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Monthly Review June 2005: Made in Venezuela: The Struggle to Reinvent Venezuelan Labor

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  • glparramatta
    Last month, the National Union of Venezuelan Workers (UNT) turned two. Since its inception in May 2003, the UNT has been at the center of debates surrounding
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 16, 2005
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      Last month, the National Union of Venezuelan Workers (UNT) turned two.
      Since its inception in May 2003, the UNT has been at the center of
      debates surrounding the advances of Venezuela’s revolution in the labor
      arena. At root, these debates turn on issues of worker control: over
      their factories and over their unions. Democracy is at the heart of the
      attempt by Venezuelan workers to reinvent a labor movement long
      characterized by corruption and class collaboration.

      When Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998, inaugurating
      a process of radical political and social changes, it looked as though
      labor might be left behind. The main labor federation, the Confederation
      of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), was one of his most avid critics, and
      Chávez in turn lashed out regularly against the CTV. But the image of
      “Chávez versus labor,” repeated incessantly by the mainstream media, is
      precisely intended to mislead. The truth is that the CTV has not
      adequately represented Venezuelan workers since the 1970s, if not
      before. The reality of Chávez versus the CTV, then, does not exclude the
      active and enthusiastic participation of a large proportion of
      Venezuelan workers in his “Bolívarian Revolution”—named after Latin
      American Independence leader Simón Bolívar.

      In an era of accelerating globalization, fed by the trailblazing
      violence of American empire, Chávez’s loud rejection of the neoliberal
      model is particularly resonant. And this rejection has proven to be more
      than mere rhetoric. After surviving both the coup and the business-led
      oil industry shutdown in 2002–03, and consolidating his legitimacy
      through the dramatic referendum victory and the near-sweep in the
      regional elections, Chávez’s movement has, as the Economist recently put
      it, “beg[u]n turning words into deeds.” In direct contradiction to the
      neoliberal playbook, Venezuela has begun experimenting with an
      alternative model of development based on an unapologetic prioritization
      of social welfare.

      At root, the Venezuelan revolution is about democracy, but not the “thin
      democracy” that so often limits the imagination in the North. In
      Venezuela the term has incorporated social and economic dimensions, as
      well as political and even geographic. Popular participation means the
      difficult development of local planning councils that debate community
      budgets, but it also means a shift in some areas from production for the
      world market to production for the Venezuelan people. Thus, a trend that
      has had Venezuela importing 70 percent of its food is slowly being
      reversed in the interest of “food sovereignty.” Food sovereignty, in
      turn, requires the democratization of land, reversing the distribution
      of land in rural Venezuela where the top 5 percent of landowners control
      75 percent of private agricultural land, while the bottom 75 percent
      hold only 6 percent.

      Full: http://www.monthlyreview.org/0605gindin.htm
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