Two Paths in the Face of Capitalism's Global Breakdown

Below is a summary that Richard Fidler has written of an article that appears on Links, International Journal of Socialist Renewal. The world economic crisis is reflected in conflict between South American nations. Some are lining up with the Bush-U.S. proposals and others, with the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) who have decide to replace the U.S. dollar to be used in an equal trade relationship among ALBA members.

Links has posted an English translation of an important article on recent developments in Latin America: The author, Luis Bilbao, described by Links as "a central participant in the construction of the mass United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the Union of South American States (Unasur)", reports on an important decision at the recent ALBA summit: to create a new currency, the Sucre, as a monetary mechanism to be used in egalitarian trade relationships among the ALBA partners, as a substitute for the U.S. dollar. "Sucre" stands for Sistema Unitario de Compensación Regional, or Unitary system of regional compensation, and is also the name of the general who led the creole and mestizo forces in the final battle against the Spanish empire in the 19th century.

The article, on “two paths in the face of capitalism's global breakdown”, explains the growing conflicts among the South American nations under the impact of the developing world economic crisis, and describes the somewhat divergent roads being taken by Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, on the one hand, and the ALBA states on the other. It contrasts the November meeting of the G20 nations convened by Bush in Washington with the meeting of ALBA presidents that month in Caracas:

“In the capital of the empire the G20 agreed upon an erratic document lacking any precise definitions, except the common aim of propping up capitalism and correcting what different heads of states classified as “excesses resulting from the lack of regulation”. In Caracas, after diagnoses that expounded the graveness of the systemic crisis and its structural character, transcendental economic and political measures were adopted, such as the creation of a common monetary zone, the decision to put an end to the hegemony of the US dollar in international trade, and defence of a multipolar worldThe G20 meeting, attended by Brazil and Argentina as well as China, reflected, says Bilbao, “the decision of the strategists in the State Department, who have their sights set on an objective of a strictly political nature: impede China and Latin America lining up in the direction of the formation of regional financial subsystems and entering into the new international scenario opened up by the crisis with action plans independent of the will and the interests of the G7 (United States, Germany, Japan, France, Canada, Italy and Britain).”

Bilbao sees the G20 summit, as a “relative success of the imperialist strategists” and notes that:
“. . . looking only at this hemisphere, with the exception of ALBA, none of the regional bodies have met to take into consideration the issue of the crisis and design a common response. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a recent formidable conquest in the direction of South American convergence, remained mute and paralysed, likewise Mercosur, not to mention the moribund Community of Andean Nations (CAN). Rather than convoking an urgent meeting of UNASUR, Brasilia and Buenos Aires went to Washington. Meanwhile, the heads of state of Peru , Chile and Colombia took refuge at another summit which Bush attended, APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), which met in Lima.”

He asks whether we are seeing a “reversal of the trend”:

“Following eight years in which the centripetal forces in South America have produced a drastic geopolitical change to the detriment of imperialism in general, and more specifically the United States, an unknown remains: is the tendency reversing, and will a centrifugal force accentuated by the global collapse destroy the conquests achieved so far this century?

“The increasing number of clashes for the most diverse reasons between Brazil and Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil are indicative of the multiple gravitational pull of internal and externals forces that are working to undermine the process of regional union which has predominated in recent years. As was noted in these pages some time ago, following the great victory against ALCA (Free Trade of Americas Agreement or FTAA), an imperialist counter-offensive introduced a number of factors that pull in the opposite direction of South American convergence. Nevertheless, the most potent forces of disintegration result from the role played by the regional bourgeoisies. The competition for markets prevails and the more powerful the dominant classes of each country are, the more they feed internal shock troops. With the eruption of the world crisis, these objective forces come together in order to drag with them governments verbally committed to the Latin American cause. This is the crossroads at which all will have to make their choice without further delay.”

And Bilbao concludes:

“Within this framework one begins to see the real dimension of the agreements reached in Caracas by the countries of ALBA. The final declaration of the summit affirmed the decision of ‘constructing a monetary zone that initially includes the country members of ALBA (Dominica will participate with the status of observer) and the Republic of Ecuador, through the establishment of a common unit of accounting, the Sucre (Unitary System of Regional Compensation) and a chamber of payment compensation. The creation of this monetary zone will be accompanied by the establishment of a stabilisation and reserves fund with contributions from the member countries, aimed at financing expansive demand policies to confront the crisis and sustain a policy of investments for the development of complementary economic activities.’“The heads of state present unanimously approved the decision to create ‘an economic and monetary zone of ALBA-TCP [People’s Trade Agreement] that protects our countries from the depredation of transnational capital, promotes the development of our economies and constitutes a space liberated from the inoperative global financial institutions and the monopoly of the dollar as the currency for trade and reserves’. They affirmed the decision to ‘come up with a regional response, driven by ALBA-TCP, which seeks independence in respect to the global financial markets, questions the role of the dollar in the region and advances towards a common currency, the Sucre, and contributes to the creation of a pluri-polar world’. From its anti-imperialist perspective, moving in the direction of socialism of the 21st century, ALBA shifted from words into action, in sharp contrast to the rest of the countries.”

The article can also be read in the Spanish original on the web site of the publication América XXI, under the title: El Alba crea el Sucre: moneda común y símbolo para América Latina — Dos caminos frente a la quiebra mundial del capitalismo, at

Venezuela: US-backed Right Wing Attacks Revolution

Dear Friends,

Following the municipal elections, grassroots activists in Caracas, Miranda and Tachira report that the public community health clinics (part of Barrio Adentro, the free universal healthcare program), communal councils and other centres where social programs operate, are being shut down or attacked by opposition party despite the public assurances of at least one right-wing govenor-elect that the legal frameworks would be respected. The statement below is from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. (

November 28, 2008 -- In the aftermath of the November 23 regional elections, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition has launched, in the states it won, an all-out assault on grassroots community organisations.

President Hugo Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won a clear mandate in the elections for the project to build socialism of the 21st century: the PSUV won 17 states with 5,730,774 votes nationwide, compared to the opposition’s 3,948,912 votes. The opposition’s vote was concentrated in key strategic areas, giving them the governorships of five states and the mayor of Greater Caracas.
In the days following the elections, grassroots activists in Caracas, Miranda and Tachira have reported that the public community health clinics (part of Barrio Adentro, the free universal healthcare program), communal councils and other centres where social programs operate are being shut down or attacked by opposition party, despite the public assurances of at least one right-wing govenor-elect that the legal frameworks would be respected.

Venezuelan radio station YKVE Mundial reported on November 25 that “people sent by the new authorities of the governorship of Miranda arrived in the early hours of the morning in Baruta, to an Integral Diagnostic Centre [public health clinics], where they shut down a House of Popular Power” where the local grassroots communal councils operate. Cleira Ruiz, local coordinator of Mission Ribas in Mariche, reported that people from the far-right Justice First party harassed the centre, and tried to remove the people inside and take the keys. Gerson Rivas, a representative of Fundacommunal (communal bank) in the municipality of Guaicaipuro in the state of Miranda, reported that Cuban doctors were being intimidated by Justice First supporters, who were threatening to kick them out of the Barrio Adentro modules.
William Castillo, vice-president of Venezolana de Televisión, reported that groups have also tried to attack the Caracas office of alternative television channel Avila TV.

More disturbingly, three election candidates, all activists in Venezuela's national trade union peak body, the UNT, were brutally murdered two days after the elections.
From the state of Tachira, won by the right wing, Ana Rivero reported to YVKE Mundial that, although the new governor, Cesar Perez, had not yet assumed his position, “functionaries” had ordered coordinators of the missions to leave the state schools where the missions operate, and that this order is being applied across the whole state. She said that classes in Mission Ribas in the school Timoteo Chacón de Santa Ana, in the municipality of Cordoba, where she studies, have been suspended until they can find another location.

María Malpica, the PSUV mayor-elect in Colon municipality in Zulia, reported that riots were being promoted by the opposition with the aim of preventing her from taking office, and that eight people were injured in the clashes.

