Pg. 7 | Social Justice
Venezuela’s innovative MetroCable on exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art
FRIDAY September 3rd, 2010 No. 27 Bs. 1 Caracas
Pg. 8 | Opinion
Author William Blum details why the people of the US can’t ignore their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
Venezuela: Cracking down on Crime
Decreasing crime in Venezuela means reducing the violence of poverty
Affordable Housing and Healthcare
National and international mainstream media distort and utilize the reality of Venezuela’s crime rate to claim the Chavez government is a “failed state”. But concrete efforts have been undertaken to address crime and violence at their root: social inequalities and poverty. By implementing policies to eradicate poverty and increase access to education, jobs, food and healthcare, the Chavez government is taking major steps towards long-term crime reduction. In combination with these social policies, new security forces have been created and deployed nationwide to stop crime.
The priority of the Chavez administration has been providing basic services to a majority of previously neglected and excluded Venezuelans. Innovative healthcare and education programs have successfully improved the mental and physical well being of citizens nationwide, while other policies focus on building affordable housing and providing access to basic consumer products at low cost.
Energy Crisis Over
The severe drought that caused Venezuela to ration hydro-electric power has ended.
Transforming Economy to End Poverty A new communal based economy seeks to reduce inequalities and increase collective prosperity.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) is encouraging voter participation through nationwide electoral fairs.
Bolivarian Revolution: Greater Access to Health and Education
ore than 85% of Venezuelans are benefiting today from the public health system created by the Chavez administration, and more than 2,200,000 students are currently enrolled in public universities as of 2010. In contrast, eleven years ago, only 40% of Venezuela’s population had access to healthcare, and an average of only 780,000 students were enrolled in universities nationwide. “As of the last trimester of 2008, 85% of our population had access to healthcare. Today, that figure should near 90%”, exclaimed Presi-
dent Hugo Chavez during the graduation ceremony of 189 specialists in General Integral Medicine from the Latin American Integral Medical School last week. Chavez also reminded the new graduates that during governments past, privatizing education was state policy. “If the counterrevolution returns to power, they will take all this away”, alerted the Venezuelan President, adding, “they wouldn’t allow you to exercise in the medical profession and they would privatize our Integral Diagnostic Centers and expel the Cuban doctors”.
Opposition leaders have frequently referred to the presence of Cuban doctors and medical specialists as “invasive” and have implied they would remove all Cuban workers from Venezuela if they had the chance. Agreements between Cuba and Venezuela have enabled the implementation of a national public health system that provides accessible, preventive, general and advanced healthcare for free to all Venezuelans. To date, the program, Barrio Adentro, has saved over 292,000 lives.
Venezuelan Films Awarded
he Venezuelan movies Havana Eva, by Fina Torres, and Hermano, by Marcel Rasquin, received the most important awards in the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) last week. Havana Eva was awarded the Jury’s Best Film, while Hermano won the Audience’s Best Film award. Produced by Venezuela’s Villa del Cine and co-produced by Cuba and France, Havana Eva shows the difficulties of a young Cuban seamstress who works for a state-owned wedding dress factory. The film, which features a starring role by Venezuelan actress Prakriti Maduro, received rave reviews after it was screened at the festival in Los Angeles. Havana Eva also won the Best Film Award at the New York International Latino Film Festival, while Hermano got the San Jorge de Oro Best Film prize, the Critic’s Award and Audience’s Award in the 32nd Moscow International Film Festival. Hermano tells the story of two foster brothers, Daniel and Julio, who have the opportunity to change their lives and overcome poverty when a head-hunter invites them to try their luck in the Caracas Soccer Club. La Villa del Cine, a Venezuelan state-owned production house created in 2006, has produced several films that have been nationally and internationally awarded, among them Postales de Leningrado (Mariana Rondón), Zamora (Roman Chalbaud), and Libertador Morales, El justiciero (Efterpi Charalambidis).
