Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Hands Off Venezuela and ALBA!", a committee for the People of Our Americas

This is a committee formed out of the "Peace, Justice, and Freedom" liaison group of the "Northbay Movement for a Democratic Society", part of the larger movement for peace and friendship, and against endless foreign wars, with the People of our Americas.
NO to military or clandestine intervention by tyrannical governments abroad against Venezuela!
A new, repugnant form of fascism is emerging with notable strength, at this time in human history when more that seven billion inhabitants are struggling for their survival.” - Dr. F. Alejandro Ruz, 2014.
Information about the ongoing clandestine war by the alliance of the USA, EU (Spain & Germany) and Colombia against the People of Venezuela is archived at the following page, "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: Target for fascist coup" [link].
The current USA military overtures towards an invasion of Venezuela, will create massive death (as in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan), or for a coup which, also, will create massive amounts of death (Honduras, Colombia, Syria).
the United States appears to be destined by providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.” - Simón Bolívar, 1829
Download a book -
(.pdf) History [english|español], Current Context [english|español]

Bolivarian Alliance for our American People (ALBA):
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela respect for genuine human-rights is inspiring international efforts to offer the prospect of a better type of democracy for the people of our Americas. ALBA is an economic alliance of 12 sovereign governments across Latin America and the Caribbean Sea (as of 2014-08 [link]), alongside associated non-governmental organizations, to counteract systematic poverty and fascism.

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela:
* Five Big Revolutions, in full support of cooperative economies on the community level (2014-09) [link]
* Direct Democracy with the Communard Council (2014-06) [link]
* "Venezuela Reduced Poverty by 50%, Affirms Eclac" (2011-08) [link]
* Venezuelan Ministry of Communal Economy presides over the expansion of the Community Councils, a new form of grassroots democracy and socialism with over 20,000 Community Councils as of 2014, each holding meetings in neighborhoods where all residents can attend, discuss, and vote on decisions for their community.

Republic of Nicaragua:
* "Why aren’t Nicaragua’s children fleeing to the U.S?" [link]
* "Nicaragua Vive! 35 Years Since the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution" [link]

Republic of Ecuador:
* $1 billion in a research city specializing in developing 'progressive technology' (2014) [link]

Plurinational State of Bolivia
Their coca policy, now underway with the notable absence of USA agencies, has also been a success, with the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime reporting that Bolivia is doing a fantastic job controlling coca production (the leaf is used legally for medicinal and cultural purposes in the country) and curtailing the manufacturing of cocaine, all without the violent militarization of coca-producing regions as approved by USA agencies.

Republic of Cuba
* Is developing worker-run cooperatives as a way to help workers create jobs for themselves, and learn how to become masters of their work and work lives. The state socialist sector dominates the economy, but coops now comprise 12% of the workforce and are expected to increase in number.

* CITGO- Venezuela Energy Efficient Lighting Program [link].

Examples of Fascism, for which, in opposition, the Bolivarian ALBA is formed to protect the People:
** Political genocide in the fascist Republic of Colombia, 250,000+ killed, millions of refugees [link]
** Federation of Brazil uses military to police slums, combat criminal militias (gangs) (2014) [link]

More information about Bolivarian ALBA:
** TeleSur [link]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Venezuela begins the Five Big Revolutions, in full support of cooperative economies on the community level

"Maduro Announces 'Five Big Revolutions' in Venezuela, Overhauls Cabinet" 
2014-09-02 from "TeleSur" []:
Maduro talked about the need for an eco-socialist revoution. He said that governmental structures would be reorganized, and he also replaced most of his ministers.
In declarations to the country on Tuesday night, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced what he described as "five revolutions", as part of a need to "improve our service to the people."
Maduro said the revolutions would be a "a new way of functioning" for the government, and emphasized the need for a more "efficient" government.
The following five revolutions, he said, "should be united, and should define the government policies, giving power to the people, it will be the people who push government policy."

The first revolution that Maduro outlined is the economic revolution, promoting production, "in order to guarantee stability".
"All the efforts of the government should be concentrated on this, to make this revolution successful," he said.

The second revolution is the knowledge revolution, involve science, technology, and culture. "I call on all of Venezuela, on the youth, students, teachers, to be part of this revolution, to be part of the country´s social development, its spiritual development, forming a new ethics for a new society," Maduro said.

The missions are the third revolution.  Maduro emphasized their importance in "building socialism, creating the new society, where social rights and life are guaranteed."

The fourth revolution involves state policies and "creating a new state, one that´s really democratic, one that´s about justice, and  rights." It aims to transform all governmental structures, and end with what "remains of the bourgoise state." Maduro emphasized the importance of the fight against corruption.
In this fourth revolution he also announced a range of new ministers and structures.  Maduro announced a timeline for social movements to elect "popular presidencial councils", including for communes, women, youth, culture, and workers. Elections will be held during September and October.
In terms of the new ministries, they will be restructured, with some combined, and many falling under "vice-presidencies". The vice-presidency of economy and finances, for example, will group together six ministries. Of these, the minister for petroleum will no longer be Rafael Ramirez. Ramirez will now be the foreign minister. Isabel Delgado is the new minister for trade, Jose Cabello for industry, Giuseppe Yoffreda for transport, and Jose Berreteran for agriculture. Andres Izarra will remain as minister for tourism. There will also be a vice-presidency of security and food sovereignty. The ministries of higher education and the ministry of science and technology will be combined, and headed up by Ricardo Menendez.

