Venezuela union leader Ruben Gonzalez jailed for strike

BBC News, 28 February 2011 //

A prominent trade union leader in Venezuela has been jailed for seven years over a strike in 2009 at the state iron ore mining company.

Ruben Gonzalez was convicted of crimes including unlawful assembly, incitement, and violating a government security zone.

Mr Gonzalez, a former supporter of President Hugo Chavez, has accused the government of criminalising protest in Venezuela.

His lawyers say they will appeal.

Workers gathered outside the court to support his case reacted with shock to the verdict.

The strike over unpaid wages in August 2009 paralysed operations at the state iron ore company Ferrominera Orinoco for two weeks.

There were also protests outside the state iron foundry in Ciudad Guyana.

Opposition parties and some human rights groups have accused President Chavez of denying workers in state-owned industries the right to strike.

Reports that Hugo Chavez tempers his support for Gaddafi

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said he supports the government of fellow OPEC member Libya but shied away from defending his friend Muammar Gaddafi, whose troops diplomats and Libyans say have shot protesters.

Chavez said he had not been able to talk with Gaddafi and could only rely on media reports he suspected of being biased for information about events in the North African country.

“I can’t say that I support, or am in favour, or applaud all the decisions taken by any friend of mine in any part of the world, no, one is at a distance. But we do support the government of Libya,” Chavez said late on Friday during a cabinet meeting. Continue reading

Hugo Chávez declares his support for Muammar Gaddafi

[On Thursday, February 24, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez declared his support for his fellow petrodollar populist and social democratic nationalist, Muammar Gaddafi.  With this declaration, a controversy and debate among supporters of Venezuela and more broadly among “Third World Marxists” has opened up.  And Chavez’ encouragement and support for Gaddafi has undoubtedly prolonged and intensified the attacks on Libya’s rebellious and revolutionary people.

Revolutionary and anti-imperialist people everywhere are challenged by these events, and are struggling to understand how the people’s movement for national independence a half-century ago became dominated and controlled by such a powerful bourgeois figure as Gaddafi, who in the last decade has proven to be an imperialist tool and an enemy of the people.
Victory to the people of Libya!  Down with Gaddafi!  Imperialism–Keep your hands off Libya! — Frontlines ed.]

Gaddafi and Chavez, not so long ago. (file photo)

February 25, 2011.- On Thursday, Venezuela president Hugo Chavez declared his support for the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, to what he called “the independence of Libya.”

The Venezuelan government has accused the U.S. and its allies to organize a “military intervention” in Libya.

Venezuela Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolas Maduro said that “conditions were created to justify an invasion and accused the West of wanting to take control of Libyan oil.”

Similar attitude had the government of Cuba, “The U.S. is behind the unrest.”

Momento 24

Venezuelan workers march for increased participation and rights in their workplaces

[This article reports on several leftist unions that are impatient with the pace of economic and social transformation in Venezuela, and are trying to pressure the government to give workers greater control of their workplaces. They correctly state that the Venezuelan government represents “socialized capital” (state capitalism).  Several things must be added to this analysis in order to understand the nature of the Venezuelan state and economy: Venezuela is fully integrated into the imperialist world economy, regardless of whether its oil industry is nationalized; the government’s nationalizations of industry and land have been limited since they are aimed at creating a mixed state/private economic system; and perhaps most importantly, the important role that Chavez plays in promoting a purported “Bolivarian road to socialism” (in fact, a blend of nationalism and social democracy) and restricting the more radical people’s movements that brought him to power in the 1990s and have sustained his regime since then.–Frontlines ed]

In October 2009, Mitsubishi workers protest firings of 307 workers and the collusion of the Labour Ministry with the company. These protests followed a series of long strikes, factory occupations and the killings of two workers.