The Venezuelan Government is taking concrete steps to combat a rise of criminal activity and insecurity in the country by also addressing the root cause of violence: Poverty
| No 27 • Friday, September 3rd, 2010
The artillery of ideas
Chavez: Security a priority
he New York Times mistakenly headlined last week that violence in Venezuela is worse than Iraq. The sensationalist and distorted article, authored by correspondent Simon Romero, fed an ongoing anti-Chavez campaign attempting to portray Venezuela as a failed state. Pulling on non-official figures of crime statistics in Caracas and declarations exclusively from anti-Chavez analysts, Romero engaged in the worst kind of yellowjournalism, distracting from the hundreds of thousands of Iraquis killed in the US-led war in the days before President Obama’s announcement of an “end to combat”, to turn the focus to another one of Washington’s targets, Venezuela –much closer to home. That crime exists in Caracas is undeniable. But to somehow imply, as opposition media in Venezuela do daily, that crime and violence are the “fault” of the Chavez administration is not only absurd, but also dangerously sinister. Just like in any major urban area around the world, there are frequent incidents of homicide, armed robbery, burglary, and muggings, often exacerbated by the visibly stark divisions of wealth between a minority upper class and a majority poor. Long ago, well before Hugo Chavez became president, middle and upper class neighborhoods erected giant walls and electric fences to live behind, hiding their wealth from the eyes of those with lesser means. The growth of the wealthy class in Venezuela is largely based on another form of violence and crime, rarely reported in mainstream media. Throughout much of the twentieth century, as Venezuela’s oil industry grew, corruption and so-called “white collar crime” grew with it. Despite oil being nationalized in 1976, poverty increased exponentially
as millions in oil wealth were embezzled and stolen by the political and economic elite in power. They then hid their stolen riches behind gated communities and concrete walls, and bought properties in Miami, New York, Aruba, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic, so the majority poor couldn’t see how they had ravaged the nation, and wouldn’t reclaim what rightfully belonged to the people of Venezuela. SOCIAL ROOTS Crime in Venezuela has complex social and political roots. The violence of the elite classes that held power throughout the latter half of the twentieth century created a severely impoverished, under-educated, malnourished and excluded majority. Addressing crime and security in Venezuela today requires finding solutions for the larger social ills facing the nation. The policies of the Chavez government are focused on eradicating poverty and misery as a first and essential step towards national development and progress. More than 60% of oil profits today are invested in social programs, providing free, quality healthcare and education to all Venezuelans; creating job-training programs and new forms of employment through worker-run businesses and cooperatives; and ensuring food security and sov-
ereignty through a recuperation and expansion of the nation’s agricultural industry together with state-run supermarkets and distribution centers that ensure basic food products are accessible and affordable to all. Extreme poverty has been reduced by more than 50% during the past ten years, and Venezuela’s literacy program has been hailed as a “model for the world” by the United Nations. Today, Venezuelans are eating better, are better educated, have more buying power and are actively participating in their political and social processes. A new model of communal economy, where communities run their own markets, banks and local services, is being created in order to change the mentality of entitlement imposed by the paternal oil state. At the same time, there has been an increase in non-traditional criminal activities during the past ten years, including kidnappings, “express kidnappings”, paid assassinations and gangrelated murders, most of which take place in the barrios – poor neighborhoods sprawled on the hillsides of Caracas, or in border regions. However, this type of violence has often been exported from neighboring Colombia, one of the most violent countries in the world, in the form of paramilitary forces seeking to gain territory inside Venezuela and aid the
conservative opposition in destabilizing the Chavez government to the point of regime change. Drug-related violence and crime also encompass a majority of incidents in the nation, and while Venezuela is not a drugproducing nation, Colombia is, and exporting drugs to Venezuela has become a key business for Colombian drug-traffickers. COMBATING CRIME So, while this reality does exist, the Chavez administration has taken key, concrete and effective steps to respond to a circumstance inherited from the neglect, abandonment and corruption from governments past. In addition to addressing the roots of poverty and crime through social programs and inclusionary policies, the Chavez government is also dealing directly with day-to-day violence through the creation of a new police force, the National Bolivarian Police, and a heightened security presence throughout the country. On Wednesday, Minister for Interior and Justice Tareck El Aissami, oversaw the permanent deployment of National Bolivarian Police, National Reserve, Homeland Guards and officials from the Transit Authority to secure the 47 metro stations in greater Caracas. Over one thousand forces from these four state security bodies will police the main
artery of public transportation in the Venezuelan capital during its hours of operation, in an effort to reduce criminal activity and ensure commuter safety. A nationwide security deployment also began earlier this year, the Bicentennial Security Deployment (Dibise), combining National Guard, counter-narcotics and national police forces charged with combating drug-trafficking activity and reducing incidents of kidnapping, homicides and general crime. To date there have been thousands of arrests and tons of drugs and illegal arms confiscated. As part of the creation of the National Bolivarian Police force, a new University of Security was inaugurated earlier this year, which will provide in depth professional academic and physical training for aspiring officers. Human rights and studies of social inequalities are required material for all cadets, in an effort to build a non-corrupt, non-repressive, socially conscious security force. This pioneering effort will create Venezuela’s first professional police force and will eventually result in the phasing out of other non-professional, corrupt forces operating on a local and regional level. While the national government is engaging in these concrete steps to reduce crime and violence, local governments – both state and municipal, which control police forces, are doing little or nothing to combat insecurity. The states with the higest crime rates are Miranda, Tachira and Zulia, all three in the hands of opposition, anti-Chavez governors. All three of those states also have the highest presence of Colombian paramilitary forces, which appear to operate freely with the approval of those governors. As poverty is eradicated and Venezuelans become more socially aware and increase their own participation and responsibility in the building of their nation, crime will dissipate. The combination of social polices directed at improving the well being of all Venezuelans and concrete steps to reduce crime, increase police presence and build non-corrupt forces will ensure long-term safety and security in Venezuela. T/ Eva Golinger
The artillery of ideas
No 27 • Friday, September 3rd, 2010 |
Venezuela: Crackdown on crime
As a display of increased security measures implemented in Venezuela, thirty-six criminal gangs were disbanded by police and military forces last week in the state of Miranda and the capital city of Caracas
he announcement came last Sunday during a press conference held in the capital by members of the security forces that comprise the government’s Bicentennial Security Deployment (Dibise) plan which went into effect last March. “We are carrying out security measures that have shown positive results”, said Abdon Matheus, commander of the Strategic Region of Integrated Defense (Redi), which forms part of the Dibise plan. Dibise is the government’s response to the problems of violent crime and insecurity that have plagued the nation in recent years. The program is the result of a nationwide consultation process that took place during 2006 and included widespread community participation.