Maduro said the fifth revolution was one of "territorial socialism". He explained that it was about consolidating the communal model, and creating a "new eco socialist model".
"It´s not about environmentalism, its about ecosocialism, environmentalism isn´t enough,"  Maduro stated.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Socialist Nicaragua and the terrorism of USA-backed fascist death-squads

The following article is written by liberal anti-socialists who do not include the context of how the FSLN government is increasing the life quality of the people in Nicaragua, and how the USA sponsored terrorists want to impose a fascist regime which would take away all of the social programs and sell of national resources to private trans-national corporations like in neighboring Honduras since a fascist coup occured there during 2009, and where the terrorist groups escape after attacking civilians.

"The Return of the Contras? Massacre of Sandinistas Stirs Old Ghosts in Nicaragua"2014-07-20 by Tim Rogers []:
A deadly midnight ambush targeting government supporters in northern Nicaragua has stirred the sleeping dogs of war and raised new fears of a pending military campaign against rearmed guerrillas hiding in the mountains.
Five people were killed and 19 injured early Sunday morning in what appears to be a coordinated series of attacks against Sandinista party members traveling by bus through the mountainous coffee-growing region of Matagalpa, one of the main battlegrounds of Nicaragua’s civil war in the 1980s.
The buses, filled with pro-government supporters returning from Managua after a day of celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, were fired on indiscriminately from the darkened shoulder of the road by unidentified men armed with AK-47s. The first bus was ambushed near KM75 of the Pan-American highway, while the second bus was attacked at the same time in the nearby town of San Ramon. Four unidentified suspects have been detained for questioning, according to police.
The Sandinista government, which has long denied the existence of rearmed rebel groups in Nicaragua, called the incident a “cowardly massacre” perpetrated by “bandits” and common delinquents. “This was practically an act of terrorism,” local mayor Francisco Valenzuela told Sandinista media. “We demand justice.”
A mysterious group of self-proclaimed contras calling themselves the “Armed Forces of National Salvation (FASN-EP)” claimed responsibility for the act this afternoon, publishing photos on their Facebook page of a bullet-riddled bus and cadavers []. The group said “We have no reason to fear the oppressor,” and warned that Sunday’s attack is “just an example of the operations we have coordinated on a national level.”
(FASN-EP's cover photo on Facebook)

Nicaraguan authorities, however, have not directly fingered anyone for the attack, or commented on the group’s alleged confession. At the moment, there’s no way to know whether the FASN-EP, which was unknown before today, is real or responsible for the bloodshed. Their post on Facebook, however, has sparked an angry debate among Nicaraguans. Despite the early confusion about who’s to blame, many Nicaraguans have already formed strong opinions about what happened.
“There’s no doubt this was a political act,” says former contra leader Roberto Ferrey, who has spent the past seven years working on reconciliatory efforts as head of the Nicaraguan Resistance Party (PRN), a political organization of ex-contras who are now allied with the ruling Sandinista Front. Ferrey, like many others in Nicaragua, worries that Sunday’s attacks, the most brazen act political violence to rock Nicaragua in nearly two decades, could reignite a tinderbox in a dangerously polarized country.
“There is a real risk that many members of the ex-contra are going to feel motivated by this attack and decide to abandon the civil struggle that we’ve started,” Ferrey told Fusion in a phone interview from Nicaragua. The former contra leader says there is an “unfortunate but very real possibility” that the violent attacks could become a recruitment tool for rearmed contra groups.
“This could have a snowball effect,” Ferrey said, using the most unlikely of metaphors in sweltering Nicaragua.
However, a self-proclaimed rebel leader who allegedly speaks for the largest rearmed contra group in the country is distancing his organization from Sunday’s attacks.
“We had nothing to do with this,” exiled contra spokesman El Cazador told Fusion in a phone interview. “This was done by the Sandinistas. It’s an old communist tactic. They are waiting for the world to condemn the attacks so they can justify a massive military offensive into the mountains to exterminate the rearmed contras.”

A history of political conflict -
Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, which started as a rag-tag rebel group that came to power in 1979 by toppling the U.S.-backed Somoza dynasty, spent its first decade battling U.S.-backed counterrevolutionaries, or “contras” for short. By 1990, the war had ended and Daniel Ortega, whose government was tightly allied with Cuba and the Soviet Union, was voted out of office. After losing three consecutive bids at reelection, Ortega was finally voted back into office in 2006, thanks to a divided opposition. Though Nicaragua’s economy has grown steadily and unexpectedly since the Sandinistas’ return to power, Ortega has used the presidency to consolidate control over all branches of government and steer the country off the rails of liberal democracy and back into the weeds of tropical authoritarianism.
In the northern countryside, where many rural campesinos have long mistrusted the Sandinista authorities, a small group of former contras decided to return to arms in 2010, after Ortega’s party was accused of rigging the municipal elections.
The rebellion was started by a former CIA-trained special-ops commander known as “Comandante Yahob,” who launched a Rambo-style insurrection by vowing to “remove Ortega from office by bullets.” He was killed a year later by an unidentified sniper in northern Nicaragua. His predecessor, a rearmed contra known as “Pablo Negro,” was murdered the following year and tossed in a ditch along the Honduran border. Neither crime was fully investigated .
Yahob Yahob in the 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Enrique Quinonez)

The contra’s military leadership has since fallen to Walter López Zeledón, codename “Sherif,” and a field commander known as “Flaco.”
Not much is known about the size or capacity of the fractious rebel groups. They claim to be organized under the banner of the Nacional Resistance Union (URN), a shadowy group that allegedly operates as the umbrella organization for three equally shadowy guerrilla units: the Democratic Force Commander 380 (FDC-380), the Nicaraguan Patriotic Commandos (COPAN), and the Army of National Salvation (ESN). There are other self-proclaimed rebel units and leadership structures, all of which accuse one another of being phonies or Sandinista infiltrators.
As a result of conflicting claims and allegations, much of what is known about the contra groups is anecdotal — spotty information fueled by rumors, speculations and fear. But once in a while the monster sticks its head above the water in the form of a violent shootout, a roadblock, or an ambush, and people get a glimpse of the creature that lurks beneath the surface.
Those who have back-stage access to the secretive world of Nicaraguan politics say there’s a lot going on behind the curtain of officialdom.
For example, the PRN’s Ferrey tells Fusion that he has helped broker recent negotiations between the Nicaraguan Army and the rebel groups that the government publicly denies exist.
Ferrey says he recently helped convince Comandante Mano Negra (“Commander Black Hand”), an obscure rearmed rebel leader who reportedly led a unit of 25 guerrillas near the Honduran border, to turn in his weapons in exchange for a political post within the ruling Sandinista Front.
“We were able to reintegrate him without reprisal,” Ferrey says.

