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`For Venezuela, there is no going back’: A discussion with Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke

Kiraz Janicke (right).

By Ali Mustafa

March 23, 2010 -- As Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution enters a new decade of struggle and defiantly advances towards its goal of “21st century socialism”, serious challenges to the future of the process emerging from both inside and outside the country still abound. As a result, key questions surrounding Venezuela's mounting tensions with the West, the role played by its fiery and outspoken leader Hugo Chavez and the future of the process itself remain as relevant today as ever before. Australian-based journalists and long-time Venezuela solidarity activists Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke have been carefully following Venezuela's ongoing political transformation for several years now, countering mainstream media spin and providing invaluable on-the-ground coverage and analysis about the process as it unfolds. I had the fortunate opportunity to sit down and speak with them in Toronto before they returned to Caracas, following a 10-day solidarity tour of Canada.

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Venezuela: Revolution steht vor entscheidenden Auseinandersetzungen

von Federico Fuentes, Caracas

23.02.2010 — Green Left Weekly  — Am venezolanischen Horizont drohen entscheidende Kämpfe zwischen den Kräften der Revolution und denen der Konterrevolution.

Der Wahlkampf vor den Parlamentswahlen (am 26. September) wird wichtige Entscheidungen zwischen den Anhängern des sozialistischen Präsidenten Hugo Chavez und der rechten, von der Opposition unterstützten Opposition bringen. Diese Kämpfe sind Teil des Klassenkampfes zwischen der armen Mehrheit in Venezuela und der kapitalistischen Elite. Ausgetragen wird der Kampf aber eher auf der Straße als an den Wahlurnen.

In diesem Jahr kam es bislang zu einer Eskalation der faschistischen Demonstrationen gewalttätiger oppositioneller Studentengruppen. Auch kommt es weiter zu Mordanschlägen gegen Gewerkschafter und Bauernführer - durch rechte paramilitärische Gruppierungen. Die Kampagnen in den Privatmedien, die das Bild einer zerfallenden, krisengebeutelten Regierung zeichnen, die bald weichen werde, nehmen zu.

Am 29. Januar warnte Chavez: "Falls sie eine extrem gewaltsame Offensive einleiten werden, die es zu unserer Pflicht macht, harte Maßnahmen zu ergreifen - was ich ihnen nicht raten möchte - wird unsere Reaktion sie auslöschen".

Women in the Venezuelan revolution: `We’re not invisible but invincible'

Pielrroc Montenegro.

By ABN (Venezuelan news agency), translated by Tamara Pearson

Caracas, March 8, 2010 (ABN/Venezuelanalysis.com) –  “I’m a woman with a new life since the Bolivarian Revolution knocked on my door”, said Pielrroc Montenegro, Maracaiban[i] by birth and Andean by tradition, with eyes full of nostalgia and gratitude. She described herself as a “dignified mother of the neighbourhood” since the mission of that name[ii] enabled her to realise one of her dreams: enrol in university.

Years ago, Pielrroc didn’t think much of it when, barely aware of its existence, she signed up with Mission Ribas [high school-level education program]. When she was young she had been forced to leave high school just one year before finishing it.

Le « Venezuela » devant une bataille critique

mardi 2 mars 2010, par Par Federico Fuentes

Texte publié le 20 février 2010 sur le site de Green Left Weekly.
Traduction de David Mandel

Press-toi à gauche -- Des batailles décisives entre les forces de la révolution et de la contre-révolution se dessinent à l’horizon au Venezuela. La campagne menant aux élections à l’Assemblée nationale le 26 septembre sera une bataille critique entre les partisans du président socialiste Hugo Chavez et l’opposition de droite, appuyée par les E-U. Mais ces batailles, qui font partie de la lutte de classe entre la majorité pauvre et l’élite capitaliste, vont se dérouler plus dans les rues que dans les urnes.

Bolivia: Women a driving force in the revolutionary process

Bolivia's new justice minister Nilda Copa, one of the 10 women among the country's 20 government ministers.

By Lisa Macdonald

March 3, 2010 -- In January, Bolivia’s left-wing President Evo Morales began his second term by appointing a new cabinet in which women are equally represented for the first time. Morales, Bolivia’s first president from the nation’s long-oppressed Indigenous majority, is leading a revolutionary process of transformation. The 10 women ministers are from a wide range of backgrounds, and three of them are Indigenous.

Introducing the new ministers, Morales said: “My great dream has come true — half the cabinet seats are held by women. This is a homage to my mother, my sister and my daughter.”

In the December 6, 2010, national elections, in which there was the highest-ever voter participation in Bolivia, Morales and his Movement towards Socialism (MAS) party won a resounding victory. Morales was re-elected with a record 64.2% of the vote and the MAS secured the two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to pass legislation to advance its pro-people program.

