News and Analysis

Before I arrived here in Venezuela, I had planned to work with the Bolivarian Circle Abrebrecha (part of the Collective Carlos Reina of El 23 de Enero) as part of a field study project in my studies at the University of California. Looking back then, I didn't know too much about the actual structure of the Bolivarian circles; how could I have when the mainstream information that we receive in the US is that Bolivarian circles are micro-terrorist organizations that infiltrate community democracy? Nonetheless, I arrived here with a vision of Venezuelan democracy that sought reinforcement from what I had read in the alternative media, and with an open palate that yearned to taste what "freedom" really was all about, to learn about the ways in which the community designed, constructed, and achieved their own avenues of empowerment and sovereignty. I couldn't have chosen a better place to arrive than El 23 de Enero, ejemplo de combate.

I arrived in the hands of Gustavo Borges, whose revolutionary ideology, bonds of solidarity, and openness immediately called my attention and impressed upon me even more the lies and propaganda that we are told in the US about the whole world hating us, the people of the United States. In my first week here, I remained wide-eyed everywhere we went, 24-7, as my dream of witnessing and experiencing the people's revolutionary organizing projects came true before me. Everywhere I went even just in my first afternoon reaffirmed this dream; as throughout El 23 de Enero groups of students gathered on the sidewalks singing along to the lyrics of Ali Primera in celebration of the Liberator Simon Bolivar's birthday, the UBEs gathering during lunchtime to watch the latest news analysis and then to discuss their own strategies for implementing their vision within their own communities. Yup, I have come to the right spot, I knew in this moment upon arrival.

Having arrived in late June of 2004, the notorious referendum of August 15th was rapidly nearing upon the Venezuelan people and the rest of the world, eagerly presenting itself as the reaffirmation of the hopes, dreams, achievements, and power of the Venezuelan people along with their leader, Hugo Chavez Frias. Before I even left the airport, I met an escualido with European roots who informed me that "only the ignorant support Chavez" and that in reference to the referendum, that Chavez was "already gone". This fragmented and segregated perception of reality also revealed itself when Gustavo took me to El Recreo, an upscale, 7-story escualido mall where young women walk about with nose job band aids and just about everyone is decked out in the latest expensive fashions, distinctly unaware of the revolutionary process that lies outside of this plastic playground and within the communities that have never had access to the same luxuries that this oblivious class enjoys. Likewise, the people of the revolution have now found and co-created access to a life these escualidos will most likely never enjoy; a life full of and dedicated to the celebration of the affirmation of life itself, of the foundations of community that are woven into the process of empowerment and collective participation, of becoming more fully-human by sharing in the light and sacredness, along with the pain and suffering, of other fellow human beings. This process of political enfranchisement, discovery of the capacities and potentials we all hold when we work together, the magic in being the pioneers of our own future.

I quickly became immersed in the every day life of the barrio, as Gustavo immediately introduced me to the various co-members of the circle, most of who are involved in facilitating and supporting the missions, such as Misión Robinson 2, and Misión Ribas. The miracles and magic I experienced and saw within these classrooms were enough to fill my heart with love and inspiration for a lifetime. I also spent time with various organizers in the community who work with the urban land and health committees, urban restoration projects, and Misión Vuelvan Caras, all which offered itself to me as an excellent prototype for a political analysis of community organizing structure, one which offers hope, affirmation, collectivism, and an example of the ways in which communities can organize to obtain resources from institutional structures without compromising their sovereignty.

Gustavo brought me not only around various facets of organizing in El 23 de Enero, but also opened doors for me to experience the bonds of solidarity the collective builds within the rural sectors of the countryside. There I found groups that are embarking on the process of empowerment and economic justice in a crusade to liberate themselves from their oppressive local governments; now thanks to their democratic organizing efforts, they have gained a tremendous step in their triumph of the elections of October 31. We spent time in the southern zone of Miranda State, with the agricultural cooperative CAFECAO, who has organized itself, with the solidarity efforts of Gustavo and his son Maikol, into cooperative cells as well as UBEs and the missions. Thanks to the organizing anchor of the cooperative, communities throughout this sector of Miranda were able to mobilize for the August 15th and October 31st elections and achieve their own victory.

Thus above provides a preliminary framework for my experience working in Venezuela and specifically within the community here in El 23. What follows below is a modest attempt to illustrate the world that has been opened up to me by the people of Venezuela, who in turn, have opened up their doors and their hearts and shared with me their heroic tales. Because of them, I have been offered a glimpse into what economic, political, social, and human justice and peace mean, how people here organize around it, and what my understanding of my role within its process is.

The Missions

Many people I have talked with who aren't with the process criticize the missions for not being a useful way to redirect national resources back into the country itself. Most of this misguided analysis either includes an inherent racist or classist perspective, as anyone who fails to recognize the importance and revolutionary significance of this project most definitely carries an interest to benefit by the oppression of others. Most fundamentally, the structure of the missions carries with it a profound sense of human dignity and basic social justice, as well as bearing in its foundation the basic premise and stronghold of democracy. It is an enabler of empowerment and a key tool the community may use in facilitating its own liberation and development, the basic principles of Simon Bolivar. Without this crucial step, neither social justice nor any kind of real development will ever be achieved.

Not only are the missions themselves a direct tool for empowerment and community development, but also act as a radical example for shifting ideologies and paradigm transformation within the educational system, thus acting as a microcosm for the Bolivarian Revolution itself. As the educational missions practice radical education in their content as well as shifting social structures to enable the masses that before had remained without access to the traditional education structure, the health mission Barrio Adentro provides free access to professional medical doctors, a service to which the poor have never had access, the community markets mission Mercal provides an avenue for economic justice by providing low cost food in poor neighborhoods, and the employment mission Vuelvan Caras becomes an essential part of the endogenous development strategy in which the country is moving, it is obvious that the missions have become the heart, engine, and backbone of the social change process.

In each of the educational missions in which I was blessed to participate, Robinson, Ribas, and Sucre, what I encountered there was magically revolutionary and revolutionarily magical. The students are bright eyed, fully engaged, and full of passion, and are living examples of community in action. I was so impressed and inspired by the dedication of each section of students as well as their facilitators, who are also living examples of revolutionary dedication and participatory democracy in action; in Misión Robinson by the students eagerness to learn and participate, often arriving to class an hour or more early, with obvious love and admiration for their "profe", in Misión Ribas by the students dedication and discipline, often meeting outside of designated class time to make up work or starting class by their own initiative if the facilitator had not yet arrived, in Misión Sucre by the fierce questioning and analysis, tackling complex issues, and always applying a revolutionary framework in the dialogues we shared during my visit to their classes. They are all beyond prepared to serve- and already do serve- as living models of the revolution and as agents and leaders of profound revolutionary change in their communities.

