Venezuelan workers march in march in 'battle for socialism'

Issue 

A huge mobilisation of up to a million workers took place in Caracas on May 1 — the international workers' day.

The streets of Caracas filled with workers from a wide variety of unions, the government's pro-poor social missions and other community organisations — all in red T-shirts emblazoned with slogans supporting the Bolivarian revolution.

The march was organised by the left-wing National Union of Workers (UNT) and the mass party led by President Hugo Chavez, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

Speaking on the aims of the Boliviarian revoluition, Chavez told the crowd: "It is necessary to increase the battle for socialism, and redouble our efforts."

He said: "There's no socialism without the working class ... solid, conscientious, and committed to what is being born in Venezuela, which is socialism."

He said the government will invest almost US$1000 million in 200 "socialist factories", whose aim will be to create new relations of production in the next period.

"There must be a breaking-up of market relations in society, to give life to processes outside of consumption", Chavez said. He said the construction of socialism would take a long time.

Noting that the aim of building socialism fell apart within the former Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries, Chavez said "that does not mean that it is impossible to construct a socialist model. We are not at the point of claiming victory, but we are going to show that we can do it."

Chavez said Venezuela's existing institutions were the "territory of the bourgeoisie". Pointing to nearby public buildings, he said: "We are throwing them out of there, and they will never return. We will keep on liberating spaces."

He asked unions to not limit themselves to just economic struggles, but commit themselves to "the people and the revolution".

Chavez said: "I know we are reaching the limits of cooperation with that capitalism that leads to the workers being divided and fragmented, converted into beggars, fighting [for small gains] with the bosses.

"The workers [are moving into] new trade unions, class based, revolutionary, socialist, transcending all the divisions, to fight, because workers continue to fight for their due rights.

"The new working class must be incorporated fundamentally into the construction of the new Venezuela, a socialist, Bolivarian society."

A simultaneous march of a few thousand people occurred, organised by the right-wing Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), which backed the 2002 military coup that briefly unseated Chavez.

Chavez said it was not a workers' march, "but a march of conspirators [for] capitalism".

On the day, violent right-wing provocateurs attacked a marquee operated by PDVAL (a supermarket for government-subsidised food) at the Bellas Artes metro station, ransacking it and looting the stock of milk products.

At a meeting of unionists on the previous night to present awards to activists in the labour movement, Chavez said: "Never again will workers be slaves."

He reiterated his support for reducing the working week — one of the constitutional amendments defeated in a December 2007 referendum.

Chavez mentioned his government's recent decision to take action against the Gaviota sardine factory in Sucre. He said: "When you all see a private company, a capitalist company, that is exploiting workers and not complying with the law … denounce it, as the government is prepared to intervene where necessary."

He also argued that state companies must be transformed, and cease to operate like capitalist companies. "They have to be socialist companies, where the workers have a fundamental and active role, and where the privileges of the managers are no more."