YKVE Mundial reported that street battles broke out in Los Teques, the capital of Miranda, on November 26. Carmen Bermúdez, who witnessed the incident, told YKVE Mundial that the violence erupted when right-wing governor-elect Capriles Radonski arrived in Plaza Bolivar in Los Teques accompanied by men on motorbikes and police from the municipalities of Rosales and Carrizal. The police and Capriles’ private thugs violently attacked people congregated in the plaza for the inauguration of the new PSUV mayor of Los Teques, Alirio Mendoza.

As well, workers in the Integral Diagnostic Centre in Los Dos Caminos in Sucre municipality reported on November 27 that members of Justice First have threatened to burn down the building and are circulating a petition to remove the Cuban doctors. Similar incidents have been reported in Carabobo. In the state of Barinas, which was won by the PSUV, opposition groups have launched violent attacks, refusing to accept the outcome of the vote.

In 2002 the Venezuelan opposition, backed by the United States, launched a military coup against the democratically elected Chavez government. However, the coup was defeated within 48 hours by a mass uprising of workers and the poor, together with rank-and-file soldiers.

In Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, major social gains for the poor and working people have been won by the grassroots movements together with the pro-people polices promoted by Chavez. Extensive education programs have eradicated illiteracy and the introduction of universal healthcare has meant that many poor Venezuelans have been able to visit a doctor for the first time. Under wealth redistribution policies factories have been nationalised and put under workers’ control, and unused land has been distributed to peasants.

The US government has given millions of dollars to Venezuela’s opposition groups in an effort to roll back the democratic revolution in Venezuela. These latest attacks are part of a broader strategy to get rid of Chavez and reassert imperialist control of the nation.

Responding to the opposition attacks, Jesse Chacon, the PSUV candidate for Sucre, told VTV on November 25 that, “Any attempt to roll back what the people have conquered is going to generate conflict, because the people are organised … The people will not allow it!" In a televised speech on November 27, Chavez also responded, stating that the national government and the armed forces, together with the people, would act to defend the missions and social services. The minister for justice has also made public statements to clarify the obligations and role within the state of the governors-elect, including that they must not abuse the power invested in them. El Aissami specifically reminded the newest governors-elect of the importance of not abusing police powers.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network stands in solidarity with President Chavez and the grassroots Bolivarian movement against the right wing’s latest attacks. We call for the democratic process in Venezuela to be respected by the new oppostion governors, and for an end to all United States interference in Venezuela’s sovereign affairs.

Stop the opposition attacks in Venezuela!
Stop US intervention in Venezuela!

Analysis of Venezuela Election Results

Dear Friends,

The results of the November 23 local and state elections in Venezuela has inspired differing analysis (see The following is a significant contribution to this discussion by a solidarity organization in Australia.

Venezuela’s regional elections: Another vote for the revolution and Chavez
A statement from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, November 25, 2008

The results of the elections for local mayors and state governors held in Venezuela on November 23 underlined the continuing mass support for the Bolivarian revolution led by President Hugo Chavez.

In a clear vote of confidence in the project to build socialism of the 21st century in Venezuela, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) - formed just six months ago with Chavez as its president - won 17 of the 22 states in which governors were elected. The United States-backed right-wing opposition won five states with a total of about 4 million votes, compared to the 5.5 million votes for the PSUV candidates.

The elections were also a victory for democracy in Venezuela. The voter turn-out was the highest ever in regional elections, with 65.45% of those eligible casting their vote (compared to 45% in the last regional elections in 2004). Despite some opposition leaders threatening not to recognize the results if voting hours were extended, polling centres were kept open until 10.30pm in some places to ensure that everyone waiting in the long queues was able to vote, and international observers report that it was a completely free and fair ballot.

Jim McIlroy, a participant in the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network brigade currently in Venezuela who observed the voting at polling booths in Caracas, said: “There was a festive atmosphere at the booths, but it was also highly politicised: the people were taking their democratic right to vote very seriously.

“The computerised voting sytem is far more advanced than that used in Australia, and its ability to guarantee the accuracy of the whole process clearly has the confidence of the people.”

After the close of polls, Chavez congratulated the Venezuelan people for participating in the elections in a “civic and joyful” manner, saying that the process ratified Venezuelan democracy, but not the “democracy of before”, which “belonged to the elites”.Overall, the November 23 vote for the PSUV – for the revolution and socialism - increased by about 1.3 million on the pro-revolution vote in the Constitutional reforms referendum last December. In contrast, the anti-revolution opposition’s comparative vote declined by about 300,000. As well, the Chavez suporters won back three states (Aragua, Guarico and Sucre) in which the incumbent governors had, over the last 18 months, defected to the opposition.

However, the sharp polarisation of Venezuelan society and the hard struggle still facing the poor majority to defend the gains of the revolution and realise their dream of a new socialist Venezuela is evident in the fact that the opposition, which won only two states in 2004 (oil-rich Zulia, and Nueva Esparta), this time won three more from Chavez supporters (Miranda, Tachira, Carabobo). The opposition also won the position of mayor of Greater Caracas and now controls four of Caracas’s five municipalities, although the largest and poorest municipality, Libertador, was re-won by the pro-revolution candidate.

Already in control of 95% of the media in Venezuela, the right wing will without a doubt use these victories to escalate their ongoing campaign to overthrow Chavez, and undermine the Bolivarian revolution. As was exposed just a month before the regional elections, they will stop at nothing to halt the revolutionary process, including another military coup and the assassination of Chavez.

Capitalist media around the world, including in Australia, are supporting their campaign to discredit and destabilise Venezuela’s revolutionary government. An AFP report by Sophie Nicholson, for example, which was uncritically regurgitated in the Melbourne Age newspaper on November 24, pedalled blatant lies about the regional elections.

“Mr Chavez”, it stated, “has threatened to imprison opponents, or even send tanks onto the streets, if his party loses in the populous northwestern state of Carabobo”. In fact, Chavez said that the government would mobilise the military if there were destablisation attempts around the elections: a scenario that was not out of the question given the opposition’s constant public calls in national media for the violent overthrow of Chavez and his government.

The Age article also claimed that “about 300 candidates, mainly from the opposition, have been prevented from running in the elections”. In fact, those barred from contesting were not mostly opposition candidates, and all were disqualified after investigations found them guilty of corruption.

Demolishing these and the numerous other efforts to paint him as some sort of “dictator”, Chavez immediately acknowledged the opposition’s victory in Carabobo, and the other four states. In doing so, however, he urged the opposition to behave democratically: “I hope you devote yourself to understand the people, govern with transparency, honesty and respect for the national government and the institutions of those states and municipalities. If you do so, you will deserve our acknowledgement; if you do not, the Constitution of the Republic will be imposed on you.”Of the 17 governorships won by the PSUV, eight were won with at least 60% of the vote and most of the others were won with a more than 10% margin on the closest rival. In the local municipalty elections, which were held at the same time, the average vote for Chavista candidates was even stronger.

Despite the many difficulties and contradictions confronting the revolution, it is clear that the great majority of Venezuelans want the process of transferring resources and power to the poor majority to continue.

Chavez summed it up when he said that these election results ratify that “the path is the construction of socialism, and we have to deepen it”.

November 23 Will Decide the Destiny of the Revolutionary Process

Venezuela: 'Our votes are for Chavez and the revolution'
Federico Fuentes, Caracas 31 October 2008

On November 23, we will not just be voting for this or that governorship, we will be deciding the destiny of this revolutionary process", Stalin Perez Borges, a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT) and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) militant, told Green Left Weekly.On that day, regional elections for 23 governorships, more than 300 mayors and hundreds of state legislative assembly members will occur — a crucial contest between the revolutionary forces lead by President Hugo Chavez (mainly grouped in the PSUV) and the US-backed right-wing opposition.

Perez Borges and militants from the different union currents that are also in the PSUV have been organising in their unions and workplaces to ensure a strong victory in these elections.

"Our position is that, despite some of the problems that exist, we as revolutionaries will be participating not just on voting day, but in the campaign. This is the best way to strengthen and deepen the process."

