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Venezuela

Venezuela: Confronting capitalism's crisis with more revolution

By Manuel Sanchez

Caracas, March 14, 2009 -- In some countries, the severe crisis of capitalism has resulted in a realignment of respective governments with the imperialist powers — and the adoption of different forms of cut backs that affect the living conditions of the majority.

In the Venezuela, the opposite is occurring.

Before and after the victory for the pro-revolution forces in the referendum on February 15, 2009, to allow elected officials to stand for re-election more than once, the decision to push forward with the transition to socialism was ratified.

The world economic situation has also undoubtedly hit hard in Venezuela. The revolutionary government has already resolved to eliminate “all expenses that are not absolutely indispensable”.

But these austerity measures, far from adversely affecting the course of the revolution that seeks to transform the country, are favouring it. To the average politically trained eye, this has been evident since September 2008. President Hugo Chavez explicitly warned of this in this annual message to the nation on January 13.

Michael Lebowitz: The path to human development -- capitalism or socialism?

The following is the preface to an important article in the March 2009 issue of Monthly Review by Michael Lebowitz, entitled "The path to human development: capitalism or socialism?". Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal encourages its readers to follow the link below to the full article. Michael Lebowitz will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.

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By Michael A. Lebowitz

If we believe in people, if we believe that the goal of a human society must be that of “ensuring overall human development”, our choice is clear: socialism or barbarism.

Venezuela: Referendum victory advances process of change

By Chris Kerr

Caracas, February 20, 2009 -- “Today we opened wide the gates of the future … Truth against lies [and] the dignity of the homeland has triumphed”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez insisted to tens of thousands of celebrating supporters after Venezuelans voted to amend the constitution to end term limits on all elected politicians — allowing Chavez to stand for re-election in 2012.

“Venezuela will not return to its past of indignity”, Chavez stated, referring to the four decades of alternating rule by two corrupt parties that followed the overthrow of a military dictatorship in 1958.

During this period, known as the Fourth Republic, billions of dollars of oil wealth was squandered by a corrupt elite that increasingly opened the country to plundering by foreign corporate interests while the poverty rate sky-rocketed. Chavez was first elected in 1998 on a platform of transforming Venezuela (creating a “Fifth Republic”).

The turn-out of voters in the referendum was the largest ever, with 54.85% (or more than 6.3 million) voting in favour of the amendment. Around 5.2 million voted “no”. The result was declared free and fair by independent international observers.

`Let us rediscover Marx' -- Two talks on Michael Lebowitz's `Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class'

By Michael A. Lebowitz

[Michael Lebowitz will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets. Find other articles by Michael Lebowitz HERE.]

Venezuela: A balance sheet of the constitutional referendum victory

Venezuelan newspapers report the victory of the constitutional referendum.

By Gonzalo Villanueva

Venezuela’s February 15 constitutional amendment referendum, which proposed to modify the existing constitution to allow politicians to stand for re-election without restrictions, was triumphant. However, the referendum was more than a legal amendment – the removal of term limits – it was a political issue: to continue the revolutionary project or not? The Venezuelan people have convincingly signalled their desire to continue with the Bolivarian process, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez. The victory undoubtedly opens a path to advance and deepen the Bolivarian Revolution.

The amendment achieved a significant 6.3 million votes (54% of the vote). These latest electoral result confirms that the chavista camp has recovered significantly from the 2007 constitutional referendum defeat of 4.4 million votes (49.29%), a trend also followed in the 2008 regional elections. However, there is still a shortfall in comparison to the 2006 presidential elections that achieved 7.3 million votes (62.84%).

Democracy wins in Venezuelan referendum; Chavez promises `socialist democracy'

Hugo Chavez addresses thousands of Venezuelans from the `Balcony of the People' following the referendum victory.

[Click HERE for more coverage of the referendum campaign.]

A statement from the Australia–Venezuela Solidarity Network

February 17, 2009 -- On Sunday, February 15, Venezuelans voted in a referendum to change the country’s constitution to allow elected officials to re-stand for election without restriction. Previously, Venezuela’s constitution allowed elected officials, including the president, to stand for only two terms.

With 94.2% of the votes counted, the National Electoral Council announced that the “Yes” vote had won with 6,003,584 votes (54.36%). The “No” vote received 5,040,082 votes (45.63%). Dozens of election observers from international bodies such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States verified that the referendum was free and fair.

Venezuela: Luis Bilbao -- Reasons to be on alert after the referendum victory

By Luis Bilbao, translated by Federico Fuentes

Luis Bilbao is a central participant in the construction of the mass United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). He will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. To book your tickets for the conference go to http://www.worldatacrossroads.org/register.

