HAVANA, Nov 6 (BERNAMA-NNN-XINHUA) -- A Venezuelan navy vessel arrived in Cuba on Monday, carrying 226 tons of food in aid to the Carribbean island battered by hurricane Sandy.
Vessel "La Guajira" -- loaded with beans, rice, flour, powdered milk, canned meat and water -- was berthed in Santiago de Cuba, 864 km east of Havana and was received by Maria Luisa Bueno, regional delegate of the Cuban Foreign and Investment Trade Ministry and Venezuelan Ambassador to Cuba, Edgardo Ramirez.
The vessel's captain Reinaldo Leon Fajardo said more aid would arrive through air and maritime means.
On Oct 28, another Venezuelan naval ship carrying 646 tons of humanitarian aid headed for Cuba and Haiti. A Venezuelan airplane has also sent the two countries 28 tons of food
Sandy hit southeastern Cuba on Oct 25 and left 11 people dead and enormous material damage while at least 50 people were killed in Haiti
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We have finally got hold of a copy of the new Programa Patria for 2013-2019 in English from the Ministry for Foreign Relations. Please follow the links below to download a copy. The document literally contains everything and is a very good example of how socialist planning can work. Take a peek and be sure to comment on our Facebook page with your thoughts!
On behalf of the Revolutionary Communist Group in Britain, we send congratulations to President Hugo Chavez on his re-election as President of Venezuela. This victory is a result of the progress the Venezuelan masses have made towards establishing a fair and just society and recognition of the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution, and the movement towards Socialism in the 21st century over the last 12 years. As Hugo Chavez said in July, the future of humanity is in play here, between socialism and capitalism. Now we see the potential for socialism in the whole continent.
Solidarity with the revolutionary process in Venezuela and Cuba means that we must build a movement for socialism in Britain, against British imperialism. This we are actively engaged in. We deplore the role of the British media, who continue to spread misinformation about the Bolivarian Revolution. They have, once again, been proved wrong.
We sent three comrades in Caracas who have been reporting via our blog www.vivavenezuela.co.ukand who will be speaking at meetings in London, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sunderland, Manchester and Glasgow in November.
Click here for dates
Viva Venezuela! Viva Chavez! Viva socialismo!
From the Revolutionary Communist Group in Britain
En nombre del Grupo Revolucionario Comunista en Gran Bretaña, enviamos felicitaciones al presidente Hugo Chávez en su reelección. Esta victoria es un importante paso en la lucha del pueblo venezolano para establecer una sociedad justa y equitativa. La victoria electoral - pese a la fuerte campaña reaccionaria para socavar el camino hacia socialismo del siglo 21 - refleja los logros de la Revolución Bolivariana en los últimos 13 años. Como destacó Hugo Chávez elpasado julio, "el futuro de la humanidad está en juego aquí, entre el socialismo y el capitalismo". Ahora, con la unidad de Venezuela con Cuba y los demás países del ALBA, vemos el potencial para el socialismo en todo el continente.
En 1995, establecimos una campaña de solidaridad con Cuba socialista, Rock around theBlockade. Actualmente extendemos nuestra solidaridad a los otros países del ALBA. Entendemos que la mejor manera para construir la solidaridad es construir un movimiento por el socialismo en Gran Bretaña, y contra imperialismo británico. Trabajamos para desmentir y exponer las manipulaciones y información errónea sobre la Revolución Bolivariana del los medios de comunicación británicos. Informamos al público como el proceso Bolivariano ha cambiado y mejorado la vida de la inmensa mayoría del pueblo venezolano y lo comparamos con los recortes y austeridad que el estado Británico impone sobre la clase trabajadora en nuestra país.
Hemos tenidos tres compañeros de nuestra grupo en Caracas para observar la situación en los días anteriores y después las elecciones presidenciales. Ellos han divulgado sus experiencias y la voz del pueblo venezolano con informes y vídeoscotidianos puesto en nuestro blog: www.vivavenezuela.co.uk.
