Factory workers from the Venezuelan chemical and lubricant company Veneco held a demonstration on the evening of October 10 in Carabobo state to show their support for the company’s nationalisation. President Hugo Chavez announced the nationalisation that afternoon. Jose Martinez, the general secretary of the Venoco workers’ union, said: “We are endorsing this takeover that will bring us many benefits. “It will bring a change from the capitalist mode to the socialist mode and we are going to strengthen our company.”
Andres Pelaez is the first secretary of the Uruguayan embassy in Australia. He will be speaking at the Sydney Latin America Solidarity Conference over October 16-17 (visit www.latinamericasolidarity.org for details). Below, he provides a theoretical look at the nature of the capitalist state and its relation to the struggle for socialism. The issues he raises are being debated by the Latin American left. Throughout the region, popular struggles have given rise to a number of governments led by new or traditional left parties.
Alina Canaviri Sullcani is a Bolivian indigenous peasant now visiting Australia. Canaviri is active in Santa Cruz as a leader of the National Federation of Indigenous Peasant Women of Bolivia “Bartolina Sisa” and the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party led by President Evo Morales. Canaviri spoke at the Latin America solidarity conference in Melbourne over October 8-9 and will be a featured guest at the solidarity conference held in Sydney over October 16 and 17 (visit www.latinamericasolidarity.org for details).
“Public interest vs private profit” was the theme of Socialist Alliance’s state conference in Melbourne on October 2. In the opening panel, Kenneth Davidson, senior columnist for the Age slammed Victoria as being a corporate state: “Since the election of [Coalition Premier Jeff] Kennett in 1992, we’ve had bad, secretive government. Labor premiers [Steve] Bracks and [John] Brumby have built on the foundations of the Kennett government.”
There is something rotten in the state of Victoria. The legacy of secrecy in government reached a high point under Jeff Kennett’s Coalition state government in the 1990s. It continued under the Bracks Labor government and the current John Brumby Labor government. The main reason for this was widespread privatisation and the policy of funding infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships (PPPs) — a policy begun by the Kennett government and continued by Labor.
To meet our $300,000 Green Left Weekly fighting fund target this year, we need less than half of what Commonwealth Bank CEO Ralph Norris gets paid in just week. GLW supporters have raised $165,406 so far this year. To make the target, we need to raise a further $134,594. Every fundraising dinner, harbour cruise, jumble sale or fundraising barbeque will count in the dash to the finish. Week after week, we will ask our supporters for donations. It will be a struggle to raise $134,594.
In September, I spent two weeks on a solidarity brigade in Venezuela. The brigade participants were able to witness the September 26 National Assembly elections and get a first hand view of the revolutionary changes taking place across the country. The brigade was organised by the Australian Venezuelan Solidarity Network (AVSN), and included political activists and enthusiasts from Ausstralia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Britan, Canada and the United States. I would thoroughly suggest this experience to anyone interested in the Venezuelan revolution.
“I believe in capitalism. Capitalism to me is a spiritual concept. Democracy just gets in the way. Democracy is annoying. Let them buy stuff and eat cake. Where I come from, if you don't believe in capitalism you're going to hell.” A “Yes Men” parody? No, these serious words of US billionaire investor Ken Fisher give an insight into the Forbes Global CEO Conference held in Sydney on September 28 and 29.
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”.
Twenty-two-year-old Mitch Cherry has been preselected to run for the Socialist Alliance in the seat of Bellarine in the November 27 Victorian state elections. * * * Being heard is one of the biggest challenges facing young people. We're forced into the workforce early to learn “work ethics” and the value of money. At 15 or 16, we might be working full time as an apprentice, or flipping burgers, but we’re not allowed to vote. We pay taxes but have no representation.