Bolivarian Circles

Using the Bolivarian Circle Abrebrecha as the model for my understanding of the Bolivarian Circle structure, I was able to catch a glimpse into the world of organized leadership developed in the community through a purely grass roots model. After my arrival here, and some explanation by Gustavo and other circle members, I was able to see that the central framework for the Bolivarian Circles has changed into one of adopting the line of the missions as their main form of support in the revolutionary process. Seeing this structure take shape mirrored to me the ways in which grass roots community organizers and organizations can in fact, work in harmony with institutional structures when working for a common cause with a common vision. But what's more, is that the leadership lived and developed through this process ensures that the community will never be forced to remain dependent on any type of institutional structure for their livelihood or to support them in their struggle for revolution. The gracefulness of this leadership in its navigation of the development of its community is a shining star for those around them to follow in its path and has indicated to the rest of society a platform for struggle that rests solely upon the efforts of the community itself.

Aside from the missions themselves, a central tenet of the Bolivarian Circles is also planted in directly supporting, creating, and facilitating all sorts of community projects, from murals and art to community media to social movements and direct democracy campaigns to simply acting as social vigilantes and assuming the responsibility as social leaders within their community. Thus, the Bolivarian Circles are the anchor of community participation, mobilization, and grass roots political consciousness.

Bolivarian Schools

Possibly one of the most inspiring parts of the process here for me, the Bolivarian Schools are a ray of light, hope, and foundational instruments of social change that lies within the revolutionary process. I have seen examples of Bolivarian Schools across the spectrum, but when I see and experience the ones that are working in the positive, there is nothing more hopeful or beautiful or inspiring than to see this transformation in action. The schools are a vehicle for the wisdom of Bolivar and the ideals of the revolutionary process to come alive and to be lived, not only for the children as students, but for the teachers and for the entire community. There is an intrinsic happiness and joy in the students' and teachers' faces as new material is explored, new relationships solidified, and social contracts strengthened. When asked how they feel in being a part of the process within their particular role, there are teachers who shed tears of happiness as they express the joy and beauty they find in the Bolivarian Schools, saying that it is there that families are formed, community found, and purpose realized. The bonds of solidarity among one another thus begin at an early age as the pedagogy of liberation is taught and practiced in every relationship. Within this sphere of consciousness of our connection to and love among one another, the seeds for the future generation are planted and nurtured, a process which strengthens and ensures the life of the revolution every day.

Although participation in the revolutionary process or even the experience of life in Venezuela is enough to politicize and mobilize millions, the fact still remains that we must create a space for transforming the mentalities of self-centeredness, individuality, and brutal capitalism that are often beaten into us from early on. The Bolivarian Schools serve society as an excellent framework to teach revolutionary and transformative values while the children of today's understanding of themselves and of their world is still being formed. The example of the teacher as well as the content and manner of presentation of the material are extremely crucial in indicating values of cooperation, peace, collectivism, justice, and respect. As the children spend practically all day in school, where they receive their meals as well, there is a tremendous opportunity to reflect these values onto the youth.

If the values and vision of a society are to truly change in a direction of more social awareness and compassion for each and every person, we must stretch ourselves beyond the rhetoric we talk of in the streets and commit ourselves to practice and live these beliefs and ideals. Che talked about the "new [hu]man" within the context of revolution. The Bolivarian Schools provide an excellent arena to facilitate the ideals of this process, as they provide a context for shaping our social beings so that we may grow to be participatory, caring, compassionate actors in society.

Urban Land and Health Committees

Time and time again in my reflection upon and analysis of successful community organizing, I return to the structure upon which organizing strategies are based in El 23 de Enero. This is a blueprint which not only constructs an avenue down which resources may trickle, bringing benefits to the community, but also acts as a larger mechanism through which the community implements its own ways of uniting to solve common problems and empowers itself to steer its own course. It appears to be the only real way in which the sovereignty of the community may be achieved or long-term development of a community may come about, as it requires the organization and initiative of the community itself. Whatever type of government may enter the political spectrum in years to come, this organizational structure ensures that the community will always have a collective model to fall back on in case the tune of the government changes.

I learned something very important from the work I saw within the urban land committees. The concept of economic justice is more than gaining resources or fair income; at its most basic level lies the concept of human dignity. The solidarity process in helping people gain resources to repair and if necessary, rebuild their homes so that they may live in dignity is one of the most fundamental pieces of the process, and it is a process that begins at the grass roots level. Without the participation of the people on the ground and building of bridges between institutions, leaders, and the people within the community, government resources that trickle down from institutional orgs such as Fundabarrios and Fundacomun would not be nearly as effective or at all serve as a window for the community to organize itself in an independent and sovereign manner.

The health committees comprise a similar structure that exemplifies the way in which bottom-up organizing creates a foundation upon which communities may build their unity and search out avenues for internal support. Once again, this bridge of support between the community and the mission Barrio Adentro creates a link within the community, through which the people, organizers, and Cuban doctors are connected. Similarly to the structure of the urban land committees, without this organizing on the ground by the people themselves, the efforts of the Cuban doctors who have arrived in the barrios to work with the poor would not be nearly as effective.


As I ventured outside of the Caracas organizing bubble, I encountered a sphere of contradictions within the revolutionary process itself- empty promises, revolutionarily-principled organizers lacking methodological structure necessary to organize communities, and escualidos using "Bolivarian" institutional frameworks. Not to say that there aren't those who are quite organized, principled, and successful in engineering social change in their communities; for example those working in Acarigua for ongoing social change as well as for the Chavista primary elections held October 10, but what I saw was the absence of a domineering culture of community organizing structure that is so present in historically revolutionary communities such as El 23 de Enero, or even Caracas itself. The Portuguesa government claims to be Bolivarian in nature, came out strongly in condemning the 2002 coup, and has put many programs in place for the rehabilitation of homes, among other programs. So how is it different? Why do people there trying to improve their communities insist on hopelessly smashing their heads against institutional structures that operate so beauracratically and in an ideological sense offer no alternative to the Fourth Republic structure? I understand it as a fundamental lacking in the example of a paradigm of self-mobilizing culture that people can implement in their own communities to work for their own liberation. In attending a conference given by the state governor, Antonia Muñoz, I listened to her as she repeatedly to her constituencies in what should have been a talk solidifying her campaign apologized for the lack of community projects put forth by the government, saying "there's no money, there's no money". The next day, in conversing with a member of a poor community about organizing strategies, I listened as he said, "but we don't have any money, how can we organize?" It was only too easy to see the framework mirrored to the community by the institutional structure. The government has not yet indicated to its people the struggle that takes shape by collectively organizing in a democratically participatory manner amongst themselves in their own communities, developing an ideology that only they themselves can work for their own liberation; to remain dependent on an institution to give them what they need, no matter how "revolutionary" the institution claims to be, will never give way to sustained revolution. It is not a question of money, it is about coming together and creating outlines for projects with the resources that they share. If they (the government leaders) aren't careful, there is the potential threat of moving people to the right when they perceive that the "Bolivarian government" doesn't practice what it preaches, or even if what it preaches often fails to formulate a truly revolutionary foundation for its constituencies.

