Saturday, February 25, 2006

Whose Bombs were they? (CIA?, MI5?, MOSSAD?)

"We should stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war. We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity." Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

There's no telling who was behind the bombing of the al-Askariya Mosque. There were no security cameras at the site and it’s doubtful that the police will be able to perform a thorough forensic investigation.

That’s too bad; the bomb-residue would probably provide clear evidence of who engineered the attack. So far, there’s little more to go on than the early reports of four men (three who were dressed in black, one in a police uniform) who overtook security guards at the mosque and placed the bombs in broad daylight.

It was a bold assault that strongly suggests the involvement of highly-trained paramilitaries conducting a well-rehearsed plan. Still, that doesn’t give us any solid proof of what groups may have been involved.

The destruction of the Samarra shrine, also known as the Golden Mosque, has unleashed a wave of retaliatory attacks against the Sunnis. More than 110 people were reported killed by the rampaging Shia. More than 90 Sunni mosques have been either destroyed or badly damaged. In Baghdad alone, 47 men have been found scattered throughout the city after being killed execution-style with a bullet to the back of the head. The chaos ends a week of increased violence following two major suicide bombings directed against Shia civilians that resulted in the deaths of 36 people.

The public outrage over the desecration of one of the country’s holiest sights has reached fever-pitch and it’s doubtful that the flimsy American-backed regime will be able to head-off a civil war.

It is difficult to imagine that the perpetrators of this heinous attack didn’t anticipate its disastrous effects. Certainly, the Sunni-led resistance does not benefit from alienating the very people it is trying to enlist in its fight against the American occupation. Accordingly, most of the prominent Sunni groups have denied involvement in the attack and dismissed it as collaboration between American and Iranian intelligence agencies.

A communiqué from “The Foreign Relations Department of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party” denounced the attack pointing the finger at the Interior Ministry’s Badr Brigade and American paramilitaries.

The Ba’ath statement explains:

“America is the main party responsible for the crime of attacking the tomb of Ali al-Hadi…because it is the power that occupies Iraq and has a basic interest in committing it.”

“The escalation of differences between America and Iran has found their main political arena in Iraq, because the most important group of agents of Iran is there and are able to use the blood of Iraqis and the future of Iraq to exert pressure on America. Iran has laid out a plan to embroil America in the Iraqi morass to prevent it from obstructing Iran’s nuclear plans. Particularly since America is eager to move on to completing arrangements for a withdrawal from Iraq, after signing binding agreements on oil and strategy. America believes that without the participation of “Sunni” parties in the regime those arrangements will fail. For that reason ‘cutting Iran’s claws’ has become one of the important requirements for American plans. This is what Ambassador Zalmay spoke of recently when he declared that no sectarian would take control of the Ministries of the Interior or Defense. Similarly, America has begun to publish information that it formally kept hidden regarding the crimes of the Badr Brigade and the Interior Ministry.”

Whether the communiqué is authentic is irrelevant; the point is well taken. The escalating violence may prevent Iraq from forming a power-sharing government which would greatly benefit the Shia majority and their Iranian allies. Many critics agree that what is taking place Iraq represents a larger struggle between the United States and Iran for regional domination.

This theory, however, is at odds with the response of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following the bombing. Khamenei said, “The occupation forces and Zionism, which seeing their plans dissolve, have planned this atrocity to sew hate between Muslims and fuel divisions between Sunnis and Shiites….Do not fall into the enemy trap by attacking mosques and sacred places of your Sunni brothers….The enemy wants nothing more than weakening of the Islamis front right as Muslims with a single voice have been protesting against the continual provocations of their enemies.”

The belief that the attack was the work of American and Israeli covert-operations (Black-ops) is widespread throughout the region as well as among leftist political-analysts in the United States. Journalist Kurt Nimmo sees the bombing as a means of realizing “a plan sketched out in Oded Yinon’s “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties” (the balkanization of Arab and Muslim society and culture.) Nimmo suggests that the plan may have been carried out by “American, British or Israeli Intelligence operatives or their double-agent Arab lunatics, or crazies incited by Rumsfeld’s Proactive Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) designed to ‘stimulate’ terrorist reaction.”

Nimmo is not alone in his judgment. Other prominent analysts including, Pepe Escobar, Ghali Hassan, AK Gupta, Dahr Jamail, and Christian Parenti all agree that the Bush administration appears to be inciting civil war as part of an exit strategy. Certainly, the Pentagon is running out of options as well as time. Numerous leaked documents have confirmed that significant numbers of troops will have to be rotated out of the theatre by summer. A strategy to foment sectarian hostilities may be the last desperate attempt to divert the nearly 100 attacks per day away from coalition troops and finalize plans to divide Iraq into more manageable statlets.

The division of Iraq has been recommended in a number of policy-documents that were prepared for the Defense Department. The Rand Corporation suggested that “Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides should be exploited to exploit the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.” The 2004 study titled “US Strategy in the Muslim World” was to identify key cleavages and fault-lines among sectarian, ethnic, regional, and national lines to assess how these cleavages generate challenges and opportunities for the United States.” (Abdus Sattar Ghazali; thanks Liz Burbank)

This verifies that the strategy to split up Iraq has been circulating at the top levels of government from the very beginning of the occupation. A similar report was produced by David Philip for the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) financed by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation a conservative think-tank with connections to the Bush administration and the American Enterprise Institute. According to Pepe Escobar:

“The plan would be ‘sold’ under the admission that the recently elected, Shi’ite dominated Jaafari government is incapable of controlling Iraq and bringing the Sunni-Arab guerillas to the negotiating table. More significantly, the plan is an exact replica of an extreme right-wing Israeli plan to balkanize Iraq—an essential part of the balkanization of the whole Middle East.”

Is the bombing of the Golden Mosque the final phase of a much broader strategy to inflame sectarian hatred and provoke civil war?

Clearly, many Sunnis, Iranians, and political analysts seem to believe so. Even the Bush administration’s own documents support the general theory that Iraq should be broken up into three separate pieces. But, is this proof that the impending civil war is the work of foreign provocateurs?

The final confirmation of Washington’s sinister plan was issued by Leslie Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, in a New York Times editorial on 11-25-03. The CFR is the ideological headquarters for America’s imperial interventions providing the meager rationale that papers-over the massive bloodletting that inevitably follow. Gelb stated:

“For decades, the United States has worshipped at the altar of a unified Iraqi state. Allowing all three communities within that false state to emerge at least as self-governing regions would be both difficult and dangerous. Washington would have to be very hard-headed and hard-hearted, to engineer this breakup. But such a course is manageable, even necessary, because it would allow us to find Iraq’s future in its denied but natural past.”

There you have it; the United States is only pursuing this genocidal policy for ‘Iraq’s own good’. We should remember Gelb’s statesman-like pronouncements in the years to come as Iraq slips further into the morass of social-disintegration and unfathomable human suffering.

El Foro de Caracas: la otra mirada

ALAI-AMLATINA, 25/02/06, Buenos Aires.- Leí con mucho interés la nota que Luis Hernández Navarro publicara días atrás, en “La Jornada”, sobre el Foro Social Mundial de Caracas. Su mirada, siempre sugerente, plantea algunas interpretaciones sumamente polémicas que, por su importancia, merecen ser seriamente discutidas.

Hernández Navarro asegura que este Foro se caracterizó por su “carácter más marcadamente político-estatal” por comparación con los anteriores. La consecuencia de ese desplazamiento fue que los debates que allí tuvieron lugar se centraron más “sobre las estrategias de poder, la naturaleza de los gobiernos de izquierda en América Latina, la resistencia al imperialismo y la integración regional” supuestamente en desmedro de las “reflexiones” sobre la situación de los movimientos sociales de distinto tipo: “feministas, indígenas, ambientalistas, por un software libre, de comercio justo, por una comunicación alternativa, contra la deuda externa, por la diversidad sexual o a favor de una economía popular”. El articulista reconoce, empero,
que no faltaron las deliberaciones sobre estos temas aún cuando “el sello específico del foro no estuvo marcado por sus reivindicaciones.”

En relación a esto es preciso decir que este desplazamiento del eje de la discusión lejos de ser objeto de lamentaciones debe, por el contrario, ser saludado como un cambio sumamente positivo. Si los movimientos reunidos en Caracas comenzaron a discutir temas como las estrategias de poder; el imperialismo y los esquemas de integración regional; y la naturaleza y desempeño de los gobiernos de izquierda en América Latina (Cuba, Venezuela y Bolivia) o de la capitulante “centro-izquierda” (cada vez más inclinada hacia el primer término de la ecuación), esto constituye una muy buena noticia. La instalación de esos temas en la agenda de los movimientos revela una promisoria maduración de
las fuerzas sociales en consonancia con la evolución experimentada por la coyuntura política latinoamericana desde la primera edición del FSM, en Porto Alegre, en enero del 2001. Si en aquel momento el neoliberalismo campeaba casi sin contrapesos -con la excepción de Cuba y las incertidumbres que signaban los primeros momentos de la revolución bolivariana- la situación actual es radicalmente distinta. Lo grave habría sido que todavía en el 2006 los movimientos sociales hubiesen llegado a
Caracas para regodearse en su narcicismo explorando las infinitas gradaciones y matices que les confieren su única identidad, desentendiéndose por completo de los desafíos planteados por la coyuntura nacional, regional e internacional. Esto habría significado, en la práctica, el certificado de defunción del Foro,
convertido de ese modo en un ámbito meramente escolástico. Precisamente, porque buena parte de los movimientos - no todos, por cierto- tomaron nota del significado histórico de la inclaudicable resistencia de Cuba a un bloqueo que casi dura medio siglo; de las reiteradas declaraciones de Chávez en el sentido de que no hay
solución en el capitalismo y que el futuro de las luchas emancipatorias se encuentra en el socialismo; y del acontecimiento epocal simbolizado por el triunfo de los pueblos
originarios en Bolivia, con Evo Morales a la cabeza, es que incorporaron en su agenda aquellos temas de índole político- estatal que Hernández Navarro considera inapropiados para discutir en el Foro. Ocurre que aquellos movimientos y fuerzas sociales antes no eran una opción de poder real; ahora sí, y un cambio de tal envergadura no podía dejar de reflejarse en la temática discutida en el Foro.

