Friday, June 08, 2007

Venezuela: Students Make Fools of Themselves at National Assembly

In an unprecedented display of openness, the Venezuelan National Assembly invited members of student organizations who have been protesting for the world’s media for the last 10 days, to address the body. However, rather than take part in a democratic exchange of ideas in the hall, with the entire nation watching, the anti-Chavez students stormed out in a huff when it became clear they would not be able to dominate the event.

CARACAS (Reuters) - Students took their 11-day-old protest over President Hugo Chavez's shutdown of the last nationwide opposition television station to Venezuela's Congress on Thursday, in a rare appearance by the opposition in the legislature.

Addressing the 167-member body, student leader Douglas Barrios said daily demonstrations against the closure of RCTV would continue. "Today our classes are in the street," he said in remarks that were broadcast nationally.
Congress, which has granted Chavez the power to rule by decree, organized a debate over the station's closure between pro- and anti-government students and the government required all Venezuelan television and radio to broadcast the session.

The anti-Chavez students -- part of a mainly middle-class movement that has at times drawn tens of thousands onto the streets -- walked out after the first pro-government speech, complaining the event was politicized.
whole thing



Blogger Julia_1984 said...

Stop making stances about the things you have no idea of. Why do you think students make fools of themselves? Perhaps you are just repeating my president speech. I invite you to visit my blog, as a start for seeing another side of this story. If you are dare, give it a try. I dont think a socialist just believe on everything a goverment who calls it self socialist says,I think a socialist first checks how that government is, because from the speech to the actions there is a huge distance sometimes.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

On what basis do you make the claim that these students made "fools of themselves"? Did you see it? I suppose you could have watched the video on YouTube, but there is certainly nothing in it that makes the students look like fools.

And your description of how the students "stormed out in a huff when it became clear they would not be able to dominate the event" is both ridiculous and suggests some factual inaccuracies. The students knew going into the event that they were not going to be able to "dominate it." They knew the pro-chavista students would get to speak and that there'd be a debate. Your description makes it sound like they were caught off-guard and childishly stormed out. But they weren't surprised and their exit was totally planned.

You talk about media bias on your blog, but could you possibly provide a more biased description of what transpired?

And I'm sorry to say it, but you clearly have no idea of what is really happening in this country. Have you ever bothered to read any scholarly analysis of Venezuela under Chavez, or do you just depend on far leftist accounts? I am looking at your list of links and, while some of them certainly can provide some good information, the ones I recognize (Zmag, Chomsky, CounterPunch, Le Monde Diplomatique) generally do a terrible job when it comes to Venezuela (I love Chomsky, but he's really missing the boat on Chavez).

I strongly encourage you to check out the work of Francisco Rodriguez (professor at Wesleyan) and Javier Corrales (professor at Amherst). The misions may sound really nice, but they're having little impact--if any at all--on the social conditions in this country.

And then, of course, there's the authoritarianism...

4:23 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

Yes I watched the event and yes I think the students made fools of themselves. I feel like when you are protesting for a week straight for "free speech," then get a chance to state your ideas to the ENTIRE country in the National assembly, no less, you are a fool not to use it. It fits the quote pathetic pattern of the opposition boycotting things even when they get their way, as a way to seem persecuted...

I was aware the students were told of the debate situation beforehand. That is why the speech mentioned the nonsense about a national assembly not being a place for debate (Huh?). If you read my sentence suggesting otherwise, sorry, but that was not my intent.

As for Francisco Rodriguez, he is a hack. I have debated and refuted his bogus arguments about the poor being no better off. The missions may not be upending the social structure, but millions are better off because of them.

Finally, I am not a journalist and this is a blog. Hence the opinions on display.

But welcome...

5:51 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Your response to Rodriguez's Guardian article is little more than a repeat of government propaganda. You say that now health care and education/training are being provided to all, but do you actually have stats or studies to back that up? In fact, government statistics show that the Barrio Adentro facilities are hardly being used at all. Even more importantly, this health care that is now supposedly available to all is actually resulting in worse health conditions in Venezuela than prior to Chavez taking office. And I'm basing that on government stats.

As far as the education/training goes, do you actually have any idea of the quality of that education? Do you know how many people have benefited from it? Do you know anything more deeply about it other than what the government says? Do you realize that the highschool equivalent education has been conducted mostly through videos, not real teachers? Do you know that businesses in this country to not actually recognize degrees from the Bolivarian University? As for the training for agricultural cooperatives, etc., what are the results?

