News and Analysis

On 22 February 2005, this website published a letter issued by the UNT (see below) referring to an attack of FEDECAMARAS, the employers’ association of Venezuela that has joined forces with the opposition Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) to present a Complaint to the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association alleging that the Venezuelan government has violated Trade Union freedoms and the right to strike.

The UNT has asked for messages of support by adding your signature to their letter of complaint (find below the letter referred to). Please read this letter, as it is quite self-explanatory. As you will see, the meeting they refer to started yesterday, March 8, and will continue until March 24, so we all have to act quickly. Trade union activists and socialists the world over should give all the support they can to the UNT as the genuine expression of the organised Venezuelan labour movement. Remember that the CTV leaders actually backed the April 2002 coup against Chavez!

We invite all our supporters to take up this issue inside their trade unions and mass left parties, and try to get official backing from local, regional and national trade union bodies. We invite you to mention in your letters that you are responding to this appeal of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign.

Please send your solidarity letters by e-mail to the following addresses:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (UNT) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Stalin Perez)

with a copy to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Open Letter to the Workers’ Group of the ILO


By the national coordinators of the UNT
Tuesday, 22 February 2005

We, the undersigned leaders of the National Union of Workers of Venezuela (UNT), issue this appeal to the trade unions around the world that are represented in the Workers’ Group of the International Labor Organization (ILO), as well as to all our sisters and brothers who are championing the trade union battles in defense of workers’ rights.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

We in Venezuela have been part of the effort by the working class to create a trade union federation that is built from the bottom up by the rank and file and that is rooted in the principles of class independence, trade union democracy and full autonomy in relation to the State and all political parties. This effort – which in April 2003 brought unionists from different sectors and trade union currents together to create the UNT – is part and parcel of the struggle of our people in defense of their national sovereignty.

Today, the UNT represents the majority of the organized workforce in Venezuela. Its creation in 2003 has given a huge impetus to the drive to organize trade unions across our country. The rate of trade union affiliation has increased from 11% in 2001 to 23% in 2004. The UNT also has been present in the last two International Labor Conferences of the ILO in June 2003 and June 2004.

But these recent years also have seen FEDECAMARAS, the employers’ association of Venezuela, join forces with the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) to present a Complaint to the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association alleging that the Venezuelan government has violated Trade Union Freedoms and the Right to Strike.

The joint Complaint by FEDECAMARAS and the CTV is highly unusual, as trade unions are generally the ones filing ILO Complaints against the employers and seeking support from the ILO Workers’ Group against all violations of trade union rights, including the right to strike. It is unprecedented, as well, on account of the convergence of interests between FEDECAMARAS and the CTV.

Such a Complaint can be understood only in the context of the unfolding political situation in Venezuela, in which FEDECAMARAS and the top leadership of the CTV participated directly in the attempted military coup of April 2002, together with the opposition political parties and with the encouragement of the U.S. Embassy. The coup – which established a government” headed by Pedro Carmona, then president of FEDECAMARAS – was foiled after just two days by the mass mobilizations of the Venezuelan workers and people.

Later, in December 2002 and January 2003, FEDECAMARAS – together with the same leaders of the CTV – organized an employer lockout/work stoppage that was political in nature and that sought to bring down the government through the sabotage of the country’s main source of income: the oil industry. In both the attempted coup and the bosses’ lockout/work stoppage, the CTV leadership took actions that were repudiated by the overwhelming majority of the workers of Venezuela.

At no time, in fact, were the workers consulted by the CTV leadership about the work stoppage in the oil industry. Quite the contrary, upon learning of this action by the CTV leadership, the workers mobilized massively to occupy the oil rigs and refineries to ensure the resumption of oil production.

These undeniable facts were reported in detail by 35 leaders of the UNT to the Contact Mission of the ILO that traveled to Venezuela in October 2004.

It is not new, nor is it unexpected, that employers should resort to lockouts against the workers to promote their interests. Many of you undoubtedly have witnessed such bosses’ lockouts in your countries. It is less frequent for the employers to resort to military coups, but, alas, such actions are not unprecedented. But isn’t it an insult to our intelligence to try to have us believe that employer lockouts and military coups can somehow be aimed at defending democracy and trade union rights? Do they think we’re fools who cannot see through their hypocrisy?

In June 2004, FEDECAMARAS – with the full support of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and representatives from bosses’ organizations in 22 countries, including the United States, all of them notorious for their anti-union activities – invoked Article 26 of the ILO Constitution and proposed that a Commission of Inquiry be established in relation to alleged violations of Trade Union Freedoms in Venezuela.

The March 8-24, 2005 meeting of the Governing Body of the ILO is scheduled to take a vote on this request by FEDECAMARAS. It is worth noting that while this baseless Complaint against the Venezuelan government moves through the ILO system, the government of Colombia has not been subjected to any sanctions or pressures by the ILO – even when the ILO itself registered at the beginning of 2004 that 186 trade unionists had been assassinated for their union activity in that country, a number that now surpasses the 200 mark.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

The Venezuelan government today has wide popular support to advance its Agrarian Reform program and, with the aim of guaranteeing jobs and wages, to take over factories abandoned or bankrupted by their employers. Yet at this very moment, incidents are being staged to create a diplomatic conflict between Venezuela and Colombia. More ominous still, U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have issued public warnings against the alleged “negative” and “destabilizing” role of Venezuela in the region.

Anyone familiar with the international policies implemented by the Bush administration in the recent period can understand full well that these are not simply words; they are a direct threat to Venezuela. Bush and Rice invoke the concept of “democracy” – but if one looks at what is going on in Iraq today, one can see what they mean by “democracy.”

Is it possible not to see a link between these political developments and the stance taken by FEDECAMARAS at the ILO?

Regardless of what one’s opinions may be about the Venezuelan government and its policies, it’s a fact that it’s a government that received the support of more than 60% of the people in the August 15, 2004 recall referendum, thereby dealing a blow to the effort by FEDECAMARAS and the top officials of the CTV to oust the Chávez government. The election results were ratified, in fact, by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center, two bodies that cannot be accused of harboring any sympathies for the Venezuelan government.

It is also an undeniable fact that the partisans of the current Venezuelan government obtained the overwhelming support of the people in the state and regional elections held in October 2004.

From our vantage point as the UNT, genuine democracy means respecting the sovereign will of people to determine their own fate. And we wish to reiterate this point: Venezuela’s right to self-determination must be respected and upheld independent of whatever one may think about the current government of Venezuela. It is not up to the U.S. government to decide in the place of the Venezuelan people what is “positive” or “negative” for Venezuela.

It is totally understandable that the representatives of the employers in the ILO should form a common front with FEDECAMARAS in support of this Complaint. Likewise, it is not surprising that governments, particularly that of Bush in the United States, should follow suit. But in no way can the representatives of the workers’ organizations in the ILO support this attack upon our sovereignty and our independent trade union organizations.

