www.revolutionarycommunist.orgrafael correa

On 17 February, the Ecuadorian people overwhelmingly re-elected Rafael Correa as their president. Correa’s governing PAIS alliance took some 70% the 137 seats in the National Assembly, including six for overseas workers and three of the country’s five Andean Parliament seats Correa received 51.17% of the total vote for president, 6% more than in 2009. It was more than twice that of the runner-up, banker Guillermo Lasso (23.3%), a neo-liberal figure deeply involved in the chaos and corruption of previous governments.

It is important to understand that Correa heads an alliance that took 52.24% of the votes for the National Assembly seats (with 98% returns counted). This makes his decisions more closely tied to social movements themselves than would be the case if he were heading a traditional political party. Since first taking office in early 2007, he has directed an energetic and radical reform process. He led the rewriting of the constitution and replaced the old corrupt Congress through a Constitutional Assembly. 64% of the voters endorsed the 2008 constitution. This created new rights for women, and indigenous and disabled people. The law now requires women to account for 50% of the party lists in national legislative elections. Subsequently, women took 40 of 124 National Assembly seats in the 2009 elections (32%). Correa’s political project is the ‘Citizens Revolution’ with five axes that are: Political revolution, Economic Revolution, Ethical Revolution, Social, and finally the Sovereignty Revolution and  Latin American Integration. With these postulates PAIS seeks to direct Ecuador towards 21st century socialism.

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First published by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 231 February-March 2013


‘All of us here are Chávez, the people in the street are Chávez, the lady who cooks is Chávez, the soldier is Chávez…the farmer is Chávez, the worker is Chávez; we’re all Chávez.’

Elias Jaua, Minister of Foreign Relations, 10 January 2013

On 10 January, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez still recovering in Cuba from post-operative complications following surgery for cancer and unable to attend his inauguration ceremony, tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets in his place. With their symbolic tri-colour presidential sashes and rallying cries of ‘Yo soy Chavez!’ – ‘I am Chavez!’ and ‘Chavez is the people’, the vast crowd was proof once again that the power of the Bolivarian Revolution lies not in the hands of a single revolutionary but in the vast mass of that same Venezuelan working class which swept Chavez to a fourth presidential term in the elections of October 2012. SAM MCGILL reports.

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On 17 February, the Ecuadorian people re-elected Rafael Correa as their president with 56.7% of the vote and more than twice that of the runner-up banker Guillermo Lasso (23.3%). Correa’s governing PAIS alliance took 70% the 137 seats in the National Assembly. Rock around the Blockade here republish this interview with the re-elected president conducted by New Left Review

Correa wins 2013 election

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Interview with Aleida Guevara:

Che Guevara  (AFP Photo)

Che Guevara (AFP Photo)
Published by Russia Today 26 February

Despite the propaganda surrounding Che Guevara, the Latin leader was a true revolutionary, and modern-day circumstances would have made him even more zealous to unite Latin Americans against their common foe, daughter Aleida Guevara told RT.

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First published on 4 Feburary 2013 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org

bolivia tipnis-conisur march

On 7 December 2012 a 5-month consultation about a proposed highway to be built through Bolivia’s Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) came to an end. Of the territory’s 69 indigenous communities, 55 approved the highway, three communities rejected the proposal and 11 refused to participate in the consultation.

TIPNIS is an area of more than 1 million hectares of forest in the centre of Bolivia. It is home to 12,000 people living in 69 separate communities. In 2009 Evo Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) government designated it ‘indigenous territory’.

The proposed highway will cross north-south through TIPNIS for 32 miles of its 182-mile route. It will be the first paved road linking northwest Bolivia with the economic centre, Santa Cruz. It will mean greater access to health and education for the TIPNIS population and reduced barriers to economic development. In particular it will undermine the monopoly of Santa Cruz-based businesses in terms of access to processing goods and distributing them to the rest of the country. It is no coincidence that the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB), which supported protests against the highway, has strong links with the right-wing governor of Santa Cruz and signed an agreement guaranteeing CIDOB a place on the governership.

