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Venezuela and Chile: Election wins advance left agenda

Michele Bachelet won a resounding victory in the Chilean presidential race with 62% of the vote.

By Roger Burbach

January 7, 2014 -- América Latina en Movimiento -- Elections in Venezuela and Chile in December 2013 molded the political panorama of Latin America for the coming year, providing a new opening for left-leaning governments and the advance of post-neoliberal policies in the region.

In Venezuela, the decisive victory of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the municipal elections on December 8 gave a boost to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro, enabling him to advance the 21st century socialism of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

After Maduro's narrow victory margin of 1.5% in the presidential elections in April 2013, the opposition went on the offensive, declaring fraud and waging economic war in an effort to destabilise the country. If the opposition coalition had won in the municipal elections, or even come close in the popular vote, it was poised to mount militant demonstrations to destabilise and topple the Maduro government.

Venezuela: Chavistas celebrate important victory in municipal elections

By Ewan Robertson, Caracas

December 10, 2013 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- Supporters of Venezuela's revolutionary government celebrated their victory in the municipal elections held on December 8. Analysts have commented that results indicate President Nicolas Maduro has “reconnected” with the social base of the Chavista movement.

The first results announced gave the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) victory in 58% of the country’s municipalities. The PSUV and its allies gained more than 49% of the total vote share versus 43% for the opposition.

After the results were announced, President Nicolas Maduro gave a televised speech from the Plaza Bolivar in central Caracas to celebrate the win.

“Without a doubt we’ve obtained a great victory today, the people of Venezuela have said to the world that the Bolivarian revolution continues with more strength than ever,” he said.

Maduro mentioned that the right-wing opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition had now lost four national elections over the past 14 months.

He also responded to opposition leader Henrique Capriles’ argument that the municipal elections would be a “plebiscite” on the government’s mandate: “There you have your plebiscite, Caprichito, fascist. I hope that he learns about humility and shows his face to the country and resigns from the political leadership of the MUD.”

Venezuela: Revolution brings substantial improvements to working-class neighbourhoods

Hillside barrios in Caracas. Photo by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim/Venezuelanalysis.

By Enric Llopis, Rebelion, translated by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim and Tamara Pearson

October 10, 2013 -- Venezuelanalysis -- At the invitation of the Jose Marti Valencian Association of Friendship with Cuba (Asociación Valenciana José Martí de Amistad con Cuba) and the Acontracorrent union, Yasmin Zabala and Hector Acosta -- social activists from the Caracas neighbourhood of 23 de Enero (January 23) -- have lectured at the social sciences faculty in Valencia. They come from a neighbourhood that has historically been very combative, with a strong tradition of community and mutuality.

This barrio of about 250,000 inhabitants, situated on a hill west of the city and near the Miraflores Presidential Palace, has been part of all the major revolutionary moments in Venezuelan history. 23 de Enero owes its name to the date on which the dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez fled the country (in 1958) after his overthrow by a military-civilian movement.

Venezuela: Workers' control congress: 'neither capitalists nor bureaucrats, all power to the working class'

Publicity for the congress, which declares: “neither capitalists nor bureaucrats, all power to the working class”.

By Ewan Robertson, Mérida

June 24, 2013 -- Venezuelanalysis.com – Activists from across the Venezuelan labour movement met June 21-23, 2013, for the country’s first ever "workers’ congress", where workers discussed workplace democracy and the construction of socialism.

Venezuela: Reaffirmation, warning and encouragement for the revolution

On April 3, Nicolas Maduro visited Merida state. Crowds filled the central city bridge, equalling crowd sizes when Hugo Chavez spoke in Merida in September in the lead-up to last year’s election. Photo by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim/Venezuelanalysis.

By Luis Bilbao, Caracas; translated by Jacqueline Reinel and Fernando Torres

Venezuela: Imperialism prepares fascist movement to defeat revolution

A PSUV office in Anzoategui torched on March 15, part of a coordinated campaign of violence, murder and arson.

By Luis Bilbao, Caracas

April 22, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- With cold calculation, the counter-revolutionary command ordered the murder of nine people and numerous acts of violence and destruction since early April 15. The United States is testing out a new way to defeat the Bolivarian Revolution: the creation of a classic fascist movement.

A week before the election victory of Nicolás Maduro on April 14, referring to the attack on artists committed to the revolution, I pointed out the differences between McCarthyism and Nazism-fascism in an article published in the Correo del Orinoco.

Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro promises 'revolution of the revolution', advance to `socialist mode of living'

Solidarity protest in Sydney, April 19, 2013, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. Photos by Peter Boyle.

By Ewan Robertson, Mérida, Venezuela

April 19 2013 -- Venezuelanalysis.com –- Nicolas Maduro was sworn in as Venezuela's president for the constitutional period 2013–2019 today, promising to continue Hugo Chavez’s legacy and spearhead “a revolution of the revolution”.

