Monday, 17 December 2007

John Pilger- Keeping the Record Straight on Venezuela

Keeping the Record Straight on Venezuela

The book of which I am most proud is Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs. It was a long-held ambition of mine to bring together the work of those I considered the greatest journalists of my lifetime: the "honourable exceptions" of my craft. In paying tribute to them, I wanted to demonstrate to young journalists a calibre of truth-telling to which they might aspire. There is the reporting of Martha Gellhorn, Edward R Murrow, James Cameron, Seymour Hersh, Paul Foot, Robert Fisk, Jessica Mitford and the Guardian's Seumas Milne and Richard Norton-Taylor among others.

In celebrating those who kept and continue to keep the record straight - the basis of all good journalism - I also recognise the need to identify the example of those at the other end of the spectrum, whose work is hardly journalism at all, but who possess the power of exposure in the so-called mainstream media.

On March 28 2006 I described here a report broadcast on Channel 4 News the previous night by its Washington correspondent, Jonathan Rugman. Rugman is pretty typical of television's Washington correspondents; he reports as if embedded, when, in fact, his work is voluntary. What distinguishes him is his reporting from Venezuela. Rugman's brief visit last year to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, produced what I described here as "one of the worst, most distorted pieces of journalism I have ever seen qualifying as crude propaganda". This was a piece, I wrote, "which might as well have been written by the US state department". For example, he described Maria Corina Machado as a "human rights activist". In fact, she was a leader of Sumate, an extreme rightwing organisation, who had been welcomed to the White House by George Bush himself. He caricatured Hugo Chávez as a buffoon dictator. In fact, he is an authentic product of a popular political movement that began in 1989 who has won more democratic elections than any leader on earth. Rugman reported that Chávez was helping Iran develop a nuclear weapon. In fact, this is laughable - see the US National Intelligence Estimate report published on December 3 2007. At the end of his performance, Rugman complained dramatically to the camera that he had been "held for 30 hours" by police in Caracas. In fact, he had walked into a military base and, surprise, surprise, was apprehended - as he would be on any Ministry of Defence establishment in Britain - and Venezuela is a country whose president two years earlier had been temporarily overthrown in a military coup. In fact, Chávez himself arranged for Rugman's speedy release. Rugman's "report" was so absurd that Channel 4 News, which maintains a reputation, was inundated with complaints and, as I was told, "embarrassed" - though not embarrassed enough to desist from sending Rugman back to Venezuela for yesterday's important constitutional referendum.

Chávez narrowly lost the referendum. His government wanted to change a number of articles in the Venezuelan constitution that would define what he has called "socialism for the 21st century", including allowing the president to stand in unlimited elections (which leaders in Britain, Canada, Australia and many other countries can do). But many of his own supporters were unconvinced and probably confused as to why they were being called upon to vote yet again, and 3 million of them abstained.

Ironically, the result actually reaffirmed the health of democracy in Venezuela and served to ridicule the incessant media propaganda that Chávez was a "dictator" and a "tyrant". In a gracious speech conceding defeat, Chávez congratulated the opposition and invited them to celebrate. His tone was the antithesis of the media-led campaign. On the eve of the referendum, closeted with Venezuela's rich minority, Jonathan Rugman allowed them to call Chávez a communist, which he isn't. "It's as bad that?" he contributed.

Presenting these people as victims, he said nothing about their history of rapacious privilege or that their wealth was actually increasing under Chávez. He allowed, unsubstantiated, histrionics such as, "There are Chávez supporters [who] will kill me." His clever cameraperson filmed soldiers from the boots up at polling stations - soldiers who, according to Rugman, instead of saluting cry out "for the fatherland and socialism". That they were guarding an election process internationally recognised and commended was not mentioned, neither was the fact that opposition monitors had announced they were pleased with the conduct of the election. For a spot of "balance", he toured what he called the "slums" and found "rubbish in the streets" and milk missing from otherwise abundantly stocked supermarkets. His script was crudely juxtaposed with images showing a screaming child being given an injection over which Rugman commented that "this is how Chávez is injecting his vast oil wealth just where it's needed most". "Chávez loyalists," said Rugman, "will control parliament." Imagine Channel 4 News describing Labour's electoral majority in the Commons as "Labour's loyalists control parliament."

He diminished or ignored the majority of the proposed constitutional changes including those that would reduce the working week from 44 hours to 36 hours; extend social security benefits to 5 million Venezuelans who work in the "informal economy" - street vendors and the like; end discrimination on the basis of gender - unprecedented in Latin America; lower the minimum voting age from 18 to 16, also unprecedented; and recognise Venezuela's African-Venezuelan heritage and multiculturalism as a step towards ending the rampant racism practised by a wealthy elite reminiscent of white South Africa under apartheid.

With the referendum results announced, Rugman rejoiced with a crowd of the well-off in Caracas. He declared that "the air is seeping out of the socialist revolution". Disgracefully, he reported that "[the opposition] feared that [Chávez] would rig the ballots against them" - when the opposite was both true and confirmed.

Propaganda such as this is an accurate reflection of the Venezuela media, which is overwhelmingly anti-Chávez and pro-Washington and was complicit in the lawless 2002 coup. As one of the coup plotters said, "Our secret weapon was the media." Dressed as journalism, it seeks not to inform, but to discredit - in this case, demonstrably one of the most original and imaginative and hopeful democratic experiments in the world. In doing so, it blocks real debate on issues such as those that led Chávez supporters to abstain and a definition of Venezuela's proclaimed "socialism" as well as the natural tension between the state and the grass roots. It is the same propaganda that has closed down debate elsewhere and helped to see off Allende in Chile, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Astride in Haiti, not to mention a long list of those on other continents who have tried to raise their people out of poverty and despair. This is journalism as the agency of power, not people, unrelated in all ways to the craft of a Gellhorn, a Cameron, a Murrow, a Hersh.

Friday, 14 December 2007

After the Referendum- views from activists

There follows a list of quotes translated from the original Spanish from Venezuelan politicians and activists discussing the recent referendum.- Hat tip, Lenin's Tomb.

In 2006, President Chávez won the presidential elections with 62 per cent of the vote, obtaining the support of 7,309,000 people. A year later, the president’s Constitutional Reform only received 4,380,000 votes in favour, which allows the simple observation that some 3 million people who voted for President Chávez in 2006 decided not to vote for his Constitutional Reform proposal.

In contrast, in 2006, Chávez’s closest competitor, the opposition candidate Manuel Rosales, obtained 4,292,000 votes. In 2007, those who were opposed to the reform numbered 4,504,000 - two hundred thousand more people than had voted for the opposition in 2006.

