BAR: Venezuelan Elections Cleanest in the World

Source:  Black Agenda Report

March 5 2019

 

 

Efia Nwangaza, who served as an international observer of Venezuela’s most recent election, agrees with former President Jimmy Carter that “Venezuela has the most transparent and cleanest elections of any country in the world.” The US has no respect for law or truth, said Nwangaza, director of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination, in Greenville, South Carolina.

Who is Nayib Bukele, the new elected president of El Salvador?

Source:  La Santa Mambisa;  Cubadebate
February 4 2019

nayib bekele el salvador.jpgThe elected president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele. Photo: Europa Press

The former mayor of the Salvadoran capital, Nayib Bukele, won Sunday in the presidential elections with more than 53% of the valid votes.

Although the vote count did not yet reach 100%, the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Julio Olivo, acknowledged that Bukele’s triumph is “definitive” and “irreversible”, when there was little more than 10 to be scrutinized. % of the votes.

The ruling Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN) took less than 15% of the vote after eight years of continuous government, while the traditional right was in second place with about 32%.

The winning option was the integration of Bukele, former militant of the front, with the Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA) , which brings together right-wing forces.

“It’s a victory for the Salvadoran people, today we won in the first round and we made history,” said Bukele, who came to the poll as a favorite in all the polls.

His victory marks the end of bipartisanship since the return of democracy in El Salvador , which had alternated between Arena (1989-2009) and the FMLN (from 2009 to the present).

Hugo Martínez, the Front candidate, acknowledged his defeat and announced that his party will make an “iron” opposition.

Martinez said he was satisfied with the work done with his running mate Karina Sosa, vice presidential candidate, despite the fact that the result in the elections is not favorable.

“We hope they will make a government according to the expectations that this government has set, because there are very high expectations and we hope that they will be met. We will continue fighting to ensure that this people is fulfilled so that there is more social justice in El Salvador, “said Martinez.

Who is Bukele?

The young advertising executive of 37 years will be in charge of a country marked by violence and corruption, two of the issues on which he focused his campaign.

Of Palestinian origin, Bukele began his political career at the FMLN, which led him to govern the Salvadoran capital (2015-2018), although his political career started in 2012 as mayor of a small town, Nuevo Cuscatlán (2012-2015).

Regarding his academic training, he has a degree in Law from Universidad CentroAmericana (UCA), but his career has been mainly as an entrepreneur since he was 18 years old. He is married since 2014 and awaiting his son.

Bukele’s political career has its origin in his family, since his father, the doctor in Industrial Chemistry, Armando Bukele Kattán, is recognized for the support he offered to the FMLN while this formation was guerrilla in the armed conflict of the country in the decade of 1980, says Xinhua.

This sympathy resulted in Nayib militating in the FMLN that became a political party after the peace agreements of 1992 and it was with this group that he reached the mayoralty of Nuevo Cuscatlán in 2012.

His good management in that municipality near the Salvadoran capital, earned him the FMLN promoted him as a candidate for mayor of San Salvador, where, in coalition with the Progressive Salvadoran Party, won the city’s governorship until 2018.

As mayor of El Salvador, Bukele imposed his youthful and renovating style, with projects to rescue the historic center and illumination of the city and rescue public spaces, which earned him high levels of approval from the public during his tenure.

In 2017, a confrontation with a councilor from San Salvador caused the FMLN’s Ethics Tribunal to accuse him of violating the principles of the party and expelled him from the group on October 10.

Only 15 days after his expulsion, Bukele announced on social networks the creation of the New Ideas party, whose formation could not formally register in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) until August 2018, which forced him to start the presidential race under another flag.

For this electoral campaign, Bukele assumed a frontal and confrontational style before the bipartisanship that has alternated the power in El Salvador in the last three decades, 20 years of ARENA and 10 of the FMLN.

“They told us that it was impossible to improve our communities, they told us that it was impossible to revitalize the heart of the Historical Center. Now they are trying to say that it is impossible to have a better country for each one of us, and you know what? They are still wrong, “he said at the closing ceremony of his campaign in San Salvador.

