Why does that matter to me?
The 1% hates Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and will do anything to get rid of him. Why do they hate him?
He nationalized the oil industry and invested the profits to help Venezuelans lift themselves out of poverty rather than allowing Chevron, Exxon and the transnational oil companies to fatten themselves on Venezuela’s oil. He cut the political power of the elites and their transnational masters who were accustomed to running Venezuela for their own purposes.
His government has used the oil profits to:
- Build hundreds of thousands of dignified homes. No foreclosures.
- Build and staffed health clinics for every 200 families in virtually the entire country.
- Make the entire K-University education system free. No student debt.
- Democratize the media with support for hundreds of community-owned television and radio stations.
- Democratize decision-making by creating thousands of Communal Councils which decide their own priorities for government spending in their communities.
- Create solidarity supermarkets and community kitchens to insure that all Venezuelans have access to adequate food.
- Redistribute unused land, hoarded by the 1%, to landless peasants to grow food.
- Enshrine indigenous and Afro-descended rights in the Constitution and created bilingual education in all the languages spoken in the country.
In other words, Venezuelan social movements, with an ally as President, have accomplished many of the things that social movements in the United States dream about and organize to accomplish in our own country. The success of Venezuela’s democracy movement gives us hope that we can succeed in the US. If we allow it to be crushed, we are allowing ourselves to be crushed.
And crushing Venezuela’s democracy is the relentless goal of the 1% in both countries.
In 2002 a US-supported coup deposed President Chavez. A million poor Venezuelans came down to the presidential house from their hillside Caracas barrios and demanded the return of “my president” The army changed sides and restored Chavez to office.
In 2003 the national oil company executives locked out the workers and sabotaged the computer programs that ran the pipelines and electrical grid. Workers broke into the facilities, occupied them, debugged the software and foiled the plot. Chavez fired the executives and appointed new directors who supported his social programs.
In 2004 the opposition initiated a constitutionally-permitted recall election. US “democracy promotion” organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy published phony polls and “quick counts” to undermine the legitimacy of the vote. But Chavez received 60% and international observers certified that the election was free and fair.
In the years since, the US has poured tens of millions of dollars into so-called civil society groups in an attempt to destabilize the country and achieve get rid of Chavez.
All attempts have been unsuccessful because, as one woman said in an interview when asked if she was a Chavez supporter: “I’m not a follower of Chavez. He’s a follower of me.”
But the Venezuelan opposition, the US government, and 1% still have not given up. Already the US corporate media is filled with lies about the election being neck-and-neck (Chavez leads in all credible polls by 10-20%) and that Chavez will only win through fraud. Former US President Jimmy Carter has stated, “…of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” venezuelanalysis.com/news/7272
Already a US mercenary has been arrested entering the country to implement post-election violence. An opposition “Rapid Reaction Plan” was unearthed last week which discusses criteria for taking over key sites: “These sites include “national and regional freeways, major avenues, emblematic plazas, Governors’ and Mayors’ offices, strategic non-civilian points – meaning military installations – news media offices, ports, and airports”. venezuelanalysis.com/news/7299
We who are struggling to oppose the 1% in the US need to be ready to defend Venezuelan democracy as well. Oct. 7 is also the 11th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan. There will be demonstrations in dozens of cities and towns. In addition to “US Out of Afghanistan” and “Bring the Troops Home Now”, we need to carry signs that say “US Hands Off Venezuela” and “Viva Venezuela Libre”. We need to flood the corporate media with messages contesting their lies. Alliance for Global Justice has created talking points to help with that. And we need to prepare for autonomous actions of resistance to any threat of US intervention. afgj.org/talking-points-on-venezuela-2#more-2810
Please take the SOLIDARITY PLEDGE and stand up for participatory democracy in Venezuela and in the United States.