Asked about the possible outcome, Perez Borges stated that the situation today is "contradictory". These elections provide "an enormous opportunity to deal a big blow to the right and imperialism", particularly given that the opposition candidates look bad.

"Yet, despite the high approval rating for Chavez, in the factories and in some neighbourhoods there is a strong sense of malaise, discontent against the government and apathy towards participating in the elections."

The reason, according to Perez Borges, is that "among some of those in the PSUV and functionaries in the government, important errors are being committed".Perez Borges said that while one of the problems is that the some of the candidates do not want to work with all the different forces within the mass-based PSUV, provoking discontent in the ranks, "what is most grave is that there are problems that are not being resolved when they could be, creating conflict".

"Take the example of the contract workers in Sidor [steel factory, nationalised by Chavez in April]: for three months, the government, [basic industry minister] Rodolfo Sanz, the governor and the company president have been breaking promises in regards to resolving the problems of the 8000 contract workers."

Angered by the lack of government response, the contract workers — whose conditions are far worse than the smaller number of permanent workers — went on strike for 90 hours on October 17, as tensions rose to the point of exploding.

The situation further escalated after Sanz called two meetings for October 29 and 30 with the contract workers — and then failed to show. Fed up with the lack of government response, the workers set up roadblocks and began burning tyres.

"This is just one of many examples. There are similar situations in [aluminium plant] ALCASA, in the electrical sector, the car industry, and that is without talking about the problems of the local communities.

"All this is a problem not just from an electoral point of view, but is a political problem because it weakens the worker and popular base of the revolution, which is what sustains Chavez", Perez Borges commented.

"The people are not going to go against this process, and if Chavez was the candidate, everyone would turn out to vote, but many of the candidates are doing little to raise enthusiasm.

"Instead, Chavez — together with some good candidates and the revolutionary bases — has once again had to mount the campaign on his shoulders.

"There is no excuse for not winning. The crisis that capitalism is facing today demonstrates that it is no alternative. We have time to win everything, so that not a single governorship falls into the hands of the enemy.

"But these candidates should also be clear: our votes are for Chavez and the deepening of the revolutionary process", insisted Perez Borges.

"And if because of their actions and state functionaries who don't listen to the people, the result are not as favourable as they should be, they have no excuse for turning around and saying that the people are not prepared to push forward.

"Everyone will have to assume their share of the responsibility for the result."
[Federico Fuentes is part of the* Green Left Weekly* Caracas bureau. *GLW *is the only Australian media outlet with a journalist based in Latin America. To keep up to date with the ongoing coverage of the Latin American revolutions, subscribe at subscribe now.]

Urgent Request from the Community of Tyendinaga

Dear Friends,

Venezuela We Are With You Coalition continues to support the Tyendinaga Mohawks in their quest for land and water rights. Below is a request from the community to call the Bay of Quinte Band Council Office to protest their prioritizing of a second police station over meeting the need for safe drinking water.
Police Chief Prepared to Use Force

(October 28, 2008) Tensions are running high today on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory today as residents anticipate the arrival of a highly controversial second police station. Some reports suggest the building could arrive as early as this afternoon. Police Chief Ron Maracle has warned that he is prepared to use force to bring the building into the community.

Residents have expressed concern over Council's apparent prioritizing of a second police station for the small community over issues such as unsafe drinking water throughout community homes and at the reserve school, where the water was declared unfit for human consumption some 19 months ago.The matter of the police building had previously come to the forefront when, in the lead-up to its arrival, an agreement was reached on the implementation of a community consultation process. Council subsequently rescinded the motion calling for such a process and now says the building will go forward without community consultation.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------What You Can Do:
The community has asked that outside supporters contact the Band Council and respectfully express your concerns that community consultation take place, before the police station is brought to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, against the wishes of community meetings and discussions that have taken place so far.

Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Band Council Office
TELEPHONE: 613-396-3424
EMAIL: reception@mbq-tmt-org
FAX: 613-396-3627

Suggested Phone Call Script:
I am calling to express my concern at the impending arrival of a new police station in Tyendinaga.

We recognize that this initiative is partially funded by Canada's Ministry of Public Safety, headed by Stockwell Day. However, we have been informed by community members that there is a great deal of community concern over the lack of consultation by Band Council. Please take the time to consult.

Please hold off on the immediate implementation of a $2 million police station, while the community's concerns about clean drinking water and the Culbertson Tract Land Claim remain unresolved. We are asking that you take the time to consult properly.

Chavez: The Ones Crashing Are "the Giants"

Latin America and the financial crisis
Havana. October 6, 2008
Nidia Díaz

The eruption of the global financial crisis, unprecedented since the time of the Great Depression of the 1930s, has occurred in the very heart of the capitalist system, in the center of the U.S. Empire, although its effects are extending to a shocked Europe and other regions and countries that – to a greater or lesser degree –are associates or tributaries of that empire and the world system that it heads.

In relation to Latin America, the neoliberal debacle that had as its starting point the U.S. mortgage crisis, is taking place at a particularly significant moment after a number of years – more than 10, in some cases – in which certain countries have resolutely undertaken new strategies, including social ones, and have begun to detach themselves from what President Hugo Chávez has described as "a perverse international system."

In this context, while the U.S. government is trying to inject billions of dollars with the aim of containing its financial crash, a group of Latin American nations like Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Chile – to quote just some – are confident that the work undertaken in their economic sectors, as well as the effective application of strategies in the social sphere, will maintain the sustained economic growth of recent years, while their international reserves have been seen to grow as never before. They have done all of that, moreover, against Washington’s dictates and the prescriptions of the financial and credit agencies under its protection.

Those nations, in one way or another distancing themselves from the disastrous neoliberal road that the powerful neighbour to the North imposed on them, not only are not only cushioning themselves but reducing to the minimum or even, escaping from the world impact generated by the shock being experienced by the U.S. system. At the same time they are demonstrating the need to continue deepening and extending the direction that they have taken on the basis of strength, independence and self-determination, thus raising themselves as an example for some less developed countries in the region and other Third World nations.

Representing the Nations of UNASUR

It is not by chance that what began as initiatives by Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia or Argentina, have been taken up by the vast majority and made concrete in the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bank of the South, the Great National companies in the energy sphere and others that are currently serving as a support to member countries and others that are beginning to analyze the possibilities and convenience of a cooperative road with no political conditions or coercion, and in defense of sovereignty.

Precisely, the current session of the UN General Assembly has served for various heads of state to comment on the exceptional measures that the U.S. government – renouncing the same deregulated and neoliberal policies that it promoted and imposed on the world – is now adopting in terms of state interventionism and the rescue of the banks at the cost of U.S. taxpayers squeezed to the limit.

It has been the Latin American leaders, basically, who have made an impassioned defense of multilateralism in the international order and have warned of the consequences of continued financial speculation. The days when Washington sneezed and Latin America caught pneumonia are over.

In that context, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva stated that he was observing "with sadness, how very important banks which passed opinions, telling us what we should do or not do, measuring the risk to the country, advising investors whether Brazil was trustworthy or not, are going bankrupt, are calling in their creditors."
Those banks, "what they determined… was not the free circulation of capital, generating employment and wealth, but speculation… they transformed some sectors of the financial system into a casino, lost at roulette and we didn’t want Brazil to be the victim of the game," he added. The South American giant has international reserves calculated at $200 billion, which will enable it to confront the possibility of a liquidity problem. Brazil, said Lula, "has found its own way" and will continue growing.

For his part, the Bolivarian leader, Hugo Chávez, took advantage of the occasion to recall how firms like the Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch put out negative reports on Venezuela and now the ones crashing are "the giants. How strange that is. Now it’s the United States that cannot be invested in."

Venezuela confirmed that its hard-currency reserves are safe and that just 1% of these, which amount to more than $39 billion, is located in U.S. territory.

In similar vein Argentine President Cristina Fernández added her voice to the criticisms made by her Venezuelan counterpart against Lehman Brothers, for having predicted "calamities" for her country, when, as she said, "We are seeing how that first world once portrayed as the goal that we had to reach is bursting like a bubble."