In the National Assembly in Caracas, Maduro took his presidential oath before assembly president Diosdado Cabello.

“I swear by the whole people of Venezuela, by the supreme commander [Hugo Chavez], that I will abide by and make respected the constitution of the laws of the republic ... to construct an independent, free and socialist nation for all”, Maduro declared.

Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network: The Venezuelan people have spoken! Respect the democratic process!

 PSUV election rally. Photo by Tamara Pearson/Venezuelanalysis.

The Venezuelan people have spoken: Nicolas Maduro is president

End the opposition violence! Respect the democratic process!

No US-backed intervention in Venezuela!

April 17, 2013 -- The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network joins with all those voices for democracy and peace to call for an immediate end to the opposition-initiated violence now occurring in Venezuela.

On April 14, a majority of Venezuelans voted for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro. In doing so, they voted to continue the Bolivarian revolution previously led by Hugo Chávez.

Venezuela has one of the most transparent and secure voting systems in the world and the presidential elections were, according to all independent observers, free, fair and constitutional. The election result must be respected.

Understanding Venezuela's election result: 'This time it was up to us to do it alone, and we won'

Election day, April 14, 2013.

By Tamara Pearson, Merida

April 15, 2013 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- Things are chaotic here, as we recover from the surprise, disappointment and a bit of hurt from the election results, but also go out in the street to express our support for those results, and to defend the national electoral system, one of the best and most secure voting systems in the world in a country which just loves to vote.

We move quickly from being sad last night to concerned and determined today, as the caceroles [right-wing protests involving banging pots and pans] sound around the neighbourhoods and the opposition hangs outside the National Electoral Council (CNE) here in Merida, hundreds of them walking around with rocks and glass bottles in their hands, itching to have something to react to.

Still, as the pan-clanging sounds around my neighbourhood and people shout “Out! Out!” (referring to the government), making it just a little hard to think, it is important to understand yesterday’s results, as that helps us to understand the situation we’re in now, and plan for the future.

Eyewitness Venezuela: Maduro wins close victory; Right wing reacts violently

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, Merida

April 16, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- The room erupted into cheers when the election result was announced. For hours, the city of Merida's most ardent supporters of socialist presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro had gathered in the local offices of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). However, after a few moments, the closeness of the numbers sank in.

At the time of writing, the National Electoral Council (CNE) had announced that with 99% of votes counted, the PSUV's Maduro won with 50.6%. His closest rival, Henrique Capriles, received 49.1%; giving Maduro a slim 1.5% victory.

In the last presidential elections, Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez defeated Capriles – the candidate of the US-backed right wing hostile to the Chavez-led Boliviaran revolution -- by just over 10%,. Many supporters of the revolution were expecting a similar result.

Last month, a joint Barclays/Datanalisis report gave Maduro a 14.4% lead, while pollster Hinterlaces predicted his victory would be 18%.

Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro, driving the revolution forward

Nicolas Maduro drove a bus to the National Electoral Council to register his candidacy for president.

By Luis Hernández Navarro, translated by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com

March 29, 2013 -- La Jornada -- Nicolas Maduro is a robust, burly man, 1.9 metres tall with a thick black moustache. He drove a metro bus in Caracas for seven years, was foreign minister for six more and is now interim president and candidate for the country’s top office. He is part of the a generation of Latin American leaders like metal worker Lula da Silva and coco-leaf unionist Evo Morales, who entered politics from the trenches of opposition social struggles [translator: in opposition to the neoliberal administrations that governed Latin America before the continent’s "pink tide", which began in the late 1990s].

Venezuela's April 14 presidential election campaign: start of a new era

"We are all Chavez"

By Tamara Pearson, Merida

March 27, 2013 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- Although the results of the presidential elections on April 14, 2013, are quite predictable, Venezuela is are going through a fragile, vulnerable period, with a future that is less predictable. These elections, because of their place in history -- the start of the era of the Bolivarian revolution without Hugo Chavez – have some special characteristics and factors. The significance of these factors, of these weaknesses, opportunities, relationships of power, and so on, goes beyond the voting on April 14.

Chávez, geoestrategia y revolución

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3264]

Por Luis Bilbao

09/03/13 -- America XXI -- No fue a causa del accionar de un individuo que en la última década el damero internacional sufrió un drástico vuelco. Fuerzas desatadas por la lógica interna del capital movilizaron cambios de tal magnitud que, en el fugaz lapso de una década, dibujaron un nuevo mapa geopolítico, todavía no cabalmente interpretado, en el cual Estados Unidos ha perdido su antiguo lugar de centro del equilibrio planetario y jefe inapelable en las cuestiones esenciales de la economía, la política y la guerra.

Luis Bilbao: Hugo Chavez, internationalism and revolution

By Luis Bilbao

March 19, 2013 – Links International journal of Socialist Renewal -- It takes more than an individual to upset the international chessboard as dramatically as in the last decade. Forces unleashed by the internal logic of capitalism have drawn a new geopolitical map, not yet fully understood, in which the United States has lost its former place as the planetary centre of gravity and the ultimate arbiter of the key issues of the economy, politics and war.

