Merida

In a recent article, Amnesty International accused the Venezuelan government of a “witch hunt” when a right-wing opposition mayor Daniel Ceballos was arrested. However, Amnesty has yet to use such strong language against the five weeks of human rights violations people in Venezuela have suffered at the hands of violent opposition sectors. The “witch hunt” term demonises the people’s right to bring such criminals to justice.
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.
The period allowed for businesses to adjust their prices to the government's new “fair prices” law ended on February 10. The government has a wave of inspections planned to ensure the measure is applied. The Law for the Control of Fair Costs, Prices and Profits aims to stop price speculation, product hoarding and other activities that are destabilising the Venezuelan economy and contributing to its ongoing economic problems. Further, a maximum profit margin of 30% has been established across the economy to stop companies over-charging.
Representatives from 225 communes met over January 31 to February 1 in Barinas in western Venezuela to discuss strengthening the communal economy. Communes are made up of elected representatives from the communal councils, grassroots bodies that bring together local neighbourhoods. The conference was called and organised by the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ). The CRBZ is a current in the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
Venezuela’s Mission Sucre has reached 10 years of providing higher education to more 695,000 people, including 379,000 who have already graduated. The government launched Mission Sucre in November 2003 to provide university education to those who previously didn’t have access to it. Many of its current students are people who have a low income and middle-aged mothers who weren’t able to continue their studies because they raised children.
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.
The Venezuelan government plans to continue its land expropriations this year in its push to move towards what it terms “agrarian socialism”. In the 2014 national budget, the government’s National Land Institute (INTI) sets its aim to expropriate 350,000 hectares of land this year. This compares with the goals of 350,000 and 397,000 hectares of land the government sought to expropriate in 2012 and last year respectively. The government began to increase the pace of land expropriations in 2011.
Communes and social movements have demanded the Venezuelan government combat the assassination of rural activists in the mountains of western Venezuela, which they say is undermining communal organising in the region. The assassinations are taking place in the mountains of the western state of Lara. In response to the latest murder of an activist in the region, a group of 21 communes and more than 20 social movements, human rights groups and community media outlets released a statement on January 18 denouncing the situation of growing insecurity in the area.
More than 500,000 houses have been built since mid 2011 under the Venezuelan government’s mass housing building construction program. Launched by former president Hugo Chavez to tackle the South American country’s shortage of affordable housing, the program has the ambitious aim of building three million new homes by 2019.
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%.
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.
Venezuela’s National Assembly granted President Nicolas Maduro the power to pass laws by decree on economic and anti-corruption issues for a period of 12 months on November 19. The National Assembly held a second and final vote on a proposal from Maduro to enact the so-called enabling law, which allows him to legislate by decree on specific issues for the period set by the assembly. Maduro has been empowered to pass laws to “fight corruption, usury, money laundering and the economic war unleashed in recent times against the country by the national oligarchy”.
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%.

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