Venezuela Solidarity Weekly
There is a lot of hot air spewed in the US corporate press crying wolf on the supposedly worsening economic hardships of Venezuela's citizens. The reported cause of their supposed economic woes? Maduro's "authoritarian regime's" socializing of the economy.
Venezuela's (more accurately descibed) profoundly democratic government, disagrees. And why shouldn't they? On top of the global capitalist economic system having serious turmoil, Venezuela is under economic attack. The rich of Venezuela (colluding certainly with rich allies in the US and the service of US spy agencies) are intentionally destabilizing their economy in a dirty class war since having been removed from governmental power by democratic elections.
However, whereas in the US we've seen soaring income inequality as a result of the rich controling our government, in Venezuela an economic offensive against the rich's control has served the interests of the 99% and especially the poorest.
"One of the largest hauls was found in Distruibor El Nonno in Lara State, where 812 tons of food products were being kept from the shelves by the ﬁrm’s owner as part of the economic war against the population which aims to, through falsely creating shortages and inﬂation, generate enough social discontent to topple the elected government of Nicolas Maduro. Of the seizure, only 690 tons were resold in the public network of supermarkets at regulated prices, as 122 tons were past their use-by-date. The owner of the ﬁrm has been arrested."
Wouldn't it be great to see some Wall Street Bankers arrested here?
In our second story, we find Venezuela moving forward on another public service that is sure to benefit their country's future. In a move, that could be seen as very European but really just makes sense, Venezuela has been building a free nationwide wireless service.
"“The “Wireless for All” project, deployed by the Venezuelan government has reached 1,479 locations, including schools, universities, villages, plazas and parks in the country, representing a 26% improvement over the goal to connect the signal to 5,774 free internet public spaces,” said the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Manuel Fernandez."
Now rich college students can quickly upload selfies at the barricades on their brand new iphones without wasting their mobile internet wireless plan. (Only joking, those kids are definately suffering at the hands of an oppressive authoritarian regime. Hopefully vacation shopping sprees in Florida will calm their rage in time away from the poor people using their free university and free healthcare system.)
Finally, Venezuela pushes further towards direct democratic control.
"Another announcement was that authorities will distribute 980 cargo trucks to communes in order to support their productive and agricultural activities. This will help local farmers transport their goods to markets without expensive private sector middlemen charging speculative rates for the service, which drives up the prices of food and reduces farmers’ incomes."
Shucks, all those valueless middlemen jobs are being lost in Venezuela because the communal councils are directly organizing their community against being cheated. What will they think of next?
Full articles below!
Economic Offensive Continues To Stabilize Venezuela
Paul Dobson, Correo de Orinoco, May 23, 2014
The second phase of the government-led economic offensive continued this week, with numerous arrests being made for the crimes of usury, hoarding, smuggling, and price speculation. Copious amounts of goods were seized and resold at regulated prices.
Vice President Jorge Arreaza explained that since the second phase began on April 22, 3,068 businesses have been inspected in joint actions by communities, the armed forces, and government. Major seizures were televised live.
The aim, Arreaza explained, is to “construct a new economic order which allows us to overcome the oil-dependent model,” and defeat the economic war waged by the business classes which has left the country with high inﬂation, shortages, and low production levels.
Arreaza explained that of the inspections carried out so far, “27% of the businesses have incurred the crimes of hoarding, speculation, and smuggling”. Also, he speciﬁed, “36% of the inspections have been in the food sector, 27% in commerce, 11% in construction, 10% in textile and clothing, 6% in vehicles, and 5% in health and medicine.”
In the border states of Tachira and Zulia, where large quantities of subsidized goods are smuggled to Colombia for enormous proﬁt margins, 155 tons of rice and sugar were found in the warehouses of the ﬁrm Arrocera Chispa, whilst over-pricing of 82% was found in the supermarket Exito.
In Zulia State, 50,000 liters of lactose products were found hoarded in the warehouses of Merilac Corporation, which was also found to be reselling some goods with proﬁt margins of 96%. In the meat ﬁrm A Que Ramon, overpricing of 90% was discovered, and in Revinca Corporation, a tube supplier, overpricing of 443% was found. The new Law of Fair Prices and Costs restricts allowed profit margins to 30%, and grants the authorities powers to penalize the non-compliance of the law with up to 10 years of prison and $500,000 in ﬁnes. Proﬁt margins on vehicles and other goods are further limited to 10%.