Universal condemnation of violence -
Nicaragua’s feckless political opposition has no love for the Sandinistas, but no one wants the country to return to war. In the confusing aftermath of this morning’s attacks, opposition politicos on both the left and right of President Ortega vehemently denounced Sunday morning’s violent ambush.
But that doesn’t mean the attack can’t be used as a teachable moment for the president.
“These violent actions, which we all mourn, are the consequence of an accelerated closing of democratic spaces and the repeated violations of our constitutional laws by Daniel Ortega, including his repeated electoral frauds and the continued aggressions against people who are protesting peacefully,” the leading opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI) said in a written statement today. “We call on Daniel Ortega to renounce his dictatorial ambitions and return his government to a rule of law and respect for the will of its citizens.”
Ortega, meanwhile, is letting his wife, the eccentric poet and self-styled hippie Rosario Murillo, do the the talking for him.
“Love will overcome cowardice,” she said.

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Nicaragua Vive! 35 Years Since the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution"

2014-07-18 by Chuck Kaufman []:
Chuck Kaufman is National Co-Coordinator of the Nicaragua Network/Alliance for Global Justice.
July 19, 2014 marks the 35th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. On that day, the Sandinista troops led by the nine commanders of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) entered the capital city of Managua where they were greeted by hundreds of thousands of jubilant Nicaraguans. The triumphant guerrillas found a country in ruins. The previous ruler of the country, dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, had bombed the cities during the final offensive. When he fled the country two days earlier, he took not only the caskets containing his parents’ remains, but all the money in the national treasury as well. The Sandinistas were left with no money and a $1.9 billion international debt.
Despite these handicaps, the Sandinistas set up a nine member National Directorate and five member Junta de Reconstrucción as the executive branch, and a Council of State which included political parties and popular organizations as the legislature. They launched an ambitious and revolutionary political program. Their Literacy Crusade reduced illiteracy by 37 percent and was given an award by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its triumphant success. The Sandinistas also provided citizens with free health care, started farm cooperatives, and used land confiscated from Somoza and his close government and military supporters for state-owned farms. The successful “Revolution of Poets,” many of the country’s poets were revolutionaries and politicians, made Nicaraguans proud and the social advances made them hopeful for the future.
In 1981 Ronald Reagan took office as president of the United States. The CIA, under his direction, immediately began training former members of Somoza’s brutal National Guard who had escaped across the border to Honduras. The famous CIA manual taught at the School of the Americas and captured after a battle in Nicaragua, showed how they were trained. They were taught to assassinate teachers, health care workers, and peasant cooperative leaders. There was also a “Freedom Fighter Manual” authored by the CIA and airdropped into the country which encouraged Nicaraguans sympathetic to the dictatorship to sabotage the Sandinista government and cause social disorder by employing methods such as bombing police stations.
For nine years, until the 1990 electoral defeat of the Sandinistas, Nicaragua’s dreams of equality and prosperity were stymied by the need to defend their country from the Contras, the US-trained and funded proxy-army. Forty thousand casualties later (added to the 40,000 lost in the war for national liberation), tired of the killing and the effects of the brutal US economic blockade, Nicaraguan voters succumbed to Washington’s relentless and violent meddling and US-backed candidate, Violeta Chamorro. President Daniel Ortega turned over the presidential sash in the first peaceful transfer of power between parties in Nicaragua’s history.
What followed was 17 years of neoliberal hell mandated by the IMF, World Bank, and USAID. Free education and health were eliminated. Public employee jobs were cut to the bone. The backbone of Nicaragua’s economy, peasant farming, was starved for lack of government credit. The result was displaced farmers and desperate families who served to provide cheap labor for foreign sweatshop—whose ideal employees were 15-year-old girls, often the only family member with a job. The US and international financial institutions’ sole priority was punctual payments on international debt, regardless of the punishing effect it would have on the population because of the requisite cuts in social spending needed in order to make them.
By 2006 the Nicaraguan people grew tired of the economic suffering and watching their children die of preventable diseases. They elected Sandinista Daniel Ortega as president with a plurality of 38 percent, even amid threats and fears of a new war with the United States.
Fortunately, that’s not what happened. The world had changed. Latin America had begun to unify and free itself of US hegemony after the election of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, while the US was mired in two disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This allowed Ortega to begin to rebuild the Sandinista promise of free education and health care, to rebuild the peasant agriculture sector, and to accomplish justice and equality in peace. Now Ortega could continue the work of the revolution without the counter-insurgency campaign and low intensity conflict Washington employed previously to stymie democracy in the Central American nation.
Five years later, when Ortega ran for re-election in 2011 presidential election, he routed the neoliberal opposition winning 63 percent of the vote and a super-majority in the National Assembly. Nicaragua continued to advance socially and economically. It has already achieved many of the UN Millennium Goals for cutting poverty in half. It also has the fastest growing economy in Central America and has moved past Honduras to no longer be the second poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Today, while child refugees flood the US border from Central America, Nicaragua’s children are not among them because they are in school, their parents have jobs, and the whole family has enough to eat. Drug cartels have been unable to gain a foothold because the army and police are those same muchachos and muchachas who defeated a US-backed dictator and aspired to be New Men and New Women. Nicaraguans are astounded at the corruption and brutality of the security forces of their neighbors.
Vietnam and Nicaragua (and the liberation struggles in El Salvador and Guatemala) were the formative political events of my generation. Thirty-five years later, when I talk about Nicaragua, I see young people’s eyes glaze over the same way mine did when people talked about the Spanish Civil War. But Nicaragua remains important today and we have to teach the truths that they taught us in the 1980s.
When I made my first trip to Nicaragua in 1987 with a Nicaragua Network coffee picking brigade, I learned a number of things. I learned that it was possible not just to oppose my country’s wars, but to support an alternative to war and capitalist exploitation. I learned that patriotism is not a dirty word because Nicaraguans were rightfully proud of the New Nicaragua that they were struggling to build. I learned that Nicaraguan peasants living in the countryside knew more about what was happening in the world than did my friends and neighbors in the United States.
These, and other truths I have learned since made me an organizer for transformational change, a task I am still learning 27 years after I began. For me Nicaragua was a life-changing experience, as it was for many of the estimated 100,000 US citizens who visited Nicaragua in solidarity in the 1980s. We used to say “All Nicaragua is a school.” The composition of refugees crossing our border today demonstrates that that is as true today as it was in the 1980s.