Is it not obvious that allowing the Commission of Inquiry to be approved – as FEDECAMARAS demands – would, in fact, be tantamount to trampling upon our trade union freedoms and the very sovereignty of our country? Only we, the workers of Venezuela, can and must decide what kind of trade union organizations we should build, in the framework of the principles of Trade Union Freedom.

We issue this urgent appeal to all trade union organizations the world over. We call upon one and all to reject the proposal by FEDECAMARAS and its cohorts to sanction Venezuela and to conduct an ILO Commission of Inquiry. Such an action is not called for, nor does it correspond to the real situation of trade union freedoms in Venezuela, which is a country that has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

For our part, as trade union officers who are committed to the rank and file, we have nothing to hide. That is why we are appending to this Open Letter a Memorandum that responds to the specific charges contained in the Complaint filed by FEDECAMARAS and the CTV.

We invite trade unions from all around the world to come to Venezuela to see for yourselves the reality of our country, where even the CTV – which participated directly in the attempted coup of April 2002 and the lockout/work stoppage of December 2002-January 2003, enjoys full trade union freedoms.

We also invite representatives of the international trade union movement to attend the upcoming National Congress of the UNT. This will permit you to learn firsthand from the workers about the real situation of the trade unions in Venezuela.

To conclude, we call upon all trade union organizations and officers to reject the provocation by FEDECAMARAS and its allies to establish an ILO Commission of Inquiry for Venezuela. We call upon you to add your names in support of this Open Letter to the ILO Workers’ Group.

- In defense of the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people!

- In defense of true Trade Union Freedoms!

In solidarity,

signed by following National Coordinators of the UNT:

Orlando Chirino, Marcela Máspero, Stalin Pérez Borges and Rubén Linares

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(Available as a single-sided leaflet or a double-sided leaflet)

Most people know that the corporate newspapers, radio, and television exist to serve the interests of the big businesses that own them. In recent weeks, they have opened an all-out assault on the Venezuelan revolution. The U.S. media is flooded with negative appraisals of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolutionary process. Right-wing pundit Robert Novak recently referred to “Latin America’s infection.” At her confirmation hearing, Bush’s secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Chavez a “negative force” in the region. Chavez is often described as “anti-American”, and is accused of “meddling” in neighboring states, harboring “terrorists” and “starting an arms race”. The Financial Times recently reported that a “containment policy” is being formulated by the Bush Administration, aimed at “fencing in” the world’s 5th largest oil exporter. Roger Pardo-Maurer, current deputy assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs at the U.S. Department of Defense, and former political officer for the right-wing Nicaraguan Contras is at the heart of this renewed attention on Latin America.       

The reason for these attacks is clear: the Venezuelan Revolution is incompatible with U.S. corporate interests in the region and with the capitalist system as a whole. The fact is, the constant slanders and distortions of the truth reflect the growing fear of the U.S. ruling class in relation to the international repercussions of the developing Venezuelan revolution. What is at stake is the very existence of the capitalist system in Venezuela, Latin America, and ultimately, the world. Due to the quagmire in Iraq and their reliance on Venezuelan oil (providing 15 percent to the U.S.), Bush’s hands are tied for the moment. But they are moving might and main to mobilize public opinion in the U.S. as well as in Latin America in order to strangle the Bolivarian revolution as soon as the opportunity arises.

Venezuela has some of the world’s largest known oil reserves and is rich in other natural resources. Yet despite this wealth, 80 percent of Venezuela’s population has lived in abject misery for decades. The Venezuelan oligarchy and their multi-national corporate pals used the country’s wealth to line their own pockets with profits, instead of improving the conditions of life of ordinary Venezuelans - the ones who actually produce all the wealth. This continued for decades, until the International Monetary Fund and the Venezuelan millionaires went too far: in February of 1989 they imposed intolerably harsh economic conditions on the already destitute population. The resulting “Caracazo” popular uprising was finally put down in blood by the state security forces, resulting in hundreds if not thousands of people killed. This was the beginning of a chain of events that continues today.

As a result of this brutality, left-wing paratrooper Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez led a failed military coup in 1992 against the right-wing government. Despite being sent to prison, he instantly became a popular hero. After mass support led to his early release from prison, he formed a new political movement and wiped the floor with the long-standing corporate political duopoly in the presidential elections of 1998. A new, far more democratic constitution was adopted by popular referendum, and Chavez was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2000.

His initial goal was simply to improve the conditions of life of the long-suffering Venezuelan people. But even the most modest measures on land reform, taxing the profits of the multi-nationals, and increasing spending on health care, education, food programs and housing brought him into a direct confrontation with the Venezuelan oligarchy and their allies in the U.S. In April of 2002, the Venezuelan media, the country's business organization, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and a handful of reactionary generals helped orchestrate a coup d'etat against Chavez. This new "democratic" government, proceeded to abolish the Bolivarian Constitution and dissolve the National Assembly, Supreme Court, and the National Electoral Board. Not surprisingly, it was immediately recognized as legitimate by Washington. There is now clear proof that the U.S.  administration knew about the preparations for the coup and collaborated
with the plotters. But in an unprecedented uprising, the Venezuelan masses rose up against this illegitimate government and reinstated Chavez.

Since then, the revolutionary process has accelerated - but so have U.S. efforts to put a halt to it. The key to the Venezuelan revolution is the truly mass, democratic, grass roots participation of the Venezuelan workers, peasants, and urban poor. Time and again, they have mobilized and organized to defend the revolution, and it is on their continued participation that the fate of the revolution depends. Hugo Chavez himself has become increasingly radicalized in recent months. He has said that capitalism must be transcended, he nationalized an important paper mill under workers’ control, and called for the “socialism of the 21st century”. This reflects the pressure of the masses from below. The hopes and dreams of millions of Venezuelans are really quite simple and are very similar to the hopes and dreams of working people in the U.S. and around the world. They are fighting for quality jobs, housing, education, transportation, health care, safe working conditions, a decent pension, and a bright future for their families and loved ones. Is it too much to ask that the vast wealth created by working people around the world be used to improve their lives?        

Despite the repeated provocations by the U.S. government, Chavez and the Venezuelan people are far from being “anti-American”. Chavez always distinguishes carefully between the American people and their rulers. As he declared recently in a speech: “One day the decay inside U.S. imperialism will end up toppling it, and the great people of Martin Luther King will be set free. The great people of the United States are our brothers, my salute to them ... The U.S. people, with whom we share dreams and ideals, must free themselves... A country of heroes, dreamers, and fighters, the people of Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez.”