Lo anterior, naturalmente, remite a un debate acerca del futuro del FSM: sitio de encuentro e intercambio de experiencias, o espacio de articulación y coordinación – democrática, plural, respetuosa de las particularidades locales y regionales- de luchas y proyectos. O, puesto en términos más políticos: ¿cómo luchar contra las clases dominantes del capitalismo mundial y sus aliados locales?
¿Cómo hacerlo contra sus estructuras, instituciones y representantes que actúan obedeciendo a una estrategia flexible, de carácter internacional pero hábilmente adaptada a las circunstancias y agentes locales? ¿Es que podrá derrotarse a tan poderosa coalición apelando solamente al heroísmo y la abnegación de las resistencias locales, prescindiendo de las
ventajas que podrían resultar de una coordinación mundial igualmente flexible de las luchas y de las resistencias populares al neoliberalismo?

Para que el debate sea fecundo será indispensable romper un falso dilema: aquel que nos obliga a escoger entre un Woodstock altermundialista -un vistosísimo y emocionante festival de todos los colores y todos los movimientos que se dan cita para celebrar un rito catártico anual- o una suerte de Tercera Internacional estalinista que, desde un nuevo Vaticano anti-neoliberal, dirija férrea e inapelablemente los movimientos de los “destacamentos nacionales” en lucha contra la globalización neoliberal y el
imperialismo. Esta opción es completamente falsa, entre otras cosas porque no existe posibilidad alguna de que una “nueva internacional” como la que Hernández Navarro ve en ciernes reúna los mínimos requisitos de viabilidad práctica. No se trata, por lo tanto, de elegir una u otra, sino de encontrar los caminos intermedios que nos faculten para romper esa falsa disyuntiva. Lenin gustaba de citar a Goethe cuando decía que “grises son las teorías, pero verde es el árbol de la vida.” Conviene recordar esa frase en momentos como éste, cuando se nos pretende forzar a adoptar un “camino único”, insanablemente gris:¡o Woodstock o el Comintern! La imaginación de las fuerzas y movimientos sociales contiene muchísimos tonos de verde que rompen la sujeción a aquel falso dilema. ¿Por qué no deberían coordinarse
internacionalmente las luchas por el agua de los mapuches en el sur argentino y chileno con la de las comunidades campesinas en Bolivia y Ecuador, los pueblos de la cuenca amazónica, la que libran los campesinos africanos y la de los grupos que en Europa,
Estados Unidos y Canadá que se oponen a la mercantilización de ese vital elemento? Coordinación no significa subordinación a un “centro” ni imposición burocrática de una “línea” bajada desde un
lugar omnipotente e inapelable. La burguesía, como clase dominante mundial, no actúa de manera tan absurda. ¿Por qué deberían hacerlo los movimientos sociales? Cuando se plantea, desde la primera edición del FSM, la necesidad de “globalizar las luchas y globalizar la resistencia” el corolario lógico es la construcción de alguna instancia mínima de enlace y coordinación entre los movimientos. De lo contrario, sin ese esfuerzo organizativo, todo se agota en el mundo intrascendente de la retórica. No hay resistencia global posible sin estrategia global y sin un cierto grado de coordinación de los diferentes frentes de lucha.

Hernández Navarro manifiesta su preocupación porque, según su
entender, en el Foro prevaleció la propaganda anti- imperialista ortodoxa sobre la heterodoxia propia de las anteriores ediciones del FSM. “El pensamiento de izquierda de los setentas,” asegura, “ha renacido y se está comiendo otras expresiones del pensamiento crítico.” Tampoco participaron en el foro caraqueño,
nos dice, “el abundante número de intelectuales de izquierda activos” que se hicieron presentes en los foros anteriores, afirmación ésta harto discutible pero que no hace al fondo de la cuestión. Lo importante es preguntarse qué tiene de malo el renacimiento del pensamiento de izquierda de los setentas. ¿Que
se “coma” a otras expresiones del pensamiento crítico? Si se las pudo comer debe ser porque no eran tan rigurosas y críticas como se suponía, o porque carecían de esa capacidad para “abrir nuevos horizontes” emancipatorios como muchos pensaron. Por otra parte, si la reinstalación de temas como el estado, el poder, el imperialismo y el socialismo son obra de la izquierda setentista
pues, ¡enhorabuena!, porque se trata de asuntos que jamás debían
haber sido postergados y que, al hacerlo, lesionaron gravemente la capacidad de los movimientos contestatarios para luchar eficazmente contra sus enemigos.

Es cierto: Lula no fue, y tampoco lo hizo Evo Morales. Las razones son bien distintas. Pese a su ausencia física, Evo y los movimientos sociales bolivianos estuvieron permanentemente presentes en Caracas. Era muy improbable que a los tres días de
haber asumido el gobierno Evo se hubiera podido hacer un tiempo para viajar hasta Caracas para dialogar con sus compañeros de tantas luchas, sobre todo si se tiene recuerda que en esas primeras horas tuvo que restructurar la cúpula del ejército y enfrentar el chantaje de Repsol que, casualmente, “descubrió” precisamente en ese momento que las reservas gasíferas de Bolivia eran inferiores a lo previsto. Lula, por su parte, difícilmente podría aparecer por el Foro luego de la decepción generada por su infeliz experiencia como ocupante del Palacio del Planalto. La silbatina que la sola mención de su nombre cosechó el año pasado en el Gigantinho de Porto Alegre podría haber sido aún más estruendosa en Caracas. No más razonable era suponer que la prensa opositora a Chávez, comprometida hasta la médula con el golpismo y la ofensiva orquestada por la Casa Blanca, iría a cubrir con objetividad lo ocurrido en el Foro. Menos aún que lo hiciera “El País”, agente a sueldo de la campaña anti-cubana en Europa y pérfido apologista del neoliberalismo. Lo que sí hubiese sido preocupante era si esa prensa se dedicaba a informar seria y exhaustivamente lo que estaba ocurriendo en Caracas. Eso habría significado que el Foro no inquietaba en lo más mínimo a las clases dominantes del imperio. El silencio y “ninguneo” de esa prensa es un grito que demuestra que los movimientos altermundialistas se convirtieron en un rival formidable, cuya presencia conviene ocultar ante los ojos de los pueblos.

Atilio A. Boron es Secretario General del Consejo

Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO)


"(Asharq al-Awsat) Karbala governor Akeel al-Khazali announced on February 20 that he will suspend all official contact with the Americans to protest the improper behavior of the US officials who visited the province last week.

They did not show any respect to the province's local security and prevented high-ranking Iraqi officials from entering the (governor's office,) which frustrated them. He insisted that the
Americans should officially apologize for the uncivilized behavior (including bringing dogs into the building) and that they should never act that way again. If not, the governor said he would prevent them from entering the office without prior approval from the Iraqi authorities.
(London-based Asharq al-Awsat, a pro-Saudi independent paper, is issued daily.)"

How Big is the World? by Subcomandante Marcos

[translated by irlandesa]

After a day of preparation meetings for the Other Campaign (it was September, it was dawn, there was rain from a far-off cloud), we were heading towards the hut where our things were when we ran into a citizen who all of a sudden came out with: "Listen, Sup, what are the zapatistas proposing?" Without even stopping, I answered: "Changing the world." We reached the hut and began getting things ready in order to leave. Insurgenta Erika waited until I was alone. She approached me and said "Listen, Sup, the world is very big," as if she were trying to make me realize what nonsense I was proposing and that I didn't, in reality, know what I was saying when I'd said what I'd said. Following the custom of responding to a question with another question, I came out with:

"How big?"

She kept looking at me, and she answered almost tenderly: "Very big."

I insisted: "Yes, but how big?"

She thought about it for a minute and said: "Much bigger than Chiapas."

Then they told us we had to go. When we had gotten back, in the barracks now and after making Penguin comfortable, Erika came over to me, carrying a globe, the kind they use in elementary schools. She put it on the ground and told me: "Look, Sup, here, in this little piece, there's Chiapas, and all this is the world," almost caressing the globe with her dark hands as she said it.

"Hmm," I said, lighting my pipe in order to gain some time.

Erika insisted: "Now you've seen that it's very big?"

"Yes, but we're not going to change it all by ourselves, we're going to change it with many compañeros and compañeras from everywhere." At that point they called the guard. Showing that I'd learned, she shot back at me before she left: "How many compañeros and compañeras?"
How big is the world?

In the Tehuacán valley, in the Sierra Negra, in the Sierra Norte, in the suburban areas of Puebla. From the most forgotten corners of the other Puebla, answers are ventured:

In Altepexi, a young woman replied: More than 12 hours a day of work in the maquiladora, working on days off, no benefits, or insurance, or Christmas bonus, or profit sharing. Authoritarianism and bad treatment by the manager or line supervisor, being punished by not being paid when I get sick, seeing my name on a black list so they won't give me work in any maquiladora. If we mobilize, the owner closes down and goes someplace else. Transportation is very bad, and I get back to the house where I live really late. I look at the light bill, the water bill, taxes, I do the sums and see there's not enough. Realizing that there's not even any water to drink, that the plumbing doesn't work and that the street stinks. And the next day, after sleeping badly and being poorly fed, back to work. The world is as big as the rage I feel against all this.

A young Mixtec indigenous: My papa went to the United States more than 12 years ago. My mama works sewing balls. They pay her 10 pesos for each ball, and if one of them isn't good, they charge 40 pesos. They don't pay then, not until the contractor comes back to the village. My brother is also packing to leave. We women are alone in this, in carrying on with the family, the land, the work. And so it's up to us to also carry on with the struggle. The world is as big as the courage this injustice makes me feel, so big it makes my blood boil.

In San Miguel Tzinacapan an elderly couple look at each other and answer almost in unison: the world is the size of our effort to change it.

An indigenous campesino from the Sierra Negra, a veteran of all the dislocations, except the dislocation of history: It has to be very big, that's why we need to make our organization grow.

In Ixtepec, Sierra Norte: The world is the size of the swinishness of the bad governments and of the Antorcha Campesina, which is just prejudiced against the campesino and is still poisoning the earth.

In Huitziltepec, from a small autonomous school, a rebel television station is broadcasting a truth: the world is so large that it has room for the history of the community and of its desire and struggle to continue looking out at the universe with dignity. A lady, an indigenous artisan, from the same round as the departed Comandanta Ramona, adds off-mike: "The world is as big as the injustice we feel, because they pay us a pittance for what we do, and we watch the things we need just pass us by, because there's not enough."

