Monday, August 31, 2009

Notes on the Japanese Elections of 2009

2009 Japanese Elections
2009 Japanese Elections
Decades of increasing poverty, inequality, and insecurity, which created a powerful backlash against the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, finally put an end to Japan's de facto one-party state on 30 August 2009. But the backlash only benefited the social liberal Democratic Party of Japan, which increased its seats from 115 to 308 (the DPJ block now enjoys 322 seats, more than a two-thirds majority). The Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party barely hanged onto the same numbers of seats that they had before the elections: 9 for the CP* and 7 for the SDP. On the face of it, it is not a debacle for the Left like those suffered by Communists in India and Italy in the most recent elections. But, one of the items on the DPJ agenda is a plan to eliminate 80 proportional representation seats, and it just so happens that all the Communist representatives are elected to proportional representation seats.

Why did the Japanese Left fail to advance? Take a look at this video of the 21 August 2009 press conference of JCP Chaiman Shii Kazuo (which comes with English translation), and you'll get a clue.

JCP criticisms of the DPJ agenda are to the point more often than not (which you can see in more detail in 「国民が主人公」の新しい日本を -- 日本共産党の総選挙政策), but those criticisms don't amount to a compelling vision of a new socialist society that the party should be presenting.

The strongest point of the JCP criticisms of the DPJ is that the DPJ will pay for its promise to expand the social safety net, including the formerly excluded, by increasing the taxes on working-class incomes, leveling down the existing structures of entitlements such as pensions toward the new social minimums, decreasing public works and public-sector jobs, and so on, the trade-off that the DPJ will make inevitable given its refusal to tax big businesses and capitalists and to cut military spending.

But, in the process of making this point, the JCP ends up defending the old, such as tax exemptions for dependent spouses (usually housewives), which have discouraged many a woman from seeking full-time jobs since wives earning only part-time incomes (roughly up to 1,300,000 yen) are counted as dependents for the purpose of calculating taxes, insurance and pension contributions and benefits, etc. What's good for working-class families in material terms can be bad for working-class women looking to enhance their gender-bargaining power vis-a-vis men, and the structures of the Japanese welfare state that tacitly assume male family wages, lifetime monogamous marriages, female spousal dependency, etc. are textbook cases of the common class-gender contradiction under capitalism. This contradiction is intensifying as more and more Japanese women are clearly losing interest in marriage and childbearing, powerfully demonstrating their sharp rejection of the old gender settlement and silently erecting a strong demographic obstacle to the old methods of restoring economic growth. The JCP, or any other left-wing current in Japan, needs to offer women -- and young people in general -- a new socialist vision that addresses women as individuals in their own right and creates new networks of social solidarity other than biological families, rather than a maternalist Keynesian vision in which women are tacitly assumed to be, or become, or have been wives and mothers.

The same goes for the JCP's defense of the Peace Constitution. On one hand, any constitutional revision that the DPJ will put on the agenda will likely be one that pushes Japan onto the course that Germany took in the process of the dissolution of Yugoslavia, embarking on humanitarian imperialist adventures of its own, not just as a subordinate member of the US-led coalition of the willing. On the other hand, there is nothing democratic, let alone socialist, about defending the constitution that the occupier wrote for Japan, on which the Japanese people have not been allowed to vote. Socialists must present a new democratic vision for Japan. Why not a constitutional assembly in Japan, to write a new constitution as a step toward 21st century socialism?

* The proportion of the total vote for the Communists, however, registered a slight decline, from 7.25% to 7.03%.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Saving the World's Women"

The entire issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine this weekend is dedicated to the idea of "Saving the World's Women," essentially prompting the reader to blame everything from poverty to terrorism on patriarchal men in the South and to regard aid and philanthropy from the North as the solution. Such an idea is fit only for satire, but the magazine presents it earnestly, as a new idea, as if the world hadn't been through centuries of tandem development of liberal feminism and imperialism.

What little sense of irony in the issue is found in a short piece on the phenomenon of feminist-hawk spam.

