Category Archives: Latin America

Colombian FARC-EP Defends People’s Demands in Talks

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May 19, 2013

FARC-EP guerrillas from left to right: Tanja Nijmeijer, (unknown), Iván Márquez, Jesús Santrich, and Andrés París.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People´s Army (FARC-EP) said today that their demands in the negotiation table with the government defend the people´s interests and compliance with constitutional standards.

Ivan Marquez, who leads the FARC-EP delegation to the talks in Havana, rejected the stand of President Juan Manuel Santos of describing as a market list the positions defended by the guerrillas.

Marquez said the neoliberal policies spread poverty and inequality countrywide in Colombia, and rejected official figures according to which the number of poor fell from 30 to 20 million people in a nation of 46 million inhabitants.

Those figures are based on neoliberal, technocratic measurements that fail to take into account the human development index or the existence of a humanitarian crisis generated by State terrorism, he said.

Marquez made a positive assessment of the six-month talks with the government in Havana and denied they were running slowly.

“We have to deal with these issues thoroughly and with serenity if we really want to pave the way for the construction of stable, lasting peace,” he said.

The FARC-EP delegation leader said there has been considerable progress on land-related issues, the first point in the agenda.

Source

Venezuelan Audit Can’t Find Any Different Result in Presidential Election, Statistical Analysis Shows

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The following statement below was originally published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research

Probability of Getting First Audit Result, If Election Were Stolen, is Less than One in 25 Thousand Trillion

By Dan Beeton
April 26, 2013

Washington, D.C. - A statistical analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has shown that if Venezuelan opposition claims that Nicolás Maduro’s victory was obtained by fraud were true, it is practically impossible to have obtained the result that was found in an audit of 53% of electronic voting machines that took place on the evening of Venezuela’s April 14 elections.  The odds of this occurring would be far less than one in 25 thousand trillion.

“The U.S. government must know this, too,” said CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot, economist and co-author of a forthcoming paper with economist and computer scientist David Rosnick. “So it is difficult to explain why they are refusing to recognize the elected president – in opposition to all of the countries in Latin America and most of the world.”

The results of Venezuela’s April 14 presidential election returned 7,575,506 votes for Nicolás Maduro, and 7,302,641 votes for challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski.  This is a difference of 272,865 votes, or 1.8 percent of the two-way total between the candidates.

In this election, voters express their preference by pressing a computer touch-screen, which then prints out a paper receipt of their vote.  The voter then checks to make sure that the receipt was the same as her choice, and deposits  the paper receipt in a sealed box.

When the polls closed, a random sample of 53 percent [i] of all the machines (20,825 out of 39,303) was chosen, and a manual tally was made of the paper receipts.  This “hot audit” was done on site, in the presence of the observers from both campaigns, as well as witnesses from the community.  There were no reports from witnesses or election officials on site of discrepancies between the machine totals and the hand count.

Immediately after the election results were announced on the night of April 14th, the Venezuelan opposition demanded a full “recount” of all of the voting machines’ paper receipts and subsequently called for an audit – or manual count – of the 46% of the sealed boxes containing the paper receipts that had not yet been audited.  After the Venezuelan Electoral Council’s (CNE’s) decision to grant their request, on April 18th, the main opposition party came up with a series of new demands suggesting that they did not believe that a full audit would provide evidence of any significant fraud.  On April 26 they announced that they would “boycott” the audit that they had requested the previous week.

What if it were true that there were enough mismatches in the 39,303 machines to have given Maduro a 50.8 percent majority, when Capriles had been the true winner?  CEPR calculated that the probability of getting the results of the first audit would then have been less than one in 25 thousand trillion.

“The results are pretty much intuitive,” said Weisbrot.  “With a sample that huge verified during the April 14 ‘hot audit,’ if there were any discrepancies between the machine count and the paper ballots, it would have shown up somewhere. But it didn’t.”

It is therefore practically impossible that an audit of the remaining 46 percent of ballot boxes could find enough discrepancies to reverse the result of the election.

