Coral Wynter

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has warned that the right-wing opposition in his country is planning destabilisation actions during the November 23 elections for state governors and mayors, according to the November 12 Ultimas Noticias.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez released a statement congratulating US president-elect Barack Obama, declaring that, “We are convinced that the time has come to establish new relations between our two countries and in our region, based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, equality and true co-operation”, according to a November 6 Ultimas Noticias article.

While the Venezuelan government of socialist President Hugo Chavez has made headlines for its battle with ExxonMobil, Venezuela is not the only country under attack by the world’s largest oil corporation for refusing to submit to its dictates.

A report in the October 29 Brisbane Courier Mail signalled that the Queensland state Labor government may finally legislate to decriminalise abortion. But not immediately — perhaps in 18 months time, well after the federal elections are over. Labor MP for Aspley, Bonny Barry, has been reported as preparing a private member’s bill to remove abortion from the criminal code. Premier Anna Bligh has said she will support it, but has no intention of introducing a bill.

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.


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