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News & Views on the Revolutionary Left

http://krishnasenonline.org/Bulletin/images/mm_spacer.gif        Edited and published by: International Department, Central Committee, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist),    | No 17, July 2007 |
Maoist Information bulletin [Published by International Department, Central Committee, Communist Party Of Nepal (Maoist)] extracts below. Complete Information bulletin can be found at http://krishnasenonline.org/Bulletin/editorial.html
           The Worker               
Organ of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
11th Issue Coming soon !
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After a gap of many months we are able to bring this issue in your hand; we must apologize to our readers for this delay. It was further more important for us to provide with the latest information regarding rapid political developments especially in Nepal, which we could not be done because of this delay.
 After the outstanding development of People's War for ten years, new situation arrived at in Nepal for the joint mass movement in order to overthrow the 239 years old autocratic monarchy and establish `republic'. As a result of ten years of PW and unprecedented 19 days joint mass movement based on the achievement of the PW, a new political situation has been emerged in Nepal. The agenda of election of constituent assembly which was the agenda of only CPN(Maoist) before six years is now major political agenda of the nation. The heroic people of Nepal have already established republic in the street during the Mass Movement-II and it is the responsibility of the eight parties to institutionalize the same through the process of election of the constituent assembly, which it seems far from being achieved. Under a grand design of the foreign and domestic reactionaries, namely, the US imperialists, Hindu fundamentalists of India and monarchists, to sabotage the election of constituent assembly, it was not held in the stipulated time of `mid-June' and it has been rescheduled for November 22, 2007.
Some districts of Terai, plain land of southern part of Nepal adjoing to India, have now become the play ground for all the reactionary elements and use their stooges to fulfill their reactionary ambitions. The immediate aim of this design is to sabotage the process of election of constituent assembly and wipe out the influence of our party from Terai and its long term aim is to separate and split Terai or Madhesh from Nepal and incorporate in Bihar of India. Leadership of the seven parties who are engaged in the politics of appeasement and the interim government which is victim of inaction, there is every possibility that the reactionary conspiracy may succeed to disrupt the process of election of constituent assembly. Only a bold and daring decision of declaring `republic' from the legislature-parliament and go to the election, which only can ensure the election to be held in stipulated date. But pro-US, pro-king and pro-Indian Hindu fundamentalist elements within the leadership of `Seven parties' are causing obstacles in it. Thus we feel that another popular mass movement needs to be launched so that the government and the seven parties will be compelled to agree in declaring `republic' from the legislature which can pave the way for the election of constituent assembly and form a `New Nepal'
Our Party, the CPN(Maoist) thinks that it is going through a new experiment of continuing and developing the revolution through peaceful way in a situation created by the ten years of PW and the successful historic April mass movement. It is quite natural that revolutionaries and oppressed people of the world have their eyes on the political development of Nepal. Definitely Nepal is in the cross road. There are definitely big challenges and big opportunities. Necessity of the hour is to face the challenges and achieve the opportunities.
Revolution in Nepal is the part of the world revolution. Therefore it should serve the world revolution and also deserves support from world revolutionaries. While developing the PW during the last ten years it was felt that the international support was not enough that was required to achieve the nationwide victory of the revolution. It is necessary to fulfill this task during this time of peaceful development of the revolution. Every body can easily see how our party is working hard for the enhancement of our international relations. It will not be any exaggeration to say that we have made a significant achievement in this regard during the last six to ten months.
To enhance the international relation is not only necessary for the nationwide victory but it is essential for sustaining the new state as well. In the event of the US imperialist working day and night to isolate our party, further enhancement of international relation is inevitable both for the victory of the revolution and sustenance of the new state. Who is real friend of our country and the people of Nepal and who is not, can be determined by the role played by them in relation to the development of revolution and its sustenance.
Madhes at Crossroads
- Sanjay Kumar
 Monarchy in Nepal has repressed the Madeshi, a large indigenous population in the plains for ages. The deliberate process of isolating them psychologically and politically began with the myth of misquoted unification by Prthivi Narayan Shah. During Rana, Panchayat and Post 1990 regimes, the autocratic state tried to wash off her moral duties by giving a handful reactionary and feudal Madhesis representation in the state organs. The undemocratic steps of the state hurt the sentiments of the proletarian Madhesis. They got disillusioned and alienated further from the mainstream, thereby generating hatred and anger among the Madhesi people against the state and privileged class.
However, the Madhesis took their plight as destiny and sealed their lips against exploitation, humiliation and discrimination in any form. They could not express their grievances and exchange ideas due to their inability to communicate in the state imposed monolithic Nepali language. The linguistic barrier and incompetence crippled the Madhesi people and caused them to suffer from inferiority complex and helplessness. They looked up Khas speaking hill people as their superior and ruler. Being victimized by the state, they narrowed themselves down to the inferior and ruled. The author still recollects the exploitations and tortures inflicted upon the humble Muslim community in his village in the district of Morang during Panchayat regime. They were often falsely accused and unjustly persecuted for the robberies and crimes committed by the Indian criminals across the border.
A ten-year Glorious People's War led by Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) has shaken the very foundation of the monarchy by polarizing all the marginalized sections across the nation. Nepal has shifted from the homogenized singularity to the heterogenized plurality. The Madhesis have equally taken a leading role in the Maoist's insurgency. They have fully internalized Prachanda Path- blended with the trinity of Marxism, Leninism and Maoism-as the only way to liberate them.  Fully armed with Prachanda Path, the present transformed and trained proletarian Madhesis are on the path of making an inclusive federal republic Nepal with right to autonomy and self- determination.  Consequently, February Madhesi Movement emerged and forced the reactionary and bourgeoisie political parties like Nepali Congress and UML to move along the republican path.
The royalist, imperialist and other reactionary forces are actively involved with all their muscle and money powers to obstruct the republic-bound nation and hurl it back to the state of violence, chaos and lawlessness. They succeeded in aborting April Uprising to mere 19 days and barred it from turning into a decisive mass revolution by exploiting Congress's and UML' Hamletian dilemmas, pro-Indian and palace  policy.  In lie of safeguarding and learning lessons from the historic set back, both Congress and UML continue to indulge in derailing the republic track on the pretext of various lame excuses. The Indian extreme Hindu fundamentalists, American imperialists and reactionaries from both inside and outside are resorting to sabotage the upcoming Constituent Assembly poll. They have made Madhes a soft target. In their initiation, coverage and financial assistance, several secessionist and criminal groups are mushrooming in Madhes. They are desperately trying to jeopardize the racial harmony and brother hood existing between hill and Madhes peoples. They are under the false illusion that they will succeed in befooling and blackmailing the Madhesis as usual.
The Madhesis have clearly comprehended that the gory carnage of Gaur was the evil design of the reactionaries. Madhes and Madhises are an integral part of Nepal and no sectarian force can secede it. Class demarcation and feudalism have been deep rooted among Madhesis for ages. Social crimes like casteism, dowry and witchcraft have been imported to the holy land of Madhes from across the Indian Territory due to cultural tieings and open border. The Madhesis have to take a resolution to uproot such social crimes and combat a decisive war under the leadership of the proletarians on the path of Prachand doctrine for their emancipation in particular and all margins in general. The united fight of all proletarians will certainly defeat the bourgeois feudals for once and all
If every Nepali takes to their heart the great Madhesi spiritual, "say with pride that we are Madhesis, the sons of the soil, not foreign immigrants", Nepal will truly reflect "Unity in Diversity" with her multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and heterogeneous rhetoric identities.
Foreign relation of CPN(Maoist) on the rise
-- Com. Gaurav
It is big news in Nepal these days that Maoist Party is striving very hard to develop its foreign relations. They also make their assessments that it has achieved tremendous success in this regard. The visits made by some of the leaders of our Party to foreign countries and our bilateral talks with the official delegations of various countries including our immediate neighbor and a tested long time friend of our country, China is being cited as the examples. This short article relates to the same subject.
Yes it is true that we are striving very hard to develop and strengthen our foreign relation. During the period of People's War the regime had declared our party a terrorist organization and had approached most of the governments of the world. Based on their relation with the regime some of the governments had listed our party as terrorist organization and some though did not listed but treated us as terrorists. In such circumstances it was not possible for us to develop any king of relation and ties with us. When we negotiated with parliamentary parties to launch a joint mass movement against the autocratic monarchy with the aim of establishing democratic republic and made a series of negotiations including the interim legislature and interim government in which we have significant representation in both. A new political situation has emerged due to this new change in political scenario.
Therefore, our party's international relation was confined to the relation with the fraternal and friendly revolutionary parties and organizations of different parts of the world. Because of the change in the political situation that has given rise to a new possibility of developing revolution with peaceful form of struggle we are obliged to develop state to state relations with various governments which are friendly to our nation and the process that we have decided to adopt to resolve the political crisis and way out for forward development.
We have already brought out our views in open through different mediums. Now we have two aspects of our foreign relationship: fraternal and friendly relations with Maoist and other revolutionary communist parties and organizations and side by side relation with other political forces and the governments of various countries which are friendly to our country and the people of Nepal and supporting the ongoing political process. Therefore the success of out foreign relation can be gauged through both the perspectives.
There is no such significant shift in the development of fraternal and friendly relations with the Communist forces. It is also true that we have come in touch and extended relations with new such forces. As because there is no upsurge of the revolutionary movements led by communists in the world today, this relation will have no such a magnitude to determine or influence the ongoing political developments. But it never means that it does not bear any significance. Unity of the communist revolutionaries has its own significance and deserves to be maintained and developed.
It is true that there is a significant shift in developing relation with various governments which are friendly to our country and supporting the ongoing political process in Nepal and providing help to enhance this process. Frankly speaking we have good relation with all countries of the world except the Bush administration.  During the 52 minutes long discussion with the leadership of our Party, the visiting former US president Jimmy Carter opined that it was unjust not to remove the terrorist tag from our party in the given situation that we have a strong presence in the interim legislature and also in the interim government. The relation with the European countries is good enough. We have easy access with them. The recent visits of our leadership including our Chairman have enhanced this relation to further higher level. The heightened relationship of our party with the European countries will definitely create diplomatic pressure to Washington. The Bush administration is thus isolated from the world and from even within US for its flawed policy regarding its relation with our party.
