domingo, abril 02, 2006
Noam Chomsky vs. Otto Reich: Smackdown!
Rather, the BBC interviewed both Chomsky and Reich on their views concerning the popular movements sweeping Latin America and what they mean for the U.S. I wish BBC had asked more interesting questions, but still, it's worth a read -- if only to witness Reich's astounding double-speak:
This doesn't mean the US influences government decisions [in Latin American nations]. Washington has always consulted its partners in Latin America, without dictating anything. . . . So what the US wants is a peaceful and prosperous Latin America. This has been the aim of US foreign policy in the last 25 years.
And I've got a nice bridge to sell you. Any takers?
Viewpoints: US-Latin America relations
Left-leaning leaders are in government in six Latin American countries - and more could follow after elections this year. But has this new political map affected relations with Washington?
BBCMundo.com asked two US experts for their views: the US academic Noam Chomsky and Otto Reich, former assistant secretary of state for the Western hemisphere and adviser to President George Bush.
Do left-wing leaders, such Bolivia's Evo Morales, represent a challenge for the US?
It is an extremely serious challenge. From Venezuela to Argentina the region is falling out of US control, moving toward independent policies and economic integration, beginning to reverse patterns of dependence on foreign powers and isolation from one another that go back to the Spanish conquests.
Morales' election reflects the entry of the indigenous population into the political arena throughout the continent. Along with other popular forces, indigenous people are demanding control over their own resources, a serious threat to Washington's plans to rely on resources from the Western hemisphere, particularly energy.
It depends on the policies that each Latin American leader is implementing. Three years ago, when President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected in Brazil, many analysts warned that it would be difficult for the US to work with him because of his leftist background.
However, Washington has a very constructive relationship with President Lula. The difference between Lula and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, is that Lula is more focused on solving the problems of his own people, whereas Chavez is intervening in other country's affairs.
Is the US an almighty empire that dictates the region's political and financial fate, as many Latin Americans believe?
The US was never 'all powerful' and is now less so. Nevertheless, it still dominates the continent, and in fact the world, certainly in military power. However, with the evolution of a tripolar economic order in recent decades (North America, Europe, North-East Asia with growing links to the rest of Asia), and the changes in the South, US economic dominance is nowhere near what it once was, and is in fact rather fragile.
A serious look at this question would, however, require a closer analysis of what we mean by 'United States'. If we mean its population, then dominance is much less. If we mean the effective owners of the country, the corporate system, the picture is different. Thus the famous 'trade deficit' of the US shrinks if we consider imports from US multinationals and their subsidiaries abroad to be US exports.
The US is the most important buyer of Latin American products - it purchases 50% of the region's exports. In general terms, the US is also Latin America's main source of technology and investments, and in some cases of education and scientific development. This doesn't mean the US influences government decisions. Washington has always consulted its partners in Latin America, without dictating anything.
The world has changed. The US has its own national problems - some of them serious - as well as global challenges such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation. So what the US wants is a peaceful and prosperous Latin America. This has been the aim of US foreign policy in the last 25 years.
Will Latin America be less of a priority in the future because of Washington's focus on the Middle East?
I suspect that Latin America will be a very high priority. As long as Latin America is quiet and obedient, the US has appeared to ignore it. I say appeared, because in reality its subordination was just taken for granted and policies were designed accordingly. That stance of apparent neglect has always changed rapidly whenever there have been signs of independence.
Defiance is intolerable in itself, but even more so when, as in the case of Cuba, it is feared that successful independent development might be a 'contagious example' that would 'infect' others, to borrow Kissinger's terms referring to Allende's Chile. And as noted, Washington planners have assumed that they will be able to rely on Latin America's rich resources, primarily energy. Control over them is not likely to be relinquished with equanimity, to put it mildly.
There is an impression - more in Latin America than in the US - that Washington does not pay attention to the region anymore. Of course the US government is now focusing on the crisis it is currently facing, on the threats to international security. This doesn't mean that President Bush has forgotten Latin America - he is very interested in the region.
I believe, however, that Latin America should be more helpful. It should stop complaining that the US doesn't do this or that. Latin Americans should focus on their own difficulties. They can't continue ignoring threats to democracy such as Cuba and Venezuela. They should not expect the US to solve all their problems, as some regional leaders would like to see happen.
Is trade the most important tool the US has in its dealings with Latin America?
The mechanisms developed and imposed by the US and its allies are not 'free trade agreements'. They are a mixture of liberalisation and protectionism designed - not surprisingly - in the interests of their designers: multinational corporations and the states that serve as their 'tools and tyrants'. The agreements guarantee expansive monopoly pricing rights. They also deprive developing countries of the mechanisms employed by all the rich industrial societies to reach their present state.
What is called 'trade' is in part an economic fiction, including vast intrafirm transfers within highly-planned economies. In the North American Free Trade Agreement, for example, the only accurate words are 'North American'. The efficacy of such mechanisms, however, depends ultimately on public acceptance. And, as recent developments in Latin America clearly reveal, that is far from assured.