In the neighborhood of Granja: It can't be very big, because it seems as if there's no room for poor children, they just scold us, persecute and beat us, and we're just trying to make enough to eat.

In Coronango: As big as the world is, it's dying from the neoliberal pollution of the land, water, air. It's breaking down, because that's what our grandparents said, that when the community breaks down, the world breaks down.

In San Matías Cocoyotla: It's as big as the government's lack of shame, which is simply destroying what we do as workers. Now we have to organize in order to defend ourselves from the government which is supposed to serve us. Now they see that they are without shame.

In Puebla, but in the other Puebla: The world isn't so big because what the rich already have isn't enough for them, and now they want to take away from us poor people what little we have.

Again, another Puebla, a young woman: It's very big, so just a few of us can't change it. We all have to join together in order to do it, because if not, we can't, you get tired.

A young artist: It's big, but it's rotten. They extort money from us for being young people. In this world it's a crime to be young.

A neighbor: However big it may be, it's small for the rich, because they are invading communal lands, ejidos, popular neighborhoods. As if there's no longer room for their shopping centers and their luxuries, and they're putting them on our lands. The same way, I believe, that there's no room for us, those of below.

A worker: The world is as big as the cynicism of the corrupt leaders. And they still say they're for the defense of the workers. And up above they've got their shit together: whether it's the owner, the official or the pro-management union leader, no matter what new things they say. They should make one of those landfills, a garbage dump, and put all of them in it together. Or not, better not, because they'd certainly pollute everything. And then if we were to put them in jail, the criminals would riot because even they don't want to live next to those bastards.

Now it's dawn in this other Puebla which hasn't ceased to amaze us with every step we take on its lands. We've just finished eating, and I'm thinking about what I'm going to say on this occasion. Suddenly a little suitcase is sticking out from under the door, and it almost immediately gets stuck in the crack. A murmur of heavy breathing can barely be heard, of someone pushing from the other side. The little suitcase finally makes it through and, behind it, stumbling, something appears which looks remarkably like a beetle. If it weren't for the fact that I was in Puebla, albeit the other Puebla, and not in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, I would almost swear that it was Durito. As if putting aside a bad thought, I return to the notebook where the question which headed this surprise exam is already written down. I continue trying to write, but nothing worthwhile occurs to me. That is what I was doing, making a fool of myself, when I felt as if something were on my shoulder. I was just about to shrug in order to get rid of it, when I heard:

"Do you have tobacco?"

"That little voice, that little voice," I thought.

"What little voice? I see you're jealous of my masculine and seductive voice," Durito protested.

There was no longer any room for doubt, and so, with more resignation than enthusiasm, I said:


"Not 'Durito'! I am the greatest righter of wrongs, the savior of the helpless, the comforter of the defenseless, the hope of the weak, the unattainable dream of women, the favorite poster of children, the object of men's unspeakable jealousy, the..."

"Stop it, stop it! You sound like a candidate in an election campaign," I told Durito, trying to interrupt him. Uselessly, as can be seen, because he continued:

"...the most gallant of that race which has embraced knight errantry: Don Durito of the Lacandona SA of CV of RL. And authorized by the good government juntas."

As he said this, Durito showed me a decal on his shell which read: "Authorized by the Charlie Parker Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipality (MAREZ)."

"Charlie Parker? I didn't know we had a MAREZ with that name, at least we didn't when I left," I said disconcertedly.

"Of course, I established it just before I left there and came to your aid," Durito said.

"How odd, I asked them to send me tobacco, not a beetle," I responded-protested.

"I am not a beetle, I am a knight errant who has come to get you out of the predicament you have found yourself in."

"Me? Predicament?"

"Yes, do not act like Mario Marín's "precious hero" in the face of those recordings which revealed his true moral caliber. Are you in a predicament or not?"

"Well, predicament, what's called a predicament, then...yes, I'm in a predicament."

"You see? Perhaps you were not longing for me, the very best of the knights errant, to come to your aid?"

I thought for barely an instant and responded:

"Well, the truth is, no."

"Come, do not conceal that great pleasure, the huge joy and the unbridled enthusiasm which exists in your heart upon seeing me once again."

"I prefer to conceal it," I said resignedly.

"Fine, fine, enough of the welcoming fiestas and fireworks. Who is the scoundrel I should defeat with the arm I have below and to the left? Where are the Kamel Nacif, Succar Kuri so-and-sos and others of such low ilk?"

"No scoundrels and nothing to do with that ilk of swine. I have to answer a question."

"Come on," Durito pressed.

"How big is the world?" I asked.

"Well, there is a short version and a long version of the answer. Which do you want?"

I looked at my watch. It was 3 AM, and my eyelids and cap were falling into my eyes, and so I said without hesitation:

"The short version."

"What do you mean, the short version! Do you think I have been following your tracks through eight states of the Mexican Republic in order to present the short version? Naranjas podridas, ni mais palomas, not hardly, absolutely not, no way, negative, rejected, no."

"Fine," I said, resigned. "The long version then."

"That's it, my big-nosed nomad! Take this down."

I picked up my pen and notebook. Durito dictated:

"If you look at it from above, the world is small and the color green of the dollar. It fits perfectly in the price indexes and the valuations of a stock market, in the profits of a transnational, in the election polls of a country which has suffered the hijacking of its dignity, in the cosmopolitan calculator which adds capital and subtracts lives, mountains, rivers, seas, springs, histories, entire civilizations, in the miniscule brain of George W. Bush, in the shortsightedness of savage capitalism badly dressed up in neoliberal attire. Seen from above, the world is very small because it disregards persons and, in their place, there is a bank account number, with no movement other than that of deposits.

But if you look at it from below, the world stretches so far that one look is not enough to encompass it, instead many looks are necessary in order to complete it. Seen from below, the world abounds in worlds, almost all of them painted with the color of dislocation, poverty, despair, death. The world below grows sideways, especially to the left side, and it has many colors, almost as many as persons and histories. And it grows backwards, to the history which the world below made. And it grows towards itself with the struggles that illuminate it, even though the light from above goes out. And it sounds, even though the silence of above crushes it. And it grows forward, divining in every heart the morrow that will be given birth by those who below are who they are. Seen from below, the world is so big that many worlds fit, and, even so, there is space left over, for example, for a jail.

Or, in summary, seen from above, the world shrinks, and nothing fits in it other than injustice. And, seen from below, the world is so spacious that there is room for joy, music, song, dance, dignified work, justice, everyone's opinions and thoughts, no matter how different they are if below they are what they are."

I had barely been able to write it down. I re-read Durito's response, and I asked him:

"And what is the short version?"

"The short version is the following: the world is as big as the heart which first hurts and then struggles, along with everyone from below and to the left."

Durito left. I continued writing while the moon waned in the heavens with the night's damp caress...

I would like to venture a response. Imagining that I, with my hands, undo her hair and her desire, that I envelope her ear with a sigh, and, while my lips move up and down her hills, understanding that the world is as large as is my thirst for her belly.

Or, more decorously, trying to say that the world is as large as the delirium to make it "otherly," as the ear that is needed to embrace all the voices of below, as this other collective desire to go against the tide, uniting rebellions of below, while above they separate solitudes.

The world is as big as the prickly plant of indignation which we raise, knowing the flower of tomorrow will be born from it. And, in that tomorrow, the Iberoamerican University will be a public, free and secular university, and in its corridors and rooms will be the workers, campesinos, indigenous and others who today are outside.

That is all. Your responses should be presented on February 30 in triplicate: one for your conscience, another for the Other Campaign and another with a heading that clearly states: Warning, for those of above who believe, naively, that they are eternal.

>From the other Puebla.

Sup Marcos

Sixth Committee of the EZLN

Mexico, February of 2006

(Hands Off Venezuela) The reawakening of the world working class - Part 3 Latin America

In Latin America the revolutionary wave has gone further than anywhere else. It is a genuinely continental process, in which events in one country affect events in every other country. The Venezuelan Revolution has become the main point of reference. Now Evo Morales has won the elections in Bolivia with 54% of the votes, representing the will of the masses to change society. This represents a major turn in the situation. The might of the USA is being challenged in one country after another.

In the 19th century, when the young American Republic was still flexing its muscles, the nascent imperialist tendencies of the American bourgeoisie were expressed by the slogan “America for the Americans”. Now, when the USA has been transformed into the leading imperialist world power, its slogan is “the whole world for the Americans.” But this is impossible, even for the USA. In reality, the US imperialists have over-reached themselves.

The reformists and pacifists are hypnotized by the “absolute” power of US imperialism. But the power of the USA, although phenomenal, is not unlimited. This is shown both in Iraq and also in Latin America. Of Latin America we said six years ago that it was the key to the world revolution, and we took the necessary organisational measures to react to this fact. We see here the vital importance of perspectives. They are our key and our compass.

We were the only ones to understand the Venezuelan Revolution. Now everyone is running to catch up. The sects and the Stalinists have finally woken up to what is happening. A few months ago the leader of the French Mandelites, Alain Krivine, said: “It seems that something is happening in Venezuela…” That shows the level of these gentlemen. They have absolutely no idea of what is happening and therefore are powerless to intervene.

Latin America shows the limits of US imperialism. In the past, whatever Washington said was put into practice. But the attempt to foist the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement on Latin America failed miserably. And Bush got a very hot reception in Buenos Aires when he went to the Summit of the OSA. Washington is alarmed. They feel that control of Latin America is slipping out of their hands.

Of course, this does not mean that they will just remain with arms folded. No! They are already intervening, and not only with words. The Colombia Plan, which was supposed to be part of the so-called War on drugs, is in reality a war against the guerrillas. It is also an attempt to create a base for US imperialism in Latin America, from which to launch interventions against other states, in the first place, Venezuela. They have turned Colombia into an armed camp, injecting vast sums of money and also sending arms and so-called advisers to prop up the reactionary regime of Uribe.

The Venezuelan Revolution is what most worries Washington. It has gone quite far, but state and key parts of the economy are still in bourgeois hands. Therefore it can still be reversed, and this is the main aim of US imperialism.

The question of power is posed in Venezuela. In the past, the question of power would have to be settled relatively quickly. One side or the other would triumph: either reaction would take power in a bloody coup or the workers would take power. Chile in 1973 was the clearest example of this. But in Venezuela this hasn’t happened. Events are proceeding in a different fashion. There is still enormous power in the hands of the workers who have not been defeated. On the other hand, we can see the weakness of reaction.

