Venezuela

Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network statement:

The Dateline program “Power politics”, aired on SBS TV on May 23, 2010 (and on SBS2 on May 24) was one of the most blatantly biased reports on Venezuelan politics yet to be aired on Australian TV. The anti-Bolivarian line unashamedly pushed by reporter David O'Shea mirrors (in fact was shaped by) the most right-wing of Venezuela’s opposition parties.

In recent weeks, local and international media have attacked the left-wing Venezuelan government over alleged “economic woes”.

Pointing to Venezuela’s inflation rate — the highest in Latin America — and an economy that shrank 3.3% last year, the private opposition media is raising fears of a serious economic crisis.

These same media outlets, which have been predicting the fall of President Hugo Chavez for years, argue recent government actions will worsen the situation.

Venezuelan business federation Fedecamaras warned on May 5 that Venezuela faces an “economic and social crisis”.

Sergio Arriasis is the head of the office of strategic development for Vision Venezuela Television (ViVe), a government-funded channel inaugurated in 2003. Arriasis is in charge of future planning and development of its communications. Coral Wynter, a Green Left Weekly journalist based in Caracas, spoke with Arriasis about the struggle to counter the private corporate media in Venezuela, and create a radical alternative.

How is ViVe different from other TV channels?

In further moves to strengthen the state’s role in the economy, Venezuelan President Chavez announced on May 11 the creation of a publicly owned import-export company as part of a broader plan to combat “the hegemony of the bourgeoisie”, speculation and inflation.

Despite price controls and a fixed exchange rate, inflation reached 25.1% in 2009 — the highest in Latin America.

Central bank figures reported inflation climbed 5.2% in April (double that of March), bringing accumulated inflation for 2010 up to 11.3%.

We have just finished a very successful May Day brigade to Venezuela, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN). The majority of the 14 participants were from Australia, with two Canadians and one from the US also taking part.

May Day was, of course, a highlight of the 10-day tour: more than 1 million marchers, all in red t-shirts. Brigadistas were greeted with cheers of welcome — we were easily identified by our Australian solidarity activists shirts and banner.

The May 2 internal pre-selection of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidates for the September 26 national elections was an example of the mobilising force of this mass party in construction.

More than 2.5 million party members participated. This demonstrated the PSUV is the largest national political force, and highlighted its democratic and participatory nature.

The participation rate was greater than the 2.3 million people who voted to pre-select PSUV candidates for governors and mayors in 2008.

Venezuelans staged a big demonstration in Caracas on May one to mark the international workers’ day, Venezuelanalysis.com said. President Hugo Chavez also announced a 15% wage increase and broader social security entitlements.

“While there were no official or police estimates, various participants in the march told Venezuelanalysis they estimated that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of people turned out, celebrating the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution and its promotion of ... better life conditions for the poor majority.”

Venezuela’s principal trade union federation, the National Union of Workers (Unete), held the second session of its extraordinary congress on April 24, in a push to re-launch the federation.

Hundreds of trade union delegates from around the country gathered in Union House in El Paraiso to discuss and vote on new set of statutes for the federation and a plan to organise nationwide elections scheduled for July.

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) concluded its five-month extraordinary congress on April 25 with the approval of highly anticipated party principles and statutes. This was just in time for primaries on May 2, in which millions of PSUV members will choose parliamentary candidates to run against a newly united opposition platform called the “Democratic Alternative” in September.

CARACAS — Following nation-wide assemblies involving more than 10,000 electricity workers to collectively discuss solutions to the sector’s problems, 600 delegates gathered in Caracas on April 8-9.

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