The US has realised that the best way for countries to achieve political stability and economic development is through free trade agreements and by giving more freedom, internally, to companies and promoting employment. That's why the US has been supporting trade deals across Latin America. It has already signed accords with most of the countries of the region, and only a few are opposing them now - chiefly Venezuela and Argentina.
At the latest Summit of the Americas, Mexico's President Vicente Fox said that 29 out of 34 countries favoured the creation of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and that they shouldn't allow a minority to ruin the project. President Chavez subsequently insulted President Fox, sparking a bilateral crisis. Aggressions don't come from countries that favour free trade - they come from nations such as Venezuela, whose government is failing.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/30 15:12:35 GMT
Lea mas / Read more!
sábado, abril 01, 2006
Report: Luis Primo (Venezuelan UNT) in San Jose, CA
Luis Primo (Venezuelan UNT) in San Jose, CA
By U.S. Hands Off Venezuela
Tuesday, 28 March 2006
On Saturday March 25, more than 60 workers and activists attended the second to last event of the Hands Off Venezuela West Coast tour. Luis Primo spoke at the SEIU Local 715 hall in San Jose, sponsored by the SEIU Latino Caucus, the Women’s International League for Peace, South Bay Mobilization and Hands off Venezuela.
The event began with the screening of “Venezuela Bolivariana”, followed by a speech on the labor history of Venezuela by Luis Primo.
Primo spoke on the history of the CTV, the Venezuelan trade union struggle in general and the formation of the UNT. The audience was very excited when Primo explained how workers came together and took control of the state oil company PDVSA during the bosses lock out. A strong emphasis during his speech was the need for worker’s participatory democracy not only in Venezuela but also in the United States.
After speaking on Venezuela, Primo addressed the events unfolding here in the United States. He stressed the need to broaden the immigrant and anti-war movements and link them with other struggles. A discussion followed, during which the topic of workers' democratic participation was the most popular. Here again, Primo stressed the need to link all struggles to further the consciousness of working people in the US and around the world.
Thanks to everyone who made this successful event possible.
Lea mas / Read more!
jueves, marzo 23, 2006
El Charcote ranch will be ceded to the state
And the fearmongers who were shouting that the land redistribution progam would lead straight to fascism ... are suddenly nowhere to be found.
Lea mas / Read more!
sábado, marzo 11, 2006
Indigenismo, Anti-Imperialism, Feminism & Elections
DATE: Friday, March 17, 2006
TIME: 6:00pm (dinner); 6:30pm (panel & discussion)
PLACE: 3781 Broadway (north of Macarthur Blvd in Oakland)
Applied Research Center (ARC) http://www.arc.org/
COST: Free. Donations accepted to cover costs.
The following panelists will precede an open discussion about both the movements' experiences in Latin America and what this means for what we should be doing in the United States:
Mari Rose Taruc (staff at APEN),
Peter Miguel Camejo (Green Party Candidate for Governor), and
Mateo Nube (Los Nadies).
Mari Rose recently traveled as part of the Grassroots Global Justice delegation to attend the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, and hear President Hugo Chavez speak.
Peter has been closely following the rise of the left in Venezuela since before the Bolivarian Revolution and also attended the most recent World Social Forum.
Mateo and his family were in Bolivia, where he grew up, to participate in the inauguration of Evo Morales on January 22 of this year.
Sponsored by: Bay Area Solidarity (http://www.solidarity-us.org/)
Endorsed by: The Venezuela Solidarity Group & SOUL (http://schoolofunityandliberation.org/)
Childcare provided if requested by noon on Wednesday, March 15. All RSVP’s appreciated to email@example.com so we can be sure to order enough food.
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martes, febrero 28, 2006
Larkspur, CA: Bay Area activists visit the Bolivarian Republic
Wednesday, March 8, 7:30pm
The Redwoods Presbyterian Church, 110 Magnolia Ave
- Roger Harris photographed the January 2006 MITF 30-member delegation to Venezuela. Roger's visuals illustrate the group's trips to barrios to observe the implementation of literacy, health care, nutrition and social programs; excursions to rural areas to see the achievements of recent land reform; visits with government officials to hear about goals of the administration; meetings with human rights organizations to learn of their concerns; and experiences at the Social Forum of the Americas held in Caracas.
- Susan Scott of the National Lawyers Guild will describe their conversations with representatives of Sumate, a rightwing NGO, and the ongoing legal controversies surrounding that organization's funding by the U.S. government.
- Laura Wells, Green Party candidate for state controller, will comment on her meeting with the CNE (National Electoral Council) and what she learned about Venezuela's "participatory democracy."
- Camilla Schneider will discuss the role of women in the Bolivarian Revolution.