"35th anniversary celebration of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua"2014-07-20 []:
The Plaza de la Fe in Managua is full of Sandinista supporters who participate in the celebration of the Sandinista Revolution Anniversary. (Photo: @ sanchezceren)

Acts for the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and began during the evening on Saturday and are being led by the country’s president, Daniel Ortega, who is accompanied by major international delegations.
The main event takes place in the Plaza de la Fe, but gathers proud Nicaraguans in the “From Bolivar to Chavez ‘Avenue, which connects north and south of the old downtown Managua.
The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, joins the events planned by the Government of Nicaragua, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution.
The Venezuelan head of state arrived in the capital of the Central American nation on Friday night, accompanied by the first fighter, Cilia Flores; Education Minister and Vice President of the Social Area, Héctor Rodríguez; Minister for Women and Equality, Andreína Tarazón; and the mayor of the Libertador municipality, Jorge Rodriguez.
The Executive convened Nicaraguan Sandinistas Saturday from 16H00 local time (22H00 GMT) in the Plaza de la Fe Juan Pablo II Managua (capital), to celebrate a new anniversary of the overthrow of the dictatorship of the Somoza (1937-1979).The meeting was also attended by the President of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, as well as of Honduras Manuel Zelaya exmandatarios; Martín Torrijos of Panama; and Guatemala Vinicio Cerezo, as stated the first lady and the Sandinista government spokesman Rosario Murillo to official media.
In addition, the vice president of Cuba flock, Ramiro Valdés; President of the National Assembly of Ecuador, Gabriela Rivadeneira Burbano and Guatemalan indigenous leader Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize 1992.
On 19 July is a national holiday celebrated in Nicaragua since 1980, when it was decreed by the first Sandinista government to remember the armed overthrow of the Somoza.
The July 17, 1979 Somoza stepped down and left the presidential sash on Urcuyos Francisco, who lasted only 43 hours in the office. Two days after the departure of the dictator, on July 19, the FSLN won total victory over the Somoza forces and the Governing Board took office.

ALBA member Ecuador to invest over $1 billion in a research city specializing in developing 'progressive technology'

