Published on 30/09/15 by Jacobin
Rafael Correa’s administration began in 2007 as another important wave in Latin America’s “pink tide.” It was considered by many to be — along with Venezuela and Bolivia — the most radical of those anti-neoliberal governments.
Over the last few years, however, debates have raged within Ecuador about the nature of the administration, Correa’s use of executive power, the government’s policies toward indigenous peoples, and its relationship to broader social movements.
With these debates raging, we recently spoke to Guillaume Long, Ecuador’s minister of culture and a leading member of the governing Alianza País party, about the situation in the country. In what follows, he responds sharply to the criticism the government has been receiving both inside the country and from portions of the international left.
Published on 12 October 2015 by Venezuela Analysis
One of Venezuela’s main rural social movements, the Revolutionary Bolivar and Zamora Tide (CRBZ), has publicly denounced what it describes as the politically motivated murder of one of its activists, Luis Hernando Lázaro Chávez, last Tuesday, October 6th. A press release issued by the collective states that communal council spokesperson Lázaro Chávez was killed in a machete attack at his rural home in Tachira state on the Venezuela-Colombia border last week.
According to statements made by a CRBZ spokesperson to Venezuelanalysis, two assailants took advantage of a blackout in the area to enter Lázaro Chávez’s home and immediately decapitate the victim. The attackers also cut off the fingers of a minor who was in the house during the incident and one of the victim’s daughters remains in hospital after having received several blows from a machete.
To date, the local community has accused two Colombian residents of having carried out the attack. The CRBZ accuses both of belonging to “irregular groups” of former paramilitaries alleged to have been demobilised during the government of Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010). Former paramilitaries and criminal gangs are known to operate on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, often forcing residents to pay a “protection” fee known as a “vacuna”.
Published on 29 September 2015 by Alexander Main & Dan Beeton for Jacobin Mag
Earlier this summer, the world watched Greece try to resist a disastrous neoliberal diktat and get a painful thrashing in the process.
When Greece’s left government decided to hold a national referendum on the troika-imposed austerity program, the European Central Bank retaliated by restricting liquidity for Greek banks. This triggered a prolonged bank closure and plunged Greece further into recession.
Though Greek voters ended up massively rejecting austerity, Germany and the European creditor cartel were able to subvert democracy and get exactly what they wanted: complete submission to their neoliberal agenda.
In the last decade and a half, a similar fight against neoliberalism has been waged across the breadth of an entire continent, and mostly outside of the public eye. Although Washington initially sought to quash all dissent, often employing even fiercer tactics than those used against Greece, Latin America’s resistance to the neoliberal agenda has in large part been successful. It’s an epic tale that’s gradually coming to light thanks to continued exploration of the massive trove of US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
Neoliberalism was firmly implanted in Latin America long before Germany and the eurozone authorities began force-feeding structural adjustment to Greece and other indebted, peripheral countries. Through coercion (e.g., conditions attached to IMF loans) and indoctrination (e.g., the US-backed training of the region’s “Chicago Boys”), the US succeeded in spreading the gospel of fiscal austerity, deregulation, “free trade,” privatization, and draconian public sector downsizing throughout Latin America by the mid-1980s.
Telesur indepth special: Paramilitaries in Venezuela
The phenomenon of paramilitary groups in Venezuela is on the rise, according to the country's government. President Nicolas Maduro revealed last month that there are 30 different Colombian paramilitary groups operating inside Venezuela
Paramilitary groups have mainly developed in Colombia, but the model was “exported” throughout the region during the Cold War. Today, paramilitary groups operate in Mexico, Honduras, and more recently in Paraguay
Venezuela, however, was relatively free from paramilitary forces – although there have been small guerrilla groups operating inside the country and land distribution issues – until 1997
In Febrary 1997, detained paramilitary groups were connected to wealthy landlords and had detailed maps of the border region of Apure. The men claimed they were hired by the Venezuelan Gen. Enrique Medina Gomez
Carlos Castaño, the leader of Colombia’s most famous paramilitary group, the United Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), confirmed later that same year that he had met with 140 Venezuelan businesspeople and landlords to create a similar paramilitary structure as the one he led in Colombia, particularly in border regions
By Jesus Rojas - published on 13 September 2015 by Democracy and Class struggle
The incursion of paramilitary groups into Venezuela has been a silent and dangerous invasion. You can not allow under any circumstance that paramilitary groups be established in the country.Admittedly Colombian brothers have come to work with dignity, but others have come to commit crimes.
The paramilitary groups act as a mercenaries cells, paid by landowners or governments that promote terrorism, paramilitarism in Venezuela. They began acting at the frontier of Tachira, Apure and Zulia, in cattle rustling, kidnapping, extortion and killings. Proof of this has been the number of peasants killed by hired killers with land problems by paramilitary groups.
All these events are not accidental, behind these events is the hand of Santander Uribe Velez (Ex Colombian president) and his family, one of the creators of such mercenaries or paramilitaries in his country, there are also the seven US bases in Colombia, besides US embassies in Colombia and Venezuela and the stateless fascist bourgeoisie, who just want the rule of the jackboot be installed here.
They are using the paramilitaries to destabilize the country, the electricity service, the universities and economic sector, to convulse large cities with guarimbas and killings of leaders.