In the central States of Vargas, Aragua, and Carabobo, illegal proﬁt margins of 664% were discovered at Frenos Sun Corp., a distributor of car parts, while in 1731 Corp., which supplies motorbike parts, illegal proﬁt margins of 380% were found. In Mi Auto Motors 82, illegal proﬁt margins of 300% were disclosed, while in Inversiones Villa de Arauca, 2958kg of hoarded coffee was seized. In the eastern state of Bolivar, the marble ﬁrm Marmolia Canaima was also found to be overpricing with proﬁt margins of 305%. In the same entity, the hardware ﬁrm Ferreksa was found to be over-pricing by 407%. One of the largest hauls was found in Distruibor El Nonno in Lara State, where 812 tons of food products were being kept from the shelves by the ﬁrm’s owner as part of the economic war against the population which aims to, through falsely creating shortages and inﬂation, generate enough social discontent to topple the elected government of Nicolas Maduro. Of the seizure, only 690 tons were resold in the public network of supermarkets at regulated prices, as 122 tons were past their use-by-date. The owner of the ﬁrm has been arrested. The economic offensive is due to continue, focusing this week on car dealers and parts supplies. The offensive is also expected to initiate inspections at the production level, in factories and the countryside, with the objective of facilitating loans and resolving particular problems production so as to increase production levels across the country.
“Wireless for All” Plan In Venezuelan Schools and Public Areas
Correo de Orinoco May 16, 2014
The “Wireless for All” project, deployed by the Venezuelan government has reached 1,479 locations, including schools, universities, villages, plazas and parks in the country, representing a 26% improvement over the goal to connect the signal to 5,774 free internet public spaces, said the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Manuel Fernandez.
Fernandez explained that to date they have connected 215 of the 547 plazas that will be a part of the project; 14 of the 25 parks; 788 of the 3,589 colleges, and 462 of the more than 1,600 villages and universities raised in the plan.
“This wireless project is for everyone to have free Wiﬁ access connections in four types of spaces. Colleges and universities, these two were instructed by President Nicolas Maduro during Learner’s Week in November 2013 and before that he asked us to think of a solution to install free Wiﬁ in recreational areas,” he said.
He noted that this project is done for educational purposes in places of study and public schools as well as for recreational purposes in parks and public areas around the country.
The scope of the project, Minister Fernandez said, in the last three days has managed to connect 70 spaces with free Wiﬁ each day. He explained that the bandwidth for these spaces is 10 megabits per second and will be able to connect to 128 users simultaneously. By the end of June it is estimated that they will have 3,000 new Internet spaces.
Venezuelan Government and Activists Seek to Advance toward “Communal State”
By Ewan Robertson
Mérida, 29th May 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government and commune movement are taking steps to move towards the creation of what is referred to as a “communal state”, which involves community organisations assuming collective control of local production and decision making.
Communes in Venezuela are formed out of groups of community councils, which are small neighbourhood organisations representing 250-400 families – where local residents organise to develop their local community and run community affairs. They can also receive public funds to undertake a variety of projects in their area.
Communes themselves are created when an election of local residents is held to select spokespeople from each community council in a given area to form a communal parliament, which has different sub committees and covers community affairs over a larger territorial zone. The commune can then take on larger scale tasks and responsibilities than individual community councils. They can also register with the Ministry of Communes, which makes them eligible to apply for public funding for productive, educational, cultural, infrastructure or other development projects.
There are currently around 40,000 communal councils and 600 communes registered in the country, with more communes currently in the process of formation.
Over the past year and a half the Bolivarian government has stepped up efforts to encourage citizens to organise themselves into communes. This coincided with a speech that late former president Hugo Chavez made in October 2012, criticising the lack of progress in establishing communes in the country, and the appointment of Reinaldo Iturriza as minister of communes by President Nicolas Maduro last April.
Some of the main ideas behind the creation of communes expressed by activists and commune ministry figures are for local communities to play a greater role in productive activities such as agriculture, and for communities to play a greater role in local decision-making and administration.
Earlier this month, President Maduro created a Presidential Council of Communal Governance to act as a direct link between the government and communes and to receive proposals from communes on how government policy can better support communal development.
