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Venezuela

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.

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.

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.

Malaysia: Socialist assemblyperson for system overhaul; praises example of Venezuelan revolution

Dr Nasir HashimFrom ASAP, August 1, 2008 -- Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim, Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) president and state assemblyperson for Kota Damansara in Selangor, expressed his hopes to the Uncensored talk show host Francis Paul Siah on Malaysiakini.tv last week.

"There's so much work to be done'', he exclaims, reiterating his common theme of ``working for the people'' in the 30-minute show. First on his to-do list: "Damage control" and assuaging the economic plight of the poor.

However, while he's ``glad to meet with the ordinary people", Nasir also wants the people to know that he expects them to "jointly work on solutions" with him. "I don't want dependency on me or politics for every want", he said. "Maybe 50% with me, 50% somewhere else."

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.

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.

If socialism fails: the spectre of 21st century barbarism

By Ian Angus

July 27, 2008 -- From the first day it appeared online, Climate and Capitalism’s masthead has carried the slogan “Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way.” We’ve been quite clear that ecosocialism is not a new theory or brand of socialism — it is socialism with Marx’s important insights on ecology restored, socialism committed to the fight against ecological destruction. But why do we say that the alternative to ecosocialism is barbarism?

Marxists have used the word “barbarism” in various ways, but most often to describe actions or social conditions that are grossly inhumane, brutal, and violent. It is not a word we use lightly, because it implies not just bad behaviour but violations of the most important norms of human solidarity and civilised life. [1]

The slogan “Socialism or Barbarism” originated with the great German revolutionary socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg, who repeatedly raised it during World War I. It was a profound concept, one that has become ever more relevant as the years have passed.

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).

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

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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.

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.

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.

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More on the struggle in Colombia HERE.

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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.

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.

Michael Lebowitz: The spectre of socialism for the 21st century

The following is the keynote address to the annual meeting of the Society for Socialist Studies, Vancouver, June 5, 2008. It was originally titled ``Building socialism for the 21st century''. To hear an audio recording of the speech, click HERE.

By Michael A. Lebowitz

A spectre is haunting capitalism. It is the spectre of socialism for the 21st century. Increasingly, the characteristics of this spectre are becoming clear, and we are able to see enough to understand what it is not. The only thing that is not clear at this point is whether the spectre is real – i.e., whether it is actually an earthly presence.

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.

XIV Sao Paulo Forum: Left parties debate the current historic conjuncture

By Inés Hayes, with reports from Montevideo by Cristina Camusso and Julio Louis.

Dilemma: From May 22 to 25, the XIV Sao Paulo Forum was held in Montevideo, Uruguay. Under the banner `The Latin American and Caribbean left in the new time, richness in diversity’, 844 delegates from 35 countries in Latin America, Asia and Europe participated in this historic meeting. The first encounter was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1990. The debates over the crucial issues of the 21st century are embodied today in the governments which have emerged through the electoral road. The historic dilemma of reform or revolution once again returns to centre stage.

Eyewitness report from Venezuela's May Day



June 13, 2008 -- LatinRadical -- Coral Wynter is back after coordinating the distinctive presence of the Australian Venezuela Solidarity Network's ``May Day'' brigade to Venezuela that included, appropriately, a large contingent of Australian trade unionists. The previous Australian government of John Howard had the Australian embassy in Venezuela closed down when a Washington-inspired coup against President Hugo Chavez failed, but hopefully that will change, if Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown (with the Australian brigadistas) returns after his own visit with the news that President Hugo Chavez is not a ``dictator'', but a popularly elected leader who has increased his electoral popularity regularly at each electoral contest.

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NEW! Links Dossier #1: PSUV: Birth of a mass revolutionary party

The first in a series of occasional Links Dossiers, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is making available a selection of its key articles on the exciting development of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV). The dossier is in PDF format, to allow easy downloading, printing and distribution.

To download Links Dossier #1 -- PSUV: Birth of a mass revolutionary party, click HERE

Links Dossier #1 -- PSUV: Birth of a mass revolutionary party

Contents

Revolution, party and a new international

PSUV vice president Alberto Müller Rojas: The party is a `political necessity'

Asamblea de Socialistas: `The left has to be inside the PSUV to wage the ideological battle'

Marea Socialista: `We need to insert the working class into the PSUV'

Draft program of the PSUV

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