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The challenges facing 21st century socialism in Venezuela

``In Venezuela the biggest threat to the revolution does not come from the right-wing political opposition but from the so-called `endogenous' or `Chavista' right wing, in that chunks of the revolutionary bloc, including state elites and party officials, will develop a deeper stake in defending global capitalism over socialist transformation''' -- William I. Robinson

Interview with William I. Robinson, professor of sociology, University of California at Santa Barbara, by Chronis Polychroniou, editor of the Greek daily newspaper Eleftherotypia

February 1, 2010 -- ZNet

Chronis Polychroniou: There are scare stories coming from Venezuela. The border is heating up, infiltration is taking place, a new Colombian military base near the border, US access to several new bases on Colombia and constant subversion. Is the regime concerned about a possible invasion? If yes, who is going to intervene?

Venezuela: Alberto Muller Rojas on the danger of bureaucracy

Alberto Muller Rojas interviewed by Vladimir Villegas

February 2, 2010 -- This interview was first published at Indymedia Venezuela on November 24, 2009. Vladamir Villegas is the former president of the state-owned Corporación Venezolana de Televisión (Venezuelan Television Corporation, VTV) network based in Caracas, and ex-Venezuelan ambassador to Mexico. Alberto Muller Rojas is the vice-president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). It was translated by Sean Seymour-Jones and Tamara Pearson for

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Villegas: [You have said] 21st century socialism is a revision, a rectification of the socialist approach and that it isn’t trying to copy what happened in the Soviet Union. You believe that the Soviet model distorted itself because, among other reasons, it constructed a type of state capitalism. A public bureaucracy emerged, equivalent to that of any capitalist country and that bureaucracy totally disconnected itself from the masses.  And that isn’t happening here?

Haiti: Anti-Brazil mobilisations grow in quake's wake

Introduction and translation by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer

February 1, 2010 -- Below is a translation of a news report that appeared in the January 31, 2010, issue of the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo. One of the most vexing issues in Latin America’s relations with Haiti is the grievous lack of understanding on the part of anti-imperialist forces about the nature of the repeated imperialist occupations of the former French colony, and of the crushing of the Lavalas movement, including the ouster of the country's democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

I understand that at least some currents on the Brazilian left -- for example the PSOL -- understand that the UN occupation of Haiti was really a US-NATO occupation. This became clear when the US put an end to the pretense and used the January 12, 2010, earthquake devastation and catastrophe as a pretext to directly occupy Haiti with US troops.

However, to my knowledge, Brazil's Workers Party (PT) government has been silent on this issue. Its military has the lead role in the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), misnamed to be sure.

Bolivia also has troops in the same UN police force. 

Fifth Socialist International -- Time for definitions; Hora de definiciones

By Luis Bilbao, translated by Janet Duckworth for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

February 2, 2010 -- The first step has been taken. It has extraordinary strategic implications. It will shake up the left and right, the West and the East. It will blow in like a whirlwind through every political organisation, trade union or social, in every corner of the planet. On the evening of November 20, 2009, the day before the opening of the first extraordinary PSUV [United Socialist Party of Venezuela] congress, a feeling of vertigo swept over tens of thousands of people who heard Hugo Chávez, either on TV or on the internet, speak before delegates of parties from 30 or so countries, and launch a proposal that was as long desired as it was unexpected: to set to work to build the Fifth Socialist International.

Cuba and the South African anti-apartheid struggle

Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, South Africa, on February 11, 1990. That historic victory was the product of the long and courageous struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa. It was also a victory for the international movement against apartheid. Revolutionary Cuba played a vital role in the international movement against white minority rule in South Africa, as the following article describes. (See also "Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom".)

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By Nicole Sarmiento

January 21, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- Cuba's relations with African liberation movements began as early as the 1960s, and shortly after the triumph of the struggle against the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Members of the Cuban leadership travelled to Algiers to build formal relations with the Algerian National Liberation Front (Gleijeses, 1996a). Che Guevara's trip around the African continent in 1963 was a significant turning point in strengthening Cuba's relationship with liberation movements around the continent.

Haiti: `Cancel the debt!' -- Joint statement by Asian left organisations in solidarity with the people of Haiti

[To add your organisation's support, email: Ign Mahendra K at]

January 27, 2010 -- On January 12, 2010, a 7.3 Richter scale earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. The earthquake caused great destruction and 200,000 people are thought to be dead. Further, 3 million Haitians have been rendered homeless by the quake, which also damaged many public service buildings, such as hospitals and schools.

The quake has caused Haitians, who have struggled under decades of poverty and imperialist intervention and exploitation, even deeper suffering. Approximately 75% of Haitians earned less than US$2 per day and 56% of Haitians – around 4.5 million people – earned less than $1 per day. Most Haitians live in houses made of adobe and mud.