Our relation with China, the immediate neighbor and long tested friend of the Nepalese people has developed enormously within short span of time. The strong statement made by the Chinese Ambassador explaining the policy of his country that `China would never tolerate any foreign intervention in Nepal' at a time when we are facing a threat against the integrity of our beloved motherland is really of paramount importance, which paves the way thus demonstrating that there is ample scope in advancing our relationship at the higher level. The relationship with our other immediate neighbor India is fairly good. The support the separatist elements are enjoying from India, especially from Bihar has definitely caused some problem in Nepal. But the government of India seems not to have any role into it. Our only concern is that the government of India should use its good office to help control the bad situation in Nepal by preventing such elements from getting any support from the Indian soil.
Therefore it will be no exaggeration to say that the foreign relation of our party has been enhanced and it is developing fairly well.
Report from Nepal
- C.P.N (Maoist)
"To deal with the question of 'completion' of the bourgeois revolution in the old way is to sacrifice living Marxism to the dead letter"
- Lenin (collected works Vol-24)
            The real importance of this precious teaching of the great Lenin was seriously felt in the practical sense in the communist movement in Nepal as the People's War led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) CPN{M} entered into the stage of strategic equilibrium from the stage of strategic defense. Though there are plenty of instances of changes of tacks in the history of our party nevertheless, it had not become imperative for the major tactical shift until the people's war reached the stage of strategic offense. By then we have chalked out a new way and have trying to advance revolutionary practice through this labyrinth. Still it is the concrete features peculiar to this historical situation in Nepal that led to this tactical shift. It is doubtless that this situation is borne as the natural consequence of these ten years of heroic armed struggle led by our party.
On several occasions we have brought out our assessment that the domestic situation in Nepal is favorable and ripe to capture central state power in the near future but as all the genuine communist parties engaged in revolutionary practice know that the international situation is quite unfavorable to accomplish new democratic revolution and sustain it, it is obvious that we should try to mobilize justice loving people all over the world in general and the peoples of south Asia in particular to garner support in favor of revolution, improving on the domestic situation in the same spirit. For this we should dare to abandon the course once selected and have the courage to climb the unexplored mountain.
Lenin often quotes a letter written by Engels to F.A.Sorge where the founder of scientific socialism says "Our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action". This we believe validates to any situation and any individual communist party. It is easy to cling to dogmas and memorizing some revolutionary phrases without being engaged in the revolutionary practice. But a genuine communist party should never forget that Marxism teaches us to become critical towards Marxism itself, and only revolutionary practice is a laboratory to know that whether one is upholding Marxism or something else. In the dazzling light of this Marxist principle the C.P.N (Maoist) has been applying Marxism to the concrete situation of Nepal which we believe will further develop this science.
The historic Chunbang meeting of the central committee of C.P.N (Maoist) held in   Sept/Oct 2005 has put an indelible mark in the history of the party itself. Before this meeting internecine strife representing two lines was at its peak and it was made public too. The revolutionary masses were quite depressed fearing that it might threaten the very existence of the party's and the reactionary forces were thrilled with ecstasy. But the central committee under the leadership of Com. Prachanda devised the ways and means of turning intra party struggle into a motive force that propelled the party forward. The meeting resolved the intra-party struggle and achieved a new unity applying the method of unity, struggle and transformation and maintaining the dialectical debate. One of the most important decisions taken in this meeting was that the party should forge an alliance with the agitating parliamentary parties despite their unstable and vacillating character in order to isolate and abolish the monarchy.
The question of the abolition of the monarchy comprises a different meaning in the context of Nepal. It is the only reactionary institution which is deep rooted and well organized with more than a one hundred thousand strong army. Because of this reality external and internal forces of reaction have joined hands to prop up the crumbling monarchy and have been trying to convince the vacillating parliamentary forces that once the monarchy is gone there will be no able force remaining to halt the ever growing march of the Maoist force. So the parliamentary forces should break its ties with the Maoist and try to save the monarchy with some change in its form. It's the awareness of the Nepalese people and the tactical movement of our party against the monarchy that forces like the Nepali congress and United Marxist Leninist were forced to maintain conditional ties (even if temporary) with the C.P.N (M).
The C.P.N (M), for one and a half years has taken this compromise. If we seriously study and analyze the concrete condition and character of this compromise it becomes self evident that our policy is neither all alliance and no struggle nor all struggle and no alliance, but combines both. Grasping the teaching of Lenin we have avoided "give money and fire arms to share the loot" instead we have given the bandits money and firearms in order to lessen the damage they can do and facilitate their capture and execution. With this sole intention we had a twelve point understanding against the autocratic monarchy on 22nd of November 2005. As expected this understanding proved as a catalyst to boost the moral of the struggling people all over the country. The big uprising unique in the contemporary world forced the otherwise reluctant king to invite the seven party alliances to choose a prime minister and form a government. The government of the India, U.S and U.K lost no time to welcome this move. This bid to douse the fire was failed as the agitation uninterruptedly moved forward with the clear goal of abolishing the monarchy. Our strong presence and participation was a matter of anxiety for the self claimed messiah of democracy. Finally the government of India, U.S and their lackeys in Nepal hatched a conspiracy and made the king to make another proclamation where he for the first time accepted that the sovereignty of Nepal lies to the Nepalese people. It was clear then only that these interventionists had a tacit understanding with the king and he was assured that they will secure his position and the institution of monarchy will remain in the future dispensation once the resentment of the people will climb down.
After the royal proclamation of 24th April 2006 we tried to advance the movement denouncing the proclamation and exposing the ill design behind it. But there was already a division in the movement since the seven party alliances took it as a victory and formed the government without any delay. In its first meeting itself it passed a resolution that there will be an election of an assembly for a new constitution and called the C.P.N (M) for parleys. That multiplied the illusion and a large section of people expected that the monarchy will be out in the near future.
The political scuffle with the reactionary forces has been intensified during this period. A Political offensive has taken the place of the military strike. The old parliament that was reestablished by royal proclamation was dissolved and a new interim legislature is in existence where 83 members are ours. An interim constitution and the interim government have been formed with our participation. If we look at these happenings superficially it seems that the C.P.N (M) has deviated from the revolutionary path. But if we look back at the history of C.P.N (M) and seriously study the under current it will lead to another conclusion.
Before initiation of people's war a small number of comrades were sent to the then parliament and some of our revolutionary comrades from fraternal parties vehemently criticized for this. Not only that we were expelled from the "Revolutionary International movement". Subsequent development in our part proved that we could initiate the war by protecting revolution from the revolutionary phrases that we used to memorize in the early period. Now we see every possibility to combine protracted people's war with insurrection. The 2nd historic conference of our party adopted a line that there should be a union of protracted people's war and insurrection to accomplish the revolution. We see the present development is leading the Nepalese society to prove the correctness of our ideas that we developed.
From the very beginning we were aware of the road map charted by the domestic and external enemies especially U.S and India. They intended to bring fabricated change in the monarchy, to tame the C.P.N (M) in parliamentary politics and enable a parliamentary party like Nepali Congress become as a dominant force in the country. By hook or by crook they have been trying to achieve this goal. But their every effort has the boomeranged because of the stand taken by the C.P.N (M). Instead of being a parliamentary puppet the people's revolutionary aspirations are being centered in the C.P.N (M). Hundreds of thousands of masses of people are being mobilized and the party influence among the masses is increasing everyday. The desperate activities of slandering the Maoist through various Medias secretly funded by the C.I.A and Raw
and the murdering of our cadres by their vigilante forces amply prove that they are failing in their mission.
The enemy who is attacking our party especially its youth wing the 'Young Communist League' with whatever they find in their hands, has generated mass resentment against the enemies. And our mass line, discipline of our PLA and political line has gathered momentum to prepare the ground for the final insurrection. We are utilizing this transitional phase to spread our mass base and consolidate it, to get rid of our own short comings and bring disintegration in the enemy's camp so that we can give a final blow and usher into the country a new democracy.
Note: This report was presented by the delegation of CPN (Maoist) at the meeting of CCOMPOSA, which was held in last week of June ]
- Johan Peter Andresen, Leader of the Health Team for Nepal project.
 The Health Team for Nepal was formed in 2006. The aim of the Health Team project is to help the poor people in the rural areas of Nepal. The Health Team for Nepal cooperates with the medical department of the People's Liberation Army in order to attain this goal. The health team for Nepal consists of two parts: the medical specialists and the support group
Solidarity With Nepalese Revolution
--Com. Basant
Development of people's revolution in Nepal, which is at the doorstep of seizing central power, has strongly drawn attention of the whole world. On the one hand, the reactionaries of all hues, mainly the US imperialism and the Hindu fundamentalists in India, are doing all they can to sabotage this process before it gives birth to a New Nepal, free from feudalism and imperialism. And, on the other, it has drawn up the working class and the oppressed masses the world over closer than ever before to the struggling Nepalese people, who are desperately waiting to see it happen soon. Furthermore, their deep concern and awareness on how they can play a role to defend Nepalese revolution from external threats is very much inspiring.
Within a few months in the past, there have been various interactive programs, indoor and outdoor, in different parts of the world. Of them, given the geo-political location of Nepal the programs that were organised in India, on the challenges and possibilities facing the Nepalese revolution, do have far-reaching significance. Be it outdoor programs organised in different 17 cities and participated by party activists, and revolutionary and just-loving masses or be it 27 indoor programs held in presence of party leaders from various revolutionary, left and democratic parties and intellectuals all over India has, in deed, revealed how serious and resolute they are on their internationalist duty to defend the revolution in Nepal.
Although it was not possible to get in touch with all of the like-minded parties and intellectuals, what has revealed from these programs is that a good majority of left force in India is very much inspired from the development of revolution in Nepal and is thirsty of its success. They have a deep realisation that given the reactionary Nehru Doctrine, which considers Nepal under its protectorate, and India-locked geographic condition of Nepal it is largely the Indian people who can extend an important helping hand for the success, sustenance and development of Democratic Revolution in Nepal, till the same has been accomplished in India.
Whoever was met with had basically a firm common opinion that the future of revolution in Nepal is basically dependent on how strongly and thoroughly the revolutionary and democratic forces in India develop solidarity movement with it. And their untiring effort to materialise it is really enthusiastic. It is a very good thing for Nepalese revolution. Truly, it has further encouraged the Nepalese people, struggling in their mission to build a new Nepal in the beginning of the twenty-first century.

