the threat remains. Ecuador hasn’t seen its last coup d’etat. T/ Eva Golinger
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here was an attempted coup d’etat. It was not, as various Latin America media reported, an “institutional crisis”, as if what happened had been a jurisdictional conflict between the executive and the legislature rather than an open insurrection by one branch of the executive, the National Police, whose members make up a small army of 40,000 men, against the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ecuador, who is none other than the legitimately elected president. Neither was it, as US Under Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Arturo Valenzuela claimed, “an act of police insubordination”. Would it have been characterized this way if the equivalent of the Ecuadoran National Police in the US had beaten and physically assaulted Barack Obama, injuring him? Or if they had kidnapped him and held him in custody for 12 hours in a police hospital until a special army commando unit liberated him following a fierce gun battle? Certainly not. But given that we are talking about a Latin American leader, what in the US would sound like an intolerable aberration is made to appear like a schoolyard prank. Generally speaking, mass media offered a distorted version of what occurred last Thursday, carefully avoiding talking about an attempted coup. Instead they referred to it as a “police uprising” which, from any perspective, converts the events into a relatively insignificant anecdote. It is an old rightwing ploy, always interested in minimizing the importance of the outrages committed by its supporters and magnifying the errors and problems of its adversaries. For that reason it is worth remembering the words of president Rafael Correa in the early hours of Friday morning when he characterized the events as a “conspiracy” to perpetrate a “coup d’etat”. A “conspiracy” because, as was more than evident on Thursday, there were other actors who demonstrated their support for the coup as it was underway: Was it not elements of the Ecuadoran Air Force – and not the National Police – that paralyzed the Quito International Airport and the small airfield used for regional flights? And were there not groups of politicians who took to the streets and plazas to support the coup leaders? Was not ex-president Lucio
Gutierrez’s own lawyer one of the fanatics who tried to forcibly enter into the installations of Ecuador National Television? Didn’t Jaime Nebot, the mayor of Guayaquil and a major rival of President Correa, claim that this was a power struggle between an authoritarian, despotic character, Correa, and a sector of the police, mistaken in their methodology but justified in their complaints? And don’t even mention the lamentable reversal by the “indigenous” movement Pachakutik, which in the middle of the crisis made public its call to the “indigenous movement, social movements, and democratic political organizations to form a united national front to demand the ouster of President Correa”. “Life brings surprises”, said Pedro Navaja; but it is not much of a surprise when one takes note of the generous aid that USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have provided in the last few years to “empower” the Ecuadoran people via its parties and social movements. Conclusion: It was not a small isolated group within the police trying to carry out a coup, but rather a group of social and political actors at the service of the local oligarchy and imperialism, who will never forgive Correa for having ordered the removal of the US military base at Manta and the audit of Ecuador’s foreign debt along with its incorporation into ALBA, among many other actions.
WHY DID THE COUP FAIL? Basically, for three reasons. First, because of the rapid and effective mobilization of significant sectors of the Ecuadoran population which, in spite of the danger that existed, took to the streets and plazas to manifest their support for President Correa. What happened is what should always happen in situations like this: the defense of the constitutional order is effective to the extent that it is taken up directly by the people, acting as protagonists and not simply as spectators to the political struggles of their times. Without this presence of the people in the streets and plazas, a fact that Machiavelli had pointed out 500 years ago, there is no nation that can resist the onslaught of the guardians of the old order. The institutional framework alone is incapable of guaranteeing the stability of a democratic regime. Right wing forces are too powerful and have dominated that framework for centuries. Only the active and militant presence of the people in the streets can thwart plans of coup leaders. Second, the coup was prevented by the popular mobilization that developed so quickly within Ecuador, accompanied by rapid and overwhelming international solidarity that began to take action with the very first news of the coup and that precipitated an
