Socialist Worker

Chavez in London

Issue No. 2000

When Venezuela's radical president, Hugo Chavez, visits London early next week, he will be a guest of mayor Ken Livingstone.

Tony Blair has not offered the kind of hospitality he gave his friend George Bush during the US president’s 2003 state visit.

The contrast is hardly surprising. When Blair attacked Chavez in the Commons earlier this year, implying that Venezuela was flouting international law, Chavez responded in kind.

“You, Mr Blair,” he said, “do not have the morality to call on anyone to respect the rules of the international community.

“You are precisely the one who has flouted international law the most... siding with Mr Danger [George Bush] to trample the people in Iraq.”

But from ordinary people in London, Chavez is likely to receive a far warmer welcome than Bush. That is not simply because of his rhetorical flair.

Chavez has become a symbol for a revolt across Latin America.

This is a continent where, in the past 30 years, 75 million people have been plunged into poverty by neo-liberal policies.

And it is a continent where revolt from below has begun to give form to the slogan of the anti-capitalist movement, “another world is possible”.

When Chavez talks about “socialism of the 21st century” he is reflecting something real. In the barrios of Caracas, La Paz and El Alto, in the streets of Buenos Aires and Quito, mass movements from below have toppled presidents, won reforms and fought off coup attempts.

We need to embrace the spirit of resistance that Chavez brings to London, and learn from the mass movements driving Latin America’s revolt.

Iraq’s global cost

The war kills children

Of more than ten million children under the age of five who die each year, about 20 percent die within the first 24 hours of life, according to a report issued this week by Save the Children.

Another one million babies die during days two to seven after birth.

Those children die because of poverty. Low cost interventions such as immunising women against tetanus and providing a skilled attendant at birth could reduce newborn deaths by as much as 70 percent if provided universally.

But millions of babies die for want of services and education that would cost perhaps £20 billion a year to provide.

That’s about one tenth of what the US has spent on the war in Iraq so far.

Media bias

Is 11 more than 12?

Watching the rolling news on election night last week you might have expected the BNP to take control of councils all over the country.

They did win 11 seats in Barking & Dagenham, but in nearby Tower Hamlets Respect now has 12 councillors—a fact almost ignored in the mainstream coverage.

In Birmingham, Respect’s Salma Yaqoob trounced the opposition getting over 4,000 votes, one of the highest votes anywhere. Again the media was almost totally silent.

That is where newspapers like Socialist Worker come into their own.

Our online coverage meant that activists knew the Respect election results as soon as they were available.

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Article information

What We Think
Sat 13 May 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2000
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