The counterrevolutionary forces have been defeated a number of times when they have attempted to take power. In fact in April 2002 they had power in their hands but the coup was defeated. This was the first time in Latin American history that a successful coup was overthrown by the movement of the masses. Yet, incredibly, the Venezuelan Stalinists and reformists complain about the “low level” of the masses. These wretched petty bourgeois have absolutely no confidence in the masses and no perspective of ever taking power. They represent a completely reactionary and retrograde tendency that, if it had its way, would destroy the Revolution and hand power to the reactionaries. Then they would tour Europe weeping about the tragedy of Venezuela and blame the masses for trying to go too far, too fast.

The masses in Venezuela have in fact shown extraordinary levels of revolutionary maturity. Yet they have not taken power. Why not? The only reason is the absence of the subjective factor: the revolutionary party and leadership. Objectively, there is no reason. The objective conditions could not be more favourable for carrying out the revolution. In the short term, at least, the reaction cannot succeed. The right wing showed its complete impotence when it boycotted the legislative elections. They are split and demoralised.

Given the patent weakness of the forces of internal reaction, Washington is becoming desperate. The petty bourgeois elements are scared of a military intervention from the United States. They continually shout, “The Americans are coming!” like the little boy who never tired of crying “Wolf!” In reality, a direct military intervention by the USA is ruled out at the present time. The US imperialists are trapped in Iraq. Bush can’t open a second front in Venezuela – at least not directly.

It is possible that under certain circumstances they might decide to intervene through Colombia. But even that is very risky option. Revolutions don’t respect frontiers. A war with Venezuela could lead to the overthrow of Uribe, not Chavez. It would be a signal for the Colombian guerrillas to step up their attacks. The Colombian army would find itself fighting on two fronts. Such a war would be deeply unpopular in Colombia. There are at least one million Colombians in Venezuela. Chavez has given them full citizenship rights. They are in contact with their families and friends back home. In addition there would be the effects throughout Latin America and in the USA itself, where the Latinos are now the biggest ethnic minority, overwhelmingly poor and exploited. How would they react?

Will the CIA try to assassinate Chavez? That is a distinct possibility. But that would not solve the problem. The masses in Venezuela would react with fury. The oil supplies to the USA would be cut off the next day. Then a violent reaction on the part of the masses would follow throughout Latin America. Not a single US embassy would be left standing, and there would be a further intensification of the revolutionary process everywhere. So Washington must tread carefully even on this question.

At this point the reaction cannot overthrow Chavez, but this situation cannot continue indefinitely. The fact that Venezuela holds large stocks of oil is undoubtedly another factor that allows it a certain breathing space and room for manoeuvre. This element has given the right wing of the Bolivarian Movement – the pro-bourgeois element – a false sense of security. However, it cannot be assumed that the present favourable class balance of forces will be maintained for any length of time.

The level of abstentions in the legislative elections is an indication that the mood of the masses is changing. They are becoming impatient and frustrated with the slow progress of the Revolution. These are the early danger signs. If the masses lose faith in the Revolution and sink into apathy and indifference, the stage can be set for a new offensive of the counterrevolutionary elements. They can count on the support not only of the US embassy but also of numerous counterrevolutionary sympathisers in the upper reaches of the Bolivarian Movement.

The masses want change. Now that the chavistas have a decisive majority in the National Assembly there is no excuse for not taking decisive measures against the oligarchy. The masses will demand this. They will say: “the leaders must do as we say.” A section of the leadership reflects the pressure of the masses. They want to go further along the line of expropriations and workers’ control. But the right wing is dragging its feet. They express the pressures of the bourgeoisie and imperialism. This is the central contradiction that must be resolved, one way or another, in the next period.

Role of Chavez

Chavez is a peculiar phenomenon. He started out as a bourgeois democrat, but the theory of Permanent Revolution is being manifested in a peculiar way in Venezuela as it was in Cuba and China. Of course, there are many differences, but there are also many similarities. The main point is the impossibility of carrying out the tasks of the bourgeois democratic or, as Lenin called it, the national democratic revolution on the basis of capitalism. Chavez has been met at every step with the ferocious resistance and sabotage of the Venezuelan landlords, bankers and capitalists.

The main thing is the role of the masses, that are playing the role of the main motor force in the Revolution. The bourgeoisie is applying pressure to halt the Revolution, but at each stage they have been pushed aside by the workers and peasants. The alternatives are starkly posed: either Chavez capitulates to the oligarchy and imperialism which does not seem likely – or he must make serious inroads into capitalist private property. So far, he shows no signs of retreating. On the contrary, he is on a direct collision course with Washington and the oligarchy – who also have no intention of retreating.

What happens when the irresistible force, hits the immovable object? Something has to give. The legislative elections were an important turning point. The reactionaries in effect abandoned all efforts to take power by peaceful legal means. The question of power is therefore posed point-blank. Chavez now controls the National Assembly. He has said: “In my next term of office, we must make the Revolution irreversible.” What does that mean? We don’t know. Maybe Chavez does not know either. But events have a logic of their own.

The objective logic of the Revolution poses the need to expropriate the oligarchy. It would be possible for Chavez to lean on the masses to expropriate the oligarchy. But this would signify an immediate split in the Bolivarian movement. The MVR was always a highly heterogeneous and ideologically confused movement. At the top, there must be a large number of counter-revolutionary elements. Imperialism is leaning on the right wing “Chavistas” and organizing intrigues with the corrupt elements who favour capitalism and secretly curse the President and the Revolution.

A struggle must open up, in which one side or another must win. Chavez can only win by leaning on the masses, by appealing to them and arousing them to struggle against the right wing. It is not certain that events will unfold in exactly this way, but if they did, what kind of regime would emerge? Would it be a form of proletarian bonapartism? Stalin came to power in an epoch when the Russian masses were exhausted and politically defeated. This is not the case in Venezuela. The working class is aroused, conscious and very sensitive on the question of democracy, which is a main issue.

Chavez can only lean on the masses by appealing to democratic instincts: to cleanse the state apparatus of bureaucracy and careerism. This is not a recipe for a proletarian bonapartist state like Stalin’s Russia. The masses, and the workers in particular, are coming to the correct conclusions: that the workers must control their leaders and their organisations. We see this in every election, when there are protests against the rigging of the electoral lists. This is the only real safeguard against the usurpation of the Revolution by a privileged caste of bureaucrats.

Within the Bolivarian leadership, opposing tendencies are emerging, reflecting the pressures of different classes. One section wants to go further. The other demands the reintegration of the opposition. They argue that it is dangerous that the counterrevolutionaries are not in parliament (a fairly logical result of boycotting the elections). The right wing Bolivarians demand that the majority must bow to the wishes of the minority. And this is what they call democracy! Fortunately, the masses have other ideas. There have been new expropriations as a result of the workers’ initiative from below. The workers demand that the revolution be carried out to the end.

Chavez received six million votes in the referendum, but in the legislative elections only three million voted. This is a warning. A mood of impatience is growing among the workers and peasants – and particularly the advanced elements – the working class activists in the unions and the Bolivarian organisations: “We’ve had enough of this, we need to finish the Revolution”. Chavez himself has given voice to these aspirations when he talks about socialism and the need for a “Revolution within the Revolution”. He quotes Marx, Rosa Luxemburg and Trotsky. He has raised the question that Trotsky was right against Stalin when he said that socialism cannot succeed in a single country. He has said: we want socialism but not like the USSR, we must have a participatory democracy. He has even called for world socialism, quoting Marx’s slogan: “socialism or barbarism.”

Chavez has become the rallying figure for those across the continent who want to fight imperialism and capitalism. After the OAS meeting in Argentina, he spoke out against secret diplomacy, demanding the publication of the texts. After his trip to the UN, he spoke to poor people in the Bronx, advocating socialism. Chavez is a nightmare not just for the US but also for the reformist governments in Latin America. When people see what is happening in Venezuela, they put pressure on leaders like Lula, Kirchner and Vasquez. That is a serious danger from the standpoint of imperialism.

The Venezuelan revolution has begun, in the same sense that the revolution in Spain began in 1931. If the Venezuelan workers possessed a Bolshevik party of 8,000 members they would have taken power by now. But such a party doe not exist – yet. It has to be built. And how is this to be accomplished? Certainly not by proclaiming it, as the sects imagine.

To build a serious revolutionary party it is necessary to work out the correct tactics, slogans, and methods in order to connect with the mass movement, or else the party will be finished before it has begun. We take our stand on the scientific programme of Bolshevism. But it is not as simple as just repeating a few phrases from “What is to be Done?” With such a mechanical conception, we would never link with the masses.

If you make a theoretical error, it will sooner or later come back and have a practical effect. We were the only ones to call for the nationalisation of VENEPAL. This demand was opposed by the sects, and opposed by the OIR in the union leadership. Following the usual formalistic thinking of the ultra-lefts, they argued: how can we demand this of a bourgeois government? This was a thoroughly reactionary argument. The workers, however, are much more intelligent than these “Marxists”. They immediately accepted our slogan against the advice of the union leaders. In a very short time Chavez nationalised the factory.

All the sects attack us for our alleged “capitulation” before Chavez. “You must attack Chavez!” they keep on shouting. Yes, by all means shout to your hearts content, ladies and gentlemen. We have not the slightest intention of following your advice. We offer critical support to Chavez. The sects equate criticism with denunciation. That is not at all our method. You do it in the following way: if the leaders take one step forward, we will say, very good, now take another step! And you explain what is needed in a positive way. That way it is possible to get the ear of the masses.

The imperialists understand a bit more than the “Marxist” sectarians concerning the role of Hugo Chavez – hence their desire to assassinate him! The struggle within the Bolivarian movement is a reflection of the class struggle – workers on one side, imperialists and bourgeois on the other. Our tactic is to aim our fire against the oligarchy, imperialism and the right wing of the Bolivarian movement. And this is what is working.

The ultra-lefts don’t see the opportunities; instead they focus on creating a revolutionary party, which is not going anywhere. Unfortunately, sectarian elements have gained leading positions in the UNT, where they exercise a negative influence. With our small forces, we have won some important points of support, and are beginning to have an impact on the situation, starting with the occupied factories like INVEVAL. We must not exaggerate, but our tendency has had a certain effect in Venezuela. Our ideas have found an echo. Whatever happens, we can be proud of our record. It is not a question of boasting: it is an empirically verifiable fact. This International is the only one that understood the whole process in Venezuela. This is understood and appreciated by serious people. The opinions of those who are not serious are of no interest to us.

