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Interview Questions…


I am leaving for Venezuela Tuesday, to interview President Maduro. Below is an updated outline of questions I hope to have time to ask… there will surely be refinements on the fly…

Questions for President Maduro

Background

Let’s start with your own background and personal views.

How did you first become politically active? 

And very broadly, what were your views when you first became active?

What was the main training you had, or organizational ties, or jobs, that influenced your views in the years prior to becoming President of Venezuela? And how have your views altered from first becoming active, to when you were elected? 

Has being President for a few months already altered you personally or your views? Do you think it will, in the future?

Many critics have implied you have insufficient training and background to be president. Why did you feel becoming President was a sensible path for you, personally, to pursue?

I have an overarching question I would like to ask, before getting into specific areas of the Bolivarian experience. 

It seems that Venezuela seeks to make a revolution without bloodshed by taking over or creating new institutions that serve as a model, including eventually taking over health, education, production, etc., while simultaneously using the state and popular movements to improve society’s current institutions as well. 

Someone looking on, could worry that with competitive markets and with much private ownership still in place, and with old media institutions and even with old government and police structures in place, the efforts will be hamstrung by the holdover features from the past limiting positive outcomes and generating lies and fear until the population becomes cynical and loses passion, slowly bringing change to a halt. I wonder if you think the pace of building new institutions and imposing reforms on old institutions is happening fast enough and thoroughly enough to retain and grow popular support, hold off the opposition, and finally win a new society – or whether change needs to be accelerated?

21st Century Socialist Economics? 

Anti Capitalist / Socialist?

Briefly, because we will get into it more as we proceed, what does being anti-capitalist mean for the Bolivarian revolution? 

What features in capitalism should be replaced? 

Do you agree with Carlos Lanz who I interviewed in Caracas some years back, that “the socialism that we have known last century has emphasized nationalization and statification, but a real socialism will instead emphasize changing the social relations of production, and removing hierarchies in the workplace.”? And with Hugo Chavez who said to workers at Industrias Diana when speaking to them shortly after it was nationalized: “It’s not about state capitalism, you all have a vital role to play in terms of worker control, worker self management, socialist worker co-management of companies, it shouldn’t belong to the state, but rather to the people, managed by the workers, not the state. Workers … who have to be accountable to the people. Worker control is worker control”?

If reducing and finally eliminating private ownership of workplaces and resources is a Bolivarian goal, what obstacles obstruct conducting nationalization at a faster pace right now in Venezuela and how can you overcome those obstacles?

In the case of Industrias Diana, now years after the quote from Chavez above, there is a big controversy. The workers want to appoint their own local manager – but the minister has said, I believe,gf that that is not their right, and the conflict has gotten quite difficult. Why isn’t the government not only allowing, but celebrating the workers making their own decisions about their firm? What is the problem that is interfering with the workers having full power, in context of consumer needs and desires too, of course, assuming that that is the longterm goal?

What are Socialist Production Enterprises? Can you describe one? How many are there, roughly, and are more being formed?

Returning to the social relations of workplaces, and talking now about the long term – rather than about immediate issues – in 20th century socialism and also under capitalism, about 20% of the workforce does all the empowering work and also earns way more income and has way more influence than more rote workers below whose work leaves them exhausted and less knowledgeable and confident than when they came in. 

Is this division between 20% empowered and 80% disempowered employees something you want to transcend, or do you think it must persist? 

What do you think of having a new division of labor where people still doctor, lawyer, make decisions, and so on – but where no one does only that broad type of empowering activity leaving others to do only rote and disempowering activity? Rather what do you think of the idea that everyone should, as a goal for the future, do a fair mix of more and less empowering work so that we are all comparably equipped to participate in decisions and social life more broadly?

Would you agree that such a redefinition of the division of labor is necessary to eliminate the class division between empowered workers such as managers, doctors, engineers, etc., and rote workers, or, if you don’t agree, then what would accomplish that goal, or is it not a desirable goal, at all?

What prevents beginning to incorporate a new division of labor in state enterprises and public administration now, or other steps to reduce class hierarchy at work?

Regarding income, suppose someone in a factory has a job that is much more onerous than another person in the same factory. Suppose the person with the debilitating job says to you that she thinks she deserves higher pay than the manager who works in an air conditioned office, because what she is doing is more debilitating. Do you have sympathy with her view? What would you say to her?

Instead of paying people for their property or their bargaining power or even for their output, what do you think about remunerating people only for how long they work, for how hard they work, and for the onerousness of conditions under which they do socially valued labor? 

