VIO News Blog

June 12, 2009

Venezuela To Host ALBA Summit

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 2:11 pm

On Thursday President Chavez confirmed that Venezuela will be hosting an extraordinary summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) on June 24th at the site of the Battle of Carabobo which took place on the same day in 1821 and led to the independence of Venezuela. The summit will officialize the incorporation of Ecuador into ALBA, a group of countries that promotes regional relations based on solidarity, social development and equitable trade. The ALBA group is currently comprised of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Honduras and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A spokeswoman for Venezuela’s Coca Cola affiliate told the press that the Venezuelan government had communicated its concern over the possible health risks posed by an ingredient in the company’s new Coke Zero soft drink product. The company has begun a “process of demonstrating [to the government] that there are no health risks” the spokeswoman said. On Wednesday Health Minister Jesus Mantilla announced that distribution of the product would be halted while the government investigated its ingredients.

While many stories have appeared recently regarding Venezuela’s Globovision news network and its tense relations with the government, the alternative internet news site Upside Down World focuses on a new “counter cultural” Venezuelan television channel that has received scant attention in the U.S. press. The station, called Avila TV, has a young, progressive staff that “covers the underground culture of Caracas while trying to promote alternative lifestyles.” Created as a response to the April 2002 “media coup” and funded by the government, the station’s programming is aimed at a young audience and uses hip hop and other urban cultural forms to combat consumerism and promote socialist values.

An article published by NACLA and written by Steve Ellner, a U.S. academic based in Venezuela, takes an in-depth look at how Venezuela’s community councils function. Created by law in 2006, there are approximately 20,000 councils in Venezuela today dedicated to planning and managing neighborhood development projects. According to Ellner, they “represent not only the government’s most recent success in jump-starting popular participation, but also a radical break with the past, when these activities were undertaken by city, state, or national government.” We reproduce the first section of Ellner’s analysis here and provide a link to the complete article for those who are interested.

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