"Ecuador: The Silicon Valley of the tropics"
2014-07-18 by Jim Wyss from the "Miami Herald" newspaper []:
UCURQUI, Ecuador -- It's the year 2043 and this burgeoning city of 100,000 is a high-tech mecca. Using rare plants from the Amazon, university researchers have cured many diseases; factories churn out nano-sponges that soak up oil spills around the world; local software designers are the envy of Palo Alto. Ecuador -- once known for its crude and bananas -- is now the Silicon Valley of the tropics, the Singapore of the Andes.
That's the vision authorities see in the swirling dust kicked up by dozens of bulldozers and more than 2,000 construction workers at a remote site almost two hours from the capital.
It's called Yachay, the City of Knowledge, and President Rafael Correa refers to it as the country's moon shot -- a $1.04 billion initiative to build a research university surrounded by labs, industrial parks and, ultimately, a city.
The project aims to attract the world's brightest minds and most innovative companies, propelling this small and impoverished South American nation into the 21st century as a leader in engineering, clean energy, biotechnology and environmental sciences.
Correa calls it "the most important project for the country in the last 100 years," even as some worry that the country is plowing money into a mirage.
Sarah Moser, a geography professor at McGill University in Montreal, is studying the new spate of master-planned cities sprouting around the globe. Some seem to hold promise, such as the $82 billion King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia, which includes much-needed ports and infrastructure. But many have been gutted by corruption and mismanagement or have collapsed under the weight of their own ambition.
Dompak, an "eco-city" in Indonesia, for example, was supposed to be a new administrative capital and a model for sustainable growth. Although the project has burned through 75 percent of its budget, it's only one-third complete. The environmentally friendly city is now plagued by illegal bauxite mining.
"I would argue, 'Why don't you spend the money on education and public transportation?' " Moser said of the schemes. "I see these plans as sort of real estate development to make the rich richer, and they always have a veneer of 'eco-city' or 'smart-city' to make it more palatable ... but I also know that sometimes they can work."
Hector Rodriguez is the general manger of Yachay, but his job description is somewhere between mayor and foreman of the 10,550-acre construction site. Sitting in his white button-down shirt and sunglasses on the steps of a refurbished sugar plantation that serves as an administration building, Rodriguez says Yachay is already showing signs of life.
More than 170 students have been recruited from across the country and are taking intensive math and English courses on campus as they prepare for formal studies next year.
Although Yachay is a 30-year project, Rodriguez says the country will start seeing results by 2017. By then the campus will be finished and teeming with 2,000 students, and there will be 200 companies on site, thriving off the academic research, he said. There will also be day-care centers, elementary schools and other signs of a city in the making.
"We'll see a social fabric that speaks to the idea that Yachay is irreversible," he said. "That this is Ecuador's principal motor for creating an economy based on knowledge."
In architectural renderings, Yachay looks gleaming and inevitable. But some question the wisdom of pumping more than a billion dollars into such an isolated area.
Planners say the site is strategically located in northern Ecuador -- almost equidistant from the capital, the Colombian border and the nearest port. But to the layman, the site seems to be in the middle of nowhere. It's almost two hours from Quito and a half-hour from a town of any size.
And that could be a problem. A 2012 study by the Inter-American Development Bank found that there were almost 150 technology and science parks in Latin America hoping to jump-start innovation and attract investment, but almost all of them were failing.
"The rare exceptions are those associated with research centers that are close to large urban areas and a critical mass of innovative companies," the study found. Yachay has none of those attributes.
Rodriguez argues that Yachay needs virgin land to fulfill its mission. The city will have redundant Internet connections, electricity and water supplies -- all prerequisites for high-tech companies -- that would be difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in a city.
It will also be a free-trade zone, which requires a level of security that would be challenging to provide in an urban area.
"If we tried to implement this in Quito, we would have to build a wall around it," he said. "And what we want here are open collaborative spaces where these knowledge communities can exchange ideas with businesses and entrepreneurs."
Planned cities have been around for centuries, but Yachay is part of a new wave in development.
In the 1990s, cities tried to one-up each other by building the tallest tower, said Moser, the McGill professor. "Now, it seems you have to have a showpiece master-plan city as part of your government propaganda to attract investment," she said.
While the trend started in oil-rich nations in the Middle East and Asia, less likely places such as Senegal, Morocco and Ecuador are getting into the game.
These are countries "that really don't have the money but think this is a requirement for development," she said. "This is the beginning of a massive phenomenon."
Since taking office in 2007, Correa, a charismatic socialist, has embraced ambitious plans and grand gestures. He's defaulted on the country's foreign debt, calling it illegitimate; offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange safe haven in London when many nations were treating him like a pariah; and embarked on one of the most innovative -- but ultimately failed -- cash-for-conservation programs.
But he has also made education a priority. The administration says it has put 4.3 times more money into education than previous governments and plans to spend almost $10 billion to build 900 schools and overhaul 4,600. The government has also shut down for-profit "garage" universities, increased teaching standards and introduced scholarships that have about 8,000 Ecuadoreans studying abroad.
Nelson Rodriguez Aguirre is the acting dean of Ecuador's Central University, which has one of the nation's largest engineering departments. He said that his and other national universities would welcome the money being plowed into Yachay but didn't view the new institution as a threat.
"We see it as an important project and part of the government's plans to strengthen public universities," he said. "Yachay is highly symbolic -- it's a landmark that the government has created that all schools of higher education need to aspire to."
For the students currently at Yachay, however, being at a landmark has some drawbacks.
Jonathan Salinas, 18, is one of those selected from thousands of applicants to be in Yachay's first cohort. He's taking English classes with professors from Kansas State University and math with professors brought in from around the world. He's supposed to begin studying renewable energy next year, but right now there are no labs or research facilities.
"We're the pioneers here so we knew that not everything would be ready," he said. "But we have faith that everything is going to fall into place and we'll be part of this national change."
There are also more mundane issues. The only food available on campus comes from two fast food restaurants. Getting to the nearest grocery takes almost an hour round-trip.
Vivek Wadhwa, a professor and researcher at Stanford and Duke and an influential lecturer on entrepreneurship, calls such centrally planned science parks and cities "snake oil."
He said there have been hundreds of such efforts but none have succeeded. But these ideas don't die because they're lucrative.
"Consultants will make a lot of money, politicians will make a lot of money and real estate developers will make a lot of money, but it's the taxpayers who will be left holding the bag," he said.

Monday, June 30, 2014

"Why aren’t Nicaragua’s children fleeing to the U.S?"

2014-06-30  from "Nicaragua Network (NicaNet), a project of the Alliance for Global Justice, posted at []:
A supporter sent us a letter to the editor she had written to counter all the right-wing letters in her local paper commenting on the humanitarian crisis on the border caused by children fleeing Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Here's her answer to the question in the headline:
"We read that children are streaming across the Texas border from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador...but....not Nicaragua? Why aren't Nicaragua's children fleeing the left wing Sandinista government that the U.S. has been trying to crush ever since their revolution in 1979? Could it be that Nicaragua, despite its poverty, provides more security for its population than other Central American countries? Yes! Check out the stats: lowest homicide rate, no death squads, little gang activity: "least violent country in Central America and safest in all the hemisphere"!! Wow! Maybe Obama could shift gears, and, instead of sending military equipment to 'fight' the 'war' on drugs, and the 'war' on youth, he might support education, health, and small farmers in Central America, and repeal the disastrous free trade policies that are making the rich richer and the poor ready to head for the border. That might help convince young people to stay home."
We encourage you to write letters to the editor in your own words to try to bring some rationality to the immigration "debate." Letters below 200 words have the most chance of being published. Below are talking points that we hope are helpful:

