NYC Trade Unionists: Don’t Believe Corporate Media Propaganda On Venezuela
By Doug Cunningham
The class struggle in Venezuela between workers and the poor on one side and the oligarch right-wing on the other is being reported by corporate media as a struggle between dictatorship and democracy.
But three New York City area trade unionists who visited Venezuela during the constituent assembly elections say you should not believe that dictatorship versus democracy narrative.
Estela Vasquez is Executive Vice President of 1199 SEIU Health Care Workers East.
[Estela Vasquez]: “You cannot rely on CNN or any of the other international communication – or papers like the New York Times or the Washington Post. Because they are only reflecting the story of the ruling classes -the oligarchy of this country – that wants to preserve their interests.”
When Hugo Chavez was elected President in 1998 he launched reforms that significantly improved that lives of working and poor Venezuelans. The oligarchy – the one-percenters – resented and were threatened by the reforms, so they began working hard to de-stabilize Venezuela to destroy the reforms. They attempted a 2002 coup but it failed.
Judy Gonzalez is an RN and President of the New York State Nurses Association. She says health care is free in Venezuela, even complex heart surgery is free.
She says far from dictatorship, the constituent assembly elections were peaceful and open democratic elections. The violent episodes against the elections were coming from the right-wing oligarchy.
[Judy Gonzalez]: “The violence was being committed by the right-wing, by the wealthy classes and people that they were either paying or influencing in a particular way to commit these acts of violence – some of which were horrendous. And the purpose was to terrorize people into not voting.
I think there are serious problems in the country right now. But these problems are fomented by a right-wing, a wealthy class that’s not happy with the changes that are necessary and needed to create a better quality of life.”
JP Patafio is with Transit Workers Union Local 100 in New York. He toured Caracas with the Venezuelan transport workers union. What he saw were workers determined to control their own fates and tangible evidence of Hugo Chavez’s efforts to invest in housing for the homeless and public infrastructure for the people.
[JP Patafio]: “I saw thirty apartment buildings that he built for people to live in. And the guy estimated at least a million people were given homes – that did not have a home. And these are new buildings.
I saw huge investments in infrastructure that cost pennies for people to travel from one part of the city to the other – brand new, you know?
And I saw workers doin’ their thing. And they were ready. And I think they’re ready to take on the challenge.”