- Dale Sorensen, MITF Director, just back from the Venezuela Solidarity Conference in Washington DC, will discuss the growing solidarity movement and actions you can take to offset the U.S. government's increasing financial support of opposition groups as a means to subvert the re-election of President Chavez in November.
$5-10 donation requested
No one turned away for lack of funds
Lea mas / Read more!
domingo, febrero 26, 2006
Tour Calendar for Luis Primo (UNT) West Coast Tour
Wednesday, 22 February 2006
Confirmed Cities / Dates for the West Coast Tour of Venezuelan Trade Union Leader Luis Primo (Coordinator for the UNT)
This is an initial announcement with the following confirmed dates and locations. Further details, times, places, sponsors, and downloadable flyers to follow. For more information or to endorse this important tour, please call 415-786-1680 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Saturday, March 18: San Francisco, CA
Afternoon event: Luis Primo will be speaking at the anti-war demo.
· Sunday, March 19: Portland, OR
7:00 pm: Carpenters Union Hall
(2215 N. Lombard St. in Portland)
· Monday, March 20: Olympia, WA
Afternoon event: time and place to be announced.
· Monday, March 20: Seattle, WA
Evening event: time and place to be announced.
· Tuesday, March 21: Vancouver, BC
Evening event: time and place to be announced.
· Wednesday, March 22: Berkeley, CA
1:00 to 3:00 pm: University of California Berkeley, meeting room to be announced.
· Thursday, March 23: Tucson, AZ
6 pm: Venezuela Teach-in and Potluck at First Christian Church (Euclid and Speedway)
· Saturday, March 25: San Jose, CA
12:00 noon: screening of "Venezuela Bolivariana"
1:30 pm: Luis Primo speaks
Both events to be held at SEIU 715 Hall (2302 Zanker Rd. in San Jose)
· Saturday, March 25: San Francisco, CA
7:00 pm: ILWU Local 34 Hall
(4 Berry St. in San Francisco - located next door to SBC Park. Take MUNI N line toward SBC Park)
Luis Primo is a member of the Expanded National Coordinating Committee of the UNT, and Regional UNT Coordinator for Caracas-Miranda. He was also General Secretary of the Caracas Metro Workers' Union (SINTRAMECA) from 1990 to 1997.
His visit is the first major West Coast tour of a leader of the Venezuelan UNT. We hope it will be the first of many exchanges between Venezuelan and American trade unionists. To make this possible, the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign has launched a fund raising drive to cover the many expenses of the tour. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated and can be sent to:
4579 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
Donations can also be made online by clicking here.
Volunteers are also needed to help organize and prepare for these events. Contact us if you are able help out in any way. Letters of support or endorsements of the tour are also appreciated and can be sent to email@example.com.
Partial List of Endorsers
· Dolores Huerta
· San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO)
· South Bay Labor Council (AFL-CIO)
· Contra Costa Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO)
· Vanguard Public Foundation
· San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
· Alan Benjamin, Executive Board, SF Labor Council, Co-coordinator Open World Conference
· Fred Hirsch, Vice President of Plumbers and Fitters Local 393, San Jose, California
· Gloria LaRiva, President, Local 39521 Media Workers Sector/CWA*
· Louie Rocha, President, CWA, Local 9423*
· Global Exchange
· Chris Gilbert and Karen Bennett, MATRIX Program*, UC Berkeley Art Museum*
· Dorinda Moreno, Hitec Aztec Communications, Santa Maria, CA. Cesar Chavez Lifetime Achievement Legacy Award, 2003
· National Network on Cuba
· Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives
· Todd Chretien, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, California
· Peace and Freedom Party
· International Socialist Organization
· Roland Sheppard, Retired Business Agent, International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, Local 4
· Labor Video Project
· Socialist Action
· ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition
· Workers International League (WIL)
· Youth for International Socialism (YFIS)
· Louise Auerhahn, Member, South Bay Mobilization*
· Socialist Organizer
· International Liaison Committee (ILC)
· Wellred Books
* For identification purposes only
For more information, please call 415-786-1680 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lea mas / Read more!
martes, febrero 21, 2006
Venezuelan union leader on U.S speaking tour
If you're in the Bay Area, come hear him at an event I'm putting together on March 25th (below). If you're elsewhere in the western U.S., check Hands Off Venezuela for talks in other cities. (HOV could also use some assistance for the tour.)
And if you're not in any of those places, check out this recent interview of Primo by a Marxist labor journal. It's in Spanish, but I'm working on a translation -- I'll post it when complete.
Saturday, March 25th
The Venezuelan People and the Bolivarian Revolution
SEIU 715 Hall
2302 Zanker Rd.
San José, CA, USA
12 noon: Film Screening
People and Struggle of the 4th World War”
This documentary by Marcelo Andrade examines the Venezuelan Revolution as connected to the worldwide movement against capitalist globalization. Find out how the Bolivarian Revolution, thanks to its grassroots and networking power, transcends the national frontiers of Venezuela and contributes with concrete alternatives in the fight against neoliberal capitalism.