En 2006, el Presidente Chávez ganó las elecciones presidenciales con un 62 por ciento de los votos, obteniendo el apoyo de 7.309.000 personas. Un año después, la Reforma Constitucional del Presidente Chávez sólo logró 4.380.000 votos a favor, lo que a simple vista denota que unas 3 millones de personas que habían votado por el Presidente Chávez en 2006 decidieron no votar por su propuesta de Reforma Constitucional.

En contraste, en 2006 el más cercano competidor de Chávez, el opositor Manuel Rosales, obtuvo 4.292.000 votos. En 2007, quienes se opusieron a su propuesta de Reforma fueron 4.504.000 personas, doscientas mil personas más que quienes votaron por la oposición en 2006.

What is to be done? To leave this situation and ensure that the revolutionary process overcomes this moment and can deepen, it is essential that all power should pass to the people and their organisations.

The Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) congress should become a more democratic organisation where all could think, propose, criticise and decide the best course for the Bolivarian revolution, without the restrictions or bureaucratic interference that prevents free discussion.

We have immense confidence that hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans will continue advancing the socialist project, and will confront on this road any attacks the right may try to make. But this confidence must be accompanied by unity and organisation, and the construction of a space to debate all these themes.

¿Qué se va hacer? Para salir de esta situación y que el proceso revolucionario supere este momento y pueda profundizarse, verdaderamente todo el poder debe pasar al pueblo y a sus organizaciones.

El Congreso del Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) debe transformarse en la más democrática instancia donde todos podamos opinar, proponer, criticar y decidir lo mejor para la revolución bolivariana, sin restricciones y sin injerencias burocráticas que impidan una libre discusión.

Tenemos inmensa confianza en que cientos de miles de compatriotas podemos seguir con el proyecto socialista y enfrentar en ese camino cualquier intento que la derecha pretenda realizar. Pero a la confianza hay que acompañarla de unidad y de organización, construyendo un espacio común para debatir todos estos temas.

Stalin Pérez, Vilma Vivas, Marco García e Ismael Hernández, Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT) sindicalistas, Caracas

For so long the President has been favouring people with scarce resources and proposing actions to continue helping the poorest such as through the Consejos Comunales, and I believe that the abstention was a result of complacency, a lack of political maturity, and ingratitude, but the real problem is the situation of criminality and gangsterism in the barrios.

(The campaign) failed to organize regular political debates to explain and compare the advantages and disadvantages between socialism and capitalism. Some just wanted to take from the revolution, and for these, it doesn’t matter whether they vote or not. As such, those who abstained have to accept their irresponsibility.

A estas alturas del tiempo que lleva el Presidente favoreciendo a la gente de menores recursos y proponiendo acciones para seguir ayudandolos como es el caso de los Consejos Comunales, creo que la abstención obedece a la comodidad, falta de madurez política e ingratitud de la gente, pero un problema real es la situación en los barrios con visos de criminalidad y pandillerismo.

Falta realizar, como rutina, talleres de ideología que explique y confronte ventajas y desventajas entre socialismo y capitalismo. Algunos sólo quieren vivir de la revolución y por ello les da lo mismo votar o no. Así que los abstencionistas asuman su irresponsabilidad.

Dalia Pérez, Barquisimeto

I hope the President counter attacks… it seems to me that the politicians were overconfident in the campaign, but now we should advance on the attack.

Aspiro que el presidente haga lo que más el contraataque… ahí se crece… me parece que en la campaña hubo exceso de confianza de parte del políticos, pero ahora debemos avanzar al ataque.

José Rojas, Barrio El Junquito, Caracas

We have to find out what happened with this Chavismo Lite that stayed at home, we have to see what is going on with the people.

Furthermore, we have to make sure that its not just politicians in the media influencing this mystical public opinion, but that all Venezuelans are involved in politics.

We have to organize ourselves, go into the streets, construct this community, these consejos… we have to respect our President and bring the confused abstainers to the polls.

The fight continues comrades - this hasn’t finished, and he who doesn’t believe that doesn’t deserve to be called a revolutionary.

Tenemos que ver que pasa con ese Chavismo Light que se quedo en su casa, tenemos que ver que esta pasando en el pueblo.

Además tenemos que demostrar que no es político solo el que habla en medios y crea esa mitificada opinión publica, sino todos y todas las venezolanas y venezolanos, todos tenemos que estar inmiscuidos en problemas políticos.

Tenemos que organizarnos, salir a las calles, construir esa comunidad, esos consejos… tenemos que velar por nuestro presidente y llevar a las urnas a esos abstinentes confundidos.

La lucha sigue camaradas - esto no ha terminado, y el que lo crea así, no merece ser llamado revolucionario.

Pablo Trinidad, Cua, Venezuela

This is a clear message that the Venezuelan opposition has nothing assured, that it wasn’t a convincing victory, and much less an end to the hope of a new, more just, economic and political future.

Nothing has been lost, we will continue and we will advance.

Este es un claro mensaje a la oposición venezolana, que indica que no tienen nada asegurado, que no fue una victoria contundente y mucho menos un final a la esperanza de un nuevo furturo económico y político más justo.

Nada se ha perdido, continuemos, avancemos.

Ángela, Barrio 23 de enero, Caracas

I think that one of the reasons (for the defeat) was the scattered efforts to organize the PSUV on one side, and on the other, the discussion about the reform.

Of six million members, only one million and a bit attend meetings… the PSUV has not been organized, and this confrontation especially found it poorly prepared.

I believe in the PSUV, I believe it is necessary, but also I think it was a mistake to leave the organisation of the party until after the referendum.

Creo que una de las razones fue la dispersion de esfuerzos por un lado con la corformacion del PSUV y por el otro la discusion de la reforma.

De seis millones de inscritos solo asistian a las reuniones un millon y piquito… el PSUV no estaba organizado, y especialmente para esta confrontacion no se encontraba debidamente preparado.

Creo en el PSUV, creo que es necesario, pero tambien creo que ha podido posponerse su conformacion hasta pasar el referendum.

Francisco Acuña, Valencia

Union leaders and workers have to take to the streets to mobilize and fight for the 6 hour work day and the inclusion of the workers in the informal sector.

Our revolutionary process requires and deserves a profound and urgent change. There is no time or possibility for superficial changes. A debate on the great political and economic decisions has to be started with the masses, with social, popular and political organisations, and we need a revolutionary newspaper.

There has to be no more appointed functionaries who are interested in their own personal gain. The role of the Ministers of Popular Power must be usurped, so that the decisions referred to them are debated and decided by those who will be affected by these decisions.

There must be no more salaries that allow (state) bureaucrats to live as though in Saudi Venezuela, buying properties and staying in luxurious hotels. This has nothing to do with socialism, and the workers demand that all those involved in this (corruption), all the inefficient and unscrupulous functionaries are fired.