What was especially powerful about this visit was in gaining a better understanding of what it means to talk about the "revolutionary process" instead of coining the Bolivarian Revolution as one event or associating it simply with the Chavez national government. Those who claim to be agents of the process but arrive with no more than hollow rhetoric will most certainly ensure the stagnancy of the process in many parts of the country and the ability of the opposition to remain alive and active.


The ecological paradise which Merida boasts is likewise a mixed bag, with the politics of the ULA acting as a penetrative force to the spreading of revolutionary movements. Before I arrived, I had always envisioned that Merida was another organizing stronghold, largely in part due to the massive student population that resides there. The lesson learned from Merida, specifically the ULA? Don't equate student organizing with Chavismo necessarily. Although I met all sorts of professionals and students alike organizing in accordance with the revolutionary process, I as well encountered escualido student groups who took on "revolutionary" rhetoric, but as nothing more than an empty shell.

Miranda, CAFECAO

Thanks to the collective Carlos Reina, specifically Gustavo and son Maikol Borges, I was granted access to another organized, revolutionary front in the mountains of the southern zone of Miranda, bordering Guarico State. As I arrived in June, the entire community was undergoing political organizing formation and strategies, and several of our trips up to the mountain consisted of attending UBE meetings and the like instead of focusing on the economic functionality of the cooperative. What I realized, though, is that a cooperative is not just an alternative economic entity- it has the potential to act as an organizing prototype for an entire community, a mobilizing agent through which community members may instrument social change. Within the Bolivarian Revolutionary process, this is the intended course for all of the cooperatives; to form a platform upon which all community projects and organizing may be mounted and a collective paradigm formed.

Probably the most impressionable aspect of this community was its fierce organizing efforts and solidarity with the process in the face of such fascist economic and political repression and campaigns of violence led by the notorious Mendoza government. This government has changed since the victorious elections of October 31, but many legacies of the former system of inequality still linger. The solidarity efforts orchestrated between the mountain towns such as Macania, Los Rosales, and El Jovito and the Guarico pueblo San Francisco de Macaira have in fact been a great source of hope and also living examples of what organized people can accomplish, even under the darkest of circumstances. For years the two community zones have organized transportation of agricultural products by means of a make-shift highway, often unnavigable after heavy rains. The main route consists of a three to four hour trip one way; after rains, considerable additional time is needed to basically reconstruct parts of the road using picks and humanpower of pushing the trucks over large mud deposits. Day in and day out the youth and workers of the region make these trips not only for economic survival but also in hope that the dream of a viable highway will one day reach their community. In the kinds of organizational strategies that have surfaced here in the mountains echoes the type of organizing structure found in the revolutionary barrios such as El 23 de Enero. With the knowledge that no change will ever truly form for the long term without the grass roots organization and empowerment of the people themselves, the community here has aggressively taken it upon itself to organize into cells, not only for the functionality of the cooperative CAFECAO, but also in a search to construct a framework for problem-solving and conflict transformation within the community as well as a grass roots political platform from which a revolutionary campesino movement may spring. These cells act as mobilizers and active vigilantes of the efforts of the community, much like the Bolivarian Circles. In this way, a solid base of participatory, community organization has taken place, in whereas these cells are now able to act as bridges between the community and the types of institutional structures that can provide funding for projects such as the construction of a real highway.

With sustained efforts by community members as well as with the recent election of the new Miranda governor Diosdado, the dream of a highway is coming true. In and of itself this achievement is an inspirational example of what is possible within an organized community, one that has for long been forgotten and without available resources. Because of sustained community efforts in the mountains of Miranda, the people have gained access to programs such as Misión Robinson, Ribas, and Barrio Adentro.

As I have seen countless cooperatives that function as "empty shells"- borrowing a cooperative structure often times simply to gain access to funding, I have come to understand the essentiality of ideology building and construction of a profound revolutionary change that begins with each individual yet built by community. The missions and Bolivarian schools play a tremendous role in this construction, but its birth also lies within collective community projects, where step by step, people learn what collectivism is all about and how its magic can begin to not only profoundly change economic, social, and political structures and transform barriers, but also in our relation to one another as human beings.

Sucre en Comunidad

There is not a single better example that I have seen that illustrates this capacity of social transformation than the community newspaper here in El 23 de Enero, Sucre en Comunidad. This breathtaking, fascinating project has succeeded in mobilizing a poor community, all through completely grass roots means, to collective, animated participation in a project that highlights the efforts, problems, organizing, and cultural events of the community, lending itself as an instrument for furthering the unity of the community, self-reflection, and a space created for possible solutions to problems. Its articles and photos bring to light community events, urban culture, projects of community groups such as the Bolivarian Circles and urban land and health committees, and local celebrations organized and supported by community members. Its strict adherence to community and refusal to give itself in to empty cooperative structures for funding gives it a unique flavor and the ability to remain independent in its reporting and political analysis of events as well as political figureheads. It is a project that has spearheaded a collective participation in El 23 de Enero and a passion of every day community members to get involved in a project that they feel represents them.

Sucre en Comunidad acts not only as a microcosm for the kinds of organizing processes developed by the people and alliance building between revolutionary actors and other community members, but also as a macrocosm as it is a project which itself mobilizes a community and is in fact a product of their own mobilization. It is indeed an inspiring example of what is possible when people unite for their own empowerment and the improvement in the quality of life in their community, and a living example and manifestation of what the community, when organized, is capable of producing. It then lends itself as a tool through which the community can begin to fine-tune its organizing efforts and work on solving its own problems. Its publication through the collaboration of many members of the community- not just a few here and there- demonstrates that organized communities have the distinct capability of solving problems such as crime or delinquency by creating a participatory environment for its members. Thus, the newspaper provides an avenue for social change itself- both in the micro organizing strategies such as putting together the paper itself and also in the larger ways in which a community can embark on its own process of solving its own problems.

