Venezuelan Leftist Parties and Unions Stage Protest, Demand Gov’t Answers

Dozens of activists demanded better wages and respect for collective bargaining rights.

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Chavista parties and trade unions staged a protest in defense of labor rights on Thursday. (Ricardo Vaz)
Chavista parties and trade unions staged a protest in defense of labor rights on Thursday. (Ricardo Vaz)

Caracas, November 1, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Several Chavista political parties and trade unions staged a demonstration on Thursday to demand answers from the Maduro government.

The protest was called by the newly formed Unitary Platform in Defense of Working Class Rights, spearheaded by the Communist-led National Working Class Struggle Front (FNLCT).

Dozens of militants from the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), Homeland For All (PPT), Lucha de Clases, as well as members of the FLNCT-affiliated trade unions, were present in the demonstration staged in front of the Attorney General’s Office in Caracas.

Pedro Eusse, member of the Venezuelan Communist Party Central Committee and FNLCT coordinator general, spoke to Venezuelanalysis about the need to find a “revolutionary exit” from the crisis. “Amidst this crisis we are seeing policies that preserve the benefits and profits of capital over workers’ rights,” the communist leader explained. The rally was held at the Attorney General’s office, Eusse explained, to draw attention to violations of labor rights as well as the criminalization of working class struggles.

He added that the goal is to create a space of debate and “collective construction of policies,” as well as critical evaluation of the government’s performance, so as to combat what he termed a state of “defenselessness” that workers, campesinos and pensioners find themselves in.

Leander Perez, from the Central Committee of Lucha de Clases, the Venezuelan chapter of the International Marxist Tendency, emphasized that the current struggle is against “anti-worker, anti-popular” measures that have “pulverized” working class wages and other benefits.

Perez stressed that layoffs and attacks against collective bargaining are being carried out under the legal framework of the so-called Memorandum 2792.

“Our most pressing demands are for wages to be set according to the basic food basket, so that workers can survive amidst this runaway inflation, the reincorporation of workers laid off in the public and private sectors, and respect for collective bargaining rights,” he told Venezuelanalysis.

Memorandum 2792 was issued in the aftermath of the August 2018 economic reforms, which included a monetary reconversion, pegging the currency to the Petro cryptocurrency and a massive exchange rate devaluation. Trade Unions protested that the measures entailed scrapping collective bargaining agreements and other labor rights.

Perez likewise drew attention to another priority for leftist movements: justice in the Venezuelan countryside. He explained that one of the reasons for the demonstration outside the Attorney General’s office is to demand that cases of campesinos killed by landowner violence be investigated by authorities, as well as put a stop to evictions.

Venezuela has seen a recent increase in cases of campesinos evicted from lands they had worked for years. Despite their right to occupy idle land protected under former President Hugo Chavez’s landmark 2001 Land Law, campesino movements have been denouncing a lack of action and even complicity from authorities. Campesino assassinations have also been on the rise, with estimates of over 300 victims since the 2001 law was approved. These issues drove the Admirable Campesino March of 2018, as well as renewed mobilizations earlier this year.

Concern for countryside violence was echoed by Eusse, who brought up the case of campesino leader Luis Fajardo, also a member of the PCV Central Committee. Fajardo was murdered exactly one year ago amidst land struggles in the Sur del Lago region, with activists placing blame on local landowners.

Rafael Uzcategui, secretary general of the Homeland for All Party, also spoke to Venezuelanalysis, criticizing the widening gap between government leaders and their Chavista base.

“If we need to tighten our belts amidst an imperialist siege, the tone needs to be set from above,” he explained. Asked about what the current priorities should be, Uzcategui emphasized that the government needs to “speak frankly to the people.”

“We need to know where we stand, and which measures are needed. But the imperialist attack should not mean sacrificing the people, the burden needs to be shared so all patriots can come together to face this aggression,” he concluded.

The protest plan included marching from the Attorney General’s office to the Vice Presidency. However, police forces barred the demonstrators from leaving their rallying point in Parque Carabobo, arguing that they did not have a “permit.” Two representatives from the vice president’s office came to meet protesters and register their petitions.

Edited by Lucas Koerner from Philadelphia.

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