The forthcoming paper also calculates the probability that the remaining 46 percent of ballot boxes, if audited, could change the outcome. It also looks at other possible scenarios, including allegations from Capriles that there were irregularities in some 12,000 of the remaining machines, and other ways that the unaudited machines could have enough errors to change the result.  The above calculation can be seen here.  The full paper will be available next week.


[i]  Another 1 percent was audited the next day.

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Venezuelan President Maduro vows to “radicalize” revolution in face of right-wing violence

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

April 17, 2013

The streets of Avenida Bolivar turn red with supporters of Pres. Maduro, along with billboards in tribute to Chavez and declaring “they won’t return” (Alex Guzman / AVN)

On April 16, newly elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on workers to resist the wave of right-wing violence that broke out after the recent presidential election. Speaking defiantly to a crowd of workers in Miranda state on Tuesday, April 16, Maduro said, “If they continue with violence, what we can do is to radicalize this revolution.”

In the two days since Maduro’s victory, the Venezuelan right-wing opposition has attacked supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution and resorted to violence to oust the democratically elected president. These confrontations left seven people dead and more than 60 people injured. Armed bands of opposition forces, angry at their defeat in the election, attacked Venezuelans who gathered to celebrate the victory of Maduro in several states. These dangerous attacks are part of a deliberate attempt by the U.S.-supported opposition to destabilize the revolutionary Venezuelan government.

Lacking any commitment to democracy in Venezuela, opposition gangs firebombed the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) party headquarters in Anzoategui and Tachira while people worked inside, April 16. Elsewhere, upper class students led deadly confrontations with Venezuelan security forces. According to Russia Today, these opposition mobs attacked a government-run clinic in a central Venezuelan state.

Maduro denounced the opposition’s violent tactics in the harshest terms. He vowed to protect the will of the Venezuelan people, saying, “I will fight fascism and those who attack democracy with a firm hand. If they want to topple me, they can come get me.”

In the recent special presidential election, Maduro defeated opposition candidate Henrique Caprilles by a margin of 50.8% to 49.0%. Maduro, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), succeeded the late President Hugo Chavez, who died just months after also defeating Caprilles in the 2012 election.

Maduro won by a narrow margin of about 270,000 votes. Despite the National Electoral Council (CNE) and at least 100 international observers affirming that the election was fair, Caprilles and the opposition are demanding a full recount. Venezuela’s election process is consistently rated by international observers, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as one of the most democratic in the world.

Caprilles’ demand for a recount follows in a sinister tradition of U.S.-backed counter-revolutions in socialist and anti-imperialist countries. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) works closely with the rich and wealthy elites in these countries to delegitimize democratic elections and violate the will of the people. In 2002, the U.S.-backed a coup d’état in Venezuela that temporarily removed then-President Chavez from power. The workers of Venezuela and progressive elements in the military battled these U.S. puppets in the streets and eventually restored Chavez to power. A similar CIA-backed destabilization attempt took place in Iran in 2009, with the so-called “Green Revolution.”

This most recent election marks the second time that the people of Venezuela rejected Caprilles’ anti-worker, pro-corporate agenda at the ballot box. Caprilles currently serves as the face of the wealthy Venezuelan opposition. The corporate elites who funded Caprilles’ campaign lost much of their wealth and power because of the Bolivarian Revolution led by Chavez. They fear Maduro’s presidency will continue the trend towards a more just society.

Maduro indicated that the threat of a coup would open the opportunity to radicalize the Bolivarian Revolution. Even after the privately owned media and major corporations conspired to overthrow him in 2002, Chavez stopped short of outlawing or arresting most opposition leaders. This latest wave of counter-revolutionary violence may open the opportunity for Maduro and the Venezuelan people to break the power of the rich oligarchs once and for all.

Revolutionaries and progressives in the U.S. have an obligation to the Venezuelan people to oppose intervention by their own government in the conflict. Venezuela has a right to national self-determination and progressives in the U.S should support the ongoing national democratic process under the leadership of President Maduro. We should demand, “U.S. hands off Venezuela! U.S. hands off Latin America! Victory to the Bolivarian Revolution!”

