About this blog

Venezuela: translating the revolution aims to promote solidarity with Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution by providing translations of interesting and important Venezuelan news articles and opinion pieces. It welcomes genuine discussion and debate on the posted articles.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Venezuela: Chavez sets date for crucial presidential poll

The following is an article I wrote that has just been published in Green Left Weekly:

Venezuela: Chavez sets date for crucial presidential poll

CNE president Tibisay Lucena
Saturday, September 24, 2011
By Owen Richards

Voters should expect to see “a new Chavez, a rejuvenated Chavez, touring the country as a candidate, touring the streets at a rhythm set by the circumstances”, said Venezuela’s socialist president Hugo Chavez after the date for Venezuela’s presidential elections was announced as October 7, 2012.


The Venezuelan Electoral Commission’s (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena also announced that judicial, regional and local elections would take place on separate dates.

The right-wing, US-funded Venezuelan opposition hopes Chavez’s battle with cancer will keep him from his fourth straight victory in a presidential election.

But Chavez was upbeat and referred to the coming electoral campaign as the “October 7 mission”. Chavez said the campaign should aim to win 10 million votes. In 2006, Chavez won more than 7.3 million votes (63%).

Chavez said he would kick-start the re-election campaign on February 4: “We’ve set that date as the start of our official march towards the October 7 victory.”

February 4 is the date in 1992 when Chavez led a failed military rebellion against the corrupt, neoliberal government of President Carlos Andres Perez. Although the rising failed, it turned Chavez into a hero among the poor majority.

Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) will again lead the campaign as part of the left-wing Patriotic Pole electoral coalition with smaller left-wing groups, which has already endorsed Chavez as its candidate.

Since Chavez’s first election in 1998, his government has sought to redistribute the nation’s oil wealth through pro-poor social missions and other measures, such as nationalising key industries. These measures have halved poverty and millions of people have access to free education and health care for the first time.

Chavez said that if he was to win a fourth term, he might call on the National Assembly to pass an enabling law granting him special powers to enact reforms.

Chavez has previously used such constitutional powers to deepen the socialist revolution in Venezuela.

The PSUV has been holding sign-on sessions across the country to the new “vanguard patrols”. These grassroots bodies that will, among other things, campaign for his re-election.

The patrols have already enlisted more than 2 million members across seven weekends of recruiting.

Starting from October 1, the PSUV will begin the process of organising the members into local patrols of 10 to 20 members. Patrol bases, which will act as command centres, will be formed out of the patrols.

The divided opposition will again try to unite under the banner of the Democratic Unity Forum (MUD), which will hold primaries on February 12 to choose a presidential candidate to challenge Chavez.

There are 18 hopefuls so far vying for MUD endorsement. These include the governor of Miranda state (and participant in the 2002 coup attempt against Chavez) Henrique Capriles Radonski; 2006 presidential candidate and now fugitive from corruption charges Manuel Rosales; and Maria Corina Machado, current member of the National Assembly and former president of US-funded opposition group Sumate.

MUD has now been joined by the Progressive Front for Change (FPC), a grouping of mostly former Chavista parties, such as Homeland for All (PPT), Radical Cause (La Causa R) and We Can (Podemos).

Venezuelan journalist Eleazar Diaz Rangel has warned that the period leading up to the presidential election will be like “passing through a minefield, full of uncertainty and danger”. Rangel said this was due to the improbability of a MUD victory in 2012, making the opposition unpredictable.

Those in the opposition who consider the defeat of Chavez to be “mission impossible”, Rangel said, might be tempted to engage in destabilising actions, such as trying to discredit the electoral process.

“You don’t have to have a crystal ball to realize that surely in governing circles of the United States are also divided, according to the information they receive from Caracas, and they will align themselves with either hawks or doves.”

[Owen Richards is the author of the Venezuela: translating the revolution blog.]

