Venezuela’s popular Democracy under siege: A conversation with Elías Jaua
In a recent article, you argued for opening a debate among the revolutionary cadres and the people. Tell us about why you wager for debate in this process (that initially put so much emphasis on popular democracy)
I return to the question of democracy time and again because I believe it is the core of the Bolivarian Revolution. In fact, it is (or should be) the essence of any socialist revolution. A socialist revolution must be profoundly democratic or it will not be a revolution at all! Only authentic popular participation can lead to innovation, transformation, and timely rectification. The emergence of something new comes mostly out of popular participation.
The Case Against a New Concert of Powers
Global politics today is a mess, and it can be tempting to turn to history for clues about how to clean it up, as Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan did recently in “The New Concert of Powers” (March 23). But one must be careful to learn the right lessons. Haass and Kupchan argue that the nineteenth-century Concert of Europe provides a model for managing great-power relations, avoiding major wars, and balancing an imbalanced world. These are worthy goals, but the Concert of Europe failed to achieve them—and so would any new organization inspired by it.
In 1815, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, and the United Kingdom founded the concert to maintain their power and stabilize a continent roiled by wars and revolutionary uprisings. The concert is sometimes depicted as producing a golden age of diplomacy: a time when diplomats and statesmen fostered mutual respect, maintained a balance of power, avoided one another’s spheres of influence, and eschewed war in favor of joint sorties to the opera and late-night discussions over whiskey and cigars.
China on the horizon as ‘world’s pharmacy
The World Health Organisation’s approval Friday for China’s COVID-19 vaccine known as Sinopharm dramatically transforms the ecosystem of the pandemic. In immediate terms, this has potential to boost global vaccine supply, as China’s overall yearly production capacity is approaching five billion doses.
The western pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly has been breached, as Sinopharm’s is the first COVID-19 vaccine developed by a developing country to be validated by the WHO and only the sixth approved for emergency use globally–in fact, the only non-western vaccine so far. Literally, China has gatecrashed the aggressively-guarded orchard of powerful western pharmaceutical companies. In practical terms, the WHO approval allows China to enter the portals of the COVAX as a qualified supplier.
What are the real reasons behind the New Cold War?
The announcement on April 15 by President Biden that this administration was expelling 10 Kremlin diplomats and imposing new sanctions for alleged Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. elections–to which Russia replied with a tit for tat–came just days after the Pentagon conducted military drills in the South China Sea. These actions were but the latest escalation of aggressive posturing as Washington ramps up its “New Cold War” against Russia and China, pushing the world dangerously towards international political and military conflagration.
Most observers attribute this US-instigated war to rivalry and competition over hegemony and international economic control. These factors are important, but there is a bigger picture that has been largely overlooked of what is driving this process: the crisis of global capitalism.
Strong diplomacy, strong status: Turkey in the region
After the end of the Cold War, the United States declared itself the sheriff of global politics. The new world order of American neo-cons amounted to the sole hegemony of the U.S. around the world.
Devastating the established international order, this unipolar international system nullified the status of international law and organizations, particularly the United Nations.
During the first two decades of the post-Cold War period, the U.S.’s unlawful occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq concluded, providing lasting political instability in the Middle East. However, the eruption of the Syrian civil war soon proved that the unipolar international order was simply not working. Losing their role as a playmaker, the U.S. administration injected itself into the Syrian crisis as one of the parties of the regional conflict by using two terrorist organizations, Daesh and the PKK, as proxies
Asian Americans and social justice
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and we should note recent achievements. Congress finally acknowledged the 20,000 Chinese Americans who, despite intense racism, served in the U.S. military during the Second World War. Taiwanese American Charles Yu’s novel about that racism, “Interior Chinatown”, won the National Book Award. Kamala Harris, a woman with roots in India, became U.S. vice president.
Even more remarkable is Gintanjali Rao, an Indian American from Colorado. Over the past five years, Rao has invented technologies to measure lead in drinking water, diagnose opioid addiction, and detect cyberbullying. She has conducted international science workshops, given public talks, and learned to pilot an airplane. And she’s only fifteen!
Behind the lives lost during the pandemic lie India’s failing public institutions
The numbers keep rising. Daily counts of those afflicted and those dying are matched with images of horrifying suffering: of desperate scrambles for hospital beds, the dire need for oxygen, mass cremation without the rituals and respect for the dead, and soul-shattering public mourning by countless bereaved. As a nation, we watch with helplessness and consider the pandemic to be the culprit that has wrecked our celebration of having beaten it and is now despoiling our international reputation to be the next superpower.
In what should be a collective and mass grieving for the deaths of our citizens–deaths that were unwarranted, a result of the government’s malignant neglect–is also the time to reckon with some deeper truths; that these pandemic-marked deaths were in the making long before COVID-19 struck us in early 2020.
Developing countries in the stranglehold of debt.
The coronavirus pandemic and other aspects of the multidimensional crisis of global capitalism are enough to fully justify suspending debt repayment. Indeed priority must be given to protecting people against ecological, economic and public health disasters.
In the context of the current emergency, we have to assess longer trends that make it necessary to implement radical solutions to the issue of DCs’ debt. This is why we develop our analysis of factors that currently increase the unsustainability of the debt repayments claimed from countries in the Global South. We shall consider in turn the downward trend in commodity prices, the reduction of foreign exchange reserves, continued dependence on revenue from commodity export, the DCs’ debt payment calendar, with major repayments due between 2021 and 2025, mainly to private creditors, the drop in migrants’ remittances to their countries of origin, the back flow to the North of stock market investments, the perpetuation of capital flight.1 Payment rescheduling granted in 2020-2021 because of the pandemic by creditor countries that are members of the Paris Club and of the G20 only accounts for a small portion of repayments owed by developing countries.
China and Russia’s Dangerous Convergence
On March 23, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, sat down for an auspiciously timed meeting. The high-level talks came just a day after an unusually heated public exchange between senior U.S. and Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska, and in sharp contrast, the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers struck an amicable tone. Together, they rejected Western criticism of their human rights records and issued a joint statement offering an alternative vision for global governance. The U.S.-led international order, Lavrov said, “does not represent the will of the international community.”
The meeting was noteworthy for more than its rhetoric, however. Within days of it, Russia began amassing troops along Ukraine’s border—the largest number since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Simultaneously, China began conducting highly publicized amphibious assault exercises and air incursions into Taiwan’s so-called air defense identification zone at the highest frequency in nearly 25 years. These military moves have reignited concerns in Washington about the potential depth of Chinese-Russian coordination.
Venezuela, the Present as Struggle: Voices from the Bolivarian Revolution
Venezuela has been the stuff of frontpage news extravaganzas, especially since the death of Hugo Chávez. With predictable bias, mainstream media focus on violent clashes between opposition and government, coup attempts, hyperinflation, U.S. sanctions, and massive immigration. What is less known, however, is the story of what the Venezuelan people—especially the Chavista masses—do and think in these times of social emergency.
Denying us their stories comes at a high price to people everywhere, because the Chavista bases are the real motors of the Bolivarian revolution. This revolutionary grassroots movement still aspires to the communal path to socialism that Chávez refined in his last years. Venezuela, the Present as Struggle is an eloquent testament to their lives.