So really, community media is not just about highlighting community projects and having members of the community participate- although this is a tremendously important piece of community empowerment and sovereignty, but it is also about remaining independent from the type of institutional structures that potentially infringe on expression of the community. Even the alternative media cooperative structure here in Caracas remains incapable of bringing the justice of sovereign expression to the barrio, as a contingency for funding lies in publishing propaganda that supports government programs like FIDES or specific leaders such as Freddy Bernal. Thus, part of the community's expression is potentially censored, if for example, the need for critique becomes necessary. This is an example of "institutionalized" revolution- part of the process which corrupts the idea of what a cooperative is in the name of gaining access to available funds.

Thus, this project of Sucre IS the community, a manifestation of the collective participation of reclaiming one's community for itself and more, a celebration of urban culture...of course a culture with deep roots in revolution. It is about people being excited and passionate about participating, about animating them to collective action. As the vision began as a project just within Barrio Sucre, but little by little the idea is that it becomes a newspaper of all of El 23 de Enero, as El 23 doesn't have its own newspaper.

By contributing and participating, the community ensures the life of the paper, as it is not a project of Gustavo; rather he is a facilitator of its publication and organization. It is a project of the people, where they can hold their paper and point to their collaboration and identify with the project, a project which inspires people to collective action and collaboration, where they become co-creators in the ideology that shapes their lives in the barrio and springs them to action.


Like Sucre, el23.net functions as a network of grass roots community empowerment projects that illustrate direct social change movements within a community as well as connecting these efforts to international events and issues and larger networks of information. Its user-friendly layout gives way to involvement in community struggle through collective creative imagination and construction of alternatives, suggesting that the neither internet nor web design are the exclusive property of an elite class. El23.net also plays a part in animating much of the community to use computers and the internet, which when used in this way is a tremendously powerful tool in coordinating collective action and movements and in building links of support. This webpage has not only succeeded in developing these bridges of communication, participation, and support within the Caracas area itself, but has served as an instrumental force in connecting communities worldwide and also is a great source of pride for the community of El 23 de Enero in having a website they can call their own.

Community Radio

As a US citizen, the vast numbers of community radio stations and projects here in Venezuela continue to inspire me and are just an incredible result of the process itself which carries with it a mandate for people to take charge of their own media, and thus, community expression. This is one of the most powerful ways in which a community can reclaim what is theirs, the power of representation. The different projects I have seen and participated in, from community radio in Los Teques (Radio Comunitaria Carrizal), to programs Polémicas and Bolivarians Without Borders in headquarters YVKE Mundial, have shown me the different ways in which different nations and international communities as well as the local nucleus of a people may interact, communicate, and forge merging struggles and paths into one united front. As community radio is practically outlawed by the "forces of the market" in the United States, while stations are one by one snatched up by huge corporate right-wing structures in collaboration with the FBI who raids pirate and community stations, thus forcing them off the air and out of public consciousness, the hope for a collective, communal voice becomes rarer and rarer. This hope dims even more as even independent internet sites are being shut down internationally, such as indymedia.org in some countries. There is an imminent, global emergency for community voice and expression through the air ways, a movement that Venezuela pioneers, a beacon of light within these dark times.


The August 15th referendum was a triumph on so many different levels, and a firm affirmation of the direction of the country as well as the efforts and ties of solidarity among the people themselves. Like Sucre, August 15th serves as a mirror for the micro and macrocosms in effect that are reflected in this movement, those towards economic and political sovereignty of the Venezuelan people as well as community empowerment and the building of a collectivist mentality.

The crucial precedent was also set in terms of a "defeat for the NED" (National Endowment for Democracy, a right-wing private institution in the US used as a tool for destabilization campaigns). After years of contributing millions to opposition groups in Venezuela, providing not only an economic support base as well as a political momentum for the opposition, one of the lessons of the historic recall was that this type of instrument of which the US is so fond of using, no longer will succeed in Venezuela; the masses of society have assumed control and power over the direction of their own country.

Without repeating everything that has been published in mass since the historic victory not only for Venezuela, but for Latin America in its entirety, what now follows in the aftermath is equally important. The Venezuelan masses, who after 40 years living in a two-party, falsely painted democracy, have been mobilized once again to come out to the polls and participate in electoral politics, something which the majority had given up on after countless false promises, now in a new hope and faith that their chosen leaders will respond to their needs and their trust. It is crucial, thus, that these leaders- not only Chavez but all of the Chavista mayors and governors that were elected in the October 31 elections- comply with the word of the people. The masses have opened up to them their dreams and their faith in the Fifth Republic system...if they are failed not only is it likely they will never believe in electoral politics again, but that a new opening for the opposition will expand.

Being present here for this historic and magical moment and day was more than I could ever have dreamed. Seeing, hearing, and feeling the energy of the people as they patiently waited in line to cast their vote, as they anxiously awaited Chavez' arrival in El 23 de Enero, or observing the vast differences that appeared between not only the Chavista and opposition media channels but also the differences (and similarities) between the (opposition) Venezuelan and US news (thus revealing the quite obvious connection between local struggles for power and against imperialism). It was a day (and night) filled with light, love, and celebration, Venezuelan-style with a people and their leader, which I can only describe as a divine pleasure and profound inspiration to which have been a part. Thank you to the Venezuelan people for showing me and filling me with hope to continue on in the struggles that lie for us in the United States and in the world.

In a humble attempt to thank all of here who have made my experience so memorable and who have subsequently knowingly or not politicized me through their incredible revolutionary example, I realize that this space is small; know that the space I hold for you all in my heart is great, and will not shrink with time. To Gustavo- someone who has been a supervisor, friend, comrade, and mentor to me over these six months- has been there through thick and thin, and has been a guide and inspiration throughout. To all the members of Bolivarian Circle Abrebrecha and Collective Carlos Reina- Iliana and Marjorie Villalobos, Mari Reina, Alexander, Gustavito, Maikol- you have all been so wonderful, fun, beautiful, amazing revolutionaries and friends. Your dedication and devotion to your work, to your people, to the Revolution most certainly will never die, Patrulleros, Patrulleras! To all of the beautiful and inspiring students in Misión Robinson, Ribas, Sucre, Vuelvan Caras- here in Caracas and El 23 de Enero, as well as Macaira, Amazona, and communities throughout Venezuela, it has truly been a pleasure. I look forward to the next time. To Eduardo, another cooperative organizer here in Venezuela, thank you for the laughs, wisdom, and support. Magaly, Freddy, and all the folks who have given me shout outs and space on their radio programs, it was a blast and an honor, and I'll keep my dial tuned your way in the States. Thank you! To the commie family and Boris and friends in Portuguesa and Merida, the colorful and joyous folks in Amazonas, friends in Sucre...keep shining, and thank you for all you have given me. I love you all.