Likewise, he was frontal in his criticism of corruption in the country. Bukele based his campaign and platform on the slogan “Money reaches when nobody steals”.

The winner of the presidential elections is awaiting two trials in the courts on charges of sexist violence and slander.

Bolivia Under Evo Morales: 13 Years of Reclaiming Sovereignty

Source:  TeleSUR
January 23 2019

evo morales may 2018 2.png

Even the IMF has had to admit that Bolivia is a clear cut success story

“Mr. Evo Morales, it’s easy to make speeches about sovereignty and independence….come and govern, then you’ll see what it’s really like to administer the state” – Carlos Mesa, former president, and current opposition candidate said in 2005 in his resignation speech.

Bolivia

Bolivia has lived 13 years of the ‘process of change’ under the leadership of Evo Morales and the MAS (Movement Towards Socialism). Morales and the MAS were forged in a climate of radical street movements against privatization of natural resources. The MAS grouped together Indigenous social movements, with self-organized movements of the urban slums and what remained of the traditional Marxist left in the trade unions and the academy.

RELATED:  Bolivia Becomes Natural Gas Powerhouse, Expands Exports To Peru

By 2005 this coalition came to represent the crystallization of the deep-seated resentment, not just at privatization, but of 500 years of colonialism, social exclusion and a neoliberal democracy that wasn’t able or willing to meet people’s basic needs.

Bolivia’s social movements and non-sectarian left grouped around the MAS and won at the ballot box in 2005. In January of this year, they face primary elections than presidential elections in November of this year. They’ve won every election since 2005 with larger majorities each time, this despite a constant manipulation of public information from private media, and right-wing attempts at destabilization.

Why? What has 13 years of the ‘process of change’ meant for the country beyond greater representation for the Indigenous? On the questions of economic development, health and education, foreign policy the critics of the MAS have predicted disaster but instead been met by the undeniable policy success.

Economy 

“These actions against foreign investors really dampen the investment climate in Bolivia”  – U.S. State Department said in 2012.

Markets were jittery as the left took power in Bolivia. The Washington Consensus stated that only free markets, ‘flexible’ labor markets and monetarist policies could pave a path to economic development. Bolivia’s political class was determined to follow this religiously. Over 200 public companies were privatized, sold to foreign corporations at knockdown prices, this alone is thought to have damaged the economy to the tune of $22bn. What followed was a catastrophic fall in GDP and hyperinflation running at over 8000% by the end of 1985.

Despite this clear policy failure, many investors left the country as the left took power in 2005, fearing that “socialism” would bring economic ruin.

RELATED:  Bolivia: Historic Economic Levels Led by President Evo Morales

Though, over 13 years the left has presided over an economic miracle that even the IMF has had to admit that Bolivia is a clear cut success story. The economy has more than tripled in size, Bolivia is on course to be South America’s fastest growing economy for yet another year despite falls in the price of key exports.

Annual Inflation is running at a paltry 1.5 percent, whilst their neighbor Argentina sinks further into hyperinflation since adopting the neoliberal model that earned them praise from successive U.S. administrations.

Most important of all, the reduction in poverty has been the most impressive achievement of the MAS. When Morales took office, Bolivia was facing a humanitarian crisis with 60 percent of the total population living below the poverty line, that figure has been slashed in half by the MAS government.

This economic model that has produced these results is defined as a rejection of IMF recipes. Instead, Morales proceeded to nationalize Bolivia’s large strategic industries. Now that profits of those industries provided revenue for the state, those profits were used on capital spending, most notably on a massive integrated infrastructure plan that has been a crucial factor stimulating wider growth. State transport and manufacturing initiatives have also kick-started economic development in areas the free-market had never reached.

Health & Education

“[The government] neglects health and education, while ignoring calls for austerity”- Monsignor Gualberti, Catholic Church

A common refrain amongst Morales’ critics is that they’ve made little progress on health and education and that those vital services continue in state disrepair. One can expect this line to continue in the right wing media, even as the government is registering citizens for free universal healthcare.

