Bolivarian markets are just one example of the boom in cooperative
movements that have taken place over the past few years. In Petare,
a working class district in Caracas, marketstall holders meet each
Wednesday to set fair food prices for the weekend market. Participating
sellers pay $1 to rent a pitch with this money being reinvested
in local community projects. Out of the cities, Self Organised Rural
Associations are being set up in an effort to develop a highly integrated
system of cooperatives and LETS schemes, where skills rather than
money are exchanged for food and other goods. City vegetable gardens
are cropping (!) up across Caracas as the country seeks to become
self-sufficient in food.
But its not the Co-ops thats got up the nose of the Bush
Administration Inc. Neither was it jealousy at the fact that Chavez
actually won the election that made him president, its the
fact that Chavez campaigned on the basis of a need to transform
the current, brutal, neoliberal economic model. Whilst that
itself was bad news for US investors (Venezuelans buy 1/3 of all
US goods exported to Latin America), Venezuela also happens to account
for 15% of US oil imports. The state-owned Venezuelan oil company,
PDVSA oversees the largest reserves of any oil producing country
outside of the Middle East and the country has 148 trillion cubic
feet of proven natural gas reserves the largest in the Western
Hemisphere. A new Hydrocarbons Law recently raised taxes paid by
private companies from 1-17% to 20%-30%.
Chavez has sought to increase his control of the oil industry,
booting out Exxon, Shell & Texaco executives and cramming the
organisation with loyal Chavistas. PDVSA owns Citgo, an oil company
operating in the US which has $12 billion invested in refineries,
terminals and pipelines there, indirectly employing 150,000 workers.
When stopping short of invasion the US often uses economic pressure
to bully a nation, but now the situation is being reversed by Venezuela.
Theres also talk of combining Venezuelas oil company
with Ecuadors, Brazils and Trinadads. These countries
would then be able to bargain much harder in trade talks which,
up to now, have been mostly a one-way deal designed only to benefit
US investors. But the war manual of the Project for the New American
Century, the right wing outfit that advises Bush on foreign policy
matters, has identified a need for a concerted national trade
and security policy to prevent monopolistic collusion by foreign
energy producers. Given that Bushs Latin American Department
is crammed with rightwing Cuban exiles, including Otto Reich the
architect of former President Ronald Reagens central American
policy that saw 200,000 killed, its safe to say that such
a deal is not going to be successful.
When Chavez took power the price of oil stood at $9 per barrel.
Oil production was cut and by April 2002 the stuff went for $23,
with extra revenue used to fund the reforms. Later that month Venezuela
experienced what the US state department called a temporary
alteration of constitutional order when the business class
replaced Chavez with US-friendly head of the Venezuelan Chambers
of Commerce, Pedro Carmona in a coup. He immediately suspended the
constitution, legislative assemblies and began reversing Chavezs
anti neoliberal reforms. The US recognised the government immediately.
Oil production was increased. Two days after the coup, loyal army
troops and a demonstration of the poor, hundreds of thousands strong,
helped restore Chavez to the Presidency. Carmona flew to Florida.
Despite Senator Klaymans concerns its unlikely that
Chavez has been plotting with the Taliban. Given that he has been
re-elected numerous times, a dictatorship it is not, but neither
is it a revolution. Chavez deals with the multinationals that have
caused so much damage in the region already and the whole reform
process is linked to the cult of personality surrounding him. If
revolution is supposed to pass power to the people, then this ones
got a long way to go.
The streets of Caracas have been ringing to the sound of banging
pots and pans for months, as the right wing nutcase opposition seeks
to annoy the government through noise pollution. Now Chavez is apparently
looking for some way to outlaw the banging of pots in protests.
But restricting the right to demonstrate is always a tricky business
as Caracas resident Armando Lefmans says, I have made my own
cassette of the noise. You put it on at a high volume so you dont
have to bother hitting a pan.
Crap Arrest Of The Week
For living on your own land...
Paynes Lane Rally is planned to support Peter Robb, a traveller
who was sent to prison for 28 days for living on his own land. A
judge is also threatening to imprison his wife and children if they
dont move from land they bought at Colney Hatch, Hertfordshire.
- The rally will also be dedicating a memorial park to Romani
victims of the holocaust and present day racism. Meet Paynes Lane,
noon, 22nd August, 01206 523528 for details.
There will be a 10th birthday party, new
book launch and conference - all on the same day - somewhere
in London on the 16th October (coinciding with the European
Social Forum). Pencil this date in your diary and keep an
eye on our website for more details.
The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline is off!
The government of Georgia has ordered BP to halt work on a section
of a controversial £2.4 billion Caspian oil pipeline project,
the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. BP had been on site at Borjormi - an area
of outstanding natural beauty - for a week and was already felling
The Georgian environment minister said BP failed to provide contractually
required environmental assurance that the pipeline could withstand
both landslides and terrorist attacks.
