VHeadline News Editor Patrick J. O'Donoghue reports:
Primero Justicia (PJ) youth leader, Yon Goicoechea comments that the opposition student's march last Friday against the constitutional amendment is a "bridge to the Other Venezuela to tell them that we are many and that there cannot be two countries in Venezuela, just one." The "No" vote, Goicoechea points out, ratifies what Venezuela has been and wants to be, a country that can replace poverty for work, for effort ... "we want our young people to be able to go to university and children to college." The "No" vote, he proclaims, means more productivity and more effort in the countryside and for workers, greater possibilities of study, and an end to discrimination and exclusion.
President Chavez has welcomed US President Barrack Obama's decree to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and ban torture of political suspects. Venezuela is full of hope because the world seems to be entering the road of reason and peace, Chavez says during an ideological workshop for members of (Caracas) 23 de Enero district electoral commands. Chavez admits that he agrees with Fidel Castro on the latter's appreciation of Obama, stating that the new US President should be given time. Chavez states that Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was influenced by Obama becoming President.
President Chavez has made an important visit to Colombia to meet his counterpart, Alvaro Uribe. At a press conference with the Colombian President in Cartagena Chavez announced the exchange of new Ambassadors. Gustavo Marquez will go to Bogota, while Maria Luisa Chiappe will represent Colombia in Caracas. The two countries have also agreed to set up a technical commission to study the impact of the world financial crisis on trade between the two countries. Uribe proposed setting up infrastructure works such as bridges, energy sources and water in border areas to improve people's standard of living in those critical areas and Chavez supports the initiative. Chavez reveals that $200 million will go towards financing micro and small companies in both countries. The Presidents agree to meet again in April to sign documents governing the technical commission. Both countries will continue to strengthen confidence in each other, Chavez promises, but he did ask political economic, social and military and civil actors in both countries to contribute towards generating a genuine climate of confidence as a condition. Both Presidents have also decided to push for a possible single currency for bilateral trade operations as one possible way of meeting the world economic crisis. President Chavez maintains that at this moment of crisis the ministries of finance must study payment mechanisms in trade relations and attempt to introduce payment with their own currencies.
Maracaibo Mayor and leader of the main opposition party, Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT), Manuel Rosales visited the eastern Venezuelan city of Maturin to campaign for the "No" vote on February 15. Rosales says President Chavez is subjecting the Venezuelan people to a new ruse in presenting a constitutional amendment proposal. Gonzales insists on the main opposition line that the people already rejected the proposal at the December 2007 referendum. President Chavez' aim is to remain in power forever, Rosales alleges, and he intends to "eliminate private property and indoctrinate children in the Castro-Communist Doctrine." The opposition leader has also stated that the only way to escape poverty is to elect the right person to govern Venezuela and to ensure alternability in power, as in other countries.
Speaking at a meeting of the workers for the constitutional amendment, President Chavez says he is a defender of the working class and promoter of revolutionary spirit among workers. Chavez calls on the working class and its leaders to take conscience of the revolutionary process in Venezuela because they have a "great responsibility and should distance themselves from the vices of the past, namely the old Accion Democratica and Christian Socialist trade unionism that corrupted workers." Venezuela today needs a united working class and an end to divisions and discord, Chavez urges, and he hopes to see on the horizon a united, revolutionary and Socialist working class ... "it's is the responsibility of all of us, of the working class itself and its leaders."
Speaking as president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), President Chavez has launched the start of the fourth phase of the campaign for the "Yes" vote, which he dubs as " The Takeoff." In his second weekly column, the President says the political battle for the constitutional amendment he has proposed is becoming more intense as the referendum approaches and that is why it is important to reinforce the general offensive on all fronts and everywhere. The President reports that he is permanently on the campaign trail throughout Venezuela where he has sworn-in thousands of committees, urging them to visit each house in their neighborhood to ensure victory for the "Yes" vote. In the article Chavez calls on committees to show "initiative, creativity, joy, organization and mobilization in campaigning." The key element, he argues, is to counter a powerful opposition disinformation campaign against the people based on permanent manipulation and media laboratory spin. The President contends that every time he hears the "petite yankees" of Venezuela refer to the amendment proposal as calling for "indefinite" re-election, he remembers Shakespeare's Macbeth quote about a "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury yet meaningless." An election is either definite or it isn't, Chavez writes, re-election means return to elect and anyone who wants to continue in the public office must subject himself to the verdict of the people. "How can anyone remain in power, if s/he is not elected? Chavez concludes that the opposition is afraid of the People (El Pueblo) that has woken up like one big collective Lazarus.
Patrick J. O'Donoghue