Tag Archives: Chavez

Chavez’s Cops Attack Strikers, Kill 2 Auto Workers

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.

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Veteran PL Farmworker’s Inspiring Stories of Battles in the Fields

LOS ANGELES, CA, August 9 –– After another day of CHALLENGE sales, house visits, and study groups, L.A. Summer Project volunteers took a trip through history when one of the main PL organizers of the migrant worker struggles, Epifanio Camacho, hosted a “carne asada” (BBQ). With the smell of collectively-prepared barbeque in the background and under a large shade tree, PLP volunteers squeezed into Camacho’s yard, many unsure of what to expect.

Camacho began speaking of the political work in Delano of organizing workers, comparing it to birds spreading seeds. In Delano, often workers from Mexico would learn communist politics and then return home where the lessons and politics they learned could one day bear fruit. This is one way that communism spreads around the world. Camacho fielded questions from PL youth and former Delano Project participants alike, opening up discussions that are still echoing through the Summer Project

Camacho spoke about his experiences working with Cesar Chavez, the misleader of the United Farm Workers Union. When asked if he thought Chavez, who would regularly turn workers over to immigration officers and make deals with bosses behind the workers backs, should be given a holiday, he instantly said, “Hell no!” He told stories of how Chavez went on a hunger strike to stop violence against scabs (the bosses canonized him in the media).  Later Camacho told how he and the workers of his town organized a demonstration against the fascist police who were terrorizing and killing workers. The militant demonstration was held in the police station were the workers threatened to burn the station down if they did not stop the fascist attacks. This action chased out the cops –– almost 20 years ago –– and they never came back. His stories were inspirational to everyone.

Just like the work in Delano sent seeds of communist thought through Mexico, so will the L.A. and Seattle Summer Project participants spread the lessons we’re learning and the excitement we’re building through CHALLENGE sales, study groups, and collective living across the country when we return to our home cities.J
(Camacho’s memoirs are on PLP.org)

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Ex-Bishop Fernando Lugo won the presidential elections in Paraguay, ending the 61-year reign of the fascist Colorado Party.  Lugo won with the help of the Patriotic Alliance for Change, including the center-right Liberal Party, center-left parties, as well as several socialist parties including PMAS (Party of the Movement Towards Socialism, Hugo Chavez’ allies) and several social movements of farmers and indigenous groups (including Tekojoja).

Many workers and activists believe that the working class will benefit from this ouster of Colorado. Not true! Lugo’s win signals a change in the style of the oppressor, nothing more. His politics resemble those of Chavez in Venezuela and Lula in Brazil, who have the image of being pro-working class, but are really just another face of the ruling class.  Lugo owes a debt to many capitalist elements among his allies in the Patriotic Alliance for Change and is not likely to be able to even accomplish modest reforms. Face it –– capitalism is bigger than any one candidate, no matter how sincere he or she may be about social change.

It’s the same in the U.S. with Obama, Clinton and McCain. Rather than build illusions in the system, workers and activists should follow the policy of “Don’t Vote! Revolt!”

The big issue that Lugo will take on is renegotiating contracts involving two hydroelectric plants  –– Itaipu (with Brazil) and Yacyreta (with Argentina).  The Paraguayan government receives less than the typical world price for the electricity they sell and  Lugo has promised that the revenue received from better deals with Brazil and Argentina will help fund social programs, including health care. (Dengue and yellow fever are now common in Paraguay). We have seen, however, time after time, that such reform promises rapidly go out the window after a “reformer” is elected, as the ruling capitalist class asserts its needs over those of the masses.
Immediately after winning the election, Lugo spoke with Hugo Chavez and said that he intends to join UNASUR, an economic bloc formed by Chavez. Then he declared his desire to meet with China, signaling an opening to Chinese imperialism to play off against U.S. imperialism and curry favor with his socialist backers in the Patriotic Union for Change. But trading one imperialist for another is not progress!