- SEND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND TO AFGJ! Over the next weeks, there will be a barage of articles written and reports recorded that misinform and disinform about the candidacy of Pres. Chavez. This media onslaught will continue if Pres. Chavez wins, especially if the election is somewhat close or portrayed as illegitimate. We urge solidarity activists to take these reports seriously: they are the beating drums used to justify intervention. Send letters to the editor to set the record straight. And make sure we get a copy, so that we can post some of your letters on a special page on our website—whether or not corporate media publishes them. Send copies to firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Since the advent of the Bolivarian Revolution and the first election of Pres. Chavez in 1998, malnutrition has been reduced from 21% to 6%, and there has been a 21% reduction in poverty rates.
- Investment in the agricultural sector rose from half a billion bolivars in 1998 to 20 billion bolivars in 2009 (a forty fold increase), and land reform has returned over 6 million formerly fallow acres to peasant farmers and farming cooperatives from the hands of private owners.
Freedom of the press, of expression and of information are consecrated in the Constitution of 1999 and in the country’s Laws. A large majority of newspaper, television and radio in Venezuela is owned by the opposition. There is no press censorship as there was under governments preceding the 1999 constitution. Radio and television stations are licensed and have “public benefit” obligations similar to those in the United States.
- Venezuela shows its real commitment to free speech through its public funding of autonomous, community media. Since 2002, 2,015 print publications, 244 radio stations, around 80 digital outlets, and 34 television stations have been added to the rostrum of popular, community based media.
MUD Presidential Candidate Henrique Capriles has called the Venezuelan government’s housing program “a fraud and a failure”, even though it is the government’s most popular social program, with a 76% approval rating, and since 2011 has built 200,000 new family units under the direction of some 30,000 community councils.
- Accusations of the dictatorial and anti-democratic style of Pres. Hugo Chavez are baseless. Venezuela’s participatory democracy puts management and implementation of social programs in the hands of community councils. It has lead to the formation of hundreds of thousands of cooperatives and given rural and indigenous communities direct representation in the development of resource extraction policies.
Pre-election propaganda by Venezuelan opposition and their US government allies show that their strategy is to claim fraud following President Chavez’ Oct. 7 reelection. Fraud is virtually impossible under Venezuela’s system of electronic voting which, unlike electronic voting in the US, gives the voter a paper record of her vote to confirm accuracy and then 50% of paper votes are counted to further assure that they match the voting machine records.Former US President Jimmy Carter has stated, “…of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” Pre-election polls vary widely, but even most opposition polls point to a Chavez victory. Averaging polls shows that Chavez ought to enjoy at least a double digit victory over Capriles.
- If things are so repressive under the administration of Pres. Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, why, then, are Venezuelans so happy? According to a study earlier this year by the United Kingdom’s New Economics Foundation, Venezuelans are listed among the top 10 happiest countries in the world. In a similar 2012 study by Columbia University, Venezuela was listed as the 19thhappiest in a list of 156 countries, the 2nd highest in Latin America (behind Costa Rica), and the happiest country in all of South America. Meanwhile, numerous recent polls show Pres. Chavez to have an enviable 55% or higher approval rating, including a recent study by the opposition-connected Datanalisis, which shows that 62.4% of voters rate Chavez’ performance as above average.
- Pres. Chavez and Venezuela are leaders in bringing stability to Latin America and in defending sovereign peoples against transnational corporate domination and military adventurism around the world. Venezuela has played a direct role in starting up peace negotiations for the first time in over 10 years to end decades of armed conflict in Colombia. It has been a force for peace and against Empire worldwide, speaking out against US and NATO interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Iran, Libya, Syria and elsewhere. It has created and participated in new and alternative international trade and political organizations, such as the ALBA fair trade partnership, which stands in stark contrast to so-called Free Trade Agreements.
FOR MORE IN-DEPTH BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Click on the following links to read two articles by AfGJ staff with more in-dept information about the possibilities for US interference in Venezuela’s electoral affairs:
- Intervention in Venezuela-A Personal Reflection by Bruce Wilinson
- Manipulators and Media Prepare to Intervene in Venezuela by James Jordan
- We also encourage our supporters to visit the website of Venezuela Analysis, a great regular source of information in English about Venezuela