February 14, 2009 -- A string of provocations in the days leading up to the constitutional amendment referendum points to the employment of a disturbance plan that could well be followed up with destabilisations attempts after the poll.

Venezuela: Democracy, revolution and the `president for life' lie

Chavez arrives at the polling place on February 14, 2009. The referendum on term limits was passed with a 54% majority vote.

By Chris Kerr

Caracas, February 6, 2009 -- “The reform is aimed as a personal project. This is neither revolution nor socialism, but personal ambition”, argued Federico Black of the student organisation Furthering the Country to the virulently anti-Chavez Venezuelan daily El Universal

Black was referring to an amendment to Venezuela’s constitution that will be voted on in a referendum on February 15 to remove limits on the number of times an elected official can stand for election to a public office. If passed, it would allow Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez to stand in the presidential elections in 2012.

According to Black, “We have been educating the public about why you should vote ’no’. The point at issue is to explain to ordinary people and the whole country that indefinite reelection is anti-democratic and a mere personal desire …”

Economic and social advances during the Chávez decade in Venezuela

Washington, DC – February 5, 2009 -- The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) released a report today on the Venezuelan economy on the tenth anniversary of President Hugo Chávez’s tenure, which began in February 1999.

“Looking at the economic data and social indicators, it’s not difficult to see why Chávez remains popular and has won so many elections, despite overwhelmingly hostile media coverage”, said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of CEPR and lead author of the report, The Chávez Administration at 10 Years: The Economy and Social Indicators.

Among the highlights:

World Social Forum returns to Brazil, marks Latin America's `swing to the left'

Latin America's leftwing presidents meet with WSF participants. Photo by Marc Becker.

By Marc Becker

February 5, 2009 -- After an absence of four years, the World Social Forum (WSF) returned to Brazil during the last week of January 2009. More than 100,000 people descended on the city of Belem at the mouth of the mighty Amazon River to debate proposals and plan strategies for making a new and better world.

The forum first met in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 2001 as a gathering of social movements dedicated to fighting neoliberalism and militarism. Nine years later, Latin America has shifted significantly to the left, and the forum has played an important role in that process.

The forum began on January 27, 2009, as all of the forums have, with a massive march through the streets of Belem. The theme of the march was from Africa, where the last unified forum was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in

2007, to the Amazon. A drenching tropical rain momentarily stalled the planned events. The march concluded with a massive rally featuring speeches and music.

Chavismo: Christian, pro-Muslim, pro-Jewish and anti-Nazi

By Roy Chaderton Matos, Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States. Translated by Yoshie Furuhashi for MRZine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

January 30, 2009 -- Watching television footage of one of the necessary and legitimate protests against the Israeli Embassy in Caracas, I spotted a lone sign with a slogan that left me thunderstruck.  The slogan was something like: "We condemn Hitler for not having completed his work of extermination..."

The frightening message, totally alien to the Bolivarian process and the Chavista commitment to liberty, democracy, equality and social justice, shows that, every now and then in our struggles and protests, "loose cannons" come dog us and that we have to detect them and neutralise them and expel them like any foreign body.

Luis Bilbao: Venezuela and `the rebirth of the idea of revolution'

Photo by Coral Wynter.

Interview with Luis Bilbao, conducted by Agustina Desalvo for the Argentinian journal Razón y Revolución, issue #18 (second semester 2008). Translated by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes and published with the permission of Bilbao.

Luis Bilbao is a central participant in the construction of the mass United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR); founding editor of the Latin America-wide monthly magazine América XXI. Luis Bilbao will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.

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What does Obama mean for the world?

By Barry Sheppard, San Francisco

January 23, 2009 -- More than 1 million people gathered in bitter cold in Washington DC to witness the historical inauguration of an African American as president.

The crowd was disproportionately Black, but majority white — and jubilant. Celebrations were held in Black communities throughout the country, and in other sectors of the population.

He was sworn in by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, itself historic. In the aftermath of the election, he enjoys overwhelming support according to polls, far higher than his margin of votes. This indicates a large swing of whites among those who voted for the Republican candidate John McCain.

Hopes are running high that he will do something to turn around the accelerating downturn in the economy. On “inauguration day”, it appeared that the crisis in the banks and other financial institutions was once again critical.

With rising unemployment, rising home foreclosures, falling wages, failing retail chains and US$1 trillion poured down what one economist called a bottomless pothole to apparently no avail, the working and middle classes have experienced a massive shock.

The “free markets will solve all” ideology is a dead duck. US people are demanding that the government take action. Obama has promised to do just that.