Venezuela: Fascist violence met with revolutionary defense

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Maduro’s election victory sparks right-wing backlash

By Gloria La Riva
April 16, 2013

Nicolás Maduro

Longtime socialist Nicolás Maduro was elected president of Venezuela on April 14, in a crucial election held five weeks after the death of revolutionary leader and president Hugo Chávez on March 5.

Notwithstanding the close vote count—50.8 percent to 49 percent—Maduro’s presidency is a critical victory for the Bolivarian revolutionary process and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s ongoing struggle for socialism.

On April 19, Maduro will be inaugurated in a historic day for all Latin America and a reaffirmation of the great Bolivarian Revolution begun by Chávez.

Yet, as thousands of Venezuelans broke out in celebrations across the country after Maduro’s victory was announced, the defeated right-wing candidate, Henrique Capriles, refused to concede, following his script written in Washington.

Before Sunday’s vote, U.S. imperialism and the Venezuelan right wing crafted a plan of action to distort the electoral outcome and create violent chaos afterwards, knowing Capriles’ defeat was likely.

Sunday night, April 14, the violence was unleashed.

Seven pro-Maduro supporters were murdered after Capriles called for street actions, giving the green light to his fascist followers. TV and radio stations were destroyed, the homes of PSUV members burned down or vandalized, and people beaten in the streets by roaming right-wing gangs.

One right-wing reporter, Nelson Bocaranda, falsely claimed to his 1.2 million Twitter followers that Cuban doctors were hiding ballot boxes in CDIs, the free health clinics run by 38,000 Cuban medical workers. Several CDI clinics were suddenly attacked across Venezuela in actions obviously coordinated beforehand.

Two persons were murdered trying to defend a CDI clinic under attack.

The revolutionary government responds decisively

To prevent the danger of further fascist attacks, President Maduro Tuesday morning declared he would not permit a right-wing march to the National Electoral Council (CNE) called by Capriles for Wednesday, April 17: “The march to downtown Caracas will not be allowed. I will not permit it. I will impose a firm hand against fascism.”

Maduro is trying to prevent a massacre similar to what occurred on April 11, 2002. As a prelude to the coup against Chávez, the right wing led a similar march to downtown. There, fascist sharpshooters gunned down and killed 11 people, as a cover to justify the coup.

Tuesday, April 16, at the last moment, Capriles was forced to back down and announced the cancelation of his action.

The same day, a government Official Gazette announced that all police forces, national, state and local, are immediately suspended from active duty until Saturday evening, April 20, except by express permission. In their place, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) are to provide public security.

The declaration also prohibits the carrying of arms in public for the same period, to prevent further violence.

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello announced that the parliament will look to prosecute Capriles for violating the public order and peace. In one twitter message, Cabello wrote: “Pure fascism, they assaulted and destroyed the CDIs, persecute the doctors, burn homes. Irresponsible Capriles, you generated all this.”

U.S. imperialism directs the fascist campaign

The U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars since Hugo Chávez first took office in 1999 to destabilize the country, counter-organize and even stage a coup and carry out oil sabotage. Its campaign continues.

In Washington on Monday, April 15, President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, insisted on a 100 percent audit of the vote, effectively refusing to recognize Maduro’s presidency. The next day, U.S. State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell repeated the demand.

In Caracas, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena has rightfully refused Capriles’ 100 percent recount demand, declaring that 53 percent of the votes were audited, in a process recognized internationally for its exceptionally high standards. Her home was violently attacked afterward.

Meanwhile, Latin American governments across the board are sending congratulations to Maduro and backing Venezuela’s transparent electoral process. Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has called on Latin American presidents to attend Maduro’s inauguration in a show of support.

The revolutionary masses take action

Hour by hour the people of the Revolution are responding with a combative will to defeat the right wing. Tuesday, April 16, more than 200 community defense units of a new Popular Front in Defense of the Bolivarian Revolution and Peace were created and announced on Venezuelan state television. Hundreds of community radio stations linked together to share information on the right-wing attacks and to help mobilize the people to defend the peace.