She continued, "South America was told that the market solves everything, but now we have the strongest state intervention since the point when the U.S. told us that the state was not necessary."

In his speech to the General Assembly, Evo Morales described capitalism as "the worst enemy of humanity," while expressing his firm conviction that "one cannot have peace under capitalism."

For his part, addressing Congress with the request of $700 billion for that unprecedented rescue operation, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve warned that if financial conditions do not improve over a prolonged period, the consequences for the economy in general could be very adverse, the labor market and income are entering a slump, inflation is growing and consumption diminishing.

Without excluding the possibility of some kind of consequence for the Latin American economies, the recent meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank in Miami confirmed the current capacity of the sub-continent’s economies, in a general sense, to absorb the most disastrous consequences of the U.S. financial crisis, while making an exception of the Central American countries and Mexico, which could be the most compromised given their close economic links with the United States, including their free trade agreements.Never before has Latin America had in its power the political weapons with which to protect itself. The national liberation movement that is gaining ground on the continent, or simply the pragmatism of some countries in breaking loose from the powerful neighbor to the North, has resulted in the opportune antidote to prevent our region being dragged more deeply into the U.S. financial debacle. It is a lesson from which we all should learn.

Venezuela's Budget for 2009

National Budget Bill for 2009 aims 48% to social projects

Caracas, Oct 21. ABN.- The Minister of People's Power for Economy and Finances, Alí Rodríguez Araque, confirmed on Tuesday during his presentation of the National Budget Bill for 2009 before the National Assembly, that 48% of it (Bs.F 78.6 billion; US$ 36.56 billion) will be aimed to finance social projects.

That number represents an increase of three points compared to 2008's budget, for which were approved BsF 64.7 billions (US$ 30.09 billions).

These resources will enable to keep boosting comprehensive policies to attend people's basic needs, such as health and education, as well as strengthening the governmental mission Robinson, Sucre, Barrio Adentro, Piar, Che Guevara, Identidad, Milagro, Negra Hipólita, Madres del Barrio, and Guaicaipuro, among others.

In this sense, Rodriguez said that these missions will receive about 12.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that is, about Bs.F 21 billion (US$ 9.77 billion).

He explained that according to the Budget Bill for 2009, a total of Bs.F 42.5 billion (US$ 19.77; 18.2% of the GDP), which is about 25% of the global budget, and four points over the amount invested in 2008 in the same area.

Furthermore, Venezuelan Government will invest Bs.F 12.02 billion in the health area

Organize To Break Through the Media's Intense Campaign of Lies

Message from Mirna Quero de Pena -- Consulate General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Toronto,

On Oct. 9 we participated in a public meeting entitled, Defending People's Democracy in Bolivia and Venezuela. It was sponsored among other organizations by Venezuela We Are With You Coalition; by Barrio Nuevo who has brought over a half a dozen young Venezuelans to tour Canada; and Toronto Bolivia Solidarity who is helping to organize meetings for Cynthia Cisneros, an activist in the MAS in Bolivia.

Members of the staff of the Venezuelan General Consulate in Toronto read the following greetings, (in Spanish and English) which address many central issues of Latin American struggle today.
Dear Friends and Bolivarian Compatriots,

First of all we would like to extend a warm greeting to the Venezuelan Delegation who is visiting Canada because of the efforts of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Coordinators of Proyect Frente Norman Bethune, who promotes our Bolivarian culture.

On September 11th, 2008 a coup plan was discovered in Venezuela, organized with the support of senior military officers, whose main objective was the murder of our President Hugo Chavez by shooting down his plane. A few days before, in Bolivia, armed fascist groups organized by the Bolivian oligarchy, assassinated and tortured tens of farmers who support Evo Morales in the northern Region of Pando.The protagonists of these fascist actions in Venezuela and Bolivia are exactly the same imperialism and the capitalists who have been the most privileged people ever. The victims are also the same: unionists, farmers who are trying to organize themselves to vindicate their rights; militants on the left; or leaders who represent the masses' great aspirations for change.

It is not a secret for the whole world that Venezuela is the spearhead of change and revolution in the Latin American region. We endorse the sovereign decision of our President Hugo Chavez to review diplomatic relations with the government of the United States, beginning with the expulsion of the Ambassador of that country in Venezuela.

We have learned in the last years that international solidarity is the most effective way to consolidate a Revolution, and with the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) we consolidated the thought and legacy of great leaders such as Bolivar, Martí, Sandino, and Che Guevara, whom we remember today on the 41th anniversary of his murder, Che is a world-wide symbol in battling for the cause of justice. He is a model of Bolivarian Revolution.We would like to thank the organizers of this event, and let you all know that our Consulate General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Toronto is always open to support all actions and activities in defense of the Latin American revolution. We call on you to stand and not be dismayed, we call on you to intensify solidarity with the revolution in Venezuela, Bolivia and the others Latin America countries.

We have to organize ourselves to break through the media's encirclement as well as its intense campaign of lies, to spread the Bolivarian message to all levels such as: neighborhoods, schools, universities, colleges, factories, etc.

We have to explain what is really happening in our countries, and report frankly that Latin America is still in a struggle: Latin America is in revolution.

Consulate General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Toronto, Canada, Mirna Quero de Peña.
Estimados amigos, amigas, compatriotas Bolivarianos,
Antes que nada queremos destacar la delegación de nuestros Compatriotas Venezolanos quienes nos visitan gracias al esfuerzo de nuestra Cancillería, así como también a los coordinadores del Frente Norman Bethune para dar a conocer nuestra cultura bolivariana.

La tarde del jueves 11 de septiembre se descubrió un plan golpista en Venezuela, con la implicación de altos mandos militares, cuyo objetivo inmediato era el asesinato nuestro presidente Hugo Chávez mediante el derribo del avión presidencial. Pocos días antes, en Bolivia, bandas fascistas armadas y organizadas por la oligarquía boliviana, asesinaban y torturaban salvajemente a decenas de campesinos partidarios de Evo Morales en el departamento de Pando.Los protagonistas de estas acciones golpistas y fascistas en Venezuela y Bolivia son exactamente los mismos: el imperialismo, los capitalistas, los privilegiados de siempre. Las víctimas también son las mismas: sindicalistas, campesinos que tratan de organizarse para reivindicar sus derechos, militantes de la izquierda o dirigentes que simbolizan las profundas aspiraciones de cambio de las masas.
No es un secreto para el mundo que Venezuela es la punta de lanza del cambio y la revolución que se están gestando en la región. Respaldamos la decisión soberana del presidente Hugo Chávez de revisar las relaciones diplomáticas con el gobierno de los Estados Unidos, empezando por la expulsión al embajador de ese país en Venezuela.
Los últimos años hemos aprendido que la solidaridad internacional es la forma mas efectiva de consolidar una Revolución y con el ALBA (Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas) consolidamos el pensamiento y legado de grandes Lideres como Bolívar, Martí, Sandino y entre otros el Che a quien hoy recordamos en el 41 aniversario de su Asesinato; “CHE” quien es un símbolo mundial en el batallar por las causas justas, quien además es ejemplo y pensamiento de la Revolución Bolivariana.
Agradecemos a los organizadores de este evento y recordamos que el Consulado de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela en Toronto está siempre abierto para apoyar todas las acciones que se adelanten en defensa de la Revolución Latinoamericana y los exhortamos a no desmayar y a redoblar la solidaridad con la revolución en Venezuela, Bolivia y los demás países América Latina.

Hay que organizarse para romper el cerco mediático así como a la intensa campaña de mentiras de los medios de comunicación y llegar a todos los niveles, tales como: barrios, institutos técnicos, escuelas, Universidades, fábricas entre otros para explicar lo que está ocurriendo y declarar abiertamente que Latinoamérica está en pie de lucha, en Revolución.
Consulado General de La República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Toronto, Canadá, Mirna Quero de Peña.

16 Mohawks fromTyendinaga Facing Criminal Charges Defending Their Community.

Dear Friends,

We are pleased that Shawn Brant, Mohawk spokesperson, is no longer facing a 12 year sentence for defending his community.

