Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Venezuelans can now buy cell phones for the equivalent of just US $13.95, thanks to a new state-run company that put its first 5,000 units on the market yesterday in Caracas.

Eager shoppers snapped up the first bunch, and the AP reports that another 5,000 will be in stores soon.

The tiny phone, dubbed “El Vergatario,” is equipped with a camera, radio, and mp3 player.

The firm that makes them, a joint venture by the governments of Venezuela and China, is known as Vetelca. This is not an isolated effort, but rather, part of a broader plan to promote affordable technology (you may recall the “Bolivarian Computer,” and the adoption of open-source Linux operating systems).

“El Vergatario” is only sold on the domestic market right now, but depending on its success, it could eventually become an export. And because it is literally the cheapest cell phone in the world, it is likely to be quite competitive.

Read Full Post »

madres-del-barrio

Women make history every day, and the women of Venezuela are doing so by cultivating a community-based economic model. They are embarking on new paths to autonomy within an historic social movement that is improving the lives of millions through “social missiones” that deliver new opportunities.

Government-funded programs such as Madres del Barrio (or “Mothers of the Neighborhood”) promote  social inclusion and community action. Madres del Barrio gives women the tools to succeed personally as well as economically by offering education, training, and interest-free loans. These tools have been invaluable for women, many of whom had never before worked outside the home.

The Guardian Weekly showcases the personal story of one Caracas woman whose participation in Madres del Barrio led her to found the successful Guarayrapana Textile Cooperative. Yovita Vera had this to say about her experience:

It takes a lot of willpower to keep the cooperative working, but we couldn’t have done it without the support from Madres del Barrio. I feel like this government has finally given women the status they deserve. In the barrios, most of the families are headed by women with little or no support from men, so it makes sense for them to be in control of the finances.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Madres del Barrio deserves a round of applause!

Check out this video about Madres del Barrio in Spanish.

Read Full Post »

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales announced today that Bolivia will soon begin building recycled “petrocasas” with the help of Venezuela. These low-cost plastic dwellings are built with waste generated by oil refining, and are providing a solution to economic and environmental pressures. Tens of thousands have already been erected in Venezuela as well as Cuba and Peru. It was in Peru where Morales first saw the petrocasas and the role they played in the country’s recovery after a 2007 earthquake.

With an investment of $80 million, Bolivia will open a factory to produce petrocasas in Oruro. The first recipients will reportedly be the relatives of the victims of Bolivia’s “gas wars” of 2003. The eco-friendly houses will go up in low income areas, including El Alto and Trinidad. The project was announced at an event commemorating the 228th anniversary of the first uprising against the Spanish colonists.

See our last post on petrocasas here. For coverage in Spanish, see Reuters.

Read Full Post »

minsk-book-fair

Venezuela has been strengthening its diplomatic and economic relations with Belarus, a process that will see a new embassy established in the capital city of Minsk later this year. Also in the works is a Simon Bolivar Latin American Cultural Center.

This month, Belarus has invited Venezuela, along with 20 other countries, to participate in the Minsk International Book Fair which lasts from February 11th – 15th.

After the book fair, a Venezuelan historical exhibit called “Latin American Revolution” will display placards and posters from the 1960s to commemorate the social movements of that era.

The Venezuelan Ambassador to Belarus, Américo Díaz Núñez, says that cooperation and friendship between the two nations is growing fast, and has touched issues ranging from culture to technology. Later in the year, Venezuelan artists will participate in Belarusian events and festivals.

Read Full Post »

3238811522_540ec51ee8

The World Social Forum (WSF) concluded yesterday in Belém, Brazil. Over 130,000 grassroots activists and members of civil society groups from all over the globe gather each year to present alternatives to the concurrent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The WSF, which is based in a concept of social justice, hosted discussions on topics ranging from the global economic crisis to environmental preservation to Indigenous issues and even vegetarianism. Socially conscious people met to “coordinate strategies and build partnerships,” share in cultural events, and make their voices heard by the many leaders in attendance.

One participant said:

We’re pointing out things that the developed nations don’t want to see. This is a scream of hope from the bottom, to say that we’re here and we want to change things.

-Luiz Miguel Fernandez Vega, 28, León, Mexico

Several resolutions were adopted  to remedy current crises and advance the cause of social justice. These include:

– Nationalization of banks
– No reduction of salaries at enterprises hit by the economic crisis
– Energy and food sovereignty for the poor
– Withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and Afghanistan
– Sovereignty and autonomy for Indigenous peoples
– The right to land, decent work, education, and health for all
– Democratization of media and knowledge

The ambitious aims of the WSF seem to be coming into sharper focus as the world changes and old political and economic paradigms are shifting. Many participants came away from the Forum with a renewed sense of hope that “another world is possible,” and that they can help make it happen.

To read more, check out these articles from AFP, IPS, and the Washington Post

Read Full Post »

citgoheatoiljan2909st1-104

Venezuelan-owned Citgo Petroleum held its official launch of the 2009 home heating oil assistance program today in Washington, DC. A press conference was held in the backyard of one recipient, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in the Northeast neighborhood of Petworth. In the picture above, Kathy Boylan expresses her appreciation for the much-needed help.

Citgo President Alejandro Granado (pictured above) said:

We are making an enormous effort. Despite the limited resources available at the moment, we are continuing the program as a demonstration of the solidarity of the Venezuelan people. Our critics have called this political, and it is true: our politics are aimed at building bridges between the people of Venezuela and the United States.

In 2009, the fourth year of the program, some 40 to 45 million gallons of home heating oil will be distributed in the U.S. through Citizens Energy at a cost of about $75 million. The resources will benefit around 200,000 homes across 23 states.

AP coverage is available in English and Spanish.

Read Full Post »

The World Social Forum began yesterday in Belém, Brazil, a city located at the edge of the Amazon Rainforest. The Presidents of Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Paraguay (pictured above from left to right) are attending this massive ninth annual event, which brings leaders and citizens together under the slogan “Another World is Possible.”

The summit coincides with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. With economies across the globe in crisis, the alternative view provided by the Social Forum is particularly important this year. Here is what people are saying about the forum:

We are raising our voices as a wake-up call to the world, especially the rich countries that are hastening its destruction… [for] we are the ones who were born and raised in the middle of the forest, and who lead a lifestyle that contrasts with the ambition of capitalism, which does not bring benefits to all.

Edmundo Omoré of Brazil’s Xavante Indigenous community

We are launching an SOS to the world. The planet is in danger and is heading for destruction. That’s why we’re here asking for solidarity. …The big multinationals are going into our territories, sometimes with the help of paramilitaries, sometimes with the assent of the government, pushing out our own communities. And those who resist are persecuted.

— Miguel Palacin, Andean Coordination of Indigenous Organizations

Indigenous and environmental issues top the agenda this year. See coverage from the BBC, AFP, and IPS. A good video can be found at Euronews.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »