Sunday, May 03, 2009

This is another item that has been all over the "anarcho-net". I have chosen to reprint the version in the Polish anarchism news service Centrum Informacji Anarchistczej . The original source is the Venezuelan anarchist magazine El Libertario.
The following is about yet another case of the so-called socialist government of Venezuela versus the workers of that country. To say the least this comes as no surprise to Molly, as she is very doubtful of the "good intentions" of a new ruling class such as the 'Boli Bourgeoise' (as they are called in Venezuela) whatever their ideological pronouncements. Self interest tends to weigh very heavy in the scale. The situation described below will undoubtedly reoccur time after time in the future, barring the end of the Peronist Chavez regime. The word "Peronist" is important in the previous sentence. Without going off the ideological deep end in describing the present regime in Venezuela as "fascist" it is very important to note that this regime stands in a long line of dirigiste populist movements in Latin America, of which the Peronist regime in Argentina was the original model, regimes that use the rhetoric of "popular power" to actually undermine any real attempt at such.

In the end the "class struggle" in such countries as Peron's Argentina and Chavez's Venezuela comes down to a struggle between the ideals that such regimes evoke and the self interest of the new ruling class. History has said that the new ruling class usually wins such encounters, but this is not inevitable. Good luck to the Venezuelan anarchists who try and push the ideas of liberty and equality beyond what the leftists in government will allow.

Venezuela: El Libertario warns of possible sentence to the 14 SIDOR
After taking part in a demonstration for lack of job security in 2006, 14 workers of contractor “Transportes Camila de SIDOR” could be sentenced to 5 to 10 years in jail.

In 05 September 2006 a group of workers and union leaders staged a protest against the carrier Camila, a contractor to SIDOR (Siderurgic of the Orinoco), the principal steel core business located in Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar state, in Venezuela. The workers were protesting the failure to pay wages, and maintain health and safety, as well as the lack of tools to accomplish their work. The protest was endorsed by Readers of the “Sindicato Único de Trabajadores Siderúrgicos y Similares" (Sutiss, the SIDOR`s union), stopping the equipment whose breakdowns and lack of maintenance represented a threat to the integrity of the workers, following the safety procedures in the labor standards. The employers turned to the regional authorities, getting the Public Ministry to issue an arrest warrant against three syndical leaders and a group of workers by the National Guard, which resulted in a protest by workers of the steel mill.

In this way were arrested Leonel Grisette, a member of the Commission who represents 50% workers and 50% of employers on Sutiss; Juan Valor, Secretary of Press and Propaganda, and Jhoel Hernández, Secretary of Culture and Sports of that union. The charges against them were qualified misappropriation and restricting the freedom to work. A trial started for acts defined as crimes after the reform of the Venezuelan Penal Code (Articles 358 to 363) in 2005, and the promulgation of the Organic Law of National Security (Article 56) in 2002: both approved during the Bolivarian government and harmful to the right to strike. The three union leaders, along with 11 workers, 14 of Sidor, have been subjected since 2006 to court procedures, while the trial will end on Wednesday April 29 2009, with the possibility of a sentence of between 5 and 10 years in prison.

Remember that SIDOR was nationalized by President Hugo Chávez in April 2008, following the revocation of the contract with the Argentina transnational Techint. However, a year later, estate control has not meant an improvement in the quality of life of the workers. Speaking to “El Libertario”, Leonel Grisette said "It is not true that outsourcing has been eliminated and working conditions of the flexible workers are such that they cause accidents in 4 to 1 ratio with respect to the other workers. Collective bargaining is frozen, and despite the absence of technical safety workers as required by law, we are forced to work under irregular conditions". Moreover, nationalization has neutralized the current board of Sutiss, which has abandoned the 14 workers on trial, so they had to pay out of their own pockets the fees for their counsel, which add up to 100 million bolivars (over $ 44,000).

Human rights and labor organizations have been denouncing the criminalization of protest in Venezuela, as well as the enactment of laws to restrict the legal right to strike, such as the requirements to present themselves in court and the threat of application of the Code Criminal Law and Security of the Nation. For anarchists the legal architecture of repression is part of the government offensive to end the belligerent autonomy of social organizations, with the excuse of fighting coups d'etat and under the rhetorical mask of Bolivarian Socialism, whose consequences are suffered by the people. Although the syndical organizations split and biased within the inter-bourgeois confrontation that has occurred in the country in recent years- do not keep statistics on cases similar to the 14 SIDOR, workers in the states of Carabobo, Aragua, Miranda and Tachira have been subject to presenting themselves in the courts. In this sense statements by the peasant movement Jirajara, located in the state of Yaracuy have counted 103 cases of peasants who after participating in protests and land occupations, have been referred to the courts. For the union activists of the 14 of SIDOR, these procedures are designed to decapitate the militant labor movement, so the possible penalty of 5 or 10 years imprisonment is a warning to other activists and advocates for labor and social rights.
Rights of the people.
Historically the libertarians have argued that the people will not feel better if the stick who beats them bears the name of stick e alert the base organizations and collectives of Venezuela and of the world about the potential sentence against the 14 SIDOR. As anarchists members of El Libertario we stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan workers struggling for their rights, we support militant, honest and autonomous unions and will continue to denounce the contradictions of an authoritarian government at the service of the interests of globalized capitalism in the struggle for a self-managed and revolutionary grass-roots alternative preferable to the false polarization which exists in our country.
Molly knows very intuitively about where to throw her support in situations such as these. Not that the present dictator of Venezuela equals Stalin in either power or insanity, though there is litttle doubt that Chavez is insane what with his illusions/reality of power. That is the whole point. Efforts at self management will rise and fall depending on who the caudillo favours "this week". Who knows what he will say even seven days from now. Maybe he will do a Khadaffi and change his allegiance overnight. It is actually possible that the leftist authoritarian state of Venezuela "switches sides" without any public debate before hand. Maybe this may be all to the good. A so-called 'democratic" vote in Venezuela is automatically a vote for a certain FACTION OF THE MILITARY, and it is automatically a farce. Does this have any relevance up here in Canada ? Maybe yes. Maybe no.
If nothing else this situation should give at least anarchists pause about "supporting" half assed Marxist regimes in the future, as if such "support" makes, any difference whatsoever. To be honest it actually has an effect-domestically. The more you are willing to lie about other countries, and glorify them the less people in our own country should trust you. If you are apologetic for dictatorship "A" in one part of the world, then it is "inevitable" that you will be in favour of dictatorship in other situations.

El Libertario
(in Spanish, English & others languages)
Caracas, April 27 2009.

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