posted by Bimal 31.7.07, ,

Land clash sets off tit-for-tat game- Left settles Nandigram scores with sack cry

Mudigonda (Khammam), July 29: Handed its own Nandigram in Andhra Pradesh, the CPM is using it to settle the Bengal Nandigram sc ores.

Politburo member Sitaram Yechury demanded the resignation of Congress chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy for yesterday's police firing in this village that killed four Left land activists and two by-standers.

"Reddy demanded the resignation of Buddhadeb B hattacharjee on account of police firing in Nandigram. He should quit on the same grounds," said Yechury, who has rushed here with other Left leaders.

The CPM appears to have decided to use the tragedy at Mudigonda, 15km from Khammam town and 211km from Hyderabad, to polish its pro-landless image and offset its mistake in Nandigram.

Unlike Bengal, where the CPM is acquiring plots for industry in the face of Opposition-led farmer protests, the Marxists have joined theCPI in Andhra to agitate for land for the poor.

The firing happened during a Left bandh to protest the Congress regime's failure to keep its poll promise of handing vacant government land to the urban homeless to build houses and the rural poor to cultivate.

A mob had attacked the revenue divisional officer's (RDO's) office at Mudigonda, burning documents and furniture, when the police caned them, fired tear gas shells and then 70 bullets.

Yechury and CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta claimed the police had fired on peaceful protesters.

Police hide

Mudigonda today bore close parallels with Nandigram. The administration seemed to have collapsed amid simmering public rage, with most personnel having deserted the police stations in Khammam town and Mudigonda, which are being guarded by the reserve police.

The police's morale appears to have been hit after the government transferred Khammam police chief R.K. Meena and suspended his deputy, additional superintendent M. Ramesh Babu. A circle inspector and a sub-inspector, too, have been suspended.

The police may not have expected such a carnage. ASP Ramesh Babu, believed to have ordered the firing, left the scene in plain clothes, a resident said.

"He took off his uniform and escaped in a lungi and T-shirt borrowed from a constable," said schoolteacher Harinarayan, 46.

The bodies are still lying in front of the collectorate. Since morning, supporters of the Left, who have called another bandh, have been descending on Khammam.

As in Nandigram, motley Opposition leaders — such as the Telengana Rashtra Samiti's K. Chandrasekhar Rao and the Telugu Desam's N. Chandrababu Naidu — are making a beeline for the carnage site.

But not a single Congress leader dared follow them. S. Chandrasekhar, a minister from the district, chose to slam the Left from his secretariat chamber in Hyderabad.

'AK-47s, SLRs'

Tales of police brutality and charges that they used self-loading rifles (SLRs) and AK-47s have worsened the government's worries. "For the first time, state police used AK-47s," Naidu alleged.

Neither the police nor the government has so far denied the charges.

The bloodstained RDO office compound and the road leading to it are strewn with bricks, handbags, torn shirts and saris, battered mobile phones, half-eaten food packets and empty water bottles. They lie side by side with police batons and bamboo shields, metal hats, cartridges, unexploded teargas shells and official wireless sets.

