Ewan Robertson

Venezuelan President has Nicolas Maduro announced a raft of new regulatory measures as part of his ongoing “offensive” to deal with the country’s economic problems. In a television interview on December 1, Maduro said the government’s economic policies were aimed at “stabilising” the economy in order to be able to develop a “productive” economic model. This year, Venezuela has experienced shortages in several basic food and household goods, a black market dollar worth ten times the government-set exchange rate, and annual inflation of 54%.
Supporters of the Venezuelan government celebrated their victory in the municipal elections held on December 8. Analysts have commented that results indicate President Nicolas Maduro has “reconnected” with the social base of the Chavista movement. The first results announced gave the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) victory in 58% of the country’s municipalities. The PSUV and its allies gained more than 49% of the total vote share versus 43% for the opposition.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) has announced the first results of the Venezuelan municipal elections held on December 8. Mayors and local councilors were elected for the country’s 335 municipalities, as well as the metropolitan mayor of Caracas. CNE president Tibisay Lucena read out the results. Turnout was 58.92%, with 97% of votes counted so far. The results for 77% of mayoralties were announced, with the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its allies winning 196 so far, of the 257 mayoral position results that are so far irreversible.
Local citizens voted to create 169 new communes on November 24, deepening efforts to create forms of communal organisation in the South American country. A recent national census found there are more that 40,000 active communal councils in Venezuela. These are local participatory bodies that develop their communities and can receive public funding. Communes are based on groups of communal councils, and can take on larger -scale projects and economic activities.
The Venezuelan government is planning to implement profit limits across the economy as part of a crackdown on overpricing, Venezuela Analysis said on November 18. The plan is in response to revelations of mass price speculation by retailers earlier this month. Some companies were found to be taking advantage of cheap imports at the government’s official exchange rate, then marking up prices and making profits of more than 1000%.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has launched the second phase of his Street Government initiative, with the aim of inaugurating new projects and strengthening community organisation. The Street Government is a governance mechanism implemented by Maduro this year which involves the national executive visiting Venezuela’s regions and holding meetings with different neighbourhoods and social groups. These meetings allow the government to orientate its regional development strategies and launch new projects with the support and involvement of communities.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the expulsion of a top US diplomat and two other embassy officials from Venezuela for alleged conspiracy with the opposition. “Get out of Venezuela,” said Maduro during a televised political event. “Yankee go home. Enough of abuses against the dignity of a homeland that wants peace.” The US officials named were charge d'affaires Kelly Keiderling, and two other embassy employees, Elizabeth Hunderland and David Mutt. They were given 48 hours to leave the country.
Venezuela has rejected the United States’ version of events in the dispute over Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s passage through US airspace on September 19. The diplomatic fallout reached media attention when Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua told reporters that Maduro had been denied permission to fly through US airspace. Venezuelan officials said the presidential flight was prohibited from passing over Puerto Rico, a US colony in the Caribbean. Maduro considered changing the flight path to reach Paris, France.
In a national census held over September 7 and 8, 1150 communes registered in a national census, exceeding expectations. The communes are forms of “popular power” in Venezuela that unite representatives of local communal councils across a regional area. Community councils in Venezuela are grassroots bodies where local residents manage public funds and undertake projects promoting community development. Communes, meanwhile, are formed by groups of community councils, and can take on larger scale projects and public works.
Venezuela has agreed to sell oil to the Palestinian Authority (PA) at a “fair price” as part of new energy agreements with the Middle Eastern government. The deals, made during a meeting between Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua and his PA counterpart Riyah al-Malki in Caracas on August 24, include the training of Palestinians in the handling and distribution of oil. Jaua referred to the deal as “an agreement of cooperation and solidarity … the sale of fuel at a fair price”.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on August 15 for his government to give greater support to the construction of communes in the country. He proposed several initiatives by which this could be done. Communes have their origin in Venezuela's communal councils, which are grassroots bodies made up of members of the local community. These self-managed bodies receive public funds to undertake community projects and small-scale public works.
Workers at Diana Industries have welcomed the appointment of a new company manager, claiming victory in their fight to prevent the “imposition” of businessperson David Mendoza as head of the worker-run company. Nationalised in 2008, production at Diana Industries is organised by workers through assemblies and a Socialist Workers’ Council. The company produces cooking oil, margarine, soap and other products, 80% of which are destined for state-run distribution networks.
Activists from across the Venezuelan labour movement met last weekend for the country’s first ever Workers’ Congress, where workers discussed workplace democracy and the construction of socialism. The congress, billed “I Workers’ Congress: Balance and Challenges of Worker Control and Workers’ Councils for the Construction of Socialism”, was organised by the National Worker Control Movement and saw the participation of over fifty groups from factories across the country.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) recognised Venezuela on June 16 as one of 18 countries that had achieved exceptional progress toward reducing the prevalence of malnutrition. Measuring progress from 1990-1992 until 2010-2012, the FAO determined that 20 countries had cut the proportion of hungry people by half, satisfying the first of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG) originally set for 2015.
Following the implementation of measures to tackle shortages in some basic food and household items, both private Venezuelan media and the government report that the level of shortages is now decreasing. Shortages hit their highest level in five years in April, provoking a flurry of international media criticism of the government and affecting the popularity of president Nicolas Maduro in the lead-up to the 14 April election.
Venezuela and Bolivia have agreed to raise cooperation to a “higher level” following Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s visit to Bolivia on May 25. During bilateral meetings held in Cochabamba, Maduro and Bolivian President Evo Morales signed key accords in food production, industrial development and communications. “It’s necessary to place the strategic map of bilateral cooperation at a higher level, including a more organised one,” said Maduro.

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