We must, however, continue to defend the 16 Tyendinaga Mohawks who face criminal charges for defending their reserve and other indigenous victims of police prosecution. The people remain united and continue to fight for what is theirs: land and clean water.

The statement below is from the Tyendinaga Support Committee.


(Monday, September 29th, 2008) Today, in a Belleville court, a conviction for three counts of mischief was entered against Mohawk spokesperson Shawn Brant for his role in the CN rail line and Highway 401 blockades which took place in April and June, 2007.

Brant has been ordered to stay on the Tyendinaga reserve for three months and to be on probation for one year. Originally, the Crown had been asking for 12 years in jail for Brant. While Shawn Brant will face no more jail time for the blockades and will not go to trial, there are still 16 people from the Tyendinaga facing criminal charges for defending their community.

The critical issues which prompted the Mohawks to take action have yet to be addressed. Most of the community does not have drinkable water. Most households have been unable to drink the water from their own taps for at least the last decade. The reserve school, with 300+ students, ranging in age from 2 to 13, who attend daily, has had its water deemed unfit for human consumption for the past eighteen months. In addition, the lands which comprise the Culbertson Tract and Simcoe Deed have yet to be returned. This despite all levels of governments' admission that the lands do legitimately belong to the Mohawks of Tyendinaga.In Shawn Brant's case, the dramatic turn-around by government lawyers came after disturbing details of OPP impropriety, abuse of practice and the flaunting of policing guidelines created after the Ipperwash Inquiry were made public in July of this year, following the lifting of a publication ban on Brant's preliminary hearing.

Abuses revealed included OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino's threats to Shawn Brant that "your whole world's going to come crashing down", the orders to have snipers and armored personnel carriers on standby, and the presence of an undercover police officer posing as a media cameraman. The preliminary hearing also revealed that the OPP used an obscure section of the Criminal Code to implement an emergency wiretap of Brant and other Mohawks' telephone conversations, on June 28th, 2007, even though the National Day of Action had been publicly planned for months.

The Crown went to great lengths to try to keep this critical information from becoming known and was successful in keeping the material under a publication ban for about a year. The release of these damning details prompted calls for the firing of OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino. Pretrial motions, originally set to begin today, would have seen Commissioner Fantino subpoenaed to answer for his conduct leading up to and during the 2007 Aboriginal Day of Action.

Since the blockades of 2007, CUPE Ontario has passed a resolution in support of the Mohawks of Tyendinaga, NDP MPP Peter Kormos has called for the firing of OPP Chief Fantino and thousands of people have attended events, made donations and signed petitions in support of the Mohawks and their demands.Shawn Brant's arrest and the excessive prison sentence that the crown sought against him were part of an attempt to destabilize the community of Tyendinaga. However, the Mohawks of Tyendinaga remain united and continue to fight for what should already be theirs: land and clean water.

The Tyendinaga Support Committee is a Toronto-based organization working to support the Mohawks of Tyendinaga.

For more information, visit: or email at support.tmt[at]

Political Declaration of the Founding Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela Youth

Venezuela's revolutionary youth: `Socialist youth will be guarantors of the deepening of the revolution'
This is the political declaration of the founding congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela Youth (JPSUV), held on September 11-13, 2008. Translated by Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke.

The original in Spanish can be downloaded at]
The Cachamay Declaration -- Socialist youth will be the guarantors of the deepening of the revolution.

Following a wide reaching process within the grassroots of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, young militants have completed the process of formation of the JPSUV as an organisational structure that will promote the consolidation of the ties between the social movements and in doing so convert ourselves into the vanguard of defence of the Bolivarian revolution and the fundamental space for the transformation of the values and practices of social and political life, allowing us to lead the way in the construction of the new man, of the new women, that Socialism of the 21st Century requires.

The process of founding the JPSUV occurs at a time when the Bolivarian Revolution and the processes of transformation that have erupted in Latin America and the world demand the freshness, force and creativity of youth to resist the attacks by imperialism which, condemned to disappear, does not think twice in resorting to the most deadliest methods in order to try and regain the ground it has lost on the global scene.

In this moment, our Bolivarian Revolution requires young people to assume a protagonistic role in the ethical and moral strengthening of society so as to defeat the vices of consumerism, individualism, egoism and sectarianism with which they have violated our creativity, combativity and capacity for transformation.

To make reality the definition of revolution expressed by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz in a speech given on the occasion of International Workers' Day in 2000: "Revolution means to have a sense of history; it is changing everything that must be changed; it is achieving emancipation by ourselves and through our own efforts; it is defending the values in which we believe in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is never lying or violating ethical principles; it is a profound conviction that there is no power in the world that can crush the power of truth and ideas. It is fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and for the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism which requires that our youth make an effort towards the unleashing, creativity and unity of political and social action."In the national sphere, the threats that loom over our revolutionary process and especially over our fundamental leader, Commandante Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, require that we directly involve ourselves in every site of struggle, in the communities, universities, workplace, sport, cultural etc. in order to disseminate the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution and activate a permanent mobilisation to confront, on any terrain necessary, all attempts to kidnap our dreams of a homeland. We warn the anti-democratic sectors that plan to carry out an assassination that we are prepared to take up the guns of the people and defend through armed struggle our maximum leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, including with the last breath of our lives if necessary.

The international conjuncture also requires of us a profound demonstration of our capacity to love and create a socialist youth. The application in Bolivia of the same coup-plotting recipe that we lived through in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 requires us to carry out firm demonstrations of militant solidarity with our brother people of Bolivia. We must make it clear to imperialism that if it attacks Bolivia, we will react in the same way as the Liberator Simon Bolivar did when he fought to kick out the Spanish empire and found this sister republic. We will not hesitate in crossing the Andes to defend the work of the Father of the Homeland.

The consequences of the predatory and consumerist way of life that capitalism has imposed on us are being paid by our brother peoples in the Caribbean. The devastation of the hurricanes that recently destroyed a great part of the territories of Cuba and Haiti are the results of climate change generated by the indiscriminate use of our natural resources by the industrialised countries, in the face of which, we have to act with effectiveness, in order to avoid the risk that the planet will not exist for our future generations.

We commit ourselves to promoting a way of life in harmony with the environment, that promotes the integral recuperation of the habitat of our territory and strengthens solidarity as a revolutionary value that allows us to carry out, with the force and continuity that it requires, the humanitarian labour and material support necessary to solve the difficulties generated as a direct effect of climate change.
In the same way, we commit ourselves to promoting labour as a force for the transformation of reality and the consciousness of our people.

We will promote voluntary work and recognition of the contribution of all sectors to the productivity of the country in order to convert work into a collective effort, and not into a battle site where individualism and consumerism converts us into slaves of capitalism.

In the same way, we commit ourselves to tirelessly fight for the construction of a new socialist state model through the strengthening of Popular Power. Only in this way can we achieve a profound change in the structures, which have to be re-imagined with an innovative vision that allows us to overcome the capitalist model and to install a society of equals where the fundamental necessities of freedom and solidarity of citizens are met without any discrimination.

It is up to us to drive forward the process of strengthening and permanently renovating the ideological bases of the Bolivarian Revolution. All our efforts in our study, our creativity and the action of young people is placed at the service of the strategic guidelines defined by Commandante Chavez in regards to Socialism of the 21st Century in order to promote a grand national debate that allows us to consolidate the Bolivarian socialist proposal and orientates our actions in the consolidation of our definitive independence and the defeat of imperialism.

This will allow us to open the path to a just society, to the better and possible world that our fathers and mothers fought for:


Venezuela Backs Morales -- Kicks Out U.S. Ambassador

Dear Friends,

Venezuela has just ordered U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy to leave the country within 72 hours, in a show of support for Bolivian president Evo Morales.

Bolivia had just expelled its own U.S. ambassador, Philip Goldberg. Goldberg had had met with leaders of the country’s right-wing insurgency, called on the government to accept the separatist demands of the right wing, and proclaimed his duty to interfere in Bolivian politics. (See

The U.S. government has also just denounced Bolivia’s government for its collaborative ties with Iran, also a close ally of Venezuela.“The U.S. is behind the plan against Bolivia, behind the terrorism,” declared Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. “We’re committed to being free. Enough crap from you Yankees.”

