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Ramirez signals oilfield progress

VENEZUELA: Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez reported at the weekend that the country is making progress on long-term plans to dramatically boost oil output.

Mr Ramirez said that the country intends to increase production of heavy crude in the eastern Orinoco River basin in order to lift output from about 3 million barrels a day now to about 4 million barrels a day in 2015.

The minister said the government was working to reduce reliance on oil revenue, which accounts for about 95 per cent of export earnings, by supporting other state-run industries and agriculture projects.

Support shown from across the world as President Chavez recovers from cancer

Support shown from across the world as President Chavez recovers from cancer & returns to Venezuela

It has been announced today that President Chavez is now back in Caracas, whilst following President’s Chavez announcement that he is recovering from cancer, messages of support have come from across the world wishing him a recovery.

Previously, President Hugo Chavez made a speech from Havana on Thursday giving the latest details on his health, having fell ill in Cuba whilst on a regional tour. He said that following an urgent operation to remove a pelvic abscess, some cancerous cells were detected, and this led to a second surgical operation to completely remove the tumour.

In a live statement (which can be viewed with English subtitles here) he said:

"Despite the favourable general progress, there appeared some suspicious cells that had not been detected before. Therefore, another series of special studies took place immediately (.) which confirmed the existence of an abscessed tumour, with carcinogenic cells, and this led to another necessary surgical operation which removed that tumour completely."

He explained that after the second surgery he has continued to progress well, while receiving complementary treatment to fight the different kinds of cells which were detected.

President Chavez also said he has remained in charge of his nation's affairs been in constant contact with his cabinet, "I have kept and I keep informed and commanding the actions being taken by the Bolivarian government and in permanent contact with Vice-president Elias Jaua and with all my cabinet," he added. Over the weekend, he also met with various Cabinet ministers.

Support Shown

President Chavez also spoke of how he appreciated the solidarity expressed by several heads of state that have sent to him their messages wishing him to recover, as well as the messages he received from the Venezuelan people and people across the world. VSC has sent a statement, which can be read below.

A march showing support for Hugo Chavez will take place on July 5 to celebrate Venezuela's 200th anniversary of independence from Spain. Already, on July 3, a mass march of Venezuelan young people filled the streets of Caracas to express their support.

Meanwhile, Venezuela"s Foreign Affairs minister Nicolas Maduro has urged right-wing opposition groups to respect president Chavez's health condition, saying "it seems these people are not able to understand humane problems and respect human beings," and added that it was sad they give priority "to their political agenda and political calculations."

Internationally, in Bolivia, Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera expressed his country's support for Chavez, saying that Bolivia “sends him [Chavez] strength for his return, and hopes to see him again with that same energy and integrity that has him leading the processes of social betterment for the Venezuelan and Latin American peoples.”

Statements of support have also come from the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, South Korea and elsewhere.

* President Chavez is regularly tweeting (in spanish) and you can follow him on Twitter @chavezcandanga . You can tweet your statements of support to President Chavez (@chavezcandanga) and use the hashtag #palantecommandante.  You can also read President Chavez's address to the Venezuelan People, in English, here

* VSC message of support to President Chavez:

Dear President Hugo Chavez,

We learned about your health condition yesterday and send you our most sincere and strongest support and solidarity.

We wish you the speediest recovery in this new battle you have to confront.

Under your leadership, Venezuela has shown that through the path of democracy and social justice, it is possible to transform the lives of millions of people for the better.

Our thoughts and those of people across the world are with you. We hope that this support gives you strength at this difficult time.

Dr Francisco Dominguez
Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, Great Britain

Leading voices in Britain call for respect for Venezuelan Sovereignty & Oppose US Sanctions


Leading voices in Britain call for respect for Venezuelan Sovereignty & Oppose US Sanctions

Prominent figures including Members of Parliament, performing artist Linton Kwesi Johnson and film-maker John Pilger have called for opposition to the recent imposition of US sanctions on the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA. Academics, trade union leaders and peace campaigners also backed the call.

