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Venezuela: Chavez's 26 decrees -- US, opposition lies debunked

September 23, 2008 -- Venezuelanalysis -- The following is a translation of a document produced by the Venezuela's Ministry for Communication and Information. It is a summary of the content of the 26 laws passed by the Venezuelan executive and also seeks to debunk some of the myths spread by the right-wing opposition. The actual laws are 30-60 pages each, so it is an accessible way to learn what they are. The Venezuelan government is distributing this summary across Venezuela.

Truth suffers in Human Rights Watch report on Venezuela

By the Venezuela Information Office

On September 18, 2008 Human Rights Watch released a report entitled "Venezuela: Rights Suffer Under Chávez." The report contains biases and inaccuracies, and wrongly purports that human rights guarantees are lacking or not properly enforced in Venezuela. In addition, while criticising Venezuela's human rights in the political context, it fails to mention the many significant advancements made by the government on other essential human rights, such as access to education, healthcare, nutritious food, clean water and housing.

MYTH: "Discrimination on political grounds has been a defining feature of the Chávez presidency."  

Cuba supporters in Canada launch hurricane relief fund

Introduction by Robert Johnson

September 14, 2008 (Socialist Voice) -- Cuba has been assaulted in quick succession by three powerful hurricanes. Gustav, Hanna and Ike left a trail of massive destruction, the worst that Cuba has experienced in more than four decades. This was a cruel blow to the Cuban people, who have set an example to the world of selfless generosity despite their limited material resources. Under the leadership of their workers and farmers government, Cubans have now set to work to repair the damage.

Oppose the fascist coup in Bolivia! (Sign the petition)

Dear comrades and friends,

You will be aware of the US-backed "civic coup" underway in the Bolivia, and the threats this poses to democracy and all nations' right to political, economic and social sovereignty.

We urge you/your organisation to sign the open petition we have initiated in support of President Evo Morales and the Bolivian people, and to circulate it widely among left and progressive individuals and activists.

We hope you may also be able to use the petition to bring pressure on the government of your own country to publicly state its support for Bolivia's right to freedom from imperialist intervention.

The petition is at:
http://www.gopetition.com/online/21871.html

Venezuela: New mission, laws to extend popular power; trade union movement rebuilds

By Federico Fuentes

Caracas, September 6, 2008 -- The August 24 announcment by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to officially launch the social mission April 13, and the decreeing of 26 new and reformed laws on July 29, represent a further push to empower the poor communities.

Moreover, these moves represent a new offensive as part of Chavez’s stated aim of building “socialism of the 21st century” and eradicating poverty by giving power to the people.

Among other things, the new mission and laws build upon the communal councils that have been established across the country with the goal of organising the Venezuelan people, in order to transfer responsibilities until now in the hands of the state bureaucracy inherited by the Bolivarian revolution.

Mission April 13 is named in honour of the successful struggle of the poor majority, who along with the majority of the armed forces, defeated the coup organised by Venezuela’s business federation, Fedecamaras, on April 11, 2002. The coup briefly removed Chavez from the power, but an uprising resorted him two days later.

Celia Hart's last essay: A revolutionary fight against the demon

On September 9, 2008, supporters of the Cuban Revolution were saddened to learn of the sudden deaths of Celia Hart Santamaría and Abel Hart Santamaría, the daughter and son of Armando Hart Dávalos and Haydée Santamaría, in a car accident in Havana on September 7, possibly caused by the conditions resulting from Hurricane Gustav. Below is the last essay written by Celia, on the topic of hurricanes, global warming and the Cuban Revolution's and Cuban society's ability to protect its people from devastating storms like hurricanes Katrina and Gustav. (Click HERE to watch Celia Hart discuss the politics of Latin America in a video recorded in May 2008. A selection of Celia Hart's essays, It’s never too late to love or rebel, was published in 2006 by Socialist Resistance.)

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 Celia Hart Santamaría

Cuba, bloggers and the internet wars: a review of Antony Loewenstein’s `The Blogging Revolution'

By Tim Anderson

Antony Loewenstein is confused. Flushed with the success of his first book, My Israel Question, he has ventured into the wider world of global politics and has stumbled.

His first book presented the perspective of a young Australian Jew, reflecting critically on Israel. His second book, The Blogging Revolution, attempts a wider analysis of the cyber-media and democracy, by reference to six countries: Iran, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China.

