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Hands Off Venezuela newsletter January 2010

Hands Off Venezuela newsletter January 2010

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Newsletter o the Hands Of Venezuela campaign www.handsofvenezuela.org January 2010
US escalates threatagainst Venezuela
ust ater noon on Janu-ary 8, a US militaryplane violated Venezu-elan airspace, the latestin a series o provocations bythe Obama administration.During a live broadcastthat evening, President HugoChávez revealed that the P3bomber took o rom an airbase in the neighbouring islando Curaçao and entered Ven-ezuelan airspace or around 15minutes.It was intercepted by twoVenezuelan F-16 planes pre-pared to escort it outside Ven-ezuelan territory.“When the F-16 planes at-tempted communication withthe US aircrat, it immediatelytook o towards the north, butlater returned,” said Chávez.He added that at 1:37pm theplane came back and ew orabout 19 minutes inside Ven-ezuelan territory, but “wasescorted out and pressured byour F-16s.”Days earlier, Vice-PresidentRamón Carrizalez publicly de-nounced another violation bya US military plane also origi-nating rom the air base in Cu-raçao in 2009.Since 2008, Washington hasbeen increasing its militaryand intelligence presence onCuraçao, where it has main-tained a Forward OperatingLocation since 1999. A 2006State Department documentclassifed the Dutch islands oAruba, Bonaire and Curaçaoas the “the third rontier o theUnited States,” describing theCaribbean colonies part o theUS “geopolitical border.”Just beore Christmas, Chávezrevealed that missile-capableunmanned aerial vehicles, ordrones, had illegally enteredVenezuela’s airspace, reaching“as ar as Fort Mara,” a Venezu-elan military ort in the state oZulia bordering Colombia.In October, Colombia and theUS signed a military co-opera-tion agreement authorising USoccupation o seven militarybases in Colombian territoryand all other installations asrequired. The agreement is thelargest US military expansionin Latin American history.Although the two govern-ments publicly justifed theagreement as an increased e-ort to fght drug trafckingand terrorism, ofcial US AirForce documents revealed thatthe US would conduct “ull-spectrum military operations”throughout south Americarom the Colombian bases.The Air Force documentsalso justifed the dispropor-tional military expansion asnecessary to combat “the con-stant threat … rom anti-USgovernments in the region.”And the documents revealthat the US presence in Colom-bia will increase the success o“intelligence, surveillance andreconnaisance” operations andwill improve the Pentagon’s ca-pacity to conduct “expedition-ary warare” in Latin America.However, ater an outcryrom governments in the re-gion, the US Air Force submit-ted an “addendum” to Congressin November.The modifed document elimi-nated all mention o war and mil-itary operations in the region,as well as oensive language di-rected at Colombia’s neighborsVenezuela and Ecuador.Since 2006, Washington hasclassifed Venezuela as a nation“not ully collaborating withthe war against terror” and in2005 Venezuela was labelledby the State Department as anation “not co-operating withcounter-narcotics operations.”Despite no substantive evi-dence to prove such dangerousaccusations, the US has usedthese classifcations to justiy anincrease in aggression towardsthe Venezuelan government.In 2008, the Bush admin-istration attempted to placeVenezuela on the list o statesponsors o terrorism. The ini-tiative was unsuccessul pri-marily because Venezuela isstill a principal supplier o oilto the US. Should Washingtonconsider Venezuela a terroriststate, all relations would be cuto, including oil supply.Many people assumed that,when Barack Obama becamepresident o the US, he wouldkeep to his word and start tobuild bridges with countriesthat Bush had threatened.But the recent violations o Ven-ezuelan airspace, the build-up otroops in Colombia and Obama’swillingness to support the over-throw o progressive presidentsin Latin America, such as duringthe coup against Manuel Zelayain Honduras, it’s clear the Boli-varian revolution and its interna-tional supporters need to remainas vigilent as ever.