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Huge involvement of youth in PSUV vanguard patrols

AVN/JPSUV, 19/9/11

Youth make up more than 60% of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)’s Vanguard Patrols, according to Juan Carlos Aleman, a PSUV member of the National Asembly (AN).

“They’re in the vanguard and they have a consciousness of where we’ve come from and where we’re going”, said Aleman referring to the socialist model that drives the Bolivarian revolution, lead by president Hugo Chavez.

Aleman made these points in a PSUV patrol sign-up day, which took place in the Maracao de Caracas area.

PSUV patrol sign-up station
He pointed out that the enlistment process for the patrols had been characterized by the participation of the organized population in a massive attendance at the Sign-up Points.

The PSUV patrols will have the responsibility of forming Patrol Bases that will be nothing other than a big mechanism involving the people and the government to work towards the presidential elections on October 7, 2012 and also to strengthen the  building of Venezuelan socialism.

Translated by Owen Richards

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Communes in Caracas

Communal organization includes the city
CCS - 07/09/11

Among the aims of community organization is that of building the communal State, where power is exercised directly by the people, through self-government, with an economic model of social property and endogenous development.

Based on this premise, 236 communes and more than 9,000 communal councils have been established, according to information from the Ministry of Popular Power for the Communes.

Through this process the city of Caracas has turned into a space full of examples of self-government.

Socioeconomic model

In the Capital District around 44 sectors exist that are in the process of building communes in order to lay the foundations for Venezuelan socialism.

In the Antimano ward, 18 communal councils of the Carapita sector and part of Santa Ana organised to establish the Victoria Socialist Commune.

Concrete block production by the Ezequiel Zamora Commune, Antimano, Caracas
Edgar Astudillo, the commune’s spokesperson, reports that the developing socioeconomic model now has four collective work units for the production of goods and services, working under the criteria of reinvesting profits back into the community.

Blacksmithing, concrete block making, carpentry, textiles and baking are the businesses established with an investment of 924,000 BsF that was authorized by president Hugo Chavez through the Micro-financing Development Fund (Fondemi), in June 2010.

More power and consciousness

The experience of the communes is based on self-government under the Organic Law of Popular Power, as the “set of actions through which the organized communities directly assume the management of projects, the carrying out of works and services in order to improve the quality of life in its geographical area”.

Blanca Araujo, spokesperson for the commune-in-construction, El Paraiso de Maisanta, of Cota 905, Santa Rosalia ward, defines the commune building process, from her experience, as an “organization of the people to solve their problems”. She adds that “with the commune we have more power and more consciousness of the problems we face”.

This commune, a year in the making, has a route that covers the Guzman Blanco sector on Cota 905 towards Quinta Crespo. The resources it receives are used for community projects.

La Pastora is another example that is adopting the communal model. “Firstly, we met as a promotional team for social and political activities in the area. When the President put out the call to form communes, we decided that this was a way to make a reality of the goals of the revolutionary process”, recalls Milagros Hernandez, spokesperson of the Los Mecedores commune in construction, in La Pastora ward.

They have just established a communal house acquired with 650,000 BsF granted by the Government of Capital District. In that space they will install an Infocentre and a textile company as socioeconomic projects.

Extending the geographic axis

In 2008, locals from the El Observatorio sector in 23 de Enero [neighbourhood] and part of the San Juan ward, which has12 communal councils, formed the Juan 23 Commune, made up of  11,526 inhabitants who share the same territory and history.

Nelson Solorzano, one of the promotors of this organization, said that they are now expanding their axis of activity. They meet with nine communes in west Caracas and make economic exchanges to break with the capitalist market which causes most of the problems the communes are struggling against.

Socialist spaces

The Organic Law of the Communes stipulates that these social organizations are “a socialist space that, as local entities, are defined by the integration of neighbourhood communities with a shared memory and history, cultural features, traits and customs that are recognized in the territory that they occupy and in the productive activities that are the basis of their livelihood”. Among its aims is to promote mechanisms for education and training in the communities and promote the popular defence of human rights.

Translated by Owen Richards