29 Jul 2007

Surviving in a Sea of Capitalism

"This process [the Bolivarian Revolution] has helped us, now there is
Barrio Adentro and free diagnostic centers and we pay nothing, employment
is increasing and everyone is studying, if you're not studying it's
because you don't want to, not for lack of opportunity."

"President Chavez has helped us 100%, previously we were just exploited,
now we are included - the president [of Inveval - Jorge Paredes] is
meeting in Miraflores today," he concluded.

Had this from Hands Off Venezuela, who had it from Venezuela analysis.

Socialism is hard work in the country but there is a desire to get beyond capitalism and to avoid crappy centralised central planning or bureaucratic nationalisation.

Hayek talks of the creativity of markets made up of individuals, socialists talk of the creativity of those who create ....all of us!

Nice to see honesty about the fuck ups and problems and the admission of the difficult of living on an island in a sea of sharks.

In the UK we pretty much just have the sea without islands....

Venezuela’s Co-Managed Inveval: Surviving in a Sea of Capitalism
Written by Kiraz Janicke - Venezuelanalysis.com
Sunday, 29 July 2007

Venezuela´s Bolivarian Revolution and in particular its experiments with
workers co-management and in some instances workers control, is at the
cutting edge of the global movement against capitalism. With the bosses'
lockout in 2002-2003, which shut down much of the Venezuelan economy for a
period of two months, hundreds of factories were closed down and workers
turned out onto the streets to fend for themselves. However, workers have
stepped up to the challenge and it is estimated that some1200 factories
have been taken over and occupied after being shut down. In 2005 the
Chavez government initiated a series of decrees to allow for expropriation
of industry and workers' co-management in the interests of ‘public
utility.' On July 24 I was able to visit Inveval, a valve manufacturing
company that has been under workers control since April 2005, with a
delegation from the International Miranda Center to talk to the workers
and find out more about their struggle, their history, their experience of
workers control, the challenges they face as well as the broader question
of how workers are strategizing to transform Venezuelan society in the
struggle for ‘Socialism in the 21st Century'.

Whilst showing us around the factory Francisco Pinero, Inveval's
treasurer, explained that although Inveval is legally constituted as a
cooperative with 51% owned by the state and 49% owned by the workers,
"real power lies with the workers assembly." Rather than supervisors, the
workers at Inveval elect, through a workers assembly, recallable
‘coordinators of production,' for a period of one year.

"Everyone here gets paid exactly the same, whether they work in
administration, poltical formation, security or keeping the grounds
clean," another worker, Marino Mora added.

"We want the state to own 100%, but for the factory to be under workers
control, for workers to control all production and administration. This is
how we see the new productive model; we don't want to create new
capitalists here," Pinero made clear.

This contrasts sharply with the experience of Invepal, (a Venezuelan paper
company) where a workers' cooperative became private owners of 49% of the
company, and began to contract out the work to casual workers, becoming
bosses themselves in the process and reproducing capitalist relations
within the factory.

"Initially we never had in mind workers control, we were just struggling
for our jobs," Pinero added.

However, he said, the formation of the workers' assembly in the factory
developed organically, "We were members of the union [Sintrametal -
formerly aligned to the old corrupt CTV], however, when we wanted to take
over the factory we asked the union for legal help, but they didn't help
us. Because the union didn't help us we began to form assemblies, and
through that process began to negotiate with the Minister [of Labor, then
Maria Christina Iglesias], who helped us a lot."

"We spent two years picketing at the gates before we decided to take it
over. Through this process we developed political maturity very fast, not
just through our own personal struggle, but the broader political
struggles of the constituent assembly and the recall referendum"

When quizzed on their relationship with the UNT and how they viewed the
project of unifying the working class within the revolution, Rolando
Aguilar said, "We want to see a UNT with a different kind of organizing,
rather than leaders from the top, we want participatory discussion and
spokespeople elected from the factory floor. We don't want things imposed
on us."

"The only union leaders that ever came to visit us were Orlando Chirinos
and Marcela Maspero,

but often they divide the workers movement," Mora added.

"Workers have to take over productive spaces. That way we can pressure
those that only want reforms, because we don't just want reforms," Pinero

In 2006 the workers at Inveval initiated FRETECO (The Revolutionary
Workers Front of Co-managed and Occupied Factories) and held a national
congress in October with representatives from 10 factories to discuss and
debate their experiences and challenges as well as strategies of how the
workers movement can increase the take over industry an implement
authentic worker control. More recently, FRETECO held a meeting on the
30th of June with representatives of 20 factories to discuss a unified
proposal of statutes for implementing workers control.