From reports by Eva Golinger – www.chavezcode.com
War planes and drones violate airspace • Obama green-lights troop build-up in Colombia
A US P3 plane ew rom a Curaçao airbase into Venezuelan territory
A decade o propaganda?BBC reporting o Venezuela
esearchers at the University o the West o Englandhave exposed ongoing and systematic bias in the BBC’snews reporting on Venezuela.Dr Lee Salter and Dr Dave Weltman analysed 10 years oBBC reports on Venezuela since the rst election o HugoChávez to the presidency in an ongoing research project andtheir ndings so ar show that the BBC’s reporting alls shorto its legal commitment to impartiality, truth and accuracy.The researchers looked at 304 BBC reports published be-tween 1998 and 2008 and ound that only 3 o those articlesmentioned any o the positive policies introduced by Chavez.The BBC has ailed to report adequately on any o thedemocratic initiatives, human rights legislation, ood pro-grammes, healthcare initiatives, or poverty reductionprogrammes. Mission Robinson, the greatest literacy pro-gramme in human history, received only a passing mention.According to the research, the BBC seems never to have ac-cepted the legitimacy o the president, insinuating throughoutthe sample that Chavez lacks electoral support and at one pointcomparing him to Hitler (“Venezuela’s Dictatorship” 31/08/99).This undermining o Chavez must be understood in thecontext o his electoral record — his legitimacy is questioneddespite the act that he has been elected several times withbetween 56 per cent and 60 per cent o the vote.O particular note is the BBC’s response to the military coupin 2002. BBC News published nine articles on the coup on April12 2002, all o which were based on the coup leaders’ version oevents, who were, alongside the “opposition,” championed assaviours o the nation. Although BBC News did report the coup,the only time it mentioned the word “coup” was as an allegationo government ocials and o Chavez’s daughter.The ocial BBC explanation was that Chavez “ell,” “quit,or “resigned” (at best at the behest o the military) ater his“mishandling” o “strikes” (management lockouts) and demosin which his supporters had red on and killed protestors.In “Venezuelan media: ‘It’s over!’” the BBC allowed the editoro El Universal to declare: “We have returned once again to de-mocracy!” Perhaps more signicantly, in “Venezuela’s politicaldisarray” the BBC Americas regional editor chose to title a sub-heading “Restoring democracy.” “Oil prices all as Chavez quits”explains that Chavez quit as a result o a “popular uprising.”Crucially, all o the vox pops used in the nine articles were romopposition supporters and the only voices in support o Chavezwere rom government ocials, Chavez’s daughter or Cuba.It is thereore reasonable to iner rom BBC reports that ordi-nary Venezuelans did not support Chavez — while the coup wasinaccurately reported as “popular,” the counter-coup was not.Venezuelans are painted as mindless sheep led by a Pied Pipergure, responding only to his call or them to agitate. In the BBC’sworld, social and political “divisions” exist because o Chavez.For the BBC, the only legitimate representatives o Venezue-lan appear to be the unelected oligarchs behind the “opposition.”It is the “opposition” that is Venezuela. “Opposition leaders inVenezuela,” according to the BBC, appeal “to the internationalcommunity to intervene to protect democratic rule.”When democracy was “restored” by a military coup and the im-position o a dictator, the BBC reported that “Venezuela has lookednot to an existing politician, but to the head o the business lead-ers’ association.” When a majority o Venezuelans elect Chavez itis not an act o Venezuela, yet when a CIA-backed military coupimposes a corrupt oligarchy, it refects the will o the whole oVenezuela — not the will o an elite class, but o Venezuela itsel.There is an argument that the inaccuracy and bias o theBBC’s reporting results rom the experience o BBC journal-ists, themselves being rom a particular class backgroundliving in well-to-do parts o Caracas. From this point o view,they simply don’t see the reality o the situation.I so, it would conrm the claim that we tend to be giv-en “the perspective o an international correspondent whoworks in a downtown oce building o an opposition newspa-per and lives in an apartment in a wealthy neighborhood.”The big question, however, is whether the BBC can betrusted to report adequately on Latin America. Certainlyrom their latest reports on Evo Morales’s recent victory inBolivia it seems unlikely. In the meantime, their audienceremains woeully ill-inormed.
 For further information contact Lee Salter atlee.salter@uwe.ac.uk
News in brie, with
Chávez announces currency devaluation
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced a devaluation othe ofcial exchange rate o the bolivar currency and the creationo a second rate denominated the “oil bolivar” or non-essentialimports, in a nationally televised address on January 8.The bolivar would be devalued rom 2.15 per dollar to 2.6 per dollar,while the “oil bolivar” will be pegged at 4.3 per dollar. The measurerepresents a 17 per cent and 50 per cent devaluation respectively.The Venezuelan government moved to regulate oreign cur-rency exchange in 2003 ater a two month long bosses lockoutin the oil industry aimed at ousting the democratically electedChavez rom power caused an estimated $20 billion damage tothe economy. The latest devaluation is the frst since an 11 percent devaluation in March 2005.The devaluation is aimed at revitalising the economy andstrengthening national development ater the country experienceda 2.9 per cent contraction in 2009 due predominantly to lower oilprices resulting rom the global economic crisis, he explained.
