socialism

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the nationalisation on October 25 of US-based glassmaker Owens-Illinois affiliates, Venezuelanalysis.com said on October 27. The article said this places 60% of Venezuela’s glass bottle industry under government ownership.

Over October 16-17, 120 people participated in lively and informative discussions at the Latin America Solidarity Conference.

“Challenging corporate globalisation: people’s power is changing the world” was organised by the Latin America Social Forum. LASF brings together the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN — Australia), Guatemala Human Rights Committee, Ibiray-Fondo Raul Sendic (Uruguay), Honduras’ National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and Socialist Alliance.

On his TV show Alo Presidente on October 3, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez drove tractors and inspected corn crops as he pledged to accelerate land reform and increase the government’s share of food production and distribution.

Chavez announced the nationalisation of the agricultural supplies company Agroislena and the Venezuelan properties of the British Vestey Group.

The show took place in Guarico state, where Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won most of the state seats in the September 26 National Assembly elections.

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.

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