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Venezuela: 10 years after the failed US-backed coup, the revolution continues

A triumphant Hugo Chavez returns to Caracas after the defeat of the US-backed 2002 coup.

April 12, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The April 2012 broadsheet of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network marks the successful defeat of the US-backed coup aginst Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.

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On April 13, 2012, Venezuelans and supporters of democracy across the world will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of a popular uprising that defeated a US-backed coup against President Hugo Chavez. The day is an important reminder that any attempts by foreign governments and the internal opposition to remove Chavez from power -- whether through coups or at the October 7, 2012,  presidential election -- will be met with the popular mobilisation of the people, on the streets and at the ballot box.

On April 11, 2002, the right-wing opposition, backed by the US and private media, organised a military coup that briefly removed Chavezf rom office. The head of the Chamber of Commerce (Fedecamaras) Pedro Carmona was declared president and a decree was issued dissolving the Supreme Court, the constitution and the National Assembly, and fired the ombudsman and the attorney general.

Photo essay: Guatemala -- Indigenous, peasant and popular march arrives in Guatemala City

Text and photos by James Rodriguez, Guatemala City, Guatemala

March 27, 2012 -- Mimundo.org, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- After nine days and 212 kilometres, the Indigenous, Campesino and Popular March for the Defence of Mother Earth, against evictions, criminalisation and in favour of integrated rural development, arrived to the centre of the capital city. According to members of the Committee for Campesino Unity (CUC), it is estimated that about 15,000 people participated in the ninth and final day of the march.

Debate: Neoliberalism in disguise in Bolivia?

Location of the indigenous territory and national park known as TIPNIS.

[For more on Bolivia, click HERE.]

The following article is a reply to Jeffery Webber's article, “Revolution against ‘Progress’: the TIPNIS Struggle and Class Contradictions in Bolivia”, in International Socialism 133 (winter), www.isj.org.uk/?id=780. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. It first appeared in International Socialism (134). International Socialism is associated with the British Socialist Workers' Party.

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By Federico Fuentes

March 27, 2012 -- International Socialism -- For more than a decade Bolivia has been rocked by mass upsurges and mobilisations that have posed the necessity and possibility of fundamental political and social transformation.1 In 2005 the social movements that led the country’s water and gas wars managed to elect a government that since then has presided over a process of change that has brought major advances.

Colombia: The end for guerrilla warfare?

FARC guerillas.

[For more discussion on Colombia, click HERE.]

By Anthony Boynton, Bogotá, Colombia

March 25, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As long as there are sleepy, oppressed, oppressive and isolated villages connected to a city somewhere over the hill by an unpaved road with bridges that might wash out in the next storm, guerrilla warfare will be possible. But those villages are fast disappearing into memory as the extension of electric grids and networks of paved roads extend into every corner of what used to be called the Third World.

Cuba's alternative to privatisation

[For more analysis and discussion on the changes in Cuba, click HERE.]

By Marce Cameron

March 11, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Cuban President Raul Castro has urged the Caribbean nation's citizens to contribute to a free and frank debate on the future of Cuba’s socialist project.

For the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), the aim of this debate is twofold: to strive for consensus on a new Cuban model of socialist development and to empower Cuba’s working people to implement what has been decided.

In other words, to advance a socialist renewal process in the face of entrenched opposition from within the administrative apparatus.

It is first and foremost a debate about the economy. A draft policy document, the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines, was submitted to a national debate for three months before to its adoption by the Sixth PCC Congress in April last year.

The core principles and objectives of the draft were conserved, but the final version of the Guidelines was substantially modified on the basis of this public debate.

`Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement, Feb.-March 2012 issue

February 27, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

The tide of rebellion and revolution now sweeping Latin America is posing a serious challenge to imperialism’s brutal global rule. For anyone who wants an end to war, exploitation and oppression, Latin America’s struggles to create alternatives are crucially important.

Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly is strongly committed to supporting the growing “people’s power” movement in Latin America. Through our weekly articles on developments in the region, GLW strives to counter the corporate media’s many lies about Latin America’s revolutions, and to give a voice in English to the people’s movements for change.

Bolivia: Challenges face Morales' goal of 'governing by obeying the people'

A march by indigenous group Conisur in favour of a controversial highway being built through Indigenous lands.

By Federico Fuentes

February 19, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- A new twist in the turbulent saga surrounding a proposed roadway through Indigenous land has reignited a debate raging throughout Bolivia since the middle of last year. The controversial highway ― which would cut through the Isiboro-Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) ― has been at the centre of protests and counter-protests. It has polarised Bolivian society and divided Indigenous groups that are the heart of the Evo Morales government’s social base.