Yet, though changes of such magnitude were obviously not the work of one person, Hugo Chavez’s hallmark was a profound intuition of this impending change, combined with the will to intervene with a program and a strategy to shift the historical juncture towards consolidating a world suited to human needs.

And, assuredly, his role not only carried decisive weight in the early course of these changes, but will go on to transcend them. No one foresaw as Chavez did the dynamics that were breaking apart imperial power and even imperialism itself, nor acted with such lucidity and courage to position himself as a force leading this dynamic. This is why Venezuela is now in the centre of the world stage.

Venezuela: Chavez’s socialist party wins 20 of 23 states in regional elections; PSUV activists debate party's role

Supporters rally for PSUV candidate for Merida, Alexis Ramirez. Photo from YVKE Mundial.

By Tamara Pearson, Merida

December 16, 2012 -- VenezuelAnalysis -- With all votes counted to the point of results being irreversible, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has won 20 states, and the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition, three states in the December 16 regional elections.

The opposition lost control of Zulia, Tachira, Carabobo, Monagas and Nueva Esparta, but retained Amazonas and Miranda and Lara states.

In Miranda, one of the key states at stake, contested by PSUV ex-vice-president Elias Jaua, and the opposition presidential candidate and current governor of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, the opposition won with 50% to Jaua’s 46%.

In Bolivar state, where the results were very close, the opposition candidate Andres Velasquez is refusing to recognise his defeat and has called on locals to “defend” his “victory”.

Venezuelans and residents chose 23 state governors and 237 state legislators. The results of the state legislative voting have yet to be announced.

In the 2008 regional elections the PSUV won 17 of the 22 states being contested.

For state by state results see below.

El futuro del 'socialismo del siglo XXI' tras las elecciones

[In English at Venezuela: The future of ‘21st century socialism’ after Chavez's victory.]

Por Federico Fuentes, traducido para Rebelión por Paco Muñoz de Bustillo

La reelección del presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez el pasado 7 de octubre con más del 55 % de los votos fue vital por dos razones.

En primer lugar, el pueblo venezolano impidió el retorno de la derecha neoliberal al poder. De haber ganado ésta, hubiera intentado dado marcha atrás, con el apoyo de Estados Unidos, a los importantes avances conseguidos por la mayoría pobre desde el primer triunfo de Chávez en 1998. Entre estas mejoras se incluye un enorme aumento de los servicios básicos prestados por el gobierno (como educación, sanidad y vivienda), la nacionalización de sectores estratégicos anteriormente privatizados y la promoción de la participación popular en las comunidades y lugares de trabajo.

Paul Kellogg on Chavez: Are the Venezuelan people's gains `solely because of oil'?

Click HERE for more coverage and analysis of the Venezuelan revolutionary process.

By Paul Kellogg

November 1, 2012 – PolEcon.net, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with author's permission  -- While most eyes in North America have been on the presidential election in the United States, for people in the South America another election last month was actually of more interest. In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, incumbent president Hugo Chávez was up against a strong challenge, from a – for once – united opposition.

Gwynne Dyer (2012) was not alone when he speculated, days before the vote, that this could be “Hugo Chávez’s swan song”. However, when the vote came, it wasn’t really close, with Chávez winning a third term as president with 55.08% of the vote, far ahead of the 44.3% obtained by his challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski (CNE 2012). Neither candidate in that other presidential election in the Americas can even dream about this kind of a victory margin.

Venezuela: The future of ‘21st century socialism’ after Chavez's victory

Supporters celebrate the president's re-election on October 7 outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. Photo by Tamara Pearson/Venezuelanalysis.com.

Click HERE for more coverage and analysis of the Venezuelan revolutionary process.

By Federico Fuentes

[En espanol @ http://links.org.au/node/3085]

October 28, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez’s re-election on October 7 with more than 55% of the vote was vital for two reasons. First, the Venezuelan people blocked the return to power of the neoliberal right. Had they won, these US-backed forces would have worked to roll back important advances for the poor majority won since Chavez was first elected in 1998.

These include a huge expansion in government providing basic services (such as education, health and housing), the nationalisation of previous privatised strategic industries, and the promotion of popular participation in communities and workplaces.

Grassroots interviews from Venezuela: Developing the power of the community

Ana Marin talks about her revolutionary activity.

October 21, 2012 -- The British Revolutionary Communist Group, publishers of the newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, sent a delegation to Venezuela to cover the October 7, 2012, presidential election. The following interviews, published at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission, were conducted in the lead-up and the aftermath of the poll. More interviews and articles can be found at the delegation's website. The delegation collaborated with the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network brigade that was visiting Venezuela at the same time.

* * *

Ana Marin interviewed by Sam McGill

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