It is true that Bolivia still until recently had lacked a comprehensive and public health system, as exists in Cuba. However, the situation in health and education has vastly improved, it’s just that it has mostly benefited the rural poor whose voices are not and have never been represented in the mainstream urban press.

RELATED:  Evo Morales Will Host ‘Year of Indigenous Languages’: UN

Between 2006 and 2018, the ‘Mi Salud’ program, operating with the help of Cuban doctors, has provided 16.4 million free health appointments, including 700,000 free eye surgeries in what’s known as ‘operation miracle’. These programmes involve reaching the poorest and most isolated, often going to their homes in far out areas of the Amazonian and Andean regions.

In education, the changes have been transformative too, not that it garners much coverage in private media. In the year 2000, amidst the firesale privatizations, just 35,73 percent of primary school age children were enrolled in school, after 10 years of the MAS in power, that number more than doubled, and continues to grow.

Again, those benefiting are mostly the rural poor, an inauguration ceremony for a public school in isolated communities is an almost weekly occurrence, though only covered by state media outlets.

Implementing the universal health care system will nevertheless be a serious challenge in Bolivia. The Doctors Association is vehemently opposed and already protested and gone on strike against the plan for free health. Most doctors would stand to lose as business for their private clinics dries up.

Sovereignty   

“In our view this was a grave error. Blaming others for your internal problems is not the way to cultivate bilateral relations.” – Former U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg on being expelled from the country

The year 2003 was one of Bolivia’s worst years in recent history, not only was it the year of the ‘Black October’ massacre, but it was also one of the most brazen transfers of sovereignty to the U.S.. In 2003 an agreement was signed to give legal immunity to all U.S. soldiers and citizens in Bolivian territory, they had free reign to violate national laws and would not have to face justice unless it was at the request of the U.S. government.

The U.S. presence in Bolivia, through military advisors and bases, was part of Washington’s “War on Drugs” policy in the region that has historically allowed it access and interference in the internal affairs of Latin American countries.

In a rejection to such practices by the United States and in a clear signal that the people and their representatives will have full sovereignty over their country’s affairs and resources, Morales expelled the U.S. military bases in Bolivia, as well as the presence of the DEA and USAID along with the U.S. ambassador.

RELATED:  Bolivia Rejects US Threats of International Intervention: Pary

The country’s strategic industries were nationalized, therefore bringing back key decisions over development. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the size of U.S. investments in Bolivia mean that good relations must be maintained despite abuses and violations of sovereignty. Though, Bolivia has thrived since clawing back its independence.

The reactions in Bolivia to Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro gives a glimpse of how the country risks slipping back into a foreign policy of dependency. Bolivia sells large amounts of natural gas to Brazil and needs cooperation with them to combat trafficking and other issues on the border. Morales will have to maintain relations and has done so. However, he has been quick to stand up for Bolivia’s interests when there has been a lack of respect, like when one of Bolsonaro’s deputies made racists comments about Indigenous communities.

Evo publicly denounced the attack and demanded an apology. Whereas opposition candidates and activists claimed ‘we have to get on with our neighbors’. The deputy Rafael Quispe, an Indigenous deputy for the right-wing opposition claims to ‘not be offended’ by anti-Indigenous racism because ‘we have to get on with Brazil’. Opposition candidate to the presidency, Victor Hugo Cardenas (also Indigenous), actively celebrated Bolsonaro’s victory and seeks to replicate his ultra-conservative populism.

Submission to unequal foreign relations, whether that’s the U.S. or Brazil, does not represent ‘good relations’, it represents a defeat and humiliation of a government’s foreign policy.

Since taking power at the ballot box, the MAS has made profound changes to a country that had been in a state of ruin for a number of years following ‘structural adjustment’ (neoliberalism), and if Morales wins again this year then the process will have to deepen to overcome the challenges Bolivia still faces.