Honduras: Obama's new puppets on display; Massive demonstration as Lobo takes power

The mass national resistance movement against the June 28 coup remains a viable and significant political force. Photo by James Rodriguez.

By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer, Managua

January 26, 2010 -- During the dubious Honduran election process leading up to voting day on November 27, 2009, the people would chant “Santos[1] de santo no tiene nada. Lobo de lobo lo tiene todo” ["(Elvin) Santos gets nothing from the saints; Lobo’s taken it all from the wolf.”] 

Haiti: A history of struggle and exploitation

``Old Toussaint L'Overture'' by Larry Richardson.

By Amanda Zivcic

January 23, 2010 -- Since the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, there has been a global outpouring of support. Many people, horrified by the scenes of sheer devastation, the astronomical death toll and the struggle of survivors to gain access to medicines, food and shelter, are left wondering: why so many?

The oft-repeated tag of Haiti being “the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere” is true but this did not just happen. It is the result of a history of colonialism, slavery, imperialism, foreign military intervention, foreign-imposed dictatorships and unjust debt.

The Caribbean nation’s indigenous people were all but wiped out by 1520 due to the disease and exploitation that came with the arrival of the Spaniards in 1492. After France and Spain divided the island of Hispaniola into Haiti and the Dominican Republic, French and Spanish settlers arrived.

Fidel Castro on Haiti: Cuba `sends doctors, not soldiers'

By Fidel Castro Ruz

January 23, 2010 -- In my reflection of January 14, two days after the catastrophe in Haiti, which destroyed that neighbouring sister nation of Haiti, I wrote:

In the field of healthcare and other areas, Cuba –- despite being a poor and blockaded country -– has been cooperating with the Haitian people for many years. Around 400 doctors and healthcare experts are offering their services free of charge to the Haitian people. Our doctors are working every day in 227 of the country’s 337 communes. On the other hand, at least 400 young Haitians have trained as doctors in our homeland. They will now work with the reinforcement brigade which traveled there yesterday to save lives in this critical situation. Thus, without any special effort being made, up to 1000 doctors and healthcare experts can be mobilised, almost all of whom are already there willing to cooperate with any other state that wishes to save the lives of the Haitian people and rehabilitate the injured...

Peter Hallward: Securing disaster in Haiti

By Peter Hallward

January 21, 2010 -- -- Nine days after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, it's now clear that the initial phase of the US-led relief operation has conformed to the three fundamental tendencies that have shaped the more general course of the island's recent history.[1] It has adopted military priorities and strategies. It has sidelined Haiti's own leaders and government, and ignored the needs of the majority of its people. And it has proceeded in ways that reinforce the already harrowing gap between rich and poor. All three tendencies aren't just connected, they are mutually reinforcing. These same tendencies will continue to govern the imminent reconstruction effort as well, unless determined political action is taken to counteract them.


Haiti's `odious debt' must be completely and unconditionally cancelled!

By Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet,[1]Translated by Francesca Denley in collaboration with
Marie Lagatta

Haiti was partially destroyed by an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale. We have all shed tears and the media, as it bombards us with apocalyptic images, reports on generous financial pledges various states have made. Haiti needs to be rebuilt. But most mainstream comments fail to look beyond the terrible earthquake. While we are told that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, no explanations of why that is so are provided. We are led to believe that poverty just happened, that it is a situation beyond remedy, that Haiti is an "accursed land”.

Venezuela steps up aid effort to Haiti, questions US military deployment

Aid from Venezuela bound for Haiti.

By Kiraz Janicke, Caracas

January 20, 2010 – – Venezuela has stepped up its aid effort to Haiti as a second earthquake rocked the Caribbean country again today. This follows a 7.3 magnitude earthquake which destroyed the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince last week leaving at least 75,000 people confirmed dead, 250,000 injured and millions homeless.

Echoing his Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega, who accused the United States of “manipulating the tragedy to install North American troops in Haiti” and French Secretary of State for Cooperation Alain Joyandet, who criticised the US role in Haiti, saying the priority was “helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti”, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez also questioned the US military response to the disaster.

“It seems that the United States is militarily occupying Haiti, taking advantage of the tragedy, 6000 soldiers have arrived. Thousands are disembarking in Haiti as if it were a war”, Chávez said during his weekly television program Alo Presidente on January 18.

Cuban doctors in Haiti: `The worst tragedy is not being able to do more'

January 18, 2010 -- Since 1998, Cuba's health cooperation with Haiti has made it possible for 6000 doctors, paramedics and health technicians to work there. Besides, 450 young Haitians have graduated as doctors from Cuban colleges, free of charge, in the past 12 years. More than 400 Cuban specialists, 344 of them doctors and paramedics, have been in Haiti, jointly sponsored by the United Nations and the Cuban government. But in the wake of last Tuesday's disaster, the largest earthquake ever to hit the Caribbean Basin, Cuba dispatched another team of 60 doctors, health technicians and medications to join the doctors on the ground in Haiti. Cuba has also sent ten tons of medications.

