From California to South America
By Nori kato
of Michelle Prudant Aranda, top adviser to President Hugo Chávez, and a
professor from the National Bolivarian University of Venezuela, at Cal
State Long Beach, may mark the beginning of a new relationship between
the two universities.
Jess Nieto, founder of Heritage of America and a Cal State Long Beach graduate, has made strides to develop relationships with other cultures, particularly with Venezuela.
After Nieto met with the chairman of Chicano Latino Studies at CSULB, it was agreed that a people-to-people initiative was ideal for a cultural, educational and social exchange to develop, with CSULB being at the center. Prudant Aranda would serve as the representative of Venezuela not only from an educational perspective, but from a governmental one as well.
CSULB has a summer international study abroad program in Venezuela coordinated by Ronald Loewe, professor of anthropology. The course offered through the program is Anthropology 305I, Radical Social Analysis.
Prudant Aranda's top priority in speaking at CSULB was to explain the achievements Venezuela has made under Chávez and to assuage the images the Bush administration and the mainstream media has institutionalized.
“There is no such thing as a perfect government, but we are trying to reach our greatest potential,” Prudant Aranda said.
Prudant Aranda outlined the plan behind Chávez's socialist revolution, drawing heavily from the ideals of Simon Bolívar. The principles include: new socialist ethics, supreme social wellness, pro-active revolutionary democracy, socialist production model, new national geopolitics, energetic world potential and new international geopolitics.
Instead of a world where the United States is the dominant power, Venezuela's government is interested in a new world order, one which is decentralized with multiple sources of political power, Prudant Aranda said.
Every person has human rights under the principles of Chávez's plan, Prudant Aranda said. One of the arguments the Chavez administration makes is that under a capitalist economic system, shareholders are the only ones who benefit while the poor are left to fend for themselves. His plan is part of the socialist attempt to form a new economic model to redistribute the wealth.
“Venezuela and Chavez have not made attempts to eliminate business ventures, only create alternatives and opportunities for the lower class,” Prudant Aranda said.
Venezuela is a country rich with petroleum, which has caused a profusion of diplomatic issues. One of the main ideas Arana stressed was that oil can be used as a tool to reform the country, rather than benefiting a select few.
Currently, 80 percent of the national budget is allocated to education, culture and other initiatives, according to Prudant Aranda.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent intergovernmental organization including Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
“Venezuela is the founder of OPEC,” Prudant Aranda said.
Additional advancements under the Chavez administration are various education missions, health missions and free Internet access. The primary health mission, a social welfare program called barrio adentro, provides free health care to anyone who requires it.
“Venezuela is not just interested in promoting economic interests,” Arana said, “but social and cultural as well.”
In addition to these many improvements, the UN Human Development Index, the mortality rate and the poverty rate have improved over the past 10 years, according to Prudant Aranda.
Venezuela previously had 80 percent of its wealth in the hands of 20 percent of the population, but the Chávez administration has used the national plan to equalize these statistics.
Chávez has been in power for 10 years, and won a referendum December 1999 extending term limits of elected officials. See photos and video of the event below.
Lic. Michelle Prudant (see article below), professor of Bolivarian University in Caracas, visited and lectured a class at California State University Long Beach.
Lic. Prudant poses with Prof. Ron Loewe.
Lic. Michelle Prudant at California State University Northridge on the
"Achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution"
More photos available online.
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