The role of the social movements and Morales’ government in recuperating a sense of cultural pride is recognized all over the world, as is the achievements on greater social inclusion for the country’s historically excluded communities.

Though, as the ‘process of change’ enters its 13th year, wider changes are worth analyzing. The process of recuperating economic and political sovereignty, together with the economic success that’s been sustained despite the crisis across the region and the low prices of its key exports.

The model of nationalizing strategic sectors and using its revenues for big capital spending for the common good can serve as a model for the rising left globally. Whether for Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, or Jean Luc-Melenchon in France, studying the Bolivian model will be crucial in building post-neoliberal economies.

South Africa’s Leftist EFF To ‘Nationalize All Mines, Mineral Wealth’ If Elected: Manifesto

Source:  TeleSUR
January 29 2019

The political party intends to challenge the African National Congress (ANC), which EFF supporters say is corrupt, in this year’s elections .

eff announces.jpgPresident of South Africa’s radical left-wing party, the Economic Freedom
Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema gestures during the launch of the party’s election manifesto in Soshanguve. | Photo: Reuters

Thousands of South Africa’s radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) supporters gathered at the Giant Stadium, Soshanguve, Saturday to hear leader Julius Malema announce the party’s promises ahead of the 2019 elections.

RELATED: South Africa’s Largest Union NUMSA Mobilizes Against Electricity Price Hike

Party supporters gathered to hear the party’s manifesto launch saying that the party is the only organization that gives them hope to remove what they call a “corrupt African National Congress (ANC)” from power.

EFF announced in their manifesto that the party would nationalize all mines by 2023 if elected this year. The party is using an anti-corruption, jobs creation and state control of the economy platform to challenge the governing African National Congress (ANC) in the election expected in May.

“The EFF government will nationalize all mines and mineral wealth in South Africa by the year 2023. It will allocate key shares in South Africa’s mineral and petroleum resources to the Sovereign Wealth Fund,” the party said in the manifesto, adding that a state mining company would be established.

After a week of mobilizing communities around Tshwane, EFF leader Julius Malema and others in the party presented plans for South Africa under their leadership if elected in an attempt to convince voters to back the red berets in this year’s provincial & national elections.

Since its formation in 2013, EFF, which draws much of its support from the rural poor, has called for the nationalization of banks, mines, and other strategic sectors of the economy as well as expropriation of land without compensation.

Parliament has opened the way to alter the constitution to allow land to be expropriated without compensation. However, a final decision is not expected until after the election.

We cannot postpone the land question

“We cannot postpone the land question, we cannot postpone the jobs question, it must happen now,” EFF leader Julius Malema told supporters at the manifesto launch in Pretoria, many of whom were dressed in red and carrying placards.

Land is a hot-button issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions among the Black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.

The red berets, like the ANC,  launched its manifesto last month after holding listening tours with different sectors of society in the build-up to deciding what should go into the document.

A 73-year-old EFF supporter at the stadium said that Malema and his party give him hope, Eyewitness News (EWN) reported. “The pan-Africanist background had run out of tires and suddenly the EFF appeared. It revived what I’d always valued,” he told EWN.

The party, since its emergence just months ahead of the 2014 national elections, has locked in on its role in the country’s political landscape, having taken on numerous battles in parliament and the courts and is thereby shaping public discourse.

Venezuela: Maduro’s PSUV Sweeps Local Council Elections

December 10 2018
Source: Venezuelanalysis.com

venanalysisdec 10 2018.jpg

PSUV leaders in Maracaibo celebrated after a successful electoral victory. (Carlos Robertson / TenemosNoticias)

Venezuela’s governing United Socialist Party (PSUV) won a landslide victory in local council elections held Sunday, claiming 95 percent of the initially declared seats.

In its first official bulletin, Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) revealed that after tallying 92.3 percent of all votes the PSUV had won 591 of the 623 municipal council seats where results were deemed irreversible. Further declarations from the CNE indicated a similar trend in the remaining seats, which were announced during the course of Sunday night and Monday.