Since March, the plan has been put into effect in 36 municipalities in the country where 75% of all crime and 78% of all homicides are concentrated. According to Matheus, the anticrime program “shows that we can work together in a coordinated and concrete way for the benefit and security of the general citizenry”. COMMUNITY EFFORTS In the area around the capital, Dibise has deployed 1,000 mili-
tary police working in collaboration with Bolivarian militias to aid communities in cracking down on criminal activity. This comes in addition to efforts carried out by the new National Bolivarian Police force, which has been effective in reducing violent crime in the capital. In a report given to the Venezuelan congress in July, the head of the National Bolivarian Police, Luis Fernandez, stated that homicides in the Caracas neighborhood of Catia
had been reduced by 60% owing to the force’s efforts in the zone. General Antonio Benavides, representative of the National Guard’s 5th Regional Command, stated during the press conference on Sunday that some 631 arrests were made for crimes committed in the capital region last week. According to members of Dibise, a major component of the plan’s effectiveness continues to be community involvement and grassroots outreach.
Last week approximately 300 meetings and workshops were held with different community groups to educate neighbors on crime prevention and ways to collaborate with law enforcement agencies. Communications lines have been established to facilitate the reporting of criminal activity via the use of the phone number 645 and a twitter account created by Dibise. Last week 77 firearms were seized in Caracas and a total of 250 were confiscated on a national level. In a further security development on Monday, Interior and Justice Minister, Tareck El Aissami announced that twelve new patrols and 700 officers will be deployed in the central states of Carabobo and Aragua. Speaking during a visit to a National Guard barracks in the state of Carabobo, El Aissami highlighted the fact that since Dibise began its work in the state, positive results have been evident. “In [the cities of] Valencia, Guacara, Puerto Cabello and [the municipality of] Libertador, there has been a 20% reduction in crime”. T/ Edward Ellis P/ Agencies
Venezuela: “Most important” drug seizure in four years
he Bolivarian National Guard captured four tons of high purity cocaine in the central region of Guarico on Sunday morning. The Ministry for Justice and Interior reported that the seizure occurred after detecting an unidentified plane that did not have flight authorization. The Minister for Justice and Interior, Tareck El Aissami, said it was the “most important [drug] seizure that had been carried out in the last four years” in Venezuela. Venezuela’s highest official on security explained that the Aerial Command for Integral Airspace Defense (CODAI) located a plane flying illegally from Central America. He assumed the flight came from Honduras, a hub of drug trafficking. “The drugs were located in a swampy zone and were hermetically sealed [airtight] which indicates they’re from a drug cartel
also operating in maritime areas”, El Aissami said, adding that the drug packages had a stamp identifying the cartel. One Venezuelan, on the farm where the plane was found, was detained. El Aissami recognized the efforts of various governmental organizations, such as the CICPC (Criminal, Forensic and Scientific Investigations) and the National Anti-Drug Office (ONA). He said that since January this year forty-seven tons of drugs have been seized. According to national press reports, this includes 84 kilograms of cocaine in Tachira near the border with Colombia, 300 kilograms of marihuana in Sucre state and 39 kilograms of cocaine in Merida, all confiscated during the last ten days. Also on Wednesday, the CICPC arrested a Dominican man who allegedly belonged to an organi-
zation trafficking in cocaine from South American to the US and who was wanted by Interpol. US and international mainstream media attempt to portray Venezuela as “soft” on drug trafficking, non-collaborative on counter-narcotics operations and incompetent without US collaboration. In 2005, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was suspended from operating in Venezuela based on substantive evidence demonstrating the agency’s espionage and sabotage of Venezuelan authorities’ efforts to combat drug trafficking. Without DEA collaboration, Venezuela’s drug capture rate has increased steadily since 2005. In 2009, according to the ONA, the government confiscated over sixty tons of drugs, up from 54 tons in 2008. T/ Tamara Pearson www.venezuelanalysis.com
| No 27 • Friday, September 3rd, 2010
Electricity crisis over in Venezuela The Vice President of Venezuela, Elias Jaua, declared an end on Sunday to the electricity crisis that had affected the country for most of the year
peaking after the inspection of the Guri dam in the State of Bolivar, Vice President Jaua praised the government for its successful management of a crisis the conservative Venezuelan opposition had predicted would drive the country into chaos. “We are here at the Guri Reservoir, in the name of President Hugo Chavez, to show this important achievement that comes not only from nature but also from the persevering policies of a government that knew how to alert the Venezuelan people about the affects of the weather phenomenon El Niño”. Despite being one of the largest oil producing countries in the world, Venezuela is highly dependent on hydroelectric energy. The Guri dam is responsible for the generation of 70% of Venezuela’s electricity. A prolonged drought over the past year brought the dam’s reservoir to historically low levels, substantially reducing energy production for the nation and forcing the government to implement nationwide rationing and conservation programs while looking for alternative energy sources. Jaua informed the nation last Sunday that, due to a robust rainy
