Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
U.S. quasi-government agencies invested $50 million to significantly help right-wing candidates.
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Election results affirmed approval for Bolivarian social reforms. But without a continuing super-majority in parliament, it remains to be seen whether opposition obstructionism will change the ruling-equation enough to matter.
On September 26, Venezuelans again voted, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC - vicuk.org) saying to elect members to the 165-seat National Assembly. It happens every five years, and it's the 16th national election or referendum since Chavez's 1998 victory, taking office as President for first time on February 2, 1999.
Bolivarianism is always at stake, represented by his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). They were pitted against the opposition's Table for Democratic Unity (MUD), an alliance hoping to deny Chavez a two-thirds super-majority. It was PSUV's goal, campaign head Aristobulo Isrutiz saying pre-election:
How it works is explained here.
However, organic laws or amendments pertaining to public powers, constitutional rights, or a framework for other laws require a two-thirds majority before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice rules on their constitutional status. For example, Chavez needs a super-majority to appoint public officials like Supreme Court justices and the attorney general.
In contrast, most enabling laws pertain to economic or fiscal regulation, support and control of enterprises, natural resources, and politically related issues, unrelated to foreign policy. They avoid bureaucratic red tape and facilitate greater citizen participation, but don't grant dictatorial powers. They're constitutionally allowed, run for 18 months, and four previous presidents had them under the 1961 Constitution.
Venezuelan polls are always conflicting, varying according to the takers' bias, yet public opinion suggested a close vote.
The near-final results were good, but not enough for a super-majority as hoped. Having sat out the 2005 election, opposition gains were assured, though Chavez supporters hoped not enough to restrict PSUV control.
Results were as follows:
With three seats so far undecided, PSUV won 95 of the 165 legislative positions, a 58% majority that may increase, what US Democrats or Republicans call a landslide, aside from the popular vote little mentioned in presidential races. Only America's Electoral College one counts, so it's possible to win popular approval and still lose.
Indigenous Venezuelan communities always have three assured seats. One went to the Fundation for Integration and Dignfication, another to the Autonomous Movement of Zulia, and final one to CONIVE.
MUD won 62 seats, a 38% minority. The center-left Fatherland for All Party (PPT) won two seats. Unofficial popular vote totals suggest it was split about evenly between PSUV and MUD, but confirmation will have to await an official National Electoral Council (CNE) announcement.
PSUV won most seats in 16 of Venezuela's 23 states, PSUV Vice President Elias Jaua saying:
Both PSUV and MUD got five posts in the Latin American Parliament. CONIVE got one.
Despite heavy rain in parts of the country, turnout was high at 66.45%, below the expected 70% likely in good weather. Orderly voting proceeded with no major incidents, besides one voting center forced to relocate because of rain. It was done easily and trouble-free.
At a post-election press conference, PSUV's Isturiz declared a "convincing victory and majority," pledging new Bolarivarian reforms. On his Twitter site, Chavez declared a "new victory for the people," though not what was hoped. Post-election, supporters were subdued, knowing they face a hostile parliamentary minority. Chavez, however, was upbeat, saying:
In a Monday night press conference he added:
So far, even at a time of recession, Chavez's approval rating remains high at between 55 - 60% - not shared by the corporate media.
Since first elected, Western media always treated him harshly, especially in America, notably (among others) by New York Times correspondent Simon Romero. Reporting post-election, he headlined, "Chavez Allies Win Legislative Majority, but Foes Make Gains," saying:
The result "may open a new phase of negotiation and debate within Venezuela's political system, (and) set(s) the stage for a potentially vibrant challenge by the opposition for the presidency in 2012," when Chavez's six-year term expires.
Though he admitted his popularity remains high, Romero accused him and his government of having "used various methods to weaken opponents, including purging the Supreme Court of critical justices and stripping resources from elected opposition officials at the state and municipal level."
Both charges are bogus. Chavez, in fact, reformed the high court by replacing corrupt judges with honest ones, doing it within the law democratically.
In the past, Romero equated him with Libya's Muammar el-Qaddafi, accused him of anti-semitism, and said Venezuelans elected him "because (they) wanted a dictatorship." He also slandered him in other ways, including this time by quoting political analyst Oscar Schemel, saying he's "supported by an extraordinary propaganda apparatus never seen before in Latin America, with the exception of Cuba." An astonishing misstatement given the dominance of Venezuela's corporate media, denigrating him far more harshly than Romero or most other US critics.
Electoral Stakes According to Latin American Expert James Petras
Petras knows Latin America as well as anyone, for decades writing honestly and incisively on the region. In his August 20 article titled, "Brazil and Venezuela: Two Turning Point Elections this Fall," he explained the stakes, saying:
Given their large numbers, this year's outcome hung on undecided voter choices, many among the poor and trade unionists. A decisive PSUV victory depended on whether "worker managed factory committees and communal councils" swayed them their way, despite "disenchantment with some (PSUV) candidates."
VSC explained that Assembly members "have power to pass legislation and also to block (some of) the president's" initiatives if their opposition coalition exceeds one-third. The Constitution's Article 187 also affords other powers, including:
Last August, Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) officially opened electoral campaigning. Since 1999, the CNE conducted a national information initiative so voters know "every detail of a key aspect of exerting their (voting) rights...." As the Bolivarian Constitution's Article 56 mandates:
"All persons have the right to be registered (to vote) free of charge with the Civil Registry Office after birth, and to obtain public documents constituting evidence of the(ir) biological identity, in accordance with the law." All citizens 18 or older may participate.
Included are eligible citizens located abroad. Once registered, none may be purged, obstructed, or prevented from voting or having their choices counted, unlike under America's corrupted one-party state two wings system. Controlled by big money, it's the best "democracy" deep pockets can buy, subverting populist interests for privileged ones.
In Venezuela, in contrast, enfranchisement is cherished under a system respected as the world's fairest. As a result, over 11 million turned out to elect National Assembly and Latin American Parliament members. Though voting isn't mandatory, turnout, under Chavez, has been impressive, compared to America where half the electorate often abstains, knowing the futility of changing policy without a total systemic makeover. No referendum provision, however, allows it.
Washington Supports Chavez Opposition
Throughout most of Chavez's tenure, quasi-government agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Institute Republican Institute (ISI), USAID, and other US organizations have funneled millions to Venezuelan opposition candidates, the 2010 election no exception.
On September 9, Eva Golinger headlined, "US Interference in Venezuelan Elections," saying:
In contrast, the US Federal Election Commission's Foreign (FEC) Nationals Brochure states:
Foreign nationals are defined as the following individuals or groups:
A Final Comment
Venezuelans spoke and sent a message. Though mixed because of the divergence between the seat and popular vote totals, it affirmed approval for Bolivarian social reforms. Without a super-majority, however, it remains to be seen whether opposition obstructionism will change the equation enough to matter, and gain more strength against Chavez in 2012. Today he'd win easily, for sure also in 2012 against a hard-right opponent for privilege over anyone for beneficial social change.
Petras is right. Venezuelans now and ahead have a choice. They can go back to the bad old days or "vot(e) for the greater good" and keep their hard won social gains. Most Americans can't even imagine them under a government serving everyone, not just society's privileged the way imperial Washington does it for corporatists and militarists alone.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on September 28, 2010.