Venezuela: Second wave of nationalisations launched

By Federico Fuentes

September 3, 2008 -- On August 27, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez announced the end of negotiations with former owner Ternium over the nationalisation of the Sidor steel factory, stating that the government would “take over all the companies that it has here”, and that Ternium “can leave”. Speaking during a televised broadcast, Chávez explained that Ternium “did not recognise our sovereignty”.

“The deadline for reaching an agreement has expired. We will move ahead and pay them what it really costs. Moreover, it will not be all in one go as they wanted. No, we will pay them at a pace that is appropriate for us.”

Until the April 9 decision to nationalise Sidor, the Ternium consortium, whose biggest shareholder is the Italian-Argentine transnational Techint, had 60% control of one of the largest steel factories in Latin America, located in the industrial state of Bolívar.

Cuban trade unionist: `Workers are key participants in the Cuban revolution'

August 27, 2008 -- Gilda Chacon is the Asia, Oceania, Africa and Middle East representative of the Cuban Confederation of Trade Unions (CTC) and an elected delegate of the People’s Power Municipal Assembly. Annolies Truman interviewed her during her August 17–20 visit to Perth, Australia, to liaise with Western Australian trade unions.

How would you describe the different role of unions in Australia and Cuba?

The fundamental difference is that we operate under two different economic systems. Australia is a capitalist country and Cuba is a socialist country. While we both have union confederations — in Australia the ACTU and in Cuba the CTC — the orientation of the unions is essentially different.

In Cuba, unions basically support the government’s economic agenda because it benefits workers. The highest budget priorities are education, health (both free at all levels) and social security. Public transport is cheap and there is little or no disparity in wages between workers and managers.

Federico Fuentes on latest developments in Bolivia

August 27, 2008 -- Federico Fuentes, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal's and Green Left Weekly's Latin America correspondent based in Venezuela and editor of Bolivia Rising, talks with Latin Radical about the recent referendum in Bolivia. It was called by Bolivia's Indigenous president, Evo Morales. In spite of right-wing calls to defeat the referendum (and continuing threats from the wealthy eastern provinces to split the country into ``autonomous'' states) the referendum victory strengthened the position of a president who is introducing reforms that phase out the negative influence of multinational corporations and global privatisation.

[Note: although the voice quality is clear there is some static and radio interference in this interview, which begins about seven minutes into the interview.]

11.6Mb 128kbps mono 12:41 mins

Capitalism and social classes in Venezuela: The historic mission of the working class

By Jesús Germán Faría,  Venezuela’ vice-minister for social security, ministry of popular power for labour and social security translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Capitalism is a system based on the private ownership of the means of production. The capitalists, who own these, employ [workers’] labour power in exchange for a salary to be able to carry out their business. Obviously, this hiring of workers does not occur because of altruistic values. The ultimate aim of this decision – like any other under capitalism – is the possibility of obtaining profits. Moreover, the workers, who own no means of production, are left with no other option than to sell their labour power, converting themselves into waged slaves.

Bolivia: Two years of `post-neoliberal’ Indigenous nationalism -- a balance sheet

By the Bolpress editorial board, translated by Sean Seymour Jones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

State intervention in economic activity -- the nationalisation of businesses, restrictions on exports and price controls, among other measures -- doesn’t appear to be contributing to the materialisation of the structural changes postulated by the National Development Plan (PND) of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). This is the evaluation of business leaders, analysts and political leaders from the right-wing opposition in Bolivia. However, according to the government of President Evo Morales, the brutal and desperate reaction of the dominant classes "in relegation" proves that something is changing.

Venezuela: Solidarity needed for trade unionists under attack; please sign protest letter

By Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke

August 23, 2008 -- The owner of Fundimeca, an air-conditioning factory in Valencia, Carabobo, is waging an intense campaign of terror and intimidation against the factory's workers. Fundimeca's workers has been fighting to ensure that the company complies with Venezuela's constitution and labour laws, in particular an order by the labour inspectorate to rehire nine workers. Fundimeca employs 360 workers, 80% of whom are women.

One worker has been shot in the leg by armed thugs and 18 workers and three union leaders are currently facing trial in Carabobo courts, accused of various charges including criminal gang activity with the threat of jail terms looming over their heads.

Among those standing trial is Stalin Perez Borges, a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT) and Venezuela's principal delegate to this year's International Labor Organisation convention — where after seven years, the delegation successfully removed Venezuela from the list of countries that supposedly violate union freedom.

Argentina: Winners and losers of the agricultural conflict

Continuing Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal’s presentation of various positions in the debate within Argentina’s left around the rural crisis, we publish an exclusive translation of a recent article by Claudio Katz, an economist, researcher, professor and member of Economista de Izquierda (EDI -- Left Economists). Translated by Janet Duckworth. For previous articles on Argentina, go to http://links.org.au/taxonomy/term/147

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Free Colombian trade unionist Liliana Obando!

