In a characteristically bold move, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez called for the formation of a “Fifth International” in November last year. The Latin American leftist leader made the call at the World Meeting of Left Parties, a conference held in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.
For those not immersed in socialist lingo, an International is a forum for working-class organisations; a solid base for coordination and debate. The tradition began in 1864 with the International Workingmen’s Association, of which Karl Marx was a founding member. Uniting workers across borders, the International Workingmen’s Association admitted a range of leftists from the anarchist, socialist and trade union movements. This organisation lasted over a decade and provided a strong, diverse base for working-class organisation. However, due to a conflict between Karl Marx and anarchist Mikhael Bakunin, the First International dissolved in 1876.
On January 25 Bolivians voted by a large majority to approve a new constitution designed to give greater control over the country’s natural resources to the indigenous majority of the Andean nation.
The constitution, which was championed by Bolivian President Evo Morales (a former Aymara peasant activist and leader of the left nationalist Movimiento al Socialismo/MAS), was the culmination of nearly two decades of struggle by the indigenous majority to wrest back control of their lands from the blanco elites and their friends the foreign multinationals. During the 1990s Bolivia saw a succession of governments embark on an unprecedented campaign of privatisation including the full or partial sale of the state-owned oil, gas, electricity and telecommunications industries. In 2000 the then-President (and former military dictator) Hugo Banzer signed a contract with a consortium led by US company Bechtel to give it exclusive rights over the supply of water and sanitation services in the city of Cochabamba, with local residents forbidden from collecting their own water through rainwater tanks or other natural methods.
Sanitarios Maracay, a Venezuelan factory under workers control, holds an assembly. Topics covered include the previous boss’s acts of sabotage, logistics of workers control, and socialism of the 21st century.
Photo: ABN/Prensa Miraflores. View video footage here
President Chávez meets with his people at Miraflores
By Heison Moreno for ABN/YVKE Mundial
Translated by Tim Bowron for The Spark
The head of state celebrated this April 13 together with hundreds of Venezuelans who were out on the streets of Caracas since the early morning. The President told Venezuelans in the opening phrases of his speech that “Venezuela will never be anyone’s colony” and announced the launch of the “Misión 13 de Abril”.
Caracas, Sunday afternoon
The citizens are gathering on Urdaneta Avenue in Caracas to commemorate the civil-military struggle that enabled President Hugo Chávez to return to power six years ago, as a kind of celebration of the recovery of national dignity.
Points such as the corner of Santa Capillas and the environs of the office of the Vice-president of the Republic are again marked by the presence of the people, the same people who in 2002 went out into the streets in order to demand the return of the head of state and the constitution.
Urdaneta Avenue was packed in the early morning with Venezuelan men and women who gathered just like on that previous April 13, to take back their country’s freedom and to sweep away tyranny. The guardians of freedom, members of the misiónes and the general populace gather today to the accompaniment of music by Ali Primera which can be heard even as far away as the Laguno bridge.
The Caracas metro is providing free underground transport so that everyone can mobilise.
MERIDA, Venezuela. Steel workers and the trade union Sutiss have won their fight for the nationalisation of the steel industry firm Ternium-Sidor after months of strikes, confrontations and repression by the National Guard. This morning, at 1.22am, vice-president Ramón Carrizales, the envoy of the National Executive, finally opened a way forward to a solution in the conflict between the trade union alliance and the trans-national corporation’s management. During this conflict the workers had denounced before the Minister of Labour the multiple contractual irregularities and the prevailing conditions of capitalist exploitation, but in spite of all this they were not listened to by the Minister.
On March 17 Nelson Davila, Venezuela’s charge d’Affaires for Australia and the Pacific, spoke at a student forum at the University of Canterbury. Organised at short notice the meeting was attended by a small but highly interested group of people.
A day earlier Davila had also spoken at a public meeting in the inner city which some 20-25 socialist and trade union activists attended. Following on from that meeting a decision was made to establish a Venezuela solidarity group in Christchurch.
Having suffered a narrow defeat in the constitutional referendum held last December, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has signalled that plans to accelerate his Bolivarian socialist project will have to be placed temporarily on hold.
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