Sarah Ausburn

Political and social conflict continues to grow in Peru in the wake of a general strike against the neoliberal policies of President Alan Garcia’s government, which saw much of the country paralysed on July 9.
Palestinian refugee Akram al Masri, 31, who was deported from Australia in 2002, has been shot dead in his homeland less than six months after Australian authorities allegedly refused him a visitor’s visa.
Tens of thousands of workers and peasants rallied across Peru on July 9 as part of a general strike called by the General Confederation of Workers (CGTP) against the neoliberal policies of the government of President Alan Garcia.
Venezuela, along with Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia, criticised the final declaration of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Summit in Rome on June 5, arguing that the document failed to identify the true causes of rising food prices, such as agricultural subsidies and unequal trade policies imposed by developed countries.
In a massive show of support for the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) — established to unite the mass movement that supports the Bolivarian revolution led by President Hugo Chavez — on June 1 some 2.5 million PSUV members participated in an historic process of electing candidates for the upcoming regional elections in November.
Following the December 2 constitutional reform referendum defeat — the first for the forces of the Bolivarian revolution since the election of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 1998 — and facing popular discontent at the problems holding back the advance of the process of change, the pro-revolution forces face a big challenge in securing an overwhelming victory in the November regional elections in order not to lose ground to the US-backed opposition.
First came the decision by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on April 9 to re-nationalise the Sidor steel plant, privatised by a pre-Chavez government in 1997, after a long workers’ struggle.
Visibly overcome with emotion, four former Colombian legislators — Gloria Polanco, Luis Eladio Perez, Orlando Beltran and Jorge Eduardo Gechem — held prisoner by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for years, were reunited with their families in the Simon Bolivar International airport near Caracas on February 27 after a successful Venezuelan-led humanitarian mission.
In recent weeks, external and internal pressure against Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, as the process of change led by socialist President Hugo Chavez is known, has intensified dramatically.
“This is pure judicial terrorism”, Venezuelan energy minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters in Caracas on February 8, in response to court injunctions obtained by US-based ExxonMobil Corp. — the world’s largest oil corporation — in January.

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