Adamant: Hardest metal

Caracas Libertador municipality way behind in vehicle tax collections

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Thursday, May 01, 2003
By: Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Vehicle tax collection has ended in Caracas with the majority of municipalities showing a surplus over expected income, except for Libertador municipality ... which failed to meet its 7.5 billion bolivares target by 1.5 million.

Baruta municipality set a 100-million target and ended up with 700 million, Chacao 50-million reached 1 billion, El Hatillo 30-million reached its target in one day and went on to net 120 million. All are administered by opposition mayors.

Even Sucre, in the hands of a government mayor, did well setting its target at 130 million and reaching 500 million bolivares.

Where did Libertador Mayor Freddy Bernal go wrong?

Libertador superintendent, Richard Salas admits there is 30% bad debt on vehicle taxes.

Other municipalities say they have noted an influx of Libertador residents at their collection offices to avoid digging into their pockets to pay 67,000 bolivares, whereas in El Hatillo the tax only costs 4,000 bolivares.

Para leer y meditar...Cifras


Las cifras sobre un país son su realidad hecha números.

Cualquier lector se enfrenta a diario con una avalancha de cifras, las cuales no siempre son leídas con detenimiento. Les ofrezco un incompleto resumen para que mediten:

1.. El Ejecutivo Nacional le debe 4300 millones de dólares a las 335 Alcaldías del país correspondiente a los años 2001 y 2002.

2.. El Ministerio de Finanzas le debe al IVSS, por concepto de pensiones y jubilaciones de los años 2001 y 2002, la cantidad de 400 millardos de bolívares.

3.. El 80% de los venezolanos mayores de 65 años no tiene ahorros.

4.. Durante los años 2001 y 2002, la impresionante cifra de 633.600 personas quedaron desempleadas, alcanzándose una tasa de 16% según el Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas.

5.. Hoy se cumplen 103 días desde que el Ejecutivo anunció la medida de control de cambio y ninguno de los grandes bancos ha entregado el primer dólar. El año pasado el BCV ofreció un promedio de U$ 50 millones diarios.

6.. El año pasado PDVSA entregó al BCV un promedio mensual de U$ 1.155 millones. En el 2003 los aportes de PDVSA van así:
enero U$60 millones, febrero U$ 270 millones y marzo U$ 500 millones.

  1. La Ley Orgánica de Hidrocarburos, cuya última versión fue aprobada por el parlamento chavista en noviembre de 2001, señala que el porcentaje mínimo de participación del Estado en proyectos del sector tiene que ser el 51%.

8.. La inversión extranjera directa fue de U$ 3400 millones en el año 2001 y bajó a U$ 1400 millones en el 2002. Según un estudio de la CEPAL la disminución de los flujos de inversiones para Latinoamérica y en especial para Venezuela, se debe a las restricciones que afrontan las empresas para obtener financiamiento por el riesgo-país.

9.. Barclays, firma de análisis de riesgo de los EE.UU., señala que la caída del PIB en el año 2002 fue de 8,90% y estiman un 12,50% para el 2003. Incluyen en su informe este comentario: "Por primera vez en la historia, un cesación de pagos es una opción dentro de la administración de Chávez".

Otra fuente: Morgan Stanley prevé contracción de 16,80% del PIB en el 2003.

10.. El Índice de Precios al Mayor (IPM), según el BCV, se ha comportado así en los primeros meses del 2003: enero 7%, febrero 8,90% y marzo 6%, lo que da un acumulado de 23,50% en el primer trimestre. Esto lo que anuncia es una inflación galopante a nivel del consumidor para el resto del año.

11.. La guerrilla colombiana le arrebata 24.000 millones de bolívares anuales a los venezolanos de la frontera, mediante el secuestro, el robo y la extorsión. Por estas razones el 60% de las fincas de los estados Zulia y Táchira están en venta.

En el occidente del país se está conformando un poderoso cartel de la droga, producto del desplazamiento inducido por diversos factores, entre ellos destaca el Plan Colombia. (Fuente: diputado por el Zulia, Julio Montoya)

12.. "¿Adónde van las grandes transnacionales del crimen?. A los países donde el sector público ha colapsado, de donde es fácil entrar y salir, donde los políticos, los jueces y los militares no le rinden cuenta a nadie de sus actuaciones y donde todas las decisiones del sector público están a la venta. Así si usted fuese traficante internacional de drogas, de chinos, de mujeres, de armas, de dinero o de cualquier otro contrabando, ¿dónde abriría una sucursal?. Correcto, en la Venezuela de Hugo Chávez." (Fuente: Foreign Policy).