urgent and extraordinary meeting of UNASUR in Buenos Aires. The solid backing received by Correa from governments in South America and Europe was effective because it made clear to the coup makers that had their plans ultimately proved successful, they would have been ostracised and isolated politically, economically and internationally. Third, but not least in importance, was the courage demonstrated by President Correa, who would not give in and who forcefully resisted the harassment and kidnapping to which he had been subjected, in spite of the evident fact that his life was in danger. Correa showed that he possesses the courage required to successfully confront the huge political machine. If he had wavered, if he had been intimidated, or if he had indicated willingness to submit to the plans of his captors, the results would have been different. The combination of these three factors – the internal popular mobilization, international solidarity, and the president’s courage – brought about the isolation of the mutineers, weakening them and facilitating the rescue operation carried out by the Ecuadoran army. COULD IT HAPPEN AGAIN? Yes, because the foundations of coups have deep roots in Latin American societies and in the foreign policy of the US towards
this region. In recent history, attempted coups haven taken place in Venezuela (2002), Bolivia (2008), Honduras (2009) and Ecuador (2010), i.e., in four countries experiencing significant processes of economic and social transformation, and members of ALBA. No government of the right has been disrupted by this coup phenomenon, whose oligarchic and imperialist trademark cannot be hidden. It is also very unlikely that any of the region’s right-wing governments will be victims of attempted coups in the coming years. Of the four coups that have occurred in ALBA countries since 2002, three have failed and only one, perpetrated in Honduras against Mel Zelaya last year, was successfully carried out. The significant factor there was its surprise execution in the middle of the night, a fact that kept the news from becoming known until the next morning and that prevented the people from having time to take control of the streets and plazas. When the people were able to mobilize, it was too late because Zelaya had been physically removed from the country. Furthermore, the international response was slow and lukewarm, lacking the necessary speed and decisiveness that was demonstrated in the Ecuadoran case. The lesson to be learned: the velocity of popular democratic reaction is essential to deactivate the sequence of actions and processes of coup makers, a sequence which is rarely anything more than the unleashing of initiatives which, in the absence of obstacles placed in their path, are mutually reinforcing. If the people’s response is not immediate, the coup process strengthens, and when you want to stop it, it is too late. And the same should be said of international solidarity, which to be effective must be immediate and unyielding in its defense of the existing political order. Fortunately these conditions occurred in the Ecuadoran case and, as a result, the attempted coup failed. But let’s not delude ourselves: imperialism will attempt again, perhaps by other means, to overthrow those governments that refuse to surrender to its demands. T/ Atilio A. Boron Translation: David Brookbank
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Land for the people
6iiâÕi>\Ê iV}Ê>Ê>}ÀVÕÌÕÀ>Ê«ÜiÀ Venezuelan farmer, free from the exploitation of the latifundio. “Although the irrigation system has infinite potential, the living conditions for the area’s residents were terrible”, Carajote said. “That’s why the government redesigned the project to include the rehabilitation of 161 farmer’s homes, the repair of 28 kilometers of agricultural roads, and the improvement of basic services like clean water and electricity”. The president of the Rio Tiznado’s Irrigation Socialist Business (Empresa Socialista de Riego Rio Tiznado), Nidia Loreto, noted that one of the most important goals of the project is to lessen Venezuela’s dependence on food imports. “This is a revolutionary project to guarantee food sovereignty”, Loreto declared.
