Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Supporters of Correa and the pro-poor 'Citizens Revolution' flood Quito on June 15.
Ecuador's left-wing President Rafael Correa has called for dialogue with his country's right-wing opposition amid a wave of protests over proposed reforms aimed at taxing the rich. The anti-government protests that began on June 8 have continued despite Correa's announcement on June 15 that he would temporarily postpone parliamentary debate on two tax measures targeting the ultra-rich.
Australian lawmakers are set to begin debating marriage equality, and the anti-equality brigade is not happy at all. The Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Lyle Shelton is the public face of the campaign against marriage equality in Australia. I certainly don’t agree with him on everything, but I do agree with his motto, which can be aptly summarised by Helen Lovejoy’s catchphrase, “won’t somebody please think of the children.” But for once in my life I should make a minor confession: I mostly agree out of pure narcissism. This is my open letter to Shelton. * * *
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has approved Bs40 million (about $6.75 million) in funding for an environmental mission, and announced the creation of a national ecosocialist school. During a meeting of Venezuela's environmental movement, Maduro called on students and young people to join in state-sponsored environment rehabilitation projects.
Venezuela has commemorated the one year anniversary of the death of former president Hugo Chavez with rallies across the country. Supporters of the late socialist president turned out in hundreds of thousands for official commemoration services. In a show of support for the revolutionary process Chavez led, in Caracas crowds in red flooded the city centre for military and civil parades. Supporters of social programs launched under Chavez, along with social movements aligned with the government of President Nicolas Maduro also rallied in the capital.
Venezuelan car workers have slammed multinational car manufacturers for cutting back production in the country. The country's largest trade union federation has called for the industry to be nationalised. Accusing multinational car companies of being “imperialist”, the National Workers' Union (UNT) has called on the government to place car factories under worker control. The UNT said: “It's clear that building socialism relies on the working class, indeed the workers' control of the factories.”
Millions of dollars worth of damages to public property may have been caused by a wave of violence across Venezuela, according to government sources. The assessment comes after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a “National Peace Conference” as a means of resolving the on-going violent opposition protests in Venezuela. Protests began two weeks ago after opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez called supporters onto the streets to force the “exit” of President Nicolas Maduro. Lopez is currently in custody and being investigated for inciting violent acts.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would take “the most radical measures to protect our people's economy” as a deadline for businesses to adhere to new price controls approaches. “We will expropriate whatever needs to be expropriated,” Maduro said during a February 4 speech in Caracas amid commemorations of the 22nd anniversary of a 1992 failed military rebellion. The coup was led by Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez. Although he was jailed for the insurrection, Chavez became a popular figure with the poor majority. He won the 1998 presidential elections by a landslide.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for an “eradication” of “colonialism” in Latin America at the annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). During the summit held in Cuba’s capital, Havana, over January 28 and 29, Maduro called for Puerto Rican independence and an end to British administration of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, to which Argentina claims sovereignty. Puerto Rico was offered full membership of CELAC under a proposal made to the summit by Venezuela.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for an “eradication” of “colonialism” in Latin America at the annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). During the summit held in Cuba’s capital, Havana, over January 28 and 29, Maduro called for Puerto Rican independence and an end to British administration of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, to which Argentina claims sovereignty. Puerto Rica was offered full membership of CELAC under a proposal made to the summit by Venezuela.
Human rights conditions in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara remain dire according to activists, even though the territory is once again open for business to European fishing companies. Despite Moroccan pledges to improve conditions for Western Sahara's indigenous Sahrawi, head of the Sahrawi Centre for Media and Communication Mohamed Brahim said the situation is getting worse under Moroccan rule. “Nothing seems to be improving,” Brahim told Green Left Weekly from Laayoune.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced a slew of policy reforms aimed at combating speculation and hoarding. New government institutions are also being created to regulate trade and oversee foreign currency exchange. “We have to make real decisions for the benefit of the economy and society, whatever the cost and whatever happens,” Maduro said on November 6. Describing the package of reforms as an “economic offensive”, Maduro pledged to “strike hard” at speculators and hoarders.
Venezuela's finance minister, Nelson Merentes, presented a draft 2014 budget to the National Assembly on October 22 that devotes more revenue to social services, while predicting continued economic growth and lower inflation. About 62% of the 551 billion bolivars budget (about $92 billion) would be devoted to social services, compared with 37.7% this year.
The UN General Assembly has voted for the 22nd consecutive year to reject the US embargo, with 188 nations opposed the embargo and three abstentions. Only the US and Israel voted in favour of the continuation of the embargo, which has been in place since 1960. The UN resolution is non-binding. On October 29, Cuba's foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez described the embargo as “extraordinary” and “barbaric”.
Venezuelans rallied to condemn fascism on September 11, marking the 40th anniversary of the United States-backed coup d’etat in Chile that ousted left-wing president Salvador Allende. The rally began at Plaza Salvador Allende at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and marched through the city centre to Llaguno Bridge. On the bridge is a memorial to those killed during the 2002 US-backed coup that temporarily removed former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez from office. Chavez was restored by an uprising by loyal soldiers and the poor.
After 40 years of struggle, in the place known as “Africa's last colony”, human rights abusers continue to be given a free hand by the international community. As Western Sahara's independence movement, the Polisario Front, commemorated four decades of struggle on May 10, news broke of a Sahrawi activist who died in a Moroccan prison three days earlier.
Venezuela's new Labour Law for Workers came into effect on May 7, guaranteeing shorter working hours, longer maternity leave and pensions for all Venezuelans. Described by the Venezuelan government as the “most advanced labour law in the world”, the law reduces the working week from 44 hours to 40, and requires that employers provide two consecutive days a week off. When the law came into effect, labour minister Maria Iglesias said the new working hours are part of the process towards a “just distribution of wealth”.

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