Bolivia’s García Linera: ‘Moving beyond capitalism is a universal task’

Alvaro García Linera

Introduction by translator Felipe Stuart Cournoyer

February 19, 2012  -- First published in Axis of Logic, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Bolivia’s vice-president Álvaro García Linera brought a message of hope and anti-imperialist commitment to Mexico in the first week of February. Speaking to an overflow assembly of students and university personnel at Mexico City’s UNAM (National Autonomous University), he said that the government led by President Evo Morales welcomes social-movement protests and conflict. The more, the better.

The struggle is our nourishment, our peace. It does not overwhelm us. Absolute calm frightens us. Our opponents believe the struggle will wear us down. On the contrary, it nourishes us.

The UNAM’s Economics Research Institute (IIE) sponsored the vice-president’s address on “Bolivia: Achievements and Challenges of Transformation.”

How Cuba mobilises to defeat public health emergencies

Medical students in Cuba.

[Read more about Cuba's health-care system HERE.]

By Don Fitz

February 8, 2012 -- Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author, having first appeared at BlackAgendaReport.com -- “I’m on pesquizaje”, my daughter Rebecca told me. “All of the third, fourth and fifth year medical students at Allende have our classes suspended. We are going door-to-door looking for symptoms of dengue fever and checking for standing water.”[1]

As a fourth year medical student at Cuba’s ELAM (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina, Latin American School of Medicine in Havana), she is assigned to Salvadore Allende Hospital in Havana. It handles most of the city’s dengue cases. Although she has done health canvassing before, this is the first time she has had classes cancelled to do it. It is very unusual for an outbreak of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness, to occur this late in the season. She remembers most outbreaks happening in autumn, being over before December, and certainly not going into January–February.

Washington threatens reprisals against Nicaragua’s voters

Nicaraguans celebrate the re-election of Daniel Ortega as president.

John Riddell interviews Felipe Stuart Cournoyer

February 2, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, also available at http://johnriddell.wordpress.com/. First published in Axis of Logic -- In a fit of petulant anger, the US government lashed out on January 25 against the outcome of Nicaragua’s recent presidential election. To understand the context of the US threats, I talked to Felipe Stuart Cournoyer, a Nicaraguan citizen and member of Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).[1]

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John Riddell: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that Nicaragua’s November 6, 2011, election “marked a setback to democracy in Nicaragua and undermined the ability of Nicaraguans to hold their government accountable”, but offered no particulars. What has roused Washington’s ire?

The paradox of Cuban agriculture

By Miguel A. Altieri and Fernando R. Funes-Monzote

January 8, 2012 -- Monthly Review -- When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilisers, pesticides, tractors, parts and petroleum. The situation was so bad that Cuba posted the worst growth in per capita food production in all of Latin America and the Caribbean. But the island rapidly re-oriented its agriculture to depend less on imported synthetic chemical inputsand became a world-class case of ecological agriculture.1

This was such a successful turnaround that Cuba rebounded to show the best food production performance in Latin America and the Caribbean over the following period, a remarkable annual growth rate of 4.2 per cent per capita from 1996 through 2005, a period in which the regional average was zero per cent.2

Latin America’s new left in power: the governments of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa

Presidents Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Rafael Correa (Ecuador) and Evo Morales (Bolivia).

By Steve Ellner

January 2012 -- Latin American Perspectives, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Most political analysts place the governments of Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia) and Rafael Correa (Ecuador) in the same category but without defining their common characteristics.

Beginning with the publication of Leftovers in 2008, critics of the left sought to overcome the shortcoming by characterising the three presidents as “populist leftists”, which they distinguished from the “good leftists” taking in such moderates as Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. According to the book’s co-editors Jorge Castañeda and Marco Morales, the salient features of the populist left consist of a radical discourse devoid of ideological substance, disrespect for democratic institutions, pronounced authoritarian tendencies and vituperations against the United States designed to pay political dividends at the expense of their nation’s economic interests (Castañeda and Morales, 2008).

Workers’ governments and socialist strategy — a discussion

"The FSLN government in Nicaragua immediately after the fall of the Somoza dictatorship may qualify as a workers' government" -- David Camfield.

January 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A discussion is taking place at John Riddell's website on the demand for a workers' government and issues raised in the article by Riddell, "A ‘workers’ government’ as a step toward socialism". Below are article-length responses from David Camfield and Nathan Rao, a comment by Tim K, and a response by John Riddell.

Workers’ governments and the crisis of politics

By David Camfield, an editor of New Socialist Webzine

January 10, 2012 -- John Riddell is right that, “The Comintern’s decisions on governmental policy were rooted in a political environment that no longer exists.”

Global revolt of 2011: Not the time to make peace with the system

By the Partido Lakas ng Masa’s (Party of the Labouring Masses, Philippines) international affairs department

[The following educational report is being discussed in PLM branches across the Philippines.]