Those who work for the process (the revolution) those that sacrifice each day, the true workers’ leaders and the social leaders in the barrios, that are part of, and reflect the people, have to be involved.

Los dirigentes sindicales y los trabajadores tenemos que salir a movilizarnos y a conquistar hoy las 6 horas de trabajo y la inclusión de los informales.

Nuestro proceso revolucionario necesita y se merece un cambio profundo y urgente. Ya no hay tiempo ni posibilidades de cambios superficiales. Hay que abrir el debate de las grandes decisiones políticas y económicas con las bases, con las organizaciones sociales, populares y políticas del proceso, y necesitamos un periódico revolucionario.

Hay que terminar con los funcionarios elegidos a dedo que no reflejan más que sus intereses personales. Replantearse el rol de los Ministros del Poder Popular, para que todas las decisiones referidas a cada uno sean debatidas y decididas por las bases involucradas.

Hay que terminar con los salarios de funcionarios que viven como en Venezuela Saudita, que compran propiedades y duermen en lujosos hoteles. Eso nada tiene que ver con un proyecto socialista, y las bases reclamamos la salida de todos los involucrados en este proceso, la renuncia de estos ineficientes e inescrupulosos funcionarios.

Hay que darle paso a los que trabajan por el proceso, a los que se sacrifican a diario desde las bases, a los verdaderos liderazgos obreros y los populares en los barrios, que son parte y reflejo directo de sus sectores sociales.

Union Nacional de Trabajadores sindicalistas, Venezuela

Democratisation of communication is the way that the people can participate in the production and distribution of information through the media, and undercut the 80 per cent of the media that reflects the priorities of capitalism.

This revolutionary form of communication should spread from the masses who support the government - from each battalion, in each consejo comunal, in every community.

La democratización de la comunicación es la vía para que el pueblo participe en la producción y distribución de los mensajes mediáticos, de darse esto no importará que más del 80 por ciento de los medios informativos respondan al modo de producción capitalista. Esta forma revolucionaria de comunicación debe desplegarse desde las bases de quienes apoyan al gobierno - en cada batallón, en cada consejo comunal, en cada pueblo.

María Rivas, Barrio Catia, Caracas

We are not going to hear those opinionated commentators who accused Chávez of being a dictator, an autocrat, a manipulator, gorilla or Castrocommunist - all the insults and lies of the politicians, café society, columnists and editorialists - apologise after the President immediately accepted without any objection the adverse result, but in 2 seconds - crash! - the entire media slander collapsed.

If only Colombia or México could show the same confidence and trust in their (electoral) institutions!

This is the moment to attend to the democratic capacity of the PSUV, changing a strategy that had prioritised quantity over quality, and that had hindered the activists from participating. This is the moment to make internal discussion - the multiplicity of dissident opinions - a democratic requisite.

No vamos a escuchar al grueso de los opinólogos que han acusado a Chávez de dictador, autócrata, manipulador, gorila o castrocomunista - todos los insultos y calumnias de políticos, tertulianos, columnistas y editorialistas - entonar un mea culpa después de que el Presidente aceptara de inmediato y sin ningún reparo el resultado adverso, pero en dos segundos - ¡derrumbó! - la calumnia mediática fracasó.

¡Ojala mostrara el ejército la misma fidelidad institucional en Colombia, en México!

Es el momento de mimar la capacidad democrática del PSUV, revirtiendo una estrategia que ha primado la cantidad a la calidad y que ha impedido que sea la base quien se encuentre con su verdadero instrumento de emancipación. Es el momento de hacer de la discusión interna un requisito democrático, de multiplicar las disidencias.

Juan Carlos Monedero, Madrid, España

What did the opposition win? Not much really. The opposition simply achieved to slow down a little the revolution’s advance that continues as before.

And what did the opposition lose? They lost the few cards they had left - the claims that elections can’t be trusted, that President Chávez wouldn’t recognize the result, that Chavistas are violent. And now, furthermore, they have now declared themselves fervent defenders of the Bolivarian Constitution, which is more a victory for us.

¿Qué ganó la oposición? No mucho, realmente. La oposición simplemente logró frenar un poco el avance de la revolución para quedar igual que antes.
¿Y qué perdieron? Perdieron algunas banderas de las muy pocas que disponían.
Que el árbitro no es confiable, que el presidente Chávez no reconocería su triunfo, que los chavistas son violentos. Y ahora, además, se han declarado fervientes defensores de la constitución Bolivariana, lo cual es más bien un triunfo para nosotros.

What did the revolutionaries lose? A tool to accelerate the advance of the revolution, that maybe wasn’t well explained or was proposed at the wrong moment.

And what did we gain? An increase in our international prestige as an eminently democratic people, with a great democratic leader, and the opportunity to reflect, improve and rectify our strategies before it becomes too late.

¿Qué perdimos los revolucionarios? Una herramienta para aligerar el avance de la revolución, que tal vez no fue bien sustentada o se propuso en el momento equivocado.
¿Y que ganamos? Aumento de nuestro prestigio internacional como pueblo eminentemente democrático, con un gran líder demócrata, y la oportunidad de reflexionar, pulir y rectificar las estrategias antes de que sea demasiado tarde.

What happened was the best thing that could have happened. Considering the adversary that we faced, it wouldn’t have suited us to win the referendum with a small margin. If we were not going to win with a sufficient margin, it was better to lose.

The rapid recognition of our adversary’s victory, without any scheming, was taken by our entire movement in a disciplined manner and saved the country from who knows how much unnecessary violence.

Lo que pasó fue lo mejor que pudo pasar. Ante un adversario como el que enfrentamos, de ninguna manera nos convenía ganar el referendo con un margen estrecho. Si no ganábamos con suficiente ventaja, era mejor perder.

El rápido reconocimiento del triunfo del adversario, sin ninguna mezquindad, fue asumido por todo nuestro movimiento de manera disciplinada y le ahorró al país no se sabe cuantos actos de violencia innecesarios.

Ramón Prada, Caracas

One learns more from defeats than from victories.

The victory of the No could be considered a triumph of fear, of manipulation, terror, ignorance and disinformation.

Now, we should do away with easy slogans and take the ideological battle to the heart of the people.

De las derrotas se aprende más que de las victorias.

El triunfo del No podría ser considerado un triunfo del miedo, de la manipulación, del terror, de la ignorancia y de la desinformación.

Ahora, debemos derribar el slogan fácil y debemos ir a la batalla ideológica profunda en el seno de nuestro pueblo.

Oscar Figuera, Partido Comunista de Venezuela (PCV), Caracas

The opposition still has no direction, coherence or respect as a political force.