[RCG 11.10.12] Yesterday, Thursday 11 October, members of the RCG delegation to Venezuela met with Deputy Fernando Soto Rojas, the current President of the commission for energy and petrol.
Soto Rojas has played a key role in Venezuelan politics for decades, starting as a student movement leader and guerilla fighter against the Marcos Perez Jimenez dictatorship. He fought against counter-revolutionaries in Cuba and has played a role in supporting the armed struggle in Palestine. Soto Rojas was general secretary and founder of the socialist league a Marxist-Leninist party that dissolved into the PSUV when it was formed in 2007. He is well known for his fight against corruption and inefficiency in PSUV and last year he was president of the National Assembly in Venezuela.
Fernando Soto Rojas set out a historical material analysis of the conditions Venezuela is now operating in which is paraphrased below. A full write up of the interview will be published shortly.
'As Lenin defined, a revolutionary situation is created when the oppressed refuse to live in the old way any more, and the ruling class are unable to govern in the old way. The Caracazo in 1989, the 1992 failed uprising, these were all examples of this revolutionary situation, the 1998 election of Chavez was testimonial to that. Now what we see in Venezuela following the victory of 7 October, is a great polarisation in Venezuela, between neoliberalism and capitalism, and socialism. Eight million voted for socialism, voted for Programa Patria where Chavez set out the five historical objectives of developing national independence, continuing to construct communal power and socialism in the 21st Century, converting Venezuela into a powerful productive economy, contributing to developing a mulitpolar world, and contributing to developing a system able to protect the environment, moving away form oil-rentier capitalism.'
'Now the task, as Chavez's programme sets out with its hundreds of concrete proposals, is to begin these specific tasks, achieve them step by step. Today like before, we are again living in the land of Simon Bolivar, with the principals of justice, independence, sovereignty and the great homeland. As Marx and Engels argued, humanity can take the historic task of transcending capitalism, this is the point we find ourselves at in Venezuela today.'
[RCG 11.10.12] Today we had the privilege of visiting community organisers in Antímano, a paroquia of Caracas known for its organisation and resistance. Antímano is one of the most deprived areas of the city, where many migrants from the countryside came to settle with the advent of oil discovery and development in Venezuela, as a result the barrio stretches high up into the hills and is bursting with self constructed houses, built with little planning.
We met with PSUV activist Jimmy Gudimo who has over 20 years experience of community struggle, Gabriel Rivas, a Land committee and communal council organiser involved in developing 800 new houses with the Great Housing Mission in Antímano , and popular educators from the ideological cadre school of Francisco Miranda who have been working hard to transform social consciousness in their community, developing popular participation in the resolution of meeting the communities basic needs, particularly in guaranteeing water and gas supplies. The areas contains over 150 communal councils organised into 10 comunas built around the backbone of social organisations such as Barrio Adentro healthcare and the education missions of Ribas, Robinson and Sucre.
At the heart of the community, high up in the hills, we were invited to participate in a live TV and radio broadcast from Barrio TV and Toromaima Rebelde. Aired on channel 27, The Barrio TV channel has now been up and running for just over a month and a half and seeks to discuss and spread news of the popular struggles in the community and beyond.
To our surprise, the interview was filmed by Federico, a 15 year old community media activist, and three of his friends who were playing an active part in the development of popular power, recovering the airwaves from the clutches of the private media. Leidy Rosendo, the presenter, spoke of the need to develop the communal councils, comunas and social organisations in order find collective solutions to community problems, quoting Che Guevara in his proclamation that 'only the people can save the people', the community can solve its own problems if given the power and control over its resources.
When asked to give a message to the listeners of the radio station we declared 'For us, anti-imperialist, communist activists in Britain, the process towards socialism and the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela inspire us to keep fighting. The impact of the process, not only for the the Venezuelan people, nor for the whole of the continent, but across the world, cannot be underestimated. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Latin Americas (ALBA) with Venezuela and socialist Cuba at its heart, demonstrate that a better world is not only possible, but is being built here in Latin America today. Our role is now to learn from the struggle for socialism in Venezuela and take its example into our own communities, in order to fight against capitalism from inside the belly of the beast.'