It is vital that we counteract the lies and distortions of the corporate media. They are not interested in the truth about Venezuela - they will stop at nothing to demonize the struggle of the Venezuelan people in order to justify the crushing of the revolutionary process. Having been defeated during the coup, during the oil sabotage and repeatedly at the polls, the Venezuelan oligarchy and their friends in Washington are now threatening to resort to terrorism and even the assassination of Chavez himself. It is therefore urgent to mobilize and demand U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!

The heroic efforts of millions of Venezuelan men and women to improve their lives proves in practice that it is possible to build a better world. Their struggle is our struggle! This summer, the World Festival of Students and Youth will be held in Caracas, Venezuela. This will be a perfect opportunity for thousands of young people around the world to visit Venezuela and see the revolution up close. This isn’t ancient history, this is a living, vibrant, developing revolution in our own hemisphere in the 21st century. We must defend and spread the Venezuelan revolution internationally!   

(Available as a single-sided leaflet or a double-sided leaflet)

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English Translation by Sue Ashdown

"What message do you have for my country?" General Rafael Oropeza had no answer for the military official from the United States standing before him on April 11, 2002 in the military barracks of Fort Tiuna in Caracas. Colonel James Rodgers, military attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, repeated the question. In the moment of the coup d'etat against President Hugo Chávez Frías, General Oropeza was charged with registering everyone who entered and exited Fort Tiuna, the base for the Venezuelan Defense Ministry and the premier military installation in the country. Photographs of Rodgers driving a vehicle around the perimeter of the Fort during the coup were published afterwards in the Venezuelan daily Ultima Noticias.

The State Department denied the existence of any James Rodgers, even though he was registered as a military attaché of the Embassy in Caracas. But the most compromising moment for the U.S. military in Venezuela during the period surrounding the April 2002 coup against President Chávez happened April 8, at a goodbye party for a Chinese military attaché, held in the luxury Hotel Melía in Caracas. It was that night, exactly, that an official of the U.S. Marine Corps, David Cazares, confused General Roberto González Cárdenas with General Néstor González Gonzáles. It was an understandable error. Both men were bald, approximately the same height and both dressed in Venezuelan Army uniforms, complete with medals and an i.d. tag that said simply, "González".

Cazares sidled up to General González and, accusingly, asked, "Why haven't you contacted the ships we have off the coast or our submarine submerged in La Guaira? What's going on? Why hasn't anyone called me? What are you waiting for?"

General González hadn't the remotest idea what the U.S. Marine officer was talking about, but before he could respond, a military attaché from Brazil approached to say goodbye. Cazares took advantage of the distraction to ask the Marine captain, Moreno Leal, standing nearby, if this was indeed General González, "the one who was stationed on the border". Moreno answered: "That is General González, but I don't know if he was stationed at the border." Cazares continued interrogating General González Cardenas, demanding to know why no-one had yet made contact with him or with the three boats and the submarine located off the Venezuelan coast. Prudently, González Cárdenas limited his responses to a simple "We'll inquire." On leaving the party, the two met again in the elevator. "This has an operative cost. I'm waiting for your answer," said Cazares firmly.

The Venezuelan general Néstor González González was a secret participant in the coup d'etat of April 2002 against President Chávez. April 10, the general appeared on national television and demanded the resignation of the president, "or we shall see". On April 12, after the failed coup, a television program aired which revealed that González González made this statement with the simple goal of preventing Chávez from traveling to Costa Rica, where he was to participate in a meeting of the OAS General Assembly that same day. The plot worked. Chávez remained in Venezuela and the coup began to unfold according to plan.

However, the erroneous exchange between Cazares and González Cárdenas that April 8 was passed to a higher level and uncovered by Venezuelan investigators after Chávez's brief demotion, while the United States simply ignored it. Cazares's term in Venezuela was reduced afterwards, and he was re-posted to Chile when the amazing article appeared in Últimas Noticias.

Another Piece in Place

On March 5, 2002, something pleasant happened for the United States. A cable sent from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to Washington, to the CIA, the DIA
(Defense Intelligence Agency) the NSC (National Security Council) and others, arrived with the following heading: THE UNIONS, THE BUSINESS SECTOR AND THE CHURCH ANNOUNCE A TRANSITION AGREEMENT.

The body of the cable said: "With great fanfare, Venezuela's best gathered on March 5 to listen to representatives of the Venezuelan Workers' Union, the Chamber of Commerce and the Catholic Church present their combined democratic agreement, with ten principles to guide a transitional government. This accord constitutes an important step for the opposition, which has never wavered in its condemnation of Chávez, but until this moment had not offered a comprehensive vision of its own."

The U.S. government appeared pleased with the agreement reached by the opposition on March 5, taking into account that it had brought an investment of nearly two million dollars in an effort to strengthen and unify the opposition parties. A comment in a cable from the Embassy revealed this satisfaction: "Another piece in place," wrote Cook, an embassy staffer, "this agreement could well constitute a reference point in the code of conduct for a transition government."

The remark "another piece in place" should have caught the attention of some, more than just a little. If the opposition accord for a post-Chávez transition government was another "piece" of the plan, then the overthrow of Chávez should have been the final piece in the conspiracy. The United States, continually complaining of the lack of opposition unity, reasoned that this called for an investment of some two million dollars through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in order to strengthen the political parties and help them unite around a strategy. The accord of March 5 confirmed that this investment had brought results: "another piece" had been placed correctly and the day of the final objective was approaching.

On March 11, 2002, the government of the United States was convinced that the coup had been organized.

The CIA in Venezuela sent another urgent notice to the five intelligence agencies in Washington, this time in the form of an alert. The alert was prepared for the Strategic Alert Committee of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), a strictly confidential and high level group governed by the National Intelligence Office to alert and integrate the director's representatives in the National Security Agency, the DIA, and the National Mapping Agency, as well as for the undersecretary of State for Intelligence and Investigation, and the vice-director of Intelligence for the CIA. The strictly confidential alert was more specific: "There are growing signals that the Venezuelan business leaders and officials are feeling dissatisfied with President Chávez.the military could try to overthrow him."

Absolutely not!

The American ambassador in Caracas, Charles Shapiro, visited (Pedro) Carmona several times during the coup. He claimed that his visits on April 12 were to try to convince him to reinstitute the Congress and other institutions he had dissolved, but Shapiro's answers to questions about his relationships with the leaders of the opposition and the participants in the resulting coup were prefabricated and well planned. Not by him, however.

April 16, 2002, Shapiro received a cable from the State Department in Washington, with a Press Guide for Western Hemispheric Affairs, prepared by an L.S. Hamilton in the State Department, and approved by Richard Boucher, State Department spokesperson.

If they ask "Did U.S. officials meet with Venezuelan opposition officials prior to the April 11 removal of President Chávez from power," he was to memorize the following response: "U.S. officials have met with a broad spectrum of Venezuelans over the past several months both in Caracas and in Washington. U.S. officials met with business community representatives, labor union officials, Catholic church leaders, opposition political leaders, and a wide array of Venezuelan government officials."

