Venezuela news Summary #89

Chavez Attends Venice Premier of Oliver Stone’s Venezuela, South America Film | Global Marches For and Against Venezuelan President See Mixed Turnout | Venezuelan “Peace Bases” to Counter U.S. Military Buildup in Colombia with Binational Reconciliation | U.S. NGO’s Case against Venezuela’s Citgo and Chavez Dismissed | Venezuelan President Strengthens Relations with Libya, Algeria, and Syria on Tour | Venezuela Tells UNASUR Meeting, U.S. “Talking about War” | Venezuela Invests Surplus Oil Dollars in Education, Housing, and Industry | Venezuelan Socialist Party to Form Worker Patrols and Host International Leftist Meeting | New National Progressive Newspaper Goes to Print in Venezuela | Venezuela: Violent Protesters to Face Criminal Charges | Noam Chomsky Meets with Chavez in Venezuela

I. Chavez Attends Venice Premier of Oliver Stone’s Venezuela, South America Film
On Monday, September 7th, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez walked the red carpet alongside film director Oliver Stone at the Venice Film Festival for the premier of Stone’s documentary, “South of the Border.” The new film features interviews with Chavez and several other progressive leaders in South America. Through interviews with the presidents of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Cuba, and Paraguay, the full-length documentary seeks to reveal the truth beyond the distorted portrayals of these leaders in the mainstream media around the world. Stone said that Chavez is a “dynamic and charismatic figure”, but when the film director is in the U.S. he “only hears stories about the ‘dictator’ and the ‘threat to American society.'” Stone added that “the film was a liberating experience,” and that he considers Chavez his hero for being “the first Latin American head of state who challenged the International Monetary Fund.” http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4779

II. Global Marches For and Against Venezuelan President See Mixed Turnout
In response to the “global” protest promoted over Facebook.com against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, marches and rallies took place across Venezuela and in various countries last Friday and Saturday to both support Chavez and to reject the new US run military bases in Colombia. Participants report that 50,000 Chavez supporters marched on Saturday in Caracas. There was also a large rally in Caracas the previous day, and smaller rallies in Venezuelan states across the country. TeleSUR reported rallies in front of Venezuelan embassies to protest the US bases in Colombia and in support of Chavez in over 50 countries in South America and Europe. Meanwhile, CNN said that the turnout at the anti-Chavez demonstrations was lower than expected. Organizers had hoped for a large global turn out, but only Venezuela, Colombia and Honduras had sizeable marches. 5,000 people marched in a peaceful opposition protest in Caracas on Saturday. Nevertheless, many major international TV stations only covered the anti-Chavez protests, and other channels such as CNN and BBC covered both anti and pro protests, but predominantly highlighted the protests against the Venezuelan President. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4775

III. Venezuelan “Peace Bases” to Counter U.S. Military Buildup in Colombia with Binational Reconciliation
In a movement to counter the expansion of the U.S. military presence in Colombia, Colombian and Venezuelan organizations and government officials are collaborating to organize spaces of binational reconciliation called “peace bases.” Elected officials, consuls, immigrant organizations, communal councils, and everyday citizens participated in the founding of Venezuela’s first peace bases this month. The bases turn public spaces into forums where Colombians and Venezuelans discuss peaceful solutions to the armed conflict in Colombia, which has raged for four decades. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced earlier this month that the peace bases should provide free medical services and address other pressing needs of Colombian immigrants in Venezuela. Chavez also said the bases should improve the communication between Venezuelans and Colombians so that they learn the about the everyday lives of their neighbors. Venezuela’s first peace base was established in the city of Valencia on August 12th. In late August, peace bases were established in the border states of Zulia and Táchira, the coastal state of Falcón, and the eastern state of Anzoátegui. The Association of Colombians in Venezuela, plans to create as many as seventy peace bases across Venezuela. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4750

IV. U.S. NGO’s Case against Venezuela’s Citgo and Chavez Dismissed
Last week a U.S. judged completely dismissed a lawsuit filed against Citgo, the U.S.-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA. The company and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were accused of alleged terrorist acts and human rights abuses. Judge Cecilia Altonaga granted Citgo’s request to make the proceeding null and void and also closed the cases against Chavez, Vice President Ramon Carrizales, Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolas Maduro and four other officials. The U.S. NGO Freedom Watch lodged the lawsuit last April on behalf of journalist Ricardo Guanipa. According to Aporrea.org, Guanipa used to work with Radio Marti, a U.S.-financed station that broadcasts to Cuba and Radionexx, a private Venezuelan station that has called for the overthrow of the Chavez government and for the president’s assassination. Guanipa claims he was forced to flee his country over alleged death threats, aggression and intimidation. He has had political asylum in the U.S. since 2005. In the lawsuit, Freedom Watch asserted that Citgo resources were being used by Chavez to “support terrorism and other crimes against humanity, including death threats, arrests, torture, and murder.” Freedom Watch was seeking $5 billion US dollars for punitive damages. On its website, the NGO calls Chavez a “terrorist communist dictator” and claims that he has supported the “Colombian FARC, a Marxist-Leninist group of terrorists, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Middle Eastern Arabic terrorist states and others bent on destroying Judeo-Christian and western civilization and freedom.” Chavez responded to Freedom Watch’s accusations in April by laughing and saying, “It’s the kind of strange news that comes out everyday.” http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4765