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) presented in Nicaragua on May 19, 2014 its Regional Report on Human Development for 2013-2014 on security matters and classified Nicaragua as "atypical" because of its low rates of homicide and robbery. Juan Pablo Gordillo, adviser on security at the Latin American Regional Services Center of the UNDP, said that, "The case of Nicaragua is an important achievement at the regional level," adding that because Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, it breaks the myth that poverty causes violence. Nicaragua's homicide rate dropped to 8.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. Honduras, with 92 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, has the highest murder rate in the world. El Salvador has 69, Guatemala 39, Panama 14.9 and Costa Rica 10.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
Speaking in San Salvador at a regional conference on community policing, Nicaraguan National Police spokesman Commissioner Fernando Borge said that the proactive, preventative, community policing model of Nicaragua's police has helped make Nicaragua one of the safest countries in Latin America. He described "a model of shared responsibility, that of person-family-community" which shapes all the areas of police work. In 2013, out of each 100 cases reported to the police, they have been able to resolve 79. This compares to the almost complete impunity for crime, especially politically motivated crime, in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
The problem of the children migrants is blowback from U.S policy in the 1980s when our government trained and funded Salvadoran and Guatemalan military and police to prevent popular revolutions and more recently when the US supported the coup against President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. Those countries were left with brutal, corrupt armies and police forces whereas Nicaragua, with its successful 1979 revolution, got rid of Somoza's brutal National Guard and formed a new army and a new police made up of upstanding citizens.
Who consumes all those drugs that are causing all that violence and corruption in Latin America? Who has militarized the Drug War and is funding and training repressive militaries and police in the countries from which the children are fleeing? In both cases it is the United States.
Respected Latin American polling firm M&R Consultants polls show at the end of 2013, 72.5 percent of Nicaraguans approved of government economic management and President Daniel Ortega's personal popularity stands at 74.7 percent, the most popular in Central America. Why? According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Nicaragua ranks second in Latin America and the Caribbean after Venezuela as the country that most reduced the gap between rich and poor in recent years.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Nicaragua's predicted 2014 GDP growth rate will put it among the five fastest growing countries in Latin America. Why? Because Nicaragua invests in poverty reduction, education and health care.

Removing the reasons for migration -
During the past seven years, agricultural workers income and wages grew, showing the effectiveness of programs for the rural sector, which is where there are higher rates of poverty and malnutrition, and taking away the economic reason for migration.
Nicaragua is the only country in Central America that managed to return to the pace of economic growth that it had before the international crisis of 2008-2009. This not only has been recognized by ECLAC, but also by the International Monetary Fund in its latest assessment. Why? Because the Sandinista government forced the IMF to support its poverty reduction programs, and to like it!
Nicaragua's successful poverty reduction programs have caused multilateral agencies and governments to become more interested in the effective implementation of programs that cater to the poor and allow more Nicaraguans to have free access to health and education.
The Vice-President of the World Bank for Latin America, Hasan Tuluy, called projects in Nicaragua one of the best run portfolios of projects in Latin America.
Pablo Mendeville, representative of the UN Development Program (UNDP), has said that Nicaragua is striving to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of social policies to halve global poverty and could achieve this by the end of 2015.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recognized that Nicaragua is among countries that achieved ahead of time the goals set by the Zero Hunger Challenge and lowered the national poverty level. Official data from the Nicaraguan Institute of Development confirm this: in previous years, the level of "poverty was more than 40 percent, and that of extreme poverty was 17.2 percent; today we are calculating extreme poverty at 7.6 percent."
Nicaragua recorded indisputable achievements in terms of disease prevention and health promotion, with a program of immunization which is an example for Latin America, with coverage as high as one hundred percent in children under one year old, and more than 95 percent in general. It has an effective campaign to prevent 16 serious diseases that can affect the population, such as diarrhea and pneumonia.
The maternal mortality rate of 93 per 100,000 live births in 2006 was lowered to 50 per 100,000 live births in 2013.
Educational programs have resulted in a school retention rate of approximately 96 percent of the students enrolled. In addition, the government achieved 100 percent coverage of students receiving school meals, thus benefiting students of public preschools, community schools, and subsidized Catholic schools throughout the country.
Nicaragua is the country with the most gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean and tenth worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). This means that Nicaragua is one of the countries where women have greater access to health and education, while they have more political participation and economic inclusion, said the study.
In the report Climatescope 2012, Nicaragua won second place after Brazil due to its policy of clean energy, the structure of its energy sector, low-carbon business activity, clean energy value chains, as well as the availability of green credits.
According to the Executive, investments from 2013 to 2016 will raise the national rate of electrification from 76 percent of households to a little over 87 percent, as part of efforts toward economic development with social inclusion. In 2006 electricity supply barely reached 54 percent and there were rolling blackouts averaging 14 hours a day.
The director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Jose Graziano da Silva, congratulated the government for the effectiveness of programs implemented against poverty and hunger at the end of a 2013 visit to the country and after visiting various locations to check the value of plans such as Zero Hunger, Family Gardens and the Production Packages, aimed at promoting the development of the agricultural sector and guaranteeing the security of national food consumption.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Venezuela: Thousands debate socialist congress proposals, construct Communard Council