Are Social Production Enterprises adopting new norms of remuneration, and urging such new norms on other units, too?  

The percentage of people living below the Extreme Poverty Line dropped from 20.3% to 9.5% in Chavez’s first ten years in office. The percentage unemployed dropped from about 14% in 1999 to 7.1% in 2008. Infant mortality fell by more than one third. The number of primary care physicians in the public sector increased 12 fold. Enrollment in higher education more than doubled. 

Still, despite these major advances, almost a third of Venezuelans still live in poor housing and endure problems of diverse kinds. 

What caused gains for the poor to slow down after, say, 2009? What obstacles obstruct providing still larger and quicker gains in housing, food, health, and living conditions for the poor in the coming few years? What plans do you have for overcoming the obstacles? 

Do you support urban and rural land and housing takeovers?

What about making income more equal? Do you, for example, have a plan to raise the minimum wage in real terms, to limit profits, to raise taxes on high incomes, and even to spread a new norm of remuneration?

What impedes the government from deciding tomorrow to rebuild the barrios in a really massive public works project, creating far better housing and schooling for millions of people, and then successfully implementing the project? I know building new units has increased dramatically, recently, but why can’t it be an even more massive campaign?

Could you describe the people’s food stores and other distribution centers that are state financed to reduce costs for the poor? What are their benefits? Where do they point for the future?

There are currently shortages of some important products, including various food products. Why is that? What is the plan for attaining food sovereignty and eliminating shortages?

Inflation, though recently declining, I believe, is also a serious immediate economic problem. To what do you attribute its persistence? What is your plan for dealing with it?

Moving on to economic decision making, how much say did you personally have when you were working in capitalism over such matters as the pace and arrangement of your work, the amount of product you produced, the character of the product, and the direction of overarching investment, as compared to, say, owners on the one hand, and managers and engineers and folks like that, on the other hand? 

Owners say it is sensible for them to have nearly all power because they take the most risks and have the most at stake. What do you think of that claim?

Managers and others who do all the empowering tasks argue that it is sensible for them to have most or even all power because they know more, they are smarter, they are harder working, and so on. What do you think of that claim?

Suppose some particular manager is in fact really smart and really hard working, should that entitle him or her to more power?

So, ultimately, should the venue of economic power be workers and consumers councils, rather than the corridors and offices of owners, or of the government, or even of managers and engineers? 

What do you think about the norm that some revolutionaries call self-management – which is that people should have a say in decisions proportional to the extent they are affected by those decisions?

What obstructs implementing self-managing structures in workplaces right now and what plans are there to overcome the obstacles in the future? 

Do you agree with the view that self management requires participation, but participation requires people who are confident, informed, and skilled, which in turn requires a change in the division of labor such as we talked about earlier? 

What is your feeling about competitive markets where each actor competes with the rest, seeking larger personal gain, and wherein prices are determined by that competition?

How do you feel about competitive markets in terms of their effects on people’s motives and personalities, the implications for ecology, and their class implications?

What is your feeling about central planning? Do you agree with most libertarians that it is doomed to authoritarianism, so that a different approach to allocation is needed?

As a long term goal, then, to sum up, do you want to have markets or central planning for allocation, or would it be more accurate to say you want to have some kind of cooperative negotiation between producers’ councils and consumers’ councils that arrives at a plan for the economy without a command structure at the top and without competition and in light of full social and environmental costs and benefits? 

Given your goals, what obstructs beginning to incorporate more popular participation even now? I know some missions and local communes are trying to do that. Could you describe some of those efforts?

Given that local planning is already participatory in some places, and that that is a goal, why not also make national planning more participatory? Why not involve unions and others who are directly affected, particularly workers and consumers councils, in the national planning process? Or perhaps it is already happening – if so, please describe the efforts.

Is it fair to say, that in contrast to what has existed in Twentieth Century socialist countries, you are seeking participation as a key ingredient? You are seeking self management via worker and consumer councils and classlessness as central aims? You are seeking equitable remuneration? And you reject markets and central planning and prefer some kind of cooperative decentralized planning?

Finally, to end our section on economy, broadly speaking there are three interpretations of what is going on in Venezuela’s economy:

1. The efforts are a worthy social democratic project to improve the distribution of income, engender participation, etc., while maintaining the basic structure of society. Or…

2. The efforts are part of a familiar process that will wind up in the old style socialist manner. Or…

3. The efforts are part of a rich process seeking true classlessness, real participation, and even self management.

Which view do you think most closely describes Bolivarian economy?