The idea of giving aid to "female deliverance" seems to give a lot of liberals of both sexes the same pleasure as the idea of buying aid for "male enhancement" gives to all too many men. The difference is that the former, unlike the latter, is not felt as a guilty pleasure but on the contrary as a righteous one, especially since it's entirely forgotten that, once upon a time, America paid the same type of fundamentalists -- now featured as dark villains in a new literary genre called R2P, which is part Gothic-novel, part captivity-narrative -- to fight a jihad, throwing acid on the faces of women and castrating men who were, or were seen to be, in favor of the Marxist Modern.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Scandal of Privatization in Iran

Probably the worst thing that the Islamic Republic of Iran has done for its working people is to educate its young economists at "the most prestigious Western economics departments." The horror, the horror! It's not the Western fashion in clothing but economics that the IRI should have kept out, but, as Sohrab Behdad has argued, the idea of Islamic economics met its demise soon after its rise -- much like the idea of socialist economics, I may add.

Despite the resurgence of gharbzadegi in its economics, though, hardly any privatization worth its name has been going on in Iran: "a main buyer of government assets over the last decade has been the para-governmental sector, which includes state banks, government-linked investment and holding companies, religious foundations, and pension funds" (Mohammad Khiabani, "The Great Tehran Expo Privatization Scandal You've Never Heard Of").

That is largely thanks to the Western sanctions, I suspect. It is probably also thanks to the political culture of Iran. Get ten Iranians to speak up, and you'll probably get twenty contradictory opinions about how thing are and why they are as they are in Iran, at least about fifteen of which are conspiracy theories. Nothing changes very fast in a country like that.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ahmadinejad to Propose "at Least Three Female Ministers in His New Cabinet"

Reuters reports: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday he would propose at least three female ministers in his new cabinet following Iran's disputed election, an unprecedented move in the conservative Islamic state. . . . It would be the first time a woman would hold a ministerial position in Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution" (Zahra Hosseinian, "Ahmadinejad Plans Female Ministers in Iran Cabinet," 16 August 2009).

Three female cabinet ministers would be more than Iran has ever gotten in its entire modern history, not just in the history of the Islamic Republic. Khatami had only Masoumeh Ebtekar (head of the Environment Protection Organization of Iran) and Zahra Shojaei (head of the Center for Women's Participation) in his cabinet, who were replaced by Fatemeh Javadi and Nasrin Soltankhah respectively in Ahmadinejad's first cabinet. It looks like it's easier to improve Ahmadi's cultural program than reform Khatami-Mousavi-Rafsanjani's economic and foreign policy programs.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Be Fire with Fire

Imperialists are obviously not up to the task when it comes to fighting al Qaeda and its ilk. Nor are international leftists, no matter how many tracts against imperialism and Islamism they publish. I suggest that, more often than not, it takes a mass Islamist organization to liquidate terrorist Islamist cells and neutralize international Islamist jihads: Avi Issacharoff, "Hamas: We Killed Head of Al-Qaida Affiliate in Gaza" (Haaretz, 15 August 2009). "Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire." -- Shakespeare, The Life and Death of King John, Act 5, Scene 1

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mahmoud & Esfandiar's Excellent Adventure

Khanome Yoshie finds Mahmoud & Esfandiar very trippy.

Mahmoud & Esfandiar's Excellent Adventure
MRZine Editor

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, whose daughter is married to a son of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the President's Chief of Staff.  Mr. Mashaei is known for actions that have appalled certain conservative quarters of the Iranian political establishment, such as attending a ceremony in Turkey where women danced and hosting a ceremony in Tehran where women drumming dafs brought out the Qur'an (don't ask me why this is controversial).  He is also known for making such fascinating remarks as the following, according to Etemaad:
  • "The age of Islamism is over.  It's not that Islamism doesn't exist or isn't growing.  Islam exists but its time is up.  The age of horseback riding is over now, though horses exist, and so do riders. . . .  Of course, it isn't completely finished, but it's getting there."
  • "Iran today is a friend of the American and Israeli peoples.  No nation in the world is an enemy of Iran, though, of course, we have enemies, in fact, faced with the most dastardly enemies in the world."
After the controversial 2009 presidential election, the first thing the President of Iran did was to appoint Mr. Mashaei as First Vice President, causing uproar in the aforementioned conservative quarters, which the president initially ignored.  Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Revolution, had to write a letter telling the president to cancel the appointment of Mr. Mashaei, characterizing it as "contrary to your interests as well the interests of the government."  Eventually, Mr. Mashaei was compelled to resign from the post, after more than a week's resistance on the part of the president, who then defied the disapproval of the conservative establishment to appoint Mr. Mashaei to his present post.