Food sovereignty and reconstruction of Venezuela’s abandoned agricultural industry are key priorities of the Venezuelan government. This week, President Chavez and groups of local farmers reinforced that goal by advancing land productivity
enezuelan President Hugo Chavez vowed last Sunday to deepen his government’s commitment to its agrarian reform by redistributing more land to small farmers and improving the country’s ago-industrial sector. The announcement was made from the Rio Tiznados Socialist Agrarian Project in the state of Guarico where the Venezuelan head of state held his weekly television broadcast, Alo Presidente. “We have to convert Venezuela into a true agro-industrial power”, declared President Chavez during his visit. “That’s why we need to recover land, equip ourselves with machines, quality seeds and provide training for campesinos”. For decades, Venezuela has suffered from a lack of agricultural production owing to the preeminent position that the oil industry has occupied in the national economy since the 1920s and 30s. Rural elites complicit in an import-oriented agricultural policy have maintained control over the majority of landholdings in unproductive extensions known as latifundios (land estates) and small farmers have been pushed to the margins of the land tenancy system. The Rio Tiznados Socialist Agrarian Project in Guarico represents one of the many initiatives the Chavez government has implemented since the hallmark passage of the Land Law in 2001 to reverse this trend. PRODUCTIVE LAND The project covers 6,700 hectares (16,556 acres) of high quality Type I and II soils which were previously controlled by a small
group of families in the area who neglected to use the land to its full agricultural potential. According to Land and Agriculture Minister, Juan Carlos Loyo, the land was recovered by the government eight months ago after the handful of families that professed to own the extensions “refused to cooperate with the Venezuelan state” in its goal to produce for the nation. The land is now being cultivated by 73 families in different parcels and is producing 3.5 thousand kilos of corn per hectare. “On the offensive!” Chavez exclaimed on Sunday. “Not a trace of a latifundio should exist in this land. Zero latifundio is the goal and we’ll continue to recover hectares that remain in the hands of the latifundistas and aren’t producing food”. AGRO-INDUSTRY Apart from recovering lands, the Venezuelan government has been attempting to construct a new agricultural infrastructure in the country to facilitate the storage, processing and commercialization of food products grown on lands once belonging to the latifundio. The Rio Tiznado Project in Guarico is an example of this policy as small farmers aided by the gov-
ernment are building irrigation systems, processing plants and storage facilities for their harvests. In 2011 the Venezuelan government will inaugurate a fruit and vegetable dehydration factory in Rio Tiznado that includes a grain packaging plant and contains 9 silos with the capacity to hold 3,800 tons of grain each. The agro-industrial complex also has warehouses as well as harvesters and tractors built in Iran and available to the Ven-
ezuelan campesino through an agreement signed between the Islamic Republic and the South American nation. Fourteen kilometers of primary irrigation canals systems have also been constructed as well as 114 kilometers of secondary and tertiary canals. Totumo Carajote, one of the small producers involved in the implementation of the project explained that the socialist vision of the initiative is to provide a better life for the
FURTHER LAND RESCUES Chavez also called on Sunday for the rescue of 250,000 hectares (61,7763 acres) of land from the hands of the latifundio in the states of Zulia, Apure, and Lara with a special focus on the area south of Lake Maracaibo. “Wherever there’s a latifundio, we’re going to take it to convert Venezuela into an agricultural power”, he declared. “We’re going to accelerate the agrarian revolution so that no latifundios remain in our country”. Chavez called on members of the armed forces to aid in the identification and rescue of lands from the large landowners, many of whom have contracted assassins and paramilitaries to murder campesinos taking part in the government’s land redistribution initiatives. “This operation has to be accompanied by the Armed Forces. Deploy them together with the campesinos and the producers because if we don’t, the mafias and the paramilitaries who are often protected by local counter-revolutionary functionaries will kill them”. Since Venezuela’s land reform began in 2001, campesino organizations report that more than 300 farmers have been murdered at the hands of paid hitmen and paramilitaries, contracted by the country’s large landowners. T/ Edward Ellis P/ Presidential Press
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n a move described by government officials as a further step towards the goal of food sovereignty, President Chavez announced during a visit to Guarico on Sunday the expropriation of Agroisleña, one of the largest private agro-businesses active in Venezuela. “Agroisleña’s time is up”, the Venezuelan head of state declared categorically last Sunday. The company, a dealer of all types of agricultural supplies including seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, equipment and storage silos was founded more than 50 years ago by immigrants from the Canary Islands. Campesino organizations that have backed the expropriation measure, have blamed Agroisleña for monopolizing the seed market and driving up prices through speculative business practices. “We can’t allow basic food products to continue to be converted into commodities. They are products essential to satisfy the requirements of our people”, said campesino leader Benjamin Veliz in support of the President. During an event on Tuesday evening, President Chavez explained some of the speculative practices of Agroisleña. “Pequiven (a stateowned petrochemicals company) sells Agroisleña a bag of fertilizer for 14.4 bolivars ($3.34) and then Agroisleña resells it to farmers for 75 bolivars ($17.44), an increase of more than 500%!”
uments”, Chavez said by telephone to a talk show program on Monday evening. “We’re going to pay for the 130 thousand heads of cattle, we’re going to pay for everything”, he affirmed.
