A comrade asked me to speak about some of the changes that have taken place in newly leftist Latin American countries. So I looked up some of the actions taken by workers in Venezuela and this is what I found.
Fama de América was a private enterprise and like 99% of private enterprises in Latin America is was extremely exploitative. It had a tremendous amount of massive corruption. The owners of the enterprise, as capitalists, were only interested in exploiting the hell out the workers leaving them just enough to barely survive.
Oh there was union there that was started in 1978. But it was run by the Acción Democrática (Democratic Action) Party. And we full well know how much democracy existed under that two party dictatorship. Just like in the United States. Just ask any Venezuelan how different the two parties were.
Thing started to change in Latin America and people knew that there would be new opportunities in Venezuela, with the rebellions in Argentina in 2001 and 2002, with elections of left candidates in Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, and elsewhere, the left was starting to gain strength in South America again.
So workers started having meetings, and decided it was time to organize themselves. And eventually they succeeded in organizing a new union, one that is critical and holds to the ideals of the left, the importance of the workers. So they succeeded in establishing this new union. And, obviously, they immediately began to come into conflict with the owners of Fama de América, who wanted to continue to exploit workers as they had always done in the past.
In August and September of 2009 they started their struggle under the idea that the factory had to be under workers’ control. The new union met regularly and had several philosophical and political discussions. The issue was raised over and over again about what the main purpose was, and they agreed that it was to establish workers’ control. It is the workers who produce, and it is the workers who should be in control of the entire process. The national government eventually agreed with them on this point.
But it wasn’t easy. They started to hold workshops on workers’ control. The workers in the plant didn’t have a lot of experience with struggle, nor with political theory. Workers would ask, why workers’ control? It’s impossible. And they said, no, it is possible. They talked about the original soviets in Russia, and talked about how they really had existed. And the workers came around to the idea, and over time this is what they wanted collectively.
By taking control over our workplace, workers have opportunities that they never had before. Something has been achieved. Something has been gained.
The workers have learned a great deal from their own experiences about the possibility of change. The workers began to understand through their own experience with the terrible union that they had before that something had to change.