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The Chavez reader

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hugo holding US aloft.gif
Los que mueren por la vida
no pueden llamarse muertos

Those who die for life
cannot be called dead.
(Ali Primera – www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbKsD8PIwzE)

“Most of what you read or hear in mass media about President Hugo Chavez is always negative, his faults exaggerated, his discourse distorted and his achievements ignored. The reality is quite different.

“Hugo Chavez was beloved by millions around the world. He changed the course of a continent and led a collective awakening of a people once silenced, once exploited and ignored. Chavez was a grandiose visionary and a maker of dreams.

“An honest man from a humble background who lived in a mud hut as a child and sold candies on the streets to make money for his family, Chavez dreamed of building a strong, sovereign nation, independent of foreign influence and dignified on the world scene. He dreamed of improving the lives of his people, of eradicating the misery of poverty and of offering everyone the chance of a better life – the “good life” (el buenvivir), as he called it.”

[From ZCommunications | Hugo Chavez, Dream Maker by Eva Golinger | ZNet Article]

“In many ways, it has. Under Chávez’s watch, Venezuela has become more equal, the most egalitarian country in Latin America in fact, according to the Gini coefficient if income distribution. Poverty has been reduced significantly, and extreme poverty almost stamped out. Illiteracy has been eliminated and education is freely accessible, through the university level, to even the poorest Venezuelans. Health care is free and universal. Despite catastrophic language by the Venezuelan opposition and foreign press, the economy is strong, and has weathered the global economic crisis better than most (notably, the United States).”

[From ZCommunications | Preparing for a Post-Chávez Venezuela by George Ciccariello-Maher | ZNet Article]

“When Hugo Chávez triumphed in the 1998 presidential elections, the neoliberal capitalist model was already foundering. The choice then was none other than whether to re-establish the neoliberal capitalist model — clearly with some changes including greater concern for social issues, but still motivated by the same logic of profit seeking — or to go ahead and try to build another model.

“I believe that Chávez’s chief legacy is having chosen the latter alternative.”

[From ZCommunications | Chávez’s Chief Legacy: Building, with People, an Alternative Society to Capitalism by Marta Harnecker | ZNet Article]

“Well, I guess in the economic or socioeconomic scale, there’s—the most important thing is having turned Venezuela from being one of the most unequal countries in Latin America to one of the most equal ones, or actually the most equal ones in terms of income. It’s a complete turnaround, and that’s quite dramatic. If you look at statistics about income inequality, Venezuela has now the least income inequality of South America, right after Cuba, in any case.

“And then the other thing is that he halved the poverty rate. He decreased the extreme poverty rate by two-thirds.”

[From ZCommunications | Chavez Democratized Venezuela Making it the Most Equal Country in Latin America by Gregory Wilpert | ZNet Article]

Written by Sean Bozkewycz

March 17, 2013 at 05:17

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Solutions: Self-Determination and Self-Defense – Infoshop News

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An indigenous community in Mexico simply began governing itself when the corruption and complicity of local police and politicians became clear. Faced with systematic violence, intimidation and environmental destruction, the Purepecha turned away from the accepted authorites and began to reconstruct their community.

This is exactly what needs to happen in the rest of the world.

“It is hard not to throw your hands up in the air in resignation when you hear about criminals such as HSBC being granted immunity from prosecution and sanctions, but it is even harder not to throw a fist in the air when you see indigenous Purepechas successfully overcoming organized crime, corrupt politicians, and big business by establishing models for self-determination and self-defense, on a community level.”

Read the full article: Self-Determination and Self-Defense – Infoshop News]

Written by Sean Bozkewycz

January 24, 2013 at 08:57

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Historic Protection for BC’s Sacred Headwaters Announced: Major Victory in Campaign That Puts Local Communities Over Corporate Profit | ForestEthics

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Great news! Shell and any other coal-bed methane project has been permanently banned from the Sacred Headwaters in north-western BC! The Nass, Stikine and Skeena rivers will continue to flow free and pure.

Historic Protection for BC’s Sacred Headwaters Announced: Major Victory in Campaign That Puts Local Communities Over Corporate Profit | ForestEthics:

VANCOUVER – The B.C. government announced today that Shell would be withdrawing its plans to develop coalbed methane in the Klappan-Groundhog tenure area in northwest British Columbia. The government will also not issue oil and gas tenures in the area in the future.

‘Eight years ago, northern B.C. communities joined together to say ‘no’ to coalbed methane and ‘yes’ to wild salmon,’ said Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition executive director Shannon McPhail. ‘Today

is an incredible day for residents of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine watersheds. We are grateful and proud that First Nations and communities from the watersheds came and stood together. The B.C. government and Shell deserve recognition for listening to these communities and making a decision that will protect salmon cultures and livelihoods.”

This region, better known as the Sacred Headwaters, became the source of controversy in 2004, when Shell drilled three test wells in the area. Blockades and public rallies across the Northwest ensued in 2005 and 2006. International protests were also held at Royal Dutch Shell headquarters in The Hague. Due to opposition, the Province imposed a moratorium on coalbed methane development in the area in 2008, which was set to expire on December 18.

“Shell has backed away from a project only a handful of times. The powerful, relentless movement led by the courageous Tahltan and supported by nearly 100,000 people from around the world has not only stopped Shell, but persuaded the BC government to permanently protect the region from any further gas development,” said ForestEthics Advocacy senior conservation campaigner Karen Tam Wu. “It’s an inspiring day when communities in northern B.C. can stand up to one of the largest oil companies in the world and win. Congratulations to the Tahltan, and to the citizens and government of British Columbia.”

Highlights of the campaign to protect the Sacred Headwaters include:

  • International attention on the conflict by generating nearly 100,000 signatures from around the world
  • Several international actions in the Netherlands
  • Meeting directly with Shell Canada President
  • High level government relations
  • The first ever swim of the entire length of Skeena River

The Sacred Headwaters is located in northwest British Columbia, about 600 kilometres north of Terrace, B.C. The region is home to a diversity of wildlife, such as grizzly bears, caribou and moose. Shell’s plans would have seen thousands of gas wells and thousands of kilometres of roads built at the headwaters of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine rivers—three of B.C.’s top salmon-producing rivers. The headwaters were listed on the Outdoor Recreation Council’s Most Endangered Rivers list for the past three years.

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ForestEthics Advocacy and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition would like to thank Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada for its work to create this solution for the Sacred Headwaters, and for their work building support for a vision of a low-carbon Canadian energy economy.

ForestEthics Advocacy is a non-profit society devoted to public engagement, outreach and environmental advocacy – including political advocacy. We secure large-scale protection of endangered forests and wild places and transform environmentally destructive resource-extraction industries.

Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition is a non-profit society focused on cultivating a sustainable economy rooted in culture and a thriving wild salmon ecosystem. As residents of the region, we advocate for community-based decision-making regarding large industrial projects.

(Via forestethics.org)

Written by Sean Bozkewycz

December 19, 2012 at 11:19