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Published on 17 February 2016 by Venezuela Analysis

bicentenario

Venezuelan authorities arrested 55 employees of the Abastos Bicentenario state supermarket chain Monday in the initial phase of a new anti-corruption operation aimed at the government-run food distribution network.

Codenamed “Attack on the Weevil”, the operation saw the mobilization of 965 National Intelligence and Military Counter-Intelligence officials targeting 53 supermarkets across 13 states and the capital district in an early morning raid.

“They have no excuse for betraying the public trust, and we are going to go after every last corrupt official that we find in each sector, the economic, political, social,” declared Interior Minister Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, who is heading the operation.

The dozens arrested– including six store managers– have been accused of hoarding state subsidized goods and reselling them on the black market for personal gain in a speculative practice known as bachaqueo.

Authorities also confiscated extensive caches of hoarded food items, including 6.7 tonnes of corn flour, 10 tonnes of sugar, 864 kilos of pasta, and 840 kilos of margarine in one Caracas supermarket alone.

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Published on 21 February 2016 by Telesur English

colombia graves

After three years of searching, Colombian forensic scientists have found over 28,000 unidentified bodies buried across the country, and the search is far from over. 

“The program, The Search for Unidentified People in Colombia, has explored about 26 percent of all cemeteries in the country and we hope soon to make a clean sweep. We do not have an estimate of how many people we can find,” said the Director of Human Rights of the Interior Ministry, Maria Paulina Riveros, Saturday. 

The search is part of a government initiative to locate disappeared persons after tens of thousands have gone missing, or been forcibly disappeared, in the over 50-year internal conflict in the country. The victims are often dumped in unmarked graves. 

For those bodies that have been found, they will now go through a rigorous forensic testing period to establish the cause of death and their identities, according to Riveros. 

The majority of the remains were found in cemeteries in the departments of Cundinamarca and Antioquia, which at one point were two of Colombia's most dangerous departments.  

Forensic experts began the search for unidentified bodies after Colombia's left-wing opposition demanded in 2011 that a thorough census of the bodies be taken across the country after it was revealed that thousands were killed through a massive government human rights scandal called "false positives." During these years, soldiers killed thousands of civilians and dressed the corpses up in camouflaged fatigues to pass them off as guerrillas killed in combat in order to reap financial rewards from the government. 

More than 800 soldiers have been found guilty in connection with the false positives atrocities so far.

The group of experts exhuming the bodies include a pathologist and forensic expert, a forensic dentist, an anthropologist, a geneticist, a photographer, a radiologist and a fingerprint expert.

The program is currently planned to run until 2019, in which time the government expects to search the whole country.

 

 

 

By Joe Emersberger. Published on 26 January 2016 by Telesur English

An Economist article published Jan. 19 states that poverty in Venezuela “has stayed stubbornly static since 2000.”

chart.png 795865984

The blue line in the graph below shows World Bank numbers for poverty in Venezuela from 1999 to 2013.

Income poverty increased to over 60 percent by 2003 as result of a briefly successful coup in April of 2002 and a shutdown of the oil industry from December 2002 until February 2003. Both these acts of political and economic sabotage were supported by opposition groups funded by the U.S. government. Poverty, as shown in the graph, steadily declined after the government finally wrested control over the state oil company from opponents determined to overthrow the government. By 2013, the poverty rate had fallen by half. The Economist’s dishonesty in saying that poverty “stayed stubbornly static since 2000” is amazing, but such dishonesty about Venezuela dominates the international media’s coverage. The Economist need not fear being embarrassed by any high-profile rebuttal appearing in any Western newspaper or magazine at any end of the political spectrum.

Despite the serious economic problems of the last two years, Venezuela’s poverty rate is probably still significantly lower than its level in 2000, and drastically lower than what opposition sabotage had brought it to in 2003. Recall that we are discussing income poverty which does not account for government provided food, education and housing for low income people.

The Economist article also said that the “IMF estimates that Venezuela’s GDP shrank by about 10 percent in 2015, making it the world’s worst performing economy. The government admits the contraction was 7.1 percent  up to the third quarter of 2015.”

We can forgive readers who don’t have time to check the Economist’s sources for concluding that the government has “admitted” a 7.1 percent drop in GDP in the first nine months of 2015. The 7.1 percent figure really covers an entire year: the third quarter of 2014 compared to the third quarter of 2015. The document the Economist cited actually said that GDP fell 4.5 percent in the first nine months of 2015.

