The Venezuela of Chávez*, by Milton D'Leon
[Note on "solvencia laboral"]*

*Translated by Emancipation On Line

* * *

The Venezuela of Chávez* [Relations with businessmen and
transnational corporations are deepening]
By Milton D'León (Venezuela) from La Verdad Obrera (Buenos Aires)
N° 188, May 26, 2006

Contrary to what is usually believed outside of Venezuela, the
tendency toward normalization of the relations between government and
business sectors is deepening within Venezuela, behind the tense
political polarization in the streets. Protected by the improvement
in economic indicators and the oil bonanza, government has
intensified reconciliation even with the very multinationals that
continue to have important economic interests in Venezuela.

In this context, important sectors of the workers are very willing to
struggle. The broad majority of these struggles are against [job]
insecurity, outsourcing and making work "flexible," the loss of
rights at work and low wages. The economic rebound (one of the
biggest in Latin America), has not led to better wages for the
toiling masses, which shows that income distribution between bosses
and workers remains as it was in previous decades. While inflation
was at 153% (from 2000 to 2004), one of highest rates in Latin
America, in the same period private-sector wages lost 27% of their
real purchasing power. [1]

The measures announced by Chávez on April 28, in connection with May
Day, like the reform of the regulations of the Organic Labor Law, the
elimination of temporary work, paying minimum wage to apprentices,
the coming into force of "solvencia laboral"* and the increase in
maternity leave, the increase in the minimum wage in September, among
other measures, were well received by broad sectors of the workers.
However, if [these measures] are examined carefully, they are highly
deficient, since they do not essentially change the high degree of
super-exploitation to which the broad majority of the workers are
subjected, and they do not answer a single one of the big structural
problems of our country, like unemployment or the persistence of
insecure employment: more than 5,000,000 workers belong to the
informal sector (according to CEPAL, around 50% in 2004) or have
sporadic jobs that are not enough to live on.

How is it possible that a country with extremely high oil income
and "sustainable" growth rates still has high poverty rates and a
daily increase in informal work? Who are they trying to fool with
the rates that the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas publishes,
asserting that poverty has decreased to 37%, when it is enough to
look at the hills and barrios of Caracas where the population lives
in heaps of damaged houses, exposed to tragic conditions? How is it
possible that mercenaries, paid by landowners, continue to murder
workers and campesinos, with total impunity, and that the big
productive lands continue to be owned by the same landowners as
always?

"Bolivarian socialism accepts private property," Chávez affirms,
repeating that it is not government's intention to ride roughshod
over landowers in Venezuela [2]. All this while he is negotiating
with the enterprise Agropecuaria Flora (Agroflora), a subsidiary of
the British company Vestey Group Limited, which has decided to "hand
over" two estates to the government, for prior payment of $4,200,000
US. Lands are being paid for that in fact belong to the state. And
worse still, the government will hand over to Agroflora the
certificate of productive farms and legal title to another 12 estates
that Agroflora has in "uncertain title" [ownership] in different
parts of Venezuela where each estate is of equal or greater size than
the ones government is negotiating over. The big international
agricultural firm, as one of its representatives said, "does not feel
it is losing anything" [3].

"We need bankers who are committed to the national project," exclaims
Chávez, to conclude that "we are showing that it is possible to make
a revolution peacefully" [4]. But "a revolution" where, in addition
to the agro-industrial sector, other business sectors are
participating in government business. Big construction firms are also
participating in building and financing housing by the state, where
private banks are already making big deals, while government repeats
that "support from the private sector is essential to carry out the
massive housing construction plan" [5].

"We are telling the world that a nationalist and revolutionary
project is not incompatible with the presence of suitable
international firms and the national private sector" [6] Chávez
emphasized while he was signing agreements to create mixed
enterprises in the oil sector, firms that will function as new
subsidiaries of PDVSA, together with the transnational corporations.
Among the "suitable firms" Chávez is referring to, are to be found no
less than those that are pillaging the national wealth [of
Venezuela], Chevron Texaco, British Petroleum (BP), Repsol,
Techpetrol, Teikoku, Petrobrás, among others. All this without
mentioning the big companies that are exploiting gas, where the
policy is practically one of complete openness.

In his meeting with English businessmen in London, Chávez emphasized
that they "should not be afraid when I talk about socialism, since it
has to do with coexistence of private and state [sectors]." But we
have seen that in these seven years of "coexistence" those who have
always been powerful are the one who have mainly won. The fact is
that in this "coexistence" what we really see are bigger
understandings with the bourgeois and transnational corporations.

But the President affirms that the structural problems created by
decades of the plague of capitalism cannot be solved quickly. What a
sentence, coming from the mouth of someone who says that he is
promoting a "revolution" and who even speaks well of the Cuban
revolution! If we compare what Cuba had achieved in just two years of
revolution, facing an economic blockade and lacking income from oil,
with the panorama that our country presents in these seven years of
"Bolivarian revolution," we are far from any "revolution." There is
no revolution without a social revolution carried out by workers,
peasants and the poor, by expropriating the big capitalists and
instituting a planned economy, eliminating capitalist monopolies,
instituting state control over the fundamental economic activities of
the country, with political power in the hands of the working class.
To speak of revolution, except in this sense, is merely empty talk.

[1] Estudio Económico de América Latina y El Caribe 2004-2005, CEPAL.
[2] Programa Aló Presidente Nro. 151
[3] El Nacional, 23/03/06.
[4] Programa Aló Presidente Nro. 151.
[5] Luis Figueroa, Ministro de la Vivienda y el Hábitat. El Nacional,
03/04/06.
[6] Discurso de Chávez cuando firmaba los acuerdos en el Palacio de
Miraflores, el 31 de marzo de 2006.

& & &

* "'Solvencia laboral' is an administrative document from the
Ministry of Labor, certifying that the owner of a business respects
the human rights of workers relating to work and union
membership; 'solvencia laboral' constitutes an essential requirement,
of obligatory character, for those businesses and coooperatives that
want to make contracts, agreements and accords with organs, entities
and enterprises of the state."

From "Carlos," on Weblog Venezolano, March 25, 2006
 http://www.venezolano.web.ve/archives/863-Solvencia-Laboral.html