In the past, we often discussed in the abstract. Now we are acting as a revolutionary International, not a discussion club. We are active participants in the revolutionary process, not mere observers. We must discuss Venezuela on a much more concrete level. We can raise the level of the entire International on the basis of this subject alone. We must provide support to our Venezuelan section. It is not just a question of Venezuela. It is a question of the developing revolution in all Latin America. This is why Washington is terrified. Ultimately, however, it is not just South America or even North America: it is a question of the developing world revolution.

To be continued…

London, February 1, 2006

U.S. Military responsibilities for creating/operating SLAVE LABOR camps within USA

Army Regulation 210-35 dated Jan 14, 2005 - Military responsibilities for creating/operating slave labor camps within USA "1 - 1. Purpose --This regulation provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations. Sources of civilian inmate labor are limited to on-- and off--post Federal corrections facilities, State and/or local corrections facilities operating from on--post prison camps pursuant to leases under Section 2667, Title 10, United States Code (10 USC 2667), and off--post State corrections facilities participating in the demonstration project authorized under Section 1065, Public Law (PL) 103-337. Otherwise, State and/or local inmate labor from off--post corrections facilities is currently excluded from this program."

Askariya Shrine Bombing: Black Op? - CIA, MI5, Mossad, anyone???

In Iraq, things are going swimmingly for the Straussian neocons. “A large explosion heavily damaged the golden dome of one of Iraq’s most famous Shiite shrines Wednesday, spawning mass protests and triggering reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques,” reports the Associated Press. “It was the third major attack against Shiite targets this week and threatened to stoke sectarian tensions. Shiite leaders called for calm, but militants attacked Sunni mosques and a gunfight broke out between Shiite militiamen and guards at the offices of a Sunni political party in Basra. About 500 soldiers were sent to Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad to prevent clashes between Shiites and Sunnis, Army Capt. Jassim al-Wahash said.”

It makes absolutely no sense for Sunnis to bomb Shia mosques; this would be akin to Baptists bombing Catholic churches. Sectarian violence, dividing Iraqi society, does not serve Iraqis, either Sunni or Shia. It does, however, serve the occupation forces and also begins to realize the plan sketched out in Oded Yinon’s “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties” (the balkanization of Arab and Muslim society and culture), an objective shared by Jabotinsky Likudites and Straussian neocons.

“No group claimed responsibility for the 6:55 a.m. attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, but suspicion fell on Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The shrine contains the tombs of two revered Shiite imams, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.” Of course, it stands to reason the bombing was carried out by “al-Qaida in Iraq” and the dead Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in other words it was a black op carried out by the Anglo-American occupation forces, designed specifically to create religious violence, the worst sort. Only vicious and crazed Muslims would blow up the remains of descendants of the Prophet Muhammad—or American, British, and Israeli intelligence operatives or their double agent Arab lunatics, or crazies incited by Rumsfeld’s Proactive Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG), designed to “stimulate” terrorist reaction.

Recall the remarks of an anonymous senior military officer on April 22, 2004, declaring a spate of bombings in Basra had “all the hallmarks” of “al-Qaeda.” Several months later, two British “undercover soldiers” wearing “traditional Arab headscarves” were caught red-handed by Iraqi National Guard “driving a booby trapped car loaded with ammunition.”

Michel Chossudovsky: “Has the US [and Britain] created as part of a covert intelligence operation, a bogus ‘resistance movement’ made up of its own Al Qaeda sponsored ‘terrorists’? Their suicide attacks target Iraqi civilians rather than the US military. The suicide bombings tend to encourage sectarian divisions not only within Iraq, but throughout the entire Middle East. They serve Washington’s interests. They contribute to undermining the development of a broader resistance movement uniting Shia, Sunni, Kurds and Christians against the illegal occupation of the Iraqi homeland.”

Good questions, all. Of course, we shouldn’t expect the corporate media to go there.

How many and when will...


How can a man hold office when it is shown that he came by it dishonestly.

How can any group, no matter under what name be allowed to secretely meet and allow the sale of property directly affecting national security?

How many Deaths does it take to add up to Genocide?

How Many Must Die Because Of A Lie?

How many Lies must be told before you are called a Liar?

How many Facts must come to light to Prove A Conspiracy?

When is a Theory no longer a Theory?

How many people shall die before there is an end to an Illegal War?

How many lives must be snuffed out like candles in the wind because of torture and abuse before those that allow it are brought to justice?

How many Birth Defects will come to light before they place the blame on Depleted Uranium?

How many of our Service People will become sick and die before the government admits it is caused by Depleted Uranium.

How long will this government be allowed to use Depleted Uranium and Phosphorus before the World says Enough is Enough.

How many Programs must be destroyed before a Leader is Called Incompetent?

How Many More True Patriots will be ‘Slimed’ by those in office that did not, would not serve in the Armed Forces when it was their time.

How many No Bid Contracts must be handed out before a connection is made of favoritism, before an investigation? More so, when there have been charges time and time again of overcharging and failure to deliver the services paid for.

How many investigations will be stopped before it is called a Cover-up.

When will those in office be forced to accept accountability and responsibility and held accountable and responsible for their actions?

When will the punishment fit the crime? A governor receives a year for swindling 100,000.00 while a man with a family receives 2 to 5 for stealing groceries to feed his family.

How many Programs for the Poor and Elderly could be paid for with the money paid out for the pResidents many, many photo-ops around the world as he travels with his private army, his reporters, cars, Chefs and Food Tasters.

How many Beneficial Programs can be named that replaces any of the programs that have been ended or cut?

How many Katrina’s must happen to show how incompetent and ineffectual FEMA and Homeland Security really is.

How is it that our National Guard is in Iraq fighting a War they are not trained for with all their equipment when they are needed here. Doing what They Are trained for?

How is it that the very same National Guard needed here for our security will now be Cut according to pResident Bush.

How is it that we have seen Military Base closings, cuts in benefits yet Major Bases being built in places such as Iraq, a place where we are supposed to be finding a way to get out of.

How is it that we have not managed to use the right term in describing what we are doing in Iraq? One word describes it. OCCUPATION.

How is it with the Biggest Natural Disaster in our history that those affected most are Seeking Help From Other Countries because Our Own Government Will Not or is too Incompetent to Respond.

How is it when struck with a national disaster such as Katrina Aid was refused when offered by other countries, when our own was doing nothing and showing its incompetence.

How is it that the very people we need here during a Natural Disaster are not here, nor is their equipment? They are in Iraq and elsewhere.

How can you fight a War without preparing for it either going in or in coming out. Without the proper supplies and armament needed for the troops protection and well being.

How many American Citizens must die because of not being able to get food, medicine, shelter or heat before there is mention of pResident Bush Waging War on the American People.

How many republicans are busily scrapping the Bush/Cheney bumper stickers off their cars finally realizing they are supporting a Mad Man.

How many of our gentlemen career politicians wish they had the Heart of awomen like Cindy Sheehan In fact, how many of them even have the Heart to meet with her?

When will someone ask the Present Administration what Country They Work For, it is apparent they do Not Represent the American People.

How many Martha Stewarts will there be before they get one Ken Lay?

When will there be a Ceiling to Price Gouging as promised by VP Cheney?

How many Department Heads In Government actually have a working knowledge and experience at what they are doing?

When will someone in power say Enough Is Enough to the Profiteering of the Oil Companies?

When will the Petroleum Companies be forced to return some of their profits to the customers?

Why is it that the comment has been made by Congressmen that no one can read all the Bills before they are passed. What Are They Getting Paid For? Maybe they need to spend some of their vacation and recess time actually working. Hell give me what they get and I’ll do the reading for them.

Why is it those in Congress spend more time on vacations and recess than they do in office where half of them do not bother to show anyway? Yet they are called Lawmakers and are entrusted with the running of our nation. That is, the parts that not been sold off yet.

How is it that Foreign Interests own more of our country than We, the citizens do?

How is it if you follow the leader blindly and without thinking you are called a patriot, but should you question or ask for the truth you are unpatriotic.

With Petroleum Companies reporting the Largest Profits in History, why is it Bush see’s fit to allow them to sell Royalty Free to the tune of several Billion dollars.

How is it with the mass profits being made by the petroleum companies it takes a Man such as Chavez of Venezuela to help the poor of this country with heating oil.

When will Big Business be forced to Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes?

When will those in Government that Owe Taxes, Be Forced To Pay Them?

What happened to No Taxation without Representation?

How much backing should an Elected Democrat give Republican Programs before he is no longer considered a Democrat and forced from office?

How many Wars will be started on “Just Because’ without any evidence of danger to our country. Or on ‘Manufactured Evidence’.

How many TV Preachers will be allowed to call for the Assassination of Leaders of Another Country before they are Shut Down?

How can they call the Media Liberal when all you hear is Rupugnican Propaganda.

How is it they have time to preach Hate and the Republican view in the Media but no time to report the real news?

How is it when a program does not work they simply change the name, now it works. That being the case they need rename Homeland Security to Homeland Insecurity, we know that is working.

How is it that Bin Laden has such good timing? Every time Bush gets into trouble and his popularity drops, here comes a tape from Bin Laden.

How many corporations have left the United States to Manufacture in another country for cheaper wages and lower taxes but still sell their goods here for the same price as when they left?

How many people have been stranded and left homeless in other states after being taken from the Gulf Coast after Katrina?

How can a person with the mentality of a spoiled, pampered, tantrum throwing twelve year old make it past any type of mental examination and be selected to run the most powerful country in the world?

When will they finally put qualified people over programs instead of incompetents?

How can Bush Preach Democracy in other countries when he is Destroying it here at home?

When will they return to voting with a pencil and paper with a picture of the candidate by their name so they can be counted without doubt as to who won. Instead of with machines that leave no paper trail and can be tampered with by a high school student?

It is supposed to be One Person, One Vote. Why then with the Electoral College some are allowed to Vote Twice?

How is it that the members of congress with their healthy wage increase every year, their benefits, their perks and what they can swindle through their pork barrel bills are not required to put in as many working days as the average working American?