We write to you with a request for urgent action in solidarity with Ms Liliana Obando representative of the Agricultural Workers Union Federation (FENSUAGRO) who on Friday 8th August 2008 was arrested by Colombian government forces.

Ms Obando has been detained on charges of "rebellion" against the state a catch-all charge that is regularly used to imprison those who speak out against the government for long periods without trial. 'Rebellion' also allows the regime to smear those accused of it as being 'terrorists' and helps to delegitimise their work.

The attached statement provides further information on this new act of persecution and intimidation of trade union and human rights activists.

Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC) seeks your urgent solidarity action and asks you to write to the Colombian authorities to protest against this act of persecution; to demand her immediate release from custody, to demand the dropping of all the alleged charges against her and for the government of Colombia to guarantee her safety and well being.

Video: The Carbon Connection -- The human impact of carbon trading

Two communities affected by one new global market – the trade in carbon dioxide. In Scotland, a town has been polluted by oil and chemical companies since the 1940s. In Brazil, local people's water and land is being swallowed up by destructive monoculture eucalyptus tree plantations. Both communities now share a new threat.

As part of the deal to reduce greenhouse gases that cause dangerous climate change, major polluters can now buy carbon credits that allow them to pay someone else to reduce emissions instead of cutting their own pollution. What this means for those living next to the oil industry in Scotland is the continuation of pollution caused by their toxic neighbours. Meanwhile in Brazil, the schemes that generate carbon credits gives an injection of cash for more planting of the damaging eucalyptus plantations.

The two communities are now connected by bearing the brunt of the new trade in carbon credits. The Carbon Connection follows the story of two groups of people from each community who learned to use video cameras and made their own films about living with the impacts of the carbon market.

Bolivia’s struggle for justice, against right-wing offensive

By Hugo Moldiz, translated and introduced by Federico Fuentes

August 10, 2008 -- “Given everything that is occurring in Tarija, Santa Cruz, Pando and Beni, we have to denounce … that we are on the threshold of a real coup d’etat against the constitutional order”, announced Bolivian minister of the presidency, Ramon Quintana, on August 7.

The day before, two bullets were fired into his car in an assassination attempt during a visit to the city of Trinidad, in Beni. Beni is part of the “half moon” of the resource-rich eastern departments including Santa Cruz, Tarija and Pando, that are a stronghold of the opposition to the left-wing government of indigenous President Evo Morales.

“What the prefects are doing today is nothing more than an act of sedition, of contempt, or organisation of illegal forces, paramilitaries, to go against all public liberties”, added Quintana.

Bolivia: The COB and Morales -- `Over the shoulders of Kornilov'

By Jorge Sanmartino

On July 21, 2008, some 15 days before the recall referendum, the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) initiated an indefinite general strike with roadblocks and permanent protests until its pension law project is approved by Congress. It was the most important protest that the COB has organised in years. Jamie Solares, the most radical of all the COB spokespeople, even maintained that if the law was not approved the COB would call for a “protest vote”. The current executive secretary of the Departmental Workers Central of Oruro (COD) was the executive secretary of the COB until 2006.

With a combative tone, Solares tends to invoke Lenin to justify some of his own actions. Could we therefore invoke the advice of the old Bolshevik leader in order to explain what the COB is doing today? Because its indefinite general strike, blockading the main highways in the country, blowing up bridges with dynamite and direct confrontation has cost the lives of two miners in Huanuni and more than 30 injured.

Paraguay: Fernando Lugo's victory and the new space for left struggle

By Hugo Richer

August 5, 2008 -- The defeat of the Colorado Party in the 2008 presidential election meant much more than a change of government in Paraguay. This defeat meant the fall of the last political party in Latin America that had been formed both politically and ideologically within the framework of the Cold War.

The 36 years of the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989) had as a leitmotiv, “the anti-communist struggle”. During the “Colorado reign”, US imperialism managed to build a solid alliance which for several decades enabled it to set up intelligence operations in the Latin American region. From Operation Condor, in the 1970s, to the presence of US troops in the years known as the “transition” in order to conduct “training exercises” with members of the Paraguayan armed forces, these military campaigns and manoeuvres were justified in all sorts of ways, from the fight against “sleeping terrorist cells” on the “triple frontier” (the region where there are common borders between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay), to the objective of ending “the cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs”.

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