1:30 pm: Special Guest Speaker
Venezuelan Trade Unionist
*** Luis Primo ***
Regional Coordinator, National Union of Workers / Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT)
Currently, Primo is a Regional Coordinator for the UNT (Caracas-Miranda). He is also responsible for Trade Union/Political Education for the UNT on the national level. His other UNT assignment is working with the Ministry of Labor on the Committee on the Recovered Factories. He is the former president of the Caracas metro workers union. Primo will also be running for the National Leadership of the UNT at its upcoming congress this spring.
Refreshments provided • $5-$15 donation, no one turned away • Wheelchair accessible
Hands Off Venezuela
SEIU Local 715 Latino Caucus (email)
WILPF San Jose Branch
South Bay Mobilization
For more information: email email@example.com
Lea mas / Read more!
lunes, febrero 20, 2006
Help Bring Venezuelan Trade Union Leader to San Francisco
February 11, 2006
The Hands Off Venezuela campaign (HOV) is an organization of groups and individuals who support the right of the people of Venezuela to self-determination and oppose any intervention by the United States against the democratically elected government of Venezuela. It looks like the U.S. government is on a collision course with Hugo Chavez, arguably the most popular president in Latin America.
However, we cannot stop U.S. intervention by words alone, but only by the action of the people of the United States, and they cannot take action without knowledge. That is why we are calling on all freedom-loving people in the U.S. to help us bring the truth about Venezuela to this country by bringing here one of its most important trade union leaders, Luis Primo.
Luis Primo, a member of the Venezuelan National Union of Workers (UNT) will be in the U.S. to speak between March 18 and 25. He will speaking at the antiwar rally in San Francisco on March 18. On Saturday, March 25 he will be speaking at a public meeting at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 34 Hall, which is on the Embarcadero, next to the SBC Ballpark.
Currently, Primo is a Regional Coordinator for the UNT (Caracas-Miranda). He is also responsible for Trade Union/Political Education for the UNT on the national level. His other UNT assignment is working with the Ministry of Labor on the Committee on the Recovered Factories. He is the former president of the Caracas metro workers union. Primo will also be running for the National Leadership of the UNT at its upcoming congress this spring.
Your help is needed now! In order to bring Luis Primo here, we will have to pay for his travel expenses and living expenses while he is here, so we are in need of your financial help.
Please help us stop the U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Send us your donation of $100, $15, $10, or whatever you can. Checks should be made payable to Hands Off Venezuela. If you prefer to use a credit card, you can make a donation using PayPal at http://www.ushov.org/donate.html.
We thank you for your support in this struggle.
Hands Off Venezuela
San Francisco Bay
San Francisco, CA 94114
Partial List of Endorsers
San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO)
South Bay Labor Council (AFL-CIO)
Vanguard Public Foundation
San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
Alan Benjamin, Executive Board, SF Labor Council, Co-coordinator Open World Conference
Fred Hirsch, Vice President of Plumbers and Fitters Local 393, San Jose California
Gloria LaRiva, President, Local 39521 Media Workers Sector/CWA*
Louie Rocha, President CWA Local 9423*
Chris Gilbert and Karen Bennett, MATRIX Program*, UC Berkeley Art Museum*
*for identification purposes only
Lea mas / Read more!
sábado, febrero 18, 2006
San Mateo, CA: "Reality Tour of Venezuela" next Thursday
Reality Tour of Venezuela
Thursday, February 23
San Mateo Unitarian Universalists
300 E. Santa Inez, San Mateo
Peace Action of San Mateo County presents a report-back by local activists Ernie Goitein and his wife Claire Feder, following a Global Exchange "Reality Tour" to Venezuela.
Ernie and Claire will recount their trip with words and pictures, and will also show the DVD "The Revolution Will Not be Televised," which chronicles the changes and the progress in this oil-rich but independent nation. The two will provide a sense of how Venezuela's government works, including its programs for education, health care, agricultural cooperatives, and the petroleum industry. The presentation will also cover the unsuccessful coup against the Chavez government, and the efforts of the opposition media to undermine it. And it will touch upon the spirit of the people there.
Admission is free. The UU is wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact Rob Zucker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lea mas / Read more!
lunes, febrero 13, 2006
Event: SF Bay View editor reports on journey to World Social Forum
CC Campbell-Rock: 'Venezuelans are getting their 40 acres and a mule, and more'
CC Campbell-Rock, the new editor of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, has just returned from Venezuela. Read her article, 'Venezuelans are getting their 40 acres and a mule, and more' at www.sfbayview.com/020806/eyewitness020806.shtml. Hear her report back as an eyewitness to the Bolivarian Revolution.
