Coral Wynter

On May 31, a picket of 50 people organised by Solidarity Unity protested outside the offices of Mighty River Power, which supplies electricity to Mercury Energy, the company responsible for the death of an Auckland woman on May 29.

In Venezuela, after decades of class polarisation, neglect of the needs of the majority, corruption on a massive scale and unbridled bureaucracy, the magnitude of problems that Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution led by socialist president Hugo Chavez is attempting to tackle is enormous.

“Brilliant, fantastic, inspiring … Never shaken so many hands in one day”, commented Pat Rogers, a Brisbane staff member of the Electrical Trades Union, after experiencing the May Day march of more than 1 million workers in Caracas during the Australian trade union solidarity brigade to Venezuela in April-May last year. People in Australia will have the opportunity to join a May Day brigade to Venezuela again this year, from April 30 to May 9, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).

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.

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.

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.

Marta Harnecker, a Chilean-born author, intellectual and participant in Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Coral Wynter and Jim McIlroy about the significance of Venezuela’s December 3 elections, in which socialist incumbent Hugo Chavez faces right-wing, US-backed candidate Manuel Rosales.

Marta Harnecker is the Chilean-born author of Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution (Monthly Review Press, 2005) and other books dealing with revolution and Latin America. She has been an active participant in Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution and an adviser to that country’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez.

Anyone who has visited this giant city of some 6 million people will know that one of the major social problems here is basura (rubbish). For years, the complaints of the population have mounted, along with the piles of garbage in the streets. Now, the Venezuelan government and the municipal council have launched a drive to tackle the problem.

Eva Golinger is a Venezuelan-American lawyer and author of The Chavez Code, which exposed US government involvement in a 2002 military coup that briefly overthrew Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s left-wing president, before he was reinstated by a popular uprising. She spoke to Green Left Weekly in late October. Golinger’s latest book is Bush vs Chavez: Washington’s War on Venezuela. (The first part of this interview appeared in GLW #691.)

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