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Luis Primo (Venezuelan UNT) Speaks at ILWU Local 34 Hall in San Francisco
Thursday, 30 March 2006

On Saturday, March 25, more than 90 people came to hear Luis Primo describe the revolutionary developments that have been building momentum in Venezuela.  Christina Vasquez chaired the meeting and, to the delight of the audience, affirmed solidarity with the millions of undocumented workers in the US and the huge demonstrations that have been staged across the country in defense of their rights. 

Bill Leumer, a member of the Teamsters’ union and former president of his International Machinists Association local, introduced Luis Primo and observed, “The message that the people of Venezuela are sending out to the world is this:  If all working people and all of the poor unite, then we have the power to change the world.  After all, it is working people that make the country run, it should be working people who run the country.”

luis primo san francisco
Luis Primo Speaks at the ILWU Local 34 Hall  

Primo started by giving a brief history of the CTV, the labor federation that preceded the formation of the UNT and of which he is a leading member, outlining its slow degeneration into what amounted to a bosses’ union.  When the rank and file witnessed the head of the CTV actively supporting the counterrevolutionary efforts to overthrow the Chavez government by promoting the sabotage and shut down of the oil industry, they realized it was time to act. 

Despite the absence of most the state oil company's management and technicians, the workers themselves quickly succeeded in reestablishing oil production so that within three weeks it was almost back to its normal level.  This success then led to the rank and file abandoning the CTV, and to the creation of the UNT, which is democratically controlled by the workers themselves. 

The UNT has been pressing for workers’ control of industry so that exploitation and dehumanization at work can finally be abolished.

In describing the situation of workers under capitalist conditions, Primo noted that workers don’t really know themselves, a point that resonated with many in the audience.  In other words, people go to work and basically enter a totalitarian regime.  The bosses have supreme power to dictate the entire process.  But in an economy operating according to humane principles, people would go to work and discuss among themselves how the work should be performed, and they would produce with the needs of the community in mind, not simply their own interests.  People’s intellectual and moral faculties would be exercised, and they could begin to relate to one another as human beings, not robots.     

Everyone at the event seemed very pleased, and the members of the San Francisco Hands Off Venezuela, which helped organize the tour, are deeply grateful to Luis Primo for his visit.

 
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