Paraguay is a geopolitically strategic country finding itself between Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia, while at the same time sitting on top of one of the world’s largest supplies of fresh water –– the Guarani Aquifer. Many large and small imperialists, including Brazil, the U.S., Venezuela, China and the European Union, want a piece of Paraguay’s resources and labor! Instead of playing ball with imperialists, revolutionary workers should break with all politicians and build the PLP, an independent revolutionary communist party that calls for the complete destruction of capitalism.  No deals — Lugo is just another puppet of the capitalists and their elites — Workers must build the PLP and make revolution if the future is going to be bright!

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Deal Averts South American Oil War….For Now

A March 7 Latin-American presidential summit meeting temporarily settled the crisis caused by Colombia’s bombing and subsequent murder by Colombian commandos of Raúl Reyes, a leader of the Colombian FARC guerrilla movement, and others, sleeping inside Ecuador territory. The Presidents of Venezuela (Chávez), Colombia (Uribe) and Ecuador (Correa) shook hands on a deal which Uribe was forced to make (for now) because his attack isolated his government in Latin America (only Bush, McCain, Obama and Hillary Clinton supported this aggression). But the deal didn’t solve the contradictions bringing the three countries to the verge of regional war.

The $5 billion in U.S. aid under Plan Colombia/Patriot (begun under Clinton and continued by Bush) has armed Uribe and the Colombian Army to the teeth. It’s now second to Brazil as the most powerful military in South America. Hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. and Israeli military and intelligence advisors, and private Pentagon mercenaries, are involved. U.S. electronic snooping operating from three bases inside Colombia guided the murder of the FARC guerrillas.

Uribe has become the U.S. rulers’ main ally in the region. While U.S. aid was supposed to fight the drug cartels, Colombia has basically become a narco-death squad state. Dozens from Uribe’s own party are either accused of, or in jail for, their link to the drug-dealing paramilitary death squads. On March 6, marches were held in many Colombian cities, and in other countries, protesting these murderous paramilitary forces.

Colombia is the most dangerous place worldwide for union members. Thousands of workers and others have been killed for trying to organize workers, peasants and youth. U.S. companies — Chiquita Brands, Coca-Cola, Occidental Petroleum, Drummond Mining — have paid these death squads to kill union activists.

Washington’s aid to the Colombian government is basically part of U.S. imperialism’s global war for control of oil supplies. Venezuela is the main target because, along with Mexico, it’s the key Western Hemisphere oil supplier to the U.S. (Ecuador is also an important oil producer, with investments from Chevron-Texaco and Brazil’s Petrobras).

Guillermo Almeyra reported (La Jornada, Mexico, 3/9) Shell Oil’s expectation that oil production by PEMEX (Mexico’s state-owned monopoly) will diminish, so Venezuela’s oil becomes even more important for the U.S. But Chávez is dealing with Russia, China, Iran and India. Exxon Mobil is suing Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA in an international court for not paying enough for its lost Venezuelan oil holdings. This makes Chávez a target for the U.S. oil-war strategy.

Uribe and his U.S. masters don’t like Chávez’s positive international image after he mediated FARC’s release of high-profile hostages. Interestingly enough, France’s president Sarkozy was even planning to meet with the murdered FARC leader in Ecuador to work out the release of Colombia’s former presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, a French citizen. Colombia’s government warned Sarkozy to stay away.

The whole crisis caused much debate in Colombia itself. The bosses and their press pushed nationalism to support war-maker Uribe’s government. PLP members and friends were out advancing our Party’s internationalist revolutionary politics, attacking both Uribe-Bush and the entire capitalist system, describing how the rulers worldwide spill the blood of workers and youth to fight for their oil profits and imperialist allies.

Many believe Chávez and Correa are the best friends workers can have. But Chávez and Correa, after “denouncing” Uribe as a murderer, shook hands with him at the summit meeting.

Preceding this crisis, Chávez attacked “ultra-leftists” in Venezuela who don’t support his policies 100%. One example: workers at Sidor, the country’s biggest steel producer (controlled by Technit, an Argentine company) have been fighting for a contract for over a year, demanding better benefits and wages (they’re among the lowest-paid steel workers in Venezuela). Chávez’s Labor Minister is siding with Sidor bosses as a union-buster and strike-breaker, even though four workers’ general assemblies rejected the Minister’s intervention in their struggle.