Meanwhile, a menacing right-wing coup plot has been exposed on Venezuelan state television. See the account below.

Coup Plot Against Chavez Disclosed on Venezuelan TV
September 11th 2008, by Tamara Pearson -
Mérida, September 11, 2008 ( On Wednesday night Mario Silva, on the program "La Hojilla" (The Razorblade) showed a recording from an unidentified source in which various military personnel, some retired and some active, were planning a coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

The coup plan aimed to take the Miraflores Palace, the headquarters of the government and the president's office.

Among the participants in the recording were vice admiral Carlos Alberto Millan Millan, who was also inspector general of the National Armed Forces, general of the National Guard Wilfredo Barroso Herrera, brigade general of Aviation, and Eduardo Baez Torrealba, who was involved in the April 2002 coup attempt.

In what was the possibly the last episode of "La Hojilla," a clip was shown with a recording of various phone conversations where the speakers reveal a series of movements and people who are "with them" inside various organizations and available to assist with the plan.

Herrera is heard saying, "Here there is only one objective: we're going to take the Miraflores Palace, we're going to take the TV installations...that is all effort towards where the man is. If he's in Miraflores, the effort goes towards there." Then he assures that he has someone who knows all the details of Miraflores, "that is the sergeant Brito Lombardero, and he's with us."

The speakers also say it is necessary to take the "command headquarters" with "the troops inside," including "those who are in the same barracks, in the Callejon Macado, 200 meters from the command headquarters."

They discuss which units will be responsible and will control which areas and buildings. They confirm they have sympathizers in a unit called "Bolivar," located in Catia La Mar, near the Capital Caracas, which would come to Caracas to participate in the coup.

In another conversation it is indicated that they have control points in the Air Base Libertador, in Maracay, Aragua state, where the F16 and other planes of the Venezuelan Air Force are.

Baez Torrealba says, "We are divided into four zones, those that are going to be in charge of the east, the west, and two in the centre... there the most important thing, Gonzalez, is the pilots. We already have a pilot F16, the other is an instructor who is going to take off the planes."

He continues, "This commander, who is an instructor, he has some guys below, some captains and some majors...who are prepared to follow him...the security man inside Libertador Base is with us...he is the commander, they're not going to check anything with him. He is the commander of the police."

Torrealba talks of the possibility of either bombing the president's plane, or capturing it with other planes in the air.

Silva, in his commentary suggested the officials involved could have a direct relation with Raul Baduel, a former defense minister who came out against Chavez in late 2007, and that Millan Millan is a "protégé" of his.

Silva is a PSUV candidate for governor of Carabobo state and his program will go off air for the time being, while he concentrates on the election campaign.

After being informed of the broadcast of the recording, Chavez rang the show, and speaking live, said that an investigation would be started immediately.

He also said that many such conspiracies have been prevented thanks to the Venezuelan Intelligence and that there have been plans to bomb the Miraflores.

"We've infiltrated the most radical and fascist movements...we've known for a long time that they are looking for land and air rockets and sophisticated equipment to blow up the presidential plane."

Chavez emphasized that if there is a coup, "the counter-coup would be overwhelming."

He also linked the plot with US plans to assassinate him, "The empire is desperate and the Yankee-sympathizers here are helping them attack me." He outlined the US strategy to use Venezuelan flags on foreign or US planes in order to make it look like a local rebellion."We are alert, I say to the country to trust your government, our intelligence organizations, our Armed Forces, in which our officials and soldiers have learnt many lessons."

Silva argued the opposition would not plan such an action if they thought they would win widely in the upcoming local and regional elections on 23 November.

Furthermore, on Wednesday Nicolas Maduro, Venezuelan Foreign Minister, also speaking on National Television, confirmed that there is strong proof of US attack strategies against the Venezuelan president.

"We have denounced these situations over and over again. In fact, we announced the coup of 2002 one year before it took place," he said.

Maduro included in such attack strategies the "criminalization" campaign around the "suitcase scandal," in reference to a trial taking place in the U.S., in which the Venezuelan government is accused of providing $800,000 to the presidential campaign of then-candidate Cristina Fernandez of Argentina.

"The North American government is using whatever weapons it can in order to attack the leaders that have been consolidated in Latin America."

A PSUV leader, Vanessa Davies, has called on the party membership and the general population to march on the Justice department this Monday, to present a document rejecting the coup plot.

"We demand that the department investigate this plan so that impunity doesn't rule again," she said.


The need for funds to recover from hurricanes Gustav and Ike is urgentWe hope that in this hour of Cuba's need, you will find it possible to respond in a spirit that reflects our respect and appreciation of the generosity and determination of the Cuban people.

Send in donations to "Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund" (Registered Canadian charitable organization # 88876 9197) is working to collect donations for Cuba Hurricane Relief. You will receive a charitable tax receipt.

Write on the memo line of the cheque “For Cuba Hurricane Relief.” Also include your name, address and phone number if it is not already on the cheque so a tax receipt can be issued (or state that a tax receipt is not needed).

Envelopes should be addressed to:
Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund, Att: S. Skup,Treasurer
56 Riverwood Terrace, Bolton, Ontario, L7E 1S4

If you do not want a tax or any receipt, you also can go to any TD Canada Trust branch and deposit money to the following bank account. All money received this way will go to Cuba Hurricane Relief:

TD Canada Trust - 1881 Steeles Ave West at Dufferin,Toronto
Institution # 004 Transit # 03212 Branch # 321 Acct# 5001074 Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund.

We are asking for everyone to immediately sign a petition requesting our government to send hurricane aid to Cuba. As of now, not one penny of government aid has gone to Cuba from Canada.

Libertador’s Chums win 35 prizes in one month

Venezuela’s children-at-risk are now martial arts champs

Dear Friends,

When two of our members were in Venezuela last December, 2007, they saw children who were rescued from rubbish dumps, and given a new lease on life through new programs designed by the mayor of Liberatador and his team.

There are huge dumps receiving thousands of tons of rubbish daily from many municipalities near and in Libertador. They cause major problems of social and environmental contamination. Argenis Loretto, the mayor of Libertador and one of the architects of the community councils, explained the programs to rescue children working in these garbage dumps, many of whom were on drugs.

A centre for vulnerable children was established, called Liberatdor’s Chums. All the 300 children that came there had worked in the dumps, which are run by criminal mafias and are very dangerous. 98% of these children are now no longer attached to the criminals and are back in school. The children in this centre do karate, in which they win world-level medals, and music: an orchestra and a choir with 20 participants. (For our full account, see the last item in this posting or go to the CVEC blog:

We have just received word that the Libertador’s Chums have won 35 prizes in one month. Following is a translated article received as a news release from the municipality of Liberator press office.

Libertador’s Chums win 35 prizes in one month

Arduous and constant endeavour has brought its rewards to the martial arts artists of the Libertador’s Chums School.

In the national championship of kickboxing on July 19, the team of 20 competitors won 20 prizes, including in boxing, Eastern weapons, breaking solid objects, and personal defense.Then on August 16 the school took part in an international competition in Caracas, with teams from Portugal, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere, and gained a total of 15 prizes.

Among the winners was William Guevara, 17 years of age, who won the lightweight boxing championship competing against much more experienced competitors. Another winner was Angelica Escalona, who holds the pan-American record for breaking solid objects and also won a trophy in use of Eastern weapons.

Their teacher is Carlos Jaen, twice world champion in karate.

The Libertador’s Chums School teaches more than martial arts. It offers a social program that aims at the child or adolescent’s social inclusion and personal training activities that discover his or her potential.
August 27, 2008
Eyewitness Report: December 2007
Rescuing rag-picking children from a rubbish dump:

There is a huge dump in an urban area receiving 2,000 tons of rubbish daily from many municipalities besides Libertador. This causes major problems of social and environmental contamination. We have programs to rescue children working in the dump, many of whom are on drugs. Now they have a space and an orchestra of their own. The music is very effective as a way of expressing violent feelings through the drums and also of giving them a feeling of solidarity. e also have a group called “underground drums” (tambura clandestina” – young women with pots and pans.

