(en) Only Strikes?

Luis Prat (prat@chem.ucsb.edu)
Wed, 26 Feb 1997


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O N L Y S T R I K E S ?

(From EL LIBERTARIO, #7, p.2 February 1997, Venezuela)

Venezuelan society has been going through rough times due to the recent wave of strikes, among which we note two by professional groups of significant social impact, not necessarily economic or political. We are talking about the physicians and university professors strikes. They are not the only ones, nor will they be the last, but it's worth noting that these and most other conflicts at the present time have their origin among members of the ex-middle class, since there have not been worker's strikes nor unemployed protests. It is fitting to ask whether the great majorities are that well off economically that they no longer take to the streets, which is rather implausible, or on the contrary, are they going through such misery that it is impossible to think of anything other than mere survival. Unless we are witnessing the triumph of the insolidarity culture, or unless minister Pekoff is so convincing.

However the question we're dealing with is the meaning of these stoppages and their possibilities for success. We must say that we are pessimists about the answer, let's start by considering the latter. This government is supported exclusively by capitalism: transnational, high finance, oil-based, narcotrafficking, sponsored by big capital in one of history's most shameful and out-in-the-open give-aways. It has no connection whatsoever with the people it claims to represent, it hardly has minimal compromises with the discredited status quo parties. Consequently, the importance it grants to the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in the country, or to the intellectual decadence of its people due to malnutrition and bad educational services, or to rampant corruption, or to the incredibly low salaries that don't even cover basic services and goods, is insignificant faced with the dictates of a Morgan Securities executive, as this last represents the true rulers and supporters of the State. Not in vain each ex-minister of a more or less presentable demeanor has a reserved spot in the institutional jet-set of big capital (True? Haussman, Gerver Torres adn Miguel Rodriguez?).

The beneficiaries are some local potentates, a diminishing group, and the big sharks in the ocean of transnational capitalism , in whose waters this government is drowning us because of globalization, which is something like the kindergarten when Schwarzenegger is the teacher.

In view of the above, no protest for partial improvements, especially those centered around economic issues, has any possibilities of real success. As much as a group may demand, it will have to be satisfied with the crumbs that it gets and that will only be a transient solution. What can a closed university think in a country that doesn't know what to do with its professionals? What interest can a doctor's strike have when people die anyway for lack of medicines, or die of misery before arriving at the hospital? How much does culture matter to a government that has outdone itself promoting illiteracy and delinquency as means of political control? The country runs the same without industry, without education, without doctors, without public administration because to improve the macroeconomic numbers we have oil, drug traffic and financial speculation. The rest is considered superfluous by the government, including the lives of 95% of the population.

That's why, though we are pessimists, we can't fail to support these demonstrations of protest, but only as a first step. The real enemy of our quality of life, and of our survival, is not low salaries, though this may be a more inmediate concern, but our subscribing to a political, cultural, ethical model which brings us to one of the two social extremes that polarize the world as this century comes to an end: a minority that owns everything on a planetary scale, and a vast majority which it won't be necessary to kill off in a war because its destiny is to be decimated by starvation. Is this exaggerated? even the capitalist press has published that the 42 richest people in the world own the equivalent of what the 2 billion poorest people have. This last number is where the powers that be want us to belong.

As long as those of us below fail to unite, organize and build an alternative path (and this is not only for venezuelans, but for all latinamericans, as we're all heading towards the same precipice) we won't have any chances of changing the course that takes us to a repetition of the tragedy that the indigenous people lived through 500 years ago when they came from abroad to "teach us the advantages of a market economy", which allowed Western Europe to achieve its greatest splendor, while here indians and blacks were opressed and exterminated. Either we resist this march towards the new world order by all means or we will perish as peoples, cultures and even as individuals.

Pedro Pablo

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