Friday 28 September, Plaza de Museos, Belles Artes, Caracas
[RCG 28/09/12] Science and Technology plays an increasingly important role in Venezuela, today the Bolivarian Republic launched its second satellite to further advance technological development. The 'Francisco Miranda' Satellite was created in China by a specialist bi-national team which ensured that Venezuelan scientists could learn the skills and knowledge required to design and maintain the satellite and ensure the transfer of technology between the countries. Venezuela's first 'Bolivar' satellite was launched in 2008 in order to develop telecommunications across the whole of the country. The second 'Miranda' Satellite is designed to capture high definition images of Venezuela's national territory, to analyse land that could be developed for agriculture, identify sites that are being used for illegal mining and further improve telecommunication.
In order to celebrate this achievement, we gathered with the Venezuelan youth in Plaza de Museos, Belles Artes for a night of music, discussion and information. To everyone's surprise President Hugo Chavez paid an unexpected visit to the event. Arriving at 9pm after a day of campaigning and rallies in other states, Chavez was greeted with cries of 'Uh Ah, Chavez no se va' signifying that with his popular support, President Chavez is not going anywhere and the Bolivarian Revolution is here to stay! The level of emotion, appreciation and love given by the people towards their president was something we could never expect to see under capitalism in Britain, Chavez walked through the crowds with minimal security, surrounded by socialist youth, hugging and talking with them as he made his way to the stage declaring 'Long live science, youth and music in Venezuela! In two hours our second satellite will be launched, this is only possible under our revolution, I don't have any doubts that our generation is the best for 200 years, since the generation of Bolivar....Hasta La Victoria Siempre! (Until Victory Always!)'.
For our delegation it was certainly an unexpected privilege to be within 50 metres of Chavez on our second day in Venezuela, seeing him speak from a small stage to the young Venezuelans gathered around him. Chavez is clearly a driving force in the Bolivarian Revolution, but the students and youth of Venezuela are seizing their future in both hands, developing the opportunities that the Chavez government is handing to them. As we are reminded by revolutionary graffiti plastered on the walls in Caracas, 'Chavez es el pueblo' (Chavez is the people)
Sam McGill (photos by Ih-tisham Ul-Haq)
Friday 28 September Caracas
[RCG 28.09.12] The theme of healthcare is a constant topic of conversation here in Venezuela, today we visited a child cardiology hospital to see the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution for ourselves. We met with Luis Henriquez from the ministry of foreign relations, and Ruben Granado, deputy of foreign relations in the Latin American Child cardiology hospital 'Dr Gilbert Rodriguez Ochoa' in the East of Caracas. Ruben explained to us that the hospital has been open since August 2006 and since then, has treated 7000 patients 'and counting', an average of 1300 patients each year. 79 of these patients have come from other countries including Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico and Gambia, the specialist hospital is designed to treat children up to 18 years old, for congenital heart problems who have been referred from 18 hospitals across the country.
Thursday 27 September, Caracas
[RCG 28.09.12] We arrived in Caracas, this morning at 5am, and already we have had a day full of revolutionary activity. Venturing out of our posada, which is located next to the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV created in 2003 as an inclusive, progressive alternative to the elite universities previously) we immediately found ourselves in the middle of a Chavista student mobilisation. The students were organising a Caravan of cars and buses, covered in posters and banners, to tour around the city leafleting to build support for Chavez's presidential candidacy. The students immediately wanted to talk to us, inviting us to share food with them in the UBV canteen.
Paula Gomez, cancer therapy student, pointed out "before, the creation of UBV, before Hugo Chavez, university was very difficult for people who didn't have money, or high salaries, you needed money for everything including food, food is very important for students, now after the changes, the processes, things have improved, you can see today in the lunch queue, how big the queue is, all these people will benefit, they don't have to pay for lunch or breakfast here, it is totally subsidised by the government." Paula spoke of the importance of developing agriculture, food sovereignty, the creation of the subsidised food markets such as PDVAL and Mercal that provide basic food items in poor communities.
[Counterpunch 28.09.12] On October 7th, Venezuelans head to the polls for an election that will determine not only the future of the country and its Bolivarian Revolution, but that could also have powerful implications for the anti-capitalist struggle in Latin America and beyond.
A Tale of Two Elections
In what is painted as a battle for the country’s future between two opposing ideals, an incumbent often berated as a populist demagogue faces off against a representative of the moneyed elite. The former, a political outsider hated by the far right for his skin color; the latter, a wealthy former state governor completely out-of-touch with the plight of the working poor.
The election begins in a dead heat, but a series of public gaffes by the conservative candidate as well as a general lack of charisma consistently dog his campaign, leading him to increasingly desperate measures. Just when it seemed things couldn’t get worse, a leaked recording reveals the emptiness of his rhetoric of unity and empathy.