Ministry’s measures to curb energy useElectrical contract ‘a victory for workers’
The signing o a single collective contract or the electricity sectormarks “the way orward or workers,” said Angel Navas, presidento the Federation o Electrical Workers (Fetraelec), last month.With its legalisation ater one year and six months o struggle byworkers and their ederation, the new single collective contract notonly represents the equalisation o benefts and conditions o workers,but an important step or the participation o workers and organisedpeople in the management o the company and a blow to the entrenchedbureaucracy in state-owned electricity company Corpoelec.“It’s a total victory or the workers. That’s why yesterday, whenwe held workers’ assemblies at a national level, there was an airo triumph, joy, victory,” Navas said.One historic achievement o the contract is Clause 1, “which al-lows or the liberation o the worker,” Navas explained. Clause 1,which reers to the direct participation o workers and people inthe management o the company, “sets the axis, the strategic lines,rom the standpoint o the working class, o how a socialist enter-prise should be, what the model o production relations should be, sothat workers participate in the management and decision making.”
New mission to lower infant mortality
Following months o regularblackouts in some regions, thegovernment has implementedenergy-saving measures, re-quiring companies to submitplans to save 20 per cent o theirelectricity usage, regulating theusage o lighting or advertisingand creating schedules o elec-tricity usage or shopping cen-tres, casinos and bingo halls.The Ministry or Electricity’smeasures went into eect on De-cember 21 and the state-ownedcorporation is charged with im-plementing them.“We’re going to appointsome inspectors and generatea whole process o inspectionand accountability so that allthe various sectors complywith this saving plan,” saidminister Angel Rodriguez.He said the measures wereneeded because drought had a-ected dam levels and hydroelec-tric power is the main source oenergy or the country. He add-ed there was a need to use elec-tricity more efciently as con-sumption was 14 per cent higherthan the regional average.Just beore Christmas, the gov-ernment launched its latest socialprogramme. Called Mission BabyJesus, it aims to provide betterattention to women giving birthby improving hospital inrastruc-ture, increasing the availability omedicine, providing health educa-tion or pregnant women and bybuilding prenatal care houses.It also aims to promote healthynutrition or women, especiallypregnant women, and reduce ma-ternal and inant mortality andencourage and increase breasteeding. It will also ocus on thehealth o children under 5 yearsold including preventative healthcare and detecting any mental orphysical health disabilities.President Chavez said that, be-ore he was elected in 1998, theaverage inant mortality rate asa percentage o total deaths ochildren under fve was 26.72 percent. By 2007, it had dropped to16.7 per cent, but he said the aimwas to bring it below 10 per cent.