season, the reservoir’s water level had now reached 270 meters, a meter away from its maximum level. The restored water levels permitted the gates of the dam’s hydroelectric generator, Simon Bolivar, to be opened on Sunday in what the Vice President considered to be an “important victory for the people” and a “triumph for the revolution”. INVESTMENT IN ENERGY Although climatic conditions were the main factor in Venezuela’s electricity crisis, the power shortages throughout the country also drew attention to a neglected infrastructure, which the government says it inherited from previous administrations.
As a response, the Chavez government began to invest heavily in the energy sector which, according to Jaua, “allowed us in record time of 6 months to incorporate 1,700 Megawatts” to the national system. Venezuela has a current national electricity consumption of 17,000 MW, and demand has increased by 40% following years of high economic growth and increase in consumer access and buying power. The government’s stated goal is to increase production by 5,900 MW by the end of the year to allow for the states of Zulia and Anzoategui, as well as the capital district of Caracas, to become completely independent of electricity generated by the Guri dam.
Hugo Marquez, president of the congressional subcommittee on electricity said the government would not stop in its efforts to meet demand and improve the nation’s energy infrastructure. “The government will continue with this important task of carrying out maintenance, of updating the system to meet an increased demand, improving the output of transmission substations, and carrying out important investments to increase thermoelectric generation so we can stop dependence on hydroelectric generation”, explained Marquez. The congressman noted that a major factor in the generation of the crisis was the abandonment of
the energy sector from past governments whose neoliberal policies had favored privatization. According to Marquez, the drought was “an additional factor that complicated the electric system” driving the government to take action. One of the measures the Chavez government implemented to curb the crisis was the reduction of heavy industry, specifically steel and aluminum. With the restoration of the water levels of the Guri dam, those operations will now slowly begin to resume production. “We are reactivating basic businesses and we’re going to improve production”, said Basic Industries Minister, Jose Khan. “Without energy at the end of the year, we were going to produce 180 thousand tons of steel. However with this monster of a river, we’re going to cover almost three million tons of steel which means we’re going to have a production capacity of 84%”, Khan stated. The energy crisis also enabled Venezuela to raise awareness regarding conservation and personal responsibility in preserving natural resources. As a result, a majority of Venezuelans have become more mindful of water usage and electricity consumption. The state-funded Mission Energy program supplied over 60 million cold-energy saving lightbulbs to households and communities across the nation earlier this year. T/ Edward Ellis P/ Agencies
Chavez: “The transformation of our economic model will end poverty” D
uring an event on Tuesday afternoon in the Caracas community of Antimano, President Hugo Chavez called on local residents to raise awareness and conscienceness, and to protect their surroundings. “A socialist person doesn’t throw garbage in the streets”, said Chavez, referring to litter on the grounds of a new community center built with funds dedicated to the construction of regional communes. The Venezuela President supervised the installation of the Anti-
mano-based commune, “Victoria Socialist” (Socialist Victory), a pilot project of the Chavez government that contains a communal bank, an infocenter, which provides free Internet and computer access, and a government-funded grocery shop. Chavez inaugurated the “Biceabasto Manuela Saenz”, a new initiative of the state-owned socialist corporation, Comerso. The “Biceabastos” or Bicentennial Shops, are small markets being set up in low income com-
munities nationwide. The stores sell products at affordable and below market rates, in order to combat inflation, price hikes and speculation generated by private grocery and consumer goods stores. The Biceabasto in Antimano will service approximately 200 people daily, benefiting more than 1,700 familes. President Chavez compared the prices at the socialist store to a private market, exclaiming, “Here there is no theft, no specu-
lation. We are not ripping people off”. The Venezuelan head of state underlined that none of the products at the state markets are subsidized, but rather they are sold at fair prices, enabling all citizens access to basic food products. At Tuesday’s event, Minister of the Public Banking System, Rafael Ortega Diaz, announced that a Communal Banking Terminal (Tbcom) would soon be installed in the Antimano commune. The Terminal will allow
local residents to make deposits, withdrawals and request loans and credits from the new socialist bank system. Communal credit cards will also be issued so that residents can make purchases at the local shops without having cash on hand. Interest on loans, credit cards and other services from the socialist banks will go towards community development and improvement projects. T/ CO
No 27 • Friday, September 3rd, 2010 |
CNE: Motivating voter participation A mobilization organized last Sunday by the National Electoral Council (CNE) to encourage people to vote in the upcoming Venezuelan National Assembly elections later this month was a great success, according to CNE President, Tibisay Lucena
from 8am to 4pm daily through September 26th so that anyone can inspect the machines to make sure in advance they understand how to vote.