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We are happy to report that president Hugo Chavez has today returned to Venezuela following his surgery in Cuba. We publish below a letter from Fidel Castro and send our solidarity wishes for his continued recovery.

First Images Released of Venezuela’s Chavez since His OperationFirst Images Released of Venezuela’s Chavez since His Operation

Translated by

Dear Hugo,

I am extremely satisfied that you have been able to return to that piece of American land which you love so much, and to our brother people who support you so much.

A long and agonising wait, as well as your astonishing capacity for physical resistance and the total dedication of a team of doctors, as has been the case over the last 10 years, were necessary to achieve this objective.

It would be totally unfair not to mention the insurmountable dedication of your closest family members, your colleagues in the revolutionary leadership, the Bolivarian Armed Forces, who were re-armed and re-equipped by you, and the honest people of the world who have shown their support.

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6 February Digital Journal

The Citgo-Venezuela Heating Oil Program benefits over 100,000 people across 25 different states and the District of Columbia

For the eighth straight year, Venezuela' s state oil company is donating free heating oil to hundreds of thousands of needy Americans.
The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program has helped more than 1.7 million Americans in 25 states and the District of Columbia keep warm since it was launched back in 2005. The program is a partnership between the Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), its subsidiary CITGO and Citizens Energy Corporation, a nonprofit organization founded by former US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II that provides discounted and free home heating services and supplies to needy households in the United States and abroad. It has been supported from the beginning by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters joined the international media campaign of solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, echoing the Venezuelan people who came out in their tens of thousands to proudly declare 'I am Chavez, Chavez is the people!'

Newcastle upon TyneNewcastle upon Tyne

The power is in the streets













First published on 12 January 2013 on www.vivavenezuela.co.uk

For fifteen years, since Hugo Chavez’s first presidential election in 1998, we have been witness to a popular struggle in Venezuela for political and economic power by working class people which has withstood every attempt by imperialism and its local allies to destroy it.

The Bolivarian Revolution and its leader have given hope to hundreds of millions of people in Latin America and have inspired movements throughout the continent and indeed throughout the world. With the support of Cuba and other countries in ALBA Venezuela has put the US completely on the back foot: no longer can it treat Latin America as its back yard. Such developments should be celebrated by every socialist wherever they are.

Yet throughout this time, the SWP has repeatedly attacked the Bolivarian Revolution and denigrated President Chavez. The latest issue of Socialist Worker (12 January 2013) continues in this reactionary vein, joining the international ‘campaign of psychological warfare’ denounced by the Venezuelan government (see our blog).

In an article which expresses no sympathy for the Venezuelan people let alone for Chavez, Dave Sewell parrots standard media views about the emergence of a leadership ‘crisis’ in the country with Chavez unable to attend the presidential inauguration ceremony on 10 January.

Sewell then succinctly summarises the SWP’s contempt for Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. Damning the president with faint praise, Sewell admits that ‘at points he took radical measures’ such as placing the oil industry under direct state control and using the money to fund social programmes, and grudgingly concedes that as result, Chavez ‘became very popular with the workers and poor people.’

Yet it is his use of the past tense that is so revealing. Is Chavez no longer popular? Are we wrong to think that he won the presidential election with a landslide?  It is in fact a sleight of hand, necessary because the SWP does not think that anything of historical significance has happened in Venezuela over the last 15 years, and whatever has happened is now dead. Thus, according to Sewell, although the masses rallied to Chavez during the 2002 coup and the bosses’ strike, ‘at the same time a new elite was emerging. This bureaucracy slowly stifled mass struggles.’ And there you have it. The mass struggles were choked, the new elite is in power. There is no more revolution. Now, Sewell says, ‘Venezuela will face a choice between a power struggle at the top, or a mass movement from below that could build a new kind of society.’ It is either one or the other because, as Sewell says, ‘the power of the state [has become] concentrated in Chavez himself.’ Chavez is just an elected dictator.

