Venezuela

“The internal situation will intensify over the next months, more contradictions will emerge, simply because we have no plans to hold back the march of the revolution”, said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on March 24, speaking to more than 2000 promoters of the new socialist party being constructed in Venezuela. “These contradictions”, he said, would “intensify, because we are dealing with the economic issue, and there is nothing that hurts a capitalist more than his pocket, but we have to enter into this issue, we cannot avoid it”.

In GLW #718, Jack Duvall, the president of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), published a letter in response to a couple of “errors” Eva Gollinger made in her interview “US continues destabilisation push in Venezuela” in GLW #716. Duvall denied accusations that his group had been involved in training activist groups involved in the recent “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe, and in opposing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. However, Duvall does admit in his letter that in March 2005 the ICNC “gave support to the [Albert] Einstein Institute for a workshop it conducted on nonviolent action for Venezuelans, [which was] held in Boston”.

On August 15 — the third anniversary of President Hugo Chavez’s victory in the recall referendum of 2004 and the 202nd anniversary of Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar’s famous oath not to rest “until the chains of oppression are lifted from my people” — tens of thousands of people turned out to an extraordinary session of Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) to hear the president’s proposed constitutional reforms.

“Thousands of government supporters converged on Venezuela’s National Assembly, carrying banners reading ‘Yes to the reform, on the path to 21st Century Socialism’”, the BBC’s website reported on August 16, as Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez announced proposed constitutional reforms to provide a legal framework for the increasingly radical direction of the revolutionary process led by his government. This process aims to create a system of popular power and socialism.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, and in particular its experiments with workers’ co-management and in some instances workers’ control, is at the cutting edge of the global movement against capitalism. With the bosses’ lockout in 2002-03, which shut down much of the Venezuelan economy for a period of two months, hundreds of factories were closed down and workers turned out onto the streets to fend for themselves.

Venezuelan private television station RCTV, owned by multi-millionaire Marcel Granier, began broadcasting via cable and satellite television inside Venezuela on July 16, according to a July 31 Wall Street Journal article. RCTV had previously been broadcasting via the government-owned Channel 2 airwaves, however the station’s 20-year concession to use Channel 2 expired on May 27. The government decided not to renew the concession, citing the role played by RCTV in helping to organise the 2002 US-backed military coup that briefly overthrew the elected government, as well as more than 600 violations of Venezuela’s broadcasting law.

As part of the expansion of the pro-poor social programs — known as “missions” — promoted by the government of socialist President Hugo Chavez, Venezuelanalysis.com reported on July 26 that Chavez had announced plans for the construction of 15 new hospitals. The article reports that building new hospitals, along with the transformation of run-down existing public hospitals, make up the third and fourth stage of one of the government’s best known and most successful missions — Barrio Adentro (“Into the Neighbourhood”).

The Venezuelan revolution, led by socialist President Hugo Chavez, has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world with its increasingly successful challenge to US imperialism and US-backed neoliberal policies that have caused widespread impoverishment across Latin America. Since Chavez’s re-election in December on an explicitly socialist platform, there has been a struggle to significantly “deepen” the revolutionary process towards creating a “socialism of the 21st century”.

Various leaders of Venezuela’s primary pro-government labour union, the National Workers Union (UNT), have called on all sectors of the organisation to join together and hold elections later this year. At a press conference on July 17, labour leaders Marcela Maspero and Orlando Chirino invited all sectors of the UNT to a general meeting on July 26 to organise general elections and, in that way, unite the principal labour union of the country that has remained divided in recent years.

The revolutionary student movement in Venezuela is divided into countless tiny organisations, often with bases in just one faculty or one campus. One of these organisations, the Popular Revolutionary Movement of Fire (MPR Fogata), in a statement issued in June called for “the revolutionary student movement of Venezuela to strengthen the forces in favour of unity”. The statement argued: “Now we are presented with the possibility of deepening these forces and gradually making that [unity] a reality.”

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