Why should it be that the Supreme Court has Lifetime Appointments when it is not allowed in any other Branch of Government. Should they not be voted in just as any other politician?

How much power will the churches have in government before they are made to pay their fair share of taxes. I pay more tax on the case of beer I buy on sunday than the church does. Not only that, I am giving a job to someone who is actually working for a living.

We have always been known for a two party system, now we are three major parties. Democrat, (for the people) Republican (for the corporations) and Republicrat (for themselves and republicans) though voted in by democrats.

The Final Question…

How long will it be before we see this Administration up on Charges High Crimes and Misdemeanors, of Treason or brought before the Hague for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity?

This is quite a list and can no doubt be added to. See how many more you can add.

Nuff said…for now
Small Town Southern Illinois

Big Oil fan after little man

Rep. Joe Barton, the powerful Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, launched a bizarre investigation last week into possible antitrust violations by a major oil company.
You will be surprised to learn that Barton, one of the top recipients in Congress of campaign donations from the energy industry, is not probing whether ExxonMobil or Chevron or any of the other oil giants engaged in price gouging when gasoline and heating oil costs skyrocketed the past few years.

No, the good congressman has set his sights on the only oil company that actually dared to lower its prices last year - at least for the poorest Americans.

In a Feb. 15 letter to Citgo, the Houston-based company owned by the Venezuelan government, Barton demanded that company officials produce by tomorrow all records, minutes, logs, e-mails and even desk calendars related to Citgo's novel program of supplying discounted heating oil to low-income communities in the United States.

The Citgo program, which kicked off late last year in Massachusetts and the South Bronx, provides oil at discounts as high as 60% off market price.

Since its inception the program has expanded to low-income communities in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island. Local politicians, desperate for ways to reduce energy costs for their constituents, have welcomed it with open arms.

Here in New York, Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel will soon announce an expansion of the Citgo program into upper Manhattan.

All of this unexpected corporate philanthropy has made Barton and other House Republicans furious. Citgo's oil-for-the-poor program, after all, was the brainchild of Hugo Chavez, the fiery populist president of Venezuela who has become one of the most strident opponents of the Bush administration.

"The bellicose Venezuelan decided to meddle in American energy policy, and we think it might prove instructive to know how," Larry Neal, deputy staff director for Barton's committee, said yesterday.

Barton's letter lists a bunch of questions he wants Citgo to answer, including "how and why were the particular beneficiaries of this program selected" and whether the program "runs afoul of any U.S. laws, including but not limited to, antitrust laws."

Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, is flabbergasted by Barton's investigation.

"The Republicans are on another planet when it comes to energy policy," Markey said.

Instead of doing something about skyrocketing oil prices, Markey said, the Republicans are probing "a charitable donation of heating oil to relieve the suffering of a few thousand American families."

Barton, however, is not as nutty as he sounds.

He is well aware that Citgo's limited discount program will have no influence on American energy policy. But it has created a huge public embarrassment for Barton's friends in the major oil companies, all of which recently announced record-shattering profits for 2005.

ExxonMobil, for example, reported $36 billion in earnings last year. That's the largest profit ever recorded by any company in the history of modern commerce. It works out to an average of $98 million in profit for every day of last year.

Oil profits have gotten so obscene that a lot of Americans are getting fed up, and pressure is mounting on Congress to do something.

That's where Barton comes in. He's the closest thing on Capitol Hill to a mouthpiece for Big Oil.

During the last election cycle, he was second only to fellow Texan Tom DeLay in the amount of oil industry contributions. During two decades in the House, Barton has raked in nearly $2 million in campaign donations from oil and electric companies.

He is such a rabid defender of the energy industry that when a group of scientists issued a damning study last year about the growing danger of global warming, Barton immediately launched one of his shotgun investigations. He fired off letters to each of the scientists and demanded that they list all the sources of their funding and provide him with their research data and notes.

Now Barton is after Citgo, the oil company that dared to do the unthinkable - lower oil prices for poor Americans.

Earth to Barton, call home.

Cheap oil and cheap shots

Reader Catherine urges me to write about the Congression inquiry into the latest threat to the United States capitalism -- the Venezuelan government's offering cheap(er) oil to poor Americans. Democracy Now! had a segment on it this morning, but I found the original AP article from a week ago even more interesting. It starts by telling us:
The House Energy chairman said Thursday he suspects politics, not charity, is behind the Venezeulan offer to provide cheap heating oil to poor Americans.
Really? Ya' think? And, after all, politics (or charity) are so much more threatening than pure capitalist greed, which is what drives Exxon and the rest of the oil companies.
The best line in the article is this:
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., chairman of the subcommittee for oversight and investigations...are concerned the oil deals are "part of an unfriendly government's increasingly belligerent and hostile foreign policy toward" the United States.
And what could be more "unfriendly," "belligerent," or "hostile" than offering cheap(er) oil to poor Americans?
"Given President Chavez's clear anti-American sentiments, his current efforts must be viewed with concern that he is attempting to politicize the debate over U.S. energy policy," Barton and Whitfield wrote.
Absolutely. Because if it weren't for Hugo Chavez, there wouldn't be the slightest hint of politics in the debate over U.S. energy policy.
Indeed, the only thing more astonishing than the nonsense (and potentially dangerous nonsense) coming from Barton and Whitfield's mouths is the almost deafening silence on this outrage from any commentators or editorial writers. One of the only comments on this subject (the subject of Venezuelan oil, that is; I couldn't find any on this Congressional "inquiry") I could find was this from the Hartford Courant, who start with this back-handed endorsement of Venezuela's actions:
So long as Congress keeps holding up federal funds for energy assistance to low-income households, Connecticut officials have every right to consider CITGO Petroleum Corp.'s offer of cheap heating oil.
So, if I have this right, they don't have "every right" to consider the offer if Congress provides federal funds for energy assistance? What kind of logic is that? Considering that the average assistance offered by the government when funds are available is less than the price of a single tank of oil, it would seem that 60% discounted oil from Venezuela would be synergistic with federal assistance, and not at all a substitute for it.
And how's this for a curious statement:
The price of CITGO's oil may be discounted, but it does carry an extra political cost. Although Venezuela is already a big supplier of oil to the United States, the leftist Mr. Chavez, a frequent critic of President Bush, is accused of coming up with the low-cost heating oil program to embarrass the White House.
Since when is it the job of anyone except George Bush and Karl Rove and Karen Hughes to be concerned about whether something will "embarrass the White House"? A "political cost" to George Bush is not the same as a political cost to the United States (not that even the latter would justify denying poor Americans any help they can get from any source whatsoever).
The Courant editorial does provide some interesting backstory:
On Capitol Hill, however, Republican senators seem to be doing a good job of embarrassing themselves. With a dozen states in the Northeast and Midwest already out of federal heating assistance (Connecticut is due to run out next month), Congress adjourned for the Presidents' Day recess without replenishing the fund.

The roots for this stalemate go back to December when GOP senators (led by Alaska's Ted Stevens) tried to sneak through a controversial measure allowing drilling for oil and gas in the protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When the strategy failed, they retaliated against their Northeastern colleagues by stripping away a provision for $2 billion in energy assistance.
$2 billion, by the way, is less than the amount that my one county, Santa Clara County, has already paid to wage war against the people of Iraq. I wonder if Mssrs. Barton and Whitfield are planning an inquiry into that scandal.

Venezuelan People Work on their own Initiatives

A French solidarity group visited El Guarataro, a populous community in Caracas, Venezuela. They were able to see firsthand how popular organizations work. Members of this barrio feel benefited by the social missions put forth by the government

Many hardworking people live in the barrio of El Guarataro, in Caracas, Venezuela. They have hope and feel satisfied with the socials plans, or missions as they are known in Venezuela, put forth by the Venezuelan government in order to improve their quality of life.

Some of these social programs, or missions, include: Mission Mercal, which aims at offering staple foods at significantly low prices; Mission Barrio Adentro, which offers free universal healthcare; Mission Robinson, created in order to eradicate illiteracy from the country; Mission Ribas, aimed at high school completion by dropouts; Mission Sucre, aimed at easing university entry to excluded sectors and Mission Milagro, which offers free eye treatment and surgery to people suffering from ophthalmologic problems.

El Guarataro has Barrio Adentro health clinics, Soup Kitchens, Mercal markets, a number of schools where educational missions are taught, among others. On this opportunity, representatives from French solidarity groups visited the community in order to witness the advances of these social plans.

Here are some testimonies from members of the community:

Ninoska González, 42

"The health clinic opened two years ago. This has been the best idea put forth by our president; we have benefited immensely. When my child suffers from asthma attacks, they treat him regardless of the time. These doctors have treated members of my family. There are also soup kitchens here. I study in the Mission Ribas. I firmly believe my country is moving forward."

Juana Sara, 66

"There are six soup kitchens in this community for the most needy. We also have Cuban doctors, who treat us at anytime. We have learned a great deal from their human quality. Some of the members of this community are currently finishing high school thanks to the Mission Ribas. We live at peace."

Luis Nieto, 50

"We have all the missions here; they are all working fine and people benefit from them. We sell coffee at the market and my children are going to school. I believe Venezuela is different now because poor people have more possibilities. I want my children to stay in school."

Humberto Mendoza, 45

"I'm the transport coordinator for the Cuban doctors here in El Guarataro. We had never seen any benefits before. Up to 100 people from this community have been sent to Cuba for eye surgery as part of the Mission Milagro. At the Barrio Adentro health clinics everybody is welcome. I feel useful now."

Carlos Velo, 64, Cuba

"We have started a senior citizens' workout club. I am a physical trainer. We work with senior citizens in activities such as dancing, gymnastics and baseball. These activities are beneficial for people who suffer from diabetes and heart problems. We came here to help the people of Venezuela. The adaptation process has been easy for us, as well as for them."

Enrique Gil, 63

"Many things have been accomplished as of yet. We need to take in all this process of change, There is a lot of enthusiasm. The victory of the Bolivarian process depends on us."

