Venezuela

One of the best-known and most successful aspects of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution has been the “social missions” — social programs funded by Venezuela’s oil wealth aiming to solve the most pressing problems of the nation’s poor majority. One of the best known and most successful social missions was one of the first to be established, the health program Mision Bario Adentro (“Into the Neighbourghood”). Established in April 2003, the mission has brought free quality health care via the establishment of popular health clinics in poor neighbourhoods across Venezuela. Before Barrio Adentro, health care was out of reach for many of the poor, as private health care was too expensive and the public health system was in a state of disrepair.

On January 8, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez swore in his new cabinet, including five new members, calling upon them to take an oath that they would “never rest arm or soul in the construction of the Venezuelan path towards socialism”. One the ministers sworn in was Hector Navarro, previously higher education minister and now Venezuela’s minister of science and technology.

“In my country, a surgery like that costs [US]$8,000”, said Roberto Andrade from El Salvador about the operation he received in Cuba that removed cataracts from both his eyes, completely free of charge, according to a January 10 Miami Herald article. “I make $12 a day. I would never, ever, be able to save that much.”

“Venezuela’s Leap Backwards” was the headline verdict of the January 10 Washington Post editorial, which attempted to throw doubt on the legitimacy of the December 3 presidential election in Venezuela that returned socialist President Hugo Chavez to office with a record 7.3 million votes (63% of the total vote cast)."Venezuela's Leap Backwards" was the headline verdict of the January 10 Washington Post editorial, which attempted to throw doubt on the legitimacy of the December 3 presidential election in Venezuela that returned socialist President Hugo Chavez to

Sending shockwaves through the corporate elite, on January 8 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared his government’s intention of reversing the privatisations that had been carried out by previous governments. Declaring “We’re on our way to socialism, and nothing and no-one can prevent it”, Chavez insisted, “All that was privatised, let it be nationalised”, according to a January 9 Associated Press report.

Mision Vuelvan Caras, literally “about-face”, is a social project — or mission — launched by the revolutionary government of Venezuela in 2004 to train and offer employment to thousands of people. It is changing the lives of a large number of the country’s citizens, many of whom previously had no formal education or jobs to rely on.

Trent Hawkins is a leader of Resistance, an Australian socialist youth organisation, who participated in the December solidarity brigade to Venezuela organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. Below is his account of the December 3 presidential election and its aftermath.

December 3 — Wild celebrations have broken out here as the National Electoral Council (CNE) has announced that left-wing incumbent Hugo Chavez has won the Venezuelan presidential elections with a vote of over 60%. In pouring rain, thousands of cheering supporters have flocked to the Miraflores presidential palace to applaud the president, who has spoken to the people from the balcony of the palace.

“The atmosphere in the early evening has been a big celebration already, with fireworks and loud music in the city streets, and a large crowd already gathering near Miraflores Palace”, according to Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter, correspondents for Green Left Weekly’s Venezuela bureau who were in Caracas on the day of the December 3 presidential election.

The outcome of the December 3 presidential election was a resounding endorsement of Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution, and a rebuff of Washington and the right-wing opposition. Now, Venezuelans face the threat of violent attempts to destabilise the country by the US and the opposition. Chavez’s government has already had to defeat a military coup and massive economic sabotage.

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