Venezuela

As the Venezuelan presidential elections on December 3 draw closer, and the tensions grow as the revolutionary forces led by President Hugo Chavez face off against the US-backed opposition fronted by Manuel Rosales, the world is watching with huge interest. The stakes in this election are immense: the future of the Bolivarian revolution and the struggle to construct socialism of the 21st century are on the line.

Eva Golinger is a Venezuelan-American lawyer and author of The Chavez Code, which exposed US government involvement in the April 2002 military coup that briefly ousted left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, before he was reinstated by a popular uprising. Golinger is a determined campaigner against Washington’s attacks on revolutionary Venezuela. She has just published a new book, Bush vs Chavez: Washington’s War on Venezuela, detailing the current US threats to Venezuela. She spoke to Green Left Weekly in late October.

As the campaign for the Venezuelan presidential elections on December 3 entered its final month, the popular mobilisations in support of left-wing President Hugo Chavez increased in size and intensity. On October 30, thousands of residents of one of the largest communities in Caracas, Barrio 23 de Enero (Barrio January 23) braved intermittent rain to surround the truck carrying Chavez through the neighbourhood’s hilly streets.

Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez began a November 8 press conference, the first with the international media for many weeks, with a passionate statement against Israel’s war on Palestinians, which had killed four children and two women that morning.

On November 1, Venezuela and Guatemala announced they would both support Panama as the Latin American country to fill the vacant position on the United Nations Security Council, according to a November 2 Venezuelanalysis.com article. The two nations had been competing for the seat, with Washington campaigning strongly for Guatemala, which has one of the worst human rights records in the region.

Venezuela has alleged there is a new plot backed by the US to destabilise the left-wing government of President Hugo Chavez in the lead-up to the December 3 presidential elections. According to independent polls, Chavez has a huge lead over opposition candidate Manuel Rosales.

Michael Lebowitz is a director of the Centro Internacional Miranda (CIM), a Caracas-based foundation for analysis and discussion of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution; professor emeritus of the department of economics at Simon Fraser University, Canada; and author of several books on Marxism and socialism, including his newly published Build it Now: Socialism for the Twenty-first Century. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Coral Wynter and Jim McIlroy about the unfolding revolution in Venezuela.

Six miners were killed by the Special Operations Unit of the Venezuelan Armed Forces (TO5) on September 22 in the remote jungle area of La Paragua, 200km south-east of Ciudud Bolivar in the eastern state of Bolivar. Fourteen soldiers landed their helicopter at the El Papelon de Turumban mine, destroyed the miners’ heavy machinery and shot them in the back, according to a report in the October 8 Ultimas Noticias.

“We’re showing the world that no multinational company can just come here to humiliate Venezuelan employees”, Nixon Lopez, a Venezuelan workers’ leader, told BBC News on October 24. Lopez was referring to the actions of over 10,000 former employees at the Coca-Cola Femsa bottling company, the second-largest soft drink bottling company in the world.

“We guarantee that all Venezuelans will receive free education, to the highest level, as a promise of the revolutionary government. This [event] demonstrates the importance that the [Bolivarian] revolution gives to education”, Hugo Chavez declared on October 8. The Venezuelan president was officially re-opening the Andres Bello high school, situated in the metropolitan centre of the Caracas. The high school has been extensively renovated and upgraded to provide for a student population of 1700, the October 9 Ultimas Noticias reported.

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