Sunday, December 15, 2002

So, am I the only person having trouble making sense of the American media's reporting on Venezuela --- not so much testing it against reality, as just trying to figure out what they say is going on? Forget the rumors of covert coup plotting, or anything like that; the story of events on the public stage is itself either nonsense or obviously skewed.

Take this New York Times article about the business shutdowns which have paralysed the country's economy, including the critical oil business, which is a major supplier to the United States. The media of record in the U.S. are routinely describing the event as a "general strike". But a strike is an action of labor against management, and if you read through the article, the owners and managers of shuttered dry cleaners, cafés and furniture shops turn out to be strike supporters, who have chosen to shut down the businesses themselves, and speak as if it is entirely their own choice when to reopen --- which would mean that their own employees aren't striking, but have rather been locked out. (Matters are more tangled at the state-owned oil company, where upper management, installed by elected president Hugo Chávez, is trying to keep things running, but the white-collar middle managers who run the company day-to-day are overwhelmingly supporting the "strike"). And the demands of the "strike's" leaders have nothing to do with labor conditions, but are entirely political --- specifically, they want early elections, even if the country's Constitution has to be amended to provide for them.

Meanwhile, back in Washington D.C., our petroleophile administration, not ordinarily a great friend to labor movements at home or abroad, might be expected to express grave concern and call for the restoration of oil shipments and civil peace, not necessarily in that order. For one thing, the current disruption of Venezuelan oil shipments is a real strategic issue for the United States, which gets 13% of its oil imports from Venezuela. Instead, they have issued statements publicly calling for elections --- effectively, lending the full support of the U.S. government to the demands of the leaders of the general whatever-it-is, which is causing disruption of oil shipments.

Shades of the CIA-inspired trucker's strike in Chile which provided PR cover for the brutal coup by Pinochet...

1 Comments:

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5:37 PM  

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