Venezuela

Cuban newspaper Granma reported on June 6 that Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, had called for an expansion of ALBA — the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a solidarity-based alternative to US-backed bilateral “free trade” agreements and the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Chavez made the call during the closing of the first meeting of ALBA’s Council of Ministers in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.

The corporate owned- and controlled-media’s accounts of recent events in Venezuela give the impression that a new student movement is fighting for their democratic rights against an increasingly autocratic government. This is testimony to the way the corporate media turns reality on its head — making the victim look like the aggressor and vice versa.

On June 2, masses of people from different parts of the country descended on the streets of Caracas to march in support of the government of socialist President Hugo Chavez, and the new TV channel Venezuelan Social Television (TVes). TVes is broadcasting on Channel 2, previously used by RCTV — owned by multi-millionaire Marcel Granier — whose 20-year concession ran out on May 27. RCTV will continue on cable, but many Venezuelans feel that after helping organise the April 2002 coup against the elected government, RCTV is lucky to remain on air at all.

The Venezuelan government’s decision not to renew the expired free-to-air broadcasting licence of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), while still allowing it to broadcast online or via cable, has created a sharp debate in Venezuela about democracy and freedom of speech.

The latest attempt by the US to isolate the revolutionary government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez failed when the Organisation of American States general assembly meeting in Panama on June 4 refused the US demand to criticise and “investigate” Venezuela for supposed attacks on freedom of expression.

Under the banner of “For freedom of speech and against imperialism”, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas on June 2 in defence of their revolution, and as a direct response to the domestic and international campaign being whipped up by Washington in the wake of the non-renewal of Radio Caracas TV’s (RCTV) broadcasting concession, dwarfing all of the opposition marches that had occurred in preceding days. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced: “If the Venezuelan oligarchy believe that they will stop us with their threats, with their manipulations or with their destabilisation plans, forget it!”

Venezuela has been facing the most sustained campaign of destabilisation, including a barrage of media lies internationally and violent riots inside Venezuela, since the last serious attempt to overthrow the left-wing government of Hugo Chavez in 2004.

Led by the country’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan revolution is sending shockwaves through the corporate elite both within Venezuela and internationally. The Venezuelan people are waging a struggle to gain sovereignty over the country’s natural resources in order to rebuild the nation along pro-people lines.

May 27 will be end of the 20-year concession granted by the Venezuelan government to the RCTV corporation — owned by multi-millionaire Marcel Granier — to use the state-owned Channel 2 broadcasting signal. The Venezuelan government has announced that the channel will become a public station, similar to a number of stations in Europe, based on programs made by independent producers

Carora’s streets are much like other Latin American cities — bustling commerce on every corner, traffic, noise, people going about their daily routine. But there is something that distinguishes Carora and the Municipality of Pedro Leon Torres from any other municipality I’ve visited in Latin America, and in particular, any other in Venezuela. The city is on a path to democratise and transform its entire governance system, from the bottom up — led by the current Mayor Julio Chavez (no relation to President Hugo Chavez).

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