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Venezuela: Prospects and challenges facing the PSUV

August 2, 2008 -- Federico Fuentes, Links and Green Left Weekly commentator based in Venezuela, is back in Caracas after a quick speaking tour of Australia. He talks with community radio about the lead up to the regional elections this November, and discusses the prospects of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which is the core party of President Hugo Chavez' government. The Chavista project of building grassroots democracy in Venezuela from the bottom up continues, but there are challenges ahead. Thanks to LeftClick and Latin Radical.

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For a limited time only! Full screening of `Now the People Have Awoken: Exploring Venezuela's Revolution'

Venezuela’s new assertiveness has brought it to the centre of international controversy: to some it has been stolen by populist dictator, while for others, it is the centre of a continent-wide democratic revolution.

There is much at stake. Venezuela sits atop huge oil reserves, which are being used to foment a new order. President Hugo Chávez, who survived a military coup in 2002, has supported a number of controversial social programs that have pushed Venezuela onto the United States government's and media's radar screens.

What makes Venezuela tick? Who is behind the movement and what does it seek? Filmed through the 2006 presidential elections, this is a documentary about the people building a new Venezuela.

Click here to watch this amazing documentary in full (55 minutes) for a very limited time.

Download now! Links Dossier #3: Michael Lebowitz on Socialism for the 21st Century

A selection of thought-provoking articles by Michael A. Lebowitz from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and author of Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class and Build it Now: Socialism for the 21st Century. He is a program coordinator with the Centro International Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela.

Links Dossiers are in easy-to-print PDF format and readers are encouraged to print and distribute them.

Contents

Socialism is the future: Build it now!

The spectre of socialism for the 21st century

Discussion on ‘The spectre of socialism for the
21st century’

The capitalist workday, the socialist workday

Without workers’ management, there is no socialism

Venezuela's young militants: An antidote to the weaknesses of the revolution

By Tamara Pearson

July 30, 2008 -- We stayed up until 2 am two nights in a row -- students from a range of faculties, and young people from various movements and revolutionary organisations. In the campsite of La Mucuy in the Andean city of Merida, we discussed and debated the role of youth in Venezuelan’s revolution and the construction of a youth wing of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), while around us clouds hugged the buildings and mountain slopes, horses slept in the foreground and mosquitos made meals of our legs and faces.

Following the call for a youth wing of the party, various revolutionary youth in Merida had organised the camp as a space to meet and ensure that this new youth organisation would be specifically revolutionary, and that it wouldn’t contain the errors of the current PSUV. As well, it was important that this organisation be built by the youth from the ground, rather than declared by the leadership and built downwards.

Too often, in my opinion, the initiatives of the revolution come from Chavez rather from the base. When Uribe, the right-wing president of Colombia, came to Venezuela recently, Chavez came out against calls for protests against him. In Merida, it was the young people who protested anyway.

Latin America's struggle for integration and independence

By Federico Fuentes

Caracas, July 26, 2008 -- Commenting on how much the two had in common — same age, three children, similar music tastes — Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said to Mexican President Felipe Calderon on April 11 that “perhaps we represent the new generation of leaders in Latin America”. He added, however, that one difference still remained: Calderon had still not become a socialist. “Being right wing is out of fashion in Latin America … Join us, you are always welcome.”

The election of Fernando Lugo as Paraguayan president seems to confirm the idea of a new fashion for presidents. The former priest joins the ranks of current Latin American presidents that includes two women (Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina and Michelle Bachelet in Chile), an indigenous person (Evo Morales in Bolivia), a former militant trade unionist (Lula da Silva in Brazil), a radically minded economist (Rafael Correa in Ecuador), a doctor (Tabare Vasquez in Uruguay), a former guerrilla fighter (Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua) and a former rebel soldier (Hugo Chavez in Venezuela).

El Salvador election 2009: High hopes for FMLN

[Stop press, March 15, 2009: El Salvador: Victorious FMLN candidate promises `to benefit the poor rather than the rich']

By the National Committee of the War Veterans' Sector of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)

El Salvador has entered a governance crisis the signs of which include the bare participation by the general public in the life of the nation. There is no attempt by the government to achieve consensus, or a will to reach agreement on public policy; and there is no tolerance of even a minimal participation by the citizenry in public affairs. Disillusion and scepticism are the predominant feelings amongst the general public. The country's institutional structures are weak and poorly developed. This impacts even upon political parties, which neither express nor channel popular demands and lack the capacity to play an intermediary role in the conflicts caused by the demands of different sectors of society.

