[Marxism] UNT elections (formerly oral fiction...)

michael a. lebowitz mlebowit at sfu.ca
Wed Aug 10 16:30:39 MDT 2005

David writes

>I happily stand corrected! Michael, however, it would be good if you
>could continue to shed light on the nuances and goings on inside the
>UNT. For example, you point to the fact that the UNT has never had an
>election...it's also never had a Congress as far as I can tell
>outside it's founding meeting. I know that as part of the bosses/CTV/
>NED complaint against the UNT at the ILO, the lack of elections and/
>or congress to elect a leadership was a major weapon the CTV/NED
>types were using. Do you *why* they haven't had an election?

         A very good question. I think it is a combination of many 
things which reflect the work in progress. Firstly, there is the way 
in which Vzla has lurched from crisis to crisis to opportunity. The 
referendum campaign, the referendum, the elections for governors and 
mayors--- everything stops for those things, and they should. 
Secondly, there were the very deep divisions within UNT itself which 
broke out into open public attacks and which seemed to taper off only 
after a fortuitous meeting and talk in Brazil between Marcela Maspero 
and Ramon Machuca; the divisions remain but public attacks aren't 
happening at the UNT leadership level at this time (but Machuca is 
being strongly attacked as a traitor, etc by a local FBT faction at 
this time). Again, it was important to try to mend these divisions. 
Thirdly, no one seems to be really focused on internal UNT elections 
right now as far as I can see. One of the UNT leaders came back from 
the ILO meetings and was dismayed to learn that the momentum for a 
fall election as planned had disappeared--- ie., there had been no 
progress while this leader was away. Why? Well, as far as I can see, 
some of the UNT leaders have been very busy in their own unions (with 
contracts, problems, etc) and others are involved in campaigns and 
struggles (eg., new party, cogestion battles, new initiatives--- eg., 
ran into one leader a few days back and he was campaigning to have 
1000 Venezuelan workers go to learn the ship-building trade in 
Argentina as part of the tanker construction deal between Vzla and 
Argentina). It occurs to me (as I write) that in fact all the 
pressure at this point for a UNT election is external--- ILO, maybe 
even Ministry of Labour; i.e., although not a structured and 
hierarchical labour federation, in fact UNT is functioning well at 
the moment as a movement with a collective leadership composed of 
union leaders. I'll have to try out this idea on a few people, though.
         in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
Residencias Anauco Suites
Departamento 601
Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
Caracas, Venezuela
(58-212) 573-4111
fax: (58-212) 573-7724

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