Interview with José Quintero, member of the INVEVAL Factory
Committee, by El Militante, newspaper
of the Revolutionary Marxist Current (CMR). Read the original in Spanish here.
El Militante: José, can you tell us about the reasons for
the protests you have organised over the last month?
Jose Quintero: The workers of Inveval and Freteco went to
MILCO (Ministry of Light Industry and Commerce) and to several media outlets on
November 5th, to demand an immediate and effective reply to our
demands. We have been fighting for the expropriation of Inaf, Acerven,
Transportes MDS, Gotcha, and for the budget that was promised to Inveval. We
did this so that these demands are met. The revolution needs quick answers not
bureaucratic delays, and we are falling into the trap of the bureaucracy, which
is like a spiders' web. The workers are tired of the bureaucracy, which does
not give any answers to the just demands of the workers.
El Militante: It is said that Inveval is not producing and that this
shows the failure of workers' management. What is the reason why the plant is
Jose Quintero: We are being sabotaged by the El Palito refinery and
the other refineries [which are part of state-owned oil company PDVSA]. They do
not want to give us orders. The valves that we have in stock, they are not
buying them, and in fact they are importing valves from the United States. We
cannot understand that a state-owned company, like Inveval, cannot sell its
high quality products because they are being imported from abroad. There is
talk of endogenous development, but valves are being imported. Instead of
promoting the state-owned companies, they are bringing products from abroad.
El Militante: Then what you are saying is that the news about the
factory not working because of the workers is false.
Jose Quintero: Precisely. This is a concerted campaign of sabotage
against workers' control at Inveval. The aim is to discredit workers'
management and go back to bureaucratic management. They say that a bureaucratic
model, with a directors' board and so on is more efficient than workers'
management. Workers' control, in fact, is much more efficient, and this has
been proven in practice. At the CAEZ sugar mill one thousand million bolivars
went missing, under the supervision of a directors' board. At Inveval, we have efficiently
managed a budget of six thousand million and our accounts are open for anyone
to check them.
El Militante: If you haven't yet received your 2008 budget in full,
how can you survive?
Jose Quintero: Well, right now we have managed to sell some valves,
and the ministry gave us the money to pay wages, and we had a balance left over
from the previous year. What we want is to be able to run the factory
ourselves, generating our own income. We do not want to be a burden on the
state, on the contrary, we are capable of fully operating the factory.
El Militante: Right now, what is the wage of an Inveval worker?
Jose Quintero: One million two hundred thousand [old bolivares],
plus the food tickets. We are all receiving the same wage. The social benefits
that were owed to us by [the old owner] Sosa Pietri, we still have not received
them, because the issue of his compensation payment has not yet been settled.
We are also fighting for these social benefits to be paid to us, because if
Sosa Pietri is paid in the year 3000, let's say, then we will all be dead and
we'll never see this money. We are making a revolutionary proposal, so that
these social benefits are paid and deducted from the cost of acquiring Inveval
El Militante: Finally, what is your appeal to other workers in
Jose Quintero: The appeal to the rest of the workers is this: the
financial crisis that the US is experiencing will affect Venezuela. We already
have a series of companies, Transporte MDS, Gotcha, Acerven, which have been
taken over by the workers and should be expropriated. But from now on, as a
result of the crisis of capitalism, more companies will be closed, workers are
going to lose their jobs, and the only way, in our opinion, to overcome this
capitalist crisis is through workers' control, occupying the factories and
putting them under collective management, so that we can have decent living
conditions. This is the only way forward. Capitalism is based on the enrichment
of a small group, but we are fighting for socialism so that the needs of the
majority can be fulfilled, and this is only possible through collective
ownership and workers' control.