Across the country, the people are coming out into the streets through their collective councils, neighborhood groups, and permanent community mobilizations to warn the fascists, “No Pasarán!”

With the right-wing threat, it should be clear that the April 14 vote was much more than a contest between two individuals.

On one side is the Bolivarian Revolution process of 14 years. Huge transformations have been carried out in the economic and social realm: free health care, massive housing projects for the people, education, and the mobilization of millions of people committed to the ultimate objective of socialism.

On the other side is the counterrevolution, whose candidate Capriles—backed by the Venezuelan elite and U.S. imperialism—appealed to the wealthy and middle class and promised a return to the “free market.” He called for the dismantling of Cuban-Venezuelan cooperation.

Venezuela’s rising revolution is causing great consternation within U.S. ruling circles because it is building people’s power and inspiring all the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Maduro, the government and the people will now move ahead with the “Plan de la Patria”—the socialist plan for the nation—first unveiled by Chávez in his presidential run last fall.

The millions of Bolivarian supporters who have been mobilized in the streets for more than four months will now be decisive, to defend the Revolution, defeat the right wing and guarantee a life of dignity and peace for the Venezuelan people.

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Report from Havana: Talking With the FARC-EP’s Peace Commission

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By Chris Gilbert and Cira Pascual
April 12, 2013

Guerrilla members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

If there has ever been any question that the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is essentially a political organization — one that took up arms guided by apolitical vision and will abandon them when a new political strategy leads them to do so — that question may be forever laid to rest by the words and conduct of the FARC’s peace delegation that is now at work in Havana.

There, in the sunny island which was the theatre of a revolution that changed Latin America and the world, the FARC has assembled a sizable team of negotiators.  That group has been in conversation with representatives of the Colombian government since November of last year.  The 30-member body shows the depth of the organization and the quality — both in human and political terms — of the individuals who have decided to stake their lives on forging a democratic and just Colombia.

“The FARC has always wanted peace,” guerrilla leader Ricardo Téllez explained to us in the lobby of the Hotel Habana Libre.  “Since our beginnings in the distant year 1964, we’ve maintained that we are revolutionaries who seek peace for the country in the least painful manner, which the Colombian state has often violently closed off.”

Téllez’s assertion that the FARC is an organization long committed to pursuing peace is backed up by the group’s repeated efforts to bring the Colombian state to the negotiating table: in 1982 under the government of Belisario Betancur; in 1992 with the dialogues in Caracas and Tlaxcala; most recently in Caguán with president Andrés Pastrana.

In none of these cases, Téllez explained, was there a genuine desire for peace in the government.  In the Caguán process of 1999-2002, the government in fact chose to dialogue because of its difficult military situation and because of the rising social protest in the country.  The establishment’s real aim was to rearm, as they did with the notorious Plan Colombia, paid for and organized by the U.S.

“Now in Havana we have come looking for that same peace,” Téllez continued, “not because the FARC is defeated, not because we have difficulties; rather our military apparatus has been updated . . . and we are accustomed to [a modern] kind of war.”  Téllez maintains that what is correct in a situation in which neither guerrillas nor government can defeat the will of the other is that both should sit down, as equals, and look for a political and dialogued solution to the conflict.

Comandante Andrés Paris, also part of the team, illustrated in a separate interview the complex, multilevel character of the negotiating table by referring to other, unseen “tables.”  Apart from the principal negotiating table, in which the government and the guerrillas dialogue, there is a “mediatic table.”

“Immediately, there was put in motion a powerful [mediatic] machine, both Colombian and international, in perfect coordination, and it started to reproduce the clichés and stereotypes that have always been used against us, the FARC.”  This mediatic table is generally controlled by powerful business groups and represents a serious obstacle to the interests of the Colombian people to have a peace, according to Paris.

A third “table” is the military pressure on the guerrillas, because of president Juan Manuel Santos’s decision to continue the war during the dialogues.  “We responded to this presidential announcement by doing a ceasefire [to which the government did not correspond].  What the government is doing with the military actions is criminal and dangerous, because of the possibility that one of those actions will be used as a pretext to get up from the table [and break the negotiations].”