Some testimonies from the visitors:

Anne Givelet, Organization of Women for Peace and Freedom, France

"This is a very important society-building process. I believe it is working in the popular sectors. Although not everything can be accomplished at once, it looks as if this community is changing. There is hope for Venezuela."

eline García, Political Movement, France

"My heart has been moved by people's participation. Someone told us that his mother learned to read and write thanks to Mission Robinson and said that she was able to recover her dignity. The process currently underway in Venezuela is peaceful. I believe in this process. It is an example to the whole wide world."

y Maunoury, Group pf Solidarity with Latin America, France

"This is a novel and interesting process. I think people are organizing and the government supports them. There are other governments in Latin America that do not support the poor and I think here in Venezuela the government has done a great deal to help the poor. There is a lot of misinformation abroad regarding what is really going on in Venezuela. I am going to report on what I saw. There is a lot of hope and dignity."

ire Sciuto, Group pf Solidarity with Latin America, France

"We have seen exactly the opposite of what we have seen in France. Public services offered by the state are managed by the people and for the people. We are impressed at the popular organization, so much energy. People work on their own initiatives day after day."

Intellectuals: Ten Points toward Integration

Intellectuals: Ten Points toward Integration

1. - What is an intellectual? An intellectual is someone whose work consists on integrating signs and symbols instead of manipulating physical objects. He or she uses the acquired knowledge to intervene in social matters.

Debates about whether an intellectual has social responsibilities are futile. An intellectual who does not intervene in social issues is not an intellectual; he or she is merely an specialist, an accountant calculating spreadsheets instead of reality. Einstein, who opened the doors to the atomic age, first asked for an atomic bomb to be used against fascism, then he asked for the atomic bomb not to be used in subsequent wars. He was an intellectual. He intervened in social fields that were not theoretically his specialty but they concerned him as a human being. That is an intellectual.

2. - Do intellectuals have social responsibilities?

Yes they do. We all have responsibilities as human beings. Nonetheless, that responsibility is directly proportional to our powers. Anyone has responsibilities for what they say. Anyone can curse, insult or aggravate. However, if someone has the possibility of multiplying his/her words on a 5,000-edition book, he/she has 5,000 more responsibilities. Whoever has access to an op-ed in a newspaper and multiplies his/her voice 360 thousand times has the same amount of responsibilities. Whoever has access to a TV network reaching millions of viewers has millions of responsibilities as well.

In that sense, it is it not only about responsibility but also as a social fact. Speech is what links societies or the opposite. However, in this case there are multiple responsibilities, as the reach of the responsibility grows, so does the reach of the intellectual powers.

3. - What has been the responsibility of intellectuals in Latin America? What must it be?

Latin America and the Caribbean, as we know them, is an intellectual creation. It was invented by a Spanish linguist named Lebrija, who proposed the Spanish kings to write a grammar, a manual of signs and symbols. It was a tool for the empire to dominate the territories about to be dominated. Using quills, papyrus, old bibles and other tools, the Spanish empire was able to create a culture running from Rio Grande to the Patagonia. An Pompeian task taking into consideration the limited resources. The printing press was only used in some provinces and not until a few decades before independence. But in reality, our culture exists and that is what allows us to call ourselves Latin Americans, from the Caribbean basin to the highlands of Peru and Bolivia. At the same time, we also received an immense number of cultures and languages. We can communicate with each other.

There are two factors in our culture: language and religion. Christianity here is a mix with indigenous icons and African deities smuggled into the continent, an extraordinary syncretism. We ought to preserve it and multiply it, creating a new political, economical, and social reality. I would say that that is the task of the intellectuals.

4. - How can we embark on this task?

First of all, we must deal with the main instrument: we have to defend the Spanish language and other languages in the region. One example is Puerto Rico, where speaking Spanish is a compromise and a defense of our language, making it richer, softer, more impressive and interesting.

We need to reestablish our links with Spain. We have a cultural heritage with them. We must establish that bond, just like Nicaraguan poet Ruben Darío did with the Spanish Modernism, and the other way around with the so-called Boom of the 60’s.

Likewise, we must take a look inside ourselves. A great example of the latter is the fact that Brazil has just enacted a law that considers Spanish a first language to be taught at public schools. The rest of the continent should follow suit. There is nothing sweeter than Brazilian Portuguese. Almost all Brazilians speak the so-called portuñol, which is nothing else than a perfectly understandable form of Spanish. However, us Spanish speakers cannot even muter a word in Portuguese. It is a shame. It is our duty to go beyond that border that separates our other Latin American half, Brazil. We should also keep the integrity of our indigenous languages, which in some countries are spoken by up to 70% of the population. There should be a bilingual and bicultural education that allows indigenous communities to develop their own languages and access Spanish or Portuguese information may they feel the need to do so.

5. - Latin American intellectuals must fight for an academic reform in all universities of the region. In Venezuela, for example, law school at the Central University does not have courses on hydrocarbons and mining law. Actually, oil and mining is absent from most courses at that university. We have to rethink our academic curricula in order to adapt them to our reality.

How many universities in our continent lack a Latin American History faculty!? And if they do, it is totally biased and outdated. But the worse part is that they are just not there.

All the education programs in each level have to include studies abut our realities, our cultures, our history, our economy, our society, our political reality. Along with that, we have to build an intercommunication system so that we can really set ourselves up as the nation we are. These programs must seek information so that there can be some kind of automatic validity from one border to another. There is no difference among us, but when we get to the academic sector, we find a wall higher than the Chinese one. That has to be one of the tasks we have to carry out in order to achieve an entire integration.

6- That task also includes the following: Shaping Latin American Studies Institutes. In the United States, there are about 300 Latin American Studies Institutes that scrutinize everything we do. How many similar institutes do we have in Latin America?

We have many fantasies, but we are very short of things like the House of the Americas in Cuba, the Institute of Caribbean History, and the “Jetulio Vargas” Foundation in Brazil. In Venezuela, the “Rómulo Gallegos” Institute was founded with big intentions, but there was some kind of volunteer strangling due to lack of money so that it could not be the great institution it was planed to be. There should be several Latin American Studies Institutes in every country. These institutes can help promote and study the Latin American and Caribbean nation. They can be centers for gathering, for exchanging experiences, for promotion, for publishing books, for making films. This task has to be carried out everywhere.

7- We need diplomatic agreements. We just have small agreements. We need a big agreement that really sets the free intercommunication of goods in Latin America, the free exchange of films, books, records, and work of arts as long as they do not belong to our heritage, which has been looted along the decades. Furthermore, this agreement should categorically solve - the problems of studies validity. All these elements should be categorize with diplomatic laws.

8- Intellectuals must be active members in institutions that can multiply and spread our reinforcement. We are talking about networks like the Defense Network for Humanity. Intellectuals live according to an isolation ritual since it is true that creation is a moment of solitude, and that sometimes leads us to think that there is no absence and that there are not other intellectuals.

9- There are also cultural newspapers that act as censorship agencies with hidden lists of intellectuals that they do not mention. So we have to be militants in this kind of organizations that head towards the social, political and cultural action. I would also dare to say that we have to be militants in the media.

Sometimes intellectuals undervalue the media, but it is our duty to be militants in the widely-known media of each time. When Dostoievsky and Honorato de Balzac wrote novels and for newspapers, they were regarded everything but writers, they were unanimously despised since they used such a common media. That media was the vehicle for the big masterpieces of the XIX Century because someone was determined to use it. As they open the door for us, we have to move the foot, then the knee, and come in. And we have to be in there until we are kicked out with proscription lists, which are praiseworthy. Intellectuals should not censor themselves; they should not be quiet when they are censored; they must be stronger than hatred and spread their messages through the most diverse ways. This stimulates creativity. There is nothing like being in an underground place where everything is censored in order to start inventing things.

10- Finally, I would say that a network like the Defense Network for Humanity should reconsidered the role of intellectuals. Intellectuals like to think they are people that know everything and want to spread their knowledge among the crowds. On the contrary, we see things from inside and we know that we do not know anything. We are intellectuals because we want to learn. Currently, a prodigious phenomenon restarts another revolutionary cycle within humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the boom of social movements. Society has started its engine without parties, leaders, and sometimes without programs. It is achieving results; it is demolishing the IMF policies; it is overthrowing governments, it is accepting its own social reforms; it is defending water.

Intellectuals have to approach that movement. We have to try to understand what is going on and how society gets organized. I have always said that World War IV began in Venezuela on February 27, 1989, when the people – without leaders, or programs – revolted against a IMF program nationwide. Another period started within the world affairs on that day.

We should try to spread these social movements; we should try to become their spokespeople and to reconstitute societies by making political parties and the State serve these movements and economy serve this social block. We also must try to understand, facilitate, intercommunicate, an act as a communication and legitimization for this movement.

We have a prodigious and beautiful task: attending the world’s birth. Latin America and the Caribbean are a reality shaped by culture. They should acquire a categorical, undeniable, palpable and unstoppable reality.

Luis Brito García, Venezuelan writer

Friday, February 24, 2006

Creating Socialism in this Century in Venezuela

Long-time Venezuelan activist and deputy to the Latin American Parliament Carolus Wimmer will be touring Australia in late February-early March, hosted by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. Green Left Weekly’s Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter interviewed Wimmer in Caracas about the challenges facing Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution.

Wimmer has been a member of the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) since 1971 and is the party’s international relations secretary. He is the founding director of the journal Debate Abierto (Open Debate) and produces several radio programs on Venezuela’s state-run National Radio.

What is your opinion of the present stage of the revolutionary process in Venezuela?

The process has gone forward in very many important areas in the last few years. We have to remember that it is a political struggle. We still have a capitalist system — we don’t have the illusion that we are yet living in the “socialism of the 21st century”.

That’s the future. But President Hugo Chavez has demonstrated that he wants to change important parts of the system, and this may be the first step in a transition to a post-capitalist system. There is a deep, ongoing understanding that we must get rid of the capitalist system. To do that, we must be successful in implementing the social programs. There are five areas for revolutionary change: political, economic, social, territorial and international.

In the political sphere, we have gone forward with the new constitution. It is very democratic, especially in regards to the rights of working people, rather than the upper class. We have had seven different elections, including the half-term recall referendum in 2004 — a remarkable demonstration of a new, more democratic system.

Now, we have the struggle for participatory democracy. The aim is to give the people more rights and direct participation in the decision-making process. It’s not enough just to ask for the people’s opinion, and then still do whatever those in power want.

At present, too many people in political positions are still thinking in the old way. This struggle for participatory democracy is now centred in the local municipal councils, where there is a real discussion and participation by the people.