However, Venezuela's recovered factories, despite having the support of
the Chavez government, are in essence faced with the same problem of the
recovered factories in Argentina: how to survive in a sea of capitalist
economic relations, how to ensure supply of raw materials, how to ensure a
buyer for the finished product. Inveval is suffering from both of these

Inveval is having particular difficulties obtaining the raw materials to
manufacture valves. The workers at Inveval told us that when the original
owner of Inveval, (then called CNV), Andrés Sosa Pietri (a former
president of Venezuelan state owned oil company PDVSA), extended a bosses
lock out and closed the company down in December 2002, he also closed down
the "sister company", a foundry which provided Inveval with the materials
needed for producing valves. The workers in Inveval tried to encourage the
workers in the foundry to take it over as well, but they decided to accept
a payout from the boss instead and the foundry has remained closed ever
since. Inveval is currently trying to negotiate a deal with the government
to either buy out or expropriate the foundry.

Although, the workers at Inveval could source raw materials from other
countries such as Mexico, Argentina, or China, endogenous development
regulations require them to prioritize sourcing raw materials from within
Venezuela and as yet they have not been able to find a source.

Therefore, the main area of work at Inveval involves the repair and
maintenance of existing valves for PDVSA, with the company running at only
10% capacity, and surviving from government loans, a situation which is
obviously unsustainable. With the factory being completely unprofitable,
the workers told us a two-month deadline had been set to find a source for
raw materials, though this could be extended through a process of
negotiations with the government.

Additionally, the workers at Inveval told us they were having difficulties
with PDVSA with whom they are contracted to supply valves. When the
workers took over in 2005, after rehabilitating the factory, they started
production using remaining raw materials to fill previously existing
contractual obligations with PDVSA, however, as yet PDVSA has not complied
with its side of the deal and the finished valves have been sitting on the
factory floor for the past eight months.

The workers at Inveval told us that during a meeting between Chavez,
Inveval, and Veneval, (the body responsible for contracting valve supply
in PDVSA) in April, the president of Veneval claimed that Inveval did not
produce any valves, the president of Inveval said that was "rubbish" and
that they had valves ready to supply PDVSA. Chavez ordered the president
of Veneval to visit Inveval in April to see if there were valves. Since
then the workers said, PDVSA agreed to take the valves, however they are
still waiting for them to be picked up and PDVSA has started to order
valves from Inveval of different sizes that they know Inveval is unable to
produce and are now claiming again that they are unable to fill the

The workers contend that corrupt sectors in PDVSA would much rather deal
with private companies, where they can make deals and make money. Moro
declared, "The bidding process for PDVSA allows for corruption. They
should get rid of the bidding process and just get valves from us because
we are a state company and they are a state company."

"There are definitely sectors of PDVSA that are opposed to workers control
and to the example of Inveval," Moro added.

Despite these difficulties the workers at Inveval are keeping themselves
busy, as well as carrying out community projects such as working with the
local mental asylum, the factory, which was in excellent condition when we
visited, provides space for Mission Ribas and Mission Sucre, and the
communal councils also use the factory as a meeting place.

All of the workers also participate in two hours of technical and
socio-political classes each day as well as attending classes after 4pm at
Mission Ribas and Mission Sucre, members of the local community also
participate in the classes.

Inveval also regularly hosts political forums, visits from student groups,
international delegations and delegations of workers from other occupied

The workers at Inveval also view the political discussions about socialism
at a national level as extremely important and believe it is necessary to
insert themselves into the debate, "We can do this through the PSUV [the
United Socialist Party of Venezuela currently under formation]" Pinero

"This process [the Bolivarian Revolution] has helped us, now there is
Barrio Adentro and free diagnostic centers and we pay nothing, employment
is increasing and everyone is studying, if you're not studying it's
because you don't want to, not for lack of opportunity."

"President Chavez has helped us 100%, previously we were just exploited,
now we are included - the president [of Inveval - Jorge Paredes] is
meeting in Miraflores today," he concluded.

article from Venezuelanalysis.com

1 comment:

venenauta said...

bullshit, i live in venezuela and this government is VERY antidemocratic, we are now heading towards a CUBAN style failed system

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