For more info, visit:



PDF files of community newspaper Sucre en Comunidad available at el23.net, link Prensa Comunitaria

Previous letters from Katie (published by the Cybercircle.org)

Katherine Lahey

Correspondent el23.net
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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German HOV Supporters visit Venezuelan Consulate to hand over Petitions calling for the nationalisation of Venepal

Well over 1,000 signatures collected by German HOV supporters in recent weeks and months were handed over by a delegation of eight activists to the Venezuelan General Consulate in Frankfurt last Thursday. The signatures on the sheets included those of several euro MPs, regional MPs, shop stewards and union full timers, student activists and artists. Those signatures that had been collected only in recent weeks referred to the occupation of the Venepal factory in Morón (Carabobo), demanding that the enterprise should nationalised by the Venezuelan government and placed under workers' control.

Although the visit was of a rather spontaneous character and had not been coordinated with the consulate beforehand, César Osvelio Méndez González, the Consul General, gave us a warm welcome and spent well over an hour discussing with the delegation on the development in Venezuela in recent years.

"We have been following events in your country since the failed coup in 2002 with sympathy and solidarity", said Hans-Gerd Öfinger as he handed over the pile of sheets to César Osvelio Méndez González: "Whereas elsewhere in the world governments are busy attacking the rights and living standards of working people, in Venezuela real social reforms in the interest of the poor are on the order of the day. The revolutionary process in Venezuela shows that another road is possible".

The Consul General who proudly confessed his commitment to the Bolivarian movement appreciated our solidarity and outlined the development in Venezuela since the early 1990es. He emphasised how president Chávez had been repeatedly strengthened by democratic elections and handed over a copies of the new Venezuelan constitution. He vividly described the events in April, 2002, when a conspiracy of employers, opposition parties, some military men and the U.S. and the right-wing Spanish government tried to establish a right wing dictatorship.

Hans-Gerd Öfinger explained that HOV in Germany was fighting for the recognition of the new militant union federation, UNT, and for the building of direct links between German unions and the UNT.

See photos here:


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One month on from the assassination of Danilo Anderson; blown to smithereens by 250 grams of C4 explosive placed underneath his vehicle.

VHeadline commentarist Carlos Herrera writes: It's now one month to the day since Public Prosecutor Danilo Anderson was assassinated in Los Chaguaramos (Caracas) ... blown to smithereens by 250 grams of C4 explosive placed underneath his vehicle ...all that remained of him were his feet.

The investigating authorities have identified the material authors of this abominable crime; discovered caches of arms and explosives and according to a statement from Attorney General, Isaias Rodriguez (yesterday) in front of the National Pantheon, are not to far off identifying the intellectual authors either ... based on "crossed-sourced information" from telephone calls ... all of which are under investigation. In fact, Rodriguez asked for an extension of two weeks to complete the investigation.

The opposition press has thrown up a smokescreen in the last month, by criticizing the investigation efforts as "being incompetent" ... and even accused the police of "liquidating" suspects in order to throw "human rights violations" at the government.

The facts are that, based on forensic tests, the two people killed in shootouts had in fact fired their weapons ... leading one to believe that these people were desperate, when the police tried to apprehend them.

The key is to find the intellectual authors and the financiers, and I'm sure the authorities would not want key actors eliminated, as it makes the investigation even more tortuous.

Patience is the key at the moment.

Danilo can never come back ... but he's in the hearts and minds of the "pueblo" (people) who knew that he would eventually bring the coupsters of April 12, 2002 to justice.

As a tribute to Danilo Anderson, we at VHeadline are not going to waste more words, simply we are going to play a song by the "pueblo's" singer-song writer, Ali Primera, entitled: "Los que mueren por la vida, (no pueden llamarse muertos) -- " Those who die for the sake of life, (have not died at all), which is a fitting anthem for this patriot, so vilely murdered fighting for the cause of justice, and therefore lasting peace in Venezuela.

"Sin justicia, no habrá paz" ­ Hugo Chávez Frías

Carlos Herrera
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Caracas, December 13, 2004—Caracas metropolitan police officers say they were ordered to fire at Chavista demonstrators on the day of the coup against President Chavez, on April 11, 2002 at Puente Llaguno. The four officers who testified before the Fourth Court of Aragua coincided in their accusations against the ex-directors of the metropolitan police, Henry Vivas and Lázaro Forero.

The Fourth Court of Aragua is currently investigating the actions of Henry Vivas, the former Caracas Metropolitan Police Commander, and Lázaro Forero, the former Chief of Security for Caracas’ oppositional former Metropolitan Mayor, Alfredo Peña, as well as other police officers during the march that preceded the temporary overthrow of President Hugo Chávez.

The shots that the police fired at pro-Chavez demonstrators that day caused some of these to fire back. Venezuela’s private mass media captured the Chavista gunfire and falsely claimed that these were firing at unarmed opposition demonstrators, not at the metropolitan police, who had started shooting at them first, according to many eyewitnesses. These images of Chavistas shooting were a crucial element in the April 2002 coup attempt, as these were used to justify the coup on the grounds that Chavez had issued an order for his supporters to fire at opposition demonstrators.

A series of radio conversations between police officials presumed to be recorded on April 11, 2002 were turned in to Metropolitan Police Inspector Leonardo Navas from an unidentified source last year. The tapes implicate the commanders of the Metropolitan Police as having given orders to fire on the pro-Chavez demonstrators, which resulted in the deaths of about seven civilians.

In his testimony before the Judge, a metropolitan police officer recounted the events of April 11, 2002, “I heard over the radio when the Superintendent Forero gave the order to fire on the Chavistas.” “I do not know why Superintendents Vivas, Iván Simonovis and Forero did not give the order to break up the march,” testified another of the police officers in front of the judge.

“If superintendent Forero issued the order to drive back the demonstrators in support of the government, why did he not also order us to the same with the opposition?” asked another police officer. All four officers expressed regret for not having stopped the march.

Another of the police officers remembers that the Operations Chief, Emigdio Delgado, ordered the withdrawal of the Metropolitan Police from the center of Caracas due to the magnitude of the events and in order to make room for the National Guard.

“We never tried to deter the march. It never should have been permitted,” said one of the police officers. Later on he added, “The command to try to achieve public order through chemical tactics or negotiation was never given.” His testimony was in direct contradiction to the declarations by Vivas and Forero made last Saturday.

