Venezuela Takes Action to Address Energy Crisis

Imagine a government that is of, by and for the people. What does that actually mean? Under capitalism, the word “people” should be replaced with the words “banks and corporations.” How can a government that continually cuts funding for basic human needs and rights—such as quality health care and education, housing and jobs—be a government of, by and for the people?

By Sarah Carlson - Party for Socialism & Liberation
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Government seeks input from workers to solve problems

Imagine a government that is of, by and for the people. What does that actually mean? Under capitalism, the word “people” should be replaced with the words “banks and corporations.” How can a government that continually cuts funding for basic human needs and rights—such as quality health care and education, housing and jobs—be a government of, by and for the people?

On the other hand, countries that are developing workers’ democracy are condemned by the U.S. corporate media as “authoritarian dictatorships.” For example, late last year the Venezuelan government declared an energy crisis. This led to rolling blackouts in major cities and incentives for businesses to decrease consumption. The main cause of the crisis was a prolonged drought, which immobilized the hydroelectric plants that produce 70 percent of the country’s energy. This was unmentioned in the media coverage. Instead, the headlines read as attacks on President Hugo Chávez and his government’s “rationing.”

It is not surprising that these same media outlets failed to report that in March the Venezuelan army and volunteers were deployed to go door to door and change all light bulbs to CFLs.  Can you imagine the U.S. Army going door to door to install energy-saving light bulbs? Whenever the United States deploys the National Guard, it is to suppress a movement, like at Kent State in 1970, or to terrorize people of color, as occurred after Hurricane Katrina.

The media also neglect to mention the nationwide assemblies of over 10,000 electricity workers in the country. These assemblies chose 600 delegates to meet with Chávez in Caracas for two days in April. The workers met for roundtable discussions and drafted proposals, which were then presented to the president and other government representatives. Some of their proposals included: workers’ control and participation in management; measures to combat corruption and bureaucratism in the sector; provision of education; and creating one state-run electric company, which would facilitate implementation of the aforementioned proposals.

The assemblies and roundtables were encouraged by Chávez: “We can not affect change in the electricity sector without the workers playing a leading role, without their passion, their love for what they do, their pain, fury and knowledge.” (venezuelaanalysis.com) To facilitate the workers’ proposal for unification in the industry, Chávez proposed that workers in each of the existing companies elect a “worker’s management committee” to be voting members of the existing boards of directors.

These omissions from the self-declared “objective” media are inexcusable, but they serve a very important function for the ruling class. The goal is to indoctrinate people with the belief that a government that serves the working majority and provides its inhabitants with the necessities of life is “authoritarian,” because it does not leave room for private companies or wealthy individuals to exploit the working class. According to the ruling-class media, the ability to exploit is “freedom.”

On one hand, the government of Venezuela, in the midst of crisis, asks the workers what can be done to fix the problem and encourages public participation in policy-making. On the other hand, the U.S. government, in the midst of crisis, pours trillions of taxpayer dollars into banks and wars and then takes an axe to an already failing education system, hands over the health care industry to private insurance and pharmaceutical companies after gouging Medicare, and ignores the public outcry. Which side are you on?