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Venezuela's unions speaks out

By A.M. Mora y Leon | The American Thinker

28.12.04 | As we reported last week, Venezuela's vengeful dictator, Hugo Chavez, continues to target eight helpless fired oil workers for long prison terms. Their "crime" was leading a strike. Former Venezuelan oil company executive Gustavo Coronel points out that they are, shockingly, being charged with crimes and neglect against the state oil company that happened after they were fired from their jobs by Chavez himself on live television. In today's El Universal, another Unapetrol oil union leader speaks out, pointing out the shifty legal maneuvers the Chavez court has engaged in over Christmas to deny the eight arrested strike leaders any right to defend themselves in court. Chavez will stop at nothing to put them in prison. And he warns that Chavez intends to intimidate and humiliate them. El Universal (and a rough translation on vheadline) is also reporting that the workers are refusing to go to jail, which may lead to some sort of showdown. The stakes rise.

It all seems so pointless. But this seemingly vindictive move against an already broken group of engineers and managers comes direct from the dictator's playbook, with straight lineage from Lenin. Another union leader in the El Universal piece warns that this is a "first step to stunt opposition labor unions in Venezuela." Nothing threatens a communist dictatorship more than independent unions who cleanly understand and define their interests as separate and distinct from those of the all-encompassing state. The great longshoreman philosopher, Eric Hoffer understood this very well, warning in 'The Ordeal of Change,' published in 1964:

The most formidable employer is he who, like Stalin, casts himself in the role of a representative and champion of the workers. Our sole protection lies in keeping the division between management and labor obvious and matter of fact.

Hoffer adds:

In the present communist regimes unions are tools of management, worker mobility is discouraged by every means, savings are periodically wiped out by changes in currency, and individual self-respect is extirpated by the fearful technique of Terror. Thus it seems that the worker's independence is as good an index as any for measuring the freedom of society.

This glaring absence of it is Venezuela's future.

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