[Marxism] Chavez orders investigation into killings of unionists, calls for expropriation of companies at issue

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Dec 3 09:29:17 MST 2008


Venezuela: President Chavez orders investigation into killing of trade
unionists, calls for expropriation of companies

By Jorge Martín 
Tuesday, 02 December 2008

Speaking during the swearing in of the newly elected PSUV governor of
Aragua, Rafael Isea, Venezuelan president Chávez ordered a full
investigation into the killing of three trade union leaders in the state and
threatened to nationalise any companies which violate workers' rights.

He insisted that "no crime should be left unpunished, neither this one nor
any other one" and explained that the killings of trade union leaders
Richard Gallardo, Carlos Requena and Luis Hernandez were an action of
sicariato, a political assassination.

Referring to the Colombian owned dairy plant Alpina, he said "a certain
company needs to be investigated. It is a foreign-owned company where they
were fighting against the attacks of the company. I have ordered an
investigation into the actions of this company." He added, "because there
are companies in other parts of the world which have even used contract
killings against workers' and peasant leaders, and now they want to bring
these practices here. We cannot allow this in Venezuela! And we must fight
strongly against it."

In a reference to the use of the Aragua police force against the workers by
the former opposition governor Didalco Bolivar he said: "Isea, you have all
my support to radically transform the police and the security forces of the
Aragua state"

Later on in the same speech, Chavez mentioned the social and economic
conflicts in Aragua and asked to be updated about the struggle of the
Sanitarios Maracay workers. "All those companies where there are problems
with the workers, where workers are not paid their wages, where the
employers exploit the workers, or where a company closes down and does not
pay its workers, or where it has become indebted and cannot pay its workers,
well, they have to be recovered, nationalised, taken over". Adding "this is
what socialism is, the social ownership of the means of production".

President Chávez also stressed that in this (the take over and
nationalisation of companies), "the working class has a key role to play"
and made an appeal to the "workers of Aragua, the working class".

This is not the first time that Chavez makes a clear appeal to the working
class to take over factories to be nationalised. However in the past, the
leaders of the UNT trade unions (either because they oppose workers' control
or because of a sectarian approach towards the government) had not used this
opportunity to launch a serious campaign of factory occupations and a
nation-wide struggle for workers' control.

Only one organisation in Venezuela, the Revolutionary Front of Occupied
Factories (Freteco) has made an effort to put these appeals into practice,
but with limited forces. In some cases, like the struggle of Sanitarios
Maracay, in Aragua, the workers did occupy the factory and actually started
producing under workers' control. But the then Minister of Labour Ramon
Rivero publicly refused to nationalise the company and sabotaged the
struggle of the workers. The different wings in the leadership of the UNT
also played a dreadful role in this struggle, some openly supporting the
strike breaking role of the Minister of Labour, others (like Orlando
Chirino) opposing the idea of nationalisation under workers' control and
even proposing that the workers should negotiate with a different set of
capitalist owners.

The struggle of the workers' at Sanitarios Maracay encapsulates the main
problems of the Venezuelan revolution: the sabotage of the right wing
bureaucracy in the leadership of the Bolivarian movement, the fact that the
old capitalist state apparatus is still in place and was used against the
workers, and the lack of a serious alternative at the head of the workers'

All this is in contrast with the revolutionary spirit of struggle of the
Venezuelan workers, which in the early hours of Tuesday, December 2nd,
organised mass workplace meetings, rallies, road blockades and work
stoppages in Aragua, as part of the regional day of protest against the
killing of the three trade union leaders. The first reports of the protests
talk about workers in the following companies being involved: Produvisa,
Cervecería Regional, Vasos Selva, Cativen, Remavenca, HV Envases, Industrias
Iberia, Alconca, Plumrose, Titán, Diablitos Underwood, Pepsio-Cola,
Toronocas, Venezolana de Riego, Serviquim, Sindicato de la Alcaldía del
municipio Zamora, Nestlé, Vasos Dixie, Tupaca, Manpa Higiénico, Sanitarios
Maracay, Mom, Aluminios Reynolds, Galletera Puig, Central El Palmar, Cebra,
Inica. Rallies and road blockades were organised in Villa de Cura, Cagua and
Maracay, paralysing the whole of the state.

The only way to put an end to the reactionary provocations and killings is
by taking away economic and political power from the bosses, the bankers and
the landlords. This is the task of the working class of Venezuela and the
only way to guarantee the victory of the Bolivarian revolution.

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