Jim McIlroy

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.

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.

Thousands of people flocked to the La Rinconada area, south of Caracas, on October 15, to hear socialist President Hugo Chavez inaugurate the new “Ezequiel Zamora” train line from Caracas to Cua, in the Valles del Tuy — the first new above-ground train line constructed in Venezuela for more than 70 years.

“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.

October 12 was marked in Venezuela as the “Day of Indigenous Resistance” to the arrival of Spanish colonisers. On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus first landed in South America, beginning more than 500 years of genocide and oppression of the continent’s indigenous inhabitants. The day is a national public holiday in Venezuela and was previously designated Christopher Columbus Day.

On September 12 Venezuela’s left-wing President Hugo Chavez announced the expansion of the Development Bank for Women — Banmujer — during a meeting in the Teresa Carreno Theatre to celebrate five years since the bank’s founding. Chavez offered another 100 billion bolivares (A$65 million) in resources to the bank.

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