“The company also has received credits and loans from both private and public banks at an 8% interest rate”, said Chavez, “and then they re-issue those loans to small-scale farmers and producers with a 13% interest rate”, he added. “It’s unethical”. According to a statement released by the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ), Agroisleña “has the same practices as Monsanto”. Apart from exercising control over the distribution of 70% of Venezuela’s staple foods such as corn, rice, and grains, the campesino organization asserts that the private company “also has a monopoly on seed distribution which, additionally, comes with an entire technological package in same style as Monsanto”.
POISONOUS PESTICIDES Ana Elisa Osorio, leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, accused the company of selling banned toxic chemicals detrimental to the health of small agricultural producers. “They disguised them with other names, causing increases in chronic contamination from pesticides”, she said, referring to the company’s practices during a press conference on Monday. “Agroisleña was an apparatus that exploited the campesinos who ended up being dependent on the business for basic supplies such as pesticides…The company bankrupted many small farmers”, she added. The agro-business rejected the expropriation, claiming the President’s decision “was based
on insufficient and possibly distorted information”. In a communique released last Monday, the company asked the Venezuelan President to reconsider his decision and to take the time to “get to know the real work of the company”. Chavez did not back down and signed the expropriation order on Monday night. “Yesterday I decreed the expropriation of Agroisleña”, he announced. “That’s it. They have every right to protest, but they’re being expropriated”. After the signing of the order, the Venezuelan President emphasized that the Spanish-Venezuelan company will be fully paid for the property transferred to the state. “We’re going to transition gradually and sign the first doc-
LOWER PRICES FOR FARMERS The Venezuelan head of state added that the expropriation would permit a reduction in prices for agricultural producers. “One of the first impacts in the short term must be the immediate lowering of production costs because we’re going to eliminate speculative intermediaries”, he said. On Tuesday, the government began to temporarily occupy the various facilities owned by Agroisleña throughout the country. “We’re here to guarantee that all the business units are operational, especially those that have to do with agricultural producers access to goods and services”, explained Vice Minister of Land and Agricultural, Ivan Gil, from the state of Aragua. Gil affirmed that the more than 1,000 workers of the expropriated business would have their labor rights respected and that farmers delivering their harvests to the company will be paid accordingly. T/ Edward Ellis P/ Presidential Press
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n September 2010, the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) recorded an inter-monthly variation of 1.1%, which is the lowest since this indicator started its calculations in January 2008, based on estimations nationwide. Figures are significantly lower than the inflation rate in August (1.6%), and in the same month in 2009 (2.5%). Yearly variation of inflation through September 2010 is 27.9%, which is lower than the yearly variation tracked through August (29.7%), in-
formed the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) in a press release. The BCV also reported the accumulated variation in 2010 is 21.2%, including the month of September. Nine of thirteen categories included in the indicator recorded a deceleration in inflation in September compared to August: Food and non-alcoholic drinks decreased inflationary rates from 1.5% to 0.3%; alcoholic drinks and tobacco from 4.1% to 1%; property rentals from 1.3% to 0.8%; household appliances from 1.8%
to 1.3%; health from 1.7% to 1.5%; transport from 1.5% to 1%; entertainment and culture from 2.1% to 1.8%; restaurant and hotels from 1.7% to 1.6%; and diverse goods and services from 2.2% to 1.9%. Clothing and shoes maintained the same variation of the past month (1.4%). An inflation downturn was also registered in 11 of the 13 regions where the measure was conducted: Caracas, where rates fell from 1.4% to 1.3%, deserves special attention because the monthly variation this Sep-
tember was the lowest in the past 37 months. In Maracay, the indicator dropped from 1.8% to 1.1%; in Ciudad Guayana from 2.2% to 1.3%; Valencia from 1.4% to 1.2%; Barquisimeto from 1.4% to 1.1%; Maracaibo from 1.3% to 1%; Merida from 1.6% to 1.1%; Maturin from 1.7% to 1.3%; San Cristobal from 1.3% to 1.1%; and in the rest of the territory from 1.9% to 0.9%. The inter-monthly variation corresponding to the entire group of goods and products that are evaluated in the NCPI was 0.8%,
significantly lower than the 1.8% of August. Regarding the inflationary core, there was a decrease from 1.9% to 1.5% compared to August, marking the third consecutive month under 2%. The NCPI conducted by the BCV and the National Statistics Institute is an indicator to measure changes in the prices of commonly consumed diverse goods and services in a determined period. T/ Venezuelan News Agency
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ÀiÊÃV Ã]ÊLiÌÌiÀÊi>À} Improving access to quality education has been a pillar of the Chavez administration during the past decade. As the school year started this week, new public schools and institutes were inaugurated nationwide