In a statement issued by Navas on November 26, 2004, he said that these tapes prove that, “The actions by Police Inspectors Forero, Vivas, and Delgado, far from restoring public order, they were subverting it instead.”

Vivas and Forero were charged for their alleged participation in the coup d’état by former State Prosecutor Danilo Anderson on November 3, 2004. Anderson was assassinated in a terrorist act slightly over two weeks later.

In the interim, Vivas and Forero sought political asylum in the Embassy of El Salvador in Caracas. After deliberations, the Salvadoran government denied the request. “El Salvador should not interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” said Salvadoran Congressman Miguel Bennett in a statement issued last month.

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If we were to believe the information we get from the mass media internationally, we would get the impression that in Venezuela there has been a general strike for the last one and a half months and that president Chavez is an extremely unpopular and authoritarian ruler who is about to be overthrown in a mass popular revolt. Nothing could be further from the truth. The working class of Venezuela is not taking part in any general strike. What is taking place is a bosses' lock out.In fact, the "national civic strike" called by the opposition on December 2, demanding Chavez's resignation and early elections has been a complete failure since the beginning. When I arrived in Caracas on December 11, the airport was working normally, as well as public transport (buses, coaches and the Caracas Metro), shopping centres, restaurants and bars. The basic industries (iron, steel, aluminium, etc), which are state-owned, were working at 100% capacity because of the decision of the workers and their unions to oppose the 'strike'.

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Alan Woods, editor of Marxist.com, Manzoor Ahmed, the Marxist MP from Pakistan, Miriam Municio, the general secretary of the Spanish Students’ Union, Jordi Rosich of the editorial board of El Militante, and Jorge Martin, the Latin America correspondent of Marxist.com were on the panel. There were more than a hundred people present, and Manzoor and Alan Woods were placed in the front row, in a prominent position immediately opposite the President.

In the course of the week, Alan had spoken at packed meetings of workers, trade unionists and activists of the Bolivarian Movement and was received enthusiastically. In addition, he was received by President Chavez for a private audience that lasted well over an hour – a most unusual occurrence. We will carry further information about this next week but for now we will concentrate on the Alo Presidente programme.

Alo Presidente - April 18, 2004

The latest edition of “Alo Presidente” was broadcast in Caracas on Sunday 18 of April 2004 in the Salon Ayucucho of the Palace of Miraflores. President Chavez began by recalling the revolutionary traditions of the Venezuelan people. Citing the heroic period of the struggle for Independence, he quoted a phrase well known to the readers of Marxist.com: “He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it.” He got the phrase from Alan Woods’ book Bolshevism – the Road to Revolution, a fact that was confirmed when he turned to the editor of Marxist.com in front of the TV cameras and said: “Alan, I am reading your book.”

He urged the people of Venezuela to derive strength and inspiration from their revolutionary past. “Let us work together,” he said, “let us work hard, all together, to defeat the threats that come from all sides […] to conquer what is our own, nationally and throughout Latin America […] to construct a new economic system that goes beyond savage capitalism, an economic model that satisfies the needs of the majority, an economy at the service of man, and not man at the service of the economy, a social economy. […] Let us continue working for a new society that includes everybody and excludes nobody: a society of equals, with liberty and equality, because we have always said that liberty without equality is meaningless, it is worthless.”

Today the Venezuelan Revolution is threatened by internal and external enemies. The constant conspiracies of the Venezuelan oligarchy are backed, encouraged, financed and organised by Washington. Thus, the question of international solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution is a matter of life and death. Hugo Chavez emphasised this when he greeted the large numbers of international delegates present in the studio, who had participated in the II World Rally in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.

During the programme Chavez talked a lot about capitalism, the working class and internationalism. He also said, "this revolution unless it is also about social and economic change cannot win." This is no accident. It reflects the growing polarization to the right and left and the fact that the most advanced elements are looking for a way out. They want to carry the revolution through to the end and finish the power of the oligarchy once and for all. And they are very open to the ideas of Marxism.

It is clear that the Venezuelan revolution is advancing and is approaching a critical point. Not long ago, Chavez made a speech in which he said: “Every fisherman, student, every member of the people, must learn how to use a rifle.” This idea was repeated in the course of the programme, when Chavez was asked for help by a group of agricultural workers who have occupied some abandoned land. He told them, "You have to take power there" and he added "we will help you get electricity and water and machinery" and "you must arm yourselves to defend the place… we will give you arms permits and we will send some soldiers to help defend you."

It is in this atmosphere that our ideas are getting a wide echo among the masses. Our ideas correspond to the needs of the masses at this precise moment in time. Thus our ideas are connecting with the revolutionary aspirations of the masses. In the programme, President Chavez introduced the editor of Marxist.com with these words:

“Also here is Alan Woods, a writer and intellectual from Great Britain, although he prefers us to say Wales. He has presented us with some books, and one of them I presented here a few weeks ago, called Reason in Revolt – and a very good book it is.”

Just before the programme they showed an interview with Alan Woods and half way through the programme was interrupted to show a video about the solidarity meeting in which the editor of Marxist.com was again shown explaining that the main role in defeating the coup was the direct intervention of the masses. In the course of the programme, Hugo Chavez mentioned Alan at least three times. He said he is reading Bolshevism - the Road to Revolution and he again mentioned Reason in Revolt, which he warmly recommended. President Chavez has given his personal support to the publishing of the Venezuelan edition of Reason in Revolt.

Comrades Miriam and Manzoor spoke in the course of the programme, as the following extracts show:

President Chavez: “We also have with us Miriam Municio of the Spanish students union. Miriam, how are you? Are you from Madrid?

Miriam Municio: “I am.”

President Chavez: How are things? What do you think of the change of government over there?

Miriam Municio: “Very good, of course. This was the biggest mobilisation of the workers and youth against the reactionary government of Aznar, which wanted to reconquer Latin America – and it was this that led to the change of government. That shows that the movement is not only in Latin America and Venezuela. I would first like to send greetings from the revolutionary youth of Spain, represented by the Marxist tendency El Militante and the Spanish Students Union that I represent here. We send militant revolutionary greetings to this revolution. Know that the workers and youth of Spain need to know all that is going on here and we will do all in our power to answer the lies and distortions of the bourgeois mass media. [...] We will tell them how the workers have occupied the factories and are organising workers’ control and that things are changing substantially.

“We are an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and revolutionary organization. We represent young workers and the children of workers, not the children of the rich. In Spain as in Venezuela there are rich and poor. And of course we have much more in common with the Venezuelan people than we have with vultures like Aznar, or businessmen like Botin and the others. [...]