Bolivarian Politics

Political Philosophy/Aims

Some years back, during an extensive interview we did about the political system in Venezuela, I asked Julio Chavez, who was then the Mayor of Carora how he thought being a Bolivarian Mayor was different from being a Mayor before 1998? 

He said he saw himself, as Mayor, as primarily having a responsibility to help develop new forms of grassroots popular power that would replace his own power. 

Is that your view of what a good Bolivarian Mayor ought to be doing? Creating the means for others to have power? And does the same hold for a good Bolivarian President? 

Can you tell us what a communal council is, please, structurally? And what is their intended role in society? 

In 1997 there were no communal councils but ten years later, in 2007, the Ministry of popular power reported there were 19,000 communal councils. How did they come into existence? How many are there now – I have heard it is upwards of 30,000, perhaps even 40,000? Is that true? And, more, how well are they operating?

I believe the initial goal was been to establish 50,000 communal councils with 200 to 300 families each in cities, and with 20 to 40 people each in rural areas. Is that still the aim?

Why did some areas develop councils more quickly and also more fully, and others not so much? What obstacles impede developing councils? What obstacles have limited participation in them and decision making by them?

In 2009 there began an effort to combine groups of councils into what were to be called Communes, so they would when combined exercise more say in social relations. I think that that effort has been slow to progress. Is that true? If so, why? What are the goals for the Communes?

Was one reason that communal councils and then Communes developed slowly because many mayors haven’t helped build councils or have even blocked them, because many feared rather than welcomed councils, seeing them as a threat to their power? 

You have recently elevated building the Communes and Councils to a very high priority, I believe. What is your aim in that? 

Suppose the 50,000 Communal Councils you are seeking as the infrastructure of a new type government were in place and federated into Communes regionally. Would they then be the seat and source of power in Venezuela? 

So is it correct that once the communal councils fully exist and are operational and federated into communes, and once the population is knowledgeable, Venezuela wouldn't be able to go to war, nor do anything else that affects the population greatly, against the informed will of the communal councils?

Dealing With Enemies

What has been the strategy for dealing with enemies trying to illegally topple the government? How well do you think it has worked? Do you have any new ideas for new approaches to this problem?

Next, what has been the strategy for dealing with owners who do not want to give up their high rates of profit and property holdings?  

Third, what has been the strategy for dealing with officials like mayors and governors from the old regimes wanting to return to oligarchic ways, enlarging bureaucracy, engaging in cronyism and corruption? 

What do you think of the idea that the PSUV should run candidates even against Mayors and Governors who say they support the revolution but who aren’t aiding or who are even obstructing the development of the communal councils? 

What has been the strategy for dealing with many managers and professionals who want to delay or subvert the drive toward more equitable distribution and self management for all? 

What has been the strategy for dealing with local police who are seeking their own advance even in violation of laws, even engaging in crime themselves, and with violence and corruption more generally? What has been the logic of instituting national police, having more police training, etc.? Do you have means to prevent the possibility of abuse of the latter plan?

What has been the strategy for dealing with media that seeks to scare and misinform the public?  

Political Parties

What is the role of political parties in Venezuela, and why was a new party created not too long ago? 

Venezuela is a country seeking to create a new society, but it still has people stamped with the habits and often even the aims of the old society, even inside the PSUV. Are there policies and methods for trying to develop a new consciousness and commitment inside the party and if so, what are they?

Some have said that the idea of the PSUV is to have a party that includes everyone who supports the revolution that could serve as an instrument to facilitate the transition from capitalism toward a new kind of socialism, which is distinct from the task of the councils. Is that your view of the purpose, as well? If not, then what is the unique contribution of the PSUV?

Elections?

Most people asking about elections wonder if they are fair. I would like to ask two quite different questions.

The first has to do with the extent to which electoral campaigns crowd out serious policy making. Do you think this is an issue? There are so many elections in Venezuela, and they so involve the populace and all officials, that from outside it sometimes seems that more effort is going into campaigns than into actual policy making. Do you think there is such a problem?

The second question is if we go back to the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution and then steadily trace it forward to the present, there have been numerous national elections. With only one exception, I think, all have been won by the Bolivarian position or candidate. This has been called an indicator of the great success of the Bolivarian project. But, if we look more closely, the margin of victory has not grown much, and has actually even shrunk at times. 

Given that the Bolivarian movement is in power, and is making policy, one might think that support for it would grow, steadily, and perhaps after fifteen years have risen to 70% or even 80% in elections. Yet you won by just a very small majority, only about 51%. 