Leo Panitch on movements, debates and struggles in Latin America

July 17, 2008 -- A report by Leo Panitch on an international seminar organised by the Brazilian Landless People's Movement (MST). Bringing together key ``organic'' intellectuals from the continent, the meeting discussed the advances and contradictions of the rise of the left movement across Latin America, one that seeks to change society by taking power. Leo Panitch is editor of Socialist Register. The meeting was sponsored by the Socialist Project in Canada.

 

Venezuela: The hard battle for socialism

Interview with Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s minister of energy and petroleum from Punto Final. Translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

* * *

Up until now, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s socialist project has counted on broad popular support. But it is encountering – as was foreseen – numerous difficulties and an opposition that is not disgusted by coup plots nor assassination attempts. On November 23, the revolutionary project will have to submit itself to a new test, this time in the form of elections for governors and mayors.

July 19, 1979: Nicaragua's Sandinista revolution remembered -- Video by John Pilger

 

On July 19, 1979, the Nicaraguan people led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew the brutal US-backed dictator Somoza. In this film, made by John Pilger in the 1980s, the background to the revolt and the gains won -- and the United States' virulent opposition -- are graphically explained.

Who’s afraid of Liberation Theology?

By Barry Healy

[This is the text of a talk presented at the Marxism Summer School conducted by the Australian Democratic Socialist Perspective in January 2005. The pope referred to is the then-reigning Pope John-Paul II. The current Pope Benedict XVI is mentioned, being Cardinal Ratzinger at the time this talk was presented. See the appendices for more on Ratzinger and his background.]

I have an acquaintance who is a staunch supporter of the Liberal Party and a fundamentalist Christian, she occasionally gives me a lift to the railway station in the morning, which I appreciate. I didn’t know her religious bent until one morning she started regaling me with her opinion of Marxism, which was entirely based on the one sentence written by Marx that she knew: “Religion is the opium of the people.”

I don’t think she could even give a coherent explanation of the sentence, let alone an understanding of its context. She just knew that it was godless communism and that was enough for her.

Argentina: It's only a small step from sectarianism to support for Kirchner

By Sergio Garcia, translated and introduced by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

After more than 100 days of intense conflict between supporters and opponents of the Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner government in Argentina, centred on the conflict over the divisive move to increase taxes on exports of foodstuff such as soya and sunflower oil, Fernandez has been forced to put the resolution to debate in congress.

Pope's immoral stance a death sentence; protest the unholy father

By Tony Iltis

July 12, 2008 -- The visit to Sydney for World Youth Day (WYD), July 15-20, by Pope Benedict XVI and 300,000 Catholic pilgrims is set to become the scene for protests. Ironically, the protests are being fuelled by the clumsy efforts of the NSW state Labor Party government to suppress them — passing laws making it illegal to “annoy” pilgrims and defining “annoy” broadly enough to include having signs, or even wearing t-shirts, with messages that the doctrinally rigid pope or his followers disapprove of.

* * *

No to Pope Rallies, July 19, 2008

Venezuela: Moves towards unity and democratisation of the workers’ movement

By Stalin Perez Borges

July 14, 2008 -- In recent elections in the Sindicato Nacional Fuerza Magisterial (Sinafum -- National Union of Teachers' Force), which groups an important section of teachers, a slate headed by Orlando Pérez, a supporter of the proposal that Sinafum remain affiliated to the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT, National Union of Workers), won by a wide margin. Elections have been announced for October 1 in the Federación Nacional de Trabajadores del Sector Empleados Públicos (Fentrasep, National Federation of Public Sector Workers), to which more than 90% of public servants are members. The national coordination of the UNT has set dates in September for the holding of a new congress and elections.

Fidel on Colombia, FARC and opposition to US intervention: `Pax Romana'

By Fidel Castro Ruz

July 5, 2008 -- I basically drew the data [below] from statements made by William Brownfield, US ambassador to Colombia, from that country's press and television, from the international press and other sources. It's impressive the show of technology and economic resources at play.

