Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced yesterday the need for “a complete and profound revolution within public administration.” He has appointed planning minister Ricardo Menendez and vice-president Jorge Arreaza to facilitate a “restructuring” of the government system, to take place between 1 July and 15 July.
“From the1st to the 15th of July, we’re going to shake-up the revolutionary government entirely, to change everything and authentically improve socialist efficiency in the Homeland Plan’s development,” Maduro announced from the Caracas working class neighborhood Los Magallanes de Catia.
The Homeland Plan, or Plan de Patria, drawn up by former president Hugo Chavez, is a blueprint for Venezuelan development emphasizing social equality, popular organizing and economic growth within the framework of Latin American unity.
Menendez, who recently replaced Jorge Giordani as planning minister, spoke of his intent to further the struggle against corruption and the bureaucratization of public services by heeding the claims and demands of community councils.
“Planning is not a subject for elites,” the minister said.
“As the Bolivarian Constitution says, it is a protagonistic and participative democracy, it’s is a subject for the people,” Menendez stated.
Following his dismissal from office, ex-minister Giordani made headlines in June after writing a public letter accusing the government of an unwillingness to reign in corruption, and highlighting what he considers a series of misled policies which allegedly brought on the current economic slump.
During the broadcast yesterday, Menendez and Maduro seemed to allude to comments made by Giordani while introducing their plan for a government transformation.
Maduro noted the significant role the government plays in facilitating that change, saying “the government should represent the vanguard of scientific methods of state management… we must know what direction we are headed at all moments, and continue perfecting revolutionary methodology.
Whether or not the two week “shake-up” entails further cabinet switches remains to be seen, but Menendez’s ascension to office marked a new economic reform which is expected to be fully revealed and put into practice this month.
Electrical workers’ plea
A federation of electrical workers (Fetraelec) yesterday made a public statement pointing to internal crisis and conflict, which they feel has arisen from inefficiency on behalf of state-owned electric company Corpoelec.
Fetraelec president Angel Navas called upon the government to re-appoint new managers to Corpoelec, to address “a situation we have been denouncing [for a while]…”
In the past year, workers have been blamed and even taken to court for “deliberately causing” the frequent power failures many analysts have considered a form of political sabotage. Navas said the truth lies in the hands of Corpoelec’s directors, and that the underlying problem has more to do with workers struggling to do their jobs under a severe lack of resources and electrical circuits overloaded by up to 38%.
According to Navas, many workers have also been pushed out by subcontracts, which are illegal in Venezuela. He also warned of potentially hazardous outdated infrastructure in electrical plants. The workers’ representative further denounced an alleged 60% pay raise for Corpoelec directors while many retired workers have not been paid their dues.
“For this reason, we the workers ask President Nicolas Maduro to remove these authorities, with the knowledge that this is a workers’ army ready and willing to resolve the [nation’s] electrical issues,” Navas concluded in a public statement.
Carlos Lopez, general secretary of the Bolivarian Socialist Worker’s Center (CBST), expressed his support for Fetraelec’s demands, adding “this is not only for reasons of protest but [an attempt] to solve the grave electrical crisis currently in existence.”
A worker demonstration on Friday in Barquisimeto, Lara state, called for direct worker control and further support for the Bolivarian revolution. Yesterday these workers marched again, joining forces with educators who have been on vigil for over two months to protest their apparent lack of wages.
Together hundreds of workers marched through the Western city holding signs that read “We are bringers of education, working for years with no remuneration,” and “Chavez is alive, the struggle lives on,” while others called for a National Workers’ Congress and condemned pacts the government has allegedly made with major agribusinesses like Fedecamara.
Concerning the lack of pay, Yenny Sanchez, spokesperson for the Education Workers’ Struggle Collective, told reporters, “We are not counter-revolutionaries, we are not fascists or guarimberos [hardline anti-government protestors], we are dignified educators who demand, not ask, respect for the working class.”
According to Sanchez, some teachers have not received their pay in over a year.
“We don’t understand why [education] minister Hector Rodriguez does not want to sit down with us….” Sanchez said.
“Minister, if you don’t have the solution in your hands, come here and listen to us; we have solutions,” Sanchez stated.