In future, we have to advance in the way candidates are selected. It’s too centralised at present. The PCV now has eight members in the National Assembly (AN), including the second vice-president. But this is due to the close relationship between Chavez and the PCV. Previously, we were mostly excluded from the parliament.

In the government coalition, the Movement for a Fifth Republic [MVR, Chavez’s party] represents 90% of the voters — because it represents a vote for Chavez. Other parties included are Podemos, the PPT [Fatherland for All] and the PCV. The PCV has the most votes of these three, and for that reason is represented in the National Assembly, the Latin American Parliament and the Andean Parliament.

There is now a special situation, because the opposition parties are not in parliament [after they boycotted the December AN elections]. It could be that they will not participate in the presidential elections, either. They have no chance, but will not admit it. They will probably go with abstention, and say: “We have 50-60% against Chavez!” We hope not, but it is possible they will boycott the election.

Why was the voter turnout relatively low in the AN elections?

There are a number of different reasons. Many of the people support Chavez, but not the political parties. The PCV started two years ago to work with the organised popular movement. Last year, we said to the MVR that the popular organisations need to be represented at the round table of discussion and decision-making, but there is a typical vision of a strong ruling party that rules alone. This opinion is different to that of Chavez and most of the main leaders, however.

The PCV ran in the elections for mayors and the AN, not with the parties, but in alliance with the social movements. It was important that we had a list of candidates including PCV members and members of the social movements. We had great success. We jumped from 50,000 to 150,000 votes. It changed the vision of our party. The PCV is an old, historic party, with a strong public image relating to our martyrs and our political prisoners, but a bit old-fashioned. This marks a new stage; these elections have allowed us to grow stronger.

What is the chance of building a new party, or alliance, to unite the MVR and the other political parties and create a new leadership?

The future will show if this can happen. There is widespread agreement that we need it, but at the moment we do not propose a new party — we’re not yet ready. A party needs a program, a more or less united ideological vision and a more or less agreed idea of a structure. And a lack of egoism.

There are some important historical leaders, like the director of the newspaper Diario Vea, who have been arguing for a new party. But, in my opinion, any decision of the leaders to establish a new party without the involvement of the members will not be accepted unless it is fully discussed from the bottom to the top.

On the other hand, there are great ideological differences. The MVR, for example, is a movement around Chavez, but it is not Chavez. He stands outside the party. There are even some right-wing people, originally from Democratic Action [AD] and COPEI, who are now in the MVR. Some members are just looking for jobs in the strongest government party. And if you are looking for a program of the MVR, you won’t find it.

It is very difficult to agree among the parties at present. We are looking for an alliance. It is important that we sit around the table to make common decisions, but right now there is no table. Widespread political discussion is essential. Also, it is not enough to make an alliance only for elections. Our objective is not just to have eight parliamentarians.

What is the current state of the right-wing political opposition?

After the defeat of the coup in 2002, there was a great debate among the opposition as to who was to blame. This is a welcome change, as it has usually been the left who have been divided after defeats!

The opposition forces have great ideological differences, and have nothing to offer their supporters. “Chavez must go!”, they say. But, after him, what? There are different leaders, and it has been impossible to agree on a united opposition candidate for president.

In 1998, the US forced them to present a united candidate, Salas Romer, but the right-wing parties would not accept him. Very few members of AD would accept the candidate from Primero Justicia, Julio Borges, for example. He is white, separated from the people, and is anti-women.

Where does the middle class in Venezuela stand today?

Frustrated at home. They lost a lot of money through their small commercial businesses [during the oil boycott and bosses’ lock-out of December 2002-February 2003 that aimed to destabilise the Chavez government]. They were forced to close for three months, vainly hoping that Chavez would disappear. Many of the leaders of the opposition are now in Miami. They are seen as “traitors”. They cannot mobilise anybody. Carlos Ortega [the former head of the pro-boss “union” CTV and a leader of the 2002 failed coup] is now in prison, and does not receive any solidarity or support from anybody.

Very few people in the middle class have changed their position. Politically, they will not agree with Chavez. But they will not go on a second adventure with the opposition. They are very divided and leaderless.

The lack of organised opposition is a problem for Chavismo also. There are things that don’t work in the system and there is still much corruption. At the big rally [on February 4, protesting US aggression against Venezuela] and on Alo Presidente [Chavez’s weekly television show, on February 5], Chavez spoke about the corruption, the bureaucracy, and faults.

What is the role of the social missions and the social movements, in putting mass pressure on the bureaucracy?

The major transition will begin in 2007. Before that there is great danger. If Chavez wins the December 2006 presidential election, the main discussion of socialism will begin then.

It is a very difficult subject. Nobody knows what socialism is and previously people commonly thought of it as a bad thing. Chavez is not prepared to discuss it in detail at this stage. The US will try to use the issue of “socialism” to attack Chavez prior to the election. Venezuela faces a real danger from the US in this period.

Next year, assuming Chavez wins the presidential election, the subject of socialism will be widely discussed. To build socialism in Venezuela is very difficult; it must be seen within the context of the economy of all of Latin America.

Another danger in the lead-up to December is that [the employers’ organisation] Fedecameras is trying to accommodate to this theme, saying, “Let’s participate, let’s build a better 'national socialism’ to better exploit the workers”.

In this discussion of socialism, we need to stress the transformation of the state. The missions [which are providing health care, education, food and other basic needs to the poor majority] mean that the existing state apparatus is not working.

For example, you have a huge ministry of education, with a minister who says he is a Chavista, with 100,000 employees, who are not going to work beyond 5pm. We can’t just say to the people that we will have a five-year plan, and then we will show you the first results. Chavez needs to show results immediately. The existing ministries of education and housing don’t show results. [The health mission] Barrio Adentro is the real ministry of health.

The solution is class struggle. For us in the PCV, soon there must be a great explosion between the capitalists and their bureaucracy and the working class. At the moment, it is undercover. You don’t have official representatives of the capitalist class operating. They are all working outside the country in the counter-revolution. This struggle will come, and we can’t say for sure who will win. The US is also playing a key role in this battle.

The US is currently bogged down in Iraq. What is it doing to confront Venezuela and the rising Latin American revolution in its own backyard?

Undoubtedly, the US has made many mistakes, but it is trying to control the whole world and can’t do it. The US has shown that it is not able to construct, but it has the clear capacity to destroy.

Chavez says it will be a 100-year war, but Venezuela knows that the major fight may come very soon. Chavez spoke of needing more arms, of the need for 1 million reservists to be ready. We hope it will not come soon, but the US cannot accept the Venezuelan revolution continuing for another seven years [another presidential term].

A great problem for us is Brazil. If Lula loses the presidential election in November — and the US will do everything to make sure he loses — it will be very hard for us. Latin America without Brazil is not the same.

Although there have been many criticisms of Lula, if Lula loses, the difficulties for Venezuela would be very great. There are also many problems in Argentina. But without Lula and [Argentinian President Nestor] Kirchner, Venezuela would face severe pressures.

We think that the experience of the April 2002 coup indicates that the Bush administration was not united in its approach to Venezuela. The State Department had one approach and the Pentagon another.

A military solution is advocated by those interested primarily in the oil industry. Direct military intervention means exploitation of Venezuelan oil for the US. In his January 31 State of the Union address, President Bush said he will invest in new energy solutions, accepting that the US cannot resolve the energy crisis. The idea that he can take Iraqi oil for the US has failed completely. It would take some years for the US to build a political opposition in Venezuela. We don’t believe they can do it.

The other position is advocated by the CIA — assassination. The problem is that the US is not acting alone. There is Mossad, for example — the Israelis have interests here. There is also Colombia, the oil interests, the narco-traffickers. All would like to murder Chavez. It is a very dangerous situation. At the moment, a political solution is very far away for the US — it will not prevent Chavez from winning the Venezuelan elections.

On the other hand, no-one knows what will happen if Chavez is eliminated. Maybe a revolution. At the moment, there are more opportunities for the revolution than two years ago. The social missions continue to grow stronger.

But there are many challenges. There is the problem of corruption. And Chavez has promised many things that cannot yet be delivered, such as the resolution of the housing crisis. But, on the other hand, there is also the possibility that Latin America will change completely in our favour in the near future.

Tell us about the relations between Cuba and Venezuela.

The relationship between Cuba and Venezuela is essential to the Venezuelan revolution and the close friendship between Chavez and [Cuban President] Fidel Castro is very important to this process.

Many administrative problems can be solved at the highest level. To construct socialism we need the experience of the past. The missions were initiated by the Cubans, because Venezuelan professionals did not understand their importance.

Through this international solidarity, the Cuban people are also creating a different future for themselves with Venezuelan help. Venezuelan oil helps Cuba, as do other products.

We are engaged in bilateral assistance and we are working together to help other Latin American countries. Both Cuba and Venezuela are involved in Mision Milagro [Mission Miracle for operations on eyesight] in Bolivia. The literacy campaign will be transferred to other Latin American countries, with Cuban knowledge and Venezuelan personnel and finances.

What is the importance of international solidarity for Venezuela?

In the end, the fight will be in our own countries. We must understand the aim of Che Guevara to create “Two, three, many Vietnams!” With the power of the US, and its massive destructive capacity, it’s impossible to build socialism in one country.

To give a concrete example, the 2002 coup was closely related to Iraq. The US thought it could rapidly control Venezuela, and then move on Iraq.

People will struggle historically, but the outcomes will depend on the political detail. On the reverse side of the equation, the fact that the Iraq situation is so difficult for the US has benefited Venezuela.

The most important thing for international solidarity is that there is a struggle in your own countries against neoliberalism and globalisation so that your own governments are preoccupied with these struggles. The role of the international media is important. For example, we don’t find out what is happening in Australia through the normal media outlets. We get a false image of the fight inside these countries. We need newspapers like Green Left Weekly to get a true picture.

The brigades are important to international solidarity. It would be good to bring a group of doctors and other professional people to see the reality of Venezuela. In this digital world, the important thing is direct human communication.

For the left, it is very important to discuss the new examples here in Venezuela. Maybe you can’t export the idea of the missions, or maybe you can. For us in the world left, it is important to discuss the Bolivarian revolution and the idea of socialism in this century.

In Latin America, after the historic defeats, we thought it was impossible to do anything against the dominant capitalist system. But now we can see it is possible. Promotion of solidarity is very important, with the exchange of visits, and direct personal communication and theoretical discussion. This is how we can advance international solidarity from both sides.