May 21, Caracas.
President Hugo Chavez today gave the order to nationalize various companies in the briquette sector, as well as iron companies and ceramics factories, all in the southern state of Bolivar, with the goal of ending the trade union crisis that has emerged in these organizations in the last two months.
"Briquette sector - nationalize, there is nothing to debate," declared the head of state on a national channel from Guayana City, during a labor workshop with workers from basic industries. "These companies have to be under workers' control; it has to be that way," stated the chief executive, adding that "we have been involved in this for some time and it's been some time since we should have done it."
The companies Comsigua, Iron and Steel Works Materials (Matesi), Orinoco Iron, Venprecar, and Tavsa Tubes will pass under state control possibly starting this weekend (May 23-24). The nationalization of Carabobo Ceramics was also announced, a company that has sustained a prolonged labor conflict.
The shares of Comsigua include shares of Japan's Kobe Steel, Mitsui, and Sojitz. A good part of the iron production of this region is sold to Asia, Europe, and the United States.
Another company mentioned was Venezuela's Tubes of Steel (Tavsa), subsidiary of the Argentine group Tenaris, the largest manufacturer of seamless steel tubes for the oil industry in the world, whose plant in the south of Venezuela produces some 80,000 tons of tubes and employs 250 people, according to company data.
Orinoco Iron and Venprecar are subsidiaries of IBH, a briquette unit of the iron and steelworks plant Sivensa, one of the largest Venezuelan companies that until now hadn't been affected by the wave of nationalizations, and which has around 18% of the capital valued on the Caracas Stock Exchange. Between them the two firms produce around three million tons annually of prereduced iron briquettes, which are used as a substitute for high quality scrap iron in the process of producing steel. IBH produced net losses of $20 million in its first fiscal trimester, which ended in December 2008, compared to a $12 million profit registered in the same time period the year before.
"Start the process of nationalization at once, in order to be able to create this industrial complex," affirmed Chavez, who said that implementation of this measure should have begun some time ago. The head of state asserted that this new era "has to be assumed with responsibility, with a sense of integration between the government and the workers."
In addition, he explained that in this process of nationalization there must be transparency and strategic sense. Chavez made an appeal "for responsibility, for a struggle against mafias, against corruption, bad management, and the deviations and vices of the Fourth Republic," because "they are a threat to the socialist revolution."
According to the chief executive, the mafias, bad management, and corruption, "inherited from the Fourth Republic, led us to the trade union situation in the region." In agreement with the unions, the employees of the firms that will pass under state control haven't been paid in six months, and for this reason they have been soliciting government intervention since last year to remedy the constant delays.
Chavez indicated that now "each factory will be a school, in order to produce, like Che Guevara said, not just briquettes and irons and steel and aluminum, but rather, above all, the new man and woman, the new society, the socialist society."
Chavez maintained that all the easy paths lead to failure. It's for that reason that Venezuela follows the path of resistance and enrichment of the transformations that are being carried out in the country, in order that it have independent strength. "We don't want easy paths, Venezuela has the option of resistance in order to continue breaking the old structures imposed by the national bourgeosie that lived on its knees before North American imperialism," he said.
"We must broaden our project, but with the unity of the working class which now can play a larger role," he said. "How long will we continue importing products that we can make here? We must bring to fruition the workers' projects," he insisted. Chavez called for unity and indicated that "here we must leave fighting behind," and guaranteed that the Venezuelan working class would provide an example of greatness. "You tell me the passion that you feel," he emphasized.
Source: "Chavez anuncio nacionalizacion de Ceramics Carabobo y empresas briqueteras," 22 de mayo de 2009, www.aporrea.org