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Published on 24 January 2016 by Telesur English

maduro congress

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has announced the establishment of a committee to oversee the creation of a revolutionary assembly Saturday.

The assembly will bring together the country's progressive social movements and socialist politicians to reinvigorate the Bolivarian Revolution, according to the president.

Later Saturday, Maduro oversaw the first meeting of an interim committee, which will lead to the creation of the broader people's congress, being called the Congreso de la Patria, or Congress of the Homeland.

Saturday afternoon 100 people were sworn-in to the committee, and will be in charge of mobilizing Venezuelans into the local assemblies, starting Sunday.

Venezuelan Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz said people will discuss four main things; new forms of organization, building a new cultural hegemony, building a new productive economic model, and diversifying methods of struggle.

The congress “can’t be a just closing ourselves in to debate, it has to take up public spaces and use all the different cultural and communication mechanisms (that we have).”​

The committee is the result of weeks of community and grassroots social movement meetings across Venezuela. After meetings are held around the country, a national congress will be held on April 13.

Maduro called for renewed debate among Venezuela's progressives in the wake of the National Assembly elections in December. The right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) won a majority in the National Assembly.

“What we need is strengthened diversity of the grassroots,” said Maduro in after the December election results.

By Gregory Wipert. Published on 13 January 2016 by Telesur English

communal power

Following the Venezuelan opposition’s recent electoral victory in the Dec. 6 parliamentary elections, the opposition seems to be more determined than ever to steer towards an outright confrontation with the president. The goal is to destabilize the government as much as possible, with the aim of achieving his ouster before the end of the year.

The new National Assembly president said that his aim is to have a plan in place for president Maduro’s ouster within the first six months of 2016. Ramos Allup furthered this confrontation Jan. 6, when he swore in three opposition members as representatives, whose election the Supreme Court had previously put on hold due to electoral irregularities. On Monday, January 11, the Supreme Court thus declared that the National Assembly president had acted in defiance of the Court and that from now on all laws that the National Assembly passes are null and void, since the assembly had incorporated members into its body that should not be there.

The political confrontation between the legislature and the executive is thus programmed. The next conflict will be about the amnesty law, by which the opposition intends to free all so-called political prisoners, that is, all opposition figures who have been involved in violent protest of one kind or another, many of whom have been held responsible for deaths of innocent bystanders. Ramos Allup already warned Maduro that if he and the Supreme Court do not implement the amnesty law, he will begin removing ministers from Maduro’s cabinet: “Whether or not he accepts [the amnesty law] will not matter, to which we will say, ‘We do not accept his naming of ministers.’”

The options for the new opposition-dominated National Assembly to get rid of Maduro are several. As mentioned above, it can remove not only the ministers and the vice-president (though this could lead to new National Assembly elections if the vice president is removed three times in a row), remove the heads of other branches of government, such as the Supreme Court, the attorney general, or the National Electoral Council (with prior approval from either the Supreme Court or the attorney general), amend or reform the constitution (which then has to be submitted to a referendum), or call for a constitutional assembly (followed by a referendum).

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Published on 7 January 2016 by TeleSUR English

ecuador food sovereignty.jpg 1718483346

Ecuador's National Assembly approved Thursday a comprehensive land reform aimed at improving agricultural production, the redistribution of idle land, and ending the concentration of land in hands of few.

Carlos Viteri, president of the National Assembly's Specialized Permanent Committee for Biodiversity and member of the ruling PAIS Alliance party, said that the proposed Land Law represents “a symbol of the transformation of the country

Viteri, an Indigenous Amazonian Kichwa, well known for his daily-worn crown made of toucan feathers, added the reforms would finally eliminate the legacies of previous land laws, which allowed a few families to concentrate ownership at the expense of campesinos and small farmers.

“The National Assembly has finally heard the demands of the rural sector, from the campesino, Indigenous, montubio, afro-Ecuadorean peoples and the small and middle producers in this country,” Jose Agualsaca, president of the Confederation of Peoples, Indigenous and Peasant Organizations of Ecuador, told teleSUR English. His group contributed to the development of the law.

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Published on 6 January 2016 by TeleSUR English

correa ecuador housing

Ecuador has cut its housing shortage in half, President Rafael Correa said Tuesday in an announcement that came during the unveiling of a project to house 240 families vulnerable to flooding.

Correa said that his administration constructed 100,000 more urban and rural housing units than the past four governments combined. When he took office in 2006, the country had a housing shortage of 1 million units.