Chávez in Copenhagen:Capitalism is killing us
uring his speech tothe 15th United Na-tions Climate ChangeSummit in Copenha-gen, Denmark, in December,Venezuelan President HugoChávez slammed the “lack opolitical will” o the most pow-erul nations to take seriousaction to avert climate chaosand called or systemic changeto save the planet.Chávez, who received a stand-ing ovation or his speech, saidthe process in Copenhagen was“not democratic — it is not in-clusive.”In particular, he criticisedan attempt by rich countries tooverturn the Kyoto Protocol. Do-ing so would eliminate dieren-tiation between the obligations orich and poor countries, treatingcountries rom the global Northand South as equally responsibleor climate change.“There is a group o countriesthat believe they are superiorto those o us rom the South,to those o us rom the ThirdWord. This does not surprise us— we are again aced with pow-erul evidence o global impe-rial dictatorship,” Chávez said.The Venezuelan president alsoapplauded the protesters outsidethe summit who were calling orserious measures to stop cata-strophic climate change.“There are many peopleoutside. I’ve read in the newsthat there were some arrests,some intense protests there inthe streets o Copenhagen, andI salute all those people outthere,” he said.“I have been reading someo the slogans painted in thestreets. One said: ‘Don’t Changethe Climate, Change the System!’And I bring that on board or us.Let’s not change the climate.Let’s change the system! And asa consequence, we will begin tosave the planet. Capitalism is adestructive development modelthat is putting an end to lie, thatthreatens to put a defnitive endto the human species.”Another notable slogan was:“I the climate were a bank,they would have bailed it outalready,” Chávez said.“It’s true, the rich govern-ments have saved the capitalistbanks,” he said, but they lackthe “political will” to make thenecessary reductions to green-house emissions.History requires all peopleto struggle against capitalismand, i we don’t, lie on the plan-et “will disappear,” he argued.Human activity was exceed-ing the limits o sustainabil-ity and endangering lie on theplanet, but the impacts o cli-mate change were also beingelt disproportionately by theworld’s poor, Chávez explained.He also pointed to the relation-ship between economic inequal-ity and levels o emissions. Hesaid the richest 500 million peo-ple, or 7 per cent o the world’spopulation, were responsible or50 per cent o global greenhouseemissions, while the poorest 50per cent o the world’s popula-tion were responsible or only 7per cent o total emissions.Using this analysis, he ar-gued that it was not easible tocall countries such as the USand China to sit at the summiton an equal ooting, insistingthat the same obligations cannot be imposed on both nations.The US, with a population o300 million, consumes morethan 20 million barrels o oil aday, while China, whose popula-tion is almost fve times greater,consumes around 5-6 millionbarrels a day, he pointed out.The behind-the-scenes ne-gotiations at the summit hadbeen marked by sharp disputesbetween the US and China, andbetween rich and poor nations.Poor countries criticised richcountries or attempting to setinadequate emissions targetsor industrialised countries andor pledging insufcient undingor poor countries to alleviatethe impacts o climate change.According to various reports,poor nations argue that richcountries should reduce theirgreenhouse gas emissions by40 per cent below 1990 levels by2020. The European Union haspledged a 20 per cent reduction.The US however, has only o-ered only a 3-4 per cent cut.Outside in the streets o Co-penhagen mass demonstrationscalling or “climate justice”were repressed by police usingpepper spray and batons. Morethan 1,000 people were arrested.
by Kiraz Janicke,Venezuelanalysis.comVisit www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/5013 for the fulltext of Chávez’s speech
‘Global imperial dictatorship’ sabotaging environmental agreements, says Venezuelan president 
Chávez speaking at the Copenhagen UN Climate Change Summit
t a public meeting organized by tradeunions, political organizations and soli-darity campaigns including Hands OVenezuela, more than 3,000 people in Copenha-gen heard President Hugo Chávez point out thata socialist revolution is the only solution to theproblems o humanity.Chávez stressed the need or a worldwide revo-lution and repeated his proposal or a Fith Inter-national to be an instrument or this purpose.At the meeting, President Evo Morales o Boliv-ia spoke condemning capitalism. Other speakersincluded Cuban Vice-President Estaban Lazo andthe Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Samuel Santos.Chávez began his speech by condemning therepression in the streets o Copenhagen duringthe UN climate summit. Mentioning the climatesummit, he said: “Some do not want to discussthe causes o climate changes. I will tell you thecause — capitalism. Capitalism is the worst en-emy or lie and or the climate.”A delegation rom Hands O Venezuela metChávez shortly beore his speech and handedthe president two letters rom the workers atthe Gotcha and Vivex actories in Venezuela.We expressed our solidarity with the presidentand the idea o a Fith International.In his speech, Chávez underlined the pointthat the Venezuelan revolution was only thebeginning o the world revolution and that theVenezuelan revolution was not complete yet— the task o building socialism in Venezuelawas still ahead. He said that he was certain thatthe revolutionary events in Venezuela and otherLatin American countries will repeat them-selves in the countries in the North — in Europeand in the USA.The audience interrupted the speech severaltimes with loud applause and chants such as:“El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido.” The big-gest applauses came when Chávez spoke o Fi-del Castro and the ght against US imperialismand o socialism being the only way to end glob-al misery and ensure a uture or humanity.In his speech, Chávez thanked Hands o Ven-ezuela and other groups or arranging this meet-ing, stressing that all change comes rom below— rom the organisation and political education othe masses.
by Hands Off Venezuela, Denmark
‘We need a world revolution’

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