Friday, February 24th, 7PM
Centro Del Pueblo
474 Valencia Street
(near 16th Street one block west of 16th & Mission Bart Station)
She attended last week's World Social Forum and toured the Venezuelan countryside, with other delegates from Global Women's Strike, to meet the grassroots revolutionary leaders who are making the kind of miracles in education, health, housing, economic development, etc., that could revive and transform the inner cities of the United States. Prior to working for the SF Bay View, CC was a prominent pre-KATRINA journalist and activist in New Orleans.
This meeting is jointly sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Hands Off Venezuela! committee and the San Francisco Bay View.
San Francisco Bay View
San Francisco Bay Area Hands Off Venezuela!
Donation $5.00 (Students, unemployed, and Seniors $3.00)
Lea mas / Read more!
miércoles, febrero 08, 2006
More than "tit-for-tat"
Most U.S. papers are portraying the incidents as "tit-for-tat," implying that the U.S. response was equal to (and provoked by) Venezuela's initial action -- and more subtly, that Venezuela and Chavez are to blame for the escalating tensions. But they gloss over two key facts:
1) The U.S. attache, John Correa, was expelled over accusations of espionage. We don't know if the accusations are true, but considering he was in Venezuela as part of the U.S. military mission, even suspected spying is a pretty good reason to kick him out, no?
On the other hand, the Venezuelan diplomat Jeny Figueredo is not accused of anything; personally, she has done nothing to warrant expulsion. Even the Seattle Times acknowledged that "[Figueredo's] expulsion carried no allegation of improper behavior, in contrast to Venezuela's accusation that Correa was in league with some Venezuelan military officers and helped to pass state secrets to the Pentagon."
2) Even putting aside the motivations, the U.S. action was not "equal and opposite". Correa is merely a naval attache. Figueredo is the chief of staff at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, making her the embassy's second-highest ranking staffer. The non-partisan Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) describes the situation well:
With the State Department's unwarranted recent expulsion of Venezuelan diplomat Jeny Figueredo from her post as second-in-command of that country's Washington's embassy, Washington's actions lacked all proportionality and broke with diplomatic convention that, under normal circumstances, if one nation is expelling a person on the resident diplomatic list of that country, one should closely match it only with a person of comparable rank and station, as a candidate for retaliation. In this instance, the State Department decided to make its harsh point by choosing to expel the second highest ranking diplomat at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington.
COHA's piece goes on to discuss the case of Maria Corina Machado, emphasizing once again that accepting money from a foreign government for domestic political activities is simply illegal:
While Washington is attempting to portray the Sumate trial as a case of a political vendetta by an authoritarian government against a bona fide democratic leader, the truth is that the established norm in many countries -- including in the U.S. -- is that locally-based political groups are forbidden from accepting financial contributions from foreign sources for election purposes.
. . .
The case against Plaz and Machado seems to be clear cut: Venezuela's Ley de Partidos Politicos, Reuniones Publicos y Manifestaciones (Political Party Law), which dates to 1965 contains the clause in Article 25 that parties "may not accept donations or subsidies...from foreign companies...or from foreign governments or organizations." Caracas authorities claimed, then, that the organization's acceptance and administration of a $31,000 grant from the NED was precisely that, and that Sumate's behavior in the 2004 referendum -- actions which were funded by the grant -- constituted political organizing rather than non-partisan "democracy promotion."
. . .
[W]hat Machado and Plaz admit that they have done would have been met with comparably raised legal eyebrows in the U.S., where the Federal Electoral Code expressly prohibits donations to U.S. campaigns from foreign nationals or governments. It was precisely this prohibition which was a central part of the 1997 John Huang scandal when the Democratic fundraiser was accused of funneling donations from Chinese authorities wanting favors to Democratic Party officials. Yet somehow Washington believes that similar restrictions under Venezuelan law lack comparable validity or application.[Washington believing it should be exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else -- hmm, does that sound familiar?]
The U.S. seems to be doing more and more lately to provoke Chavez. Personally, my opinion is that he should refuse to take the bait. Respond by focusing on serving the people of Venezuela, and reaching out to the peoples of the rest of the world, including the U.S. - that, not more name-calling, sounds like the way to win hearts and minds.
Lea mas / Read more!
lunes, febrero 06, 2006
CSM on USAID's "democracy promotion" funds
Sumate's NED money is small change compared to the millions of dollars given to Venezuelan groups by a little-known branch of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) called the Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI). The Venezuelan government and some analysts question OTI's motives in Venezuela, since it is less transparent than other US aid agencies, more directly tied to US foreign policy interests, and has unusual budgetary flexibility. . . .
Yet unlike most USAID programs, OTI describes itself as "overtly political" and particularly tied to foreign-policy goals.
In order to issue grants quickly, OTI can spend money free from earmarks for specific programs that Congress often puts on regular USAID funds. . . .
OTI says on its website that transparency is one of its "strategic principles," but declined to release the names of its grantees and denied requests for any on-the-record interviews on its Venezuela program.
