Friday, December 1, 2006

coop visit


(per the normal busy schedule and spotty Internet service, this report is a day late)

Hey all!,

Well after two very busy and productive days, which were also very hectic, we had a free morning to catch up a bit and get done some necessary errands and other small tasks, as well to make our plans for the next few days.

Around 1pm we made our way through a busy open market and in a very pro-revolution area to the coop Nucleo de Desarrollo Endogeno Fabricio Ojeda, where we were given a guided tour of the various cooperatives.

The site of the coops was once an abandoned filling station and remained as such for twelve years, after the changes introduced by Chavez, the land was taken over by the community and collectively they decided what to do with it. The community collectively makes many social decisions in assemblies here as well.

Since then there have opened up several autonomous cooperatives, the first was a textile coop but soon it was followed by a coop that made shoes, and by an agricultural coop. there is also a construction coop and construction trade school on the site. There is a youth sports coop, and a discount transport ticket center for students that gives prices 70% less than normal. In addition to the various coops there is a state medical center.

The tour of the shoe coop, which only opened a year ago with a state loan using the Micro-credit system has paid of its debt. The coop uses all-Venezuelan materials, such as rubber and leather. The coop has managed to get many large order contracts (10,000 pairs ordered by Cuba) which has helped to reduce over production thus far to non-existence levels, and in general production is very efficient in its use of materials. The shoes produced here are made to last and to be made from inexpensive quality materials. (the styles varied, but all came in black leather)

We spoke to several of the women workers who were working in the quality control department who said “ten million votes for Chavez and long live the world revolution!”

As well many of the workers from all the various coops were not at the facilities today, as half were out working on the election campaign. And many of the workers who were on the “work shift” still at the facilities were wearing Chavez t-shirts and one women worker had a card-board cut out of Chavez’s face at her work bench.

The textile coop was a sea of red! “Rojo Rojito” or as we were told, meaning red all the way through referencing the honest revolutionary spirit of the people as apposed to the phony “red” of the people who act as a break on the revolution. The textile coop had special machinery set up for disabled people who otherwise may not be able to find work, as well there are no old age limitations.

The medical facility was very clean and up to date, it was air conditioned (which is like gold here in a Caracas summer!), and right next door is being build a integrated diagnostics center, which would greatly expand the health services available for the community. As we entered the health center there were only a few people waiting around 3pm, as the doctors told us the busiest time is the morning, the few people waiting were watching a presidential address Chavez was giving on TV. The medical center treats mainly routine ailments but also provides gynecology services and dental care. One dentist told us before the new system of community health centers, dental care was only affordable for the rich, and this left the poor with bad teeth and little work for the dentists, now she said; the poor can have good teeth and the dentists can have regular employment.

We had a pleasant lunch in the agricultural coop, which had a few acres of land to grow food on for the community, which is severed regularly.

One point I would like to make:

While the coop system we visited boosts some very egalitarian aspects (equal pay, community control, worker assemblies plans of production etc) taken as a whole the coop system are not the way forward for the revolution, rather they are only a positive (and in this case very positive) augmentation on the prevailing conditions (a huge informal economy depended on bigger capitalists, terrible work conditions, no community/ worker input etc), also a major point in the coop movement is to produce items that otherwise would be available only by purchasing them from outside the country using oil money. the problem is however that even the most positive augmentation is not a radical change. The coop movement while reducing the dependency on foreign markets, does not actually break the hand of the foreign and native market and the social class that lives by rule of the market: the capitalists. Rather only by expropriating the means of production from the capitalists and running them under democratic workers control can the threat of a counter revolution be put down. The point is not to recreate capitalism based on the barrios but to take the wealth (in the form of necessary industry, needed to keep society functioning) from the 5% on the top and allow all workers, poor and peasants to run production. As long as 5% controls 80% of the wealth of society there is a threat of reaction.

Hopefully tomorrow one if not many delegates can report on the trip to the occupied factory run under workers control we took today, which is the most important part of the struggle currently and show the way forward that is the way to secure and to finish the revolution! (12-1-2006)

In solidarity

Shane Jones from Caracas

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry my comment is not about the post.

I only want to wish the best result in the elections for Chavez and the bolivarian revolution.

I'm Portuguese and probably will be part of the few people in Europe that will celebrate his victory in the streets!

It's time to change. There's no future in this neoliberal europe. Poverty is raising and rich people are getting even more rich. Unfortanly, there's no hope for europe because nobody cares about politics. I hope the Latin America can change this cenario!

I wish I had a flag to celebrate, I will try to do my best! eheheh