Venezuelan Communists: ‘Government Not Responding to Workers’ & Campesinos’ Demands’

They called for an urgent ‘gloves off’ meeting with Maduro to discuss problems such as new wage scales and rural landlord violence.

By Paul Dobson
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A vigil is held for the three murdered campesinos in Barinas state, with the banner reading “Those who fall in the people’s struggle can’t be considered dead” (Aporrea)
A vigil is held for the three murdered campesinos in Barinas state, with the banner reading “Those who fall in the people’s struggle can’t be considered dead” (Aporrea)

Merida, October 17, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) called for an “urgent” meeting with President Nicolas Maduro this week to discuss a series of state shortcomings in the area of workers’ and campesinos’ rights.

The proposed meeting should be held “with the gloves off” and in the context of the electoral agreement between the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) and the PCV, claimed PCV Secretary-General Oscar Figuera in a press conference. The communists accuse the government of not fulfilling any of the points of the February accord.

The government is yet to respond to the call from their allies, despite on-going negotiations which look to achieve a unified PSUV-PCV list of candidates for the upcoming local elections.

Speaking to the press this week, Figuera drew Maduro’s attention to the “inaction” and “lack of response” of public authorities to the demands of the organised campesinos, and in particular those of the Admirable March.

Their demands include the handing over of land title deeds, a cease to state- and military-backed landlord violence, often including paramilitaries or hired thugs, and higher efficiency and less corruption in government programs to help campesinos increase national production.

Following a successful reception by President Maduro, the subsequent workgroups between the government and the marching campesinos have stalled, forcing them to stage a short-lived hunger strike in order to force the government to address these issues.

Since Maduro met the campesinos, promising to put an end to landlord-backed attacks, a number of assassinations and attacks have taken place, particularly in Barinas and Zulia (Sur de Lago) states.

“Campesino leaders have received threats and persecutions [from landlords], and the competent authorities such as the police, the National Guard and others, do not act,” denounced Figuera, who qualified such authorities as “complicit” and “permissive” in the “aggressive policies” of the landed classes.

Campesinos will “always find the communists on their side,” reiterated Figuera.

The PCV also called on Attorney General Tarek William Saab ─ who is currently reviewing a series of investigations by his predecessor and current fugitive, Luisa Ortega Diaz ─ to “take a look at those who should be investigating in Barinas,” where local landlords recently murdered the campesino leaders Reyes Orlando Parra, Pedro Vielma, and Jose del Real Aguilar.

This week, police authorities formally charged those captured for the assassinations of Parra, Vielma, and Aguilar, who are now awaiting trial.

Attacks continued, however, in Sur de Lago, where campesinos decried the wounding of a campesino leader, allegedly by the previous owners of a disputed plot of land.

Figuera also denounced that Barinas-based PCV campesino leader Robinson Garcia suffered an attempt against his life last week when landlord-hired bikers fired fifteen gunshots against his truck. Garcia is heavily involved in defending campesino demands in the region.

Another of the main points the communists wish to discuss with Maduro concerns what they consider “insufficient” adjustments in the wage scales of public workers following the coming-into-effect of macro-economic reforms in August.

Public sector workers, from multiple industries, have held a series of demonstrations to demand new collective contracts and an adjustment in bonus schemes following the reconversion of the national currency. In several companies, new collective contracts have been agreed between the Labour Ministry and the pro-government Bolivarian Trade Union Federation, which the PCV claim has lost touch with workplace demands.

“There have been meetings, the topic is being worked upon,” stated Figuera, but the results have been “unacceptable” he stated, citing oil and transport workers amongst others.

He also urged the national government, which the PCV does not participate in, to “listen to the people” and promote the “leading role” of the organised workforce, claiming that PCV information shows that the new salary scales do not follow the proposals and demands discussed by the workers at the grassroots level.

Workers take over cardboard factory

Figuera’s endorsement of the working class was illustrated this week after workers took over the abandoned Smurfit Kappa Cartones de Venezuela factory in Valencia, Carabobo state, this Tuesday. The government responded to the workers’ requests to assume legal ownership of the factory, which was left destitute when the company’s owners left the country without following the due procedures to cease production, in what is classed as an illegal closure under Venezuelan law.

Following the petition, Labour Minister Eduardo Piñate visited the Valencia headquarters of the nationwide company, officialising the takeover in compliance with article 149 of the Labour Law. Last week, during a meeting with the workers’ congress, President Maduro had railed against private sector sabotage and urged workers to take over companies abandoned by the owners.

“As of now, it will be a goal for the working class to recuperate the productivity of this firm,” stated Piñate upon signing the transfer papers. He also commended the workers of their firm support of the Bolivarian process.

“We, the Valencia based factories of corrugated cardboard, produce 80 percent of the national packaging, and we can say that 80 percent of the factories are [currently] operational with the support of the workers,” claimed one worker. They are also planning on producing packaging for the pharmaceutical and food industries, he stated.

“The workplace of Smurfit Kappa Cartones de Venezuela SA is reactivated after the illegal closing by the bosses, so as to protect the jobs of hundreds of workers and their families,” tweeted this commentator from the ministerial visit.

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