Charles Brown CharlesB at
Wed Dec 5 11:46:45 MST 2001

In These Times - December 10, 2001

New World Order...
But Venezuela's "revolution" faces many obstacles.

by John Marshall and Christian Parenti

 From the 23rd-story offices of the Venezuelan Ministry of Planning,
the slums can be seen stretching out across the verdant mountainsides
and far into the distance. Equally clear, on the highway just below,
are the swank SUVs of the upper classes, streaming out of town and
back to their gated redoubts. Inside the office, the walls are
covered from floor to ceiling with dry-erase boards and butcher paper
illustrating elaborate visions of an alternative future.

"We're trying to have a revolution with the enemy inside," explains
Enrique Vila, a poet, professor, artist and now a leading planner in
Venezuela's populist government. "It's not easy." Vila is in charge
of building a series of large, experimental, economically
self-sufficient, ecologically sustainable rural communities, complete
with local currencies and organic farming--the kind of thing most
Berkeley anarchists only dream about.

But Vila's planned communities are just one example of a broader,
frequently overlooked social experiment that began here with the
election of President Hugo Chavez in late 1998. Attacked by the
American right as a military thug--his first bid at power was a
failed coup attempt in 1992--Chavez remains something of an enigma.
Is he a populist blowhard, talking tough but doing little? An
old-school Marxist, minus the Soviet subsidies? A far-left
authoritarian, waiting to blossom? Or a doomed balcony socialist in
the tradition of Peru's Gen. Juan Velasco or Panama's Omar Torrijos?


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