The US government did agree by phone to release to the Monitor descriptions of all 2005 OTI grants with most of the grantees' names blacked out. These documents have not yet been received.
What does this mean?
a) $4.5 million of US taxpayers' money thrown into a black hole
Yep, the OTI is even "less transparent" than the NED -- and that's saying a lot. OTI won't release the names of its grantees, and refused to even grant an interview to the CSM reporters.
Oh yeah, and it gets the cash for those grants from "disaster-assistance funding," i.e. our tax dollars. Don't we have a right to know where that money is going?
b)Blatant interference with democracy
$4.5 million is a whole lot of money to me, and probably to you. But it's a drop in the ocean compared to the whole federal budget. So why should we care how it's being spent?
OTI refused to release its grantees' names because it says they would be placed in danger of being investigated by the Venezuelan government. Maybe so. But if OTI isn't funding political activity, it should have little to fear from an investigation, right?
The problem is, everyone knows (unofficially) that it is funding anti-Chavez political activity, and even OTI "describes itself as 'overtly political'".
A foreign government putting money into another county's political campaigns is illegal in the US and illegal in Venezuela. Remember the big brouhaha when Clinton was accused of accepting campaign contributions from donors in China? OTI, like the NED, may try to finesse their work and say they're not supporting partisan electoral efforts, but no one's going to believe them.
That's not to say that some of the groups OTI supports might not be doing good work. And even if they're doing lousy work, domestic organizations have the right to do whatever they want, including electoral politics and street protests, as long as their acts are nonviolent and do not circumvent democratic decision-making. But when they start accepting funding and "assistance" from a foreign government, that's a different story.
Full article: Democracy's 'Special Forces' Face Heat
"Transitioning Venezuela" by Tom Barry at the International Relations Center: highly recommended, covers OTI and NED and gets a bit into the deeper question of what the US really means by "democratization"
OTI's description of its Venezuela program: Venezuela Fact Sheet October 2005
Philip Agee's article: informative details on OTI contracts, though I think he leans too much on "the CIA" as the invisible hand behind everything
Lea mas / Read more!
domingo, febrero 05, 2006
Washington Post: "Chavez Wins Hearts Among the Poor"
Some of Chavez's supporters stress the distinction between the desire of poor and working Venezuelans to determine their future and the will of its leader. Geomar Hernandez, 26, said he applauds Chavez but bristles at the name Chavista.
"I'm not a Chavista, I'm a Venezuelan," said Hernandez, a university student. "We have to believe in a nation. The leaders are circumstantial; their positions change."
The article is "Venezuela's Chavez Wins Hearts Among the Poor".
Oil Wars has some interesting commentary about this article too.
Lea mas / Read more!
sábado, enero 28, 2006
Kick VZ out of the ILO? Not likely
The ILO representatives apparently kept a low public profile and focused on the need to restore “dialogue” in the country. Said Dumbia-Henry, “The most intense challenge is the social dialogue, is reestablishing trust . . . We would like to explore opportunities to improve social dialogue, specifically between the government, the CTV and Fedecámeras.” [my translations] According to government press, she also “expressed her interest in an eventual reform of the Organic Labor Law.”
The president of national employers’ organization Fedecámeras, José Luis Betancourt, made a statement to the press about the ILO visit, but didn’t say anything substantive. I suspect that Fedecámeras is trying to play nice with the Chávez administration now, domestically at least. Betancourt also announced that ILO secretary-general Antonio Peñaloza Hill visit Venezuela next week – why, I’m not sure.
The delegation will remain in Venezuela through tomorrow. Their investigative report will go to various ILO committees, and based on that report the ILO’s governing body will once again discuss the complaints filed and information gathered concerning trade union freedoms in Venezuela. Don’t expect any dramatic pronouncements.
Froilan Barrios is expecting some though, or at least hoping the ILO will give him some ammunition to use against Chávez. Barrios, the executive secretary of the anti-Chávista union confederation CTV, mentioned several issues that the CTV believes the mission should address, including the government’s relationships with unions, the petroleum workers fired in the wake of the oil stoppage, and the relationship of the National Electoral Council with unions and union elections, which Barrios criticized as “direct interference” in union affairs. He even managed to bring in the World Social Forum, arguing that the ILO’s visit at the same time as Venezuela is hosting the WSF is evidence of Chavez’s hypocrisy. “On the one hand they talk about solidarity and support for the working class, but in practice they violate their rights,” he claimed.
Barrios also criticized the government for failing to include unions in decisions to raise the minimum wage and for its delays in negotiating public union contracts, and brought up the subject of former CTV leader Carlos Ortega’s prison sentence. Ortega himself sent the ILO a letter concerning his sentence. No word on whether he got a response.
All these are familiar complaints from the CTV. But Barrios tried to inject some new urgency by warning that the ILO could penalize the Chavez government for its alleged noncompliance with international labor norms, and might even go so far as to kick Venezuela out of the organization.