Mr. Mashaei is apparently incorrigible, however.  Here's his latest bombshell, according to Etemad-e Melli today: "Of the 24 million Ahmadinejad voters, 20 million are critical of the system.  These 20 million people are even more critical of the system than the 13 million Mousavi voters, since those 13 million only question the Ahmadinejad administration, whereas these 20 million are saying No to all the past years before Ahmadinejad."


Iran's reformist media have assiduously followed Mr. Mashaei's excellent adventure, a few episodes of which have also been briefly carried by some of the Western media.  Both the Western and Iranian-reformist media fail to ask an obvious question, though: is the man who has stood loyally by Mr. Mashaei throughout his wild ideological trip the kind of guy for whom the guardians of the system, lay and clerical, military and civilian, would work in disciplined cooperation to pull off a massive conspiracy for a massively rigged election?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Not getting any play in the Western media, but the struggle in Egypt is incomparably more promising for the advancement of the Left than whatever is going on in Iran: Per Bjorklund, "Egypt's State-Controlled Unions Under Pressure" (10 August 2009); and Per Bjorklund, "Tax Collectors Repeat Historical Sit-in" (11 August 2009).

BTW, have I mentioned that Hossam el-Hamalawy, referenced in Bjorklund's notes above, is very hot (and about four decades younger than Mousavi who is even older than Ahmadi) in case any of you is looking for a cute Middle Eastern youth to back, the fashion in this political season? He's a revolutionary Marxist, too (unlike probably 99.99999% of the Green protesters in Iran, no matter how cute they are) if that means anything to you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Japanese Lesson for the Iranian Left

The wind of populism blows in Japan, in rhetoric if not in policy, raising the hope of finally putting an end to the world's longest-standing one-party state. Alas, the wind has not filled the sail of the Communist Party, but that of the social liberal party on the center left. Still and all, it ought to be an object lesson to leftists in Iran, the only leftists in the world to line up behind a loser upholding an anti-Keynesian banner in the midst of a global economic crisis.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Banks Make $38bn from Overdraft Fees

From the middle of September 2008 till about the end of that year, I, as editor of MRZine, received a flood of submissions on the subject of the "Crisis of Capitalism" from assorted leftists. That genre of submissions has virtually disappeared, as it became clear to all, even leftists, that -- given the ruling-class alacrity in solving their collective action problem and the working-class difficulty in solving ours -- this is not a crisis of the capitalist class but a crisis of the working class, which is apparently not as exciting a topic for leftists as the idea of the Crisis of Capitalism.

The biggest international news this year so far has been the Israeli bombing of Gaza and the electoral dispute in Iran, which has even eclipsed the first successful military coup d'etat in South America since the end of the Cold War, let alone a little matter of bailed-out banks' ill-gotten gains: e.g., Saskia Scholtes and Francesco Guerrera, "Banks Make $38bn from Overdraft Fees" (Financial Times, 10 August 2009). I suspect a nefarious Zionist-Islamist conspiracy to try to hoodwink international leftists.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Imagining a New Political Majority in Iran

The change that has come to Iran since the end of the Iran-Iraq War is more or less in line with the kind of change that has come to much of the rest of the world (though each nation's change is of course inflected with its own peculiar material and cultural conditions before the beginning of the neoliberal regime of accumulation): a package that combines economic liberalization, cultural liberalization, and political liberalization.

That is not a desirable package, from the point of view of historical materialism, though liberals are happy with it and social democrats adjust themselves to it.