he CNE-sponsored demonstrations of how to utilize the electronic elections machines for September’s elections came in the wake of opposition media reports of alleged “irregularities” in the voting system. Tibisay Lucena kicked off the electoral event in Caracas on Sunday, explaining, “We are making a big effort to inform the public and encourage voter participation in all the electoral processes the country has had and will have in the future. We always put in place this kind of initiative to educate voters in the weeks before elections take place”. Eight other states in the country apart from the metropolitan district also took part in the voting simulations, in order to ensure nationwide participation. CNE events, including motivational walks, festivals and cultural presentations were celebrated
in Anzoategui, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Lara, Miranda, Tachira, Vargas and Zulia on Sunday. “We’ve received reports from other states where ‘the Great Walk’ has been organized and the participation has been extraordinary”, said Lucena, referring to the name given to CNE’s efforts to motivate citizens to vote in September by organizing community sports, recreation and cultural initiatives. Lucena also outlined how the electoral system would work. “We’ll have more than 1,500 [voting] stands in communities, municipalities, rural populations and anywhere else as needed, so that everyone can understand the
voting system and no one will end up not voting on September 26th”, she said regarding the voting simulation centers that have been set up nationwide to educate citizens on how to vote this September. Lucena also expressed her confidence in the upcoming elections process, “We’ve got great faith that 100% of the electoral registry will vote because all political organizations have participated in the meetings we’ve conducted since the beginning of the year”. At each voting booth there will be a document explaining the voting process and who the candidates are in each region. Voting centers will be open
OPPOSITION THREATS During the prior National Assembly elections held in December 2005, opposition parties boycotted at the last moment in a failed attempt to discredit the process. The boycott came as part of a strategy to remove Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from power. This time around, opposition parties have said they will participate, though some are already trying to discredit the process. Members from opposition party Primero Justicia said earlier this week that their electoral propaganda was being removed in certain areas in Caracas, in contravention of the electoral laws. The US-funded group Sumate, whose founder, Maria Corina Machado, is a candidate to the National Assembly, has been trying to generate distrust in the electoral process, saying Venezuelans should be vigilant and keep their eyes open for signs of electoral irregularities. On Tuesday, opposition candidate Hermann Escarra claimed that if the opposition parties don’t win a majority in the Assembly, then they will take to “other tactics”, such as wide-
spread marches, protests and violent disturbances, in order to prevent President Chavez from implementing “socialism” in the country. Candidate Machado and others are using the campaign to revive Cold War threats of “communism”, claiming that if the opposition doesn’t regain power, “families will be destroyed and communism will take the nation”. Machado, a member of Venezuela’s elite upper class, comes from one of the country’s wealthiest families that held power throughout most of the twentieth century. In 2005, Machado met with President George W. Bush at the White House. Her organization, Sumate, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), US State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2003. A May 2010 report published by the Spanish Foundation for International Relations and Dialogue (FRIDE) revealed that nearly $50 million USD from US and other international agencies was being invested in opposition political parties and campaigns this year in order to provoke regime change and oust President Chavez from power. T/ Steven Mather and EG P/ Agencies
CNE: Venezuelan opposition Occupies 75.4% of TV election ads
.4% of televised campaign advertisements have been pro-opposition and 24.6% have been pro-government since the race for 165 seats in Venezuela’s National Assembly officially began last Thursday, according to a study by the National Electoral Council (CNE). The CNE recorded the total amount of advertising spots and their duration in seconds on the two major state-owned channels, VTV and TVES, and the four major channels controlled by private broadcasters, Globovision, Venevision, Televen, and Meridiano TV. CNE President Tibisay Lucena announced the results of the study
in a televised interview on Monday. She said when the ads were measured in seconds, pro-opposition ads accounted for 73.8% of the total, and pro-government ads accounted for 26.2%. The opposition, which is grouped into a coalition called the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), has used its media reach to convey the messages of land estate owners such as Franklin Brito, who died on Monday in a hospital following a hunger strike to protest the government’s granting of land to landless peasants on the outskirts of his 500 hectare (1,235 acre) estate. Brito said the government violated his right to private property,
but the National Lands Institute (INTI) said it acted in accordance with the Land Law, which allows the government to transfer idle land to agricultural producers who occupy it. The Supreme Court declared Brito’s case to be without legal basis in 2007. The INTI helped Brito build new roads out of his estate and, as it has done in many other cases, offered technical assistance to help put his idle lands to productive use. The opposition has also concentrated its media clout – and its electoral platform – on a campaign to blame the government for the country’s rising homicide rate. Pro-opposition
news outlets print gory images of bleeding bodies on a daily basis. The New York Times claimed Venezuela’s homicide rate is worse than Iraq. On Saturday, more than a thousand opposition supporters marched through the streets of Caracas holding signs that said “No More Deaths” and “Socialism Brings Death.” In response, the government highlighted its efforts to build a new National Police based on prevention rather than repression that will leave behind the culture of corruption and abuse of human rights for which Venezuela’s police have been notorious for decades.