Witnesses said one of the policemen had provoked the protesters, prompting some to throw stones and some others to barge into the office.

"A sub-inspector lost his eye in the stone throwing," an officer countered.

"The policemen seemed to be waiting for such a thing to happen. Within minutes, we heard gunfire from all three corners. It went on for 15-20 minutes," said Bagaru Babu, a farmer who was watching from a half-closed shop nearby.

Residents said 40 to 50 people were injured in the stampede and lathi-charge. "The police beat up the protesters with metal lathis and bamboo and wooden sticks," said Veerabhadra Rao, a demonstrator.

Five people with head and kidney injuries are in hospital, three of them in a coma, the police said.

The government has announced Rs 5 lakh for the family of each of the dead and Rs 50,000 for each injured.

Housing irony

The site of the land battle, ironically, is a place where the government had been touting its showpiece housing project for the poor.

Mudigonda is dotted with 500-600 half-finished houses, being built under the Indiramma project, which features 25 lakh houses across the state, each with a portrait of Indira Gandhi in front.

The Left says the houses are too expensive at Rs 40,000-45,000 and wants free plots for the poor instead. The Congress accuses it of playing politics.


posted by Bimal 30.7.07, ,

Substitute for the state

The economy continues to grow at more than 9 per cent. Corporate profits are breaking records. The foreign exchange reserves have touched $ 216 billion. The share market is booming as never before. The one small cloud on the horizon, a sharp decline in consumer demand, may soon dissipate for the Finance Minister has hinted that interest rates may soon come down? All this is happening just when the international media have noticed the gathering discontent in China and are asking, for perhaps the first time, whether India may not indeed be the better bet in the long run.

Indians are, therefore, basking in the glory of recognition. Didn't Goldman Sachs predict something like this in its BRICS report of 2004?  Success is also making us belligerent: Witness India Inc.'s angry response to the Prime Minister's criticism of the inordinate increases in salaries that it has awarded to itself.

This self-congratulation is premature. The Indian economy has overcome many structural hurdles to growth and efficiency in the past decade and has every reason to be proud of its achievements. Nor is there any need to deny the catalytic role that a younger generation of Indian entrepreneurs has played in the transformation. But anyone who believes that the future is assured is  living in a fools' paradise. What he or she  takes to be a tranquil sea is but an oasis of calm sheltered by a small lee shore. There is a storm building up in the country which is particularly dangerous, because it has not one but two epicentres. The cross winds that these are capable of generating could sink the Indian state.

The first is the developing Maoist  threat in central India. The second is the slow, but unstoppable, spread of the battle between Empire and Nation that is tearing West Asia apart, across the Himalayan wall into the Indian sub-continent. The cocoon of peace in which we live is, therefore, becoming ever more fragile.

This article is devoted to the first problem — the developing rebellion in the countryside. How little the government and the media understand the seriousness  of the Maoist threat is reflected in their continuing use of the terms  'Naxalites' and  Maoists as homonyms. This  is not accidental. Naxalism  has been around for a long time, and has not so far posed a serious impediment to development. We should not, therefore, lose too much sleep over their reincarnation as Maoists.

This is pure self-delusion. There is  little resemblance between the Naxalism of the 1960s and 1970s and the Maoism of today. The Naxalite movement began in West Bengal in the late 1960s, was infiltrated by the Bengal police, turned upon itself, and was ruthlessly crushed. Its leaders took refuge in the  jungles of adjoining states in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and along the  Kerala-Karnataka border. For the next three decades it was a fringe movement in about a quarter of the country's districts, but making little dent on the lives of people outside its immediate pockets of influence.

All this changed in October 2004 when 22 Naxalite groups came together to form the CP(Maoist). This  time, behind the tired exhortations to wage 'class struggle' and 'revolution' they had a definite agenda. It was to stop the alienation of land from the tribals, the harijans and the marginal farmers — the poorest of the poor — in the name of development. The Maoists made it clear that what the government, the media and the intelligentsia called 'development' was expropriation. Instead of making the poor its beneficiaries , it made them its victims.

For the first time after decades the Maoists have begun to draw mass support from the jungle-dwellers, and the rural landless poor. Urban India first became aware of the qualitative change in the challenge it faced when, in 2005, a thousand Maoists invaded Jehanabad in Bihar, drove away the police, opened the jails to set their comrades free, and carried away the arms in the Kotwali. For more than half a day the writ of the Indian State ceased to run in Jehanabad. Since then groups of armed Maoists have fought pitched battles with large contingents of the police in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh,  Bihar and Orissa.

The government has responded by calling a succession of meetings with state home ministers to work out a strategy to contain the  Maoist challenge. All of them have ended with demands by the state governments  for police reinforcements, and  better arms and communications.  But police repression can easily backfire. Recently, supposed informers offered to lead a police party to a large Naxalite encampment, but led it into an ambush instead in which 25 policemen lost their lives. The arms that the Maoists seized show, beyond serious doubt that behind the façade of 'police action' the state government has declared virtual war upon the Maoists. For the police is using front-line weapons — AK 47s, and the new ultra-light and accurate INSAS infantry rifles. The encounter also shows that for now at least, it is the Maoist who are winning.

How has revolutionary violence regained its attraction for the poor? If the press releases are a reliable yardstick, then in not one of the meetings devoted to the 'Naxalite problem' did the central and state governments make an effort to probe its causes. And yet the answer is  staring us in the face.

Development requires land, and whenever land is acquired, even if it is 'forest' or 'revenue' land 'owned'  by the government, someone loses his or her traditional rights of usage.  The rapid acceleration of development in the past 15 years has increased the pace at which these rights are being taken away. Worse still, as the post-liberalisation 'development fever' has spread to the state governments, they have become increasingly insensitive to the plight of the losers from economic development. To cite just one example, when tribals asked the Orissa government in 2005 for the return of land acquired to build the Rourkela steel plant but allowed to lie barren for decades, they were met with bullets. On other occasions they were simply arrested and carted off to jail.

The Maoists are gaining a following because the poor are becoming convinced that they can obtain no redress from the democratic system. After 11 general elections and an equal number of state elections they know that their elected representatives have only to reach the state capital to put up their 'for sale' signs.

It is a telltale indicator of where the pulse of the new India beats that the alienation of land only came to its attention when Tata Motors faced resistance in Singur. The police firings and needless deaths that resulted forced the Centre to take the state completely out of the business of acquiring land for Special Economic Zones. But it did even this grudgingly, for in the guidelines it carefully avoided reference to the land that it intended to acquire for 342 hydel projects. For the acquisitions, which will require twenty times as much land as the SEZs, the State will continue to exercise the right that a British government gave to itself in 1894, of taking over the natives' land whenever it wanted, provided it was for a 'public purpose'.

The victimisation of the poor will therefore continue. And the ranks of the Maoists will continue to swell.

posted by Bimal 27.7.07, ,

Maoist cloud sends House under cover

Maoist cloud sends House under cover

July 26: Maoists have driven the state underground.

For the first time since Independence, an Assembly today held a secret sitting — with no visitors, journalists or cameras present, only the MLAs and three officials.

The reason: the Chhattisgarh Assembly was discussing the Naxalite menace, described last year by the Prime Minister as the "biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country".

Chief minister Raman Singh said he decided on an in-camera session to allow members to discuss the issue "openly and freely". What the statement implied, but left unsaid, was that elected legislators are reluctant to speak out with the Naxalites watching.

Assembly secretary Devendra Verma said as much: "The members avoid speaking on such sensitive issues in the open. Even the government, which finalises strategic plans for such problems, avoids opening its cards."

The decision to hold the session behind closed doors appeared to have worked. The House, which met at 11am, was to sit till 3pm but the discussion was first extended by three hours and then again by another two hours.

Other than the MLAs, only the state's top officials — chief secretary Shivraj Singh, principal secretary S.V. Prabhat and director-general of police Viswaranjan — were present.