alling for the national educational system to be more “inclusive and demanding”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez inaugurated two newly renovated schools in the states of Portugesa and Lara to open the scholastic year last Monday. Chavez demanded a rise of the bar in terms of education in Venezuela, stating that although the South American nation occupies one of the highest places in terms of education in Latin America and the world, “we can’t sit on our laurels. We have to keep improving”. In the state of Lara, the Venezuelan leader visited the Hector Rojas Meza Educational Unit where he delivered 46 mini-laptop computers to first and second grade students. The computers are part of a government program called Canaima, which, according to the Minister of Education, Jennifer Gil, will make 768 thousand units available for free to first and second graders this year to aid in their studies.
The mini-laptops contain multimedia educational programs designed to complement students’ curricula in the areas of culture, language and communication, social sciences and history, as well as science and technology. “This wouldn’t be possible in capitalism”, Chavez declared referring to his government’s socialist education policies. “Even though the wealthy hate me more and more each day, I’ll continue to work for the people”, he affirmed. PRIORITIZING LEARNING Education has been one the Chavez government’s top priorities over the past eleven years.
In addition to strengthening the public education system, various social programs, known as missions, have been created to provide educational opportunities to those denied the chance to study due to economic and social disadvantages. The three missions Robinson, Ribas, and Sucre have served as the backbone for the government’s education initiatives over the years. Mission Robinson – a national literacy campaign – has converted Venezuela into one of the leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of literacy with 95.2% of the population now able to read and write.
Mission Ribas has provided secondary education to adults while Mission Sucre offers university level training. Apart from being completely free of charge, many of the missions provide small scholarships to students to continue with their education. Bolivarian institutions have also been created from the primary to the university level, increasing the number of students enrolled in educational facilities as well as the retention of those students. According to the Education Ministry, scholastic matriculation has increased by nearly
1.5 million and the desertion rate of primary students has fallen from 2.5% to 1.7% over the eleven years of the Chavez administration. UNESCO has also recently placed Venezuela fifth in the world and second in Latin America in terms of university matriculation at 83%. Earlier in the day on Monday, the Venezuelan President also inaugurated the Bolivarian Ecological High School Pedro Arenas Bolivar in the state of Portuguesa. The new high school is the product of a 7.4-million bolivar ($1.7 million) investment from the state, has the capacity for 1,200 students, and, owing to its rural location, is focused on agroecological training. During the inauguration, Chavez granted 500 scholarships to the students with the most economic need in the school and handed over the keys to two new school buses. “I’ve got two keys here, two keys that I’m going to give to the Director of the school. They’re for two buses which will provide transport for the high school”, announced Venezuela’s President. In total, the beginning of the 2010-2011 scholastic year has seen the inauguration of 10 new high schools throughout the country, officials reported. T/ Edward Ellis P/ Presidential Press
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new literacy campaign program, supported by Venezuela and Cuba, was initiated last week by the Secretary of State for Literacy [Secrétairerie d’État à l’Alphabétisation] in Haiti. Details were explained by Secretary of State Carol Joseph during the program’s launch on September 30, 2010. The special program is divided into three phases, including
65 lessons, which will be taught in 22 months, extending through 2012. This training will be conducted with audio-visual material, following the method borrowed from Cuba, “Wi mwen kapab” [Yes, I can], with the goal of teaching 240,000 people how to read and write. Joseph announced that for this purpose, more than 9,000 centers would be set up in regions throughout the North, Northeast, West, South, and Southeast of Hai-
ti. Funding for the program (approximately $5 million USD) will be provided by Venezuela and audio-visual materials will be provided by Cuba in the framework of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA). Ambassador of Cuba in Haiti, Ricardo Garcia Napoles, said that, “the joy of the newly literate will be proof of their success”. Meanwhile, the Chargé d’affaires of Venezuela, Luis Quijada, stressed
the importance of literacy to allow for the people of Haiti to solve the problems facing the country. An earlier national literacy campaign launched in 2007 resulted in failure. In three years, it had only helped 40 thousand people out of the targeted 3 million. Joseph explained that the failure was due to lack of funding. Approximately 49% of the population (9.7 million) in Haiti is illiterate.