While in Colombia the senior military officers went to great pains to explain that Ingrid Betancourt's rescue had been an entirely Colombian operation, the US authorities were saying that “it was the result of years of intense military cooperation of the Colombian and United States’ armies”.

“`The truth is that we have been able to get along as we seldom have in the United States, except with our oldest allies, mostly in NATO', said Brownfield, referring to his country's relationships with the Colombian security forces, which have received over US$4 billion in military assistance since the year 2000.''

“…on various occasions it became necessary for the US Administration to make decisions at the top levels concerning this operation.''

Colombia: Behind the freeing of Ingrid Betancourt

By Stuart Munckton

July 5, 2008 -- On July 2, an operation by the Colombian military succeeded in freeing French-Colombian citizen Ingrid Betancourt from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who had held her prisoner since 2002. Betancourt was the highest-profile FARC-held prisoner and the action, which also liberated 14 other prisoners, captured world headlines.

* * *

More on the struggle in Colombia HERE.

* * *

On July 2, an operation by the Colombian military succeeded in freeing French-Colombian citizen Ingrid Betancourt from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who had held her prisoner since 2002. Betancourt was the highest-profile FARC-held prisoner and the action, which also liberated 14 other prisoners, captured world headlines.

Fidel on Trujillo; honesty in journalism; and the release of Ingrid Betancourt

The true story and the challenge of the Cuban journalists

* * *

Excerpt: ``Out of a basically humanist sentiment, we rejoiced at the news that Ingrid Betancourt, three US citizens and other captives had been released. The civilians should have never been kidnapped, nor should they have been kept prisoners in the conditions of the jungle. These were objectively cruel actions. No revolutionary purpose could justify it. The time will come when the subjective factors should be analysed in depth.''

* * * 

By Fidel Castro Ruz

July 3, 2008 -- Seven days ago I wrote about one of the great men in history: Salvador Allende, a man the world remembered with deep emotion and respect on his first centennial. However, no one quivered or even recalled the date of October 24, 1891, when the Dominica Republic's despot Rafael Leonidas Trujillo was born, eighteen years before our admired Chilean brother.

`Is Cuba done with equality?' NOT!

By Fred Feldman

June 28, 2008 -- I am responding to ``Of Pay and Productivity: Is Cuba Done With Equality?'', an article by Moshe Adler, director of Public Interest Economics, which appeared in the June 20 Counterpunch (a radical monthly print and daily webzine based in the US.) The article deals with the latest modifications of the country's wage structure made public June 11.

I think it would be useful if I presented some general considerations, despite what I admit is a broad but rather too shallow knowledge of the Cuban Revolution. I have never been in the country, for example. My knowledge of Spanish has grown quite a bit in the recent period, so that I can plough through shorter Spanish-language articles with a dictionary in hand, but it is still in the poquito range.

Characteristics of the experiences underway in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia

By Eric Toussaint

June 27, 2008 -- In Latin America, if we exclude Cuba, we can point to three general categories of governments. First, the governments of the right, the allies of Washington, that play an active role in the region and occupy a strategic position: these are the governments of Álvaro Uribe in Colombia, Alan García in Peru and Felipe Calderón in México.

Second, we find supposed “left” governments that implement a neoliberal policy and support the national or regional bourgeoisies in their projects: Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Nicaragua and the government of Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, from Argentina’s Peronists. They are governments that implement a neoliberal policy that favour grand capital, covered up with some social assistance measures. In effect, they make it a bit easier to swallow the neoliberal pill by applying social programs. For example, in Brazil poor families receive a bit of help from the government, which assures them popular support in the poorest region of the country.

Taking stock of the Bolivarian Revolution: Changing Venezuela by Taking Power

Changing Venezuela by Taking Power, by Gregory Wilpert (Verso, 2007)

June 26, 2008 -- Gregory Wilpert has pulled off a triumph on two fronts with his new book on the Bolivarian Revolution, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power. Most obviously, Wilpert's book — in both its scope and (sometimes almost maddening) objectivity — is the most detailed and credible analysis yet published of the Venezuelan revolution, which itself represents, arguably, the single most significant challenge today to the hegemony of global capitalism.

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