Topic(s): Venezuela | Comments Off on Rene — VENEZUELA: U.S. PLANS PROPAGANDA WAR, CAMPESINOS MARCH

News | Syndicated Content | The Andean Front
from Weekly News Update on the Americas
Two stories from Venezuela this month exemplify the pressures faced by
President Hugo Chavez: on one hand, an increased push from Washington
and the bourgeois opposition to capitulate in his populist programs or
face destabilization; on the other, a powerful campesino movement is
demanding an extension and faster pace of populist reforms, especially
land redistribution. And reports of local military commanders taking
a hard line with campesino protesters points to continuing divisions
within Venezuela’s armed forces.–WW4 REPORT
On July 20 the US House of Representatives approved appropriations
of $9 million in 2006 and $9 million in 2007 for groups opposing
the government of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, according
to information minister Andres Izarra, who complained that
the beneficiaries of the aid are promoting abstention in the
country’s Aug. 7 municipal council elections and encouraging civil
disobedience. The same day, the House passed an amendment authorizing
the broadcasting of radio and television signals into Venezuela to
provide “precise, objective and complete” information to Venezuelans
and counter “the anti-Americanism” of a new regional television
network, Televisora del Sur (Telesur). “Chavez is an enemy of freedom
and of those who support it and promote it,” said Rep. Connie Mack
(R-FL), who introduced the amendment.
Chavez responded on July 21 by warning that his government will block
any US attempts to interfere with the Telesur broadcasts, which were
set to begin on July 24. Chavez noted that if the Cuban government
had been able to successfully neutralize the signal of the rightwing
Radio Marti broadcasts since the 1980s, “here too we will neutralize
any signal.” Chavez warned that the US government “will regret [this]
because the response would be more powerful than the action, and will
generate more conscience in Latin America.”
The Venezuelan embassy in Washington also issued a communique rejecting
Mack’s amendment. The communique notes that Venezuela has private and
public television stations, and suggested that it would be cheaper
for US taxpayers if Mack were to try to convince private Venezuelan
media to carry the US government’s Voice of America broadcasts,
since none currently do.
Telesur is controlled 51% by the Venezuelan government, 20% by
Argentina, 19% by Cuba and 10% by Uruguay. The station is set to
broadcast four hours a day during a two-month trial period, with plans
to expand in September. Headquartered in Caracas and with offices in
Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Montevideo, La Paz, Bogota, Havana, Mexico
City and Washington, Telesur hopes to offer an alternative to CNN
and European networks. (La Jornada, Mexico, July 21, 22)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 24
On July 11, as many as 5,000 Venezuelan campesinos (2,000 according
to Agence France Presse) marched in Caracas to protest the violent
deaths of some 130 campesinos around the country and to demand that
the government take steps to halt the killings and abuses against
campesinos and to speed up the process of agrarian reform. The protest,
dubbed “Zamora Takes Caracas,” was organized by the Ezequiel Zamora
National Campesino Front (FNCEZ) and backed by the Ezequiel Zamora
National Agrarian Coordinating Committee (CANEZ), numerous agricultural
cooperatives and the Jirahara and Prudencio Vasquez movements,
among others. (Ezequiel Zamora was a populist military leader who
led battles for campesino rights in Venezuela in the mid-1800s.)
The campesinos marched from the capital’s Fort Tiuna to the Attorney
General’s Office, where they handed in a document detailing their
demands, then to the National Assembly, where they submitted a
proposal for an “agrarian constituent assembly” to strengthen the
rights of the campesino movement and step up the process of agrarian
reform. An estimated 75% of Venezuela’s land is in the hands of 5%
of the population and remains mostly unused, while the country imports
70% to 80% of its food.
Agriculture and Lands Minister Antonio Albarran, who also serves as
acting president of the National Land Institute (INTI), announced
that a high-level commission will be set up to study the demands
of the campesino movements and address specific complaints on a
case-by-case basis. FNCEZ leader Braulio Alvarez, a deputy of the
legislative council of Yaracuy state and member of the INTI board,
said the new commission would work to get the courts to begin legal
proceedings against 30 people believed to have ordered the murders
of campesinos. Alvarez himself survived an attack on his life on
June 23. (Radio Nacional de Venezuela, July 12; Minga Informativa
de Movimientos Sociales, July 13; Centro Nacional de Tecnologias de
la Informacion (CNTI), July 11; Resumen Latinoamericano, July 12;
Report by Adriana Rivas posted July 14 on Colombia Indymedia)
On May 14, nearly 4,000 campesinos organized by the FNCEZ marched
through the streets of Guasdualito, Apure state, in western Venezuela
near the Colombian border. They were protesting, among other issues,
the abuses committed by Gen. Oswaldo Bracho, commander of the
Theater of Operations #1, which covers the states of Barinas, Tachira
and Apure. The FNCEZ says campesinos in the zone have suffered an
increase in human rights accuses since Bracho took over the command
last November. In one incident, Bracho led 40 soldiers in a raid on
the community of Canadon-Bella Vista, in the south of Barinas state,
and seized five members of a campesino cooperative whom he accuses
of providing shelter to leftist rebels. The five campesinos remain
jailed in Santa Ana, Tachira state, even though there is no proof
to back up the accusations against them, and local leaders point out
that campesinos often have no choice but to provide shelter to armed
groups. The FNCEZ said Bracho also tried to!
block campesinos from reaching the May 14 demonstration, holding
them up on the highways for as long as five hours. (Endavant, July
13) In the July 11 mobilization in Caracas, the campesinos informed
Congress about Bracho’s abuses. (RNV, July 12)
The US media seemed to ignore the July 11-13 mobilization by thousands
of Venezuelan campesinos, but did cover a July 15 anti-government
march in Caracas by fewer than 400 doctors and nurses who work
in public hospitals. The health care workers were demanding wage
increases and protesting the presence of some 14,000 Cuban doctors
in Venezuela. The Cubans provide health care to the country’s most
underserved neighborhoods and rural areas under a special program
sponsored by the government of left-populist president Hugo Chavez
Frias. (AP, July 15)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 17
Weekly News Update on the Americas
NOTE: The leftist rebels active in western Venezuela are the Bolivarian
Forces of Liberation (FBL). They took up arms shortly before Chavez
came to power in 1998. According to the report on Colombia’s Agencia
Prensa Rural: “Their objective is in no case to attack the actual
government, but to guarantee that the Bolivarian revolution will
continue advancing towards the consolidation of popular power,
and to contribute to defending the process in case of external
aggression. In spite of being an armed group, they have initiated
very few actions.”–WW4R
Agencia Prensa Rural http://www.prensarural.org/venezuela20050713.htm
See also WW4 REPORT #111 http://www.ww4report.com/node/751
Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Aug. 1, 2005 Reprinting
permissible with attribution http://WW4Report.com”; target=_new>