In a letter they call the sanctions the “latest in a series of violations of Venezuela’s sovereignty in recent years,” arguing they “reflect an increasingly hostile agenda being driven by the Republican Right, following its successes at last November's US elections, which have led to it controlling a number of important foreign affairs committees.”

In light of this, they conclude by arguing that “in the run-up to Presidential Elections in December 2012, it is up to the Venezuelan people alone to decide their own future, free from external interference, and call on all governments to respect this right.”

The letter and a number of its signatories appeared in the labour movement weekly Tribune (22 July 2011). The letter and its signatories are below

TAKE ACTION TODAY: We are still collecting signatories for this statement - Click here to ask your MP to oppose US sanctions on Venezuela!

The statement reads: “We oppose the decision of US government to impose sanctions on the Venezuela state-owned oil company PDVSA, when no action of any kind undertaken by Venezuela contradicts any principle of international law.  The sanctions have been described by Venezuela as "a hostile action on the fringes of international law that violates the principles of the Charter of the UN," and rejected by Venezuela’s elected National Assembly.

This is the latest in a series of violations of Venezuela’s sovereignty in recent years. It reflects an increasingly hostile agenda being driven by the Republican Right, following its successes at last November's US elections, which have led to it controlling a number of important foreign affairs committees.

This hostility includes a stated desire by leading right-wing republicans to add Venezuela to the US list of "state sponsors of terrorism" and has seen substantial increases in funding of Venezuela opposition groups. It also comes within the context of a build up of US military bases in the region in recent years, which many see as a threat to the region’s stability.

We believe that in the run-up to Presidential Elections in December 2012, it is up to the Venezuelan people alone to decide their own future, free from external interference, and call on all governments to respect this right."

The current published list of signatories is:

Colin Burgon , Venezuela Solidarity Campaign/Labour Friends of Venezuela

Dr. Francisco Dominguez, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign/Centre for Latin American Studies, Middlesex University

Martin Caton MP

Paul Flynn MP

Sheila Gilmore MP

Peter Hain MP

Sir Gerald Kaufman MP

Andy Love MP

Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party Leader

Marsha Singh MP

Graham Stringer MP

Mike Wood MP 

Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU

Bob Abberley, Assistant General Secretary UNISON

Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary Unite the Union

Gerry Doherty, General Secretary TSSA

Jonathan Ledger, General Secretary NAPO

Matt Wrack, General Secretary FBU

Simon Dubbins Director of International, Unite the Union

David Drever, Past President EIS

Peter Kavanagh, Acting Regional Secretary Unite the Union, London & Eastern Region

Richard Ascough, Regional Secretary GMB Southern Region

Linda Perks, Regional Secretary UNISON Greater London Region

Peter Purton, LGBT Officer TUC (personal capacity)

John Pilger, filmmaker & writer

Linton Kwesi Johnson, musician

Jody McIntryre, Journalist & activist

Bruce Kent, prominent peace campaigner

Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition

Cllr Salma Yaqoob, Leader Respect Party

Cat Smith, Vice-Chair London Young Labour

Karen Mitchell, Thompsons Solicitors

Katherine Craig,  Christian Khan Lawyers

Martin McIvor, Editor of Renewal Magazine

Professor Doreen Massey, Professor of Geography, The Open University.

Dr Michael Derham,University of Northumbria  

Dr Peter Lambert, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching University of Bath

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, Emeritus Professor of Operational Research London School of Economics

Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy Kingston University

Dr. Diana Raby, Senior Fellow Latin American Studies, Liverpool University

Dr Mike Cole, Director of the Centre for Education for Social Justice, Bishop Grosseteste University College

The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign

TAKE ACTION: You can add the name of your organisation by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I was misrepresented on Chavez - Chomsky

US academic Noam Chomsky accused the Observer newspaper of "extreme dishonesty" today after it claimed that he had "turned his guns" on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The Guardian was forced posted a full transcript this week after the professor accused its sister paper of selectively quoting from an interview.