Should the right retake the presidency someday, ensure that revolutionary organisation on the ground, in the barrios, in workplaces, remains strong and independent to protect the gains that have been made.

Colombians expected Chávez, on hearing that the vote was lost, to declare martial law, send tanks onto the streets and soldiers into the TV studios.

To see this guy talking without formalities, without notes, with humour and grace, telling the opposition to enjoy their evening, and even debating the impact of the result in interactions with the people in the audience, openly and honestly, left Colombians a little disorientated.

I think this defeat and the grace in which the Chávistas have taken it will actually go a long way towards undercutting the propaganda war against the revolution.

La oposición todavía no tiene ninguna dirección, coherencia o respeto como una fuerza política.

Los derechistas deben toma la presidencia algún día, asegurar que la organisación revolucionaria - en los barrios, en los lugares de trabajo - permanezca fuerte e independiente para proteger los logros que han hecho.

Los colombianos esperaron que Chávez, cuando el escuchó que el voto había sido perdido, declarara la ley martial, enviando tanques a las calles, y soldados a los estudios de televisión.

Para mirar este man hablando sin formalidades, sin notas, y con humor y gracia, diciéndole a la oposición que disfrutaran su tarde, y aún debatiendo el impacto de los resultados con la audencia, abierta y honestamente, dejando a los colombianos un poco desorientados.

Yo creo que esta derrota y la gracia con lo que los Chavistas han aceptado, realmente lo hará disminuir la guerra de propaganda contra la revolución.

Rocío Jiménez, Bogotá, Colombia

We have been unable to achieve a revolutionary process from below, with high levels of popular protagonism, and the Bolivarian revolution is still essentially led from the top.

Lots of people that are with the revolution, refrained this time from voting because they are being increasingly marginalized by a centralized State revolutionary process. They feel it is not their revolution.

It is a revolution that being handed down to them. They are not the subjects of the process, but its mere objects. And this is what disenfranchised and alienated 3 million potential supporters. This is the wrong path that led us into defeat.

Nosotros no hemos podido lograr un proceso revolucionario desde abajo, con altos niveles de protagonismo popular, y la revolución Bolivariana esta todavía dirigida desde la cima.

Mucha gente que está con la revolución se abstuvo, esta vez, de votar porque ellos están siendo aumentados marginalmente por un proceso revolucionario y centralizado del estado. Ellos sienten que no es su revolución.

Es una revolución que está dándoles a ellos. Ellos no son los sujetos del proceso, pero son los meros objectos. Y esto es lo que causado el disenfranchisimiento y la alienación de tres millones de partidarios. Este es el camino errado que ha dirigido a la derrota.

Teresa Arraíz, Ciudad Bolívar

How can the opposition move beyond its stupid, monotonous and shallow ‘anti-dictator’ mantra? They can't, because they have nothing of substance beyond it to offer.

The revolution has occupied, with its vast and deep program of social reforms, all possible political space.

Besides, as soon as the opposition tries to agree on a proposal that is not just tired propaganda, they will explode into a myriad of fragments.

Nothing truly strategic and positive holds together the opposition's fragile concoction of contradictory and petty motives.

¿Cómo puede la oposición moverse por encima de la mantra estúpida, monótona y superficial de ‘contra-dictador’? No pueden, porque no tienen nada de substancia para ofrecer.

La revolución ha ocupado, con su programa de inmensas y profundas reformas sociales, todo el espacio político posible..

Además, tan pronto como la opocisión intenta estar de acuerdo en un propuesta que no es propaganda cansada, ellos estallarán en una miríada de fragmentos.

Nada verdadamente estratégico y positivo sostiene juntos la mezcla frágil de los motivos contradictorios e insignificantes de la opocisión.

Augusto Piñango, Santa Rosalía, Portuguesa

We haven’t lost anything - just a possibility, but we are going to convince our compañeros, those who have doubts, those who have fears… raise the socialist standard, learn more, unite together, teach, and continue demonstrating through action - more than through theories - what socialism is.

No hemos perdido nada, en verdad perdimos sí una posibilidad, pero vamos a convencer a los compañeros, a los habitantes, a los que tienen dudas, a los que tienen temores… levanta la bandera del socialismo, estudiemos más, compactémonos mucho más, expliquemos más y sigamos ahora demostrando en los hechos en qué consiste, más allá de la teoría, la propuesta socialista.

President Hugo Chávez


Chavez's concession speech:

I prefer it like this. I prefer that it ends like this.

Lo prefiero así. Yo prefiero que haya terminado así.

I am calm, as I hope all Venezuelans are at this moment. Let us all be proud with what we have done, and continue to respect each other.
Now, we must all recognize the decision, the very tiny margin. I say this to emphasis all those who voted Sí and to say to the leaders of the opposition - I sincerely hope you know how to deal with this success.

Estoy tranquilo, como espero que los venezolanos, a partir de este momento, también lo hagan. Estemos todos orgullosos con lo que hemos hecho, cada quien en su ámbito, con sus posiciones, respetando al otro.
Ahora, todos debemos reconocer que es una decisión ahí, muy chiquitica. Digo esto para recordar a quienes votaron por el Sí y a los dirigentes de oposición, mi sincera recomendación de que sepan administrar esa victoria.

I will sleep tranquilly. Those who are going to celebrate should know how to manage their victory. You gained it, but I wouldn’t have wanted such a pyrrhic victory… the vote totals are irreversible, and I recognize that.

I congratulate my adversaries on this victory - it was a hard fight.

For now, we couldn’t… (but) the reform proposal is still alive, it hasn’t died.

Yo dormiré tranquilo. Los que vayan a celebrar que sepan administrar su victoria. Ustedes se la ganaron, pero yo esa victoria pírrica no la hubiera querido. Más bien prefiero que las cifras hayan llegado al nivel de irreversibilidad y sentarme delante de todos ustedes a reconocerlo.
Felicito a mis adversarios por esa victoria; nosotros estamos hechos para una batalla larga. Por ahora no pudimos… La propuesta de reforma está viva, no ha muerto.

I assume the responsibility for not achieving 50 per cent plus one for the proposal - but it nearly achieved it.

It has to be accepted: in Venezuela, despite all the scheming and lies, as President Castro described it a few days ago, a people under fire - under an intense artillery fire of lies and fears - still voted 49 per cent for the socialist project. Despite everything, this is a great political advance.

Yo asumo la responsabilidad de esta propuesta, que no logró el 50 por ciento más uno; pero casi lo logro.
Hay que aceptarlo: venimos de una situación donde en Venezuela no había rumbo político, a pesar de todas las artimañas y mentiras que circularon, como el Presidente Castro lo describió hace unos días, un pueblo bajo fuego - fue sometido a un intenso fuego de artillería de mentiras y temores - sin embargo, que haya votado 49 por ciento por el proyecto socialista, a pesar de todo es un gran paso político.

