Rachael Boothroyd Rojas

Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) has denied permission to one of its grassroots delegates to stand as a mayoral candidate in the upcoming December 10 municipal elections.

Angel Prado was elected to the ANC on July 30 as a territorial delegate for his municipality of Simon Planas. Prado is also a leading member of the El Maizal commune in Lara state.

A high profile member of the ultra right-wing Popular Will (VP) party, Yon Goicoechea, was freed by Venezuelan authorities on November 4 after more than a year behind bars.

Goicoechea was arrested last August by national security forces for the alleged possession of explosive devices, just two days before an opposition march. 

Since being granted conditional release, Goicoechea has confirmed his candidacy for the mayoralty of the wealthy municipality of El Hatillo, despite his party calling for a boycott of upcoming elections. 

The approval ratings of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rose to 23.2% at the end of September, according to a new poll conducted by private centre-right think tank Datanalisis. 

The increase in the head of state’s popularity comes just weeks ahead of regional elections scheduled for October 15, when Venezuelans will choose their state governors for the next four years. 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro officially called for a national Constituent Assembly to be convened during a May Day march in Caracas on May 1. The call is a bid to bring an end to the political crisis between the national government and the opposition-held parliament.

Speaking to the hundreds of thousands of government supporters who took to the streets for International Workers’ Day, Maduro said he would invoke article 347 of the constitution to trigger the assembly, which will be responsible for re-drafting the 1999 Constitution. 

Venezuela is in flames. Or at least parts of it are.

Since April 4, right-wing opposition militants have carried targeted acts of violence, vandalism and arson. They are deliberately clashing with security forces in a bid to plunge the country into chaos and forcefully remove the elected socialist government.

It is the continuation of an 18 year effort to topple the Bolivarian revolution by any means necessary — although you may have seen it miraculously recast in the mainstream media as “promoting a return to democracy.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has hit out at “mounting aggressions” against his government after it was confirmed that a US plane had twice violated Venezuelan airspace. The US Boeing 707 E-3 Sentry is reported to have illegally entered Venezuela’s national airspace on May 11 and 13. Both incursions were detected by Venezuela’s Bolivarian air force and have sparked rumours that the US might be conducting covert spying operations over Venezuela. “This plane has all the mechanisms to carry out electronic espionage,” said Maduro on his television program on May 17.
Venezuela's right-wing opposition coalition, the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD), has officially launched its signature collection campaign to force a recall referendum this year against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.  Thousands of opposition supporters flocked to sign the petition in public squares across the country on April 27 after MUD spokespeople confirmed they had received the official go-ahead from Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE). 
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of a National Productive Corporation on February 22, as part of a new socialist enterprise system aimed at coordinating efforts among existing state, communal and mixed firms. Speaking from the Ana Maria Campo Petrochemical Complex in Zulia state, the socialist leader said the new entity would be tasked with unifying the more than 1000 public enterprises in a “single vision of planning, management, productivity, and maximum efficiency”.
Protesters in working-class western Caracas hijacked trucks belonging to Venezuela’s number one private food chain, Polar, on February 18, demanding the company cease hoarding essential goods. The Polar food and beverage conglomerate is Venezuela’s largest private food provider, selling a range of products from beer to corn flour. But its owner, millionaire businessman Lorenzo Mendoza, has been consistently embroiled in scandal.
A whole packet of new economic initiatives are set to take effect in Venezuela after socialist President Nicolas Maduro announced a series of far-reaching measures in response to the country’s economic crisis on February 17. In a televised five hour address to the nation, Maduro explained the extent of the economic crisis afflicting the country as well as his government’s plan to tackle it. Economic initiatives include changes to the country’s multi-tiered exchange rate, an increase in domestic petrol prices, a new tax system and expansion of community control over food distribution.
Statue of Guaicaipuro. Photo: Correo del Orinoco. A statue of Caribe indigenous resistance hero Guaicaipuro was unveiled on October 12 by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to commemorate the Day of Indigenous Resistance. Guaicaipuro, an indigenous chief of the Caribes, led one of the most successful resistance campaigns against invading Spanish colonial forces throughout the 1560s and is revered by many of Venezuela’s grassroots movements.
Condolences and tributes to legendary revolutionary and champion of women’s rights Nora Castaneda have been pouring in from across Venezuela after news of the activist’s death on May 16. An economist, university lecturer and much-loved revolutionary, Castaneda is renowned for having founded and presided over Venezuela’s internationally celebrated Women’s Development Bank, “Banmujer” since 2001. She was also one of the chief protagonists of Venezuela's working-class women’s movement that emerged in the 1980s.
The US’s role in Latin America is facing a growing challenge. The 33 member states of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) vehemently rejected North American intervention in the continent, and particularly the US-led blockade of Cuba and recent sanctions against Venezuela. These positions were part of the “Belen Declaration”, approved during CELAC’s third annual presidential summit, held on January 28th and 29th in Belen, Costa Rica.
Delegates from environmental groups from around the world gathered on the Venezuelan island of Margarita this month as part of the country's “Social Precop”. The event was coordinated by the Venezuelan government in a bid to take the “voice of the people” into the United Nations talks on climate change scheduled for December in Peru. Over several days, movements and activists put the final touches to the “Margarita Declaration” that was drafted in July after four days of debate and discussion.
The Venezuelan government has begun to send shipments of over 646 tons of much needed humanitarian aid to Cuba and Haiti after both countries were hit by Hurricane Sandy. The aid includes mostly non-perishable food items and water, as well as machinery to help remove debris. The hurricane first struck the Caribbean last week before heading north to the US. So far, Haiti has been the worst hit by the disaster, counting a death toll of 54 people, followed by 11 in Cuba. (By November 4, the US death toll was well over 100 and growing.)
In a cabinet meeting with his top ministers on October 20, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez strongly criticised his political team for failing to show commitment to the participatory democratic model proposed by his government. Chavez urged them to undertake serious “self-criticism”. It was the first cabinet meeting since the October 7 presidential elections, in which Chavez won a third presidential term with more than 55% of the vote.

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