Deepening democratic revolution in Venezuela: Fight to end illiteracy, expand medical care, and transform military

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Jul 13 09:58:13 MDT 2003

Subject: Deepening democratic revolution in Venezuela: Fight to end
illiteracy, expand medical care, and transform the army

1. Chavez opens drive to end illiteracy, using Cubans' expertise

Tue Jul 1, 6:02 PM ET:
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
launched a Cuban-backed campaign to eradicate illiteracy in his
country on Tuesday, denying opposition charges that it was aimed at
teaching Cuba-style communism.

Seventy-four Cuban literacy experts were to train 100,000 Venezuelan
teachers to give classes in reading and writing to 1.5 million
Venezuelans -- nearly 9 percent of the population -- who are currently

The Cuban participation is opposed by foes of leftist Chavez. They
accuse him of ruling like a dictator and trying to replicate
Communist-ruled Cuba in Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter.

In a video conference broadcast from Caracas to schools around the
country, the Venezuelan leader praised the literacy program as a major
advance in his so-called "revolution" to improve the lives of the
country's poor.

"This has nothing to do with indoctrination," he said, dismissing
allegations by opponents that the campaign would seek to impart
Marxist ideology along with reading and writing skills.

The campaign, providing two hours of classes a day at teaching centers
around the country, will be headed by Eliecer Otaiza, a Chavez
loyalist and former chief of Venezuela's DISIP security police.

Chavez thanked his friend and political ally, Cuban President Fidel
Castro, for donating texts, videos and 50,000 television sets to help
the Venezuelan literacy drive. The Venezuelan leader briefly visited
Havana during the weekend for talks with Castro.

In a growing alliance that has irked the United States, the biggest
buyer of Venezuelan oil, several hundred Cuban doctors, sports
trainers and farming experts have been working in Venezuela under a
bilateral cooperation treaty.

Venezuela also supplies up to 53,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to
Cuba on preferential terms, making the South American nation the
Caribbean island's single biggest trading partner.

Chavez, who was first elected in 1998 and survived a coup last year,
frequently praises Castro and Cuba but denies that he shares the Cuban
leader's Communist convictions.

2. Posted: Sunday, July 06, 2003
By: David Coleman

President Chavez Frias drafts in more than 1,000 Cuban medics to treat
Venezuela's poor...

In a show-down with Venezuelan medics who refuse to take on public
health services in impoverished districts of his country, Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that more almost 1,000
medics will be flown in beginning this week ... by month's end, 815
Cuban doctors are scheduled to arrive and Chavez Frias says more will
follow before the end of August.

Venezuela's new urban health campaign has been under severe criticism
from the right-wing political opposition and their anger has not been
allowed to subside with the earlier drafting of Cuban teachers to
implement a nationwide literacy program and trainers for a sports and
physical fitness campaign to boot.

Rabid opposition parties are claiming its an invasion of Venezuela by
the Cubans but President Chavez Frias says there's here by invitation
since more than 40 years of successive right-wing government has only
put his people further into poverty in tune with swelling bank
accounts in the United States and Europe belonging to the corrupt
politicians he ousted by an overwhelming democratic majority in 1998.

Chavez Frias' strategy is to bring primary public health care to
hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans living in incredible squalor in
fragile shanty-town shacks perched on precipitous hillsides around the
capital Caracas and principal urban centers throughout this nation of
23.4 million ... more than 80% had been reduced by previous corrupt
government administrations to living in conditions described by the
United Nations Food Program as being under any qualification of
minimum poverty level.

''We are sending the doctors to the heart of the barrio-slums where
they are really needed ... nothing and nobody is going to stop my
government's humanitarian action ... the opposition is, of course,
screaming blue murder over the fact that the doctors are coming from
Cuba, but what else can we do when Venezuelan doctors are too
'primadonna' to go to the heart of the matter themselves ... they all
want to set up in private practice and earn fistfuls of US$ ... that
can't be right!"

Meanwhile Havana has just flown in some 33 tonnes of medical supplies
to help assuage a crisis in supply of medicaments ... private sector
pharmacies are believed to be hoarding necessary medicines since the
government imposed prince controls in March on the heels of foreign
exchange curbs in January after a crippling opposition labor stoppage
aimed at causing terminal economic damage to the Chavez Frias
government and forcing his resignation from office.  They did not
succeed but left the country several $-billions further into the red
as it fights to repay massive foreign debts incurred by past regimes.

Chavez Frias turned to Latin American colleague, Cuba's President
Fidel Castro after being cold-shouldered by the Bush administration
which also lay behind a 2-day coup d'etat in April 2002 which saw the
installation of USA puppet President Pedro Carmona Estanga who
promptly dissolved Congress, the judiciary and the Venezuelan
Constitution before he was kicked out in a massive show of pro-Chavez
support from a general public largely disaffected with corrupt
governments of the last half-century.

Castro is returning the favor to Venezuela for busting a unilateral US
trade embargo on his Caribbean island which sees some 53,000 barrels
per day of Venezuelan oil shipped to Cuba on preferential terms which
are also available to neighboring Latin American countries but not the
United States.

Venezuelan Medical Association executives are seeking to block the
Cuban doctors claiming they are not qualified and that they threatens
the jobs of Venezuelan doctors (who refuse to work in the barrio-slums
on principle) ... they have the backing of Venezuela's
opposition-controlled print & broadcast media which rather
hysterically claims, despite abject denials, that Chavez is turning
Venezuela into a satellite state of Castro's Cuba.

3.Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Forces into Retirement Five
Generals Calling For His Resignation

(Venezuela still does not have the kind of broad, popularly-rooted
revolutionary defense forces that Cuba has today, but the
transformation of the army -- which actually began about dd20 years
ago when Chavez, as a young officer, began to build a revolutionary
nucleus in the officer corps
-- seems definitely to have gone to the point where a
counterrevolution would have to abolish, not utilize, the present
Venezuelan army. -- Fred Feldman)

Caracas, July 12 (RHC) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has forced
into retirement five army and national guard generals who have been
calling for his resignation. The generals and several dozen
lower-ranking officers have been holding a protest vigil in an
upper-class neighborhood of east Caracas - bastion of the Chávez
opposition - since last October. The government has insisted that
their protest does not reflect the sentiments of the majority of
Venezuela's armed forces.

The forced retirements comes a week after the Attorney General's
office suspended judicial processes against 16 generals and admirals
accused by the government of participating in the failed April, 2000
coup. The five generals were among that group. More than 300 officers
have been investigated in connection with their participation in the
coup and dozens have been forced into retirement. None, however, have
been convicted of participating in a military rebellion.

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