We continue the battle to construct socialism, within the Constitution. In the proposal there are very audacious ideas, without precedents.
I will not erase a single comma of this proposal. The proposal continues…

Nosotros seguimos en la batalla por la construcción del socialismo, en el marco de la Constitución. En la propuesta hay ideas muy audaces, sin precedentes.
Ni una sola coma de esta propuesta, yo la retiro. La propuesta la continúo haciendo…

We lost 3 million votes - for what reasons? It is necessary to evaluate, although I am completely confident that the immense majority of those people continue with us, those who did not vote Sí. They abstained; had doubts, fears, no time - there was no chance to explain….There are many political factors that we must take into account in this battle… we respected the rules of the game… (and) it is not the first time.

A nosotros nos faltaron 3 millones de votos de personas que no fueron a votar. ¿Por cuáles razones? Hay que evaluarlo, estoy completamente seguro que la inmensa mayoría de esas personas sigue con nosotros, que no votaron por el Sí; se abstuvieron: dudas, temores, faltó tiempo, capacidad para explicar….Hay bastantes elementos políticos que debemos tomar en cuenta en esta batalla… respetamos las reglas del juego… No es la primera vez.

The Chief of State invited the foreign journalists present to this concession, to observe how Venezuela continues speaking openly, with freedom of expression, criticism and demonstrations - as it has always done - and so to cause the accusations of a supposed dictatorship in Venezuela to crumble.

El Jefe de estado conminó a los periodistas extranjeros presentes en la alocución, a observar cómo en Venezuela se continuará hablando abiertamente, libertad de expresión, críticas y manifestaciones, como siempre ha sido, con lo que se desmoronan las acusaciones de una supuesta dictadura en Venezuela.

No more in Venezuela will there be elections as in the past… when the (workers’) Communist vote was torn between Acción Democrática and COPEI. This vote is a demonstration of the credibility and confidence that we have in our Constitution and in the institutions (misions and consejos comunales) that have been created as part of our Bolivarian democracy.

Ya nunca se verá en Venezuela lo que veíamos nosotros en las elecciones del pasado…cuando el Partido Comunista se lo repartían entre la Acción Democrática y el COPEI. Esta es una demostración de la credibilidad que debemos tener en nuestra Constitución y en las instituciones que ha creado, en nuestro sistema político de la democracia bolivariana.

I congratulate those who voted for the proposal and those who rejected it - to those who had doubts, this one (democracy) is the way… I hope they will now spurn, for ever, their nihilistic road to violence, destabilization and ignorance.
Venezuelan democracy is becoming mature and each process that we experience, each political moment, is allowing our country to continue advancing this new Bolivarian project that began in 1999.

Felicito a quienes votaron por la propuesta y quienes la rechazaron - a aquellos que tenían dudas, éste es el camino y ojalá se olviden, para siempre, de las trochas, los saltos al vacío, de los caminos de la violencia, de la desestabilización y el desconocimiento.
La democracia venezolano va madurando y cada proceso que vivimos, cada jornada política, va permitiendo que nuestro país continúe madurando, en este nuevo proyecto Bolivariano que comenzó en 1999.

To paraphrase the Liberator, Simón Bolivar, who, at the moment of presenting the text of Bolivia’s Constitution, said that if it was not accepted, he would bequeath it for the future, the reform proposal is entrusted to the immediate future.

(With this vote) our Bolivarian Constitution, so hard fought for, has finally been recognised by the opposition.

The opposition have to defend the Constitution… I hope (the opposition’s participation in the vote) hasn’t been a momentary political tactic. I want to have faith. We are going to construct the Venezuela that the Constitution reflects.

Parafrasear al Libertador Simón Bolívar, cuando en la oportunidad de entregar el texto de la Constitución de Bolivia, dicho que si no lo aceptaban lo legaría para el futuro, esta propuesta de Reforma la lega para un futuro inmediato.

Nuestra tan luchada constitución…que por cierto, uno de los grandes logros es que la oposición reconoció esta Constitución Bolivariana.
Han salido a defenderla. Espero que no haya sido un recurso momentáneo y manejo electorero. Quiero creer en la buena fe. Vamos a construir la Venezuela que aquí esta reflejada.

Al Jazeera English on the Venezuelan Referendum

On Friday, December 7th, Al Jazeera's programme The Listening Post analysed the world's media biased coverage of the constitutional reform referendum. Amongst those interviewed was Alan Woods, founder of Hands Off Venezuela.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Manifesto to the Bolivian People

Manifesto to the Bolivian People

Summit of the social organisations of the indigenous, originario, campesino peoples and nations and the popular organisation of the cities of the Bolivia <>

The demand for a Constituent Assembly arose as a democratic and peaceful response by the working people, in the face of the genocide and massacres by Banzer, Tuto Quiroga, Sanchez de Lozada, the same ones who preferred to drown the homeland in blood or divide the country rather that lose their class and caste privileges.

It was the democratic vote of the people which guaranteed the convoking of the Constituent Assembly, it was the democratic vote which elected the constituent delegates, providing space for minorities and majorities, with the responsibility of uniting Bolivians, ending injustices and recognising the rights of the excluded and discriminated indigenous peoples.

That is why today, at the same time as telling Bolivia and the world that we are here, standing up with dignity and commitment in order to defend to Constituent Assembly, we call on all Bolivian people, workers and business owners, indigenous peoples and mestizos, citizens of the east and west, students, professionals, middle classes, neighbours, house wives and young people who love our beloved homeland to struggle, distribute, mobilise and defend the following 18 strategic points of the new Political Constitution of the State that will guarantee the democratic unity of the homeland, equality between people, the collective rights of the indigenous, originario, campesino peoples, the nationalisation of natural wealth and the widening of social rights.

1. A Unitary, Plurinational, Communitarian and Democratic State , where all peoples, cultures, languages, have the same rights, opportunities and are recognised in the same manner in front of the law, institutions and society. The Plurinational Communitarian State has as its foundation well being, and the decolonisation of the state that for centuries has discriminated and marginalized people due to their language, their skin colour, their surname or tradition. The Plurinational, Communitarian and Democratic State guarantees the unity of all Bolivians within a single and indivisible homeland, but at the same time recognised the right of each indigenous people to preserve their culture and tradition.

2. Plurinational Public Adminstration. All public functionaries should know the dominant indigenous language of the region where they work so as to be able to communicate with the peoples, the Spanish language, to be able to communicate with the rest of the Bolivians, and a foreign language, in order to be linked with the world.