PLP must intensify its political activity, offering the communist alternative, the only way out of the capitalist-imperialist hell of oil war, strike-breaking and death squads.

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Chávez Reform Won’t Bring Workers’ Power

CARACAS, VENEZUELA, Nov. 23 — Chanting “Educación Primero para el hijo del obrero; Educación después para el hijo del burgues” (First educate the workers’ children, and only then those of the bourgeoisie), and “Obreros y Estudiantes, Unidos en Combate” (Workers and Students, United in Struggle), tens of thousands of college, high school students and teacher from all 24 states marched to Miraflores, the presidential palace, on Nov. 21 to support President Chávez’s Constitutional Reform referendum scheduled for Dec. 2. It was the biggest youth march in recent history, countering those by right-wing students opposing Chávez’s plans.

The reform has sharpened all the contradictions here. The right-wing opposition says it will establish Chávez as a “communist dictator.” They have used the right-wing students to lead the anti-Chávez attack and are trying to provoke a military coup against him. It’s also sharpened the in-fighting among Chávez’s supporters. General Baudel, his former Defense Minister, has now joined the opposition.

But Chávez’s reform won’t bring in “communism.” It will continue Chávez’s Bolivarian Socialism — state capitalism with lots of privatization.

The U.S. and the local opposition say the reform will enable Chávez to be re-elected forever. Of course, they don’t level this criticism against Egypt’s Mubarak, Pakistan’s Musharraf, Saudi rulers or any other U.S. ally actually in power with no real mass support.

The reform, while making some nationalist changes in the army, won’t change its class nature, and it will still serve the executive power. The National Guard will become a Territorial Guard and will include “Bolivarian people’s militias,” but will still be subordinate to the Army. And the latter’s main pillars will be discipline, obedience and subordination. So basically, soldiers will be ordered to serve the ruling faction.

The reform will facilitate state expropriation of private companies for the “social interest.” But this maintains “just payments” to private owners for their holdings. Recently the government bought Verizon, paying it more than its value on the stock exchange, a good deal for the phone company. This is just a “change” from one form of capitalist property to another. It will guarantee “mixed-capital” ventures like those PDVSA (the state-owned oil company) now has with big international oil corporations — again another form of capitalism.

The reform will institute a 6-hour work-day and “popular councils,” supposedly organs of “people’s power.” But these councils will be limited to the municipal level. They’re similar to Brazilian President Lula’s ruling Labor Party (PT) “reforms.” Its “participatory budget” (as labeled in Brazil) has even been attacked by PT rank-and-filers as government control of the mass movements.

In Venezuela, these “popular councils” will have no power over national policies, the state budget, the PDVSA, the armed forces or the judicial system.

This constitutional reform fight is one about which kind of capitalism will rule Venezuela, not one about destroying capitalism and putting workers in power under a system based on workers’ needs not on profits. It also involves a section of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie wanting a bigger piece of the pie, and not giving the best part to the U.S. imperialists (as the old ruling class did).

Chávez now is making deals with international imperialist companies in China, Russia and even India instead of just with U.S.- or Spanish-owned corporations. (That’s why Spain’s King shut down Chávez during the recent Ibero-American Presidential Summit meeting in Chile). Brazil’s Senate has just approved Venezuela’s full membership in Mercosur (the Brazilian/Argentinean-controlled South American Common Market).

In 1989, Venezuela’s workers and students rebelled with a mass popular uprising (“el Caracazo”) against International Monetary Fund-imposed austerity measures. It was crushed brutally by the then social-democratic President Carlos Pérez, who sent the army to smash it with tanks, killing over 1,000 workers and youth. Afterwards, Chávez and a few other officers, fearing the masses would continue to rebel and eventually topple the whole capitalist system, led a military revolt against the old corrupt ruling class. He was jailed and then released and ran for President in 1999, winning with the support of angry workers and youth.

But revolutionary workers’ power — communism — won’t come from above, from any “savior” trying to reform capitalism, but only through organizing a mass communist-led movement. That movement must be built among the workers and students who have supported Chávez, struggling with them to shatter their illusions in “Bolivarian socialism.”

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