Correa’s aim is to end the shortage altogether within the next few years, a plan that could cost about US$9 billion. Opponents have criticized the rising public debt as a result of such social programs, but despite plummeting world oil prices Ecuador has defied its critics, with its debt-to-GDP ratio falling under the Correa presidency.

 

The coastal province of Los Rios, where the latest housing project was
inaugurated, is one of the most productive in the agriculture industry, but
Correa noted that inequality and exploitation have contributed to high levels
of poverty. His administration pumped US$143 million of investment into the
province. In addition to housing, the new complex includes educational, health
and security services.Ecuador has cut its housing shortage in half, President Rafael Correa said Tuesday in an announcement that came during the unveiling of a project to house 240 families vulnerable to flooding.

Correa said that his administration constructed 100,000 more urban and rural housing units than the past four governments combined. When he took office in 2006, the country had a housing shortage of 1 million units.

OPINION: The Future of Latin American Post-Neoliberalism

Correa’s aim is to end the shortage altogether within the next few years, a plan that could cost about US$9 billion. Opponents have criticized the rising public debt as a result of such social programs, but despite plummeting world oil prices Ecuador has defied its critics, with its debt-to-GDP ratio falling under the Correa presidency.

ANALYSIS: The Latin American Left: Challenges for 2016 and Beyond

The coastal province of Los Rios, where the latest housing project was inaugurated, is one of the most productive in the agriculture industry, but Correa noted that inequality and exploitation have contributed to high levels of poverty. His administration pumped US$143 million of investment into the province. In addition to housing, the new complex includes educational, health and security services.

This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: 
"http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Ecuador-Cuts-Housing-Shortage-in-Half-Aims-to-Eliminate-It-20160106-0005.html". If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. www.teleSURtv.net/english

Published on 5 January 2016 by www.venezuelanalysis.com

5jan

Venezuela’s National Assembly for the 2016-2021 term was sworn in today at 11 AM, in a ceremony that marked a new political era for the legislative body. Two-thirds of the incoming legislators belong to the country’s rightwing opposition. 

At the start of the ceremony, Henry Ramos Allup was sworn in as National Assembly president. A key figure from the country’s neoliberal era that preceded Hugo Chavez and leader of the former governing party Democratic Action, Allup reiterated his determination today to find opposition unty on a procedure for “the exit” of the Maduro government within six months.

Led by former Assembly president Diosdado Cabello, 54 members of the United Socialist Party (PSUV) walked out in protest over a violation of the parliamentary procedures, which stipulate that the only topic of today's first session would be the election of the National Assembly leadership. Contrary to this rule, opposition lawmaker Julio Borges, who leads the opposition faction in parliament, had presented his faction's legislative plan for the coming year.

“We are 54 legislators of the country who are prepared to defend the Venezuelan people,” PSUV legislator Diosdado Cabello told press outside the assembly.

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Published on 31 December 2015 by TeleSUR

nicegrad

A group of 231 students have graduated as farm assistants and caregivers for the elderly through a program funded by the ALBA bloc of Latin American and Caribbean countries. Educators say the trainees now possess internationally recognized certification.

The 2015 graduates are 49 young men and women who have gained employment as farm assistants and 182 individuals trained as caregivers for the elderly who will be employed under the National Home Care Program in 2016.

The training is part of the National Initiative to Create Employment Program, which has been funded with US$10 million by the ALBA Solidarity Fund to the over two years. The first disbursement of US$5 million was made in January 2015.

“So what does it mean for our graduates today? It means that they are graduating with a regionally recognized certificate and there is mobility for them to be able to work as qualified persons, not just in Saint Lucia but within Caricom (Caribbean Community),” said Estalita Renee of the island’s Ministry of Education.

​The NICE program expects to create 5,000 jobs for Saint Lucians. Graduates like Yanez Joseph say they are grateful for the program’s training component.

“We can assure you that the knowledge imparted onto us will never leave us and will be put to good use as we continue our journey,” she said, adding “there is nothing like teaching a man, or a woman, how to fish and seeing the results.

As part of the NICE Program, young people have gained employment as physical education and coaching assistants, sports administrators, peer counselors and caretakers.

The program was launched in 2012 and it is considered by the Saint Lucian government a crucial social initiative, which aims to make a dent in unemployment figures and enhance the capabilities of people to engage in trade and gain work experience.

During his first official visit to Saint Lucia in October, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met with NICE workers and heard from the program’s coordinator on how his country’s cash funding has helped to alleviate unemployment.

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