V. Venezuelan President Strengthens Relations with Libya, Algeria, and Syria on Tour
On a diplomatic tour through Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited Libya, Algeria, and Syria last week to solidify bilateral economic and political accords and strengthen relationships among countries of the Global South. After commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Libyan revolution alongside Libyan leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Chavez expressed his support for unity and anti-imperialism on the African continent in a speech before a special summit of the African Union in Tripoli. Chavez also met with the presidents of Niger, Mauritania, and Mali during the summit. In Algeria, Chavez and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika drew up a work plan for bilateral cooperation. On his tour, Chavez also promoted the South America-Africa Summit, which is scheduled to take place on September 25 to 27 on the Venezuelan resort Margarita Island. So far, fifty-four African heads of state have confirmed their attendance. The Venezuelan leader now head to Iran, Belarus, and Russia and finally Spain, where he will meet with Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4770

VI. Venezuela Tells UNASUR Meeting, U.S. “Talking about War”
On Friday, August 28, before Chavez left on his world tour, he participated in a special meeting of the Union of South American Nations, UNASUR to address the issue of the seven military bases the United States plans to build in Colombia. Present at the meeting, in Bariloche, Argentina, were the heads of state of the twelve countries that make up the year-old UNASUR. The UNASUR countries agreed that their defense council would study a US document titled “The White Book of Aerial Mobility Command and the Global Strategy of Support Bases of the United States.” Chavez read out sections of the document, showing its reference to one Colombian base, Palanquero, and the U.S.’s desire to have a military presence there, as well as a stop over area in Brazil to refuel planes used on the military bases. Chavez said the bases would have the capacity to grant the U.S. air forces coverage of the whole continent. Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, put forth a motion for UNASUR to solicit a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama for him to explain the agreement that the U.S. has with Colombia. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4755

VII. Venezuela Invests Surplus Oil Dollars in Education, Housing, and Industry
The increase in Venezuelan government spending on public housing and education, and the re-opening of a General Motors automobile factory are signs that the Venezuelan economy may be set to recover from its contraction of 1% in the first half of the year. Venezuela’s National Assembly recently approved nearly $10 billion US dollars in credits, increasing the estimated total budget for this year to over $80 billion dollars. A fifth of the credits were granted to public education, one tenth to the Housing and Public Works Ministry, and nearly half to the state and local governments. The rest went to health care and agriculture. This follows a period of conservative spending over the first half of the year, when the government adjusted its budget based on an expected average income of $40 per barrel of oil. It also raised the sales tax and increased its domestic debt to cope with the huge drop in oil prices from last year. Meanwhile, monthly inflation rose slightly to just over 2% in August. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4767

VIII. Venezuelan Socialist Party to Form Worker Patrols and Host International Leftist Meeting
Last week, the PSUV Socialist Workers Front began to form worker “patrols,” to function together with the party’s neighborhood based patrols. Socialist Workers Front representative Orlando Castillo said the union tendencies that belong to the PSUV plan to organize tens of thousands of local assemblies in order to form patrols composed of ten to twenty workers each, because “there cannot be any construction of socialism without the active, organized, and mobilized participation of the workers.” According to Castillo, 2.5 million workers belong to the Socialist Workers Front, while the PSUV as a whole has almost 7 million members. Among the immediate tasks of the worker patrols will be to resist imperialism in the wake of the June 28th military coup d’etat in Honduras and Colombia’s agreement to increase U.S. troop presence on its military bases. Another immediate task of the patrols will be to defend Venezuela’s new Education Law, which expands the state’s role in public education and defines education as a human right. After the National Assembly passed the law in August, several prominent opposition parties and educational organizations, with the help of the private media, called for teachers and parents to sabotage the law’s implementation. The creation of worker patrols corresponds to the PSUV’s national restructuring into patrols, which began in August. The patrols operate on a smaller and more local scale, than the former battalions, which had hundreds of members. The patrols are meant to organize political actions and study groups to deepen the population’s knowledge of socialism in the Venezuelan context. The PSUV also announced that it will host the ‘First International Meeting of Leftist Parties’ in early October. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4764

IX. New National Progressive Newspaper Goes to Print in Venezuela
Last week, the first edition of the new progressive national newspaper, the Correo del Orinoco, was released. The 23-page daily paper will cost 1 Bolivar or nearly 50 cents, and aims to provide realistic coverage of the processes of change in Venezuela. The newspaper is named after the Orinoco Post founded by Venezuelan liberator Simon Bolivar in 1818, which had a similar aim of promoting independence and countering the news manipulations published by the Spanish occupiers. Vanessa Davies, editor of the newspaper, said it would circulate soon in Colombia and would also eventually be published in other languages. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4762

X. Venezuela: Violent Protesters to Face Criminal Charges
A week and a half ago, Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega announced that protesters who disturb “tranquility and public peace” will face criminal charges. The announcement came after a series of opposition protests turned violent. According to Ortega, protests are aimed at destabilizing the Chavez government. In weeks prior Venezuelan opposition groups had staged a series of violent protests against the new Education Law that was passed in mid August. The groups claimed it would lead to ‘socialist indoctrination,’ despite the fact that the new law specifically prohibits political proselytizing of any kind in the classroom. Meanwhile in arrest news, prosecutors announced that eleven officials employed by the opposition Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, had been charged in relation to various offences, allegedly committed at protests on August 22nd and 26th. Among the charges were resisting authorities, interfering with police communications systems, damaging public property and severely injuring a police officer. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4756

XI. Noam Chomsky Meets with Chavez in Venezuela
U.S. author, and MIT linguistics professor, Noam Chomsky met for the first time with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas in late August and analyzed hemispheric politics during a nationally televised forum. During the event Chomsky pointed out that the ongoing coup in Honduras is the third coup the United States has supported in Latin America so far this century, following the coup against Chavez in 2002 and Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Chomsky said that the near finalized deal to allow the U.S. to increase its military presence on Colombian bases is “only part of a much broader effort to restore Washington’s capacity for intervention.” Chomsky was accompanied in Caracas by the co-founder of South End Press and ZMagazine, Michael Albert, and the co-founder of Venezuelanalysis.com, sociologist Gregory Wilpert. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4748