13.. Desde que el presidente Hugo Chávez asumió el poder se han cometido en Venezuela 33.523 homicidios, de los cuales apenas un 22% ha logrado tener una solución policial y solo un 14% llegó a los tribunales. Vivimos en el país de la impunidad absoluta.. (Fuente: Diputado Carlos Tablante).

14.. Si sobre algún aspecto de la vida hay consenso universal es la importancia de la educación para el desarrollo de los pueblos. Veamos algunas cifras sobre la educación en Venezuela:
a..Promedio de años de escolaridad: 7,15 por habitante
b..Sólo 37,20% de quienes entran en primer grado, se inscriben en séptimo grado.
c..Sólo 16% de quienes entran en primer grado, se inscribe en quinto año de bachillerato.
d..El Ministerio de Educación se fijó como meta para el año 2001, la inscripción de 1 millón de nuevos niños en el sistema educativo, pero la realidad es que sólo ingresaron 208.000.
e..Un 40% de los docentes no se han graduado.
f..Un 60% de las escuelas no tiene Director.(Fuente: CICE, Mariano Herrera)

Cuba: U.N. failure to condemn affirms right to self-defense

By ANITA SNOW
Herald tribune.com-Associated Press Writer

The U.N. Human Rights Commission's failure to condemn Cuba for its recent crackdown affirmed the island leadership's belief in the right to defend itself from attempts to subvert its system, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said Friday.
"The unquestionable majority vote is a clear signal from the Human Rights Commission that Cuba has the right to apply its own laws," Perez Roque told a news conference. "This was a resonant victory for Cuba, and we express our profound satisfaction."
The top United Nations watchdog on Thursday rejected a proposed amendment criticizing Cuba's recent crackdown on opponents, instead approving a milder resolution calling for a U.N. rights monitor to visit the island.
The 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission, which regularly criticizes Cuba on its rights record, voted 31-15 during its meeting in Geneva against condemning the communist state's monthlong drive against dissidents and other opponents.
Cuban tribunals earlier this month sentenced 75 dissidents to prison terms ranging from 6 to 28 years on charges of being mercenaries who worked with the American government to harm the island's socialist system. The dissidents and the U.S. government deny the accusations.
The rejected amendment expressed "deep concern about the recent detention, summary prosecution and harsh sentencing of numerous members of the political opposition" and called for them to be released.
Governments and human rights groups around the world have condemned Cuba for jailing dozens of dissidents. The crackdown was followed by the April 11 executions of three men convicted of the hijacking nine days earlier of a ferry filled with passengers.
Perez Roque accused the U.S. government of concocting the failed attempt to condemn the communist-run island and questioned the human rights records of those countries that backed the measure.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday that despite the measure's defeat, the United States was pleased that the commission passed a Cuba resolution.
"It sends a strong message of support for the courageous Cubans who struggle daily to defend their human rights and their fundamental freedoms," Boucher said.
Although Perez Roque acknowledged that the final measure was not a condemnation of Cuba's, he said his country would not comply with it.
The milder resolution, passed 24-20, urged the Caribbean nation to accept a visit by U.N. human rights investigator, French jurist Christine Chanet. There were nine abstentions.
Cuba has previously refused to allow Chanet to visit, claiming such a visit could infringe on its sovereignty.
Latin American countries voting in favor of the resolution that passed included Mexico - a longtime Cuban ally - as well as Paraguay, Chile, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Argentina and Brazil abstained on the resolution that was approved. Venezuela, a strong political ally of Cuba, voted against it.
The commission also turned down a proposal 26-17, brought by Cuba itself, that criticized the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba.

Last modified: April 18. 2003 3:53PM

New Zealand's Green Left Weekly clarifies Venezuela's topsy-turvy CTV dilemma

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Monday, April 14, 2003
By: VHeadline.com Reporters

"There was a lot of confusion outside Venezuela during the last year about what has been happening ... some people have asked how could progressives and trade unionists support the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez given the dedicated opposition of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV)? How, when there was a general strike, could we side with the government rather than workers?”

Next Tuesday's (April 16, 2003) issue of New Zealand's Green Left Weekly clarifies the situation saying that there should be no confusion today ... "the CTV has been exposed as an arm of the employers' association Fedecamaras, with which it has been allied in the April 2002 coup d'etat and in the so-called general strike earlier this year."