The “Yo sí puedo” [Yes, I can] program was implemented with Cuban collaboration in Venezuela in 2003, and within two years achieved nationwide literacy. In 2005, the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Social Commission (UNESCO) declared Venezuela “Territory Free of Illiteracy”. T/ AlterPresse
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An ambitious system pays dividends for young musicians
t says a lot about the music scene in Caracas that within minutes of entering Venezuela’s newest concert hall, I am already ignoring two world exclusives. Simon Rattle and Gustavo Dudamel, arguably the two most sought-after conductors in the world, are busy at work before my eyes. Rattle, the British principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, is rehearsing the next day’s performance of Carmen; Dudamel, the Venezuelan firebrand who leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is trying out his first La Traviata in the comfort of home. But I am scorning the supermaestros. Heading deeper into the bowels of the Center for Social Action Through Music, Caracas’ three-year-old flagship music complex, I have an appointment with an army, not a general. I find them, the 150 teenage players of the Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra, bound for London in two weeks, knee-deep in the finale of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, at a breakneck tempo that would leave many a more high-profile group gasping for breath. Their conductor, an urbane 27-year-old called Christian Vasquez, is cool as a cucumber; 15 minutes in, I am the only one who is in a sweat. That’s only partly because it is a tropical 30C outside and this outsized orchestra is crammed into a rehearsal room that can’t quite contain it. What’s really alarming is the realization that what began as a one-off - the amazing success of one Venezulean youth orchestra has turned into the reinvention of the concept of an orchestra. It is only 3 years since the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, the first Venezuelan classical music ensemble to achieve international fame, first played in Britain at the Proms under the baton of Dudamel, a landmark event that achieved a million hits on YouTube before the BBC rather uncharitably pulled the plug. Now the focus is changing. The 29-year-old Dudamel began his tenure at the LA Philharmonic in September last year. The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra is a youth orchestra in name only: most of the players are in their late 20s and some have children
of their own. “So it’s time to show that we are more than Gustavo”, says Eduardo Mendez, chief executive of the National Network of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela. “It’s all part of the Sistema; that’s what we want to show to the world”. Sistema - the system - is a magic word in Caracas. The state-funded but privately buttressed Sistema is remarkable. It has been going for 38 years, through numerous governments, under the overall supervision of the frail but fanatically devoted Jose Antonio Abreu, delivering music education to any child who wants it - the number now tops 300,000 - and a network of regional and state youth orchestras across the country. Abreu remains the motor that makes the Sistema tick. For one thing, he dictated every part of the construction of this new concert hall and refused to move the Sistema’s staff from their grimy office in one of Caracas’s most unpleasant high-rises, so that every inch of the center could be devoted to music-making. And Abreu still mentors every musician he can. “He made me feel trust in myself”, recalls the softly spoken Vasquez, whose
Sistema journey began when he eavesdropped, aged 8, on a rehearsal in his home town, San Sebastian de los Reyes. “I stood there, hypnotized”, he tells me. Four weeks later he was playing the violin. Vasquez was once the concertmaster of the SBYO and he has been conducting since he was 16. He is bullish about his Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra, named after a 19th-century Venezuelan pianist and opera singer. “In Venezuela, we’re seeing the evolution of musicians”, he says. Mendez, charged with managing the numerous projects conceived by Abreu, says that in 3 years the number of nucleos - the music education centers where the Sistema truly begins - has increased from 150 to 230. Now that they are adults, the Simon Bolivars have turned fully professional under Dudamel’s watch. The Teresa Carreno Orchestra, Mendez says, eventually will become another professional orchestra. “And each state will have its own professional orchestra, with a new building in each state where it can be based. So we’re creating a new cultural life for each city”. It also means that the Sistema is no longer just the provider of