In theory, it should not be impossible to construct a new political majority in Iran taking supporters from both the Ahmadinejad/Khamenei camp and the Rafsanjani/Mousavi/Khatami camp, under a program that puts premium on resistance to economic liberalization, creates space for "rooted cosmopolitan" culture, and develops a strategy to deepen democracy, empowering directly elected leaders (the presidency and the parliament) to eclipse indirectly elected leaders (the Leader and the Guardian Council) as well as promoting democratic participation and political education of the popular classes. But I have yet to see any social force in Iran proposing anything like that.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Truth and Reconciliation for Iran

The following is an extremely good and timely statement, signed by Iranian patriots, some of whom have taken one side or the other regarding the presidential election and post-election conflicts, and others of whom have taken a neutral stand on them. I encourage non-Iranian leftists to support this attempt and others like it.

Truth and Reconciliation for Iran

We are a group of university educators and antiwar activists with diverse political views who are based in Europe and North America. During the past few years we have been active in defending Iran's national rights -- particularly those relating to the peaceful use of nuclear energy -- against the pervasive deception created by western and Israeli-influenced media and official statements. We have consistently taken a stand against the policies of the United States and its allies, including the improper submission of Iran's nuclear file to the United Nations security council, the imposition of sanction resolutions against Iran, covert destabilisation inside the country and repeated threats of military intervention and bombing of nuclear centres on the part of US and Israel.

At the same time, we have advocated the human rights of individuals and democratic rights for various groups and constituencies in Iran. We have emphasised that the guarantee of such rights is necessary not only for Iran's social and political advancement, but also for the vital unity of our people against foreign pressures.

In the current post-election crisis, we see it as our duty to share our views based on years of defending Iran's national rights, and to help develop realistic solutions for the benefit of all our compatriots of whatever political persuasion.

The background to the current situation is the longstanding belligerent policies of the US and its allies, encouraged by the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby, which peaked during eight years of Republican rule in the White House. Despite President Khatami's conciliatory approach, exemplified by his promotion of "Dialogue Among Civilisations", and despite Iran's co-operation in the overthrow of the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, the administration of George W Bush labelled the Islamic Republic a member of the "axis of evil". Following the illegal invasion of Iraq, Bush pushed for regime change in Iran. These provocative and confrontational policies played a key role in the defeat of Iranian reformists in the parliamentary elections of 2003 and the presidential election of 2005.

During the past four years, a whole series of policies have targeted Iran's right to produce nuclear fuel for peaceful energy, including illegitimate UN/US sanctions, repeated implicit and overt threats of military attack by the United States and Israel, overt and covert well-funded US destabilisation operations, and aid to terrorist forces seeking to overthrow the government of Iran. These policies have created fears of an externally-instigated "velvet revolution" in the leadership ranks of the Islamic Republic. These fears were used to justify restrictions of civil and political freedoms promoted by the reformist administration of Khatami and, as a result, civil society and non-governmental organisations suffered a setback.

According to critics, these social and political pressures, along with government mismanagement caused by the removal of competent technocrats, have negatively impacted the public interest and put enormous pressure on the middle class, the educated class, journalists and artists. These people must be allowed a more open and free environment in order to fulfil their instrumental roles in service of the country.

On the external front, the Obama administration, facing neoconservative pressure and keeping many of his predecessor's policies against Iran, has nevertheless declared its readiness for unconditional negotiations with Iran. He has for the first time referred to Iran as the "Islamic Republic" and indicated that he is not pursuing regime change in Iran. Furthermore, shortly before the Iranian elections, in a first for an American president, Obama admitted the role of his country in the 1953 coup that overthrew the democratically elected prime minister Muhammad Mossadegh. These changes in US politics have created room for active and constructive diplomacy for the purpose of solving conflicts and disagreements between Iran and the United States, and for creating a nuclear-free Middle East.

This year, there was in Iran a record level of participation in the elections, unprecedented television debates and, most important of all, widespread participation in election campaigns. Despite some restrictions, the elections took place in an overall constructive climate, perhaps making Iran a model democracy among Islamic nations of the region. A day before the elections, Senator John Kerry, a key US statesman, was so impressed that he dismissed as "ridiculous" Bush's policy of denying Iran peaceful nuclear energy, which in itself exposes the baseless nuclear accusations levelled against Iran and proves the illegitimacy of security council resolutions against Iran.