Speaker Prem Prakash Pandey said afterwards that members of the ruling and the Opposition parties had a constructive discussion and he was hopeful the debate would result in a solution. He refused to give details of the talks.

Leader of the Opposition Mahendra Karma and BJP legislator Devji Patel said all members had been briefed not to speak about the session. Even minutes of the discussion will be kept under wraps.

Rule 163 A — under which the Speaker gave consent for the session — says any disclosure of the proceedings will be treated as "gross breach of privilege of the Assembly".

Former chief minister Ajit Jogi was unimpressed. "Being the first to do this or that does not mean anything. Dr Raman Singh must remember it is the government's responsibility to ensure peace and safety."

But party colleague Karma, who leads the 35 Congress MLAs in the 90-member House, was more supportive. He agreed that the session had to be held in secrecy because Naxalites often target MLAs who speak out against them and hoped something "concrete" would emerge out of it.

"Generally, a secret sitting of Parliament or the Assemblies is held in wartime. It underlines that the menace of Red army is no less than a war," a Congress member said.

Hundreds killed in relentless attacks and 13 states designated Naxalite-hit have not caused the alarm that a single blast in Delhi or Mumbai does, but perhaps the sight of the state going under cover will force urban India to wake up to the problem of the outback.


posted by Bimal 27.7.07, ,

International Conspiracy, Latest Logic of Repression by Marxist Gestapo Mechanism!

International Conspiracy, Latest Logic of Repression by Marxist Gestapo Mechanism!

Buddhadeb Now sees International conspiracy! What for? Is it a Marxist government at all? Does this government undermine US interests or it has decided to overthrow the Zionist Brahminical system? Who is opposing his brand of capitalist Development?
Mrs Indiran gandhi was most quoted to warn of international conspiracies whenever she faced any challange within!
Mind you, this is the latest logic of repression by Marxist Gestapo Mechanism!

International conspiracy to destabilse India, says Buddhadeb while India's ruling Congress party looked set to lose power in the tiny western tourist state of Goa on Thursday after a group of legislators withdrew their support to the coalition. Expressing concern at terrorist activities in West Bengal like last year's blast at a railway station in Jalpaiguri that killed eight people, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said this was part of an international conspiracy to destablise India from within. Buddhadev Bhattacharjee today admitted that his Left Front government was not free from corruption and his `do-it-now` slogan given a year ago could not overnight bring transparency in the administration.

A total of 40 people were killed in political clashes in West Bengal last year, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told the assembly today.

The 40 included 24 CPI-M activists, three members each of the Trinamool Congress and congress and 10 from parties like the Gorkha National Liberational Front and Jharkhand Party, he said while replying to a question.

A total of 3,998 arrests were made in connection with the clashes and 19 cases were registered, he said.

West Bengal`s opposition Trinamool Congress today rejected Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee`s apology and appeal to lift its boycott of the assembly shortly after he expressed regret for his alleged derogatory remarks about the leader of the opposition.The political heat over farmland acquisition issue, sought to be cooled down during the recent parleys between Marxist veteran Jyoti Basu and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, is still raging in West Bengal with the latter's decision to boycott the chief minister for his alleged derogatory remarks in the Assembly recently.

The Basu-Mamata talks, which generated hope of an early restoration of peace in trouble-torn Singur and Nandigram as also ensuring normal relations between the government and the opposition, received a setback nearly a month after over the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's comments against the opposition leader in the state Assembly.

The Trinamool Congress' decision to boycott all House proceedings where the Chief Minister will be present, has come at a time when the state Assembly is on its extended budget session and that is likely to continue till end of this month.

The chances of rapprochement between the ruling Left Front and the main opposition Trinamool Congress over the controversial farmland acquisition issue had brightened after the former Chief Minister's diplomacy. The exercise however, received the jolt with the Chief Minister's comments on opposition leader Partha Chatterjee.

During his reply to Home (police) department's budget speech last week, the Chief Minister made a remark against Chatterjee, questioning his power and liberty to speak in his own party without fear.

It was a matter of concern that explosives used to trigger the blast at Belakoba Railway Station were brought from outside and local people were involved in the attack, he told the assembly in reply to a question.

Terrorists were active along the Western and the Eastern borders. "If we look at Pakistan and Afganistan, we can see what shape terrorism is taking on the subcontinent," he said.

Asked whether the US had a hand in this conspiracy, Bhattacharjee replied that the US had a role wherever terrorist activities were taking place across the world.

"I cannot say specifically whether the US has a hand here, but there is no doubt that they play some role in the subcontinent," he said in reply to a supplementary question.

Bhattacharjee said the state government was working in tandem with the Centre to combat terrorist activities. The danger remained despite stepped up vigil, he said.

Noting that information was regularly exchanged among intelligence agencies of the state, the Centre, the Army and BSF, he said in some cases, arrests were made on the basis of information provided by the central agencies.

Bhattacharjee, who also holds the home portfolio, admitted there were some weakness in the state intelligence agencies.

Replying to a question on the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), he said after the operation by Bhutan's army against rebels sheltering in the kingdom, KLO activities had stopped for some time and the militants took shelter in a neighbouring country.

The KLO was now trying to re-group in Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Siliguri in North Bengal, where vigil had been stepped up. The KLO problem would persist because of the Ulfa in Assam, he said.

Claiming that the KLO and other groups did not have the people's support, he said the state government had initiated a process to bring KLO militants back to the mainstream and around 150 of them had returned. But other groups like the Kamtapur People's Party were coordinating among themselves.

To another question, he said the state government would provide compensation of Rs 50,000 to families of the eight persons killed in the blast at Belakoba Railway Station. But this was getting delayed due to a complicated procedure, he said.

Asked whether the state had sought more security forces from the Centre, Bhattacharjee said: "We have asked for more forces keeping in mind the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the Western border."

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said on Wednesday that a just-completed nuclear deal with India complies with U.S. law, but some experts doubted that, and lawmakers said the agreement could face a rough road in the U.S. Congress.
Congressional sources and other experts told Reuters the agreement reached last week appears to go a long way toward meeting the demands of India's nuclear establishment, giving New Delhi rights only accorded to key U.S. allies Japan and the European Union.

"The administration is going to call this a success even though from policy and legal perspectives, there are major problems," said one congressional source, who spoke anonymously because he learned details of the deal on a confidential basis.

The pact, approved by India's cabinet on Wednesday, would allow India access to U.S. nuclear fuel and equipment for the first time in 30 years, even though New Delhi refused to join non-proliferation pacts and tested nuclear weapons.

"We're very satisfied because we know the agreement is well within the bounds of the Hyde Act," Burns told reporters after testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Hyde Act, approved by Congress in December, created a unique exception to U.S. export law to allow nuclear cooperation with India. The just-completed agreement, called a 123 agreement after a section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, spells out technical details for that nuclear cooperation.

Communist Buddha of West Bengal confesses corruption but does any one know how much they have milked from expatriate Indians (NRIs)
Media Release
Jul. 26, 2007

Countless money has been stolen by the West Bengal communists from expatraite Indians who tried to set up industries in West Bangal but did not understand only bribes work with these communists.

These communists are in bed with Indian oligarchs like Tata, Birla, Ambanis who feed them well with money. These communists will do anything to get hold of money. They preach laziness in west Bengal. The approach to the expatriate Indian is simple - you have it, I do noy. So your's is mine.

When it comes to Indian oligarchs, the comminists are straightened top to the bottom. Thge oligarchs treat these communists as street dogs. They throw a some crores of Rupees (million of dollars) and ask them to secure the oligrachs'' interests at the cost of common people and poor farmers.

The communists are now in bed with Intalian born Sonia Gandhi's congress party too. That has happened because Indian oligrachs want that to happen.


posted by Bimal 27.7.07, ,

"Hugo Chavez has an oil strategy... but can this lead to liberation?"

