Venezuelans, Bolivians target Australian companies


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the nationalisation of six companies on May 21. "There will be no discussion", he said.

Two of the companies to be nationalised, Orinoco Iron and Venprecar, are part owned by Australian mining giant BHP-Billiton.

The companies produce 3 million tons of briquetted iron a year, said on May 22.

The moves are part of restructuring the economy so it serves to needs of Venezuela's people — not the desire of major shareholders half way around the world to maximise profits.

When the corporate-owned media in Australia next repeat the standard lie that the repeatedly elected Chavez government is a dictatorship, remember that the media is not a disinterested bystander. The Australian capitalist class has lost out due to Chavez's policies.

The Venezuelan people, however, are happy with the people-first socialist policies, which have halved of poverty rates since 2003.

Chavez's approval rating, after more than a decade in office, is above 60%, a May poll by a company considered sympathetic to the opposition found. said on May 15 that another poll by a company considered favourable to the government found most respondents believed that in one year, their personal economic situation would be "better" or "much better".

This is an astonishing result given the global economic crisis.

In Bolivia, an indigenous community is seeking to force Australian mining company Republic Gold to abandon a projected gold mine in Amayapampa.

The community is angry that its land will be destroyed so profits can fill bloated bank accounts across the Pacific. A company representative was kidnapped and forced to sign an agreement to stop the mine, although the company has since insisted it will go ahead.

Australian corporations such as Republic Gold and BHP have treated the Third World as nothing more than a source of resources and cheap labour to be exploited. Unfortunately for them, this is beginning to change.