In reference to questions about the meetings with Carmona, the Press Guide said: "If asked" - that is, don't offer information if not asked - the proper response would be: "In the course of normal diplomatic contacts, U.S. officials met with Pedro Carmona, the President of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecamaras). Our message to all Venezuelan contacts has been consistent. The political situation in Venezuela is one for Venezuelans to resolve peacefully, democratically and constitutionally. We explicitly told all of our Venezuelan interlocutors on numerous occasions and at many levels that under no circumstances would the United States support any unconstitutional, undemocratic effort, such as coup (sic), to remove President Chávez from power.

A message of "zero coups" was categorically sent, meanwhile the government of the United States was filling the pockets of coup conspirators with millions of dollars, and meeting with them from time to time to discuss their plans.

Hardly surprising then, that the response to the question "Was the United States involved in the effort to remove Venezuelan President Chávez from power?" should be "Absolutely not." 

[See also the Venezuela Freedom of Information Act web site (www.venezuelafoia.info) where all the documents regarding US meddling in Venezuela are published]

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A little later, it shifts once again, to an intrepid melodrama, intermixing looting, holdups, political blackmail, mercenaries, violence.

When you get to the last page, the reader might well ask if what he has read hasn't been, after all, a novel of impossible adventures, a game of imagination unattached to real life, says the Cuban youth newspaper.

However, not a single line is fiction.

A good part of this book is comprised of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act of the United States, and plenty of time and doggedness was required of Eva to obtain this material for readers, and as confirmed in the first page, put her at enormous risk, including death threats.

Still, the reader shouldn't lose sight that this seminal testimony documents not only what perseverance is required of investigators, but the capricious behavior of those who control the secret American archives, who declassify what they feel like and hide whatever is most compromising.

Eva predicts scores of years will pass before the opening of these other archives.

And for sure, much more terrifying things remain censored and maybe we will never know the most secret evidence from the plans against Venezuela: as we know, we had to wait more than 30 years for the "mea culpa" of Robert McNamara, to know the evil plans to provoke an invasion of Cuba by the United States, contained in the plan named Operation Mongoose.

When will we know what really happened in Dallas, the day Kennedy was killed? When will we learn what is being hatched at this very moment against Cuba, Venezuela and the world? Ask Elizalde and Polanco.

Thanks to this sample, that Eva was able to dig up from the American government, it's possible to prove what the United States denied repeatedly: it was involved in bringing to fruition the details of the coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in April of 2002, which included plans to generate violence during demonstrations, the arrest of the leader, and its active participation in the coup.

For whoever sees it, The Chavez Code is an instructive book. Her testimony brings forth a series of documents that illuminate the truth behind these works, truth that has shocked Venezuelan public opinion over the last three years.

Details appear in this book about how the United States executed its Plan A for intervention and subversion in Latin America.

What failed this time doesn't necessarily mean that the aggressor intends to admit defeat. A little after Eva Golinger put her final touches on this book, evidence began to appear on the public scene that the government of George Bush is already applying Plan B: a barrage of dirty propaganda and actions in international organizations to isolate the Venezuelan government, without ruling out the assassination or kidnapping of the chief of state, the foreword to a military intervention.

The denunciations against Venezuela have begun: in the first weeks of 2005, more than 50 press articles appeared in U.S. newspapers and television programs, where more than 85% of the "experts" consulted were affiliated with opposition institutions and publications. So much for proverbial objectivity of the press.

The most slanderous allegations come from "unnamed sources" in the Bush administration, adding fuel to the fire of the latest definition, begun this year by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "Hugo Chávez is a negative force in the region."

From this cry for war, the United States has let loose the dogs of prey from the CIA and the media at its service, including the press and institutions like the Organization of American States, with which they heat up the scene, and scattered signs, but very perceptible ones, begin to appear of the new crusade.

As a result, it's likely that within one year, maybe sooner, we will see a new book from Eva or from other audacious investigators, where they weave this new chapter in the saga of this sinister soap opera that we Cubans have suffered for more than 40 years and that has recently begun for the Venezuelans.

The Chavez Code alludes to an experience that intimately concerns every society in the world. An experience that brings us to the simple question: can any government in this world elude the "liberating" desires of the CIA and the NED, if it takes a road different from that selected by Emperor Bush for everyone on the planet?

The English edition of The Chavez Code will be available shortly on Amazon.com or directly through the author, Eva Golinger: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Spanish edition is available from Fondo Editorial Question, Quinta Lilam, Av. La Estancia c/Calle Los Mangos, Caracas, Venezuela, 011-58-212-731-1631 or directly through the author, reachable through the following email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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A group of almost 400 hundred Venezuelan journalists issued a statement today denouncing what they consider is a "campaign" from the United States against Venezuela.

The journalists argue that negative and frequent media coverage of Venezuela in the U.S., as well as the frequent comments by high ranking officials at the State Department, CIA, and White House, amount to a "campaign" similar to those applied against countries which were later invaded by the U.S.

"As it was done in the past to Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Grenada, and Haiti, the government of the United States today targets the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela with all its media and propaganda power. In those brother nations, such campaigns served as the preamble for an armed invasion by the main global military power," the statement says.

The conservative U.S. Fox News network recently ran a news series titled "The Iron Fist of Hugo Chavez," in which the twice-elected leader is portrayed as an authoritarian dictator. Last January, the U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) featured a report from Venezuela in which a family described fears of buying a new car for fear of having it confiscated by the Venezuelan government.

The explosive 17% GDP growth experienced by the Venezuelan economy and news such as a vehicles sales growth of 47% last year, are often ignored by the media when reporting on Venezuela, including both the NPR and Fox News reports.

"The intervention by the George W. Bush administration, as witnessed during the 2002 coup d'état and the oil strike, lost all subtlety and pretense during the recent conflict between Venezuela and Colombia over the abduction of Rodrigo Granda in Caracas. The State Department called South American nations to pressure the Hugo Chavez administration, failing to garner a single echo in the region," the statement continues.

Relationships beteween the government of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and the Unites States government, have deteriorated in 2005. The kidnapping and arrest of a Colombian guerilla leader in Venezuela sparked a brief, but tense stand-off between Venezuela and Colombia, with the US siding clearly with the latter. Chavez often cites evidence of of U.S. support for the 2002 coup d'etat against him and has complained of funds for groups that oppose him coming from the U.S. Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy.

Recent U.S. military presence near Venezuela caused concern and was taken as an act of provocation by several Venezuelan officials.