Initial deployments of the National Police in targeted highcrime areas in late 2009 reduced local homicide rates by as much as 60%, and the homicide rate for Caracas as a whole decreased by 19% over the first half of 2010. The pro-Chavez United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) currently controls nearly 100% of the National Assembly and is favored in most voter opinion polls. It hopes to mobilize its 7 millionmember base, the largest of any political party, and withhold at least two-thirds of the legislative body. T/ James Suggett www.venezuelanalysis.com
| No 27• Friday, September 3rd, 2010
The artillery of ideas
Chavez: ensuring affordable homes and healthcare a priority An innovative new program using environmental-friendly technology aims to create affordable housing for Venezuelans; new advances in healthcare provide high tech services for free
enezuelan President Hugo Chavez inaugurated two facilities last Saturday aimed at improving the nation’s public housing and health care sectors. The first event took place in the state of Anzoategui where the Venezuelan head of state inspected a new pipe recycling plant intended to help create affordable housing for the nation’s population. The Kariña Socialist Factory makes use of old metal pipes from the oil sector and transforms them into structural supports for new homes. According to Chavez, the Kariña Factory is recovering “oil pipes which were lost before. They were stolen or were sold. The wealthy would take them or leave them lying around”. The technology used for the process, which converts the round pipes into square supports, originates from Argentina and is the result of an agreement signed between President Hugo Chavez and former Argentine President, Nestor Kirchner, in February 2007. There are now 16 factories in Venezuela that have been constructed with the technical support of Argentina and two other pipe recycling plants are currently being built in the country’s western and eastern oil regions.
INNOVATIVE, ENVIRONMENTALFRIENDLY HOMES According to the president of the Kariña Factory, Julio Castillo, the converted pipes are being used to construct a housing structure of 70 square meters that four people can easily erect within a few hours. The floor plan for the homes is comprised of a living room, kitchen, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Two story models and larger housing complexes are also being developed.
The Kariña Factory currently has the capacity to process 217 pipes, roughly 25 tons of metal, converting them into 560 square meters for the elaboration of eight housing kits per day. Apart from the structural pipes, the blocks being utilized in the construction of the homes are also made of recycled materials. Sixty percent of the blocks are comprised of recycled paper cellulose, mixed with 40% traditional cement. The kit is currently priced at 58,120 Bolivars ($13,488 USD), and according to Castillo, the use of recycled materials represents a savings of 25% for the government in construction costs. “With capitalism, all that goes into housing is a commodity”, Chavez said during a tour of the housing models at the processing factory. “The cement, the stone, everything raises the price up and the majority of people don’t have the means to buy a home. Only through revolutionary methods will we be able to solve the problem of housing”, he added. WORKER PARTICIPATION The Kariña factory employs sixty-nine workers, who, according to Castillo, are participating in the management of the plant. The workers have formed ten councils comprised of five mem-
bers each in different areas such as education, production, quality, health, safety, and recreation. “Each council elects a spokesperson, whose position rotates every three months, and forms part of the general management council, along with members of the company’s directing board and the community”, the factory president reported. Castillo maintained there is no hierarchy amongst the workers in the factory. “All of the workers, independent of whether they are assigned to administrative or productive areas, are all at the same level. This way we can organize ourselves and make pertinent decisions that benefit the collective and the community”. Romulo Moreno, a soldering assistant, commented on the high level of participation the workers exercise in the factory. “There in an exchange between all of the workers in the business”, Moreno explained. “The most important aspect is that everyone’s opinion is heard, contributing to a better work environment and greater productivity”. HEALTHCARE ADVANCES In addition to his visit to Anzoategui, President Chavez also attended the inauguration of a High Technol-
ogy Medical Center in the state of Nueva Esparta. The center, named David Guendsechadze, forms part of the government’s public health program, Barrio Adentro. With the collaboration and cooperation of Cuban doctors and healthcare professionals, Barrio Adentro has been providing free, integral healthcare to Venezuelan residents for seven years, making it one of the most popular social programs initiated by the government of Hugo Chavez. The High Technology Center provides specialized diagnostic services using advanced medical equipment. There are now twenty-eight such centers located throughout the country and according to the Venezuelan head of state, the government’s short term goal is to arrive at forty. “This would be impossible in capitalism”, Chavez exclaimed during a tour of the facility. “In a private clinic a CAT scan would cost three thousand bolivars