amateur children’s groups but responsible for what is surely the most ambitious cultural program in the world. But if the Sistema is quietly going pro, that doesn’t mean it is losing the connections that make it so precious. Alejandro Carreno and Veronica Balda are violinists who have played together in the Simon Bolivar since they were children. Now married, they work as orchestra members and as teachers, mostly supporting the players of the Teresa Carreno Orchestra. Neither of them can imagine leaving Venezuela for foreign orchestras. “What we are doing here is so good for the country, for ourselves, for the Sistema, for Latin America, for the youth of the world”, Carreno says. “If the talent of the Sistema Venezuela goes away, to wherever, it just disappears”. He could get a higher salary elsewhere, but he says he and his wife earn a decent wage. “We live comfortably, we have what we need. And we can play for Gustavo Dudamel, we can play for [Italian conductor] Claudio Abbado. All these wonderful maestros . . . that doesn’t have a price”. Abreu’s mission won its global headlines initially for saving kids
from drugs, guns and gangs. It undoubtedly does that, though whether free music education can save children from deprivation in Scotland, Norfolk or California where trial schemes based on the same model are up and running - is less obvious when there are myriad different opportunities, and distractions, available. However the Sistema frames its mission - and under Chavez it has stressed social justice more often than it used to - the most important lesson for the world may be the way it makes music a communal and shared process. I notice this most strongly at a simple repertory concert in the city university’s spartan auditorium. A group of children, none of them older than eight, has come from an out-of-town nucleo to hear the Bolivars. Though gasping with excitement to see their heroes, they are shushed by elders, even during the pauses between movements. Eventually they sit rapt. If these kids are not the next generation of virtuosos, they are already guaranteed audience members with a reason to care. The Sistema is a holistic movement that’s as pragmatic as it is evangelizing: once you’re in, you are committed. “The danger is that they’ll just want to replicate past successes, where everybody [was] just thrilled at the sight of this extraordinary South American party”, Rattle says. “But everyone needs to get an appreciation of what they give musically, what the work really is. So we don’t think we can do the Sistema in three or four years and then, bingo, we’ve got a big party playing Mambo”. Not knowing if he will grasp the expression, I ask Alejandro Carreno, who has been part of that party and received standing ovations across the world, whether he’s tempted to rest on his laurels. “There was one time we were rehearsing at something like 10pm at night”, he recalls. “We were really tired. So maestro Abreu told us about what it is to be, as you say, sleeping on your laurels. You can never be doing that. That’s for other people”. T/ Neil Fisher, The Times
FRIDAY|October 8th, 2010 |No. 32|Bs. 1|CARACAS
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
A publication of the Fundacion Correo del Orinoco Editor-in-Chief | Eva Golinger • Graphic Design | Arturo Cazal, Pablo Valduciel L., Alexander Uzcátegui, Jameson Jiménez • Press | Fundación Imprenta de la Cultura
Dissent in the age of Obama “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience”. Albert Camus
ecently, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) raided the homes of at least eight antiwar/social justice activists here in the US. I happen to be a prominent antiwar activist myself, and have joked that I am a “little hurt” that I was not raided and perhaps I should try harder. Even though, we have the urge to try and be light-hearted in this time of an increasing police state, with civil liberties on the retreat, it really isn’t funny considering that the activists could face some serious charges stemming from these raids. I have felt this harassment on a smaller scale myself and I know that defending oneself against a police state that has unlimited resources, time and cruelty, can be quite expensive, time consuming and annoying. There is nothing noble about an agency that has reduced itself to being jackbooted enforcers of a neo-fascist police state, no matter how much the FBI has been romanticized in movies, television and books. For example, in one instance, early in the morning of September 24, at the home of Mick Kelly of Minneapolis, the door was battered in and flung across the room when his partner audaciously asked to see the FBI’s warrant through the door’s peephole. At Jessica Sundin’s home, she walked downstairs to find seven agents ransacking her home while her partner and child looked on in shock. These raids have terrifying implications for dissent here in the US. First of all, these US citizens have been long-time and devoted anti-