However, in the view of a considerable number of Iranians who are discontented and frustrated with the restrictions on civil and political freedoms, there were various irregularities in the elections, including the suspension of reformist newspapers and mobile telephone SMS service on election day. This caused mass public demonstrations in support of nullifying the election. The unrest has created a major rift between the supporters of Ahmadinejad, who deem Iran's national sovereignty to be of the highest priority, and the supporters of the two reform candidates Karroubi and Mousavi, who demand increased civil and political freedoms above all.

Each of these two major wings of the body politic includes millions of people and both play a vital role in Iran's progress. The rift between these two must heal in an environment of calm, without agitation and mudslinging, for the sake of Iran's future. This healing must be pursued through the path of constructive dialogue and reconciliation, so that the unity of our people for safeguarding national rights can be achieved.

Unfortunately, a large number of our protesting fellow countrymen have been attacked and injured and even more regrettably, a significant number of them have been killed. Also, a large group of reformist activists and leaders have been arrested and imprisoned after the elections.

Both Mousavi and Karroubi have stressed that all protests must remain within the law. Following the request of the reformist and Green leaders, almost all protesters rallied completely peacefully, and in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, condemned all types of violence, calling the Basijis and Revolutionary Guards their own brothers. Extremist elements who used the opportunity to create chaos and engaged in the destruction of public property were condemned by Mousavi.

The western media, by their one-sided coverage of the post-election developments, portrayed the street demonstrations protesting the election results as the start of a "velvet" revolution against the Islamic Republic. Regime-change advocates also tried to piggy-back on the protests outside Iran for their own purposes. The British government, which claims to follow a policy of non-interference in Iran's internal affairs, did its part by confiscating nearly £1bn of Iranian assets. To make matters worse, the neoconservatives demanded a re-evaluation of the Obama administration's policy of unconditional negotiations with Iran. The US state department also used this crisis to justify its continuation of Bush-era policies of financing anti-Iranian government organisations for the purposes of "spreading democracy, human rights and a government of law and order". For "security reasons" they refused to release the identities of the recipients of the funds. The Iranian government, for their part, deported two British diplomats, accusing them of interference in Iranian affairs and pointing to western governments as the root of the post-election unrest.

Whatever the role of the western media, governments, and regime change forces, it cannot detract from the legitimacy of the massively popular protests. In fact, Mousavi has emphasised his complete loyalty to the Islamic Republic and admonished his supporters abroad to stay away from the anti-Islamic Republic groups. To attribute the roots of the demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Iranians to external interference or to regime-change groups amounts to questioning the independence of the country which has been gained and consolidated by the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands.

In the opinion of millions of Iranians, the current crisis has been caused by restrictions on political freedoms, particularly freedom of the press, economic discontent, and deficiencies in transparency and accountability on the part of government institutions. Although these issues have been aggravated by the US political, military and economic encirclement and the CIA's destabilisation programmes, in the view of this segment of society the problems are ultimately rooted in the government's own policies. After their unprecedented participation in the elections, millions of Iranians have lost their confidence in the system. Awareness of this reality was expressed by the speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani, who indicated on live national television that some members of the Guardian Council openly supported a certain candidate, instead of being neutral during the investigation of the election complaints. He also added that the large segments of society who distrust the declared election results should not be regarded in the same manner as the rioters.

On the basis of the above assessment, and in the interest of resolving the present crisis, we direct all officials and fellow countrymen to the following proposals:

1) Arrests and assaults of reformist and Green movement activists and any use of deadly weapons against the protesters are against the national interest and must be stopped and condemned by the authorities. Of the government of the Islamic Republic, we demand, in accordance with the constitution and for the preservation of national unity, that it release the reformist leaders from detention and observe freedom of the press and other civil rights. Iranian state television and radio must provide time to the protesters to express their views. Permits for nonviolent assembly must be given to the protesters. The government must guarantee the safety of the demonstrators against any violence and those responsible for battering and murdering students and demonstrators must be identified and prosecuted.