In response to the news, President Nicolas Maduro congratulated his team, urging them to get to work to solve widespread problems in transport and public services.

“I congratulate the elected councillors in this marvellous electoral session of December 9. I invite them to put themselves at the forefront of the difficulties which our people suffer from so as to advance towards the construction of a prosperous future for our homeland,” he declared, describing the results as a “popular victory.”

Maduro also highlighted that this was Venezuela’s fifth election in 18 months, the ninth since he became president, and the twenty-fifth since 1998.

In total, 4,900 councillors were due to be elected across the 335 municipalities of the country, 1,073 via first-past-the post nominal votes, 685 by list, and 69 indigenous representatives. Fifty-one political organisations participated and 20.49 million Venezuelans and resident foreigners were eligible to vote at the 14,382 polling stations.

Average turnout

According to initial CNE figures, participation for this low-key election was 27.4 percent, well below the levels the country is used to seeing in past years.

However, despite being below the 46 percent participation in this past May’s presidential election, the figure compares favourably with previous local council elections.

In 1995, 43 percent of the population voted for councillors in Venezuela, whilst in 2000, participation was 23.8 percent. The last comparable election of this type was in 2005, when 32 percent voted. In 2013, when, apart from local councillors, mayors and regional legislators were also chosen, participation was higher at 58.4 percent.

Opposition divided

As with previous elections, the Venezuelan opposition was not unanimous in its response to the vote, with four of the principal opposition organisations – First Justice, Popular Will, Democratic Action, and A New Era – claiming that the elections were fraudulent and discouraging participation. These parties were unable to participate in the process, having opted not to undergo the legal procedures to revalidate their party status, following boycotts of last December’s mayoral elections and May’s presidential vote.

Pro-abstention parties began claiming fraud early in the day citing government social programs and PSUV organisational logistics points to back up their claims. “In Venezuela there were no elections, nor is there a president-elect. Nicolas Maduro is a dictator…” tweeted the hard-right Popular Will party.

Meanwhile, a plethora of other opposition parties did participate, including Progressive Advance, MAS and Social Christian COPEI, which battled to fill the vacuum created by the other parties’ absence.

Parties, including the Pentecostalist Hope for Change, urged voters to participate. “If we don’t vote, we can’t complain afterwards… We have to come out and vote massively and defend our rights,” tweeted Hope for Change leader and ex-presidential candidate Javier Bertucci.

Surprising results

Sunday’s election produced a number of surprising results, in part due to the partial boycott by certain sectors of the right-wing opposition, deep internal divisions between those that did participate, as well as a number of inter-Chavista contests across the country.

In the traditional opposition bastion of Baruta in Miranda State, the PSUV took control of the municipal chamber, winning nine of eleven seats and essentially tying the hands of the right-wing opposition mayor.

A similar picture was seen in the opposition strongholds of Libertador municipality in Merida State, San Cristobal in Tachira State, and Naguanagua in Valencia, Carabobo State. Nonetheless, right-wing parties managed to retain control of several important bases such as Chacao municipality in Miranda State and La Lecheria in Anzoategui State.

In other regions, however, the PSUV were greeted with shock defeats at the hand of their Chavista allies who threw their weight behind a number of candidates from the communal sector, often in protest at PSUV bureaucracy and top-down practices.

In Lara’s Simon Planas municipality, home to El Maizal commune, community leaders backed by the Homeland for All party (PPT) celebrated a 3-point victory over PSUV candidates. The victory comes exactly a year after El Maizal leader Angel Prado, running on the PPT ticket, won over 57 percent of vote in last December’s mayoral election only to have his votes handed to defeated PSUV rival Jean Ortiz on a technicality.

Similarly, in Libertador municipality in Monagas State, where Communist-backed Regulo Reina was equally denied victory in the 2017 mayoral contest, Communist candidates scored a remarkable victory over the ruling party, winning 45 percent of the vote, some five percent more than the rest of the pro-government coalition.

