October 12 was marked in Venezuela as the “Day of Indigenous Resistance” to the arrival of Spanish colonisers. On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus first landed in South America, beginning more than 500 years of genocide and oppression of the continent’s indigenous inhabitants. The day is a national public holiday in Venezuela and was previously designated Christopher Columbus Day.
To judge by the coverage in the corporate media, the main opposition candidate in the December 3 presidential elections, Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales, is on the march and making ground against socialist President Hugo Chavez. This is despite pro-Chavez forces winning every national election since 1998, and most polls suggesting Chavez is certain to win the presidential vote.
On September 12 Venezuela’s left-wing President Hugo Chavez announced the expansion of the Development Bank for Women — Banmujer — during a meeting in the Teresa Carreno Theatre to celebrate five years since the bank’s founding. Chavez offered another 100 billion bolivares (A$65 million) in resources to the bank.
Last year the Chilean polling firm Latinobarometro published results from 20,000 face-to-face interviews in 18 Latin American countries. Venezuelans, more than any other nationality polled, described their government as “totally democratic” and expressed an optimism in their country’s future that outpaced any other. This response sits in stark contrast to what would have been found just a decade earlier if a similar poll had been conducted. To understand this phenomenon we must take a look at Venezuelan politics before President Hugo Chavez came on the scene.

In his comment piece, "Should Venezuela have entered Mercosur?" (GLW #682), Raul Bassi emphasises the incapacity of Mercosur — the "Common Market of the South" set up in 1991 between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay — to


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