There is nothing new in what Sewell is saying. Back in 2002, just after the defeat of the coup, SWP leader Chris Harman had already doomed Chavez:

‘[Chavez] top-down approach has also led him to attack the wages and conditions of employed workers, even while talking about help to the unemployed, the semi-employed and the rural poor. It was this that enabled union leader Alfredo Ramos to back the employers' shutdown of industry. In this way, Chavez's own policies played into the hands of those who wanted to overthrow him.'

Ramos backed the bosses’ strike because he was a corrupt reactionary in the pocket of the ruling class. And the fiction, propagated at the time by the ruling class and avidly picked up by the SWP, that Chavez was attacking the workers has been disproved by the massive and thoroughly documented social gains made by the working class and oppressed before and since. Not that you would know the details from Socialist Worker.

Yes, Mike Gonzalez, another SWP leader, had to admit in October 2012 that Chavez’s third presidential victory was due to social programmes bringing ‘real improvements to Venezuela’s poor – local health programmes, free education, limited social housing, cheap food.’ But isn’t this part of what socialism should be? This praise is mealy-mouthed: ‘limited’ social housing is in reality, 250,000 units built between April 2011 and October 2012, and a further three million planned by 2019.

House building on such a scale today would require a revolution in Britain let alone in Venezuela. But even then Gonzalez has to get a further dig in, claiming (without any evidence) that ‘these services are deteriorating, largely because of deep and widespread corruption in the Venezuelan state.’ Every phrase discloses contempt for the revolution.

The SWP has never wanted to engage with what is happening on the ground in Venezuela. Their statements are fundamentally ignorant. Gonzalez tells us that the ‘immediate’ question is ‘the need to rebuild organisations on the ground that will be able to act independently of their rulers, whoever they are.’

This sounds radical – but then what are the communal councils and the factory councils that have sprung up across the country as part and parcel of the Bolivarian Revolution? These organisations exist and are multiplying – they do not have to be ‘rebuilt’. But both Gonzalez and Sewell do not want us to see them so they censor their existence.

At first sight there is a stark contrast between the SWP’s critique of the Bolivarian Revolution and its fawning attitude towards the Labour Party in Britain. But they are two sides of the same reactionary coin. Has anyone heard or read the SWP attacking Jeremy Corbyn or John MacDonnell for their continued membership of a racist, imperialist war-mongering party and all the compromises that entails? Or Tony Benn?

The SWP never places any demands or conditions on Labour politicians or councillors; indeed it would regard this as sectarianism and prefers toadying instead. What sort of socialist organisation is it that could support Ken Livingstone in the 2012 London mayoral election? Or Labour in the 2010 General Election? The SWP demands so little of itself and its allies, but so much of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Yes there is a crisis in Venezuela. A revolution is made up of a succession of crises. What matters is the outcome of each – does the process move forward, are the revolutionary forces strengthened? Or do they face a set-back requiring a new approach? We are confident that with or without Huge Chavez, the Bolivarian Revolution will move forward. But the SWP has to want the revolution to fail to prove its political point.

We cannot mince words. The position of the SWP on the Bolivarian Revolution is thoroughly reactionary and chauvinist. It has no concept of a real struggle for socialism with all its problems and vicissitudes: instead it serves up a cocktail of idealist schema laced with borrowings from the imperialist media. Its position on the Labour Party is based on the same adaptation to imperialism. We have argued for a long time that it is impossible to remain a socialist and be a member of the Labour Party.  Now we have to ask: how is it possible to be a socialist and remain in the SWP?

For more on the SWP and Venezuela see a review of a pamphlet by Joseph Choonara:

And on the SWP’s support for the Labour Party see: www.revolutionarycommunist.org/index.php/labourtrade-unions/1668-swp-tells-us-to-vote-for-imperialism-war-racism-and-repression

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