23 July 2007. A World to Win News Service. Following is the first of two instalments of an article by Raymond Lotta reprinted from the 1 July 2007 issue of Revolution, newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. ( revcom.us) It is a part of a fuller analysis being developed by a writing group about Hugo Chavez and what has been happening in Venezuela since Chavez came to power in 1998.
The nature of Hugo Chavez's "Bolivarian revolution" is a highly important and widely discussed issue among progressive and radical-minded people. Chavez has carried out a host of social and economic measures whose stated aim is to empower and improve the lives of the poor and politically disenfranchised in Venezuelan society; he has condemned the US as an imperialist and bullying power; and in 2005 he announced that Venezuela was embarking on a project of   "21st-Century Socialism". At a time when the US is waging its "war on the world" and at a time when the US has been spearheading a pounding and brutalizing neoliberal economic agenda for the countries of the Third World – developments in Venezuela have attracted great interest.
But what is the actual programme and outlook of Hugo Chavez, what is the character of the process unfolding in Venezuela, and where is it heading? Does Chavez's programme represent a real alternative to imperialist-led exploitation, a viable road to liberation in today's world? And what is the meaning of socialism in today's globalized world?
Our view is that the "Bolivarian revolution" does not represent a fundamental break with imperialism, nor embody a vision or path to truly radical societal transformation. But understanding why this is so is a complex matter requiring close analysis. In the full analysis soon to be published, we discuss the historical factors shaping Venezuela's development, the economic model that Hugo Chavez has been bringing forward, the role of the army and new popular institutions in the "Bolivarian revolution", the social and class forces involved in and leading this movement, and the larger debate about "21st-century socialism" and the real challenges of making revolution in today's world.
While we offer this critique of the Chavez project , it in no way cuts against our stand with the Venezuelan people and our total opposition to any attempts by US imperialism to undermine or openly commit aggression against the Chavez regime.
This article focuses on Venezuela's oil economy. We start here because oil has been so central to Venezuela's historical domination by imperialism and to Venezuela's economic-social development, and because oil figures centrally in Hugo Chavez's programme to reclaim sovereignty and change Venezuelan society.
Our goal is to contribute to understanding, to learn from analysis of others, and to deepen dialogue and debate about these crucial issues.
During his electoral campaign for president in 1998, Hugo Chavez took on the old elite this way: "Oil is a geopolitical weapon, and these imbeciles who govern us don't realize the power of an oil producing country." 1 He expressed his strategic thinking about oil in a 2006 interview:
"We are today implementing a strategic programme called the Oil Sowing Plan: using oil wealth so Venezuela can become an agricultural country, a tourist destination, an industrialized country with a diversified economy. We are investing billions of dollars in the infrastructure: power generators using thermal energy, a large railway, roads, highways, new towns, new universities, new schools, recuperating land, building tractors, and giving loans to farmers. One day we won't have any more oil, but that will be in the 22nd century. Venezuela has oil for another 200 years." 2 
Chavez has spoken often about weaning Venezuela away from excessive dependence on the oil sector. But as the above statements and concrete policy underscore, oil will continue for some time, certainly for the medium term, to be the backbone of the economy and the keystone of Venezuela's foreign policy.
What kind of resource?
There is no question that Venezuela is rich in oil. Venezuela possesses the largest conventional oil reserves in the Western hemisphere (more than three times the proven reserves in the US); has trillions of cubic feet of natural gas; and has, by some estimates, untapped reserves in the Orinoco belt of the country that may exceed those of Saudi Arabia. Nor is there any question that oil revenues can grow astronomically: the price of oil is approaching near-historic highs, in the range of $65 per barrel.
But why is oil as a sphere of investment and as a "petrodollar" financial instrument "black gold"? Oil has become a source of productive and monetary wealth within a certain set of social production relations. The growth and contemporary expansion of world capitalism has produced a profit-based agro-industrial structure that relies heavily and disproportionately on a non-renewable resource, oil, as an essential economic input whose world price has impacted production costs, profits, and competitive advantage. In the post-World War 2 period, new oil-based and oil-related industries like auto, petrochemicals, and plastics, arose. Moreover, the exploration, extraction, refining, and marketing of oil form a highly profitable sector of the world economy. 3 
An historical trajectory of oil-fuelled development under world capitalism has been ruinous of human lives and planetary ecology. The production and consumption patterns of the advanced capitalist countries – where 25 percent of the world's population lives but which consume 75 percent of the world's resources – are now culminating in a global climate crisis. A just and rational world economy would neither be organized around a social structure of exploitation and inequality nor be based on this kind of non-sustainable technical-resource foundation.
Oil has also become a weapon in world politics. This too is a function of imperialism. Power relations are integral to imperialism. Control over resources yields geo-economic advantage and geo-political domination – in which some powers gain privileged and monopolistic access to resources and the ability to control other economies and states. Oil has been an object of imperialist rivalry, collusion, and conquest, including through local proxy wars. Oil has been a means of propping up and controlling neocolonial regimes awash in oil revenues and corruption, like Nigeria. The modern, imperialist global military machine runs on oil.
Oil and Venezuela
Venezuela has played a certain historical role in the imperialist international division of labour: as a strategic exporter of oil. And the economic pillar of the modern Venezuelan state system has been the extraction of rents from oil companies, the charge for allowing them to pump oil out of the ground. Over the last half century, oil income has both lubricated a certain kind of growth and development in Venezuela and locked Venezuela in to an international oil economy dominated by Western imperialism.
Oil, with its booms and busts, reshaped the economic geography of the country. Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, more than doubled in size between 1920 and 1936, and doubled again between 1936 and 1950. Then it tripled between 1950 and 1971. The oil economy gave rise to a new middle class dependent on the state and disbursement of oil revenues, while shantytowns of the rural poor spread through and literally seeped into the muddy slopes of western Caracas. Today, almost 90 percent of Venezuela's population lives in the cities and half of the population of Caracas lives in poverty. One measure of oil's distorting effects on the economic and social structure of Venezuela has been the vast growth of the "informal economy" in the cities: the urban self-employed (like peddlers and street merchants) and workers who perform unregistered or "off-the-books" labour and services. 4 
Oil has produced and perpetuated a developmental trajectory marked by great economic and social gaps: between the productivity of the petroleum sector and the productivity of the non-petroleum sectors; between the development of the rural and urban areas; and between rich and poor, in the cities and in the countryside.
Let's step back. From 1958 to 1998, Venezuela earned some $300 billion in oil revenues. What has this meant for the masses of people in Venezuela, and what kind of development has resulted from subordination to the dynamics of the world imperialist economy and the world oil industry within that?
The production of oil has actually stifled any significant industrial diversification. Much of the new infrastructure built between the 1960s and 1980s is decaying for lack of maintenance. Floods and mudslides, aggravated by uncontrolled urbanization, have washed away towns. Health hazards stalk the shantytowns in which 60 percent of Venezuela's urban population lives. The number of people living in official poverty nearly doubled between 1984 and 1995; and, today, more than half of Venezuela's working population works in the precarious informal economy. 5 
Hugo Chavez has decried the oligarchic oil economy with its corruption, patronage, and extremes of glittering wealth and grinding poverty. He has spoken of the need to revive the peasant economy. But can a different form of oil economy produce a just and viable alternative to the neoliberal economic model and lead to socialism? And just how different will such an economy be if it requires the massive infusion of foreign investment capital and a gamble in a game of oil markets?
A programme that cannot break out of the status quo; a programme wracked with contradictions
Chavez has pinned the success of his programme of social equity and diversification of the economy on oil revenues. His main economic order of business, as he repeatedly states, is "sowing the petroleum." This is a phrase and programme that has been part of Venezuela's populist-nationalist politics and discourse since the mid-1930s: the government is to assert greater control over oil revenues, use oil wealth to promote development, and allow more people to share in the oil bounty. Chavez is counting on high and rising oil prices to undergird vast increases in government spending, a growing state presence in the economy, and subsidized prices for certain domestic products (mainly gasoline but also imported consumer goods, including food). In 2004, $1.7 billion of the state oil company's $15 billion budget was allocated to fund social programs; soon thereafter it went to $4 billion a year. 6 