A non-official translation of the journalists' statement is reproduced below:

The Truth Is Greater Than Bush

Code of Ethics for Venezuelan Journalists

Article 40 – The journalist has the unavoidable duty of defending National Sovereignty and territorial integrity. Consequently, he/she must contribute to this patriotic task through trade union actions, opposing any practice or campaign that contradicts national interests, as well as peace and friendship among the people.

As it was done in the past to Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Grenada, and Haiti, the government of the United States today targets the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela with all its media and propaganda power. In those brother nations, such campaigns served as the preamble for an armed invasion by the main global military power.

The media campaign against Venezuela and its government worsened in 2005. In addition to the daily comments by high officials at the State Department, CIA, and White House, a campaign full of lies and distortions through major newspapers and news channels was initiated.

The intervention by the George W. Bush administration, as witnessed during the 2002 coup d'état and the oil strike, lost all subtlety and pretense during the recent conflict between Venezuela and Colombia over the abduction of Rodrigo Granda in Caracas. The State Department called South American nations to pressure the Hugo Chavez administration, failing to garner a single echo in the region.

In addition to this foreign campaign, several sectors within the national [Venezuelan] media have lost all scruples and joined this initiative. Under the hypocritical title of non-governmental organizations, several organisms, financed by the United States, have supported these dark objectives.

The end result is to overthrow President Hugo Chavez Frias' democratic government, one legitimated by eight electoral processes and a presidential recall referendum.

The Venezuelan journalists who undersign this petition, not only denounce the White House's campaign against our country, but also its sinister objective to end our process of transformation, regardless of national stability. Henceforth, we denounce this criminal aggression.

From Venezuela we alert the world of this interventionist plan based on lies, distortion, and manipulation. We call all journalists and the free and independent media to oppose this immoral and ostentatious campaign. Venezuela, in camparison to the United States, is a small country. But truth is greater than Bush and his interventionist and lying government.

Jesús Romero Anselmi, Desiree Santos A, Ilva Calderón Ángel, Juan Barreto, Helena Salcedo, Mabel Silva, William Lara, Vanessa Davies, Ernesto Villegas, Asalia Venegas, Francisco Solórzano, Cristina González, Roberto Malaver, Rafaela Cusati, Earle Herrera, William Castillo B., Freddy Fernández, José Roberto Duque, Vladimir Villegas, Eduardo Rothe, Thady Carabaño, Ivenny Marcano, Jacqueline Paredes, Alfredo Vitoria Pérez, Luis Leonardo Gómez, Sonia Vivas Torres, Ana Teresa Aranguren, Antonio Vega, Egilda Gómez, Arnoldo García, Santana Jerez Uzcátegui, Tatiana Arcos Murillo, Armando Carías, Luis Laya Guzmán, Marianela Vargas, Norah Gamboa, Carmen Cecilia Lara, Joanna Cadenas, Alice Peña, Geriz Garrido, Harry Rondón, Yelitza Medina, Mylene Cegarra Pérez, José Chirinos, Luis Hernández, Edinson Hurtado, Miguel Castillo, Juan Medina, Karelis Ríos, Edgar Ramírez, Esther Peña, Anarkali Volcán Núñez, Mina Pérez, Ramón Darío Rodríguez, Nadia Pérez, José Sabogal, Mailyn Talavera, Pedro Calzadilla Álvarez, Nayauri Jiménez, Ricardo Umaña, Susana Mancilla, César Quivera, Alejandra Fleitas, Perla Noguera, Glesxy Insú Dugarte, Francia Sarmiento, Ana Rosa Prieto, Indira Gamboa, Doriana Monasterios, Mónica Landaeta, Ivanova Rodríguez, José Oswaldo Pino, Teresa Maniglia, Francisco Pérez Santana, Doralys Martínez, Isabel Cordones, Patricia Vielma, Irama Pérez Blanco, Ángel Liendo Origen Marlon Acosta, Alexandra Sánchez, Emilce Chacón, Yasmirian Betancourt, Tomas Ramírez, Fernando Francisco Uquia, Ana Torrealba, Alberto Granado, Liz Dinicola, Daniel Guerra, Olga Aranguren, Yolanda Hernández, Richard Polo Castellanos, José Borges, Luis Alvis Castillo, Patricia Velásquez, Rosa María Gómez, Aminta Cardozo, Livia Suárez, Johansen Medina, Marvín Bolívar, Madeleine Camacho, Mario Antonio Socorro, Ninoska Perdomo, Maira de los Ríos, Magali Martínez, Isidro Amaurera Jilguera, Josefina Serrano, Victoria Mata, Alcides Castillo, Raima Rondón, Carlos Colina Yánez, Ricardo Durán, Orlando Ascanio, Pablo Bracho, Jimi López, Alexis González Mariche, José Luis Díaz Jiménez, Carlos Javier Rojas, Luis Rafael Martínez, Ciro Quintero, Solange Morales, Elsy Álvarez, Eduardo Maucó, León Olivier, Milagros Pérez, Ángel Bastidas, Octavio Beumont, Verónica Viloria, William García Insausti, Joaquín Ortuño, Yesica Herrera, Henry Baldayo, Liliana Pérez, Rubén Marcano, Alejandrina Gómez, Gloria Mejía, Jacqueline Durán Tuas, Belén Muñoz, Adalberto Rodríguez, Nicanor Gómez, Mario Muchacho, Giovanna Méndez, Orlando Conde, Kiramara Reyes, Felipe Araujo, Argenis Arraiz, William Romero, William Hernández, William Jiménez, Roy Daza, Carlos Espinoza, Evelio Silva, Sergio Fernández, Mirna Flores, Francisco Hernández Barcenas, Bárbara Mora, Lizzie López, Solangel Mendoza, Juan Monasterios Malave, Pavel Mudarra, María Fernánda Myerston, José Gregorio Nieves, Ingrid Calzadilla, Mariana Olivar, Pavel Rodríguez, Jorge Oropeza, Luis Felipe Rodríguez, Napoleón Pérez, Scalett Tortoledo, Vicenzo Villalobos, Aurora Salinas, Carmen Isabel Herrera, Tony Ortega Delgado, Nelida Arrechedera, Hindu Anderi, Yolanda Delgado, Chistine Nieves Suárez, Daniel Peralta, José Luis Noguera, Rosario Pacheco, Sulgey Colmenares, América Millán, Omar Pernía, Doménico Carucci, Daniela Carrillo, Lesbia Arvelo, María Eugenia Zambrano, Tania Vega, Klibis Marín, Nefetiti Blanco, Suelkis Contreras, Ana María Hernández, María Fernanda Vásquez, Fedora Lau, Amarilis Landaeta, Nathaly González, Carlos Julio Rojas, Verónika Talavera, Ingelore Murren, Hanny Figueroa, Romelia Matute, César Chirinos, Antonio Rodríguez, Jennifer Peña, Jorge Pérez Carreño, Jorge Luis López, Leonardo A. Padrón M., Armando Mentado Ochoa, Elsy Villarroel, David Berríos Juárez, Jenny Dorta, Rita Martínez, Floralba Calderón, Ybett González, Flor Berríos, Elimar Álvarez, Norelys Rivas, Rafael Zamora, Alirio Rumbos, María Virginia Vivas, Cecilia González, Carolina Curvelo, Rocío Mejía, Celina Sulbarán, Ricardo Cabrera, Gilberto Ruiz, Ramón A. Pereira Jerez, Ramiro Sánchez T., César Cañas, Rafael Castellano, Kamal Hazan, Alberto Martínez, María Alesandra Arias, Vanesa Araque García, Ángela Angulo, Marlene Espinoza, Aliria Quevedo, Ildelgar Gil, Kenia Kali Lugo, Amalia Fernández, Marlon Acosta Guerra, Andrea Salas, Rosa María González, Wiston Márquez, Carmen Rodríguez, Yesenia Méndez, Melián Herrera, Humberto Rosales, Betsi Ceballos, Verónica Morales, Ricardo Cardona, Eduardo Silvera, Emma Carolina Agurto, José Manuel Coa, Mayerlin Camacho Pérez, Siari Rodríguez, Diana Silva, Eleonora Pulido, Gabriela Vásquez, Adela Leal, Miguel Méndez, Joseline Jiménez, Rosa González, Norma C. Rojo, Gonzalo Medina, Meliaut Herrera, Cristina Rivero, Wilfredo Batista, Isabel Meléndez, Evelyn Guarenas, Orlando Rodríguez de Abreu, Carlos Villalba, Miryam Escalona, Harold Arcos, Lilybeth Michelangelli, Juan Carlos Pérez Escaño, Jessica Sosa, Adlemi Martín, Augusto Hernández, Luis Aguilera, Mireya Mata, Ramón Roquett, Pedro González Silva, Priscilla Méndez, Ezequiel Sánchez, Raiza Núñez, Angelynne Vergara, Douglas Bolívar, Raúl Cazal, Angélica Antías, Julio Pereira, Nínive Camacho, Susana Mancilla, Deiry Valera, Manuel Díaz, José Cuevas, Francis Zambrano, Leonardo Zurita, Aurelio Gil, Betty Colina, Ibelise Velázquez, Xavier De La Rosa, Erika Hernández, Nancy Mastronardi, Marcel Roo, Lilia Parra, Jorge Medina Lugo, Antonio Barrios, Carolina Rojas, José Vicente Scorza, Ernesto Vegas, Ylse Valera, Ingrid Calzadilla, Libonny Pérez, Rosángela Moreno, Anabel Caballero, Rocío Mejía, Wilfredo Rojas, Xiomara Borges, Doris Carvajal, Félix Gutiérrez, Carlos Vielma, Luis Medina, Alejandra Fleitas, Carmen Ostia, Hernán Mena Cifuentes, María Alejandra Chacón, Irving Guanipa, Eloi Yagüe, Alcides Maldonado, Freila Ramos, Morayvic Briceño, Agnedy Acevedo, Michel Caballero, Yulitza Patiño, Carlos Bermúdez, Kaori Flores, Raquel Chacón, Penélope de la Rosa, María Alejandra Chacón, María Alejandra Gutiérrez, Edgar Padrón, María Sonia Aquino, Ludovico Quiñones, Miriam Carolina Pérez, Lorena González, Milagros Simancas, Lisa Robles, Ingrid Navarro, Florángel Cazal, Marlitza Matheus, Enza García, Alfredo Palacios, José Manuel Blanco D., Jorge Rivas, Alexis Ramírez, Leonardo Ojeda, Amelia Bustillos Ponte, Jair Pernía, Daniel Escámez, Olys Guarate, María Isabel Cerón, Nely Gómez, Zuleima Centeno, Karina Quintero, Manuela Solé, Carlos Ibarra, Mauricio Rodríguez G., Lenelina Delgado, Angie Rangel, Zenndy Berríos, Tania González, Roselén Fernández, Beatriz Cárdenas, Andreina Fermín, Zulinel Rivero, Lorena Parada, Paola Becerra, Juan Diego Fresán, Wilfredo Pérez Bianco, Ana Gómez, Violeta Galárraga, Augusto Hernández, Mireya Mata, Luis Aguilera, Germán Villegas C., Ernesto J. Navarro.