Venezuela Analysis, November 11,2010

Mérida–Thousands of Venezuelan workers took to the streets of Caracas on Tuesday, November 9th, demanding greater participation in their country’s nascent socialist economy. Carrying banners that read, “Neither Capital nor Bureaucrats – More Socialism and More Revolution,” thousands of workers, union representatives, members of leftist political parties and other popular organizations took their demands to the Ministry of Communes and Social Protection, the National Assembly and the offices of the Vice Presidency.

Venezuela’s National Workers’ Union (UNETE), the organizers of the demonstration, called for the immediate passing of a new and radical labor law, the resolution of pending collective labor contracts, and the empowerment of workers within their unions, especially at worksites that now belong to the network of recently nationalized industries.

A Revolutionary Labor Law

Marcela Maspero, UNETE’s National Coordinator, led demonstrators in their demands for a new and revolutionary labor law. This new law, according to Maspero, “is a vital tool for the Venezuelan working class to overcome longstanding and ongoing exploitation at the workplace.” Continue reading

Chavez Praises Ahmadinejad

Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad (at an earlier meeting)Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad (at an earlier meeting)

Chavez congratulates Ahmadinejad

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has congratulated his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the success of his re-election bid, in yesterday’s poll.

In a telephone conversation with the Iranian president, Chavez said, “The victory of Dr. Ahmadinejad in the recent election is a win for all people in the world and free nations against global arrogance,” Iran’s Presidential Office reported. Chavez usually uses the term “global arrogance” to refer to Venezuela’s arch-foe the United States.

The call came after preliminary results were announced by the Interior Ministry saying that Iran’s incumbent president has won a landslide victory, gaining more than 64 percent of the votes.

Chavez also noted that the Venezuelan people and government always stand behind the Iranians.

In his reply, Ahmadinejad said that, “Despite all pressures, the nation of Iran had completely won (the election) and indeed this victory shows the clear road for the future.”

Before the start of the election too, the socialist leader had wished Ahmadinejad good luck in his re-election bid.

Speaking to supporters Thursday, Chavez called the Iranian president “a courageous fighter for the Islamic Revolution, the defense of the Third World, and in the struggle against imperialism.”

Dual Power in Venezuela


Dual Power in the Venezuelan Revolution

by George Ciccariello-Maher

Too often, the Bolivarian Revolution currently underway in Venezuela is dismissed by its critics—on the right and left—as a fundamentally statist enterprise. We are told it is, at best, a continuation of the corrupt, bureaucratic status quo or, at worst, a personalistic consolidation of state power in the hands of a single individual at the expense of those “checks and balances” traditionally associated with western liberal democracies. These perspectives are erroneous, since they cannot account for what have emerged as the central planks of the revolutionary process. I will focus on the most significant of these planks: the explosion of communal power.

By viewing the process through the Leninist concept of “dual power”—that is, the construction of an autonomous, alternative power capable of challenging the existing state structure—we can see that the establishment of communal councils in Venezuela is clearly a positive step toward the development of fuller and deeper democracy, which is encouraging in and of itself. But the councils’ significance goes beyond that. The consolidation of communal power says much about the role of the state in the Venezuelan Revolution. Specifically, what is unique about the Venezuelan situation is the fact that sectors of the state are working actively to dismantle and dissolve the old state apparatus by devolving power to local organs capable of constituting a dual power. Transcending the simplistic debate between taking or opposing state power, a focus on dual power allows us to concentrate on what really matters in Venezuela and elsewhere: the revolutionary transformation of existing repressive structures.

‘An Entirely Different Kind of Power’

Lenin—standing at what he felt to be an unprecedented and unforeseeable political crossroads—spoke of the emergence of “an entirely different kind of power,” one fundamentally distinct from that of prevailing bourgeois democracies.1 Alongside the Provisional Government of Kerensky, an alternative government of Workers’ Soviets had emerged, a dual power—or dvoevlastie—standing outside and against the existing state structure. This still “weak and incipient” alternative structure Lenin describes as “a revolutionary dictatorship, i.e., a power directly based on revolutionary seizure, on the direct initiative of the people from below, and not on a lawenacted by a centralized state power.” Continue reading