Socialist Alliance member Fred Fuentes is currently working in Caracas, Venezuela. Last week, he wrote back on the political situation there.
"Two things are particularly clear to me since coming back to Venezuela", he said.
"The first is that, in the face of the deepening economic crisis, the Venezuelan revolution, and more generally the process of integration within the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), is radicalising at a rapid pace."
ALBA is an initiative of the revolutionary Venezuelan and Cuban governments. It unites nine Latin American and Caribbean countries in an anti-imperialist bloc. It combines solidarity-based trade agreements with a coordinated political intervention into regional politics.
ALBA has denounced capitalism and proposed radical measures to place the burden of capitalism's current economic crisis on the elites who created it, not workers and the poor.
Fuentes said the second thing is that "the United States is stepping up its campaign against all this." This campaign is "increasingly taking on a military character".
In July, the an agreement was signed to allow the US to open five new military bases in Colombia. This followed the closure of a US base in neighbouring Ecuador — an ALBA member country.
Just weeks earlier, on June 28, a military coup in Honduras ousted democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya. The evidence that the US played a behind-the-scenes role in this coup is signficant.
Honduras had long been a loyal servant of US imperialism in Central America. Yet under Zelaya's administration the country had joined ALBA. A number of progressive, pro-poor reforms were made.
These included a large rise in the minimum wage, measures to put essential services in public hands and a bill to improve conditions for teachers.
Zelaya had also proposed that an assembly elected by a popular vote draft a new constitution. Honduras' current constitution was drafted under a previous military dictatorship.
The coup in Honduras is an attack on these democratic, pro-poor reforms. But it is also an attack on Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and other revolutionary movements in Latin America.
US state department spokesperson Phillip Crowley made this very clear during a July 20 press conference.
He said the US government hoped Zelaya now realised that in "choosing a model government and a model leader for countries of the region to follow <193> the current leadership in Venezuela would not be a particular model. If that is the lesson that President Zelaya has learned from this episode, that would be a good lesson."
In fact, it was the immediate solidarity from the ALBA countries, led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, that forced most of the world's governments to condemn the coup and demand Zelaya's reinstatement as the rightful president of Honduras.
The Honduran people continue to resist the coup in the face of extreme brutality, murder and imprisonment of protesters by the military. The situation demands the solidarity of all those who support human rights.
Socialist Alliance members have been helping to organise protests in Australia calling on the ALP government — one of the few in the world that has not condemned the coup — to demand the immediate return of Zelaya; the reconstitution of the elected government; and support for calls by the Honduran people for the coup leaders to be arrested and tried for their crimes.
The Socialist Alliance statement on the coup in Honduras can be viewed at www.socialist-alliance.org.
Millions of people in Latin America are fighting for a new "socialism of the 21st century". This poses an enormous threat to a US empire in deep crisis.
The coup in Honduras shows that imperialism will not sit by and let people's power dismantle corporate rule.
In an effort to help ensure that imperialism is not able to impose economic and military dictatorships across Latin America once again, the Socialist Alliance is actively involved in building solidarity between the peoples of Australia and Latin America.
This work includes helping to organise the Latin America Solidarity Conference to be held in Melbourne on August 28-29.
The conference will bring together people from around Australia to learn about and learn from the tremendous progressive tide sweeping Latin America.
It will be attended by movement leaders from Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia and Chile, and will include presentations and workshops on topics ranging from: Obama's foreign policy in Latin America; the new models of economic, social and political power in Latin America; the workers' rights movement; and the meaning of socialism of the 21st century.
For more information and to register, visit www.solidarityconference2009.org or contact your local Socialist Alliance branch.