In the general elections held on February 2, 44.7 million people were eligible to vote. On the day, 20.4 million cast their vote. Kasian Tejapira, a lecturer at Thammasat University, has estimated that there were about 12 million people who could not vote due to the right-wing thugs blocking polling stations and using violence to disrupt the election. This indicates there were about 32 million in total who wanted to vote. This compares to 35 million people who voted in 2011.
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network released the statement below on February 13. * * * The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network condemns the recent violent actions instigated by far-right sections of the opposition in various cities across Venezuela. The first opposition-led protests were initiated on February 4 in the city of San Cristobal, in the western state of Tachira. Two students were arrested for alleged breach of the peace during a demonstration. The students were released the next day.
Venezuela's opposition have continued staging violent demonstrations amid calls for calm from across the political spectrum. In an address to the nation late on February 13, President Nicolas Maduro said there were fresh reports of violent demonstrations, including attacks on government run medical centres. He urged for national “dialogue” and said he would present a “plan of living together and peace” the next day. The president provided few details of the plan, but said he would seek support from cultural icons including sports people, poets and others.
More than 500 people protested against the “bikie” laws in Brisbane on February 11. The crowd included unionists, Indigenous and community activists, members of motorcycle clubs, and family groups, who rallied in King George Square before marching through the city to parliament house.
Two police officers have been released on bail in Mackay after being charged with raping a woman while on duty. The constables, aged 28 and 29, were charged after an internal police investigation. Little information about the crime itself has been released. But it is apparent there were at least 38 witnesses. The officers have been released on bail under condition they report to the district head of the Police Force and stay away from the witnesses.
History repeats itself. The time-worn tactic of the dominant class that controls the spread of information is to provoke violence and then blame it on the enemy, usually those who struggle for change. Nero did it when he burned down much of Rome and blamed it on the Christians. Similarly, US newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst used the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898 to create war fervour that led to war with Spain.
The statement below was released by the British-based Hands Off Venezuela. * * * After days of violent opposition demonstrations in several cities of Venezuela, February 12 had been billed as the “D Day” of an offensive to overthrow the democratically elected Nicolas Maduro government.
On a hot and breezeless day at the end of January, representatives from 83 unions across El Salvador gathered in the Casa Sindical (a shared union hall) in San Salvador to greet a delegation of international election observers. We had come to ensure that the presidential election would be free of fraud, violence and intimidation. The images and names of their fallen comrades loomed on the walls behind them in black paint. Febe Elizabeth Velasquez. Juan Chacon. Ten unionists were martyred in a 1989 bombing by right-wing death squads, targeted because they were union leaders.
United States oil giant Chevron has filed a suit for damages against a cartoonist who ridiculed its legal antics in its ongoing case against Ecuador. The oil giant is using the US court system to seek to avoid paying US$9 billion that an Ecuadorian court ruled it owed in environmental compensation for dumping oil waste in the Amazon Basin. Mark Fiore, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist with The San Francisco Chronicle, has now been included in the ongoing legal dispute.
Since their founding in 1896, every Olympics has arrived with the promise to unite the world. One can still hear the lyrical words of the man who presided over the 1936 Berlin games, Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who said that he hoped his Nazi Olympics could help “knit the bonds of peace between nations”. Hitler’s dreams of using the vessel of what is known as “the Olympic Movement” to create a harmonious world has tragically never come to pass, despite the best efforts of the aristocrats in the International Olympic Committee.
When the Black Power movement emerged in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in the late 60s, thousands of Aboriginal people took to the streets demanding national uniform land rights legislation and recognition of our right to self-determination. The establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972 further galvanised this groundswell of Black activism. Thousands of Aboriginal people converged on Brisbane to protest the ’82 Commonwealth Games, and then came the call for a Treaty.
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).