Briefs: Greece-Venezuela pledge cooperation, FARC extend ceasefire, Mexico teachers protest

Greece, Venezuela discuss cooperation

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has invited the newly-elected Greek prime minister to Caracas, TeleSUR English said on February 9.

“I have invited Alexis Tsipras, comrade Alexis, to visit us as soon as he can, here in Venezuela,” Maduro told Venezuelan public TV.

“He plans to come to Latin America. He mentioned all the pressures that he is under. Because of a savage, savage neoliberal system that has been applied in Greece.”

Tsipras expressed an interest in touring Latin America, starting with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Maduro drew comparisons between fierce media campaign against both countries, especially in the lead up to Greece’s elections.

Venezuela: New anti-poverty mission begins

In a February 7 speech, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his government would start its newest social program, known as the Great Household Mission of the Nation, Venezuelanalysis.com said on February 9.

The mission aims to tackle extreme poverty and ensure the “total protection” of families, from birth and child-rearing through to elderly care. The announcement comes in the midst of a severe recession, a big business-pushed economic war, and escalating US sanctions. The government nonetheless said it would not compromise its commitment to the country's network of social missions developed over the past 16 years.

The Great Household Mission targets 500,000 Venezuelans currently living in extreme poverty, or about 7% of the population. The rate has been cut by about two-thirds from 21% in 1998 thanks to a near doubling of spending on social programs, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

Colombia's FARC extend ceasefire

Representatives of Colombia’s social network Broad Front for Peace presented their report on February 9 in Havana, Cuba, on the unilateral ceasefire started in December by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), TeleSUR English said the next day.

After meeting with the FARC's peace delegation in Cuba, human rights advocate and Broad Front for Peace leader Piedad Cordoba said the left-wing guerrilla group that has fought a decades-long war against the Colombian state has decided to extend the unilateral cease-fire indefinitely.

Cordoba called on the Colombian government to act accordingly and reciprocate the truce so that further victims of the conflict could be prevented in Colombia.

Mexican teachers take over capital

Dissident teachers paralysed the centre of Mexico City on February 9, TeleSUR English said. They demanded authorities normalise “irregular” workers, pay delayed salaries and free political prisoners. They also called on lawmakers to reject proposed education reforms.

About 3000 militant teachers, mainly from the state of Oaxaca, descended on the Mexican capital. They sought to hold a mass demonstration in the city’s historic Zocalo square while their leaders were to hold a meeting with Mexico's interior secretary. However hundreds of riot police prevented their entry.

The teachers instigated a mass sit-in, which extended over eight city blocks on the City’s iconic Reforma Avenue. Hours later they moved the encampment to the plaza that surrounds the Revolution Monument in fear of a violent eviction by Mexico City police.

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