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

Canceling London-Venezuela Deal: Mindless Vandalism

June 2nd 2008, by Ken Livingstone

Boris Johnson’s cancellation of London’s oil agreement with Venezuela is a piece of rightwing dogmatism that is equally costly to the people of London and Caracas. The agreement was that Londoners on income support received half-price bus travel, subsidised via cheap Venezuelan oil, in return for London providing transport, planning and other expertise to Venezuela.

The basic principle of London-Caracas agreement was simple, reasonable and indeed a rather textbook illustration of relative advantage in foreign trade. Each side provided the other with that in which they are rich, and which for them is therefore relatively cheap – oil, on one hand, and the expertise in managing a modern advanced city on the other – in return for something which was scarce, and therefore relatively expensive, for the other side. Continue reading

The Shape Of Things To Come: Boris Scraps Venezuela Oil Deal

LONDON, England (AP) — The British capital’s new mayor, Boris Johnson is ending a deal that has provided cheap Venezuelan fuel for London’s transport network. Johnson was a critic of the oil deal struck by his predecessor, Ken Livingstone.

The agreement, signed last year by the Conservative Johnson’s predecessor and Labour Party rival, Ken Livingstone, provided discounted gas for London’s iconic red buses in exchange for advice on urban planning in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.

Money saved on gas was put into a program providing half-rate bus fares for low-income Londoners. Continue reading

Plastic homes in Venezuela

Houses made from plastic are providing new starts for families living in shacks in Venezuela.

Full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7381709.stm

Read more about this program here.

Click here to learn more about the social changes happening in Venezuela.

The Colombian Provocation

On Saturday 1st March, the Colombian Armed Forces violated the territory of Ecuador. The immediate aim was to kill the second in command of the FARC guerrillas; a second aim probably was to provoke division and disputes between the nations of Latin America. Instead, a Latin American summit meeting left President Uribe of Colombia isolated and almost humiliated, and the feeling for Latin American integration strengthened.

Colombia is, for the moment, an exception to the general move away from right-wing governments in South America. President Uribe, Continue reading