“I would like to tell you, President Chavez, that if we were able to mobilise hundreds of thousands, bringing the youth of Spain onto the streets against the reactionary government of Aznar, who wanted to end public education, public health, the rights of the workers, enormously increasing casual labour, and against the invasion of Iraq, we will also commit ourselves to mobilise the youth against the aggression of US imperialism against Venezuela.”


Presidente Chávez: “Many thanks, Miriam. Miriam is a young revolutionary fighter from that Spain we love.

Later in the programme he enthusiastically greeted Zapatero’s announcement of the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, at which point the whole audience stood up and applauded loudly.

Turning to Manzoor Ahmed, who he introduced as the editor of The Struggle, a member of the Pakistan National Assembly and president of the Hands off Venezuela campaign in Pakistan. Manzoor mentioned the list of over 50 signatures of Pakistani members of parliament he had delivered to Chavez and the latter replied:

“I had the honour to receive that letter – I don’t know whether the lads have got it to hand – but it is a very substantial group of leaders and parliamentarians who are supporting the people of Venezuela, and I thank them very much.”

Manzoor: “Yes, this campaign has passed beyond the borders of Pakistan and has now been spread to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and in all the South East of Asia we will be holding demonstrations of solidarity […] The question is why do the workers of such far-flung places send these messages? It is because the workers of the world have understood that this revolution does not belong solely to the people of Venezuela. It is a revolution that inspires revolutionaries all over the world. The people of Pakistan and all South Asia understand that this revolution is also their revolution.”

Later on, the president made an explicit reference to the Hands off Venezuela campaign. “We need a lot of struggle and a lot of consciousness. That is why the kind of meeting we are having here in Caracas is so important for the future of America and the future of the whole world, and when I speak of America, I am also speaking of course of the people of the United States of North America, and the people of Canada, who are also people of the Americas, of the continent, and are our brothers. We send them all our best regards, our hope for a world of equality and justice.”

Turning to the TV cameras Chavez held up the original signatures of the 52 Pakistani MPs on camera and everybody could see the heading Hands off Venezuela campaign. Then clearly and slowly he read out the address of the website:

“Well, we have also had some visitors from the United States, and they are here with us. I have here a document and I would like to show it to you: the Hands off Venezuela campaign. Here it is, signed by a whole group – these are the original signatures. They are not fakes! [a reference to the signatures of the opposition in the recent referendum campaign] Don’t remind me of that business. I don’t even want to hear about it! But these are not the signatures of dead people. They are originals not fakes. They are all members of parliament from Pakistan and mass leaders of hundreds of thousands of people.

“These are fighters – Marxists and non-Marxists – but all are revolutionaries. The campaign is co-ordinated and led by the web page: www.marxist.com. That is the website through which this Hands off Venezuela campaign is being advanced. Hands off Venezuela! Many thanks to all you fighters of the world who are backing this campaign for the freedom not only of Venezuela but of the whole world.”

We can see from this incident alone that the work of the Marxist tendency in Venezuela is attracting a lot of attention. Comrade Alan Woods has been interviewed on several TV and radio stations, and we are getting coverage in all the main web sites in Venezuela. Two examples are the following.

On the Aporrea web site you will see: http://www.aporrea.org/dameverbo.php?docid=15858 where there is a report in Spanish and photographs of Alan speaking (See English translation in yesterday’s website.) This is only one of a series of rank and file meetings that the editor of Marxist.com has addressed during the course of the last week.


This is a small report of Alo Presidente on April 18th, where they only mention by name one of the guests and that is Alan Woods!

Another widely read English language Venezuelan news site (www.vheadline.com) has published the El Topo Obrero interview with Alan Woods, which you can see at: http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=17757.

This means millions of people in Venezuela have now heard of our tendency and have heard our ideas. Immediately after this we put up a clear link in Spanish at the top of the In Defence of Marxism web site home page to the Hands off Venezuela campaign and the Revolutionary Marxist Current in Venezuela. There is no doubt that many people in Venezuela will be looking up our web site after this TV show and we have already received phone calls from people – including important trade union leaders of the oil workers, congratulating us on our intervention.

Everywhere the revolutionary message of Marxism is getting an enthusiastic response, and we will be publishing further details and photos next week. We appeal to our readers and friends to discuss the developments in Venezuela and raise this question in the workers’ movement internationally. The recent comments in the Colombian senate indicate that the threat of foreign intervention is very real. The voice of the world working class movement must be heard loud and clear: Hands off Venezuela! Carry the Revolution out to the end!

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Manzoor Ahmed speaking at the main meeting

Amongst the international visitors present there were a few representatives of the international Marxist tendency, Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, Manzoor Ahmed, the Pakistani Marxist MP, and Miriam Municio, general secretary of the Spanish Students Union. All these comrades explained clearly in a number of public meetings, TV and radio interviews and in discussions with revolutionary activists, that the only way forward for the Venezuela revolution is to advance towards socialism. This would be the best way to deepen and defend the revolutionary process, which the country is going through. The comrades argued for the need to nationalise the banks and monopoly companies under workers control, the need to put the oil company and other state owned companies under workers' control and management, and the need to form workers and peoples' militias in order to defend the revolution against the attacks of the oligarchy and a possible intervention by imperialism.

These ideas were extremely well received by the hundreds of revolutionary activists who listened to them. In a sense it was as if this was exactly what they wanted to hear but, until now, no one had openly defended these ideas in front of an audience like that.

On Wednesday, April 14th, Alan Woods spoke in one of the panels of the meeting together with well known left wing MP Luís Tascón and William Izarra. One hundred people gathered to hear the debate. Alan's intervention was enthusiastically received by the audience.

That same night Manzoor Ahmed was scheduled to speak at one of the main discussions together with Rodolfo Sanz (the main ideologist of the PPT), Heinz Dieterich and others. Manzoor's intervention (straight after a 33 hour journey from Pakistan) electrified the audience. He centred his speech on the lessons of the Pakistani revolution in 1968/69, and how the Pakistan People's Party was founded at that time on the basis of an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and anti-capitalist programme. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came to power as a result of that revolution and he introduced a programme of wide ranging reforms. But, Manzoor warned, because he did not carry out the revolution to the end, finally Martial Law was imposed and Bhutto himself was hanged by the Army. He read from a letter that Bhutto wrote from jail in which he explained how his fate was to a large extent his own fault for having tried to reconcile between irreconcilable class interests and how he was sure of the ultimate victory of the proletariat. The lessons for the revolution in Venezuela were clear for all to see. He finished his speech by saying, "Long live the Venezuelan Socialist Revolution! Long live the World Proletarian Revolution!" which was received with a standing ovation by the whole audience.