Cuba, the corporate media and the suicide of Orlando Zapata Tamayo

By Salim Lamrani

March 4, 2010 -- On February 23, 2010, Cuban inmate Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after 83 days on hunger strike. He was 42. This is the first such incident in Cuba since inmate Pedro Luis Boitel died in 1972 under similar conditions. The corporate media put the tragic incident on front pages and emphasised the plight of Cuban prisoners.[1]

Zapata's dramatic exit sparked a justifiable global uproar. The Cuban prisoner's case undeniably fosters sympathy and a sense of solidarity with a person who expressed his despair and malaise in prison, carrying out his hunger strike to the ultimate consequence. The heartfelt emotion aroused by his case is quite respectable. In contrast, the manipulation of Tamayo's death and of the grief of his family and friends by the corporate media for political purposes violates the basic principles of journalistic ethics.

Haiti Emergency Relief Fund: `Haiti needs solidarity, not charity'

HERF volunteers in Haiti following the earthquake. Photo by ©2010 HIP/Kevin Pina.

Marilyn Langlois, board member of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, interviewed by Amanda Zivcic, for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal and Green Left Weekly.

March 1, 2010

How was the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund formed, and how connected is the HERF to ordinary people in Haiti?

The Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF) was formed shortly after the February 29, 2004, coup e'tat as an offshoot of our partner organisation Haiti Action Committee (both based in the San Franscisco Bay Area), which does political advocacy and consciousness raising about Haiti and has long-term relationships with several grassroots leaders in the Lavalas movement that represents the vast majority of Haiti's population.

Eyewitness account: Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution -- The second decade

With Kiraz Janicke, Federico Fuentes. Moderated by Greg Albo.

Left Streamed -- Toronto, February 26, 2010 -- Kiraz Janicke is a journalist for Venezuelanalysis.com, the foremost independent English-language source of news on Venezuela. She is editor of the Peru en Movimiento website and a member of the Caracas bureau of Green Left Weekly, Australia's leading socialist newspaper.

Michael Lebowitz reviews `The Real Venezuela': Exploring the dialectic of the Bolivarian Revolution

The Real Venezuela: Making Socialism in the 21st Century
By Iain Bruce
London: Pluto Press, 2008, 240 pages

Review by Michael Lebowitz

Monthly Review -- “When Chávez speaks, we listen. But we don’t listen to those around him.” This comment by a community activist interviewed by Iain Bruce, and integrated into his wonderful exploration of the Bolivarian Revolution from below, points to an essential characteristic—the unique link at present (por ahora) between Hugo Chávez and the exploited and excluded of Venezuela.

`Foro Social Latinamericano', issue #2 of Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement

February 24, 2010 -- 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, Ecuador and El Salvador, 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. We are proud of the fact that GLW is the only Australian newspaper to have a permanent bureau in Latin America, based in Caracas, Venezuela. 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.

Chavez' historischer Aufruf zur Gründung einer V.Internationale

von Federico Fuentes, Caracas 30.11.2009

An die Delegierten des Internationalen Zusammentreffens linker Parteien gerichtet, das in Caracas vom 19.-21. November 2009 abgehalten wurde, erklärte der venezolanische Präsident Hugo Chavez, „für uns ist die Zeit gekommen, die V. Internationale auszurufen“.

Konfrontiert mit der kapitalistischen Krise und der Bedrohung durch Krieg, die die Zukunft der Menschheit in Gefahr bringen, „fordert das Volk lautstark“ nach größerer Einheit der linken und revolutionären Parteien, die bereit sind, für den Sozialismus zu kämpfen, sagte er.

Canadian meetings salute 10 years of Venezuelan revolution (Feb 26-March 7, 2010)

February 22, 2010

Two Caracas-based activists, Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke, will speak in Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, Victoria and Vancouver between February 26 and March 7, in a tour organised by the Centre for Social Justice and the Venezuela We Are with You Coalition in Toronto.

Their tour takes place at a decisive turning point in the Venezuelan revolutionary process, as US-backed rightist forces escalate attacks on the movement of working people and the Bolivarian government.

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Related article
Venezuela’s revolution faces crucial Battles ahead

by Federico Fuentes
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During the eleven years since Hugo Chavez was elected as president of Venezuela, his country has become a focus of hope on a world scale. At the Copenhagen climate conference, Venezuela helped lead the countries calling for international social and ecological justice.

Venezuela’s revolution faces crucial battles; Chavez: `Towards a communal state!'

Revolutionary youth mobilise in Caracas, February 12, 2010. Photo by ABN.

By Federico Fuentes, Caracas

February 20, 2010 -- Decisive battles between the forces of revolution and counter-revolution loom on the horizon in Venezuela. The campaign for the September 26, 2010, National Assembly elections will be a crucial battle between the supporters of socialist President Hugo Chavez and the US-backed right-wing opposition. But these battles, part of the class struggle between the poor majority and the capitalist elite, will be fought more in the streets than at the ballot box.

So far this year, there has been an escalation of demonstrations by violent opposition student groups; the continued selective assassination of trade union and peasant leaders by right-wing paramilitaries; and an intensified private media campaign presenting a picture of a debilitated government in crisis — and on its way out.

