Venezuela’s petroleum corporation in the US, Citgo, announced on January 27 the start of its sixth year providing subsidised heating oil to low-income people in the US. An estimated 132,000 households across the US will benefit from the program this year, amounting to US$60 million of savings. The program is carried out with US non-profit group Citizens Energy Corporation. Joseph P. Kennedy II said: “Every year, we hear from families who struggle each and every day to put food on the table and heat their homes.
Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez has passed a series of laws to help people affected by floods, including big investment in new housing. Venezuelanalysis.com said on January 20: “Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez issued a law-decree on Tuesday to address ‘rights and justice’ of the roughly 125,000 Venezuelans made homeless during last year’s record-setting rains and floods.” Chavez said the “Law for Dignified Refuge” would serve to “institutionalise” the concept of a “dignified and human refuge” and establish the responsibilities of the government.
A fair portion of the more than 1600 United States State Department documents WikiLeaks had published by mid-December referred to the ongoing US efforts to isolate and counter the left-wing, anti-imperialist Venezuelan government. After Hugo Chavez was elected president in 1998, Washington engaged in numerous efforts to overthrow him. These have included a failed coup d’etat and an oil industry lock-out in 2002, worldwide media campaigns and various electoral interventions.
In response to the U.S. State Department’s condemnation of the unauthorized release of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables by the website Wikileaks, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised the whistleblower site and called for the resignation of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
On November 22, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Vice-President Elias Jaua headed a meeting including the regional vice presidents of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV — the mass party led by Chavez) as well as government vice-presidents. The two groups make up the Council of Vice-Presidents.
“Nature is our home and is the system of which we form a part, and therefore it has infinite value, but it does not have a price and is not for sale” said a November 3-5 meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) nations of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The meeting rejected the privatisation of nature, in which “nature is seen as ‘capital’ for producing tradable environmental goods and services … and assigned a price so that they can be commercialised with the purpose of obtaining profits”.
One of the most vital features of the Bolivarian revolution underway in Venezuela is the development by workers and their organisations of different forms of workers’ control in their workplaces and communities. The increasing participation and control by workers is taking place at the same time as hundreds of companies have been nationalised.
It should come as no surprise that Latin America, a region converted into a laboratory for ongoing experiments in social change, has increasingly become the topic of discussion and debate among the broader left. Latin America has not only dealt blows to imperialism but also raised the banner of socialism on a global scale. It is of strategic importance for those fighting for a better world, especially at a time when capitalism is in systemic crisis.
The contrast is striking. As Australia’s state and federal governments continue their bloody-minded corporatisation and privatisation of our few remaining public assets, the revolutionary government of Venezuela is bringing important industries and sectors into public ownership and control.
The Venezuelan government has begun distributing the first of 350,000 portable Canaima laptop computers to be provided to public elementary school children by the end of the year, Venezuelanalysis.com said on November 17. Education minister Jennifer Gil said: “The Canaima Plan is a milestone and a technological innovation. It allows us to keep deepening our integral and massive education system that does not involve just students, but the entire family environment, parents, representatives and teachers.”