Developing socialist production, meeting the needs of the population.
Las Guarenas, Venezuela
[RCG 11.10.12] After speaking to political economist Pablo Giminez yesterday about the importance of developing Venezuela's industrial production, today we had the chance to visit a gas cylinder factory and see these politics in process.
The PDVSA Gas Communal 'Ambrosio Plaza' plant in Las Guarenas, Miranda State, produces over 1,000 gas cylinders each day, contributing to guaranteeing the supply of subsidised gas for domestic use to the Venezuelan population. 90% of families use this gas for cooking and for their household needs.
The state owned company is a product of the expropriation of two private gas companies that participated in the oil lock outs of 2003 and 2004. Vengas and Tropigas were expropriated in 2006 and now the state owned company makes up around 50% of the total gas market with 58 generator plants and 10 manufacturing plants. All the raw materials for the plant come from Venezuelan companies, fostering the kind of manufacturing links required for national productive development.
As Royer Gonzalez, one of the managers of the plant explained 'we are working to change the consciousness of the workers, we were a private company that was expropriated but now we're working for the state in order to develop socialism. The old way of organising, through traditional trade unions who are struggling against private bosses to improve our living condition, no longer fits our model. Of course we participate in the direction of the plant and to ensure our standard of living, but now our boss is Chavez, the state, the whole of our society, we are now working within the process of socialism.'
Royer explained that through the workers councils, PDVSA gas communal had participated in discussing and making proposals to the New Labour Law (LOTT) which was finally ratified in the National Assembly on 1 May. The law has reduced the working week from 44 hours to 40 in addition to developing workers rights in relation to paternity and maternity leave, pensions and sickness leave.
Royer pointed out that 'the debate over the new labour law was facilitated in many different forms, through Twitter, Facebook, workers council meetings. It is the most revolutionary labour law that we have ever had, now this law defends the working class, previously it was a law that defended the ruling class, the bosses.'
We visited the plant to see the process of production of gas cylinders and huge gas tanks. Tania Uribe, a female plant manager informed us that these big gas tanks were destined for the apartment blocks that have been built through the Great Housing Mission which has already constructed over 244,000 homes.
Maria Gabriela Irazabal, a young manager at the plant emphasised the importance of the involvement of women in the plant, particularly now that the plant pays for childcare and the workers receive a subsidised lunch through the 'mission of knowledge and work'. Alongside childcare, the government has also developed a 'vacation plan' to look after and provide opportunities for children outside the school terms, this kind of collectivised provision has allowed women to play more of a role in the overall work of PDVSA gas comunal.
Freddy Trujillo, a 22 year old worker at the plant explained the importance of developing political consciousness through their work 'now we are working alongside Chavez, working to construct the "ran patria" (great homeland), not just for ourselves, for our own standard of living, but for all the Venezuelan population, ensuring they receive the gas they need to meet their domestic requirements'.
Freddy explained that the plant does not just produce gas cylinders, but provides educational and cultural opportunities for its workers. 'From 2m to 4pm everyday we can attend classes of Mission Ribas, an educational programme where adults who haven’t completed their secondary school education can gain qualifications that allow the to attend university, we also hold regular cultural activities, organise campaigns in support of the revolution, particularly over the elections, and hold regular MERCAL subsidised food markets for the employees.'
As Maria Gabriela pointed out 'we are not only producing goods here, but we are transforming consciousness and organising politically, we hold forums, film showings, organise study brigades to Cuba, as Che spoke of, we are developing the new man and the new woman.'
[RCG 10.10.12] Since the beginning of the 20th century, Venezuela has been one of the world’s largest exporters of oil and a favoured destination for international investment. Oil exportation first began in 1917 and has defined – some would say distorted – the Venezuelan economy ever since. Pablo Gimenez is a Professor of political economy at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) in Caracas. He spoke to us both about the challenges posed by Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy and about the difficulties involved in trying to forge a new way of teaching political economy in the context of the Bolivarian Revolution.