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Current U.S. ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte has been nominated by President Bush to be chief advisor and the first National Intelligence Director,  with authority over 15 formerly independent intelligence agencies. So just who is he? For starters, John Negroponte is a multi-millionaire who has made a lot of money off of owning stock in companies that benefit directly from the war and occupation of Iraq. In Iraq, he has been linked to a proposal where U.S.-funded Central American-style death squads or the so called "Salvador option"  has been put forward as a way to quell the Iraqi insurgency against the U.S. occupation.

Negroponte has denied this, but his record indicates that his support for such a plan is not at all far-fetched. During his 41-year career with the State Department, or as some have called it "Death Squads Inc.", he and his cronies shepherded a murder machine from Vietnam to Iraq.  Negroponte worked as a political officer at the U.S. embassy in Vietnam from 1964-1968, a period during which there was increased involvement of the government in the war and thousands of executions of civilians and human rights abuses, including the massacres by the infamous "Tiger Force" of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.

As ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985, he was in charge of the Command Center set-up to stop and overthrow all the emerging national liberation movements taking place in Central America. Military budgets grew in Honduras alone from 4 million dollars to 77 million dollars and the CIA agents stationed there increased tenfold. Money was no object legality or illegality to fight the insurgencies.  He lied to Congress about the CIA-created "Battalion 316" Honduran death squad and covert operations that occurred. He supervised the building of the "El Aguacate" air base and other regional military training centers for the Central American Forces, the Contras, and the Salvadorean military. These bases were also secret detention and torture centers and were used to launch the covert war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua and the mining of their harbors.

But we must remember that Negroponte did not act alone, he got his marching orders from Ronald Reagan and William Casey and all the U.S. embassies in the region worked together to put down these revolutionary movements.In El Salvador, one player stands out from the rest, the current ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield. He played a decisive role along with John Negroponte as a political officer in the embassy cover-up of U.S. involvement in the assassination Archbishop Oscar Romero.  He also worked to cover up the murder of the four American Maryknoll nuns and other nuns escaping the violence there.  Brownfield also played a key role in directing the death squads and El Salvadorean military, who butchered tens of thousands of trade unionists and members of the FMLN. The death squads did not just kill these people, but in a lot of cases they dismembered them and placed their heads on poles as a warning to the rest of the population.