However, in other regions, the PSUV was able to consolidate its political position.

In Merida State, the three pro-government candidates followed by Venezuelanalysis were all victorious, and there was also a win for the PSUV in Tulio Febres Cordero municipality, site of the recent assassination of Communist leaders Luis Fajardo and Javier Aldana. The PCV had split from the alliance in this sector in protest of a perceived government failure to investigate the violence.

Elsewhere, communal candidates were also defeated by the PSUV electoral machine in the symbolic 23 de Enero sector of Caracas, as well as in Portuguesa and Apure states where communal and alternative Chavista sectors had presented independent candidates.

International accompaniment: Elections transparent and fair

Members of the international electoral accompaniment mission, which included representatives of the Council of Latin American Electoral Experts (CEELA), held a press conference Monday, in which they highlighted the advanced technological nature of the electoral process, stressing that it took place in an environment of calm across the country.

“It is important to highlight that Venezuela and Brazil are the only countries with an electronic voting system, in some countries they have tried to change but it hasn’t been fully achieved (…) electorally, Venezuela has many virtues and we would like to pass these on to other regions,” stated the CEELA spokesperson.

The team also praised the numerous audits undertaken as part of the electoral process, claiming, “In no Latin American country does there exist so many audits.”

Finally, they recommended a longer campaigning period and “better levels of information regarding the relevance of the role of municipal councillors” in order to combat low turnout levels.

Elections suspended in Canaima

The only major incident recorded Sunday was in the Gran Sabana municipality of Bolivar State in the east of Venezuela, home to the picturesque Canaima village and Angel Falls.

Following the death of one of the indigenous community members the previous day in a reported police confrontation in connection to illegal mining in the national park, local indigenous leaders requested that the vote be suspended.

The CNE later announced that they will evaluate a new date for the elections to be rescheduled.

Edited by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.

Lula Writes Letter Asking People to Choose Democracy, Haddad

Source:  TeleSUR
October 24 2018

lula da silva 1.jpgFormer Brazilian President Lula da Silva wrote a letter in support
of Haddad Wednesday. | Photo: EFE

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva published a letter Wednesday just before the second round of Brazilian elections on Oct. 28. He called on Brazilians to create a front to support Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad to stop “the fascist threat hanging over Brazil,” referring to the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

RELATED:  Bolsonaro Vows To Purge Brazil of Left-wing ‘Crooks,’ Designate them as ‘Terrorists’

“It is time to unite the people, the democrats, all around the candidacy of Fernando Haddad, to resume the project of developing social inclusion and defending Brazil’s choices through democracy,” Lula wrote.

“I am certain that we have done what’s best for Brazil and for our people, but I know that this has thwarted powerful interests inside and outside the country. So they try to destroy our image, to rewrite history, to erase the memory of the people. But they will not.”

Speaking about corruption charges against himself, Lula wrote, “Everyone knows that I was unjustly convicted, in an arbitrary and baseless process, because I would have been elected president of Brazil in the first round. But we endured,  throwing our support behind our comrade Fernando Haddad, who made it to the second round by the vote of the people.”

He asks, “Why so much hatred against the PT?”

The former president then argues that maybe the far-right hates PT due to its achievements in creating jobs, taking people out of hunger, improving educational institutions, creating a “silent revolution in the Northeast,” and making the country socially inclusive, etc.

Lula is also proud of PT’s legacy, especially their commitment to democracy. “Our party was born in resistance to the dictatorship and in the fight for the redemocratization of the country, that cost us so much sacrifice, so much blood, and so many lives cost,” argues the former president.

He calls for debate and discourse to solve disagreements, but letting Brazil go into the hands of such a fascist would be similar to abandoning the social pact of the 1988 Constitution.

He concluded his letter asking people to vote for Haddad who would be the harbinger of democracy in the Latin American country.

“This moment, above all, is the future of the country, of our democracy, and of our people. It is time to vote for Fernando Haddad, who represents the survival of the democratic pact, without fear and without hesitation.”