January 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – In 2011 we experienced revolutionary upheavals and mass upsurges that have further deepened the crisis of global capitalism. The impact has been the deepening of the political crisis of the international capitalist system and the weakening of its ideological hold and legitimacy. The inequalities of the “American Dream”, for instance, are now almost household knowledge: that the top 1% get more than 20% of the national income. Perhaps the most telling figure is that one-tenth of the top 1% – around 400 families – earn as much as the bottom 120 million people.

Bolivia's proposals on the 'rights of nature' for Rio+20

December 19, 2011 -- The proposals developed by the Plurinational State of Bolivia bring together and build upon the progress made in the World Charter for Nature  (1982), the Rio Declaration (1992), the Earth Charter (2000) and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (2010).

[The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) is scheduled for June 20-22, 2012, in Brazil. It marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.]

I. A DEEPER COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Cuba: Interview with Mariela Castro, director of the National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX)

By Bernard Duraud for the French newspaper L’Humanité, published December 9. Published in Spanish on the Cubadebate website, December 14. Translation by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews, edited by Marce Cameron for Cuba's Socialist Renewal.

[See also "Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution".]

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The daughter of Cuba's President Raul Castro and the late Vilma Espin, a key figure in the Cuban Revolution, Mariela Castro Espin, director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), is a tireless campaigner for the rights of gays, lesbians and transsexuals, who have suffered discrimination for a long time. She is the initiator of important changes that concern them.

Colombia rising?

The population of Bogotá, capital of Colombia, is about to pass 8 million.

By Anthony Boynton, Bogotá, Colombia

December 26, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It may not be the mother of all bubbles, but it is a whopper. Colombia’s economy is rising as fast as a hot air balloon, but one that is almost certain to burst. Mining, petroleum, industrial agriculture and construction are all growing at record rates – fueled by a flood tide of investment, much of it foreign investment – directed by the World Bank and its local allies within the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, and made possible by the dispossession of millions of Colombians from the countryside through decades of violence combined with disastrous flooding caused by global warming.

Colombian cities have being growing as fast as any in the world. There are now more than 25 cities with populations of more than 200,000, at least five cities with more than 1 million people, three with more than 2 million; Bogotá the capital is about to pass 8 million.

Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution

March to celebrate LGBTI rights in Havana, May 2009.

By Rachel Evans

December 23, 2011 (updated January 28, 2012) – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When I was 16, I went to a Cuba solidarity event in my home town. At the end of inspiring speeches about Cuba’s health record, education standards, and the revolution’s policy of sending doctors and teachers to impoverished countries, a rousing “Cuba si! Yankee no!” chant erupted. It was electric. Much better than the fake feeling, singing and dancing we’d experienced in the church hall on Sunday. I was impressed and resolved to visit the country and see the revolution for myself. Years later and having come out of the closet, I decided my trip to Cuba could help prove or dispel the oft-uttered line of Cuba being homophobic.

This work will help put to bed the lies and distortions propagated by the powerful United States (US) propaganda machine: that the Cuban Revolution is undemocratic, homophobic and tyrannical. My visit to and study of Cuba finds that there is no basis to these claims.

On Jesus and social justice

A poster from Cuba depicts Jesus the revolutionary. 

By Phil Shannon

Christmas seems an appropriate time to turn to the question of the relationship between Christianity and social change. Do pacifism and non-violence, and social change through personal change — which are among the values shared by progressive Christians and secular greens — offer a way forward?

Two thousand years ago in Palestine, exploitation by Rome and its quisling Hebrew ruling class meant severe poverty, political repression and an average life expectancy of around 30 years (less if it was found out that you thought the Romans should go home).

Of the contending politico-religious groups, the Sadducees advocated collaboration with Rome. A moderate wing of the Pharisees, who represented the middle class and the lower and middle priests, embodied the strategy of timid liberal dissent — one proverb said of them "when arms clash in the street, retire to your chamber".

A more militant wing of the Pharisees supported direct action against Caesar and Herod. They eventually split to form the Zealots with a rebel force of peasants from Galilee. Intensely nationalist and religious, the Zealots adopted armed struggle and led large popular uprisings.

The Essenes rejected all political strategies in favour of cultivating personal spiritual perfection.

Latin America: Summit in Venezuela opens 'new phase in history'

By Federico Fuentes

December 3, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A summit of huge importance was held in Venezuela on December 2-3, 2011. Two hundred years after Latin America’s independence fighters first raised the battle cry for a united Latin America, 33 heads of state from across the region came together to form the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

For Latin America, the summit represented a further step away from its traditional role as the United States’ backyard and its emergence as a player in its own right in international politics.

The importance of this new institution in world politics cannot be overstated. The combined gross domestic product of the countries within CELAC make it the third-largest economic powerhouse in the world. It is also home to the world’s largest oil reserves and the first and third largest global producers of food and energy, respectively.

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