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Photo: Venezuelan Presidency Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro inaugurated the 700,000th house built under a state-led initiative to provide housing to the most needy Venezuelans on April 17. During the celebration of the launch, part of the Great Mission for Venezuelan Housing program, Maduro said the program aimed to build hundreds of thousands of new houses between now and the end of next year.

A new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found Venezuela cut its military budget by 34% last year, leading the region in arms spending cuts. In contrast, United States political allies Paraguay and Mexico led the region in upping military spending, raising military budgets by 13% and 11%, respectively.

'People are capable of governing themselves' Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton spoke to Dave Holmes about her work as a local councillor in Moreland, a municipality in Melbourne, Australia. Bolton was elected in 2012 on a campaign slogan of “community need not developer greed”, which she says “struck a chord with residents”. Marta Harnecker: From Allende to Chavez

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will continue its unilateral cease-fire, as long as the Colombian armed forces suspends all military operations against it, TeleSUR English said on April 20. FARC representatives made the commitment at peace talks in Havana with the Colombian state, which aim to end the decades-long civil war that has wracked the South American nation.

Meral Cicek (pictured) is the chair of Kurt Kadin Iliskiler Merkezi, the Kurdish Centre for Women's Affairs in Erbil, in the autonomous Kurdish Region in northern Iraq). Cicek spoke to the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s Florian Wilde during the World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunis last month. It has been translated by Leandros Fischer. * * *
President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela began his visit to Panama City for the Summit of the Americas with a visit to the impoverished neighbourhood of El Chorrillo to lay a wreath at the monument to those killed by the US bombing of the community during the 1989 US invasion of Panama. The seventh Summit of the Americas, held in Panama City on April 10 and 11, was widely hailed as a victory for left-leaning and progressive forces in the region, particularly Venezuela and Cuba.
On March 9, US President Barack Obama issued an excutive order imposing more sanctions of Venezuelan officals and declaring the oil-rich nation a “national security threat”. It came after a long period of often violent right-wing protests and economic shortages facing the left-wing Chavista governmetn of President Nicolas Maduro.
Thousands of workers from public companies took part in an anti-imperialist march in Caracas on March 18, TeleSUR English said that day. They demanded the US government retract its labelling of Venezuela as a “threat”. Four days earlier, more than 100,000 Venezuelans mobilised throughout the country for a series of national military exercises in defence of their national sovereignty, Venezuelanalysis said on March 16.
Experience proves that left-wing movements can win government, but nevertheless not hold power. Democracy, in other words the exercise of power by the people and for the people, requires much more. The problem is now being faced in Greece with with radical left party SYRIZA, which won elections in January. It will have to be faced in Spain if the new anti-austerity party Podemos wins November elections.
US hemispheric policy reached a new low on March 9 when President Barack Obama invoked emergency powers to declare “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” Thanks to Obama’s action, the US has now blatantly rehabilitated its traditional imperial posture towards the South and challenged the continent-wide Bolivarian cause of Latin American and Caribbean independence and sovereignty.

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