In Venezuela, ambassador Brownfield has been brought in as a relief pitcher to former ambassador Robert Shapiro, himself no stranger to coups.  Shapiro helped in the staging of the April 2002 coup against President Chavez and the destabilization programs that followed. He was also involved in the CIA-backed murderous overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende in September of 1973, and death of thousands of people under a military dictatorship that lasted a decade.

In fact, William Brownfield, as ambassador to Chile on the anniversary of the overthrow of that government in 2003, stated publicly in a memorial service that "people who hate the United States must be controlled, arrested or eliminated."

Brownfield's game plan for Venezuela is to unite the opposition, the 400 U.S. corporations, and the fifth-columnists and create an atmosphere for the overthrow of the Bolivarian Revolution. He along with Negroponte will be at the forefront in trying to stop the flowering of the Latin American and World revolutions that we find ourselves in this epoch.

These are the types of people the U.S. government makes responsible for carrying out U.S. policy around the world - under both Republican and the Democratic administrations. The interests of the U.S. imperialists are defended, while the revolutionary aspirations of working people are drowned in blood. Our task is to build a new society in which death squads, the Brownfields, Negropontes and the capitalist system that creates and nurtures them are consigned to the dust bin of history.

Hands Off Venezuela!
Forward to Socialism!

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I have said it already, I am convinced that the way to build a new and better world is not capitalism. Capitalism leads us straight to hell
(Hugo Chavez)

“I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism, the path is socialism”. With this clear statement on his weekly TV programme “Alo Presidente,” Chavez reaffirmed his point of view that socialism is the only way forward to solve the problems of inequality, misery and poverty that millions face in Venezuela and the world today.

He added: “I have said it already, I am convinced that the way to build a new and better world is not capitalism. Capitalism leads us straight to hell.” The President had already made similar statements speaking at the World Social Forum in Brazil at the end of January.

Last Sunday’s Alo Presidente programme was broadcast from Cocorote in the mainly agricultural state of Yaracuy. Chavez made an appeal to open a discussion about the question of socialism within his own party, the Movement for the Fifth Republic (MVR), and within the Bolivarian revolutionary movement in general.

He explained how this conviction came after many years of struggle: “I am convinced, at this stage of my life – I am now 50 years old – after six years as a president, after nearly 30 years of political struggle, since 1977, when I had the idea of taking an oath from a small group of fellow countrymen, soldiers, to create the first nucleus – there were only about 5 of us then – of what later became the MBR-200 [Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement 200] ... after many readings, debates, discussions and many travels around the world, etc., I am convinced, and I think that this conviction will be for the rest of my life, that the path to a new, better and possible world, is not capitalism, the path is socialism, that is the path: socialism, socialism”.

The public cheered and applauded the speech. The reaction of the live audience to Chavez’s words shows the enormous potential that there is in the Venezuelan revolutionary movement for the ideas of socialist transformation. This is the result of the practical experience of the last 16 years of struggle. February 27th marked the 16th anniversary of the “Caracazo” uprising, which was to transform Venezuela’s political life. And in particular the last six years since Chavez was elected in December 1998 have had an impact.

Hugo Chavez’s political evolution has not proceeded in a straight line, as he explained himself on Friday 25th, at a Summit on Social Debt in Caracas. He honestly pointed out that he had toyed with the idea of a “Third Way” as a solution to capitalism: “a third way, capitalism with a human face, trying to give the monster a mask.” But he concluded: “this mask has fallen to the floor shattered by reality”.

When he came to power in 1998 Chavez did not start from a socialist standpoint. He was committed to solving the problems of inequality, poverty, and misery of millions of Venezuelans. But he initially thought that could be done within the limits of the capitalist system. His government actually has gone out of its way not to violate private property rights of big landowners, bankers and businessmen.

The contradiction from the very beginning was precisely that any attempt to seriously address these problems would clash head on with the interests of the oligarchy, a tight coalition of interests of landowners, bankers, capitalists and the state bureaucracy, completely subordinated to the wishes of US imperialism.

Since President Chavez was seriously committed to solving these problems, the oligarchy, en masse, went over to the side of armed insurrection against the democratically elected government. This shows the extremely parasitical nature of the Venezuelan oligarchy (a feature it shares with the ruling classes of all capitalist countries in the so-called Third World). They organised the military coup of April 2002, the oil industry sabotage and bosses’ lockout of December 2002, the bringing of Colombian paramilitaries to Caracas and the fascist provocation of la guarimba in February 2004, the presidential recall referendum in August 2004, and so on.

It has been this rich experience of the revolutionary movement, faced with the constant provocations of the ruling class, that has pushed Chavez and many in the Bolivarian revolutionary movement to draw the conclusion that “Within the framework of capitalism it is impossible to solve the challenges of fighting against poverty, misery, exploitation, inequality” (Venezuela’s elections: defeat for the opposition, advance for the Bolivarian movement), as Chavez himself explained during the October regional election campaign.

This dynamic of action and reaction of the Venezuelan revolution reminds us in a very powerful way of the first years of the Cuban revolution. In a process of attack and counter-attack, the leadership of the Cuban revolution, which did not start with the intention of overthrowing capitalism, was forced, in order to solve the most pressing needs of the masses, to overthrow capitalism.

This is one side of the question, but there is another side. Chavez is a man who devours books and has an enormous thirst for ideas. This is no accident. It reflects the pressing need to find a way out of the problems faced by the revolution. That is why Hugo Chavez has been reading Marxist literature, which has undoubtedly had an influence on him. He has publicly praised Alan Woods’ book Reason in Revolt on several occasions. He has particularly quoted the section that deals with the molecular process of the revolution, a section that is particularly relevant to the stage the Bolivarian Revolution is now passing through.

Even more relevant is Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution, which he bought from the comrades of El Militante at the meeting with the workers in Madrid, and which he has also recommended enthusiastically. The main thesis of this book is precisely the fact that none of the tasks of the national democratic revolution can be carried out by the bourgeoisie in backward capitalist countries, since they have arrived too late on the scene of history, and that these tasks can only be solved by the working class through the struggle for socialism.

The central idea of the theory of Permanent Revolution is that in colonial and ex-colonial countries the struggle for the bourgeois democratic tasks, if it is pursued to the end, must lead (in an uninterrupted or permanent manner) to the socialist revolution. But that is only half of the theory. The other main idea in the Permanent Revolution is that revolution cannot be limited within the borders of one country, but must spread internationally as the only guarantee of its victory. Chavez has also commented favourably upon this idea, stating publicly that Trotsky was right against Stalin on this question, and that the Bolivarian Revolution must spread to other countries in order to succeed.

At the Summit on Social Debt, he said that so far in six years of government, “we have not defined our model as socialist”. He added: “I am saying this in my personal capacity, to contribute to the debate, to open the discussion within the parties that support the revolution”. But his position is clear: “if it is not capitalism, then, what is it? I have no doubts, it is socialism”. On Alo Presidente he stressed the need for a debate on this question: “let’s discuss, we are not afraid of ideas”.