Venezuela has denounced the presence of extreme right paramilitary groups of the in its territory. These groups, coming from Colombia, are pursuing well-defined political and economic objectives.
Published on 1 September 2015 by Council on hemispheric affairs
President Nicolas Maduro launched an ambitious campaign to fight organized crime (the Operation to Liberate and Protect the People–OLP) in the most seriously impacted states of the country. Over the past week, as a critical phase of this campaign, Venezuela has moved to take control over its notoriously porous border with Colombia in Táchira State, seriously disrupting the routine but illicit trade in contraband goods coming from Venezuela that has fueled a parallel economy in Colombia. This illicit trade, however, as well as manipulative currency exchange practices in the frontier area, has been generating some of the commodity shortages as well as the depreciation of the bolívar fuerte suffered by consumers in Venezuela. This is not a new issue. The crime and contraband problem along the border had been brewing for more than a decade. Moreover, a growing public outcry calling for decisive action to address both public security concerns and persistent commodity shortages has become particularly intense over the past two years and now threatens to derail the Bolivarian project ahead of the December 2015 legislative elections. Maduro had to either take decisive action or preside over the demise of the revolution.
This essay argues that there is a direct relationship between a significant part of the shortages of basic goods in Venezuela and the parallel economy in Colombia that is fueled by contraband smuggled out of Venezuela. This relationship, moreover, is unsustainable for the Venezuelan side and is a poor substitute for legitimate employment on the Colombian side. Though recent stepped up interdiction efforts over the past year have been intercepting contraband on a routine basis, the movement of subsidized goods out of Venezuela nevertheless has been unrelenting. Even the current operation, however, is only a temporarily fix; it will take cooperation between Bogotá and Caracas on security, economic, and social matters along their common frontier to bring about a satisfactory resolution of this issue.
Published on 11 September 2015 by Venezuela Analysis
A Venezuelan judge sentenced far right opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to 13 years and nine months in prison Thursday evening for his role in leading last year’s violent anti-government protests.
Venezuelan judge Susana Barreiros found Lopez guilty of public incitement to violence and association to commit crimes. In particular, Barreiros cited over 700 tweets which she says urged supporters to take the streets to demand the “exit” of democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro.
Beginning on February 12, 2014 and lasting several months, the protests saw opposition supporters set up violent street barricades that led to the deaths of 43 people, over half of whom were security personnel and passersby.
Lopez was arrested on February 14 after clashes saw armed opposition backers attack the Public Prosecutor’s office and other government buildings, leading to several deaths and widespread public property damage.
Born into one of Venezuela's wealthiest families, Lopez is also well known for playing an active role in the US-sponsored 2002 coup which saw then-president Hugo Chavez briefly ousted from office. The arrest of the Harvard-educated lawyer has attracted widespread coverage from international news outlets, which have drawn comparisons between the rightwing politician and both Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
The high profile trial, which took place over the span of a year and involved 70 hearings, was reportedly dragged out by delay tactics on the part of the Lopez team, including failing to show up for court on several occasions and mounting a thirty day hunger strike.
Responding to the ruling, Lopez told the judge, “You are more afraid to dictate the sentence than I am to hear it”. The statement has been construed by some as a veiled threat. The Lopez defense team has announced that it will appeal the decision.
Published on 8 September 2015 by TeleSUR English
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Monday his country will receive 20,000 Syrian refugees fleeing Western interventionism, war and violence.
This is the same number of refugees U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that his country will accept over the next five years.
Maduro took the chance to condemn plans by the U.S. and its Western allies to topple the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, who was democratically elected.
Instead, he said, they should seek to implement a peace plan for Syria, where a civil war that began in 2011 has left over 250,000 people dead and over 11 million displaced, including 3 million externally.
The U. N. agency for refugees recently revealed that Venezuela has received over 200,000 refugees in the last couple of years, of which over 95 percent are Colombians, who arrived in the neighboring country fleeing from violence, poverty and war.
Published on 1 September 2015 by Prensa Latina
Giustino Di Celmo, a friend of the Cuban Revolution and who lost a son in Havana victim of a terrorist attack, died on the night of 1 September at the age of 94.
Di Celmo, a merchant by profession, traveled to Cuba for the first time in 1992 and during the most difficult years of the special period, he defied the blockade and threats hovering over this country, providing assistance in obtaining goods deficit for the people, says a note released here.
After the terrorist action against his son, Fabio, on September 4, 1997, in the lobby bar of the Copacabana Hotel, he decided to settle permanently on the island and was dedicated to denounce events of this kind against Cuba from the most diverse forums, the text added.
He also called for international solidarity with the Caribbean country and was a champion in the battle for the liberation of Elian Gonzalez after being kidnapped in Miami, and the return to the homeland of the five Cuban heroes who complied with cruel and unjust imprisonment in US jails.
Veteran of World War II, anti-fascist fighter, and man of peace, Di Celmo applied to become a member of the Communist Party of Cuba, exceptional status granted on September 30, 1997.
With his example, he captivated the affection and admiration of the people and his name will be registered as an example of solidarity with our country, highlights the note, adding that in response to the will of their children, the body will be cremated and subsequently repatriated to the home country.