“You make the proposals, I’ll articulate them with policies, and you send me the criticisms about the shortcomings of the Bolivarian government. Long live grassroots criticism, let’s learn to grow from criticism, let’s not fear the truth, that’s Hugo Chavez’s method,” said Maduro to 10,000 communards (commune members) in Caracas upon making the announcement.
Another announcement was that authorities will distribute 980 cargo trucks to communes in order to support their productive and agricultural activities. This will help local farmers transport their goods to markets without expensive private sector middlemen charging speculative rates for the service, which drives up the prices of food and reduces farmers’ incomes.
Press also reported that Maduro agreed to a meeting with communards to examine difficulties for communal enterprises in issues such as investments and sales, in order to resolve these issues with presidential law-making powers.
Various other commune meetings are planned for June such as a national communal productive fair. There is also a proposal to be debated soon in the Federal Government Council for the transfer of some competencies of local government to the communes.
Dameris Herrera, a spokesperson of the Orinoquia commune in eastern Venezuela, told media her impression of the announcements. “He [Maduro] is saying that yes we can, especially in the transfer of powers, because we can be the administrators of many things that are being done at the level of the constituted power [local representative governance], and as the constituent power [direct participatory governance]; we have this responsibility,” she said.
Commune movement organising around the country
Meanwhile, communards have been meeting around the country on an independent basis to better organise their movement and present the government with their proposals and requirements for development.
In the Andean town of Mesa Bolivar, Mérida state, some 600 communards representing over 50 communes in the region gathered last weekend to discuss how communes can combat what they describe as an on-going “economic war” against the country’s Bolivarian revolution.
“The aim of this meeting is to reflect, debate and design actions against the economic war, in the areas of supply and revolutionary auditing [of distribution and sales], and in the area of production and socio economic projects,” said Alonso Rua, a member of the Communard Council of Mérida, to Venezuelanalysis.com.
The gathered activists, displaying a range of ages and backgrounds, many of whom were rural workers, met for an open air assembly in the town centre. They then held working groups on security, the economy, communication, and political education. Youth activists met in a separate meeting to discuss issues specific to them.
The more general aim of the meeting, the seventh of its kind over the past year, was to tighten links between commune activists and to advance the organisation of their movement toward goals of local self-management and production.
“What do we want with all this? First, self government, so that we are our own governors. That is to say, truly realise what the constitution says, which is a true democracy,” said Luis Pimental, a high school teacher and member of a commune near Lake Maracaibo, to VA.com.
The communard continued, “When talk began about communes, I was skeptical, and I asked myself, 'Are we really prepared for this?' Yet with what I’ve seen, I’ve realised that yes, there are a lot of people [in the commune movement] with a lot of knowledge, who have been making a valuable contribution”.
However, some communards warn that beyond the presidency and ministry of communes, many public institutions and figures have been resistant to recognising the growth and potential of the country’s commune movement.
“We continue coming up against a bureaucracy that is present within state institutions, that on many occasions doesn’t allow the community’s proposals to be attended,” said Betty Vargas of a commune in the city of Mérida. Her commune is currently planning to establish a new community run higher education centre in a semi-rural zone near the city.
Nevertheless the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) governor of Mérida state, two local mayors, and representatives of the national government and state institutions were present at the meeting in Mesa Bolivar.
During the open air assembly, the National Land Institute handed three communes new land titles as part of a policy to transfer land to communal organisations for the development of their productive and agricultural projects. One of the communes, India Caribay, plans to plant crops, fruits, and construct a fruit processing plant with public financing.
Liskeila Gonzalez, a youth member of the commune, told VA.com of the importance of such projects for the community. “I want the commune to achieve the creation of the farm and fruit processor. In the end, it’s the communities around India Caribay that will benefit, and if a person is in need, the fund [from production] will be there to help them,” she said.
She added, “In the commune we all take part in decision-making. There aren’t bosses, a president, anything like that. We’re all equal and we all work the same”.
A similar meeting of communards was held on the same weekend in the eastern state of Monagas, where reportedly hundreds of communards from 39 communes met.
Further, a national meeting of the independent National Communard Network is set to take place this weekend in Lara state in the west of the country. At least 3,000 are expected to attend, where discussions will take place to further advance communal organisation.
World uprisings happening everywhere!
We will overcome someday.
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