Thousands of workers gathered in the streets of downtown Caracas on Tuesday to commemorate International Workers’ Day. The social movement organizations, leftist parties and unions that participated in the massive march and rally manifested their support for the reelection of President Nicolas Maduro, their commitment to the Bolivarian revolutionary process, as well as their opposition to international sanctions and foreign interference. They also demanded solutions from Maduro, himself a former bus driver and trade unionist, to Venezuela’s severe economic crisis that has hit the working class the hardest.
President Maduro greeted the march in Parque Ezequiel Zamora by paying tribute to workers’ gains during the Bolivarian Revolution, most notably the passage of the Organic Law of Work and Workers (LOTTT). Regarded as one of the most progressive labor laws on the planet, the LOTTT has provided improvements in the conditions of workers and their families by guaranteeing policies such as pre and postnatal leave for mothers and fathers, special conditions for lactating mothers, the reduction of work weeks to 40 hours, a ban on arbitrary firings, as well as the penalization of discrimination on the basis of sex, race, creed and/or disabilities.
Maduro also reiterated the announcement of the 8th minimum wage increase since the beginning of 2017. Though the wage increase still remains far below the spiraling levels of inflation, Maduro solicited a vote confidence from his supporters, promising to take on those he termed the “economic mafias” after having achieved victory in the upcoming May 20 elections.
The opposition’s new coalition, the Broad Front for a Free Venezuela, also held a rally in the wealthy commercial center of the eastern municipality of Chacao, in protest of “the economic and humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela. Nicmer Evans, former member of Trotskyist party Marea Socialista and current member of the opposition movement Juntos, stated, “Today we are protesting because a slave system would be much more profitable than working in Venezuela right now.”
Text by Katrina Kozarek for Venezuelanalysis.com.