Chamos (“chums”) del Libertador: This is an activities centre for vulnerable children. All the 300 children that come here worked in the dump, which is run by criminal mafias and is very dangerous. The trucks thunder past just outside the centre; the dump is located in the middle of the city. 98% of the kids are now no longer working there and are back in school. In this centre they do karate, in which they win world-level medals, and music: an orchestra and a choir with 20 participants. Martial arts serve to release violence and strengthen the youth spiritually and physically. The children learn all branches of martial arts and have competed in national and international games. Women lead in taking on some of the most difficult forms of martial arts just as they do the process as a whole. We witness a performance by an orchestra of 20 children playing drums and brass. The music is in the style of a samba band: very dramatic, with highly complex rhythms and sophisticated coordination among the band members. The skill level is high.

About 30 children give us a martial arts demonstration. They are skilled and courageous; but also mutually supportive, appreciative, and affectionate. Their facilities are very elementary: A cement shelter with bare walls, some cast-off mattresses, a few martial-arts weapons, and some scrap construction materials (very hard to come by), which they demolish with great flair.

Yukpa People Want Legal Title to Its Ancestral Lands

Landowners Attack Venezuelan Indigenous Clamoring for Land Rights in Zulia
August 18th 2008
by James Suggett

Mérida, August 17, 2008 (—A Venezuelan indigenous community belonging to the Yukpa ethnic group, which is demanding legal title to its ancestral lands, was attacked last week by hundreds of armed aggressors. According to the Yukpa, the aggressors were hired by elite landowners to evict the indigenous population from the vast, largely idle pastures in the region known as the Sierra de Perijá near Venezuela’s northwestern border with Colombia.

The attacks were the latest and largest in a string of attempts to intimidate and terrorize a Yukpa community since they intensified their land recuperation efforts efforts over the past year by occupying 14 privately owned estates known as Haciendas.

Last month, prominent estate owner Alejandro Vargas and four others, armed with handguns and machetes, attempted to assassinate the Yukpa cacique (chief) who is leading the occupations, Sabino Romero, and in the process killed Romero’s elderly father.

“They arrived quietly and hit me over the neck with their guns and hit me in the back. They grabbed me by the hair and dragged me and asked for Sabino, yelling dirty words and saying they are going to kill me,” testified Guillermina Romero, Sabino’s daughter, to alternative media groups who were the only journalists who visited the scene.

According to the Venezuelan constitution, ratified by popular vote in 1999, and an Indigenous Peoples Law passed in 2005, the government has the obligation to grant indigenous communities legal title to their ancestral lands.

However, government figures show that out of 67 cases that have been opened by the federal Land Demarcation Commission, 59 remain stalled. Yukpa leaders say the government quietly placed the controversial land demarcation initiative on the political back burner last year, presumably in order to minimize conflict in the runup to this November’s regional and local elections.In addition, land demarcation officials demand geographical and agricultural information that can only be obtained with the cooperation of the powerful and violent hacienda owners. Thus, Yukpa leaders say they have no choice but to trespass on the lands that were stolen from their grandparents over the course of the 20th Century.

As tension mounts, the government led by President Hugo Chávez faces the decision of whether to expel the Yukpa in defense of private property in this semi-fuedal zone or comply with its own land titling initiative by giving collective land titles to the Yukpa, compensating the current owners, and protecting the Yukpa from mercenary attacks.

The National Guard, which did not respond to any of the recent mercenary attacks, has now mounted batallions within a kilometer of the occupying Yukpa community and awaits orders from the state. National Intelligence officials also arrived last Monday, according to alternative media sources at the scene.

According to Guillermina Romero, after Alejandro Vargas shot through the small door of a Yukpa home where he thought Cacique Sabino was hiding in July, he told the Yukpa that pleading to the National Guard or local government will do no good because “I pay all of them.”

Anonymous National Guard officials told independent journalists Monday that the troops expected to receive orders to clear the indigenous communities from the haciendas Tuesday.

The same day, María de Los Angeles Peña, a director of the federal student loan program Fundayacucho and long-time ally of the indigenous struggle, gave a rousing speech in the National Assembly in support of the Yukpa. A simultaneous blitz of well-coordinated alternative media reports throughout the week brought national attention to the issue, and the Yukpa have not been evicted.

The Chavez government has yet to indicate a clear stance on this particular struggle. Last Monday, Chávez declared to an Indo-American Youth Conference in Caracas that “in this historic moment… the indigenous should continue being part of the vanguard.”

“There will be no socialism in these lands of America if we do not incorporate the most profound tradition, cultures, lifestyles, and communitarian modes of production of the aborigines,” proclaimed Chávez.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Nicia Maldonado, denied that there were hundreds of mercenaries who attacked the Yukpa, and said it was really a group of 50 mercenaries. Maldonado reiterated the government’s “intention” to “return the lands which historically correspond to indigenous peoples,” and pledged to visit the lands in dispute to “clarify” the situation.

The minister was accompanied by five Yukpa caciques who oppose the land occupations led by Cacique Romero. They denounced Romero for deviating from “the legal path,” and said Romero’s ecologist allies from the city, who have participated in the occupations, are “the most responsible for the events that have occurred.”

“We live in peace and harmony… It is not our custom to invade,” said Cacique María Teresa Yasphe. “We want to resolve this in peace… respecting the White Man’s law, sitting down with caciques, functionaries, estate owners, and the minister to dialogue.”

Several such meetings have already taken place in Yukpa lands since 2005. In October of that year, an hacienda owner was filmed making what many Yukpa see as another broken promise to “define the indigenous territories so we are all in agreement.”

The caciques allied with Minister Maldonado praised the national government for bringing popular social programs known as “Missions” to the Yukpa, promoting literacy, and bringing modern health care to their communities. Romero, however, envisions a more autonomous path of development protagonized by the Yukpa themselves, and does not agree that the Yukpa have invaded or broken the law.

“The landowners have taken control of lands which by law pertain to us,” said Romero. While the landowners continue deforesting the region to make pastures for their cattle, “we are rescuing crops, cacao, corn, sugar cane, avocado and coffee,” he asserted.The National Cattle Ranchers Federation (FEDENAGA) defended the elite hacienda owners last week by calling the conflict with the Yukpa a “national emergency.”

Aiming for a weak spot of the Chávez administration, which has struggled to combat food shortages and price inflation over the past year, FEDENAGA officials reported that milk production has been reduced by 5,000 liters per day as a result of the occupations.

Regional and local authorities from both opposition and pro-government camps who support the expansion of coal mining in the delicate watershed region have consistently opposed the empowerment of Yukpa, Barí, and Wayúu indigenous communities in the area.

The Yukpa, precariously trespassing on their own lands, have expressed fear that if they are evicted, they will never be allowed to return. As they rely on Venezuelan alternative media for support, it is now the government’s turn to act.

Printed: August 25th 2008,
License: Published under a Creative Commons license (by-nc-nd). See for more information.

Venezuela's Analysis of Bolivian Referendum Results

Venezuela Pledges Strengthened Alliance with Bolivia
James Suggett, August 11
Mérida, August 11, 2008 ( The Venezuelan government congratulated Bolivian President Evo Morales for a successful national referendum Sunday in which Morales’s presidency was ratified by a record 63.1% of the vote. As a show of support, Venezuela, a close ally of the Morales administration, pledged to finance, along with Iran, a cement construction company to help the Bolivian government build housing and economic infrastructure.

“The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, together with the Venezuelan people, celebrates the victory achieved by the valiant Bolivian people today,” declared the Venezuelan Foreign Relations Ministry in a statement Sunday.

President Morales and Bolivia’s state governors were submitted to a referendum on their terms in office Sunday. The referendum was a compromise between the government and a separatist movement in Bolivia's wealthiest, most natural resource-rich eastern provinces to establish once and for all whether the federal government, national constitution, and regional leaders are legitimate.