Francisco Torrealba of the UNT, though, dismissed the possibility of an ILO sanction or condemnation of Venezuela, much less expulsion from the international body. Considering that the ILO includes member states like Burma (Myanmar) where forced labor is common and the government has been making threats against the ILO liaison -- not to mention Venezuela’s neighbor Colombia, which continues to assassinate trade unionists – throwing Venezuela out seems unlikely indeed.
Lea mas / Read more!
domingo, enero 22, 2006
ILO to send mission to Venezuela
At the ILO's meeting in November, they agreed to send a "direct contacts" mission to Venezuela, in order to gather more information before deciding what action to take on the employers' latest complaint. I believe this will be the third direct contacts mission sent to Venezuela since Chavez became president. The ILO's most recent report, including the complaints, the government's response, and the decision to send a mission, can be found here.
According to Froilan Barrios of the CTV, the ILO delegates will be investigating five labor issues in Venezuela, including the mass firing of PDVSA employees who participated in the oil industry shutdown of winter 2002-03. (Notably, in my interview with Gabriela Martinez of Venezuelan human rights organization PROVEA, she criticized recent politically motivated firings, but specified that the PDVSA workers were legitimately fired for not showing up for work in an action that did not meet the requirements for a strike.)
Here is a previous post with more analysis of the ILO complaints, what they mean, and the political maneuvering involved.
Lea mas / Read more!
sábado, enero 21, 2006
For your reading pleasure
The report is also available in pdf and with better formatting at
but beware, this one's really long - 369 pages (including reports on all the other countries with open complaints). The section on Venezuela follows:
Complaint concerning non-observance by Venezuela
of the Freedom of Association and Protection
of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87),
and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining
Convention, 1949 (No. 98), made by various delegates
at the 92nd Session (2004) of the Conference
under article 26 of the ILO Constitution
1306. At its meeting in November 2004, the Governing Body of the ILO examined the document prepared by its Officers on the complaint concerning non-observance by Venezuela of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98), made by various delegates to the 92nd Session (2004) of the Conference under article 26 of the ILO Constitution. The text of the complaint is contained in Appendix I.
1307. In this regard, the Governing Body adopted the following recommendations:
7. The Governing Body:
(a) requested the Director-General to invite the Government of Venezuela, as the Government against which the complaint had been filed, to communicate its observations on the complaint so that they reached the Director-General no later than 10 January 2005;
(b) decided to consider at its 292nd Session (March 2005), in the light of:
(i) the information supplied by the Government of Venezuela on the complaint; and
(ii) the recommendations of the Committee on Freedom of Association;
whether the complaint should be forwarded to a commission of inquiry.
1308. The Government presented its observations in a communication dated 10 January 2005, received by the International Labour Office on 20 January 2005 and reproduced in Appendix II. The Government also sends many other attachments concerning: the 18 per cent increase in economic growth; the fall in unemployment in 2004 (from 19.1 per cent to 10.9 per cent); the economic consequences of the political and economic sabotage; the achievements of the Ministry of Labour in terms of the number of associations that have been legalized; the results of the recall referendum and other political elections won by the government party, and the reports of the Carter Center and the OAE; statements by the Government of Venezuela in the Governing Body on Cases Nos. 2249 and 2254; a statement by GRULAC on the duplication of procedures, requesting closure of the complaints procedure under article 26 of the Constitution; consultations on minimum wages, stability of employment and reform of the Organic Labour Act undertaken by FEDECAMARAS; a ruling on the unconstitutionality of certain provisions of the Lands Act; the FEDECAMARAS manifesto of 30 August 2004; press cuttings on the willingness of the Government to engage in dialogue with the employers and on the reaction of FEDECAMARAS and FEDEINDUSTRIAS; the meeting of FEDECAMARAS REGIONALES with the Government; the Government’s reply to the ILO’s Office of Legal Services regarding the absence of any reply to the consultation on the suspensive effects of the direct contacts procedure, and the subsequent sudden response in the Governing Body in favour of the Employers’ group; and the Government’s decrees on the acquisition of foreign currency, information and statistics on exchange controls, improvements in international reserves, foreign currency case reserves, imports, and the positive effects of exchange controls on the economy including reduced flight of capital, interest rates, liquidity and inflation.
1309. At its meeting in March 2005, the Committee was not able to examine the complaint presented under article 26 of the ILO Constitution or formulate recommendations to the Governing Body, given that all the Employer members of the Committee who were present at that meeting had signed the complaint in question. Under these circumstances, the Committee considered that it was for the Governing Body, in the light of the information available to it, to decide the action to be taken on the complaint made under article 26 of the ILO Constitution [see 336th Report, para. 918].
1310. At its meeting in March 2005, the Governing Body decided that the complaint made under article 26 of the Constitution should be submitted to the Committee on Freedom of Association after the renewal of the Committee in June with a view to examination at its November 2005 session [see Appendix III, document GB.292/PV, Minutes of the 292nd Session of the Governing Body, paras. 155-175].