I’m not talking about the U.S. election, Mitt Romney, or his now-notorious comments about the “47 percent.” I’m referring to the one election this Fall that really matters, because it represents the struggle for the future of the Americas: that of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.
[RCG 26/09/12] TODAY, The Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) is sending a delegation to report on and film Venezuela’s presidential elections on 7 October, elections which will play a crucial role in determining the future not just of the country itself but of the whole of Latin America.
Our delegation team have been working hard updating our blog with news and articles but also fundraising, to ensure our film work can take place out in Venezuela and we can present a full-length documentary on our return to Britain.
Thanks to our supporters so far, we have hit our fundraising target! These funds raised will now cover the basic costs of creating the film. We couldn't have done it without the help of individual supporters who share the vision to spread the truth about the revolutionary process happening in Venezuela and show how it is relevant to what is happening here in Britain and Europe.
The choice for Venezuelans this election is between the Bolivarian Revolution, led by the incumbent Hugo Chavez of Venezuela’s Party of Socialism and Unity, and the neoliberal Henrique Capriles of the MUD opposition coalition, which is committed to privatization, eroding the power of the state and, in effect, returning the country to the vast inequality between rich and poor which were the hallmark of Venezuela prior to Chavez’s election in 1999.
With Hugo Chavez leading opinion polls by a considerable margin, his opponents have used violence to disrupt pre-election campaigning and have made it clear that they will reject any result that is not in their favour; meanwhile they have much of the international western media on their side.
We in Britain are already learning early valuable lessons from the Venezuelan people. Although they have found great benefits from the Bolivarian process in true struggle against inequality and for economic and social justice, this has always been met with the harshest reaction and violence from the ruling elites of the country.
This has not overshadowed the gains which we have seen emerge from the battle for socialism and equality in Venezuela. Yet in Britain this is not reported on, and such information is being censcored from the press so that the poor and marginalised in Britain remain in the dark about these revolutionary changes.
Our delegation of journalists and film makers aim to break through the wall of media disinformation about the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution so that ordinary people in Britain can get the truth about the alternative to the exploitative and divisive capitalist system.
You can follow what’s happening day by day in Caracas over the course of the elections as the group will be blogging from Caracas from the beginning of October at www.vivavenezuela.co.uk, sharing videos, photos, interviews and impressions from the streets of Caracas. Don't forget we will also be updating our Facebook and Twitter pages every day!
We will meet with political organisations, community leaders, workers’ cooperatives and media workers.
Our group will also be talking about the experiences from the delegation and showing video clips from the upcoming documentary film on their return (details below or check our events section).
Report-back meeting details:
Here is a short excerpt of our recent and upcoming video interviews with various activists and journalists around Britain talking on what's happening in Venezuela.
As you know, we plan to form a longer documentary on our return from Venezuela this October (delegation leaving this Wednesday!), but for now here is the a taster clip of what we are working on. This interview is with Pablo Navarrete, journalist and filmmaker, talking to us on his own experiences in Venezuela and his views on the importance of the Bolivarian revolutionary process.
[RCG 20/09/12] Despite attempts by the international press to paint Venezuela as a country laden with corruption, headed by a power-hungry dictator, the facts clearly speak for themselves.
In August, Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Centre’s Americas Programme visited Venezuela to observe the preparations for the elections. She reported in an interview with Infobae Latinoamerica that her organization’s observer missions to Venezuela have found the country’s electoral system safe and trustworthy. McCoy states ‘There is a system of pre-electoral auditing to audit the software, hardware, and voting machines where political parties are able to say whether those audits are alright and are working correctly’
[Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, 17/09/12] In an extraordinary paper released this week, former US Ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, outlined a range of military, financial and diplomatic measures that the US should be prepared to take against the Chavez government after the coming elections on October 7th.
In the paper, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, Duddy’s recommendations include that in the event of “an outbreak of violence and/or interruption of democracy” the US should use various means to “to communicate to the Venezuelan military leadership that they are obliged to uphold their constitution, respect human rights, and protect their country's democratic tradition”and “organize a coalition of partners to limit an illegitimate Venezuelan administration's access to government assets held abroad as well as to the international financial system.”
[Correo del Orinoco 14/09/12] Minister of Planning and Finance Jorge Giordani said Tuesday that the policies of the Chavez administration have allowed “the Venezuelan economy to grow more than expected and for inflation to fall below the average [of 20 to 22 percent] established in the national budget for 2012”. GDP growth for the second quarter of this year was 5.4 percent, compared to 2.5 percent for that period in 2011. The annualized inflation for August stood at 18.1 percent, lower than the amount established in the 2012 budget, which was 20 to 22 percent.
Average inflation in Venezuela for the last 12 years under the Chavez government has been 22.2 percent, and at times as low as 12.4 percent. Under the previous governments of Carlos Andres Perez and Rafael Caldera, average inflation was 45.3 percent and 59.6 percent respectively, with highs of 80 percent inflation under the former and 103 percent under the latter.'