($700 USD). In our medical centers all of the care is free. This can only happen in socialism”, he noted. According to the director of the Center, Jorge Olivera Rodriguez, the facility has benefited from a government investment of four million bolivars ($930,000 USD) and provides services such as electrocardiograms, three-dimensional ultrasounds, endoscopies, mammograms, X-rays, and MRIs. Rodriguez reported that each service the center offers provides care to between 30 - 35 patients a day. Patients can be referred to the center from any medical facility in Venezuela, public or private. “It doesn’t matter where the patients come from, the important thing is that the diagnostic be the most precise possible”, Rodriguez said. Before arriving at the healthcare center on Saturday, President Chavez was greeted by a mass of red clad supporters expressing their approval and gratitude for the governmental policies that have prioritized social spending. A festive rally was held where an enthusiastic crowed displayed its political loyalty to Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and optimism for September’s congressional elections. During his tour of the new facility, Chavez also announced the allocation of 67 million bolivars ($15.5 million USD) for the completion of the public hospital Perez de Leon located in the Caracas barrio of Petare. T/ Edward Ellis P/ Presidential Press
The artillery of ideas
No 27 • Friday, September 3rd, 2010 | |
Caracas MetroCable acclaimed by New York’s Museum of Modern Art The innovative MetroCable inaugurated this year in the San Agustin neighborhood of Caracas will be part of a New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) exhibit focusing on extraordinary projects to improve social conditions
operate continuously from morning to night, carrying community members traditionally excluded from prior governments’ policies. The system itself is run by residents of San Agustin who underwent training during the last 2 years with the Caracas Metro. During its construction, community members were also employed to work as carpenters, builders and assistants. “The idea is that the community itself not only uses the MetroCable, but also identify with it as their own. They built it, they run it, they use it, so they will take care of it”, said Victor Matute, president of the Caracas Metro, during the inauguration in January. “These public works will liberate the people”, declared President Hugo Chavez during the inaugural ceremony for the new transport system. The objective is to benefit a historically excluded part of the population. “Poverty is a heavy weight that lashes us like a whip every hour of every day. We will not rest until there is social justice in Venezuela”, declared Chavez.
t stretches high across the Caracas skyline, over one of the city’s oldest and poorest neighborhoods, San Agustin. The incredible vision of the high-tech cable cars gliding over the tin rooftops of a primarily Afro-Venezuelan community is a sign of Caracas’ great contradictions. Gorgeous green, plush mountains surround a city plagued by boring block buildings and no urban design. The chaotic and congested capital of one of the world’s largest oil-producing countries has possibly the best climate year round – an eternal spring. Days are sprinkled with tropical sunshine and the occasional spurt of rain. The climate is sheltered by the mountains, so it’s not too hot during the day and just chilly enough in the evening for a light jacket. But the oil-induced economy and rampant corruption created dramatic divisions in wealth throughout the twentieth century, and the mass disparity between the rich and the poor is evidenced by the stark shacks freckled on the hillsides of Caracas, surrounding the wealthier luxury high-rise condominiums and quintas protected by electric fences, gated communities and large concrete walls to keep outsiders (the poor) from seeing their stolen riches. The government of Hugo Chavez has been struggling for ten years to eradicate poverty, suceeding in reducing extreme poverty by 50% as of 2009 and implementing free educational, health and job services nationwide. But crime rates have soared in Caracas, despite government initiatives to build new police forces, implement community-based neighborhood watch programs and address crime at its social roots by allieviat-
ing the ailments of poverty. There is still much work to be done. The innovative MetroCable transport system inaugurated earlier this year is an attempt to reduce some of the daily difficulties that make life arduous for those that live in the poor, hillside communities. It’s a dream come true for the majority working class and poor community of San Agustin, one of the oldest and compact neighborhoods in Caracas. Like other poorer areas in the Venezuelan capital, San Agustin runs steeply and dangerously up the mountainside, making transport by vehicle difficult, and often, impossible. Some areas are only accesible via unstable stairs built into the city’s towering hills. For some senior citizens and
the disabled, leaving the neighborhood was only a rare possibility when sufficient help and support was available. But now, all that has changed. The hardships of accessing a steep mountainside community have been relieved by the Venezuelan government’s innovative new MetroCable car system. A combination of Austrian, Brazilian and French technology, the whole system cost the government over $262 million USD. More than 36,000 people are benefiting daily from the unusual transport that has been integrated with the Caracas Metro, the city’s underground public transportation system. Operating daily from 6am to 10pm, the Metrocable costs each user .50 bolivars (approximately 10 cents) roundtrip. Its 50 cars
INTERNATIONAL ACCLAIM In recognition of its extraordinary image and impact on the San Agustin community, the Caracas MetroCable was selected to be part of the exhibit, “Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement”, a major exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The exhibit will explore contemporary architecture as a powerful means for improving social conditions, focusing on 11 noteworthy built or under-construction projects in underserved communities around the world. The exhibition will be on view from October 3, 2010, through January 3, 2011. Concentrating on a group of architects who confront inequality by using the tools of design, Small Scale, Big Change will examine the ways these architects engage with local, social, economic, and political circumstances to develop positive architectural interventions that begin with an understanding of and deference to a community. T/ Eva Golinger P/ Iwan Baan
