In January last year, Henry Ramos Allup, president of the then newly-installed Venezuelan parliament, hastened to make a demonstration of institutional power. The opposition bloc had obtained a strong victory in the 2015 legislative elections and the veteran political leader of Democratic Action (AD) was probably thinking that Venezuela would soon follow Argentina’s suit and do away with its leftist government.
Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, died on March 5, and if there is one thing we can take away from coverage in the Western mainstream media is there is now one less dictator threatening the free world. Sure, on the surface, Chavez didn’t really seem like much of a dictator, what with the whole coming to power through free elections and encouraging unprecedented political participation by ordinary citizens thing. But it is just like those serial killers whose neighbours always say seemed so nice until the horrible truth came out.
Dozens of people gathered in Sydney on March 6 to remember the life of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and express solidarity with the people of Venezuela. People used the opportunity to speak about the progress the Venezuelan revolution has made in providing healthcare, education and employment for millions of people in that country, as well as using the country's natural resources to raise the living standards of people internationally.
More than 5000 workers from across Venezuela marched to the Venezuelan National Assembly in Caracas on November 9. The rally was organised by the National Workers’ Union (UNT). The central demand of the rally was that a radical new labour law currently tabled in parliament, which would greatly benefit Venezuelan workers, be passed. The September 26 election resulted in the pro-revolutionary forces losing the required two-thirds majority required in parliament to pass entirely new (organic) laws, although they still have an overall majority.
As if straight out of a Cold War era movie, US corporate media outlets such as the Miami Herald ran headlines on September 18 claiming scientists from Albuquerque “tried to sell classified nuclear data to Venezuela”. Readers were no doubt shocked to read in the Miami Herald that “an elderly maverick scientist who battled the scientific community for decades over laser fusion was indicted Friday in New Mexico, charged with trying to sell classified nuclear weapons data to Venezuela”.
Alarm bells should be ringing as the threat of war looms on the horizon, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned in his July 18 weekly column. The warning came after tensions again flared with neighbouring Colombia, and the Central American nation of Costa Rica agreed to 6000 US troops being deployed on its soil. Chavez placed Venezuela on high alert and broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after a July 22 meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
In recent weeks, local and international media have attacked the left-wing Venezuelan government over alleged “economic woes”. Pointing to Venezuela’s inflation rate — the highest in Latin America — and an economy that shrank 3.3% last year, the private opposition media is raising fears of a serious economic crisis. These same media outlets, which have been predicting the fall of President Hugo Chavez for years, argue recent government actions will worsen the situation. Venezuelan business federation Fedecamaras warned on May 5 that Venezuela faces an “economic and social crisis”.
Sergio Arriasis is the head of the office of strategic development for Vision Venezuela Television (ViVe), a government-funded channel inaugurated in 2003. Arriasis is in charge of future planning and development of its communications. Coral Wynter, a Green Left Weekly journalist based in Caracas, spoke with Arriasis about the struggle to counter the private corporate media in Venezuela, and create a radical alternative. How is ViVe different from other TV channels?
In further moves to strengthen the state’s role in the economy, Venezuelan President Chavez announced on May 11 the creation of a publicly owned import-export company as part of a broader plan to combat “the hegemony of the bourgeoisie”, speculation and inflation. Despite price controls and a fixed exchange rate, inflation reached 25.1% in 2009 — the highest in Latin America. Central bank figures reported inflation climbed 5.2% in April (double that of March), bringing accumulated inflation for 2010 up to 11.3%.