"Venezuela: Thousands debate socialist congress proposals"2014-06-19 by Arlene Eisen from ""
Caracas –
On June 7, President Nicolas Maduro issued a call to each grassroots unit of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to submit 10 concrete proposals for ways to improve how the Bolivarian government functions. In response, throughout Venezuela, local units of PSUV militants, known as Battle Units Bolivar-Chavez (UBCh), devoted their weekly meetings to lively debates analysing political problems and attempting to reach consensus on solutions. There are some 13,500 UBChs.
Other Venezuelans joined the discussions through forums, meetings, editorial pages and social media.
A well-attended forum in Catia, a working-class district of western Caracas, set the tone for many other UBCh meetings. Catia is known and respected for being a centre of Chavista militancy. and other pro-revolution media repeatedly ran written and videotaped reports of the proposals made there by a Gonzalo Gomez, spokesperson from Marea Socialista (Socialist Tide), a leftist grouping within the PSUV, and by Manuel Sutherland, a Marxist economist who coordinates the Center of Worker Investigations and Education and teaches at the Bolivarian University of Caracas (UBC).
Sutherland demonstrated with charts and detailed narrative how government negotiations with the owning class have not stopped the bourgeoisie from amassing huge fortunes and from driving the economy into a deep ditch. He challenged the fantasy, held by some PSUV reformists, that business owners in Venezuela are patriotic and renounce super profits gained from fraudulent imports and currency speculation. Rather he showed how Venezuela’s 400,000 capitalists appropriate 60% of Venezuela’s gross domestic product (PIB) to the detriment of 13 million workers who receive the remaining 40%.
In other words, the bourgeoisie still controls the bulk of the economy, and by implication, political power in Venezuela. With this power, the owning class has squandered Venezuela’s dollar reserve in order to make astronomical profits. They import goods paid for in petrodollars and then sell them for as much as 1500% profit at home. The result is devaluation, inflation and scarcity. Some call this “economic warfare” waged by the oligarchs. But, Sutherland insisted, the warfare metaphor implies that there can be peace and therefore underestimates the depth of the structural problem.
He proposed a major structural change for the governing PSUV: to nationalise all of Venezuela’s international trade. Sutherland pointed out that three years ago Hugo Chavez had made the same proposal. He quoted the revered PSUV founder: “Create a state corporation for imports and exports to end the bourgeoisie’s hegemony over imports. We look like pendejos (idiots, wimps) giving dollars to the bourgeoisie. They import, overcharge, buy whatever is desired for one dollar and charge five dollars here.”
Inside another UBCh meeting
Several days later, across town in the upscale neighbourhood of Baruta, UBCh militants took up Sutherland’s proposal in the context of a wide-ranging discussion of their own 10 proposals to send to President Maduro. They sat in a circle in the modern, airy cafeteria on the 11th floor of a PSUV office building. It was a small group: mostly women, many of them professionals, many retired. Through the surrounding windows, the US flag could be seen flying from a pole in front of the US Embassy, now closed to the public.
They began by talking about the problem of bureaucracy. A woman who dressed more humbly than the rest of the group suggested that the PSUV set up a storefront in every municipality to help people navigate the system. Another woman, a retired nurse, remarked that the Missions [government-funded social programs] had been set up to circumvent the problem of bureaucracy, but that in many cases, they too had become bureaucratised. A sociologist and film maker remarked how the state is still controlled by the capitalists and implied that only socialism would solve the problem of bureaucracy. Then she frowned and added, “with the threats from the coup-plotters (golpistas), the state has its back against the wall and has to make deals with the bourgeoisie.” The woman who began the conversation sighed, more from impatience than resignation and said, “How long are they going to be giving in to the opposition and not to us?”
Then, for a moment, people aired related complaints. “The private monopolies are thieves.” “The justice system is corrupt. They killed 400 campesinos and no one has ever been tried.”
A few debated about which famous official was corrupt and which was simply misguided. A retired physician began to speak about Sutherland’s proposal to nationalise the import/ export function, but got bogged down in economic details.
A blonde woman who had a laptop with her to keep a record of the meeting but hadn’t touched a key, brought order to the meeting. “The Venezuelan state, in every stage of history, has been corrupt and bureaucratic. Ours is a tremendous improvement. But if we’re ever going to get rid of corruption and bureaucracy we need to organise the base, so that everyone is prepared to press forward with their complaints. Now, when a grassroots person makes a grievance it doesn’t go anywhere. We have to organise to make government accountable. Accountability should be a theme of the 3rd Congress.” Everyone nodded.
They brainstormed other problems: the lack of food sovereignty; scarcity of dollars, bourgeois legalisms; too much individualism; and lack of pride in Venezuelan culture. They reached a consensus on the need for more political education, but did not formulate a specific proposal for implementation.
The spokesperson (vocero) for the Baruta UBCh, a computer expert and one of the only two men in the circle, launched into a history of the Bolivarian revolution because, “we need to understand the context before we finalise our proposals”. His narrative concluded with an analysis of the current tasks of PSUV: to struggle against US imperialism and its allies in the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and to define the Bolivarian process to build 21st century socialism.
However, he continued, three different currents inside the PSUV are vying for control to define strategies for carrying out those tasks.
(1) The reformists who use petro dollars to placate the masses to accept perpetuation of the current structures. He called them social democrats and included the “Bolibourgeoisie”, the opposition’s 5th column in this group.
(2) The Stalinists who think the state can solve every problem. They are bureaucrats, often members of the bourgeoisie who have been replaced. They protect their own power.
(3) The proletarian Chavistas, the heart of the revolution. They must build their power from below, independent of the state. According to his assessment, they are currently the weakest of the forces within the PSUV.
Then he made a number of specific proposals to address Venezuela’s economic problems. First, he said, the banking system should be consolidated. “We’re not ready to nationalise banking, but we don’t need 50 banks either.” Second, “it would be political suicide to raise the price of gasoline, but for the sake of economy and the environment, the price of fuel cannot stay so artificially low. We should strengthen the public transit system and convert vehicles from using gasoline to gas.” Third, the Agriculture Ministry and the Food Ministry should be combined to streamline programs for food sovereignty. Fourth, the only way to get rid of inflation is to institute massive production. “We don’t need to be totally dependent on petrodollars. We should develop our gold and coltan resources to earn new sources of currency. Also we must shut down the foreign sectors of the economy like car assembly. We can and must produce 100% of our cars here.” The retired physician raised Sutherland’s proposal to control imports, but by then, the time for adjournment had passed.
Before the meeting broke up, two of the women agreed to write up the vocero’s proposals, plus the ones about holding corrupt officials accountable to grassroots complaints and the need for more political education. Then they would email them to the address Maduro had tweeted. When asked if the group wasn’t going to review them again, she shook her head, “No, it’s not possible. In this revolution everything happens very fast. The proposals are due today.”
An open PSUV congress promised
In the most recent issue of Vanguardia, the periodic publication of the PSUV, Carolys Perez, the secretary of the Third Party Congress explained some of the measures they had taken to ensure a successful congress. The aim is for breadth: to receive suggestions, opinions, and contributions not only from PSUV membership but also from political organisations that are part of the Gran Polo Patriotico (GPP), an alliance of left-wing organisations of which PSUV is the largest. “We want to open the door to deepen the revolution and design policies to help construct socialism.” contacted a spokesperson for the Afrodescendant Front of the GPP and a number of other Afrodescendant organisations about their plans to submit proposals to the congress. So far there has been no response.
The Vanguardia article on the next page quoted Chavez’s 2011 self-criticism about the need to challenge “bureaucratism, opportunism, sectarianism, nepotism and gradual distancing from the base”. These problems, Chavez had explained, come from the persistence of capitalist culture—including capitalist culture within the PSUV. The Vanguardia author concluded that Chavez’s prescription for self-criticism/criticism was more relevant than ever.

