Published on 22 November 2015 by TeleSur English
Argentina’s president-elect, Mauricio Macri, vowed to make drastic changes Monday to open up the economy to investors and rearrange foreign ties after his electoral victory over government-backed Peronist candidate Daniel Scioli on Sunday. “You made the impossible possible,” Macri of the Let’s Change coalition said to supporters Sunday night. Indeed, Macri’s victory marks the first time the corporate elite-aligned, right-wing has come to power in Argentina through democratic means.
Macri, a businessman and former mayor of Buenos Aires, has promised to cut capital controls and trade restrictions in the name of boosting the ailing economy. He is also expected to cut subsidies to energy and transportation sectors. "The is the beginning of a new era that has to carry us toward the opportunities we need to grow and progress," Macri said to supporters Sunday night.
Critics say Macri’s proposals will turn the country back to 1990s neoliberalism, rolling back the social welfare programs of President Cristina Fernandez and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, which have benefited poor and working class Argentines.
By Eva Gollinger. Published on 18 November 2015 by Telesur English
Edward Snowden revealed to the world the 21st century spycraft in use against millions of innocent, unknowing people who now think twice about sending a text or an email. Amongst the documents obtained by Snowden were reports and details on surveillance of current and former heads of state, many of them from Latin America. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff was outraged over revelations of NSA espionage against her government, including wiretaps of her own phone and email. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was another major target of NSA operations. And now, Snowden has revealed the extensive espionage and penetration of the NSA in Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA, the lifeblood of the South American nation and fuel of Chavez's Bolivarian revolution.
Just three years before Edward Snowden became a household name, whistleblower organization WikiLeaks had already released a massive trove of classified and secret documents from the Pentagon and State Department that exposed U.S. government involvement in coups, destabilization campaigns, mass espionage and war crimes. The dirty tactics, strong-arming and back-stabbing revealed in internal State Department cables shed glaring light on the lengths Washington will go to impose its agenda. Allies are treated as enemies, and adversaries as partners, so long as it advances the self-serving objectives of U.S. power.
None of what Snowden or WikiLeaks revealed, as incredulous as it seemed to many, was surprising in Latin America. The region has been subjected to every tactic in the CIA book to ensure U.S. domination and control of its “backyard”. Throughout most of the 20th century, U.S. backed coup d’etats and interventions placed and removed heads of government, imposing School of the Americas-trained dictators that tortured, assassinated, disappeared, persecuted and incarcerated tens of thousands of civilians, disrupting and destabilizing their democratic, progressive movements and spiraling their nations into decades of darkness and brutality. When the dictators no longer served U.S. goals, they were switched out through coups or electoral processes heavily funded by U.S. agencies, ensuring an equally subservient leader would fill their shoes.
It wasn’t until the beginning of the 21st century, with the election in Venezuela of President Hugo Chavez, that the region began to liberate itself from Washington’s iron grip. Chavez opened the door to a sweeping tide that brought progressive, leftist leaders to power, elected by widespread majorities in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, Honduras and El Salvador. Of course the resilience of Cuba for nearly half a century subjected to a crippling U.S. economic blockade and endless CIA attempts to destroy and destabilize their system, was the bedrock of the leftist rise that transformed and liberated the region.
After Chavez was elected in 1998 and began to implement changes affecting powerful interests, changes that would redistribute wealth and nationalize control over strategic resources such as oil and gas, the U.S. backed a coup against him in 2002 that briefly removed him from power and installed a U.S. selected dictador, businessman Pedro Carmona. When Venezuelans took to the streets to reclaim their democracy, bringing Chavez back to power, Washington continued funding and overseeing efforts to destabilize his government, undermine his policies and debilitate Venezuela’s economy and international trade.
Published on 4 November 2015 by Telesur English
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has bet his iconic mustache that the government will meet its target of completing the construction of a million new homes by 2016.
“I'll make a bet: if by December 31 we do not reach one million new homes I will shave off my mustache,” said the president during his weekly Tuesday speech broadcast on local media.
The plan to build a million new homes by the end of 2015 is part of the Great Housing Mission Venezuela, which was an initiative started by late President Hugo Chavez in 2011. The plan was to build thousands of homes that would be 80 percent subsidized by the government for families living in poverty.
As of Oct. 14, Venezuela had created 742,510 homes, said Minister of Habitat and Housing Manuel Quevedo. That same month, the minister announced it would prioritize the housing mission and double the number of workers dedicated to building new homes for the homeless. The official also said that in the first 10 months of the year, 100,000 homes had been built. In January the ministry put the number of completed housing units at just under 676,000, suggesting the government is building an average of more than 200 units each day
The mission has now constructed a total of 752,585 housing units, Housing Minister Manuel Quevedo said. In January the ministry put the number of completed housing units at just under 676,000, suggesting the government is building an average of more than 200 units each day. This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address:
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Maduro then called on construction workers to help him win the bet, saying he did not want to lose his ‘stache.
“I tell my brothers and sisters, the men and women construction workers and engineers: Work so that I do not have to cut my mustache! No it's a lie. I'm kidding. Work because our people need to have their homes,” he said.
Published on 2 November 2015 by Telesur English
The 33 member countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) are set to agree on a joint position that for the first time ever the bloc will present at a COP climate change summit. The CELAC is meeting this week in Ecuador to discuss their position to be presented in the upcoming COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris U.N. Climate Conference, officials said Monday.
The foreign and environment ministries of the regional organization will meet on Thursday and Friday in the Ecuadorean capital Quito, to elaborate the draft that will be presented in December in Paris, which has been billed as the most important climate summit in history. The meeting will take place at Union of South American Countries (UNASUR) headquarters.
Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to play a very important role at the COP21, since the region has over the past years shown a strong commitment in forging very important global agreements to address climate change.
The Bolivian city of Cochabamba last month held the Second World People’s Conference on Climate Change, during which President Evo Morales along with his colleagues from Ecuador, Rafael Correa, and Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, agreed to speak for the “Pachamama,” or Mother Earth, and civil society during the COP21 summit in Paris.
Published on 31 October by Telesur English
Close to 20 million Venezuelans have received free healthcare from the government's Barrio Adentro program, President Nicolas Maduro said Friday.
"It's the largest and most powerful humanitarian mission ever conceived in Venezuela – perhaps in the world,” Maduro said, referring to Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighborhood). The program provides free healthcare to the public, with a focus on aiding poor and rural regions.
Celebrating the 15th anniversary of a bilateral agreement with Cuba that led to the creation of Barrio Adentro, Maduro said the health program has provided over 731 million consultations. This means on average, the mission is helping over 6000 people an hour.
Just under 2 million surgical procedures have been conducted by Barrio Adentro, and over 1 million Venezuelans have been treated for vision problems by another health initiative, Mission Milagro (Miracle Mission).
Overall, Barrio Adentro has now directly provided care to two thirds of Venezuela's population of 30 million, according to official figures.
Published on 30/09/15 by Jacobin
Rafael Correa’s administration began in 2007 as another important wave in Latin America’s “pink tide.” It was considered by many to be — along with Venezuela and Bolivia — the most radical of those anti-neoliberal governments.
Over the last few years, however, debates have raged within Ecuador about the nature of the administration, Correa’s use of executive power, the government’s policies toward indigenous peoples, and its relationship to broader social movements.
With these debates raging, we recently spoke to Guillaume Long, Ecuador’s minister of culture and a leading member of the governing Alianza País party, about the situation in the country. In what follows, he responds sharply to the criticism the government has been receiving both inside the country and from portions of the international left.
Published on 12 October 2015 by Venezuela Analysis
One of Venezuela’s main rural social movements, the Revolutionary Bolivar and Zamora Tide (CRBZ), has publicly denounced what it describes as the politically motivated murder of one of its activists, Luis Hernando Lázaro Chávez, last Tuesday, October 6th. A press release issued by the collective states that communal council spokesperson Lázaro Chávez was killed in a machete attack at his rural home in Tachira state on the Venezuela-Colombia border last week.
According to statements made by a CRBZ spokesperson to Venezuelanalysis, two assailants took advantage of a blackout in the area to enter Lázaro Chávez’s home and immediately decapitate the victim. The attackers also cut off the fingers of a minor who was in the house during the incident and one of the victim’s daughters remains in hospital after having received several blows from a machete.
To date, the local community has accused two Colombian residents of having carried out the attack. The CRBZ accuses both of belonging to “irregular groups” of former paramilitaries alleged to have been demobilised during the government of Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010). Former paramilitaries and criminal gangs are known to operate on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, often forcing residents to pay a “protection” fee known as a “vacuna”.
Published on 29 September 2015 by Alexander Main & Dan Beeton for Jacobin Mag
Earlier this summer, the world watched Greece try to resist a disastrous neoliberal diktat and get a painful thrashing in the process.
When Greece’s left government decided to hold a national referendum on the troika-imposed austerity program, the European Central Bank retaliated by restricting liquidity for Greek banks. This triggered a prolonged bank closure and plunged Greece further into recession.
Though Greek voters ended up massively rejecting austerity, Germany and the European creditor cartel were able to subvert democracy and get exactly what they wanted: complete submission to their neoliberal agenda.
In the last decade and a half, a similar fight against neoliberalism has been waged across the breadth of an entire continent, and mostly outside of the public eye. Although Washington initially sought to quash all dissent, often employing even fiercer tactics than those used against Greece, Latin America’s resistance to the neoliberal agenda has in large part been successful. It’s an epic tale that’s gradually coming to light thanks to continued exploration of the massive trove of US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
Neoliberalism was firmly implanted in Latin America long before Germany and the eurozone authorities began force-feeding structural adjustment to Greece and other indebted, peripheral countries. Through coercion (e.g., conditions attached to IMF loans) and indoctrination (e.g., the US-backed training of the region’s “Chicago Boys”), the US succeeded in spreading the gospel of fiscal austerity, deregulation, “free trade,” privatization, and draconian public sector downsizing throughout Latin America by the mid-1980s.
Telesur indepth special: Paramilitaries in Venezuela
The phenomenon of paramilitary groups in Venezuela is on the rise, according to the country's government. President Nicolas Maduro revealed last month that there are 30 different Colombian paramilitary groups operating inside Venezuela
Paramilitary groups have mainly developed in Colombia, but the model was “exported” throughout the region during the Cold War. Today, paramilitary groups operate in Mexico, Honduras, and more recently in Paraguay
Venezuela, however, was relatively free from paramilitary forces – although there have been small guerrilla groups operating inside the country and land distribution issues – until 1997
In Febrary 1997, detained paramilitary groups were connected to wealthy landlords and had detailed maps of the border region of Apure. The men claimed they were hired by the Venezuelan Gen. Enrique Medina Gomez
Carlos Castaño, the leader of Colombia’s most famous paramilitary group, the United Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), confirmed later that same year that he had met with 140 Venezuelan businesspeople and landlords to create a similar paramilitary structure as the one he led in Colombia, particularly in border regions