Latin America

As Venezuela's October 7 presidential elections approach, polls are showing a clear, large victory for President Hugo Chavez, with a 13%-28% lead.

The socialist incumbent — who has survived a US coup and other attempts to overthrow his government — is campaigning on a detailed platform to deepen the social changes that are redistributing wealth and political power to the poor majority. His right-wing opponent, Henri Capriles Radonski, supports privatising state industry and cutting social spending.

“My plan is to demolish the ultra-right so that a true opposition arises, because I am ready to work with them,” Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez told a mass rally of supporters of his re-election campaign in the Caracas neighbourhood of Charallave on September 9.

Everywhere you look these days, things are turning green. In Chiapas, Mexico, indigenous farmers are being paid to protect the last vast stretch of rainforest in Mesoamerica. In the Brazilian Amazon, peasant families are given a monthly “green basket” of basic food staples to allow them to get by without cutting down trees. In Kenya, small farmers who plant climate-hardy trees and protect green zones are promised payment for their part in the fight to reduce global warming.

Significant regional integration efforts, independent from the United States, have been among the most striking developments in Latin America and the Caribbean this century.

The most ambitious of these projects is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), founded at a summit in Caracas, Venezuela in December last year.

Green Left Report #5 has a focus on WikiLeaks, Ecuador and Julian Assange. It features interviews with Christine Assange, Latin American activist Federico Fuentes, plus features parts of the speeches from Julian Assange and Tariq Ali.

There is also activist news on the battle to save TAFE, the fight against university cuts, the Fullerton Cove blockade against coal seam gas, and around refugee rights.

The seventh Sydney Latin American Film Festival opens on September 6 and runs over 10 days and across four Sydney venues in Circular Quay, Marrickville, Annandale and Bankstown.

Launching the festival will be the internationally acclaimed Argentine film MIA, a deeply moving drama that follows the story of a transvestite living in a Buenos Aires slum and explores the issues of discrimination and the right to happiness.

In May 2008, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez endorsed Plan Socialist Guyana (PGS), drawn up by elected representatives from workers in Venezuela's heavy industry sector in Guyana.

This plan calls for the introduction of workers' control across the state-owned industries grouped in the Guyana Venezuela Corporation(CGV), as well as a shift away from producing raw materials for multinationals towards Venezuela's development needs and taking the needs of communities and the environment into consideration.

British-Pakistani author, journalist and activist Tariq Ali chaired a rally outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on August 19. The rally came before WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange's widely publicised speech. Ali also gave two speeches. In the second, he spoke about why it was that Assange and WikiLeaks had found support in Ecuador and Latin America more generally — and highlighted the revolutionary movements that have swept the continent to challenge US corporate domination.

The statement below was released on August 23 by Craig Murray, a former British ambassador and career diplomat, on the Ecuadorean embassy siege in London. It is reprinted from www.wikileaks.org.

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My name is Craig John Murray. I am a retired British diplomat. I was a member of Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service for over 20 years, and a member of the Senior Management Structure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for over six years.

The 34,000 employees who work at the Polar Business food production conglomerate in Venezuela have denounced what they describe as a violation of their labour and social rights.

The workers accused the company of trying to destabilise the country in the run up to the presidential elections on October 7.

Polls show that President Hugo Chavez is far ahead of his right-wing rival, Henrique Capriles Radonski. Chavez is campaigning on a platform of deepening the socialist transformation of Venezuela.

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