"Venezuela: Activists form communard council"2014-06-23 by Ewan Robertson from "Green Left Weekly" [abridged from ""]:
(Photo by Ewan Robertson showing Venezuela Communards at national gathering vote on a proposal in June 14)

Activists from across Venezuela met this month to form the National Communard Council, which aims to coordinate the country’s commune movement and present its demands to the national government.
The council was formed in the western state of Lara during a three-day meeting of about 2000 communards (commune members) from around the country. Most represented a particular commune.
The meeting was the fifth national gathering of the independent National Communard Network since the organisation was founded in 2009.
The move is another step forward for Venezuela’s communards. They are seeking to replace the state’s representative political structures, particularly local and regional governing bodies, with direct participatory bodies such as communal councils and communes.
In Venezuela, communal councils are small neighbourhood groups where local residents organise to develop their local community and run community affairs. They can also receive public funds to undertake a variety of projects in their area.
Communes, meanwhile, are made up of groups of community councils. They are created when local residents hold an election to select spokespeople from each community council in a given area to form a communal parliament. This group then assigns different sub committees to cover community affairs over a larger territorial zone.
The commune can take on larger tasks and responsibilities than individual community councils. They can also register with the Ministry of Communes, which makes them eligible to apply for public funds to create productive, educational, cultural, infrastructure or other development projects.
During the meeting, communard Abraham Simenez explained some of the aims of the commune movement to
“The commune movement is a launching pad to consolidate this process of change toward socialism, to put people first,” he said.
“It’s a way for us to end the state as it is currently constituted, with regional state governments and mayors, and for us to arrive at a communal state with constituent power [direct participatory bodies], the base of which are the communes.
“It’s through the communes and organised communities that we can propose projects [to the national government] to acquire public funds and carry them out ourselves for the good of the community.”
The driving force behind the creation of the National Communard Council was the National Communard Network, which groups together many of the country’s communes.
The council aims to present the commune movement’s demands directly to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro via the Presidential Council of Communal Governance.
It will also work to strengthen grassroots and regional communal organising. It seeks to take on certain state powers itself, such as some functions now performed by the Ministry of Communes.
The National Communard Council is composed of communal spokespeople from each regional state. It has sub-councils on communal economy, political organisation, communication, education, security and defence, and youth.
The specific characteristics and functions of each council were decided after communards met for a day of discussion. The conclusions reached were presented at a final plenary session.
The demands to be put to the national government include taking over management of the national commune registry from the Ministry of Communes, and taking control of public TV channel Tves.
Other proposals agreed to were to strengthen the communal economy, found new institutions of higher education, create a communal newspaper and form a communal intelligence agency and strengthen the communal militia.
Commune minister Reinaldo Iturriza told “The National Communard Council is a very valuable initiative because it aims to coordinate the diverse efforts of communes in the country.
“There are parallel (complementary) experiences in this regard, with the formation of territorial groupings of communes and communal cities. There are about 60 experiences of this under way in the country.
“I understand this initiative as a unified political platform, about which the Bolivarian government doesn’t have to say if it’s good or bad.
“The government observes how the people’s movement, in this case the commune movement, decides how to organise itself. Our job is to accompany this experience.”
Many communards described their experiences of communal organising. A coffee grower, Jorge Franco, said farmers in his area were organising to develop their own coffee processing capacity and cut out the private sector from the processing, distribution and sales chain.
He said to do this, the farmers had organised themselves into communes and were receiving public funds to aid them in this task.
Many communards said during the meeting that although they were able to work with “allied” governmental figures and state institutions to further their aims, there was also institutional opposition to their project.
The coordinator of one discussion group said: “We must be clear that this National Communard Council is the start of a new struggle. There are those who are going to come and try to take this down, and we need to overcome that situation.”
Jasmy Quintana, a communard activist from the eastern Anzoategui state, said that, in particular, mayors and governors would lose autonomy and responsibilities if the commune movement were to grow. This means many were opposed to the move towards what activists call a “communal state”.
She said: “We still have people who say they are revolutionaries and belong to the Bolivarian process, but they don’t support people’s power. That’s why we, independently of whether they speak to us nicely, have to be vigilant that these nice words are translated into practice.
“We don’t want sugar coated words, we want action. We are just beginning. We have to consolidate our base from below, to go for a constitutional reform … to take autonomy away from the mayoralties and state governments.”
The communard said growing people’s consciousness and the desire to self-manage the country’s resources was the reason the United States government was “afraid” of Venezuela’s political process.
Communards discussed differences in strategy at the meeting. One point of debate was whether the commune movement should seek a gradual “transition” of powers from representative to communal structures, or whether these powers should be “taken” more quickly.
In a national register of community groups undertaken last September, it was found that there were 40,000 communal councils and that 1400 communes had been formed or were developing.