"It was a strange general strike, indeed ... one in which workers in the oil industry, electricity, transport, public sector and other basic industries kept working and management walked out ... a strike in which workers were laid-off by the big local and multinational conglomerates, but were promised that they would receive full pay for the period of the lock-out (only now to discover that this promissory note was dependent on the companies defeating the Chavez government)."

Green Left Weekly continues ... make no mistake about it, this “general strike” was a capitalist offensive, supported by the US and its clients, to bring down the pro-poor Chavez government. Its immediate effect was an enormous blow to Venezuela's economy because of the loss of oil revenues for several months following the shut-down of PDVSA, the national oil company, by its managers. There were also losses in tax revenues that resulted from the lockouts and a tax strike by the companies. The resulting “opposition deficit” will make this year a difficult one under any circumstances but particularly so as the government attempts to meet the enormous needs of the Venezuelan people.

However, a longer term effect of this offensive by Venezuela's capitalist oligarchy has been a development of the political consciousness of the poor (most of them in the informal sector) and organized workers. There is a mood among workers of self-confidence -- one which emerged when the workers in PDVSA ran the company by themselves after management and technicians abandoned it.

In workplace after workplace, workers are talking about taking over and running their enterprises as cooperatives. PDVSA itself now has two representatives of its workers on its management board, and an associated petrochemicals firm is being run as a cooperative. This process is just beginning, but it looks like capital has lost one of its major weapons, its ability to threaten a capital strike -- rather than giving in, Venezuelan workers are moving in!

On March 29, a new labor federation was formed ... The National Union of Workers (UNT). The new federation emerged out of a long process of discussion which began last July among the Bolivarian Workers' Force, the workers' movement that is aligned with the Chavez government, the Bolivarian Circles, grassroots organizations among the poor, and independent trade unions (both in and outside the CTV) that are not “Chavist” but which support the general direction of the government.

At the core of these discussions was the question of how autonomous the new federation would be in relation to the government. After the last capitalist offensive, the matter has been resolved -- the UNT will be independent, class-oriented, democratic and revolutionary.

At its formation, the UNT already represents more workers than are nominally represented by the CTV, which will lose any credibility it has had outside Venezuela as its member unions leave. (Indeed, the petroleum workers' union, from which the current head of CTV Carlos Ortega came, is itself a key union in the UNT).

Of course, capital does not give up so easily ... through the CIA and its various fronts, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (which financed the American Center for International Labor Solidarity's support for the CTV), Venezuelan opponents of Chavez's “Bolivarian Revolution” will attempt to maintain the support of international labor federations such as the US AFL-CIO, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the International Labor Organization.

This is why it is especially important now for progressives and trade unionists to inform themselves of what is happening in Venezuela and in the Venezuelan workers' movement.

Referendum 2003
discuss the pros and cons of a revocatory referendum

President Hugo Chavez Frias
express your opinions on the Presidency of Hugo Chavez Frias and his Bolivarian Revolution

Bolivarian Circles
Are Bolivarian Circles a Venezuelan form of Neighborhood Watch Committees or violent hordes of pro-Chavez thugs?

Venezuela's Opposition
What is it? Is a force to be reckoned with or in complete disarray?

Chavists block San Tome plant to stop reinstated PDVSA  employees from entering

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2003
By: Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Government supporters have prevented 29 Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) employees from entering the San Tome plant in Anzoategui. Cantaura municipal judge, Rosa Guzman sentenced in favor of employees, who complained that they had been unjustly dismissed during the December-January oil stoppage.

Employees' lawyers successfully argued that their clients could not access the site because of "Chavist hordes" protesting at the gates of the plant during the stoppage.

Among the employees are three key persons: former San Tome manager Samuel Moncada, who has been replaced by Engineer Gilberto Zerpa, crude oil drilling manager Ildemaro Torres and legal department manager Dely Sole, both of whom have been replaced.

  • The lawyers say they will ask the judge to enforce his sentence or they will seek more robust legal measures against protesters to ensure that their clients return to work.

PDVSA president Ali Rodriguez formally ordered the dismissal of 3,400 San Tome plant mayor payroll and contractor employees during the stoppage. Barcelona courts are said to be working on 1,400 cases of illegal dismissal from work. Gente de Petroleo spokesman, Cristian Rodriguez welcomes the judge's decision saying it sets a precedent.

Protesters outside the plant gates argue that they will not let people onto the site who disrupted and crippled Venezuela's main source of income for political motives.

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