Despite the adversity presented by military and mediatic interferences, the FARC’s delegation is united in a dream of a Colombia with long-lasting peace.  It is common for the FARC’s negotiators to maintain that the concept of peace needs a “last name” — meaning it should be referred to with the complete phrase “peace with social justice,” because the roots of the conflict lie in the extreme social injustice in the country, represented for example by its GINI index of .89 in the rural areas.

Yet what one learns from the FARC’s delegation is not just numbers, examples, and arguments.  There is also a powerful human narrative of lives given over to (and in some cases shattered by) a total devotion to the cause of the oppressed.  Many FARC members were motivated to join the guerrilla army when close friends were assassinated by state or paramilitary forces.  Others joined on seeing the extreme poverty in the country and the closure of other political channels for change.

Among the latter one may count the internationalist Alexandra Nariño (Tanja Nijmeijer) of Dutch origin, who incorporated herself after a long process of conscientization that began with a university exchange program that first brought her to Colombia.  In explaining her motivation she refers to the experience of seeing entire families living in the street, indigents looking through her garbage, and also the state terrorism exercised in places where she lived and on university students.

“All of us fighting in the guerrilla have our dreams . . . we are not war machines.”  What dreams does Alexandra Nariño have for Colombia’s future?  “A country where all Colombians can live in peace, but a peace with education, a peace with food and health care . . . a country with equal opportunities for everybody, in which there is real and ample participation in politics.”

Source

Fidel Castro’s Reflections: The duty to avoid a war in Korea

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April 5, 2013

A few days ago I mentioned the great challenges humanity is currently facing. Intelligent life emerged on our planet approximately 200,000 years ago, although new discoveries demonstrate something else.

This is not to confuse intelligent life with the existence of life which, from its elemental forms in our solar system, emerged millions of years ago.

A virtually infinite number of life forms exist. In the sophisticated work of the world’s most eminent scientists the idea has already been conceived of reproducing the sounds which followed the Big Bang, the great explosion which took place more than 13.7 billion years ago.

This introduction would be too extensive if it was not to explain the gravity of an event as unbelievable and absurd as the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet.

This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, 50 years ago.

In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, in a matter of seconds, killed and irradiated hundreds of thousands of people.

General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that.

It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid.

I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary.

If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her.

Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet.

If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

Fidel Castro Ruz

April 4, 2013

11:12 p.m.

Source

RT Interviews President Lukashenko – ‘I have no resources to be a dictator’

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The following interview below was originally published by Russia Today

March 18, 2013

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko

His reputation precedes him: The long-time Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko has been often referred to in the Western media as ‘Europe’s last dictator’. But he insists he doesn’t have the means to be one as RT sits down with the President.

“In order to be a dictator and dictate one’s will one has to have the resources: economic, social, military, population, and so on. But we have none. And I am being objective about it,” Belarusian president told RT’s Sofiko Shevardnadze.

The 58-year-old former head of a state-owned farm told RT he has no intention to hand over power to any of his sons. “I swore I would never delegate the reins of power to any of my relatives, loved ones or children. It’s out of the question,” Belarusian leader emphasized.  “Who wins a fair election will have the power. Like I did when I won the race as a candidate from the opposition,” he added.

The Belarus leadership has repeatedly been the target of fierce criticism from the EU over its crackdown on the opposition and lack of respect for democracy and human rights. Up to 250 Belarusian officials, including President Aleksandr Lukashenko, and 32 companies are currently subject to travel bans and asset freezes within the EU.more

For more on this as well as Lukashenko’s view on relations with Russia and international community, his presidency and successors, and the overwhelming economic crisis and Belarus’ fate read the full interview below.

Read the rest of this entry

Historic speech by President Nicholas Maduro at Nat’l Conference of Communist Party of Venezuela

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The following article below was originally published by Partido Comunista de Venezuela. Translated into English. 

March 10, 2013

The XII National Conference of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV).