2) The current division among the people that separates government supporters and dissenters, under conditions of economic, military and political encirclement, must be reconciled with calm and patient negotiations and reasoning, by condemning any kind of violence and by renouncing name-calling and inflammatory rhetoric. We call on the political forces of both sides to move toward building such a constructive climate and toward creation of an economic, political, and cultural agenda that can respond to all social needs.

3) Of the government of the Islamic Republic, we request that in view of the distrust on the part of a great segment of the country's population, it form an independent truth and national reconciliation commission with representation from all candidates, such that it can gain the trust of the people of Iran and find a reasonable solution for the conflict. The votes of a great portion of the Iranian society for both Ahmadinejad and Mousavi show that the best solution is negotiations for reconciliation and creation of a government of national unity from the ranks of Principalists and the Green movement and reformists. With a comprehensive programme based on Iran's national rights and on people's civil rights, such a government of national unity must address the current challenges facing the country and mobilise in an effective way the totality of human resources and expertise for national development.

4) Of western governments, we request that they cease any and all interference in Iranian affairs and end all their illegitimate economic, political and military pressures aimed at the internal destabilisation of Iran. They need to cease any support for the anti-Islamic Republic opposition and lift the economic and scientific sanctions. The Obama administration should emphasise unconditional negotiations and take steps toward creating a nuclear weapons-free Middle East. Only under these conditions, without any foreign threats, can the Iranian people reach their aspirations of freedom and establish their unity in a framework of independence and national sovereignty.

5) To the leaders of the reformists and the Green movement, we suggest that in order to prevent exploitation of the current crisis by western propaganda and opportunist groups, they unambiguously oppose all sanctions and condemn regime change operations and any foreign support for the anti-Islamic Republic opposition.


Dr Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, SOAS, University of London
Professor the Baroness Afshar, York University
Mojtaba Aghamohammadi, researcher, University of Arizona
Professor Mohammad Ala, Persian Gulf Task Force
Esfandiar Bakhtiar, Georgia Institute of Technology
Professor Abbas Edalat, Imperial College London
Javad Fakharzadeh, Iran Heritage
Dr Farideh Farhi, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Massy Homayouni, independent antiwar activist
Dr Mehri Honarbin-Holliday, Canterbury Christ Church University
Mojgan Janani, independent antiwar activist
Mohammad Kamaali, Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran
Fareed Marjaee, writer and democracy activist
Masoud Modarres, independent activist
Professor Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh, Tarbiyat Modarres University
Daniel Pourkesali, Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran
Rostam Pourzal, Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran
Dr Mohammad Purqurian,
Manijeh Saba, independent human rights activist
Professor Mehdi Shariati, Kansas College
Professor Nader Sadeghi, George Washington University Hospital
Shirin Saeidi, University of Cambridge
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, independent antiwar activist
Reza Shirazi, Goftogoo TV
Safa Shoaee, Imperial College London
Saeed Soltanpour, Iranian TV Canada
Dr Alireza Rabi, Middle-East Citizens Assembly
Dr Elaheh Rostami, SOAS, University of London
Professor Rahmat Tavakol, Rutgers University
Professor Farzin Vahdat, Harvard University
Leila Zand, Fellowship of Reconciliation

Mark Weisbrot: It's Time for Latin America to Take Charge

Regrettably, so far there has been no large protest in the US to pressure the USG to reverse the coup in Honduras. Such protests as have happened in the US on this issue appear to have been even smaller than the Iranian Green protests in the US, which have largely consisted of Iranian immigrants of various political persuasions, from leftists to liberals to monarchists and the Iranian Mojahedin (from which most non-Iranian leftists, including vocal Green Movement supporters, have abstained). There is such an immense political vacuum on the US front in the struggle against the Honduran coup that Mark Weisbrot now suggests that the solution has to come from Latin America, without the US: Mark Weisbrot, "U.S.-Brokered Mediation Has Failed -- It's Time for Latin America to Take Charge" (MRZine, 31 July 2009). This shouldn't be impossible, as long as Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, the key powers, act forcefully, 100% united with El Salvador and Nicaragua, as well as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.