Venezuela has been a leading country of the resistance in Latin America to US Empire and, through the Bolivarian Revolution, has put in place reforms that have created greater democracy. Chavez called it ‘Twentyfirst Century Socialism.’ However, in the Dec. 6 Venezuelan elections, the right wing won 109 of the 164 seats in the National Assembly giving them the power to undo much of the progress that the Bolivarian Revolution made over the past 15 years. We speak with Keane Bhatt, who was in Venezuela during the elections about the state of the economy, the elections and the extent of US involvement in both of these. Then we speak with Jesus Rodriguez-Espinosa of the Venezuelan Consul in Chicago about the response to the elections and next steps for the revolution.
Relevant articles and websites:
US Backing the Destabilization of Venezuela, Jaisal Noor interviews Keane Bhatt for The Real News
Venezuela versus Haiti: A Tale of Two Elections by Keane Bhatt
Setting the Record Straight on Venezuela by Steve Ellner
Venezuela: A Revolution that will not Die by Eric Draitser
Keane Bhatt is the Community Development Associate at the Democracy Collaborative. He is an experienced activist and organizer, having worked both in the U.S. and in Latin America on a variety of campaigns and projects related to community development and social justice. His analysis and opinions have appeared in a range of outlets, including The Nation, NPR, St. Petersburg Times, the Providence Journal, CNN En Español, Pacifica Radio, and Truthout.
Jesus Rodriguez-Espinoza is a specialist in international relations, graduated from the Central University of Venezuela in 1996 with a specification in international economic law and an associate degree in Foreign Trade.
He has been a government officer since 1997, with expertise in the fields of science and technology, planning, and international trade. Before being appointed as Consul General he worked as Deputy Consul in Chicago since July 2005 and between 2000-2005 he taught international foreign trade in Venezuela while working as an advisor for the Ministry of Housing (MinHAVI) and for the National Agency for Cooperatives (SUNACOOP). He was officially appointed as Consul General of Venezuela in Chicago in October 2008.
Besides his academic background the Consul General has been involved in the birth and organization of the alternative media movement in Venezuela especially related with community media such as Radio Perola, Aporrea.org and the National Asociation of Alternative, Free and Community Media (ANMCLA) and with the Venezuelan Free Software Movement. He was born in 1969 and has been married for 12 years with Yullma Hernandez and they have two kids, Alba Lucia (11) and Jesus Alberto (2).
Since his arrival to Chicago, the Consul Rodriguez-Espinoza has participate in series of activities orientated to highlight the name of Venezuela and explain the process of democratic and pacific economic, political and social changes implemented by the people of Venezuela under the leadership of the President Hugo Chavez.