The acting president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, stressed the need for the Venezuelan revolutionary forces to pool their strength to continue building the political model bequeathed by Commander Hugo Chavez Frias.

“We need strength in this hour of history to take the nation on our shoulders and deliver this historic task that Hugo Chavez has given to our people and that we assume fully,” Maduro said at the XII National Conference of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), which took place in the Teatro Cantaclaro in Caracas.

“We are looking for moral strength, spiritual strength, the historic power to jump-start the nation-building machine that our Commander has left,” said Maduro, who was supported by the PCV as a candidate for the presidential elections of April 14.

He noted that through the political project of President Chavez Frias all revolutionary struggles could be channeled in a big and correct way. “Over the centuries, the struggles of revolutionaries have incurred great sacrifices and pains, and the PCV is example of that,” he said.

He also announced that the PCV was asked to join the new Political-Military Steering Committee of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Maduro said that every March 5, the Venezuelan people will remember the legacy of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez Frias. “We will remember for years and decades the man who has left us physically, but continues between us as guardian spirit of our people, our beloved and eternal commander,” he said.

Venezuela: PCV supports presidential candidacy of Maduro

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The following article below was originally published by Partido Comunista de Venezuela. Translated into English. 

March 10, 2013

President Nicolas Maduro and the Secretary General of the PCV, Oscar Figuera, at the XII National Conference of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV).

The Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) expressed support for the candidacy of Nicolas Maduro for the elections next April 14.

The announcement was made during the XII National Conference of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) which hosted Maduro, president in charge of the Republic.

The general secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela, Oscar Figuera, said the Venezuelan people will rise to the task set by the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez: that Nicolas Maduro take the presidency.

“With the efforts of our people and the revolutionary and popular organizations, Nicolas Maduro will be elected Constitutional President on 14 April,” Figuera said.

At the beginning of the conference, two minutes of applause were offered to the memory of Chavez, who is honored by his people in the Military Academy.

This tribute was accompanied by the slogan “Chavez lives, the struggle continues.”

On arrival at the headquarters of the PCV at the corner of Jesus Faria, in Caracas, Maduro greeted the people concentrated around the place, who chanted: “With Chavez and Maduro, the people are safe.”

We Are Not All Mourning on the Inside

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The following article was submitted to The Prison Gates Are Open… by the author Professor Toad:

We Are Not All Mourning on the Inside

March 5, 2013

A wave of mourning is sweeping over Latin America and the world over the death of Hugo Chavez. The leader of the Bolivarian Revolution shattered the ossified and corrupt political structure of Venezuela, ushering the country into a new era in which it put the needs of its own people first and stood on its own feet in the world community. Beyond that, Chavez’s revolution inspired movements which brought about deep changes in many countries. Although the left is notoriously sectarian, the overwhelming sensation of leftists the world over is sorrow at the passing of a man who moved the struggle so far forward. However, as Chavez’s health deteriorated in recent months, it became obvious that there were a few among us who would have, at worst, mixed feelings about his death, seeing in it definite elements of opportunity for their own political programs. The question is how soon in this period of deep mourning these snakes will let their true feelings show.

On January 5, 2013, the website havanatimes.org ran an article by a certain Roberto Lopez entitled “Possible Policy Scenarios”. This article apparently originated on a Venezuelan Trotskyist website called laguarura.net, but has found echo as well at the website internationalviewpoint.org, which is apparently the official website of a small Trotskyist sect which pompously calls itself the Fourth International.

The article is a disgusting call for a civil war in the Partido Socialist Unitaria Venezolana, the political party founded and led by Hugo Chavez. Although the article recognizes that the death of Chavez will bring an attack by imperialism, it unbelievably declares that only a sharpening of the internal conflicts of the PSUV can protect the Venezuelan Revolution. The reasoning is fascinating in the way that a bad car crash is fascinating.

First, the article assures us that the vice-president of Venezuela and the speaker of the Venezuelan national assembly are simply incapable as leaders: “We can infer that the present pro-Chavez leadership headed by Maduro and Cabello will deteriorate as time passes. Causes: none of them have the leadership qualities of Chavez and therefore none of them are able to generate the consensus that existed when Chavez was in office.” How this evaluation was arrived at we are not told.

Worse, however, they are apparently “bureaucrats”, a Trotskyist term of art referring to people who hold back a revolution: “The errors of the bureaucracy will not be forgiven by the people, as occurred when Chavez firmly held the nation’s leadership.” In this line, of course, they count Chavez among the wicked bureaucrats undercutting the revolution… A revolution which Chavez began and led, from victory to victory, throughout its life.

Now that we know that the people who brought literacy, medicine, housing, and so forth to Venezuela are in fact enemies of the Venezuelan people, the question is what must be done about them. But, really, how much of a question can this be? “If this strengthening of alternative revolutionary leadership does not occur, it is likely that reformist trends will end up predominating within the Chavista bureaucracy, pushing for a general agreement with the local bourgeoisie and US imperialism as a way to ‘save and sustain’ the Bolivarian process.”

Indeed, in order to protect Venezuela from US imperialism – which the article concedes will soon undertake “a widespread conspiracy” – it is necessary that the left within the PSUV increase the struggle against the current leadership, which we are told will soon seek a league with the United States.

The article makes clear that the reason the new leadership will seek a league with the United States is not any actual change in their political stance – Chavez, the article implies, though, perhaps from cowardice, refrains from frankly saying, was as much a villainous bureaucrat as Maduro or Cabello – but rather their weakness.

So, in effect, we are being told that Chavez’s chosen heirs, those who are concededly of the same political stance as he, will soon deliver the country to the United States. This belief is only possible for those who ignore completely the entire history of Bolivarian Venezuela’s relations with the United States; Those who do not remember the American sponsored coup of 2002; Those who do not remember Chavez’s remarks about the smell of sulfur attending George Bush at the United Nations; Those who do not remember the solidarity that Venezuela has shown with Cuba and Bolivia. And so on.

The empire has never made any bones about who its enemies were in Bolivarian Venezuela. US Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, took the opportunity of Chavez’s death to declare that the leader had “ruled with an iron hand.” Representative Mike Rogers, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, by way of eulogy for Chavez, called him an obstacle to progress. Meanwhile, the wealthy escualidos in Miami have turned out in the city’s streets alongside their Cuban gusano brethren to celebrate the hero’s death. Here, then, we have a touching unity between the section of the left represented by laguarura.net and the imperialists.

The politics of this is, of course, rotten. Whatever grounds there are for criticizing Chavez – or Maduro and Cabello, whose leadership is so far largely untested – the suggestion that the most effective anti-imperialist course will be to break the unity of the Venezuelan revolutionaries is laughable. While the article insists that “the recent and resounding electoral defeats suffered by the opposition in October and December place the post-Chavez political dispute within Chavismo itself,” the reality is that Chavez’s death forces the country to go to a new presidential election within thirty days. The election will pit Maduro, who was until very recently a relative unknown, against a right-wing contender who, in fact rather than fantasy, won more than 44% of the vote even against the immensely popular Chavez. It would be an act of obvious foolishness not to take the threat posed by this looming election seriously.

Beyond politics, however, we can see here a weakness which is, in itself, enough to prevent this brand of Trotskyism from ever posing a serious political threat to capitalism: The article is completely divorced from the real, human feelings of the Venezuelan working class. The authors of the article see Chavez’s death as their opportunity to seize the leadership of the revolutionary movement he built, and if they had to physically step across his corpse to do so, the only danger would be that they would stumble in their haste. The Venezuelan working class sees the death of their long-time leader as a national tragedy.

It seems that laguarura has the political sense to move slowly in firing the opening shots of this war. Although the January 5 article firmly located Chavez within the ranks of the bureaucratic traitors, the article actually announcing his death refers to him as “our companion Chavez.” Perhaps the force of the workers’ reactions will keep these rats mostly in their holes for the foreseeable future. But the question remains, ‘When they will strike?’, rather than if.