Evo Morales In His Own Words

Bolivian President Evo Morales, on his first visit to Washington, addressed the Organization of American States (OAS) and a standing-room only audience of diplomats, scholars and students at the American University. Explaining the extraordinary transformations taking place in Bolivia in the past few years, his overall theme, as he himself defined, was visible change. Contrary to the Bush administration, who always antagonized him, and whose ambassador was declared persona non grata in Bolivia by the President, Evo Morales – who was called the Indian President – hoped bilateral relations under Obama – the Black President – will improve.

Source: The Real News Network

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VII Social Summit for the Latin American and Caribbean Unity

By Noam Chomsky

During the past decade, Latin America has become the most exciting region of the world. The dynamic has very largely flowed from Caracas, Venezuela, with the election of a leftist president dedicated to using Venezuela’s rich resources for the benefit of the population rather than for wealth and privilege at home and abroad, and to promote the regional integration that is so desperately needed as a prerequisite for independence, for democracy, and for meaningful development. The initiatives taken in Venezuela have had a significant impact throughout the subcontinent, what has now come to be called “the pink tide.” The impact is revealed within the individual countries, most recently Paraguay, and in the regional institutions that are in the process of formation. Among these are the Banco del Sur, an initiative that was endorsed in Caracas a year ago by Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz; and the ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean, which might prove to be a true dawn if its initial promise can be realized.

The ALBA is often described as an alternative to the US-sponsored “Free Trade Area of the Americas,” though the terms are misleading. It should be understood to be an independent development, not an alternative. And, furthermore, the so-called “free trade agreements” have only a limited relation to free trade, or even to trade in any serious sense of that term; and they are certainly not agreements, at least if people are part of their countries. Continue reading

Documentary: Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad

When the people of Oaxaca decided they’d had enough of bad government, they didn’t take their story to the media… They TOOK the media!

In the summer of 2006, a broad-based, non-violent, popular uprising exploded in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Some compared it to the Paris Commune, while others called it the first Latin American revolution of the 21st century.

But it was the people’s use of the media that truly made history in Oaxaca. A 90-minute documentary, Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad captures the unprecedented media phenomenon that emerged when tens of thousands of school teachers, housewives, indigenous communities, health workers, farmers, and students took 14 radio stations and one TV station into their own hands, using them to organize, mobilize, and ultimately defend their grassroots struggle for social, cultural, and economic justice.

“Beautiful, powerful, dramatic… magnificent… provides a remarkably deep and penetrating look into the people who made up the movement. Everyone interested in Mexico, in teachers and education, in workers’ movements, in indigenous people, in the state of our world and the struggle for social justice should see the video.”

For more information see http://www.corrugate.org/un_poquito_de_tanta_/un_poquito_de_tanta_verdad

To watch this documentary full screen click here

Venezuela Prioritises Cultural Revolution

A queue of children wait to exchange their toy guns for non-weapon-like toys as part of a government project to reduce violence in the area, in the Petare district of Caracas, Venezuela, August 20, 2008.

Caracas, Aug 21 (Prensa Latina) Aware of the transforming role of culture in society, the Venezuelan government is carrying out a revolution in that sphere in all states of the country. Continue reading

Which Way Venezuela?

By Michael Albert

The diverse factual reports and other data included in this article are culled from documents made available by the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is exciting and exemplary, yet few people know much about where Venezuela is headed.

Misrepresentations abound. Data is limited and people interpret it in quite contrary ways. Information deficit plus skewed interpretations cause many people who ought to support the Bolivarian Revolution to instead doubt or even reject it. Useful lessons from Venezuela go largely unreported and thus have less than their widest possible effect.

Overview

Hugo Chavez became President in 1999 and in that year, largely due to the ravages of neoliberal reforms in the 80s and 90s, the Venezuelan poverty rate had reached 50%. The aim and promise of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution was to not only eliminate rampant, raging, poverty, but to attain a new economic and social system consistent with the highest standards of human fulfillment and development.

In the 1999 constitution, Article 299, for example, emphasizes “human development” as the cornerstone of social judgements and Article 70 states that the “involvement of people in the exercise of their social and economic affairs should be manifest through citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, community enterprises, as well as other kinds of associations guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity.”

But, as many skeptics would point out, words are not deeds, and you can find nice words everywhere – including, say, in the constitutions of countries suffering dictatorship and economic and social injustice, as but one example, in the constitution and other literary organs of the the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Words matter some, but they become infinitely more important and reliable as evidence if there are deeds in their support and particularly if institutional relations breathe life into the words every day.

So what about deeds? Continue reading

What Is Exploitation?

The term “exploitation” typically conjures up images of horrendous working conditions, perhaps sweatshops in China or India, or the child labour used by Western clothes manufacturers. We think of people working long hours for little pay in terrible conditions ruthlessly bullied by unscrupulous bosses or gangmasters.

Such “exploitation” is presented to us as exceptional – and contrasted with the “normality” of working life for most people, particularly in countries such as Britain.

Karl Marx had a different understanding of exploitation. Rather than seeing it as exceptional, he argued that exploitation is fundamental to capitalism.

For Marx, exploitation was not just about the level of wages received, or working conditions, but was the very process whereby capitalism creates profit out of the work we do.

In order to understand what Marx meant by exploitation we need to start with his explanation of where profits ultimately come from – the “labour theory of value”. Continue reading