Greening Venezuela's revolution

Some 53 million light bulbs in more than 5 million homes have been replaced with energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, according to an April 21 Bolivarian News Agency report. This marks the successful completion of the first stage of Mission Energy Revolution, a social mission inaugurated by Venezuela's government in November. As well the free replacement of energy inefficient bulbs with environmentally friendly ones, the mission aims to help develop the use of alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power.

Social missions are a key component of the attempt by the government of socialist President Hugo Chavez to use the nation's resources to solve the problems facing the poor majority and organise the poor to participate in the attempt to create an alternative to the profit-driven capitalist system. The replacement of the bulbs was carried out by 3000 volunteers during a 125-day period. The second phase of the mission, to be completed in 2009, aims at the promotion of alternative energy sources and encouraging the shift from petrol to natural gas-fuelled cars. The third phase — 2009-12 — will involve a transition from diesel to natural gas.

According to an April 30 ElUniversal.com article, Venezuela has urged wealthy industrialised countries to take action to tackle global warming. Dario Vivas, a pro-Chavez National Assembly deputy, told the 116th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that wealthy countries needed to take responsibility for the global environmental crisis.

Claiming that it is the highly industrialised countries that drive global warming, but that its effects hit poor nations in the Caribbean and Latin America hardest, Vivas declared: "We are witnessing an insensible capitalist model that does not take life into account, but mere profit. This has resulted in an irrational use of natural resources."