CARACAS, VENEZUELA, February 3 — Chanting “Workers, united, will never be defeated,” and “Punishment for Killer Cops,” over 1,500 workers and community residents marched from the Mitsubishi plant in the city of Barcelona, state of Anzoátegui, to the governor’s house demanding justice for two workers — one from Mitsubishi and the other an auto parts worker — killed by cops on January 29. In that afternoon, a judge came to the Mitsubishi Motors plant to evict the workers who had seized it.
After a January 12 workers’ mass meeting, 863 workers voted to take it over, with only 21 opposed. The workers were demanding permanent jobs for 135 Induservis subcontracted workers, used for maintenance by Mitsubishi.
The state’s pro-Chávez governor, Tarek William Saab, obeyed the company’s demand and sent a judge with cops to evict them. The company also had its supervisory staff “rally” in front of the plant to demand the occupation be ended.
When the workers refused to leave, the cops viciously shot at them, killing two and injuring many others.
This is the second time governor Saab used cops against workers. Before becoming governor, he had made a career of being a “human rights advocate.” Workers should never trust any bourgeois politicians, even if they claim to be pro-worker.
Repression against militant workers is increasing under Chávez’s “Bolivarian Revolution.” On January 22, the National Guard arrested two workers following a protest by 250 workers fired by contractor Costa Norte near Barcelona city.
On December 30, Caracas Metropolitan Police attacked subcontracted workers protesting at the office of the country’s Vice-President, demanding to be rehired by the Sidor steel company. Over 8,000 Sidor workers are still working as subcontractors, even after the government bought a majority share from the Argentine steel company Technit, precisely using the argument that it refused to give all Sidor workers permanent status.
Also in December, two dissident union leaders were killed by hired gunmen in the state of Aragua, provoking a regional general strike on December 2. And the list goes on.
Meanwhile, a February 15 referendum is again confronting Chávez and his Bolivarian bosses, fighting the old pro-U.S. ruling class that has lost most of its political power. The balloting will decide whether Chávez can run for re-election in 2012.
Workers shouldn’t take sides in this dogfight among these capitalist factions. Most hate the old pro-U.S. bosses, remembering how 20 years ago in 1989 Social-Democrat President Carlos Andrés Pérez sent the Army and tanks to crush the mass uprising by workers and shantytown residents of Caracas, rebelling against an IMF-imposed austerity package. Over 1,000 protestors were killed.
The workers’ anger after this massacre gave rise to Chávez. But Chávez’s “Bolivarian nationalism” has revealed its limitations. When oil prices were sky-high, he gave workers some crumbs, but now that the price has tumbled and the world’s capitalist crisis has hit Venezuela like a ton of bricks, Chávez is again trying to make deals with the foreign oil companies he attacked just a year ago.
While posturing as “anti-imperialist,” he’s bargaining with Russian, Chinese, Iranian and European imperialists. He’s now hoping relations with the U.S. will improve, with Obama in power. Just last week, he even signed a trade pact with Colombia’s President Uribe, who he had labeled as a Bush lapdog in Latin America not too long ago.
Workers must shed all illusions in any so-called bourgeois “savior” like Chávez. Some militant workers are demanding the government nationalize some imperialist-owned companies, but as Sidor’s case has shown, state capitalism is no solution. The only road which will lead to workers’ liberation is to forge a revolutionary communist leadership and fight for working-class power.