Of course there are many obstacles to people becoming Bolivarian supporters including lies from media, fear of police, old Mayors and others pursuing corrupt aims, economic disruption by owners, etc. But, even with all that, I have to wonder why support after so many years isn’t much higher? With each new election shouldn’t the goal be to increase support, not barely win? And, if that is the goal, is there some broad lesson or insight you can offer to explain the patterns of stable or even declining support that we have seen?

In particular, why has support among the young seemed to decline as much as it has, and what will be done about that?

Term Limits

Many leftists around the world worry that having a single leader, year after year, even one who is freely elected and incredibly popular and democratic in disposition, acclimates society to obedience and entrenches power. 

What do you think about having people in office too long putting too much power in too few hands, and reducing prospects for having more hands ready to participate? What would have been your reaction, if Reagan, Bush, Clinton, or now Obama, had sought to eliminate term limits?

Communications and Media

First, could you describe the state of media in Venezuela now? Who controls it, to what end?

Regarding the mainstream media, owned and controlled by the rich, what is the cause of the government’s patience in allowing it to persist? Is it concern about free speech, or is it the tactics of how to go about social change successfully? 

What do you think of the view that it is free speech for everyone to be able to say what they wish, but it is not free speech for a small sector to be able to dominate the airways with what they want to say, routinely lying? 

Are there plans to introduce a Bolivarian newspaper, TV network, etc. with workers self management by workers councils plus some type of  viewer and reader involvement in oversight – thus escaping elite and rich control, and government control as well? And are there plans to make the state media as well more into grassroots vehicles?

Kinship and Gender

Chavez said, at a WSF gathering, that Venezuela’s socialism would be feminist. What does that mean to you? What efforts are being pursued to make Venezuela a feminist society?

What has been the role, for example, of the Woman’s Bank, and why was it needed?

What is Mission Women of the Barrio and what have been its accomplishments? 

What have been the improvements regarding daycare facilities? What are, I think they are called – “little Simons”? 

There have been advances around reproductive rights, but what about the right to abortion? Should this be an issue to be discussed in the communal councils? 

Should abortions be legalized? Will this be on the agenda in the future? 

Are the changes that are occurring in daycare, health, and education leading to changes in the way men and women are relating to one another in the household? 

What else is being done to reduce machismo, to get men to share housework and take responsibility for child care? 

Are men different now than they were in the past? Are you?

Is there any Bolivarian discussion in Venezuela of family structure, marriage, or parenting, suggesting that these need to be changed?

Culture and Community

What was the starting condition in Venezuela as of 1998 vis a vis Race and Religion and other cultural community relations? 

What have been the major accomplishments in this regard, over your tenure in office, so far?

What do you feel ought to be the future relation between church and state? How are you handling this relationship currently?

What is the scale of the problem that still exists around race in Venezuela, particularly regarding the indigenous and afro-Venezuelan black communities?

What is the goal regarding issues of race, ethnicity, religion, and cultural communities more broadly? Is the aim assimilation so that in the end everyone shares one culture, or is it to preserve and protect autonomy of cultures, celebrating their diverse contributions and merit but without any one enjoying higher status or better conditions than the rest?

What institutional features from the past interfere with generating equitable and mutually supportive relations among racial, ethnic, and religious cultural communities? 

What obstacles exist to replacing those structures, is there a danger that trying to do so may slip into trying to merge cultures rather than preserve and strengthen them?

What further steps do you think should be taken in Venezuela to overcome racist or ethnic or religious hierarchies, in the economy, in the culture, and in the government? Regarding race and religion, what do you think should be the situation of different racial groups, ethnic groups, and religions, in a future Venezuela? 

International Relations 

Looking into the future, what do you think ought to be the foreign policy approach of a worthy, desirable society, in a revolutionized world full of revolutionized countries?

In contrast, what do you think ought to be the foreign policy approach of a worthy, desirable society in the current world, that is full of imperial greed and violence?

When engaging in trade, does Venezuela exchange at going market rates, or do you negotiate terms of exchange with other variables in mind?

How would you explain, from your position as President, the pressures on countries causing them to engage economically with no eye toward the distributional and social and moral implications for others, just paying attention to self-advance and even advance of only the rich and powerful? 

What permits Venezuela to pay attention to other variables, ignoring or violating market prices when justice requires doing so?

