[Marxism] general news from Venezuela 26 November 2003 (fwd)

Tony Tracy tony at tao.ca
Wed Nov 26 17:12:10 MST 2003

Here is another email from Mike Lebowitz in Venezuela... I thought that
comrades would be interested...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2003 19:58:14 -0400
From: michael a. lebowitz <mlebowit at sfu.ca>
Subject: general news from Venezuela 26 November 2003

This is the first of two notes today relating to current developments in
Venezuela. The second note concerns specifically the situation of workers
in the private sector in the upcoming signature campaign.
	One of the interesting signs of the struggle and balance of forces
at this point was displayed by Chavez at his speech for the inauguration
of the Congreso bolivariano de los Pueblos last night. This was a congress
initiated by Argentinean supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution, who are
committed both to the social character of the Bolivarian Revolution in
Venezuela and to Bolivar's vision of a united Latin America; it drew upon
participants from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In the
opening of Chavez's speech, he stressed that during the last week,
political parties which are supporting the government had attempted to
purchase advertisements on the private TV stations and had been refused.
Chavez had asked them to respect the Constitution and the law, and he
asked for a reply by the time of his speech. It was not forthcoming. So,
his reply was to call for a 'chain'--- to use his power under the law
(preceding him) to broadcast on all TV stations at once. And, he announced
to the Congress (to cheers) that his speech was being carried on all
stations at that point. He proceeded to ask what kind of democracy was
possible if the private stations could exclude advertising from parties
that they rejected. (Imagine, he asked, if a company wanted to introduce a
new product and couldn't buy advertising on stations for some reasons! How
could they communicate its existence?) If the private media could exclude
the advertising of particular political parties, then they would be living
under a dictatorship--- the dictatorship of the private media. So, Chavez
called upon the private stations to respect the law and the Constitution,
and he called upon the electoral commission (CNE) to enforce the law. If
it didn't, he said, he would use the powers available to him under the
law.  This 'chain' was clearly an announcement to the country of what he
intends to do if the private stations continue to refuse to accept paid
advertising from Chavez supporters in this period leading up to the
firmazo-- the signature gathering campaign beginning on Friday (and
extending to Monday).
	Another aspect of Chavez's speech was his discussion of some
initial results of the campaign just completed to recall 38 opponents in
the legislature. Apparently, it went very well--- with well over the 20%
of the required signatures gathered in the 4 days past in several cases
and the signatures obtained to have recall referenda for 37. In fact, he
joked about how the polls in some un-named centres indicated very little
support for him (eg, less than 24%) and yet over 50 % of the electorate
there had just signed to remove his opponents. The initial report is that
over 4 million signatures had been collected, and that in some cases over
twice as many recall signatures than the legislators had received in votes
had just been collected.
	Other notes of interest indicating tension: a Cuban doctor working
in the barrio was murdered yesterday when he was providing healthcare in
his home.  The report at this point is that it was a robbery but tension
was very high because of the fear that it was politically inspired. Also
yesterday, 5 armed and masked men attacked an airforce base where jet
fighters are; in the gun fight that occurred, they escaped.
	I noted that there had been an eery calm with the state TV
stations inviting opposition figures for discussions. All this is being
denounced now as a trick by opposition people (who are criticising
oppositionists for going on state TV). The International Press Institute
has a delegation in Venezuela to observe developments. In a statement
which appears in today's eluniversal.com, Jorge Fascetto, president of
IPI, stated:

"Our organizations, specially the Inter-American Press Association, has
been visiting Venezuela during the last few years. We know perfectly what
is going on in Venezuela. We know the good climate we have seen in these
three, four, five days... We know what it is for; it is intended to
deceive many people. We want a fair play (during the collection of
signatures endorsing a presidential recall petition), that is all."

	in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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