On Friday Alan Woods spoke at a meeting called by TRABUCO, a Bolivarian organisation set up by workers of the Ministry of Science and Technology, in front of an audience of 100 people. Again when he spoke of the need to arm the workers and the people and to nationalise the economy, the audience broke into applause. On Saturday Alan spoke in the revolutionary neighbourhood of El Valle in a meeting called by the Revolutionary Marxist Current (El Topo Obrero – El Militante) which had the support of the local revolutionary radio station Ali Primera. The subject was the role of the Marxists in the revolutionary process, 40 people gathered and there was a lively debate. In the afternoon Alan had been invited to speak at a meeting of community leaders from the working class and poor neighbourhoods in Caracas, in the presidential Palace. The subject of the meeting was "The role of the party in the Revolution" and more than 70 activists turned up.

Alan Woods discussing with oil workers' leaders

On Monday 19th Alan Woods spoke at a meeting in Barquisimeto, Lara, again on the subject of the role of the Marxists in the revolution. Despite being a national holiday (Independence Day), 80 trade union and neighbourhood activists and leaders gathered in the headquarters of the Social Security Workers Union to hear the speech and the debate.

Miriam Municio also spoke at a number of meetings for youth and student activists in Yaracuy, Barquisimeto, the Pedagogic University in Caracas, the Venezuela Central University and the Bolivarian University, amongst others.

The general feature of all the meetings was the extreme interest in the ideas of Marxism. The comrades from the Revolutionary Marxist Current had organised bookstalls at all meetings and dozens of names were collected of people interested in knowing more about Marxism and becoming active. This is really striking since no other organisation, apart from the CMR, is putting forward the perspective of socialism as the only way forward for the revolution in Venezuela. However it was abundantly clear that this was precisely what many had been waiting to hear, and that the revolutionary situation the country is going through means that these ideas coincide with the practical experience of the advanced layers of worker activists who are groping towards them.

The task of uniting these activists into a national Marxist cadre organisation which could give the process a conscious leadership which would guarantee victory is urgent and necessary. These meetings and discussions proved that the ground is extremely fertile.

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World Forum of Intellectuals and Artists in Venezuela Ends with Pledge of Permanent Anti-Globalization Office in Venezuela

By: Robin Nieto - Venezuelanalysis.com

Caracas, December 6, 2004--The World Forum of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity closed yesterday with words from Argentine Nobel peace prize laureate, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and President Hugo Chavez and a concert that included Cuban music legend, Pablo Milanes.

President Chavez pledged to provide an office and resources in Venezuela to initiate a "network of networks" of social organizations and institutions around the world working to build alternative models of development in the face in globalization.

Chavez made the announcement at last night's event, which took place in downtown Caracas, was free of charge, and attended by the approximately 350 intellectuals and artists, Venezuelan government cabinet members, and over two thousand spectators.

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel peace prize winner for his work in raising the issue of human rights violations in Latin America, read the final conclusions of the forum, entitled "The Caracas Declaration." The declaration outlines the need to build a front of global resistance against the project of domination that today is imposed by the current government of the United States of America and global organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"Let's get to work intensely," Chavez said. "Let's put the ideas concluded at this forum to work, let's make it a reality."

The office for the network of networks is be started in 2005 in Venezuela that will connect the five continents of the world, America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, and will include the widest possible participation. "Let' s take this network everywhere we go, in the valleys, the mountains, the barrios, the workplace, the study halls, the military barracks and extend this network across the planet Earth," said Chavez.

Chavez noted the need to study the original principles of socialism as well as its errors. The President of the one of the world's largest exporters of oil referred to the importance of early 20th Century Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky's ideas, embodied in "The Permanent Revolution" and how it explains that there are no national solutions to global problems, referring to the need for a global effort to deal with today's challenges.

Chavez warmly greeted the families of "the Cuban Five," referring to five Cuban men imprisoned in the United States, accused of espionage for their role in participating in anti-terrorism monitoring of extreme right-wing groups in Miami. The five are currently serving life sentences in the U.S. and families are touring the country as part of an international campaign to free their relatives (www.freethefive.org).

President Chavez also announced the inauguration today of the Bolivarian Peoples Congress, which coincides with Chavez's first electoral victory of December 6, 1998, when he won the presidency of Venezuela. "This was the day that opened this path, thanks to the consciousness of the people," Chavez said.

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One of the participants at this meeting was José Augustin Guevara, another brother of the two Guevara brothers who have already been arrested in connection with the case. The other Guevara family member to have been arrested, Juan Bautista Guevara, is a cousin of the three brothers and is suspected of having planted the bomb on Danilo Anderson's car. Eyewitnesses place him at the scene shortly before Anderson's car exploded.

José Guevara, the eldest of the three Guevara brothers, has been living in Miami since 2001, when he was detained by the FBI in connection with the search for Peru's fleeing spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. The FBI had detained him for attempting to withdraw money from one of Montesinos' bank accounts. It is said that the Guevara brothers were paid $1 million for hiding Montesinos in Venezuela, while he was on the run from Peruvian justice, where he was wanted in connection with corruption and human rights abuses.

José Guevara was released by the FBI shortly after his detention and has ever since been in under FBI protection as a witness.

Attorney General's Office to take over investigation from the police

Venezuela's Attorney General's Office has removed the investigation of the Anderson murder from the country's investigative police because of irregularities that have occurred during the investigation. The investigation will now be conducted by the same team that is investigating the April 2002 coup attempt.

One of the reasons for the move is that investigators from the Attorney General's office have raised concerns that the investigative police, the CICPC, has been leaking information to suspects, due to some officer's close ties to the Guevara brothers, who once were members of the investigative police themselves.

Also, a number of irregularities have occurred during the investigation, so that several searches and raids were conducted without the presence of officials from the Public Ministry, as is required by law.

A recent raid on Caracas' Jewish school (Club Hebraica) raised eyebrows and outrage among many Venezuelans and especially the opposition because it is a school for children and any connection with the Anderson case seemed remote at best. Later, though, investigators said that they searched the school because a suspicion had been raised that weapons that were stored at a shooting club, Club Magnum, had been transported and hidden at the school. The police, however, did not find anything at the school. Another reason the incident caused consternation is that at this raid too no representative of the Public Ministry was present.

The investigation will be supplemented by other CICPC officers from the homicide division, who do not have any personal relationship with the arrested Guevara brothers.

Based on information from Últimas Noticias and El Mundo.

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