The Bolivarian effort to forge Latin American alliances and, particularly, to engage in exchanges not on market terms but negotiated for fairness, seems very exemplary to me. It is almost the opposite of corporate globalism – and as such gives substance for the vision of different international norms and relations. real internationalism. Can you explain this further, please – and can you perhaps also explain why you aren’t even more aggressive about promoting these efforts and urging the importance of others behaving similarly?

Venezuela opposed Israel's war on Palestine, and on Lebanon in 2006, the US invasions of Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001, the ongoing siege of Cuba, and the coup in Haiti in 2004. Venezuela also provided material help to Cuba and to Haiti since then. And there are other examples. How much can Venezuela do in such circumstances? 

What role do you think Latin American solidarity can have in preserving and enlarging gains against imperial agendas, such as those of the U.S.?

In turn, how would you assess the effort by people outside Venezuela, so far, to aid, protect, support, and learn from and emulate the lessons of Venezuela? What do you think we who are outside of Venezuela could do differently and better? 

Many sincere and otherwise very supportive progressives around the world have been by Venezuela’s collaboration with governments that they consider to be either very right-wing, such as the government of Iran, and/or human rights abusers, such as the government of China. 

Of course, I haven’t heard such leftists say you shouldn’t trade with the U.S. – which is both right wing and an abuser of human rights, as well as a historic and current enemy of Venezuela and Latin America – but still – do you think it is necessary for a progressive/leftist/socialist government to engage with governments that massively abuse human rights and repress their own populations? 

Supposing that trading with such countries is deemed acceptable and even necessary – thus trading with the U.S., Iran, China, etc., – couldn’t this lead to muting criticism of Iran's religious police or of China's treatment of Tibet, for example, just as for many countries, the need for relations with the U.S. mutes their attitudes regarding U.S. crimes? How else do you explain Venezuelan support for and even praise for Iranian and Chinese economic and social systems which are so contrary to the values and aims Venezuela seeks to implement at home?

The United States routinely uses its wealth to bludgeon countries to preserve and enlarge the power and wealth of U.S. elites. How do you understand imperialism? What is it? Why does it persist? What is the alternative?

A very likely form of U.S. intervention in the future is to at least continue how it has been intervening so far, via institutions such as the NED and USAID that provide financial and logistical support to opposition groups in Venezuela. Is there a plan for dealing with this type of intervention?

In Eva Golinger’s book, Bush vs. Chavez, Golinger shows the major role of U.S. government and U.S. government funded groups such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Agency for International Development (AID) in funding opposition groups in Venezuela to overthrow your government through electoral and other means including violenceThey are intervening in domestic Venezuelan politics. Their behavior is similar to what they and similar groups did in Chile from 1970 to 1973, and in Nicaragua from 1970 to 1990. I wonder, why don’t you ban their activities in Venezuela and their funding and organizing of the opposition?  

If there is to be overt intervention rather than just economic pressure, a possibility is that the U.S. might seek to promote secessionist movements of oil regions, for example, and use those domestic desires – real or fabricated – as a pretext for intervention or for fierce sanctions. Do you have any plans to forestall this?

Some Additional Final Policy Clarifications

The price that consumers in Venezuela pay for gas for their cars is incredibly low, subsidized down to nearly nothing. 

Many leftists who support the Bolivarian revolution nonetheless wonder why you haven’t changed the policy to keep the social benefit, but without succumbing to the ecological debit? 

Is there a contradiction between expanding oil extraction and subsidizing its use, on the one hand, and pursuing ecological sustainability and wisdom, on the other hand?

What would you think of explaining to the population over a period of months the horrendous implications of such low gas prices for ecology and proposing, in their place, to have accurate prices (which would be way higher than market prices, actually) for gas, but to then also use the revenues to rebuild the barrios, and to create ecologically sound and free public transport so that the poor and all working people would materially benefit from the change, even while setting an international climate policy example?

In a related issue, what do you think ought to be the government’s attitude to coal mining – taking into account economic, social (indigenous), and ecological concerns?

One of the many innovative features of the Bolivarian effort to attain participatory democracy is its use of referendums. But, there is still the issue of elections being primarily about advertising and appearances rather than substance. 

What do you think of the possibility of organizing the referendums a bit differently? For example, at the outset maybe there is a pair of working conferences of opponents and advocates of some referendum issue. At the conferences the two sides have to each arrive at a statement of their arguments and select representatives to debate the issues. Then there is a period of public discussion and debate. The two sides offer their substantive positions – but there is no advertising, no manipulation, just real substance made very visible to the public so that people can come to a conclusion based on facts and not fears. Then there is the vote, and that’s that. There is no need nor purpose to a gigantic outlay of time and resources for fear mongering or personality contests, or anything of that sort. Does something like that seem to be advisable for Venezuela? What would be the obstacles to making such a change?