The original contract, agreed by former president Edward Shevardnadze
effectively handed BP control over a 1,750 mile strip of land cutting
through Georgia, Azerbijan, Kazekstan and into Turkey, a project
which bears all the hallmarks of the modus operandi of Oil companies.
Encouraged by Bush and financed partly by free public money, the
route of the 42 inch wide pipeline is becoming aggressively militarized
following sabotage. Anyone speaking out faced intimidation and in
some cases torture.
In May, Turkish authorities picked up Ferhat Kaya, a Human Rights
campaigner who has been at the forefront of pressing for proper
compensation for those affected by the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. He
was considered a terrorist by the Court and beaten by
police during detention. Four senior pipeline experts who worked
on the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline in Turkey have revealed a catalogue
of incompetence, cost-cutting and shoddy workmanship, which raises
major questions about the safety of the pipeline. All four have
successful careers of over 20 years in pipeline construction, and
have said this is the worst project they have ever worked on. Their
revelations and all the other dirt about this pipeline can be found
The longest continuous bus strike in the UK for over thirty years
ended in victory last Tuesday after 21 days (see SchNEWS 464). Drivers
won nearly all their demands for more pay and better working conditions,
with no strings. Union organiser Martin Mayer said Why have
the Company conceded so much and so suddenly? Well of course it
is because, much to their amazement, our strike held solid for three
whole weeks with no one threatening to cross the picket lines -
and no prospect of the strike breaking as we poised to begin our
4th week on strike. It was also because they could no longer bear
to lose so much money as the strike continued (our estimate is £5
million losses so far).
- A tribunal has decided that four electricians who staged
one of the countrys longest-running industrial disputes
were unfairly sacked for belonging to a trade union. The electricians
had been protesting against electrical sub contractors DAF who
hired unskilled workers on the cheap to carry out work on the
£25 million Piccadilly Gardens development in Manchester.
- The Permaculture Association of Britain will be celebrating
its 21st birthday next month with a design course and convergence
- and of course a party. Permaculture is a design concept that
trys to connect everything from growing food, to urban planning
to community development. The event takes place in Braziers Park,
Oxfordshire, to book tickets call 0845 4581805 www.permaculture.org.uk
In The Dock
Dennis Burman was killed last year during training in his
first fortnight on the job at the giant Felixstowe port in Suffolk.
He was crushed on a crane and left hanging, before plunging 36 metres
to his death. Health and safety executive have criticised the company,
who, despite huge profits lacked proper safeguards for its trainee
workers. At a recent hearing Ipswich magistrates have decided that
the maximum £20,000 fine they could impose was not high enough
and have sent the case to a higher court.
The Port of Felixstowe (PFL) is the largest container port in the
UK. PFL is a member of the Hutchinson Port Holdings (HPH) Group,
a wholly-owned subsidiary of the multinational conglomerate Hutchison
Whampoa Limited (HWL). HWL is part of the Li Ka-shing group of companies
and Li Ka-shing is the 19th richest person in the world, with a
personal wealth of over $12.4 billion dollars. It leaves SchNEWS
wondering - who owns ol Li?
Nice guys Hutchinson Whampoa are also one of the leading investors
and supporters of the military dictatorship in Burma, which they
describe as rich in resources and culture. And after
their handy work its also a rich supply of slave labour to
be used for infrastructure projects across the country.
HWLs also run Harwich docks, where two dockers are pursuing
employment tribunals after they were sacked. But the companys
rich culture involves saving cash and limiting workers rights by
employing dockers from Poland.
The prospect of the first national dock strike since the end of
the National Dock Labour Scheme is also on the horizon after dockers,
drivers and port workers covering twenty three port operations across
the UK rejected a 2.9% pay offer. The ports are run by Associated
British Ports whose profits rose to £74.5 million last year.
The union is seeking a a minimum wage of £7.50 an hour for
all employees and £10 an hour for drivers. Since the end of
the National Dock Labour Scheme, casualisation has crept in ports
across the country - part of the low paid flexible economy
(or flexploitation) which is now endemic throughout
the country. The growth of casualisation, where people are forced
into low paid jobs with little or no training, no job security,
no sick pay and no holiday pay means bigger profits for companies
but more deaths and injuries for the people working for them.
- For more on this story www.easf.org.uk
- SchNEWS writer Simon Jones was killed on the first day of
work at Shoreham Docks in 1998. Since then the Simon Jones Memorial
Campaign have fought against labour casualisation. See www.simonjones.org.uk
SchNEWS was surprised to read that Brighton now has an airport
called Brighton City Airport, just where in the city is it?
Er, Shoreham actually. From a small scale aerodrome, it now runs
scheduled services to the Channel Isles and France.