‘I am an economist at the central university of Venezuela and national co-ordinator of its programme of political economy for the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, which is a very specific programme. Our school of political economy is somewhat unique, in that it came about as the result of a big debate amongst professors at the university over the necessity of considering economic issues within the context of a revolution.
Our programme of political economy was born out of this great debate, with a view to shifting the paradigm and perspective of the school of traditional economics. In contrast to classic economics, we offer a programme that is very critical of it, and in fact sets out to deconstruct it. So we are not a school of political economy in the traditional sense. We are a school of political economy that is quite explicitly in open confrontation with economic orthodoxy.
Many people confuse the teaching of political economics with an adherence to the teaching of the economics of the Soviet Union. They think that political economics can only refer to the experience of the Soviet Union. But what we are doing is offering a critique of classical economics, in particular of liberal economic thought, and specifically, with a particular emphasis on a critique of political economy as set out by Karl Marx – the theoretical basis on which he explained capitalist society and which lays bare the reality of much of what is actually happening in the world.
The other major paradigms that make up our programme of study is the resurrection of what we can call a specific understanding of the economic critique of Venezuela in particular – economic thinking in Latin America overall, and specifically about Venezuela. That is to say, when we speak of understanding the economic situation of Venezuela, we need to study the writings of Venezuelans. During the period of neoliberalism, these Venezuelan economic thinkers were ignored.
In the university where I was, the Central University of Venezuela, these writers were not studied. Political economy was not studied, the issues of an oil economy were not studied, the specific questions of the Venezuelan economy were not studied. We studied instead from textbooks published by international publishing houses which were founded on the neo-classical principles of political economy, that is to say neoliberalism, with the case studies being almost all based on the economy of the United States.
The economic model of the US was put forward as the model that Venezuela should aspire to, despite the fact that the Venezuelan economy was and remained in a state of macro-economic disequilibrium. So our school of economics sets out to critique that model and to re-establish critical thinkers from Latin America, critical thinkers from Venezuela, and to study classical economic thought in the context of the political critique of Karl Marx.
The point of this enormous effort to create a school of thought that is pluralistic and open to critical thinking is the context of the Bolivarian Revolution. From that perspective, we have engaged in an open debate about the content of this programme, but our specific concern has been over the economic content. And from that point of view we have wanted to consider in the first instance a theme put forward by a number of Venezuelan writers, which is a fundamental tenet of classical economics, that of a 'renta la tierra' economy (land rentierism). La renta de la tierra in Venezuela is mineral rentierism, a specific form of development which we can call renta petroleo, or an oil-rentier economy.
Between 1936 and 1979, or even up to 1983 according to some writers, the Venezuelan economy was characterised by the development of what has been described as a rentier capitalism. That is to say, what developed was a very particular form of capitalism in Venezuela inextricably linked to the influx of oil money. When we talk of oil rentierism, we are talking about an interest and flow of international investment that is the result not of productive labour by the Venezuelans but rather comes about as a product of exporting oil, seen as a rich resource by some.
There are liberal currents within the process who believe in state capitalism, who want a stable capitalism with less international exploitation, who follow the state capitalist model for example of Brazil, of Lula. In Venezuela we have witnessed the phenomenon whereby investment in social production has risen alongside salaries, yet we have not been able to raise the levels of production. It has led to more imports.
This is the phenomenon of the oil rentier state. We need to develop secondary industry and food production. We have been able to develop as fast as we have done due to the profits from petroleum, but this undermines the need and impulse to develop the forces of production.
It is one of the greatest problems faced by the Bolivarian Revolution, or at least one of its greatest challenges. How do we confront this challenge? Well, on the left, and especially in this programme we are developing, we have to ask, what is the real problem here – capitalism, or rentierism? Is the problem rentier capitalism, or rentierism, or capitalism itself? That is the big question we have to answer.
Neoliberalists propose the construction of a normal, stable capitalism, for example, the proposals of Capriles, who proposes 'popular capitalism' where the companies make profits, and the workers receive salaries, without having the distortion of petroleum deposits. They have resuscitated a theory of liberal thought - to take this oil-rentier state and turn it into industrialisation. This programme is not sufficient, as analysed by Chavez in his 'programa patria' who acknowledged that the character of the Venezuelan state is one of rentier capitalism.