3. A Unitary State with municipal, departmental, regional and indigenous, originario, campesino autonomies that guarantee the unity of the state, solidarity between regions and the democratic decentralisation of power.

4. The Nationalisation of Natural Resources, renewable and non-renewable, under the control and ownership of the Bolivian people. Never again will gas, petroleum, mining resources, water, land nor forests be the property of foreigners. All natural resources will be the property of Bolivian, for use by Bolivians, and for the benefit of Bolivians.

5. Sovereign Natural Resources. It is totally prohibited for non-state organisations to directly involve themselves in the administration, management, control and preservation of forests, parks and natural reserves, as well as biodiversity, all of which are under the control of the state.

6. Taxes on large fortunes. Those that have accumulated enormous wealth should pay larger taxes for the benefit of the most needy.

7. Social and Communitarian Economy. The state will participate in the strategic sectors of the economy. The state recognises that private Bolivian investment is a factor in productive development, and that foreign private investment will be subordinated to national development plans, and that medium and small rural producers, agrarian communities and productive associations will receive state protection, economic support, credits, technology and infrastructure in order to guarantee the well being of society.

8. The state respects, guarantees and protects medium and small private property, and communitarian, cooperative and mixed property. Private property should guarantee that it plays an effective social function in the benefit of human beings.

9. Expropriation without indemnification of latifundio and its immediate distribution between producers and those from the countryside and city who are willing to produce for the benefit of society.

10. Re-election and revocation by popular mandate of any elected authority. Now, never again will authorities be immovable nor owners of their positions. The people are sovereign and the people can ratify or change their authorities when they so desire.

11. Election of all authorities of the Judicial Power to democratise, decolonise and nationalise the justice system. Now, never again will citizens be the objects of blackmail by a dehumanising, insensitive and abusive justice system

12. Recognition of communitarian justice as an alternative, complementary and ancestral form of solving differences and conflicts.

13. Racism is a grave crime against society and the state. All manifestations, public or private expressions of racism, of exclusion for ethnic, cultural, linguistic reasons will be criminally sanctioned.

14. Plurinational Parliament with only one chamber guaranteeing the same number of current representative for each department. No more chambers of elites and privilege.

15. In the fight against corruption, the state does not recognise the prescription of the crime and investigations can be retroactive. Widen the power of the state to investigate fortunes.

16. All goods implicated in acts of corruption will be confiscated by the state for the benefit of the people.

17. All Bolivian men and women, from birth until death, have the right to health service in equal conditions.

18. Total Elimination of illiteracy Passed on tenth day of the month of September of two thousand and seven.


Bolivia's indigenous and social movements: "If dialogue ends, we will assume more radical measures"

Resolution passed by the Social Summit of Social Movements, held in Sucre on
September 10, 2007


That, the Constituent Assembly is a space for the construction of a new state, with the participation of all Bolivian men and women, and is a conquest of the people, which has cost the blood of the indigenous, originario, campesino nations and popular classes, and a long historic resistance in the face of the neoliberal roscas[1], who privatised natural resources, strategic companies and took advantage of the spaces of power for their own personal benefit.

That, the Bolivian people, expressed in the form of the social movements, for the first time are actors in the construction of a new state, having been marginalise for more than 500 years, where injustice and inequality created great differences.

Therefore, the summit of the social organisations of the indigenous, originario, campesino nations and people and the popular organisations of the cities of Bolivia, resolves:

1. Defend, including with our lives, the Constituent Assembly and this process of irreversible profound change being driven forward by the historic forces of our peoples and the indigenous, originario and campesino nations, together with the popular organisations.

2. That in the case of there not being democratic guarantees for the installation of sessions [of the Constituent Assembly], we demand that the sessions should be immediately installed in another department, maintain the city of Sucre as the centre of operations.

3. We support our sister Silvia Lazarte Flores, president of the Constituent Assembly who, due to being an indigenous woman who wear a pollera [indigenous dress], was discriminated against by racist oligarchic sectors from the city of Sucre.

4. We rule out and reject in a firm manner, the ruling laid down by the District Superior Court of Chuquisaca [2], which was an act that was a perversion of justice and an attack on the independent and foundational character of the Constituent Assembly. We can not allow a resolution approved by a majority of assembly delegates, elected by the people, to be ruled out of order by two judges named from above, according to a sharing out of quotas of power between the traditional parties of the right.

5. We demand that the assembly delegates, in accordance with moral and ethical principals, do not receive their salaries for days not worked.

6. The social movements of the countryside and city will defend the process of change, headed by Evo Morales Ayma, Constitutional President of the Republic, who has been carrying out deep structural changes, in the economic, in the political, in the social and in the cultural sphere, in compliance with the mandate of the people.

7. We demands that the convening of the National Congress and the presidential report given every August 6, take on a rotational character between the 9 departments, based on a principal of equality, equity and justice.

8. We denounce in front of the international community and human rights organisations, the aggression and insults directed at social organisations and assembly delegates, the burning of the symbols of the indigenous, originario and campesino peoples, and the destruction of the headquarters of the social organisations.

9. We warn that a small groups of the fascist elites, by continuing to misinform the population, are prejudicing the Constituent Assembly, and that if the dialogue ends, we will assume other more radical measures, which we as social organisations reserve the right to use.

10. The social organisations of the countryside and the city declare ourselves in a state of emergency, permanent vigil and commit ourselves to organising Committees in Defence of the Constituent Assembly, via out confederations, federation, neighbourhood committees, associations, unions, capitanías, tentas, ayllus[2] and all social and popular organisations to guarantee the functioning of the Constituent Assembly and consolidate our proposals in the new Political Constitution of the State.

Passed in the city of Sucre on the ten day of the month of September of 2007.


[1] Rosca was the word given to describe the oligarchy tie to tin and silver mining during the first half of the 20 th century.

[2] The Superior District Superior Court of Chuquisaca ruled the overturning of a plenary decision by the majority of the delegates of the Constituent Assembly to eliminate debate around the capital. [3] capitanías, tentas, and ayllus Indigenous communitarian forms of organisation

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Allende's Grandson speaks in Caracas on 34th anniversary of Chilean Coup

Gonzalo Meza Allende, the grandson of Salvador Allende, spoke in Caracas, Venezuela yesterday, during a commemorative ceremony on the 34th anniversary of Pinochet’s coup d’etat, which overthrew and assassinated the democratically elected Chilean President, Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.

I want to thank you for the invitation to commemorate this significant day in history, not just for Chile but for the entire world.

I want to take the opportunity to reflect with you—Venezuelans, Chileans, and Latin American friends—on the similarities and differences with the process that my grandfather led when he took power in 1970. But the history should leave us lessons to learn from.

