News from Latin America

Brazil

Popular protests confront Brazil’s government for the second time this year.

Striking Brazilian oil industry workers protest the auction of Libra oil field in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Oct.17.

Striking Brazilian oil industry workers protest the auction of Libra oil field in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Oct.17.

On Oct. 17, members of La Via Campesina and the United Federation of Oil Workers (FUP) occupied the Ministry of Mines and Energy in the capital, Brasilia, in response to the call for an indefinite strike by the FUP against the auction of Libra, the largest oil reserve discovered off the coast of Brazil. “Its reserves are estimated at 12 billion barrels of oil, 70 percent of the country’s current reserves.” (Telesur)

The FUP is composed of 14 unions, including the workers at the state oil company, Petrobras, and the strike was approved by regional unions that met in assemblies in 27 states. The FUP points out that the Libra auction constitutes handing this wealth over to foreign companies and is a form of privatization, threatening the country’s sovereignty. They also affirm that Petrobras has the ability to exploit this oilfield without the need for foreign companies.

This auction takes place under a new government policy called “model of distribution or division of production” that replaces the model of “concessions” and ensures minimum participation of 30 percent in Petrobras.

Since the day before, on Oct. 16, the union began to mobilize, paralyzing refineries and blocking terminals and platforms in several provinces. Although there was an attempt by the national government to approach the FUP for talks, to date there was no sign of the government’s intention to suspend the auction, which was held on Oct. 21 at Windsor Hotel, a luxury hotel in Rio de Janeiro. The government deployed heavily armed security forces in the vicinity of the hotel, with a total of 1,100 troops, including members of the Army, Navy, Federal and Rio Police, supported by ground vehicles and a helicopter.

Social and student movements joined this national protest.

Venezuela

Six months after his election as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro has intensified use of his model — “Government in the Streets” — to try to solve the most pressing problems in society, including rooting out corruption and stopping economic warfare. The opposition, largely funded by the U.S. government, has launched a wave of activities creating shortages of essential products, with the goal of fostering unrest in the population and splitting the people from the Bolivarian government.

On Oct. 8 in response to this attack, President Maduro called on the National Assembly to approve an Enabling Law that would allow him to take urgent and precise action against these attacks. A week later, the assembly appointed a special committee to review and discuss the law.

In a country where 70 percent of the gross domestic product is in the hands of big economic groups, there needs to be a decisive war against capitalism. In one of his speeches on the situation, Maduro said: “We still cannot talk about socialism if wealth remains in their hands.” (VTV)

For this tough battle, President Maduro has called on the people to be an active part of this process to promote the country’s economic stability. Already some of the measures against corruption, even before the approval and enactment of the Enabling Act, which has been heavily criticized by the opposition, have borne some fruit.

Hoarders have already been arrested in different parts of the country as a result of the actions of the audit staff of the National Cost and Price Authority (Sundecop) and the Institute for the Defense of People’s Access to Goods and Services (Indepabis). These agencies will employ 1,000 women to advance the audit, said Dulce Medina, the deputy minister of the Ministry of Socioeconomic Strategy for Women and Gender Equality.

“We have continued the work of our Commander [Hugo Chavez], to Protect the People with the Government of Street heading towards Socialism.” “Our goal, after the social advances of the Revolution, is Zero Poverty by 2019, despite the bourgeois sabotage; with our people, we will win!” (Twitter @ NicolasMaduro)