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By Leticia Martínez Hernández, photos by Juvenal Balán

In defence of Hugo Chavez’ call for a Fifth Socialist International

By Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

January 15, 2010 -- Critics who have planted themselves firmly on the sidelines have been lobbing all kinds of disapproving missives at Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez’ call for a new international, urging others who have been carried away by enthusiastic support to join them on the sidelines. The laundry list of complaints is extensive: Chavez is the head of a bourgeois government; Chavez only pursues reformism, not genuine revolution; he made his call in the presence of an audience that included avowed supporters of capitalism; and so on.

Haitians plead: `Where is the help?'

 Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz.
By Roger Annis

January 15, 2010 -- Evidence of monstrous neglect of the Haitian people is mounting following the catastrophic earthquake three days ago. As life-saving medical supplies, food, water purification chemicals and vehicles pile up at the airport in Port-au-Prince, and as news networks report a massive international effort to deliver emergency aid, the people in the shattered city are wondering when they will see help.

Fidel Castro: The lesson of Haiti

By Fidel Castro Ruz

January 14, 2010 -- Two days ago [January 12], at almost six o’clock in the evening Cuban time and when, given its geographical location, night had already fallen in Haiti, television stations began to broadcast the news that a violent earthquake -– measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale -– had severely struck Port-au-Prince. The seismic phenomenon originated from a tectonic fault located in the sea just 15 kilometres from the Haitian capital, a city where 80% of the population inhabit fragile homes built of adobe and mud.

The news continued almost without interruption for hours. There was no footage, but it was confirmed that many public buildings, hospitals, schools and more solidly constructed facilities were reported collapsed. I have read that an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.3 is equivalent to the energy released by an explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT.

Tragic descriptions were transmitted. Wounded people in the streets were crying out for medical help, surrounded by ruins under which their relatives were buried. No one, however, was able to broadcast a single image for several hours.

The West’s role in Haiti's plight

Residents survey destroyed buildings after the earthquake that hit the capital Port-au-Prince on January 13, 2010. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

By Peter Hallward

[An earlier version of this article first appeared in the British Guardian. This slightly updated version appears in Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Peter Hallward's permission.]

January 14, 2010 -- If we are serious about assisting this devastated land we must stop trying to control and exploit it.

Ecuador: Interview -- President Rafael Correa discusses `Citizens' Revolution', socialism for the 21st century

rafael_correa_in_london rafael_correa_in_london_2 rafael_correa_in_london_3

In April 2009, Rafael Correa was elected to his second term as president of Ecuador with 51% of the vote. This gave him a mandate to continue and deepen the program of reforms and structural changes initiated since he first became president in November 2006. In three years Correa’s government has introduced unprecedented social and economic reforms – known as the Citizens’ Revolution – to reverse the poverty and exploitation suffered by the majority of the population in a country which has been ravaged by neoliberalism.

Hugo Blanco: `Only extinction of capitalism will ensure the survival of our species’; Reunión sobre cambio climático Copenhague

Hugo Blanco (left).

By Hugo Blanco, translated by Richard Fidler for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

The concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere is already so high that the climate system has been brought out of balance. The CO2 concentration and global temperatures have increased more rapidly in the last 50 years than ever before on Earth, and will rise even faster in the coming decades. This adds to a multitude of other serious ecological imbalances, the impacts of which threaten the lives and livelihoods of the people of the world, most acutely, impoverished people and other vulnerable groups.

Party of Socialism and Liberty, Brazil: Chavez’s call to form the Fifth International and the world situation

By Pedro Fuentes

January 11, 2010 -- At the meeting of left-wing political parties and socialists held in Caracas on the eve of the congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez called for the formation the Fifth Socialist International. In a strong speech in which he summarised the history of international socialist organisations, Chavez said, Confronting the capitalist crisis and the threat of war that threatens the future of humanity, it is time to convene the Fifth International, towards the unity of the left parties and revolutionaries willing to fight for socialism … of the parties and socialist currents and social movements in the world to create a common strategy for the fight against imperialism, the overthrow of capitalism by socialism.

At that meeting, which had a clearly anti-imperialist tone, there were many parties that were out of place; including, the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the Chinese Communist Party and even the Brazilian Workers Party (PT). Others were missing, for example, the Brazilian Party of Socialism and Liberty (PSOL), the French New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA), the National Resistance Front of Honduras and the Revolutionary Tendency of El Salvador, among others.

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