The article quoted him as having criticised Mr Chavez for undermining Venezuela's democracy under the headline: "Noam Chomsky denounces old friend Hugo Chavez for 'assault' on democracy."

Mr Chomsky said following its publication that "The Guardian/Observer version ... is quite deceptive. I should know by now that I should insist on a transcript with the Guardian, unless it's a writer I know and trust.

"Let's begin with the headline: complete deception," he said. "That continues throughout. You can tell by simply comparing the actual quotes with their comments.

"As I mentioned, and expected, the [New York] Times report of a similar interview is much more honest, again revealing the extreme dishonesty of The Guardian."

Venezuela Celebrates 200 Years of Independence

By Tamara Pearson – 

Today Venezuelans have been celebrating 200 years of independence with formal ceremonies and cultural events around the country, as well as a giant civic-military parade in Caracas.

On 5 July 1811 the congress of Venezuelan provinces adopted and signed the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence, marking the point when Venezuelans decided to break away from the Spanish Crown and establish a new nation. The new nation was based on a range of premises including equality, abolition of censorship, and freedom of expression that were radically opposed to the practices applied during the preceding three centuries  of colonisation.

President Hugo Chavez, who arrived one day earlier after having been operated on and begun his recovery in Cuba, communicated through his Twitter account, “Happy birthday dear motherland...5 July you finally arrived, a shivering hurricane of patriotic passion, 200 years is 24 June 2021, the bicentenary of the [battle of] Carabobo!”

Celebrations began with fireworks in Caracas at 12am. Then, at 7am a formal ceremony in parliament saw the opening of the arc which contains the original Act of Independence. It will be on public display for the next ten days.

At 10am in Caracas there was a civic-military parade. A total of 12,000 people from the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB), social missions, communal councils, and 400 people from a range of Venezuelan indigenous groups participated in the parade, while over 30,000 seated observers watched on.

Also on show were various military vehicles, and according to YVKE Mundial, it was the largest parade in the history of the country. The parade was also broadcast live on national television.

Speaking by phone, Chavez gave the authorisation for the start of the parade, saying that today was a “jubilant day” and that, “Today, 200 years later, we can say it: After having lost that independence that cost so much, Venezuela, in these last ten years...has recovered its independence...and this recovered independence is a door that we should keep open so that for the next years and decades we can recover all the needs of the people: Freedom, equality, happiness, living, life, a humane country, a full country.”

Cheresade Torrealba, a paragliding sergeant with the FANB, highlighted the new and important role women were playing in the army. After the parade she commented to the Correo Del Orinico that women can get to the level they want to in the army, “If they put out rocks, we’ll jump over them...with pride and dignity women face the obstacles in our way.”

Foreign ministers and other representatives from around Latin America and the Caribbean attended ceremonies today in Caracas, including the presidents of Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivar, who later plan to meet with Chavez. Also, students and other people from various nations around Latin America, as well as Palestine, dressed up in the national costumes or flags and participated in the parade.

After the parade, Uruguayan president Jose “Pepe” Mujica said that Latin Americans are “used to thinking in terms of small countries” and they need to broaden that perspective and “think of all of our America”.

Around the country big and small plazas were renovated for the day, and many houses put out their Venezuelan flags. In main plazas the FANB and civilians conducted ceremonies, sang the national anthem and placed floral wreaths, and many cities will hold their Bicentenary Parades this Saturday culminating in re-enactments of 5 July 1811.

From last weekend to this weekend, there will also be hundreds of free cultural events around the country, including orchestra performances, music, theatre, literary events, dance, local handicraft, sport, food exhibitions, and photographic and artistic displays.

Last year, on 20 April, Venezuela also marked the forming of the First Republic of Venezuela, which lasted until 25 July 1812. The event was similarly marked with a large civic-military parade.

For more photos of the day, see VA's images section