By Gregory Wipert. Published on 13 January 2016 by Telesur English
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).
Published on 7 January 2016 by TeleSUR English
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.
Published on 6 January 2016 by TeleSUR English
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
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.
Published on 31 December 2015 by TeleSUR
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.
Published on 1 January 2016 by TeleSUR
Venezuela's "Great Housing Mission" has created one million homes since the housing miIn a major milestone for Venezuela’s social housing mission, President Nicolas Maduro delivered the program’s one millionth home to a Venezuelan family on Wednesday saving his mustache from being shaved off.
Last month, Maduro said he would shave his iconic mustache if the government failed to meet its goal of one million homes before 2016. Maduro promised in his television broadcast on Tuesday that “rain or shine,” the government would meet its goal of providing one million homes by the end of the year.
The “Great Housing Mission” aims to tackle housing shortages in the South American country by providing safe and dignified homes to low-income people at a low cost or free of charge, depending on the new owners’ means.
The one million homes have been created since the housing mission was launched by former President Hugo Chavez in 2011.The housing mission, one of the Venezuelan government's most popular social initiatives, expanded an emergency shelter program implemented in 2010 to help those who lost their homes in devastating floods. The program has prioritized providing low-cost housing to poor families.
In 2011, Chavez said that the mission would be used to address the “social debt” left behind by former governments that failed to provide quality housing to all Venezuelans. Maduro has promised to continue to expand the mission with the goal of providing affordable housing to 40 percent of Venezuelans by the end of the decade.
Published on 1 January 2016 by Counterpunch
The National Assembly of Venezuela, in its final session before a neoliberal dominated opposition takes the helm of legislative power on January 5, passed one of the most progressive seed laws in the world on December 23, 2015; it was promptly signed into law by President Nicolas Maduro. On December 29, during his television show, “In Contact with Maduro, number 52,” Maduro said that the new seed law provides the conditions to produce food “under an agro-ecological model that respects the pacha mama (mother earth) and the right of our children to grow up healthy, eating healthy.” The law is a victory for the international movements for agroecology and food sovereignty because it bans transgenic (GMO) seed while protecting local seed from privatization. The law is also a product of direct participatory democracy –the people as legislator– in Venezuela, because it was hammered out through a deliberative partnership between members of the country’s National Assembly and a broad-based grassroots coalition of eco-socialist, peasant, and agroecological oriented organizations and institutions. This essay provides an overview of the phenomenon of people as legislator, a summary of the new Seed Law, and an appendix with an unofficial translation of some of the articles of the law.
Published on 22 December 2015 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
Ten years of the Movement Toward Socialism in government
Led by the government of Evo Morales and the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), Bolivia has undergone a profound transformation in the past ten years. The change is not just in the economic sphere, but in the shift of political power away from the traditional elite, the mostly white owners of industry and agriculture, and towards the majority, the mostly indigenous workers and campesinos.
Evo Morales emerged as a leader of coca growers in Chaparé province, who were fighting against US-funded eradication of their crops. He first ran as presidential candidate for MAS in 2002, and narrowly lost. At the next election, on 18 December 2005, Morales and MAS won with 53.7% of the vote, a previously unheard of majority in Bolivia. The previous five years had seen six presidents come and go as a result of constant political crises. It was during this period that mass struggles against neoliberal austerity - the Water War and the Gas War - paved the way for the MAS victory.
Water War 1999 - 2000
The Water War was sparked by a 1999 agreement by the government of Hugo Banzer to privatise the water supply in Cochabamba province. This was made in order to meet privatisation targets set by the World Bank in return for $600m debt relief. The new owner, a consortium run by US multinational Bechtel, was guaranteed an annual profit rate of 16% over 40-years.
Workers and campesino organisations came together to form a Coalition for Defence of Water and Life. Over a period of six months they organised strikes and blockades, regularly bringing Cochabamba to a standstill. Key decisions affecting the movement were approved at open-air meetings attended by up to 50,000 people.
The cancellation of the water contract as a direct result of the protests marked a turning point for Bolivia’s anti-austerity movement, showing that popular forces could defeat neoliberalism.
Published on 17 December 2015 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
'Self-criticism is to correct, to rectify, not to continue doing everything in a vacuum ... either independence or nothing, either the commune or nothing!'
Hugo Chavez – 'Golpe de timon' (Strike at the Helm) speech, 20 October 2012
Venezuela's 6 December National Assembly elections represent the biggest electoral loss for the Bolivarian Revolution in its 17-year history. The Venezuelan right-wing have secured a two thirds 'super majority' with the Round-table of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition winning 109 seats, alongside the election of three opposition aligned indigenous national assembly legislators. This gives the Venezuelan opposition a massive majority over the coalition aligned with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) which only won 55 seats. The death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, the prolonged economic war and the international campaign against Venezuela, coupled with the PSUV government’s reluctance to confront head on the private sector’s strangulation of the economy, pushed many to switch sides and vote for the MUD's undefined promise of 'change'.
This represents a major blow to the revolutionary forces in Venezuela, which since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 have counted on parliamentary electoral power to promote working class interests. The two-thirds majority gives the right-wing significant powers to block the government spending necessary for the continuation of Venezuela's extensive social missions, impose or remove government ministers, dismiss vice president Jorge Arreaza, call for a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution and seek to remove President Nicolas Maduro, either through initiating a recall referendum, or appointing Supreme Court judges to vote for his impeachment. From the moment the new assembly assumes power on 5 January 2016, the Bolivarian Chavista movement will cease to have legislative control over the country and the MUD will have the means to derail every attempt to pass new laws advancing the interests of the working class and poor.