Chavez, after having restructured the management of the state oil company, is moving along three tracks to maximize oil revenues to make good on his programme. He is seeking to expand oil production. He is seeking to increase state ownership and the government's share of earnings, royalties, and taxes deriving from foreign-based activity in the hydrocarbon sector (oil, natural gas, and coal). And he is seeking out new markets for oil, both to absorb expanded output and as a cushion against possible US pressure and retaliation. These are not simply technical tools of economic management; they are bound up with a capitalist logic, and are fraught with the contradictions of dependent, imperialist-led development.
On the first track, the strategic 25 year Plan Siembra Petrolera (Oil Sowing Plan), in its first phase for 2005-2012, calls for an increase in production from current levels (2006 estimates range from 2.8-3.3 million barrels a day) to 5.8 million barrels of oil per day in 2012. In the gas industry, similar large-scale development is also planned.
The Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) estimated in 2006 that this phase of the expansion plan requires some $75 billion to finance new investment. Where is this money coming from? Most will come from the state oil company. Some 25 to 30 percent is expected from external, private sources: borrowings from banks, offset by anticipated oil earnings, and investments by the foreign oil companies operating in Venezuela. 7 
Chavez is counting on increased output from the so-called Orinoco Petroleum Belt, a region in the centre of the country that has been the site of major investments by the state oil company and foreign operators, like Exxon-Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and France's Total SA. Since the 1990s these imperialist transnationals have invested more than $17 billion, which may have grown in value to $30 billion. The extraction and processing of this extra-heavy crude oil requires expensive investment in heavy machinery, treatment, and storage complexes. Partial processing of this oil on the spot, to make it liquid enough to flow in pipes, produces enormous amounts of waste material.
There is a sharp contradiction. On the one hand, the state must extract financial resources from the oil industry to underwrite its development and social spending plans (and, increasingly, to meet rising popular expectations and shore up the political base of the Chavez regime). On the other hand, the state must invest to maintain the competitiveness of the oil industry as a capitalist enterprise in the international capitalist market.8 
Again, there is great tension here. In the last two years, social programmes have absorbed a larger share of the state oil company's budget than has spending on maintenance and new oil capacity. This social spending by the government puts strains on needed investments in the oil sector. To say investments are "needed" is not to make some pure technical statement; rather, investments are "needed" from the standpoint of an oil-exporting economy and the dictates of the world market – improving efficiency and compensating for possible price declines with expanded output. Because Venezuela's wells are so old, output declines 23 percent a year – and so it is necessary to drill new wells just to maintain capacity. 9 There is a pull exerted by competition on the world market, intensified by low levels of investment in Venezuela's oil sector relative to other oil-producing countries, to upgrade and expand the industry, and maintain profitability.
If foreign investment comes forth to finance a major share of Plan Siembra, this investment carries with it real control and puts real leverage in the hands of those foreign investors. This is important to bear in mind. Venezuela is not unusual in having formal sovereignty over its oil. Some three-quarters of the world's oil and gas reserves and half of global output are controlled by national state oil companies like Saudi Aramco, Kuwait Petroleum, and the Algerian state company. But the national-state oil companies rely on international finance, work through international trade and marketing channels, and collaborate with the large, Western-based transnational oil companies, like Exxon-Mobil. These transnational corporations and their service company networks have strong competitive advantage: in scale, reach, and core managerial and technological competences, financial capabilities, support by the Western imperialist governments, and the ability to pull up stakes in a country like Venezuela.
In terms of the second track: higher tax and royalty payments. In April 2006, Chavez announced his intention to increase PDVSA's share in major projects to 60 percent from 40 percent. The Chavez government is creating new forms of joint ventures (what are now called "mixed companies") with Shell, Chevron, British Petroleum, and others. Oil resources and oil profits are jointly owned in the form of single new enterprises – only now, the Venezuelan government obtains a higher proportion of profits than it had previously, while the foreign oil companies, with heavy investments, benefit from current high oil prices and prospect of profitable new oil fields. At the same time, the government has negotiated with the 22 foreign companies operating in Venezuela to agree to a new tax law that is being enforced retroactively.
On May 1, 2007, Chavez made good on his ultimatum to the foreign companies that they accept a larger share of ownership by the Venezuelan government or cease operations. Chavez may be a tough negotiator (and did succeed in getting a larger slice of rising oil revenues from companies who want to stay put in order to recoup the value of their investments and make huge profits). At the same time, to keep these projects alive, to go forward with expansion plans, Chavez must reach some kind of understanding with foreign capital, as these firms are providing essential finance and technology. So the threat of takeover was sweetened with a commitment to compensate the firms. 10 
The third track of the oil programme is to restructure Venezuela's external trade relations away from dependence on the US as a market and source of investment capital and technical expertise. Venezuela accounts for some 12 percent of the US's daily oil imports, and plays a certain strategic role in the US's ability to project power in the world. But the other side of the equation is more telling, illustrating an aspect of Venezuela's structural dependency: that 12 percent share of US oil imports accounted for by Venezuela represents 60 percent of Venezuela's total production!11  
In seeking to diversify markets, Chavez has opened negotiations with China and has plans to sell Venezuelan oil to China, the world's second-largest energy consumer, and to India as well. But there are high costs of servicing these markets. Venezuela does not have a Pacific port, and large tankers cannot make it through the Panama Canal. So Venezuela would need to construct pipeline through Colombia in order to ship the oil. But shipment to Asia is costly, owing to the long distances involved. Further, China does not have adequate capacity to refine Venezuela's sulphur-rich crude. China is investing substantial sums to increase that capacity, but China is also exploring for oil and gas closer to its shores in the South China Sea and angling as well for deals in the Caspian Sea region.
The US connection is a difficult knot for Chavez to cut, especially if oil is to be the centrepiece of development. There is the close proximity of the US market and low transportation costs. There are the refineries in the US adapted to processing Venezuela's oil. And the US continues to be Venezuela's most important trading partner (US-Venezuela trade actually rose 36 percent in 2006). These are among the pressures operating on Chavez to maintain stable economic relations with the US, 12 even if the US has other plans.
Part of Chavez's strategy for diversification involves inviting foreign companies from outside the traditional circle of the big Western oil majors to invest in Venezuela's petroleum industry and to participate in his plan for a continental gas pipeline project stretching from Venezuela down to Argentina. These form part of Chavez's efforts to create more multilateral investment and trade links. Chavez is courting companies from India, China, Russia, and elsewhere. Chavez hails investment plans in Latin America as anti-US regional integration.
But whether in Venezuela or elsewhere in Latin America, the essence of these projects is: investment by capitalist firms... according to capitalist methods of exploitation...to be measured by capitalist criteria of profitability. These projects have enormous social consequences for local populations, including dislocation of indigenous peoples. And they have enormous environmental consequences. 13 
Chavez must assure long-standing Western and new investors of a relatively stable business-receptive environment. It is revealing that the Chavez regime has designated the oil sector a "strategic industry." The state-appointed management tightly controls this sector (and the oil industry is one where worker co-participation, the limits and real nature of which will be discussed in a subsequent instalment of this series, is forbidden).
One critical-minded supporter of Chavez has observed, "the joint ventures provide a reality check to those used to only a diet of Chavez speeches...[B]ut in the current circumstances, paradoxically, a Faustian pact with foreign capital may be necessary to keep the forces of imperialism [US pressure and intervention] off Venezuela's back." 14 
This captures much of the "best-case" thinking about Chavez's oil-based strategy of development. But this "best-case" thinking rests on a misunderstanding of imperialism. As desirous of genuine social change as many Chavez supporters are, that cold-water splash of "reality check" is worth pursuing further.