In previous occasions Chavez has made it clear that what is needed is to study the original ideas of socialism, which have been distorted by Stalinism. “Which socialism, of the many that there are? We could think that none of those that have existed, though they represent experience, achievements, advancement in many cases, we will have to invent it, this is why this debate is so important, we must invent 21st century socialism.”

At the end of his Alo Presidente programme he insisted that the kind of socialism he is thinking about is based on “revolutionary democracy”: “all of this, the urban land committees, the endogenous growth nucleus, the ‘Into the neighbourhood’ mission, the Housing Mission... all of these are tools for the building of socialism, we must move away from capitalism”.

Chavez has said on many occasions that the only way to end poverty is, “to give power to the poor”. That idea is basically correct, but like all the other ideas expressed by Chavez, it must be given a concrete content. Genuine socialism can only be based on the democracy of workers’ committees in the factories, workplaces and working class communities, soldiers’ committees and peasants’ committees. This was actually carried into practice by the Bolshevik Party under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky in Russia in 1917, although it was later betrayed and distorted by Stalin.

Chavez’s latest statements about socialism come after the Zamoran decrees to speed up land reform were passed in January and the expropriation of Venepal, also in January. The land reform decrees have already been used to take over part of El Charcote ranch (owned by British multimillionaire Lord Vestey). Venepal is now jointly owned by the state and the workers and run on the basis of a structure in which the Workers’ Assembly is the supreme body. The workers at the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas (the CNV makes valves for the oil industry), also abandoned by its owners, have now re-launched their struggle and are also demanding nationalisation under workers’ control.

It is clear that the Bolivarian Revolution now stands at the turning point. If it is to go forward, it must now grasp the nettle, confront the oligarchy and carry out the expropriation of the land, the banks and the big enterprises that remain in private hands. In order to avoid the abomination of bureaucracy and totalitarianism, it must develop a democratic model – not the corrupt pseudo-democracy of the bourgeoisie but a new model of socialist democracy that means that power is firmly in the hands of the workers and peasants.

Some people say that the Bolivarian model must not take its ideas from other countries, especially Europe. If that means that the Bolivarian Revolution must not slavishly import foreign models, we agree. The Venezuelan revolution has its own character, personality and historical traditions and the masses have already demonstrated their colossal capacity for creativity and inventiveness.

But if it signifies a national limitedness and narrow mindedness, that is bad and has nothing in common with the true ideas of Bolivar. Let us not forget that Simon Bolivar based himself on a very European model – that of the French Revolution. In the same way the modern descendants of Bolivar will seek to learn from other revolutions. After all, we do not need to re-invent the wheel. Revolution did not end with Bolivar, and the revolutionary ideology was later perfected and placed on a scientific basis by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, and other revolutionary thinkers.

The modern Bolivarians will be as open to genuinely revolutionary ideas from other countries as was their founder. It is no accident that, along with Bolivar and the other heroes of the Latin American revolutionary tradition, Hugo Chavez quotes the works of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky. The modern Bolivarians will repeat the experience of the Russian Revolution, but on a higher level, and filling it with a genuinely Venezuelan and Latin American content. In this way they will preserve the best of the old to produce something genuinely new and original.

Above all, it is necessary to commence the debate on ideas that President Chavez has called for. The Marxist tendency represented in Venezuela by the Revolutionary Marxist Current, and internationally by El Militante and Marxist.com will participate actively in this debate. This is the only way in which we can develop a layer of revolutionary cadres, integrated in the Bolivarian Movement, capable of providing the necessary guidance in the decisive battles against capitalism.

The opening of the debate about socialism represents a decisive turning point in the Venezuelan revolution and it has worldwide implications. For the first time in many years, the leader of a mass revolutionary movement is drawing the correct conclusions from his own experience. He has come to the conclusion that capitalism cannot solve the problems of the masses and that socialism is the only way forward. That should be warmly welcomed by all sincere revolutionaries. Now what is needed is to convert words into deeds!

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In a speech that further solidified President Chavez's embrace of socialism, Chavez said that he "has no doubts" that socialism is the only model that will allow societies to overcome poverty. According to Chavez, "Within the capitalist model it is impossible to overcome the drama of poverty, of misery, and of inequality."

Chavez gave this speech at the opening of an international conference on the "social debt," which began on Friday in Caracas, where analysts from around the world discussed the foreign debt, the Social Charter of the Americas, environmentalism, and Western domination. Chavez's speech at the conference represented a further endorsement of how his views had moved towards an embrace of socialism since his speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a few weeks ago.

Chavez added that it was necessary to "invent the socialism of the 21st century," rather than applying the old model that had been tried before. "This is a debate that we've begun to have in Venezuela," said Chavez.

According to Chavez, it is not just the Third World debt that prevents their development, but also their lack of unified action. Also, it is not just neo-liberal capitalism that contributes to poverty, but its concept of sustainable development does not help either.

Instead, Chavez proposes "endogenous development" and the creation of an International Humanitarian Fund, 50% of which would come from Third World countries' foreign debt payments, which are estimated to be at $270 billion per year.

Chavez also reiterated the need for debtor countries to develop a unified strategy for dealing with the Third World debt.As part of this need Venezuela is promoting the creation of a Social Charter for the Organization of American States, which would complement the existing Democratic Charter. The Social Charter will be one of the main topics of discussion at the conference.

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Venezuela's National Lands Institute (INTI) says 4 million hectares are in the hands of 150 persons.

INTI president, Eliecer Otaiza has splashed adverts in the national press listing the supposed owners of idle lands and question them to present themselves with papers confirming ownership.

"We are complying with the dictates of the law ... we want owners and presumed owners to prepare themselves so that we can proceed legally knowing they have complied with the dictates of the law."

The people mentioned have 15 working days starting 8 days after the appearance of the adverts to present themselves and defend their property.

The advert lists the following farms in Apure and Aragua (12), Falcon (12), Tachira, Miranda and Delta Amacuro totaling around 4.5 million hectares. Perhaps the most famous name that appears on the list is former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez' wife, Cecilia Matos. Other names include Leopoldo Lopez Gil and rebel Air Force (FAV) Captain Silvio Bustillos. Otaiza admits that these are the alleged owners.

INTI has so far assessed 15 million hectares, discovering more than 4 million in the hands of 150 persons, which translates into 90% of farms in the hands of 1% of alleged owners.

"The assessment has been undertaken guaranteeing the rule of law ... some inspections have produced false documents with very clear interests that suppose tenancy of large extensions of lands in few hands."

Otaiza adds that some lawyers have been attempting to draw up new land registers to sustain supposed tenancies ... "they will be handed over to the courts."

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