With air pollution the fastest growing contributor to climate change
do we really need yet another airport? And whos it for anyway?
Its the top 20% who use aircraft the most - going on club
class business trips or weekend getaways to their second homes in
Tuscany. At current levels air transport will account for 15% of
global warming by 2050. Plans are afoot to expand or build another
runway at Shoreham, adding to this unsustainable trend, and turning
a once tranquil area into a noisy hell-hole.
A Stop the Shoreham Expansion picket of the Shoreham Airshow is
taking place next Saturday (28th) from midday-3pm followed by a
walk through threatened marshlands of the Widewater Lagoon Nature
Reserve. Meet outside Brighton Station at 11am
SchNEWS In Brief
- Last week the Information Commissioner said that, as
a result of ID cards and other surveillance measures, Britain
could sleepwalk into a surveillance society. There
will be a national gathering in Manchester to organise resistance
to the Governments plans to introduce identity cards. Contact
or phone 07980 291478 for details of the venue. www.defy-id.org.uk
- This weekend (20-21) St Agnes Place in Kennington, a
squatted street for the past 30 years, is hosting everything from
live music, party and protest photography exhibitions, sculpture
and art in the street fireshow, cyborg performance, standup comedy,
food and workshops from 12 till 12 Saturday and Sunday. Nearest
tube is the Oval www.stagnesplace.org
- The Rhythms of Resistance samba-protest band are holding
dance workshops every Wednesday 6.30-9pm at Highbury Roundhouse
Youth and Community Centre, 71 Ronalds Road, London, N5. (Holloway
Road tube). If you interested email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kit Sampson, who spent decades campaigning for Gypsies,
is returning her MBE for a second time as a protest at the governments
racist attitude towards gypsies. She originally handed back her
MBE when the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act came into force
in 1994, but was persuaded to take it back when Labour got into
power, but now says This government is exactly the same
as the last one.
- Camden Council have finally dropped charges against a
man who put up posters on bus stops opposing council houses being
flogged off (see SchNEWS 463).
- The BASS Community Fayre is happening on
The Level on the 4th September from 12pm till 6pm. Attractions
include SchNEWS movies, kids space and workshops, DJ workshops,
Eco-Arcadia, cream teas and veggie food. email@example.com
Anti-Social Burger Order
Last week police used Section 30 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act
at McDonalds in Leicester Square. Section 30 of the ASBO Act gives
police power to disperse groups of two or more people for causing
intimidation, harassment, alarm or distress where anti-social
behaviour is a significant and persistent problem in the relevant
locality. Now SchNEWS thought that maybe the police had told
all McDonalds staff to disperse for intimidating the public through
their aggressive advertising, causing harassment of parents by utilising
childrens pester power, causing alarm to vegetarians
for selling meat or causing distress to peoples guts from
their crap food. But no such luck - the police told protesters at
a weekly picket of McDonalds to disperse or face arrest. Protesters
arent taking this lying down and have called for more people
to join them at future regular McDonalds pickets, Leicester Square,
every Thursday, 5.30pm-7.30pm. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The little missus was away at a Tupperware convention, so
I had to do my own laundry. Im not used to washing clothes,
and they say this happened because I didnt separate my whites
from my coloureds. So klansman Arnie Stevens told reporters
in Oklahoma after being thrown out of a Klu Klux Klan rally because
his hood and robes were... pink. Although Arnie reasoned that a
rogue red t-shirt in his wash was a sign from God that segregation
is a way of life in laundry as in life, he then went on to
argue I cant help what colour my robe is can I? Its
whats inside that counts somewhat missing the ironing
of the point. (from, er, Private Eye)
SchNEWS warns all latin lovers playing with Bush is a cut-throat
business and you could end up with a close Chavez... Honest!
NOW OUT!!! 'PEACE DE RESISTANCE' - SchNEWS Annual
2003 - £8 + £2.00 p&p
- SchNEWS Round
issues 51 - 100 Sold out - Sorry
- SchNEWS Annual
issues 101 - 150 and a whole lot more £2.00 inc. postage
- SchNEWS Survival
Guide issues 151 - 200 and a whole lot more £2.00 inc. postage
- The SchQUALL
book Sold out - Sorry
and SQUALLs YEARBOOK 2001. 300 pages of adventures from
the direct action frontline. £3 inc p&p. You can order
the book from a bookshop or your library, quote the ISBN 09529748
- SchNEWS Of
The World issues 301 - 350. 300
more pages of adventures from the direct action frontline. £5
+ £1.50 p&p. You can order the book from a bookshop
or your library, quote the ISBN 09529748 6X
In the UK you
can get SchNEWS Annual, Survival Handbook, Yearbook 2001 and SchNEWS
of the World for just £15 inc p&p.
£6.00 for individual books, £13 for above offer).
In addition to
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to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9 issues)
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