By Joe Emersberger. Published on 26 January 2016 by Telesur English

An Economist article published Jan. 19 states that poverty in Venezuela “has stayed stubbornly static since 2000.”

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The blue line in the graph below shows World Bank numbers for poverty in Venezuela from 1999 to 2013.

Income poverty increased to over 60 percent by 2003 as result of a briefly successful coup in April of 2002 and a shutdown of the oil industry from December 2002 until February 2003. Both these acts of political and economic sabotage were supported by opposition groups funded by the U.S. government. Poverty, as shown in the graph, steadily declined after the government finally wrested control over the state oil company from opponents determined to overthrow the government. By 2013, the poverty rate had fallen by half. The Economist’s dishonesty in saying that poverty “stayed stubbornly static since 2000” is amazing, but such dishonesty about Venezuela dominates the international media’s coverage. The Economist need not fear being embarrassed by any high-profile rebuttal appearing in any Western newspaper or magazine at any end of the political spectrum.

Despite the serious economic problems of the last two years, Venezuela’s poverty rate is probably still significantly lower than its level in 2000, and drastically lower than what opposition sabotage had brought it to in 2003. Recall that we are discussing income poverty which does not account for government provided food, education and housing for low income people.

The Economist article also said that the “IMF estimates that Venezuela’s GDP shrank by about 10 percent in 2015, making it the world’s worst performing economy. The government admits the contraction was 7.1 percent  up to the third quarter of 2015.”

We can forgive readers who don’t have time to check the Economist’s sources for concluding that the government has “admitted” a 7.1 percent drop in GDP in the first nine months of 2015. The 7.1 percent figure really covers an entire year: the third quarter of 2014 compared to the third quarter of 2015. The document the Economist cited actually said that GDP fell 4.5 percent in the first nine months of 2015.

Read more The Economist’s latest whoppers on Venezuela

Published on 29 January 2016 by Telesur English

haiti election crisis

Haiti's President Michel Martelly announced that he will not leave his post in government next week if another leader is not elected into office, saying he will not leave the country “in the midst of uncertainty.” 

The announcement comes after widespread protests over alleged electoral fraud in October's presidential elections led to the indefinite suspension of the second round of voting. 

Despite the election suspension, there was some speculation that Martelly would still leave office by his Feb. 7 deadline with an interim government installed in his place, however the president shot down these plans Thursday. 

“I will not accept handing over power to those who do not want to go to elections,” said Martelly. “After February 7, if you have not reached an agreement, I will not leave the country in the midst of uncertainty,” added the Haitian president. 

The current political crisis goes back many years, however, according to Haitian historian Susy Castor, talking to teleSUR. “Its an expression of situations that haven’t been solved for over a century, from when we had the North American occupation in 1915 … and the post occupation system hasn’t solved our problems.”

Amidst the political crisis, it was also revealed Friday that President of the Electoral Council, Pierre-Louis Opont, was resigning from his post.Opont announced his decision to the president via a letter Thursday, which was leaked to the press Friday. The resignation had long been demanded by the opposition and Haiti's economic forum who accused the former electoral president of fraud in the first round of the presidential elections in October. 

The future of Haiti's elections are unclear, but the opposition wants Martelly to step down and the president of the Supreme Court to lead an interim government in his stead. They have also asked the top court to investigate allegations of electoral fraud as well as replace the members of the country's electoral authority and set a new date for elections.

Published on 25 January 2016 by Granma

trinidad and tobago

In the midst of the Caribbean, stand the “Twin Towers,” as the Eric Williams Financial Complex, located on Independence Square, Port of Spain, is known to locals.

There is no other building as tall as this in Trinidad and Tobago, nor the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean, consisting of a pair of 22-story skyscrapers at a height of 302 feet (92m). Its construction, managed by architecture firm Anthony C. Lewis Partnership, started in 1979 and was completed in 1986. The first tower of the complex houses the country’s Central Bank, while the second is home to the Ministry of Finance.

The complex, also known as Eric Williams Plaza, was named after Eric Eustace Williams, first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and also a noted historian and founder of the People's National Movement (1955).

However, a few days on this island were enough to discover that “Sweet T&T”, as Trinidadians refer to their country, is a site of coincidences. Because there, in the northern central region of the island of Trinidad, which “floats” adjacent to the Orinoco Delta, stands another building with the same name, whose significance, at least in terms of life and death, is much more striking.

They say the omen is usually “bad” when one arrives at the emergency room of a hospital. Perhaps it seemed so for the young man – about whom Dr. Rodolfo Arozarena Fundora now talks – who probably did not realize that Cuban hands, along with others from this land, were working to reverse his bleak prognosis. This is just one of the many stories that the Cuban medical brigade, collaborating in the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, has to tell.

Read more Good news for the Eric Williams Medical Sciences complex

Published on 26 January 2016 by Granma

marti

The ideas of José Martí are central to Cuba’s history and represent the embodiment of the nation’s identity. What is more, without Martí there would be no Fidel, because Fidel is a successor, a consequence, a fruit of the good tree named José Martí, stated outstanding Brazilian theologian, Frei Betto, speaking with Granma, January 25 during the inauguration of the Second International Conference

“With all, for the good of all.” During the event, held in the Havana Convention Center, Frei Betto, spoke about his symposium entitled ‘The role of ethics in development policies,’ stressing the importance of this issue for the island, currently working toward the normalization of relations with the United States, and updating of its economic model. 

Among others in attendance at the opening ceremony were Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, first vice president of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, and a member of the Party Political Bureau; Armando Hart Dávalos, director of the Martí Program Office; José “Pepe” Mujica, former president of Uruguay; and Ernesto Samper, secretary general of the Union of South American Nations 

Published on 24 January 2016 by Telesur English

maduro congress

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has announced the establishment of a committee to oversee the creation of a revolutionary assembly Saturday.

The assembly will bring together the country's progressive social movements and socialist politicians to reinvigorate the Bolivarian Revolution, according to the president.

Later Saturday, Maduro oversaw the first meeting of an interim committee, which will lead to the creation of the broader people's congress, being called the Congreso de la Patria, or Congress of the Homeland.

Saturday afternoon 100 people were sworn-in to the committee, and will be in charge of mobilizing Venezuelans into the local assemblies, starting Sunday.

Venezuelan Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz said people will discuss four main things; new forms of organization, building a new cultural hegemony, building a new productive economic model, and diversifying methods of struggle.

The congress “can’t be a just closing ourselves in to debate, it has to take up public spaces and use all the different cultural and communication mechanisms (that we have).”​

The committee is the result of weeks of community and grassroots social movement meetings across Venezuela. After meetings are held around the country, a national congress will be held on April 13.

Maduro called for renewed debate among Venezuela's progressives in the wake of the National Assembly elections in December. The right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) won a majority in the National Assembly.

“What we need is strengthened diversity of the grassroots,” said Maduro in after the December election results.

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