¿Es creíble Human Rights Watch cuando habla de Cuba?

Por Tim Anderson, traducido para Rebelión por S. Seguí

A finales de 2009, la organización Human Rights Watch (HRW), con razón social en Nueva York, publicó un informe titulado Un nuevo Castro, la misma Cuba. Basándose en el testimonio de ex presos, el informe condenaba de manera sistemática al gobierno cubano, calificándolo de tiránico y acusándolo de utilizar “su maquinaria represiva, leyes draconianas y juicios arbitrarios para encarcelar a decenas de personas que osaron ejercer sus libertades fundamentales”.

El grupo afirma que entrevistó a 40 prisioneros políticos y que analizó las leyes extraordinarias que permiten que los cubanos puedan ser encarcelados simplemente por expresar opiniones críticas de su sistema socialista.

A primera vista, se nos podría perdonar por pensar que Cuba es uno de los peores violadores de los derechos humanos en las Américas. Sin embargo, la más somera reflexión podría llevar a cuestionar tales declaraciones procedentes de los EE.UU., un país con miles de prisioneros mantenidos en una red internacional de cárceles secretas, muchos de ellos sometidos a regímenes de tortura. 

¿Es creíble este informe crítico sobre Cuba? ¿A quién representa Human Rights Watch?

Michael Lebowitz: `The Four Rs' of global capitalism

By Michael A. Lebowitz

February 19, 2010 -- Correo del Orinoco -- In Venezuela, people know what the 3Rs stand for: revise, rectify and re-impulse. Like Karl Marx, who stressed that the revolution advances by criticising itself, President Hugo Chavez has argued that it is necessary to recognise errors and to go beyond them in order to advance.

FSLN on the Fifth Socialist International: Globalise struggle and hope!

By Carlos Fonseca Terán, deputy secretary of the International Relations Department of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

First published in Correo de Nicaragua, No. 7, diciembre 2009--enero 2010, Managua. Translated by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer and Kiraz Janicke for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

There will always be ample excuses not to struggle at all times and under all circumstances, but that is the only way to never win freedom. -- Fidel Castro. [1]

Photo essay -- Repression in Honduras: History repeats

Photos and text by James Rodriguez

(Version en español aquí.)

February 7, 2010 -- Tegucigalpa, Honduras -- MiMundo.org

“The 1980s were characterised by a wave of violence in several countries in Latin America. Our country, Honduras, was not an exception. Even though the phenomenon of ‘disappearances’ occurred mostly during the military dictatorships, many people also vanished during democratically elected governments.”[1]

Beyond the World Social Forum ... the Fifth International

Eric Toussaint interviewed by Igor Ojeda for the Brazilian weekly paper Brasil de Fato. Translated from French by Judith Harris and Christine Pagnoulle.

February 2010 -- According to Eric Toussaint, a doctor in political science and one of the ideologists of the World Social Forum, now in its tenth edition, effective political action calls for the creation of a permanent national front of parties, social movements and international networks.

Eric Toussaint, a doctor in political science and a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum (WSF), is in favour of the WSF becoming a platform of greater political influence in social struggles throughout the world. He is not particularly worried about the resistance of certain sectors within the forum who would prefer this event to retain its original form. For him, the solution is simple. “If the World Social Forum cannot accommodate it, we must build another instrument, without leaving or scrapping the forum”.

How credible is Human Rights Watch on Cuba?

Human Rights Watch does not see the US blockade of Cuba as a human rights abuse.

By Tim Anderson

February 11, 2010 -- In late 2009 the New York-based group Human Rights Watch published a report titled New Castro Same Cuba. Based on the testimony of former prisoners, the report systematically condemns the Cuban government as an “abusive” regime that uses its “repressive machinery … draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental freedoms”.

The group says it interviewed 40 political prisoners and claims to have identified extraordinary laws by which Cubans can be imprisoned simply for expressing views critical of their socialist system.

At first glance one might be forgiven for thinking that Cuba must be among the worst of human rights abusers in the Americas. A little reflection, however, might lead one to question such statements coming from the USA, a country with thousands held in an international network of secret prisons, many subject to torture regimes.

So how credible is this scathing report on Cuba? And who does Human Rights Watch represent?

Reconstructing Haiti: Time to break with foreign interference

Sweatshop in Haiti.

By Regan Boychuk

January 26, 2010 -- Haitians’ incredible plight has always been difficult to fully appreciate. Then the earthquake struck: hundreds of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands more hurt, a million homeless, and two million in need of food. It defies imagination.

And according to a journalist just returned from Haiti, even the heart-rending footage we’ve seen here on television fails to “portray the magnitude of the tragedy that has happened – and the degree to which the Haitian people are suffering. When looking at images from the disaster,” writes Steven Edwards, “we need to multiply by ten times our reaction of horror – only doing that can give you a true picture of what is going on in a place that has become hell not far from our shores.”[i]

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