Join the next Australian solidarity brigade to Venezuela! April 15-25, 2009

Join the next Australian solidarity brigade to Venezuela! April 15-25, 2009

Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution led by President Hugo Chavez is shaking up global politics and inspiring millions of ordinary people with the evidence that a better – a peaceful, democratic and socially just – world is possible.

* Whereas in Australia, health, education and public infrastructure is being privatised, in Venezuela, major industries are being nationalised and put under workers’ control, and universal access to health, education and social welfare is now guaranteed.

* Whereas in Australia, workers are being sacked, wages and conditions are being eroded and trade unions are under attack, in Venezuela, wages are increasing, and union membership and organisation is growing.

* Whereas in Australia, the government sends troops into Indigenous communities, and Aboriginal people continue to live in Third World conditions and are killed in custody, in Venezuela, indigenous people have Constitutionally guaranteed land rights and representation in parliament, and are exercising self-determination.

Venezuela: Mass support for constitutional reform campaign

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

By Tamara Pearson

Mérida, January 19, 2009 (venezuelanalysis.com) -- Over the January 17-18 weekend, committees from various sectors of society swore to campaign hard to win the approval by public vote of the amendment to the constitution to get rid of the two-term limit on all elected offices in Venezuela.

More than 20,000 people attended the swearing in of the heads of logistical and operational patrols of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in Caracas on January 17.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez stated at the event that there are now about 100,000 “Yes committees” organised, or in formation, to campaign in favour of changing the five articles of constitution so that all popularly elected positions are not limited to two terms.

The committees are organised along various fronts and community lines, including women, youth, workers, communal councils and the PSUV.

Palestine government salutes Venezuela's Hugo Chavez

Palestinian National Authority

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Deputy Office, Gaza

January 12, 2009

In the Name of God; the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

President Hugo Chavez,

Your Excellency, President Hugo Chavez,

We, the people of Palestine, commend your courage to speak and act upon your conscience regardless of your detractors' criticism or cowardice.

Mr. President, we have watched death rain upon our families and children in Gaza for weeks; and yet we stand proud and ready for any outcome. We are a resilient people who wish for peace but will fight rather than bow to injustice. We live and die by the codes of our forefathers -- codes of honor, integrity, truth and bravery.

Throughout history, in a just conflict, there always emerges a champion, a single hero who, by his actions, embodies all the virtues the masses aspire to. You have demonstrated that you are such a man.

Bolivia breaks ties over Gaza, will take Israel to ICC/Bolivia rompe relaciones diplomáticas con Israel en solidaridad con Gaza

Bolivia severs ties with Israel

January 14, 2009 -- Al Jazeera -- Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, says he is breaking off ties with Israel in protest against its war in Gaza, which has left more than 1000 Palestinians dead.

Morales said on Wednesday that he would seek to get top Israeli officials, including Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, charged with "genocide" in the International Criminal Court.

The Bolivian president also dismissed the United Nations and its "Insecurity Council" for its "lukewarm" response to the crisis and said the general assembly should hold an emergency session to condemn the invasion.

"Considering these grave attacks against ... humanity, Bolivia will stop having diplomatic relations with Israel," Morales told diplomats in the Bolivian capital, La Paz.

Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia condemn Israel's massacres in Gaza

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Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Israeli embassy in Caracas on December 28, in opposition to what one speaker referred to as “genocide” by the Israeli “occupation forces”. The protests will continue in front of the embassy, according to a rally organiser, Hindu Anderi. Anderi, a Palestinian human rights activist, thanked the Venezuelan government for its position on the conflict, but demanded concrete action, saying “solidarity needs to mean taking measures that will affect Israel economically and politically, because otherwise the condition of the Palestinian people will not change”.

Venezuela 2008: Balance sheet of the revolutionary process

By Gonzalo Gomez

December 17, 2008 -- During 2008, our revolutionary process has had its ebbs and flows. Overall, we had significant progress, especially in the recuperation of sovereignty, with the nationalisations and the electoral victories in the great majority of governorships and mayoralties. The right-wing also had its successes, as it managed to retain and seize several strategic places. The process is not linear, but the revolution needs to move forward in a permanent manner or the hangover of a counterrevolution will raze the achievements obtained, including the crushing of the vanguard.

You cannot build socialism in the bowels of capitalism. It requires qualitative leaps, in a timely manner and in accordance with the correlation of forces, to enable the break with capitalism and initiate a real transition to socialism. In capitalism there is no solution for the exploited masses; it undermines any economic, social or political conquest of the people, if they are not used to promote the deepening of the revolution, with the organisation and mobilisation of the workers, peasants and popular [sectors].

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