Barrio Adentro is a failure. According to Rodriguez, Mision Robinson is a failure. Of course, you think he is a hack so maybe we should just take the government's line on that one... although you'd do well to recognize that the governmnet claims to have taught more people to read (1.5 million) than were actually illiterate to begin with. It also lied about being certified by UNESCO has having eliminated illiteracy. You'll have to forgive me for not just taking at face value the success of other missions.

The same goes for the communal councils. Sounds like a potentially good idea, but do you actually have evidence of how communities have really been empowered beyond a few examples? There are a lot people who worry that the communal councils will act as another way for Chavez to centralize power by bypassing the legislative branch altogether and making the populace more dependent on him for funding. Perhaps you think the former pro-Chavez historian Margarita Lopez Maya is a hack as well, but she has a useful interview in the most recent issue of NACLA in which she voices these concerns.

Of course poverty is down in Venezuela. But you'd do well to note that it was dropping very quickly just prior to Chavez's rise to power, and that it dropped far more dramatically in past oil booms. People (such as Chomsky) don't seem to realize that prior to the pseudo-neoliberal reforms of the late 1980s and 1990s, Venezuela was a massive welfare state. Chavez is not the first president to distribute oil money to the poor, and, as i pointed out, previous governmnets actually distributed MORE of it.

I would be very interested to know why you dismiss the use of the Maisanta database and, I assume, Tascon's list as means of discriminating against the opposition. True, Chavez condemned Tascon's list, but he also ADMITTED that it was used. Chavez purposefully makes it clear that he will discriminate against the opposition. It is part of his political strategy.

Finally, RCTV. Look, just because it SHOULD have it's license revoked for its actions during the 2002 coup, doesn't mean that it IS having it revoked for that reason. If this is the reason, then why was Venevision's license renewed? It had essentially the same role back in April 2002. The difference is that Venevision agreed to stop criticizing the government while RCTV did not. That is the difference between them and demonstrates that RCTV is clearly being shut down in order to silence a prominent critic.

I would be very interested in any rigorous studies you could provide me with that demonstrate the usefulness of the missions. You state that "millions are better off because of them" and I would love to see the proof of this.

6:27 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

look, i don't live in venezuela, or read spanish, so it makes meeting your demands for "proof" of Chavez benefitting the poor a bit labor intensive. But here are a bunch of stats - from the Ven-US Chamber of Commerce, that shows the incomes of the poorest 58% has increased 130% in 3 years. It also shows the rich gaining little (but not losing $ either) from the "oil boom". That means most of the created extra income is flowing downward. That, along with strong growth, is what a Chavez economy is all about.

As for health care, just from a 2004 Govt. shapshot we know Adentro has saved thousands of lives, treated tens of millions. That is what putting thousands of small clincs and doctors in the poorest areas where there were none before. You did not share what stat is supposedly worsening overall health care, but I can tell you WHO reports the most important stat - infant mortality has improved by 15% (saving thousands of lives). Thousands of new doctors are being trained today and hospitals are getting rehabbed...

On education, I've seen that public school attendance and graduation rates have skyrcketed, spending on education as a % of GDP has tripled, 19 Universities are being buillt... Robinson has done wonders, despite Rodriguez's claims. There are indeed 1.5 million graduates, who are now literate (whether they were counted before properly does not matter). Yes videotapes were used, but the results are real. UNESCO awarded a prize to the program, did they not? Maybe you don't believe because those who were affected were those in jails, or in the indigenous villages and urban slums.

The Councils are just really getting started, it's too early to evaluate. But any kind of more direct, participatory democracy in spending funds and directing land use is a GREAT thing. Transparency of government function can do wonders to reduce corruption and improve quality of life (they are basically following the Brazilian PT model of urban governance, which is a hit). Sure there are concerns of some powerful people losing power in the process... and lots of ex "pro-Chavez" people writing articles for good pay. I wonder why they never got spreads in US magazines while they were pro-Chavez....

Previous governments distributed more oil money in the past? How do you figure, or are you counting the nationalized days? The amazing poverty numbers (which Rodriguez ignores) I've addressed.

The list can be discounted because it is illegal to use. If someone feels disciminated against for political reasons, there are laws and courts to protect them (they have been used). Discrimination went both ways by the way...

Ahem... RCTV acted differently and bears unique responsibility for the coup and strike, as I've discussed here. And Venevision still criticizes the government, it just allows both sides to have a say.

4:48 PM  

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