FRIDAY September 3rd, 2010 No. 27 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
Things which don’t go away Iraq “They’re leaving as heroes. I want them to walk home with pride in their hearts”, declared Col. John Norris, the head of a US Army brigade in Iraq It’s enough to bring tears to the eyes of an American, enough to make him choke up. Enough to make him forget. But no American should be allowed to forget that the nation of Iraq, the society of Iraq, have been destroyed, ruined, a failed state. The Americans, beginning 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, killed wantonly, tortured. The people of that unhappy land have lost everything — their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives. More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile. The air, soil, water, blood and genes drenched with depleted uranium; the most awful birth defects. Unexploded cluster bombs lie in wait for children to pick them up. An army of young Islamic men went to Iraq to fight the American invaders; they left the country more militant, hardened by war, to spread across the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. A river of blood runs alongside the Euphrates and Tigris, through a country that may never be put back together again. “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the USled invasion in 2003”, reported the Washington Post on May 5, 2007. No matter, drum roll, please. Stand tall American GI hero! And don’t even think of ever apologizing. Iraq is forced by the United States to continue paying reparations for its own invasion of Kuwait in 1990. How much will the American heroes pay the people of Iraq? Perhaps the groundwork for that heroism already exists. February 15, 2003, a month before the US invasion of Iraq, probably the largest protest in human history, between six and ten million protesters took to the streets of some 800 cities in nearly
sixty countries across the globe. Iraq. Love it or leave it. Why do they hate us? Passions are flying all over the place concerning the proposed building of an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from 9/11 Ground Zero in New York. Even people who are not particularly anti-Muslim think it would be in bad taste, offensive. But implicit in all the hostility is the idea that what happened on that fateful day in 2001 was a religious act, fanatic Muslims acting as Muslims attacking infidels. However — even if one accepts the official government version of 19 Muslims hijacking four airliners — the question remains: Why did they choose the targets they chose? If they wanted to kill lots of American infidels why not fly the planes into the stands of
packed football or baseball stadiums in the midwest or the south? Certainly a lot less protected than the Pentagon or the financial center of downtown Manhattan. Why did they choose symbols of US military might and imperialism? Because it was not a religious act, it was a political act. It was revenge for decades of American political and military abuse in the Middle East. It works the same all over the world. In the period of the 1950s to the 1980s in Latin America, in response to continuous hateful policies of Washington, there were countless acts of terrorism against American diplomatic and military targets as well as the offices of US corporations; nothing to do with religion. Somehow, American leaders have to learn that their country is not exempt from history, that their actions have consequences.
Afghanistan In their need to defend the US occupation of Afghanistan, many Americans have cited the severe oppression of women in that desperate land and would have you believe that the United States is the last great hope of those poor ladies. However, in the 1980s the United States played an indispensable role in the overthrow of a secular and relatively progressive Afghan government, one which endeavored to grant women much more freedom than they’ll ever have under the current government, more perhaps than ever again. Here are some excerpts from a 1986 US Army manual on Afghanistan discussing the policies of this government concerning women: “provisions of complete freedom of choice of marriage partner, and fixation of the minimum age at marriage at 16 for women and 18 for men”; “abolished forced marriages”; “bring [women] out of seclusion, and initiate social programs”; “extensive literacy programs, especially for women”; “putting girls and boys in the same classroom”; “concerned with changing gender roles and giving women a more active role in politics”. The overthrow of this government paved the way for the coming to power of an Islamic fundamentalist regime, followed by the awful Taliban. And why did the United States in its infinite wisdom choose to do such a thing? Mainly because the Afghan government was allied with the Soviet Union and Washington wanted to draw the Russians into a hopeless military quagmire — “We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War”, said Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser. The women of Afghanistan will never know how the campaign to raise them to the status of full human beings would have turned out, but this, some might argue, is but a small price to pay for a marvelous Cold War victory. William Blum William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2; Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower; West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir; Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire, and the monthly Anti-Empire Report.