Modern-day enclave development
Imperialism manifests itself not simply through economic bullying or military threat and intervention – and US military action against Venezuela is by no means "off the table". It is also expressed through the structure and functioning of the world economy and the existing economic and social structure of Venezuela, which reflects and reinforces dependency on oil and subordination to the world market.
Chavez is perpetuating a form of export-led growth centred on the oil industry. The irrationality of an economy so geared to oil is expressed in the fact that only 20 percent of Venezuela's total oil production enters into the domestic economy. 15 It is expressed in the fact that while Venezuela's state oil company (PDVSA) is the country's single largest employer, with about 45,000 on its payroll, employment in the oil sector accounts for less than 1 percent of Venezuela's total work force. 16 It is expressed in the fact that, despite high oil prices and earnings, official unemployment in Venezuela has ranged from 8 to 15 percent in the Chavez years, with the poverty rate at 30 percent at the start of 2007. 17 
This is a profoundly distorted economy: today, the oil sector accounts, and this has been a long-standing pattern, for about one-third of Venezuela's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 50 percent of the government's revenue, and 80 percent of Venezuela's export earnings. As one of the world's top oil producers, Venezuela is a top emitter of CO2 emissions in Latin America and has the region's highest per capita rate of carbon emissions. 18 
The oil-export economy induces a form of "enclave" development. Such development responds to external sources of economic dynamism: the world oil market, conditions of demand in the major imperialist and regional economies, the rhythm and direction of world capital flows, etc. And such capital-intensive mono-export development is a barrier to integrated, all-around agricultural and industrial development in the exporting country.
Here it is necessary to elaborate on two related aspects of dependent development: lopsidedness and heightened exposure and vulnerability to the world market.
In the oppressed nations, the oil sector requires massive investment in advanced equipment and technology. These technology demands are met disproportionately from outside the economy – much of the advanced technology required by the oil sector is either imported, requiring that foreign exchange be generated to pay for imported capital goods, or obtained through the joint ventures (the foreign oil and oil-service companies involved, like Halliburton, provide the technology in-house or purchase it on the world market).
Moreover, much of this technology cannot be widely diffused and adopted throughout the economy to revolutionize social production. This is so for two reasons. First, much of the specialized oil-drilling and oil-engineering technology is not appropriate to overall conditions of social-economic development. Second, even where some of this technology could have useful direct and indirect spin-off applications, there does not exist a broad-based industrial structure to which the benefits could accrue – exactly because the oil focus has constrained broader development.
The oil sector is not significantly stimulating new demand for locally produced industrial products, nor is it resulting in a rising socially useful skills level of the overall work force. You do not have a process of agricultural and industrial development unfolding that strengthens local capacity to innovate and adapt technology. These are consequences of enclave-like, oil-based development. 19 
Under Chavez, PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, has been seeking agreements with foreign oil companies requiring as a condition of entry that they source (obtain) more oil-service supplies locally. But as oil resources are depleted, and as the extraction and processing of Venezuela's heavy crude and rich-rich oil grows more challenging, new technology requirements appear. And as these requirements are met with even more specialized and sophisticated technology, the technology gaps between the oil sector and the rest of the economy are reproduced on a new level. 20 
Meanwhile, the huge port, pipeline facilities, and other infrastructure investments to facilitate the exploration, extraction, and shipment of oil and coal are often out of scale to the needs of the overall economy – again, since they serve these more self-contained, outward-oriented investment projects, like the Orinoco Petroleum Belt plans.
As mentioned earlier, the oil sector overall accounts for a very small fraction of total employment. Chevron's huge $3.8 billion investment in the Orinoco Petroleum Belt initially will have created 6,000 jobs – upon completion, the project will only need 700 permanent employees.
These are phenomena of the enclave-like character of oil-based development. But here is the rub: the overall agro-industrial structure is profoundly influenced and skewed by the oil sector. There is heightened unevenness as between the productivity and wage levels and technological dynamism of a modern oil sector and other segments of the economy; and, as will be discussed shortly, the oil industry has negative feedback effects on domestic agriculture and food production. At the same time, the build-up of the state-capitalist oil sector strengthens class interests and class forces that have a strong stake in maintaining the dominant macro-economic structure.
To develop an agricultural base that could meet the food needs of society, provide rural employment, and develop through mutually reinforcing links with an integrated and balanced industrial structure would require a) a very different allocation and prioritisation of resources serving the needs of the now exploited and oppressed, and b) a break with the economic logic, structure of options, and pressures of the local and world capitalist market system (what Marxists call the law of value).
1. Cited in Nicholas Kozloff, Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the US (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 7. No original Spanish-language source available.
2. Greg Palast, "Hugo Chavez," Interview in Z, July 2006. www.zmag.org.
3. See Larry Everest, Oil, Empire, and Power: Iraq and the US Global Agenda (Monroe, Me.: Common Courage Press, 2004).
4. On the growth of Caracas, see Allen Gilbert, The Latin American City (London: Latin America Bureau, 1998), pp. 7-11.
5. See J.P. Leary, "Untying the Knot of Venezuela's Informal Economy," naclanews, December 6, 2006. http://news.nacla.org.
6. US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Country Analysis Briefs, Venezuela, June 2004. www.eia.doe.gov.
7. On the 2006-2012 expansion plan and its costs and financing, see the statements and interviews by PDVSA officials at www.pdvsa.com.
8. These kinds of contradictions are pointed to in Fernando Coronil, "Magical Illusions or Revolutionary Magic? Chavez in Historical Context," NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. XXXIII, No 6, 2000. See this article and also the highly important analysis of the historical development of the rentier oil economy and modern Venezuelan state and various incarnations of plans to "sow the petroleum" in Fernando Coronil, The Magical State: Nature, Money, and Modernity in Venezuela (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).
9. See David Luhnow and Peter Millard, "As Global Demand Tightens, Oil Producer Has Agenda," The Wall Street Journal , August 1, 2006.
10. See Simon Romero and Clifford Krauss, "Deadline Nears in Chavez Fight Against Big Oil," The New York Times , April 10, 2007; Simon Romero, "Chavez Takes Over Foreign Controlled Oil Projects in Venezuela," The New York Times, May 2, 2007. In his July 2006 interview with Greg Palast (see zmag.org), Chavez says about the foreign oil companies, "[W]e don't want them to go, and I don't think they want to leave the country, either. We need each other."  
11. Claude Larsimont, "Hugo Chavez, the Bolivarian Use of Petrodollars and the Oil Market," ESISC Background Analysis 10/05/2006.
12. See James Surowiecki, "The Financial Page: Synergy With The Devil," The New Yorker, January 8, 2007, p. 26.
13. On the environmental and human rights issues posed by Chavez's petroleum and natural gas regional initiatives, see David Hallowes and Victor Munnik Poisoned Spaces: Manufacturing Wealth, Producing Poverty, www.groundwork.org.za , October 2006; "Open Letter to President Hugo Chavez," Sociedad Homo et Natura, posted at www.nadir.org in April 2006.
14. Steven Mather, "Joint Ventures: Venezuela's Faustian Pact with Foreign Capital," Venezuelanalysis.com , September 30, 2006, www.venezuelanalysis.com .
15. Year-end data for 2006 from US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.
16. "Venezuela: Minerals," Encyclopedia Britannica Online, www.britannica.com. [back]
17. Bernardo Alvarez, "Venezuela's Global Agenda: Six More Years," April 5, 2007, Venezuelanalysis.com , www.venezuelanalysis.com .
18. Data from US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Country Analysis Briefs, Venezuela, September 2006, www.eia.doe.gov]
19. The question of appropriate technology and whether raw materials investments spur linkages to other parts of the economy has been a long-standing topic of research and analysis on the part of radical, dependency, and Marxist theorists. The 2003 report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Foreign Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2003 examines patterns of foreign investment in Latin America and questions supposed benefits and spillover effects resulting from natural resources investments.
20. On new oil seismic technology and highly sophisticated secondary and tertiary recovery methods, some of which are now being used in Venezuela, see Jad Mouawad, "Oil Innovations Pump New Life into Old Wells, The New York Times, March 5, 2007.

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