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Issue #1783      June 28, 2017


Repression and “national security”

Suspected “extremists” from 14 years up will be detained and questioned for up to two weeks without charge. Post-sentence detention facilities to be built to hold suspected terrorists, without charge.

Enthusiastic supporter of more repressive laws, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, made the agenda clear earlier this month: imprisonment in unaccountable maximum security is for those who “on all the available intelligence” present a “risk” but have “not yet committed a crime”.

There are also proposals for the construction of purpose-built prisons and mandatory sentences to incarcerate suspects to be held with no public accountability (secrecy is used to cover up illegal activities carried out by the state, such as torture).

At the same time amendments to the Citizenship Act now allow the minister to ignore decisions made on merit, after a lengthy process of hearing evidence from an applicant and witnesses and submissions from representatives.

These developments represent an attempt to reconfigure the state, as seen in the breaking down of the separation of powers between government and the judiciary and in the attack on decisions by the courts: the government vests power instead to a minister who becomes prosecutor, judge and jury.

Ill-informed on Venezuela

Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson recently addressed federal Parliament on Venezuela’s human rights violations and his position certainly needs a reply. We support many of the Greens’ progressive policies, however, Senator Whish-Wilson’s assertions on Venezuela are surprisingly ill-informed.

Whish-Wilson seems to ignore the pre-1998 Venezuela that was ruled by successive right-wing governments aligned with the United States. As the second richest country in the region at the time based on its GDP with many in desperate poverty; all the income from selling its vast oil production ended in private pockets or in the US.

When President Chávez came to power Venezuela was ranked seven in the Human Development Index in South America, with more than 50 percent of people with no access to health, education and housing.

The redistribution process he undertook to bring health and education to those who’d previously had no access infuriated the United States and the rich 1%. Ever since they have been trying to overthrow the Bolivarian government by all means necessary including a short-lived coup d’état on April 11, 2002. During those critical moments of the Bolivarian revolution the majority defended the gains of their government and reinstated their president who had been taken away by the lackeys of imperialism. By 2013 when Hugo Chávez passed away, in spite of the attacks and sabotage of the oil industry and other sectors of the economy by external forces, he left behind a Venezuela ranked four in the HDI in South America.

The attacks by the US-sponsored right wing opposition have not stopped. As late as Saturday June 24, President Maduro announced his government managed to avert an imperialist oligarchy coup in progress, which included actions inside and outside Venezuela. Could it be that Peter Whish-Wilson has inadvertently played into the hands of these elites who would like to reverse the gains the ordinary Venezuelan people have achieved under the Chávez and Maduro governments. Would Whish-Wilson really want those people to again give up access to housing, health and education?

The mass media has largely ignored these events. The media in Venezuela is still controlled by the wealthy Venezuelans who also promote the hoarding of food and medicine to create the “disaster” described in Parliament by the Greens senator. We suggest scrutiny more broadly through sources of information such as Telesur (English).

Venezuela is forging peace and they need support. The violent opposition who cannot accept that the rich oil reserves and other natural resources are in the control of public hands, that the profits have been socialised and invested in public housing where, for example, 1.5 million apartments have been given to the poorest. With the solidarity of Cuba, Venezuela has been able to provide universal access to health and education: if this is considered a violation of human rights then clearly we have a different concept of human rights.

Perhaps Senator Whish-Wilson could use his position in Parliament to form a fact-finding mission to Venezuela with the view of looking with both eyes. We cannot rely on a biased Four Corners segment recommended in his speech; a one-sided piece that did not interview Chavistas supporters. What is happening in Venezuela is a heightened class struggle in which we hope the forces of socialism continue in the interest of the 99% not the 1% who have found a voice in the Australian Parliament.

Next article – Condemnation of anti-union push

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