The UBV and Chavez alike, argue the need to transcend the oil rentier economy, and also capitalism itself because socialism must be constructed fearlessly. This requires the development of the material bases of production, which guarantee the necessities of the majority of humanity. Socialism must be a system where everyone can satisfy their basic needs, and a system where the conditions to satisfy the necessities of one person involves satisfying the needs of everyone.
In the particular case of Venezuela, we have to take these oil deposits, take this rentier economy and transform it into social investments, but not only social investments, but investments into social production. What does this mean? This means converting petroleum rent into a form of socialist accumulation. And so, this leads to the alliances, that Chavez speaks about, strategic alliances with productive sectors of the economy, such as the business sectors, the bourgeois who adapt a progressive manner, for example the communal companies, the worker-controlled companies, the social property companies, the cooperatives.
This is why currently Chavez is proposing to develop strategic alliances, where the state owns 40% of private companies or cooperatives, in order to develop the forces of production necessary to progress to socialism.
Of course international development is necessary, with MERCOSUR, with ALBA with UNASUR, so the Venezuelan state is not only developing strategic alliances with private companies in Venezuela, but across Latin America. This is the first step towards transforming the rentier oil state in a way which is necessary for the construction of socialism.
First is the theme of strategic alliances to develop the forces of production, the second is developing an analysis of Venezuelan critical thought, on the theme of the connection between the basic industries and the light industries, between the cooperatives and the small self-employed business people, or the worker-controlled businesses, and the self-employed.
What does this mean? Well, the Venezuelan economy, which is still capitalist, needs to develop within specific conditions; The petroleum industry is the most developed and connected with the world market, compared to any other industry in Venezuela. The heavy industries of Guyana, aluminium, iron etc., are more developed for exportation of these resources, than for domestic production.
In order to develop socialism, we need to develop the interconnection between these basic industries, and petroleum production, such as plastic production from petrol. National production and national industry are needed for national development to transform the relations of social production. And so our school of thought, this programme we are developing has these concerns.
We are trying to develop both technical and political perspectives. Technical because we have to work concretely within the Bolivarian Revolution, where our needs involve technical knowledge that can be used for administration, innovation and development in the process of socialist industrialisation. Political, to ensure that this process remains firmly within a model of the socialist transformation of the bases of production. So these are the main themes of political education in the UBV.
When we look at Chavez's Progama Patria, we can see the important theme is about saving humanity, these are not lightweight proposals, such as the proposals of Capriles. Rather, concretely, Chavez develops the theme of national independence and sovereignty, how to construct Latin America as a power, developing the theme of ecology, important for humanity and the country. He sets out concrete tasks of the revolution.
Since Chavez has won the election, we now need to reflect on the main tasks of the Bolivarian Revolution. As Chavez says, we will never win as long as the economy of Venezuela maintains the characteristics of a capitalist rentier state. Socialism has barely started in our country, we are starting to learn, we are dependent on our people and the people of the world, to answer the question, how we can start to construct this new model of production; the new productive model of socialism?
Translated by Cat Allison and Sam McGill
[RCG 09.10.12] In this interesting video interview with the RCG delegation in Caracas, journalist and activist Jody McIntyre explains the depths that the British media go to in order to spread disinformation about Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution.
In this short piece Jody takes aim at the Guardian journalist Rory Carroll who presents himself as a professional 'news' correspondent yet his reports are full of fantasy and inaccuracies about the process in Venezuela. "I dont know which Venezuela he's visiting", explains Jody "what your supposed to be writing is news... factual accounts... not some kind of fantasy that you're living in!".
The RCG and its newspaper FRFI have been a constant voice criticizing Carroll's articles in the Guardian, also pointing out that the paper itself as a whole writes poor and inaccurate coverage about Cuba and Venezuela.
You can follow Jody's blog here: http://jodymcintyre.wordpress.com/