Just as with the Venezuelan Process, in Chile we needed a leader of international status. You have President Hugo Chavez, elected democratically like Salvador Allende. They both came to power through the electoral route.

But the first difference, which Venezuela has overcome well, is that in Chile the Popular Unity did not obtain the absolute majority of 50%. It never had an absolute majority, and how important it is to have the support of much more than half the people. Value this, my friends; Venezuela has more than 50% that support Chavez.

Allende is the figure that symbolizes the project on the road to Socialism of the 20th Century, through the democratic means. President Chavez is the Socialism of the 21st Century. It is true, they are different global contexts. Allende lived in the era of the Cold War; the pressure so that he would ally with the Soviet Communists, or that which he also staunchly opposed- state capitalism, the capitalism of the North America.

Therefore, he always spoke of the Chilean way. In Venezuela, you have proclaimed the Venezuelan road to Socialism. Now there is no Cold War, but be careful, the country acting as the world super-power is the same and attempts to control the global economy and ideology. This has not changed. And there you have another great similarity and difference with the Chilean process. The United States openly intervened in both countries, attempting to overthrow, through the treason of the Armed Forces and with the support of large business interests, both governments, Chilean and Venezuelan, democratically elected, for not being aligned to their interests. What they unfortunately achieved in Chile in 1973 and what they couldn’t achieve in Venezuela—another important lesson from this century.

From here, the birthplace of Latin American unity, with the force of the ideas of Simon Bolivar still alive, to work for the great homeland of integration from Patagonia to Rio Grande to the North of Mexico- Allende also always pushed for Latin American unity, the unity of our region. And it is not just a coincidence that he traveled with the Chilean delegation in 1967 to the conference of the Organization of Latin American Solidarity (OLAS). We are once again inspired to work for Latin American unity. It is paradoxical. We have the same language, the same cultures, values. We have a region that unites many and nevertheless, it has cost us so much to unite this region.

Nevertheless, we have examples like the European Union, where despite two World Wars, they have been capable of today working together. Let us learn the lessons from other parts of the world to apply here. We need Latin American unity and we are working and advancing for it.

In relation to Latin American unity, I cite the following, spoken by my grandfather. He said, citing Bolivar:

“The United States wants to subject us to misery in the name of freedom, and Marti has made ever harsher statements, and I don’t care to repeat them, because in reality I distinguish between the North American people and its freethinkers, and the sometimes transitory attitude of some of their leaders and the politics of the State Department and the private interests that have counted on North American support.”

That’s what my grandfather said more than thirty-five years ago, and I continue saying it. We know well the South America scenario: That although a potentially rich continent, it is a poor continent fundamentally from the exploitation, because it is the victim of private North American capital. This has not changed and we need to struggle against it.

“We struggle fundamentally for the integration of Latin American countries. We believe that it is a just road indicated by the founding fathers of the homeland, who dreamed of Latin American unity, to be able to build a continental voice before the world.”

My grandfather spoke these words more than thirty years ago and they are still true today, exactly as they sound. That is why the similarities are inevitable. If we remember: The destiny- of the revolutionary process of change that the Venezuelan society is looking for - is in your hands.

Once more, I thank you for the homage of Salvador Allende, who was always an exceptional man before his time. At 34 years since his death, we should better understand his words, and let us listen carefully to what he said:

“It is clear that we believe that dialogue is fundamental. People like us fight for peace and not for war, for economic cooperation and not exploitation, for social coexistence and not for injustice.”

Many—millions and millions of people across the world—follow closely the significance of the Socialism of the 21st Century that President Chavez is putting forth, as the Socialist process was put forth in Chile, last century. And I end remembering once more the force of my grandfather’s words. Once more, even more than the exceptional coherence, as if he was—and he is—here with us. And I cite his version of the 21st Century, expressed in 1972. He said:

“And that’s why I believe that the man of the 21st Century should be a man with a different conception; with another scale of values; a man that is not essentially and fundamentally moved by money; a man that believes that there exists a different measure of fortune, in which intelligence is the great creative force”

Many thanks again, Venezuelan friends. Good luck, in great solidarity and support from Chile.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Venezuelan Constitution changed to help create Socialism

Chavez Proposes Changes to Venezuela’s Constitution to Pave Way for Socialism

By: Kiraz Janicke –

Caracas, August 17, 2007 ( – On August 15, the third anniversary of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s victory in the recall referendum of 2004, and the 202nd anniversary of Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar’s famous oath of Monte Sacro, where he swore not to rest “until the chains of oppression are lifted from my people,” tens of thousands of Venezuelans turned out to an extraordinary session of National Assembly to hear the president’s proposed constitutional reform.

Recounting the experiences and achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution over the last eight years, including the Constituent Assembly and referendum of 1999, which founded the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the opposition military coup on April 11th, 2002 and its “victorious defeat” on April 13th and the oil industry lockout which nearly crippled the Venezuelan economy in early 2003, Chavez confessed, “I am emotional today, because I believe this proposal will open doors to a new era.”

The 1999 constitution was “ambiguous” he said “a product of that moment. The world is very different today than 1999.” The new constitutional reforms are “essential for continuing the process of revolutionary transition,” he assured.

New Geometry of Power

Outlining his far-reaching proposal for transforming the Venezuelan state, Chavez called for “a new geometry of power.” Key to this is an amendment to article 16 in the constitution, which states; “The national territory is divided into states, the Capital District, federal dependencies and federal territories. The territory is organized in Municipalities” to be replaced by; “The territorial political division will be determined by the organic law that guarantees municipal autonomy and political decentralization.”

Declaring that, “regionalism, is dogma, that impedes change, [and] we can not accept situations that create Caudillos,” he said the new law would allow for the creation, through popular referendum, of “federal districts” in specific areas, which could then be categorized as states and assigned all or part of the respective territory.

This proposal, he maintained, is “profoundly revolutionary,” and necessary “to remove the old oligarchic, exploiter hegemony, the old society, and, in the words of Gramsci, to weaken the old “historic block.” “If we don’t change the superstructure, the old superstructure will defeat us,” he continued.

The proposal also allows municipalities, “with the acceptance of the people within the municipality,” to create territory or land in common, which would be under the direct government of the community and, according to Chavez, would constitute “the basic nucleus of the socialist state.”

Chavez also said unions or federations of self-governing communes, could be created through popular referendum, through the communal councils, and aggregations of communal councils.

Additionally, through the incorporation of the social missions into the constitution, “functional districts,” could be also be created by one or more municipalities, where the social missions would function as alternative administrations to the traditional bureaucratic institutions.

Chavez declared it was necessary to re-order the country in view of increasing population growth, saying, “one day Venezuela will have 40-50 million people.”

