[permaculture] Venezuela need Help

Kirby Fry peace at totalaccess.net
Wed Jan 8 10:25:28 EST 2003

Hi All,

I've been following the crisis in Venezuela closely.  The US mainstream
media NEVER mentions why the oil workers are striking.  Why would upper and
upper-middle-class workers be striking?  Sounds pretty bizarre to me.  Check
out the story from ZNet pasted below.

It's time to rally behind Hugo Chavez, Lula de Silva in Brasil and Fidel
Castro.  These are the leaders in the West who hold human dignity up above
corporate profits!

Check out other stories re: Venezuela on Democracy Now!  The link is in my
signature block.

Kirby Fry

For the real scoop on environmental and social justice issues check out the
archives of Democracy Now!

ZNet Commentary
Of "Lungos" And "Senoritos" A Colombian View Of Venezuela January 02, 2003
By Hector Mondragon

At the petroleum refinery of Barrancabermeja the workers who
  are consigned to hard manual labour are called 'lungos'.
  There are a lot of them and they earn very little.  They are
  almost all temporary labourers and they live in the poor
  neighbourhoods.  When the 'lungos' go on strike, technology
  guarantees that production doesn't totally stop-so even when
  the majority of the workers are united in protest, if they
  can't actually stop the plant from functioning, the
  engineers, supervisors, and managers can keep the refinery
  going under 'contingency plans'.

  Right now the oil-workers union of Colombia, USO (Union
  Sindical Obrera), is getting ready to go on strike in
  response to the Uribe government's offensive.  That offensive
  is headed by Isaac Yanovich, a businessman from the private
  banking sector who has been named president of the state oil
  company.  The workers, who struggled and won the creation of
  a national oil company (Ecopetrol), have resisted its
  privatization for the past 25 years.  They have paid a
  terrible price for their resistance: 100 union leaders and
  activists assassinated (4 during 2002, which saw 160
  Colombian unionists killed), 2 disappeared, 10 kidnapped, 31
  imprisoned (6 of whom are still in prison), and 250 fired (11
  of whom were fired just a few days ago).

  It is in such difficult conditions that the Colombian
  oil-workers are preparing their strike for the beginning of
  2003.  The victory of their movement will depend on their
  ability to halt production.  For this reason the union and
  the government are both putting forth massive efforts to win
  the engineers and supervisors to their side.  If the union is
  unable to win these over, the workers will have no option but
  to occupy the plant. This will mean that they will face
  military repression like they did in 1971.  In that year, as
  workers in the union remember well, worker Fermin Amaya was
  murdered as he was about to stop production at the Barranca

  Next door in Venezuela, the world is flipped entirely upside
  down.  There, the 'lungos' are working intensely while the
  call to strike is followed with fervour and without
  hesitation by the managers.  On December 2 the managerial
  body of Venezuela's state oil company, PDV (Petroleros de
  Venezuela), blocked the entrance to the refinery and used
  their vehicles to stop the workers, the 'lungos'-who had
  showed up to work in massive
  numbers-- from entering.  The same managerial body was joined
  by the executive of labour relations in its attempts to bar
  the entry of workers.

  But the real strength of the strike in Venezuela has been in
  the computers that control the giant and highly automated
  petroleum industry.  Even though the PDV is nominally
  state-owned and run, the computer system is in the hands of
  the 'mixed' (public-private) enterprise Intesa.  The party
  with the technical skill in the partnership is the Science
  Applications International Corporation (SAIC)-a transnational
  computing company.  Among its directors: ex-US Secretaries of
  Defense William Perry and Melvin Laird; ex-directors of the
  CIA John Deutsch, Robert Gates; Admiral Bobby Ray Inman
  (ex-director of the National Security Agency); other retired
  military staff including Wayne Downing (former commander in
  chief of US Special Forces) and Jasper Welch (ex-coordinator
  of the National Security Council).

  The hold-up of the oil-tankers was directed from these
  computing centers. The hold-up was welcomed by various
  captains, but the tankers were forced to shore in any case:
  nothing moves without direction from the computers, which
  also stopped key operations in the refineries and the entry
  of vital gas for the iron and steel industries of eastern
  Venezuela.  'Lungos' from Guayana had to recover the gas.

  The high salaries, privileges, and commissions of the
  managers, labour relations chiefs, systems engineers, and
  tanker captains has become a useful weapon of political
  control for the transnational corporations who seek to
  privatize Venezuela's (and Colombia's, Ecuador's, and
  Brazil's) petrol industry.

  This 'middle' class with its disposable income is the
  political base of the right in Colombia and Venezuela (and
  its heroes are Bush, Aznar, or Berlusconi).  It is the
  electoral force behind Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe
  Velez and behind the coup in Venezuela.  Washington uses the
  mailed fist in Colombia and the velvet glove in Venezuela,
  but in both cases its local support is from these 'middle'
  classes who, like Bush himself, are too deaf to hear of the
  assassinations of unionists in Colombia but scream in rage if
  a hair on the head of a manager or oil-tanker captain in
  Venezuela is touched; who are quiet when 2 million Colombians
  are displaced from their lands but enraged by the Venezuelan
  Land Law when it threatens the unproductive ranches of large
  Venezuelan landowners.

  On September 16 2002, Colombian peasants were treated cruelly
  for their protests on the highways.  Their food was burned.
  They were denied drinking water.  They were surrounded by the
  military and their leaders were arrested. 3 were disappeared.
   International delegates were deported. 7 of the protest
  leaders have since been assassinated, one disappeared, and
  many others harassed and threatened with murder.  They stand
  accused-of blocking the roads.  In Venezuela on the other
  hand, the 'middle' and upper classes blocked roads with their
  Mercedes Benz and BMWs, and their rights were respected.

  In Cali, Colombia, the public service workers have been
  protesting privatization.  The young workers of the
  apprentices' union have been protesting to maintain state
  control over the apprenticeship institution, SENA.  Both
  sectors have been incessantly, brutally attacked and the
  international media have nothing to say.  The media are
  silent as well on the daily confrontations on the Caribbean
  coast of Colombia when the privatized electricity company
  tries to cut electricity to thousands of indebted, poor
  people.  Neither popular protest nor state repression make
  the international news if they occur in Colombia which, to
  the media, is a land strictly of terrorism and drugs.

  The 'middle' class ought to watch out though-sometimes it can
  end up the victim of its own heroes, whether they be
  politicians like Bush or the mainstream media itself.  That
  was what happened with the 'corralito' in Argentina, when the
  whole country-including the 'middle class'-mobilized against
  the banks and were denounced for it in the media.

  Until this happen the 'senoritos' in wealthy eastern Caracas,
  in the Chico of Bogota and of Miami, will be the darlings of
  the media.

  Hector Mondragon is an economist and activist in Colombia.
  [This article was translated from Spanish by Justin Podur.]

More information about the permaculture mailing list