war activists who organized an antiwar rally that was violently suppressed by the US police state in MinneapolisSt. Paul during the 2008 Republican National Convention. Because the Minneapolis activists have integrity, they had already announced that they would do the same if the Democrats hold their convention there in 2012. I have observed that it was one thing to be anti-Bush, but to be anti-war in the age of Obama is not to be tolerated by many people. If you will also notice, the only people who seem to know about the raids are those of us already in the movement. There has been no huge outcry over this fresh outrage, either by the so-called movement or the corporate media. I submit that if George Bush were still president, or if this happened under a McCain/Palin regime, there would be tens of thousands of people in the streets protesting. This is one of the reasons an escalation in police state oppression is so much more dangerous under Obama - even now, he gets a free pass from the very same people who should be adamantly opposed to such policies. Secondly, I believe because the raids happened to basically ‘unsung’ and unknown, but very active workers in the movement, that the coordinated, early mor-
ning home inva- sions were designed to intimidate and frighten those of us who are still doing the work. The Obama regime would like nothing better than for us to shut up or go underground and to quit embarrassing it by pointing out its abject failures and highlighting its obvious crimes. Just look at how the Democrats are demonizing activists who are trying to point out the inconvenient truth that the country (under a near Democratic tyranny) is sliding further into economic collapse, environmental decay and perpetual war for enormous profit. Barack and Joe, the commandantes of this police state, say that those who have the temerity to be critical are “asleep” and just need to “buck up”. White House spokesperson, Robert Gibbs, recently stated that we on the “professional left” need to be “drug tested” if we are not addicted to the regimes’ own
drug: the Hopium of the Obama propaganda response team. It seems like, even though some of those that have been nailed to the cross of national security do activism around South America, most of the activism is anti-war and pro-Palestinian rights. Being supportive of any Arab or Muslim, no matter how benign or courageous is a very dangerous activity here in post-9/11 America. The Supreme Court just decided (Wilner v. National Security Agency) that the National Security Agency (NSA) did not have to disclose if it was using warrantless wiretapping to spy on attorneys representing the extra-legal detention of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obtaining warrants, with cause, and attorneyclient privilege were important principles of the US justice system, but even the neo-fascist Supreme Court is undermining the law - talk about “activist” judges! Not only have activists been targeted here in the States, but Obama has ominously declared himself judge, jury and executioner of anyone that he deems a national security “threat”. These are the actions
of a tyrant and another assault against our rights and against the rule of law from a person who promised “complete transparency” from his administration. We have learned that Obama’s first victim under his presidential execution programme is Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Muslim who is now in Yemen. Without showing proof of al-Awlaki’s so-called executionable offenses and without a trial in a court of law, Obama has unloosed his hit squads on Awlaki. Is there anyone out there reading this who does not believe, or fear, that this program could quickly descend into summary executions within the borders of the US? Al-Awlaki’s father has filed a motion in federal court to stay the execution of his son until he gets his constitutionally guaranteed rights to due process, but Obama’s justice department has refused to cooperate stating that to do so would ‘undermine’ that fabled, exploited and ephemeral ‘national security’. When Obama behaves like Bush, he amply demonstrates why other people hate our country so much. People in other countries are not nearly as blind as Americans. They know that even though Obama went to Cairo to blather about building understanding between the US and the Muslim world, actions speak louder than words and Obama’s actions drip with carnage and pain. Obviously, the suppression of dissent here in the US, while outrageous and inexcusable, has not reached the level of the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950’s - yet. The longer we Americans remain silent in the face of these injustices, the more they will continue to occur and escalate. - Cindy Sheehan Cindy Sheehan’s son, Casey, was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has been a tireless activist for peace and human rights. Cindy has published five books and has been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize.
Coup in Ecuador. Regional solidarity and people’s power overcame an attempted coup against President Rafael Correa last week
Published on Oct 8, 2010
Coup in Ecuador. Regional solidarity and people’s power overcame an attempted coup against President Rafael Correa last week