In light of this, he argued it was also necessary to “restructure Caracas,” in terms of urban development, construction of roads, environmental recuperation and measures to achieve the optimal levels of public and personal security, strengthen systems of health, education, sport and culture, as well as the formation of small and medium satellite cities.

Another key aspect of the “new geometry of power” would be the ability of the president to declare special military zones in any part of the country with the strategic aim of defense, and decree special authorities in situations of contingency such as natural disasters.

Popular Power

In addition to the previously existing “public powers” recognized in the constitution such as the judiciary, legislative, executive and so on, Chavez also called for the incorporation of “popular power” into article 70, saying there was a need to decentralize and transfer power to the organized communities to create the best conditions for socialist democracy.

Article 70, Chavez assured, would also “reaffirm means of participation and protagonism of the people in direct exercise of their sovereignty for the construction of socialism,” through election to public positions, referendums, popular consultation, recall of elected officials (including the president), constitutional legislative initiatives, and open assemblies.

“Sovereignty rests with the people,” Chavez continued, “and should be exercised directly through the organs of popular power.” According to Chavez, popular power would be expressed through “the organized communities,” in various forms such as the communes, self-government of the towns and cities, the communal councils, workers councils, campesino councils, student councils, and others councils indicated in the law.

Political Sphere

In a move vehemently opposed by Venezuelan opposition parties, Chavez also proposed an amendment to article 203, which would allow for unlimited presidential re-elections, (countries such as France, Australia, Germany, and England allow for unlimited reelection), a move the opposition claims would lead to ‘dictatorship’. The proposed change would also extend presidential terms from six to seven years.

According Venezuelan vice-president Jorge Rodriguez, the opposition campaign against unlimited reelections is not out of concern for ‘democracy’, given that they supported a military coup against Chavez’s democratically elected government in 2002, but rather a tacit recognition of their inability to compete with Chavez in the electoral sphere.

However, as with all other aspects of the constitutional reform, which are required to be ratified through a popular referendum, Chavez affirmed that “reelection is the sovereign decision of the constituent people of Venezuela.”

Social and Cultural Rights

Chavez also called for the revision of article 100, to recognize Venezuela as a product of a diverse historical confluence of cultures and recommended the implementation of programs to promote equality for indigenous peoples and peoples of African descent. Additionally, proposed alterations to article 87 (which relates to social rights and rights of the family), would guarantee the right to work and promote the development of policies to generate productive employment. The state would also create a Social Stability Fund for ‘non-dependent’ or self employed workers such as taxi drivers, fishermen, and artisans, among others, to guarantee them the same fundamental rights as other workers such as retirement pensions, paid vacations and prenatal and postnatal leave entitlements.


The proposal calls for the constitution to promote a diverse and independent mixed economy to guarantee the social necessities of the people. While article 115 would continue to recognize and guarantee different forms of property, including private property, it would promote the development of social production and social property including direct/communal social property and indirect/state managed social property.

Chavez also called for the promotion and self-management of communal property, communal micro-financing organizations, cooperatives of communal property (which he distinguished from capitalist cooperatives) communal savings banks, networks of free associated producers, voluntary work, and community businesses as mechanisms toward the implementation of a new social system.

While monopolies would be banned under article 102, the following modification of article 302 would guarantee state control over the oil industry, closing off any potential loophole that would allow privatization of this resource; “The State reserves, for reasons of sovereignty, development and the national interest, the activity of exploitation of liquid, solid, and gaseous hydrocarbons as well as the exploitation of goods and services of public interest and strategic character.”

Other key changes in the economic sphere include the removal of “any vestige of autonomy” for the Central Bank of Venezuela and the elimination of the Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund under articles 318 and 321. Chavez has previously described the autonomy of the BCV as “a neoliberal idea.”

Chavez also plans to modify article 90 of the constitution to reduce the workday from eight hours to six, saying, the objective is that workers have sufficient time for integral and moral development of their personality, for participation, education, spiritual and recreational pursuits.

The reduction of the workday, he argued, would oblige businesses to open new shifts and therefore increase levels of permanent and productive employment, allowing time for volunteer work and contribute to the reduction of the informal economy and unemployment currently at 8 per cent.

Redefining the Military

Chavez also proposed a redefinition of the role of the military through a modification of article 328, which currently states “The National Armed Forces constitute an essentially professional institution, politically unaligned, organized by the state to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the nation.”

This would be replaced by, “The Bolivarian Armed Forces constitute an essentially patriotic, popular and anti-imperialist body organized by the state to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the nation” and the “application of principles of integral military defense and popular resistance war”

Declaring that “the old structure of the Reserves had many legal, structural and financial limitations,” Chavez proposed the amendment of article 329 to transform the Reserves into the Popular Bolivarian Militia constituted as the fifth official component of the Bolivarian Armed Forces, alongside the Bolivarian Army, the Bolivarian Navy, the Bolivarian Air Force, and the Bolivarian Territorial Guard (currently the National Guard). The role of the Territorial Guard would be integrated with other components of the armed forces. “The said bodies would be structured in combined garrison units, combined training units and combined units for joint operations,” signifying the “fusion” of the Armed Forces, he explained.

Summarizing his proposal as follows, “In the political terrain, the deepening of popular Bolivarian democracy; in the economy, the preparation for the best conditions for the construction of a socialist production model; in the field of public administration; incorporation of new structures to leave behind bureaucracy; in social matters, to increase the rights of workers in all imaginable spheres, and in the cultural the inclusion of our peoples of indigenous and African descent, the deepening of our anti-imperialist and patriotic consciousness,” Chavez called for a “grand debate in all areas of society.”

“Some pollsters try to manipulate public opinion, formulating questions such as “do you support democracy or socialism?” “But the people aren’t stupid. Only through socialism can you construct true democracy,” added Chavez.

The proposed constitutional reform, which aims to change 33 articles, or approximately 10% of the 1999 constitution, is set to be debated in three extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly over the next two-three months before going to a popular referendum.

Monday, 4 June 2007

PeoplePower in Venezuela- Eyewitness audio

People’s Power in Venezuela
for more info please visit VAST website

The Bolivarian Revolution led by President Hugo Chavez is challenging
George Bush’s “Evil Empire”.

Chavez’s call for “Socialism in the 21st Century” based on
participatory democracy, community councils and workers’ control of industry, has
been answered by the people.

Venezuela’s workers and urban poor have mobilised to combat
corporate control with people’s power.

Coral Wynter lived and worked in Venezuela , as a journalist for
Australia’s Green Left Weekly newspaper.

Listen to her presentation about this exciting struggle to build a
society where people are more important than profits HERE.