VENEZUELA: More trees, less Hollywood and Microsoft

Issue 

Stuart Munckton

Venezuela has launched a new social mission aiming to reverse deforestation, according to a June 4 Venezuelan Presidential Press Office statement. Mission Tree aims to plant 100 million trees within five years.

Launching the mission, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that capitalism was responsible for the destruction of many flora and fauna species and that socialism would help to change this trend by making human needs — rather than private profit — the priority.

In an interview published by the ministry of communication on June 4, Miguel Rodriguez, vice-minister of environmental conservation, explained the importance of the mission, arguing that Venezuela "cannot become a developed nation while we exploit our forest irrationally. If we do not protect them, we will not have any water, oxygen or life in the future."

Rodriguez explained that the mission would be integrated with agricultural production plans, because it is not possible to ask peasants to be environmentally friendly while they are struggling to eat. He said the government wants peasants to form themselves into "conservation councils" to collectively plan out community and government projects.

On June 6, Venezuelanalysis.com reported that Chavez inaugurated a new film complex, called Film Villa Foundation, aiming to challenge "Hollywood's cultural dictatorship". The ministry of culture is also opening 100 community halls for projecting digital videos.

Chavez claimed Hollywood promoted messages "that don't belong to our traditions" and portrayed Latin Americans as violent criminals and drug smugglers. Venezuela has already initiated, and is the major sponsor of, Telesur, a Latin America-wide TV station that seeks to promote news and culture from a Latin American perspective.

Angel Palacios, an award-winning Venezuelan independent filmmaker, told Venezuelanalysis.com, "During many years, cinema production was limited to those people who had lots of money to study abroad". He argued the new complex "is a great step forward in the democratisation of cinema production here in Venezuela".

The Bolivarian News Agency reported on June 7 that the government was set to begin nationwide courses in open-source software. Venezuela has switched to open-source software — which can be studied, improved upon or freely distributed by anyone — in order not to be dependent on corporations such as Microsoft. More than 400,000 people will participate in the free program, which is part of Mission Science.

From Green Left Weekly, June 21 2006.
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