Morales, Bolivia’s first ever indigenous president who was elected in 2005 with 53.7% of the vote, received more than 63% of the vote in his favor Sunday. He received overwhelming support in the western highlands where the indigenous majority of Bolivia is concentrated.

The rural populations in the separatist eastern provinces also voted overwhelmingly for Morales. In the Santa Cruz province, for example, Morales received 33.8% of the vote in the province’s capital, while in the rural areas of that province he received 58.3%.Morales told a crowd of supporters Sunday that the ratification of his term “consolidated the process of change,” and said his government would “continue recovering natural resources and the consolidation of nationalization.”

The mandates of the separatist governors of Bolivia’s four eastern provinces, Santa Cruz, Tarija, Pando and Beni, were also ratified Sunday. In the rest of the country, three governors were recalled; two of them opponents of the Morales administration, and a Morales ally was ratified.

The governor of Santa Cruz called his ratification “the people's mandate” and told a crowd of mostly non-indigenous supporters that the autonomy movement would now move forward against the “dictatorship” of President Morales. Opposition governor Manfred Reyes, who was ousted by the people of Cochabamba province Sunday, refused to step down.

President Chávez, whose presidential term was ratified by popular vote in an opposition-initiated recall referendum in 2004, contacted President Morales personally Sunday to express the “firm intention of the Bolivarian Government to continue accompanying the democratic and cultural revolution advanced by our brotherly people of Bolivia.”

Venezuela and Iran agreed Saturday to grant Bolivia $225 million to create a state-run cement enterprise, according to Bolivia’s vice minister of medium and large businesses, Eduardo Peinado.

“The plant will have the capacity to produce 700 tons of cement per year, and this will be destined principally for the construction of roads and houses for Bolivians,” said Peinado. He added that in Bolivia there are several private cement companies that are controlled by the elite opposition to the government, which seeks to sequester strategic resources in order to destabilize the country.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro assured that Morales's victory would help strengthen the economic cooperation between Bolivia and Venezuela in the context of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA), a fair trade bloc in which Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Dominica participate as an alternative to the free trade agreements pushed by the United States.

“The empire seems to not understand the processes of change that are going on in Latin America, especially South America, which are aimed at a profound transformation away from the economic model toward the social model,” declared Maduro Monday after celebrating the referendum results he deemed to be “a ratification of the democratic, peaceful path.”
The Chávez administration faces a separatist movement in Venezuela’s principal oil-producing state of Zulia, whose governor, Manuel Rosales, was the opposition candidate who Chávez defeated in the 2006 presidential election. According to pro-Chavez Zulia state legislators, separatist leaders have met with the leaders of separatist movements in both Bolivia and Ecuador with consultation from the United States.

In a press conference on Monday, President Chávez called the Morales victory a “victory of our America, a victory against imperialism.”

Forging Working Class Unity

Encouraging Steps Forward for Venezuela's Union Movement
Federico Fuentes

“As a product of four weeks of meetings between the different currents in the National Union of Workers (UNT), together with important union federations, we have democratically decided, in consultation with the grassroots, that [on September 19-21] we will hold a national congress.

“By no later than February next year, we will go towards a transparent, democratic process of internal elections.”

This important announcement was made by Stalin Perez Borges, a UNT national coordinator and leader of the Marea Socialista (Socialist Tide) current, at a press conference convened by the promoter’s commission for the congress on July 15. It comes after crippling divisions have severely weakened Venezuela’s union movement — at a time when President Hugo Chavez has called for the working class to be at the forefront of the push to construct a “socialism of the 21st century”.

Present at the press conference were UNT national coordinators, leaders of the majority of union currents, representatives from numerous national and regional federations as well as from 12 regional union centrals from across Venezuela.

These announcements mark an important step forward in forging working class unity and come at a time of an upturn in struggle as well as further steps towards union democratisation.

Formed out of the struggle by the workers to defeat the bosses’ lockout in December 2002-January 2003, which aimed to overthrow the Chavez government, the UNT brought together the pro-revolution unions and federation. It quickly became the dominant central in the country, surpassing the corrupt pro-capitalist Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) that had backed the lock-out.However, internal divisions led to its second national congress, held in 2006, splitting in two and the UNT ceasing to function at a national level.

Divisions further deepened with the appointment of Jose Ramon Rivero as labour minister in early 2007, who used his position to favour the current from which he came, the Bolivarian Socialist Force of Workers (FSBT), and attack the others.

However, a series of recent events has opened up a new phase.

One of the most significant was the government’s decision to re-nationalise the Sidor steel works, one of the most important in Latin America, after an 18-month struggle by its work force.

Perez Borges explained to Green Left Weekly that “the historic victory of the Sidor workers, who demonstrated in practice the results of unity” had been fundamental to opening up new space.

Not long after, Rivero was replaced as labour minister by Roberto Hernandez. Rivero sided with Sidor’s multinational owners, and, just before his sacking, had also publicly backed plans by the FSBT to split the UNT to form a new federation.

Since then, plans have been underway for a number of important elections within union federations. The lack of democratic elections for union leaderships has been a key source of tensions between the different currents and discontent among the rank-and-file.

In the teachers’ union, the slate of the Bolivarian Educators (which supports relaunching the UNT), won national elections by a wide margin against the slate of the FSBT.

Moreover, in the important public sector federation, with elections four years overdue, nearly all the currents together with the labour ministry have been able to agree to hold elections on October 1. At the same time, they have reopened discussions on their collective contract, which expired over a decade ago.

Only the FSBT has refused to be a part of this process.

Important elections are also set to be held shortly in the United Steel Industry Workers’ Union (SUTISS), the union of Sidor workers, and a newly formed federation of petroleum workers that unites the four main unions in that sector.On July 29, the FSBT is set to organise a workers’ mobilisation to accompany it in legalising its new central, announced without any discussion with the other union currents, and which initially had the support of the presidents of 12 major union federations.

“These events are not coincidental” explained Orlando Perez from Bolivarian Educators, whose victory has cost the FSBT one of its allies in its project for a new central, at the press conference.

“Since the re-election of President Chavez [in December 2006], within the revolutionary movement an internal struggle has broken out. The different positions are due to this ideological struggle, which cannot just be defined as between the government and the opposition. It has to do with what type of socialism we support.”

“We are at a crossroads, and it is incumbent on us to push for unity, despite our differences, we have to apply a criterion of unity in diversity, in order to build instruments of the workers: unions, federations and a central.”

Angel Navas, recently re-elected president of the Federation of Electrical Workers, Fetralec — another federation that the FSBT had initially counted on to support its project — stated that the recent announcements marked “an important step forward in effort to find unity”.

Navas argued that everyone should first put their efforts into building the central, within which differences could be debated. This could help realise “the dream of workers for a powerful central that supports this process and supports the workers in releasing their social creativity and who want to transform themselves and their country”.

Ramon Piedra, from the Cruz Villegas current that is aligned with the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), announced that they had decided to move towards dissolving their separate central, the United Confederation of Venezuela Workers (CUTV), in order to push for the maximum unity of the workers’ movement.

“If there is something that this revolution needs”, argued Orlando Chirinos, a UNT national coordinater and leader of the CCURA current, “it is a central that can win the hearts and minds of … millions of workers.”

Felix Martinez, representative of the soon to be legalised united federation of automobile industry workers added: “What we need is unity, within a central there can be differences, but we need unity in order to raise the consciousness of the workers. Division does nothing to help raise the consciousness, organisation and mobilisation of the working class.”

Replying to the statements made by the president of the Venezuela Confederation of Industries, Eduard Gomez Sigala, that one of the major causes of insufficient production was labour conflicts that are “increasing in number”, and caused by unions “trying to impose their revolution”, Marcela Maspero, UNT coordinator and head of the Workers in Revolution Collective, said that the real cause was the exploitation of workers by the capitalists.“We are clear that what unites us is that we agree with the socialist project. The path is socialism and the working class … has to be the spearhead of this process.”

All those present called on all the other national coordinators of the UNT, as well as unions and federations, to come to the discussion table and be part of the new unity process.