On Sunday, the forces of Chavismo won 17 out of 22 governorships in Venezuela. The signal this sends is important - it showed that the social forces behind the agenda of Chavismo - of Venezuelan socialism - have not been extinguished by the Right's concerted campaign and by the United States (with Trump putting his foot into the race - interfering directly in the elections of Venezuela, something that has the US political system aflutter with allegations of Russian interference). These social forces have also not been exhausted by the weakened economy - weak in part because of low commodity prices, namely energy prices, but also by some internal problems in the management of currency and so on. None of this doused the flames of Chavismo, the desire for a more democratic economy as well as a democratic political system. There are many challenges ahead for the government in Venezuela, challenges that will come from the United States - surely - but also from the domestic bourgeoisie as well as the adverse international economic climate.
One needs to keep a close eye on Venezuela's border states of Mérida, Táchira and Zulia, where the opposition won, and from where it is likely forces of destabilization might gather from Colombia. These are not idle thoughts. Latin America has seen just this kind of scenario not that long ago.
I'm looking forward to doing some reporting again from Venezuela. Sometime soon, I hope.
So much is going on in the world these days - wars of great length, bomb blasts that kill untold numbers of civilians, terrible growth of hunger. Reading the news, trying to make sense of things, finding a framework to understand what is going on in the world - none of this comes easily.
At the top of my mind is the bomb blast in Mogadishu, but also the famine that continues to stalk Somalia.
At Alternet, I have an essay - rather than a report - on the International Division of Humanity. There is a way, I feel, that there is no real sense of a common human essence that is shared across the world. As I write in this essay, ' It is easier for a Western consumer of the news to imagine themselves at a café in Paris or on the Ramblas in Barcelona; attacks there cut to the core, reflect the humanity at one side of the division. Harder to imagine being in central Mogadishu or at the district administration building in Ghazni. Those who are there are on the other side of the international division of humanity'.
It is an essay that goes from the wars in Iraq and Syria to the bomb blast in Somalia and the Tailban attack in Afghanistan outwards to the global hunger crisis - with the Food and Agricultural Organisation now saying that there are 815 million people who suffer from hunger. I think this number is low. I think that in India itself - as a study showed about six years ago - 680 million people live in deprivation. Unless we get to the roots of this epidemic of starvation, we will never understand the roots of war and the roots of the refugee crisis.
You can read the essay here.
The image of the cat and mouse - above - is from an installation by the Chinese artist Wang Du, which is at the Galerie Laurent Godin (Paris). It is part of a project called Médecine interne. In the text with the show, Wang Du wrote, 'In my eyes, the world was a work of art. Today I see it more as a patient'.
There is always hope for the world. This coming weekend, in Washington, DC, the activist group CodePink launches its new campaign - Divest from the War Machine. Towards that end, they have a small conference which will have speakers such as Larry Wilkerson (former Chief of Staff under Colin Powell), Andrew Feinstein (author of Shadow World), Miriam Pemberton (Institute for Policy Studies), Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans (CodePink). I'm glad to be able to join them. You can see the schedule here.
Meanwhile, in West Bengal, the Bengal Platform of Mass Organisations prepares to march 25,000 kms from October 22 to November 3. They have a seventeen point demand that comes from farmers and school teachers, health care workers and social workers. They want to build a world in their image. The picture above is from a march led by the trade unions to build support for the actual Jatha.
So there is hope.