When I interviewed Fernando Vegas, a judge of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, I asked this question: “In the U.S. legal system, it is assumed that if a prosecutor and defense council both pursue victory in a fight where each doesn’t care at all about justice but cares only about winning that fight, the result will be more often than with any other approach, justice. What I am wondering and would like to try to explore is whether here in Venezuela there is any disagreement with that view, and any inclination toward a new approach to adjudication?” 

In reply, Vegas first emphasized the Bolivarian effort to widen the capacity of people to have access to justice. Do you agree that that has been a main goal, so far, for courts and justice? How well do you think the effort to widen access is going?

Vegas then noted that he felt another big difference was that the Venezuelan judiciary "now has an inclination to lean toward the people who have less power." He offered as an example: "suppose a laborer has a dispute with an owner, or a community member has a dispute with a mayor. Who is the weak party in the dispute? And then what does that imply, when you decide who the weak participant is?" Then he explained that "the law, in Venezuela, first investigates and then actually tries to help the weak party. The task is to apply the law, yes, but in a way that will help those who are weaker and poorer, and that will diminish gaps rather than widen them."

Do you agree? This seems like a critically important insight and effort – how do you feel it is going? And do you feel that with access and attention to power, jurisprudence will be okay, or that more changes will be needed, as well?

In a legal current events matter, so to speak, Venezuela has recently offered Edward Snowden asylum. What do you think of the broader issue of spying in general, and on one’s own population, and why do you think Snowden deserves Venezuela’s help?

This brings us to another line of legal concerns I wanted to ask about. To what extent does it make sense, or not, for the Bolivarian Revolution to obey laws constructed for an entirely different time and purpose and to abide institutions with those old roots, as well? 

As an example, the old law says that the owner has a right to their property and to the profit they can generate via paying exploitative wages, and Venezuela still abides that law. It is a contradictory situation, it seems to me. Insofar as you are an advocate of revolution, don't you feel torn at times, by having to obey old laws that you hope to transcend, yet you must defend? 

In the U.S. the education system exists to prepare people to fill slots in society. This means, however, that U.S education readies 80% to passively obey, and readies 20% to administer and otherwise rule. Education in the U.S. is therefore not about developing the talents of all individuals but rather about molding people to fit repressive slots that await them in society. Assuming that this view, typical of all capitalist countries, is abhorrent to you, what alternative ideas regarding the purpose of education are emerging in Venezuela? Are there new structures, for education? What are their features?

What was the literacy campaign? What did attaining literacy mean – for the people who did? How much can they read? How was it accomplished?

Venezuela has not too long ago passed a law attempting to give all high school graduates equal access to higher education. I am not sure I have this correct – but it seems that basically if you graduate high school, and wish to do so, you can go to college, free. This breaks the old system where the colleges were overwhelmingly for the wealthy and professional. Is that the purpose? How is it working out?

You didn’t take over the old universities and public schools as your strategy, but instead created a new Bolivarian University and local literacy missions. What is the difference from the old to the new? What was the strategy in building these new models next to the old failed approaches, but not taking over the whole system directly? Is the strategy working?

In the U.S. the health system like all other parts of the economy, is profit driven. If profits can be enhanced by delivering health, okay – but if they require acts that subvert the health of workers on the job, of communities in neighborhoods, and even of patients in hospitals – that is okay with the profit-seekers too. Assuming this view is abhorrent to you, what alternative health care ideas are being developed in Venezuela? 

What new institutions do you think are needed soon to deal with health care, in Venezuela? 

You didn’t simply take over the old hospitals, etc. But instead created new clinics as a kind of model, almost competing with the old. What is the difference between these new clinics and the old approaches? Is the strategy of offering the new without removing the old succeeding?

What is the new law about responsible parenting?

Why doesn't the government pass a law that both parents should get pre and post natal leave and neither parent can be fired for a year, so employers have no reason to prefer to hire men over women? 

What is the proportion of women playing a role in the Bolivarian government, and is it growing? What are the laws in this regard? What about ministers in the government? What about the five branches of Government?

You recently instituted something called, I believe, “street government.” Could you explain the idea and how it is working out?

Conclusion

Is there anything you would like to add to what we have discussed?

What more can I say – I only hope we can have a President in the U.S., before too long passes, who has views even a little like yours!

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Jim Vee April 4, 2014 3:48 am 

    Did this interview take place?

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