1311. At its meeting in June 2004, the Committee on Freedom of Association examined Case No. 2254, presented by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the
Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Manufacturers’ Associations
(FEDECAMARAS), and formulated interim conclusions. This case concerns essentially
the same questions as those raised in the complaint made by virtue of article 26. At its meeting in May-June 2005, the Committee once again examined this case in the light of the Government’s observations and reached interim conclusions [see Appendix IV, 337th Report, paras. 1500-1603]. The Government sent partial observations in a communication dated 26 October 2005, received in the Office on 28 October 2005 (Appendix V).
1312. Taking into consideration the necessity to obtain an objective assessment of the actual situation, in particular, as concerns employers’ organizations and their
rights, and to obtain as much information as possible on all the questions at
issue, the Committee recommends to the Governing Body to send a direct
contacts mission to the country before deciding on the action to be taken on the
complaint made under article 26 of the ILO Constitution.
92nd Session of the International Labour Conference
Received in NORMES on 18 June 2004
Received in CABINET on 17 June 2004 – 10168
Secretary-General of the International Labour Conference
Palais des Nations
The undersigned Employers’ delegates to the 92nd Session of the International Labour
Conference 2004 wish here to launch a complaint under article 26 of the ILO Constitution against the Government of Venezuela for violations of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), which was ratified by the Government of Venezuela on 20 September 1982, and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98), ratified by Venezuela on 19 December 1968.
Since 1999, Venezuela has repeatedly violated Conventions Nos. 87 and 98 as recorded by the ILO supervisory bodies. During this period employers’ and workers’ groups have denounced the harassment they are going through in the Freedom of Association Committee of the Governing Body as well as in the Conference Committee on Application of Standards and Credentials Committee of the International Labour Conference. The policies of the Venezuelan Government have led to the closure of over 100,000 companies as well as the unemployment of several hundred thousand workers, resulting in the largest economic and social crisis in Venezuela.
Non-compliance of the application of ILO Convention No. 87 and national law and practice have been examined every year by the Conference Committee on Application of Conventions and Recommendations since 1999, leading in 2000 to the inclusion of its conclusions in a specia paragraph of the Committee’s report and, in 2002, in a special paragraph for the persistent and continued failure to comply.
Within the International Labour Conference, the Credentials Committee has, during recent
years, regularly examined objections concerning the composition of the Venezuelan delegation
attending the Conference.
Despite previous recommendations handed down by the ILO supervisory bodies (Conference
Committee on Application of Standards, Committee of Experts on Application of Conventions and Recommendations and the Committee on Freedom of Association), the Government of Venezuela continues to carry out actions against the social partners. Regarding employers, these actions include:
– physical, economic and moral attacks by the Government on the Venezuelan independent
business community, their organizations and their representatives;
– marginalization of most employers’ organizations and their exclusion from social dialogue and
– actions and interferences by the Government to encourage the development of parallel
employers’ organizations for the purposes of bypassing and weakening their most
representative organizations, including the Federación de Cámaras y Asociaciones de
Comercio y Producción de Venezuela (FEDECAMARAS);
– the creation of a hostile environment for independent employers resulting in orders to remove
land and to stimulate the illegal occupation of productive farms; and
– the implementation of a discriminatory foreign exchange control system to companies
affiliated to the most representative employers’ organization, FEDECAMARAS, in retaliation
of their membership.
In light of the foregoing, we the undersigned Employers’ delegates at the 92nd Session of the
International Labour Conference present this complaint under article 26 of the ILO Constitution for the non-observance by the Venezuelan Government of ILO Conventions Nos. 87 and 98, and
hereby request the ILO Office to initiate the appropriate action, including, but not limited to, the
examination of all pending cases in the ILO to bring about the hearing of this complaint. We reserve the right to submit more detailed information at the appropriate time.
92nd Session of the International Labour Conference
Complaint under article 26 of the ILO Constitution presented against the Government of
Venezuela by Employers’ delegates to the 92nd Session of the International Labour Conference on 17 June 2004.
Argentina (Signed) Mr. Daniel Funes de Rioja, Substitute delegate.
Australia (Signed) Mr. Bryan Noakes, Delegate.
Austria (Signed) Mr. Peter Tomek, Delegate.
Brazil (Signed) Mr. Dagoberto Lima-Godoy, Substitute delegate.
Canada (Signed) Mr. Andrew Finlay, Delegate.
Cyprus (Signed) Mr. Costas Kapartis, Substitute delegate.
France (Signed) Mr. Bernad Boisson, Delegate.
Germany (Signed) Ms. Antje Gerstein, Delegate.
India (Signed) Mr. I.P. Anand, Substitute delegate.
Italy (Signed) Ms. Lucia Sasso-Mazzufferi, Delegate.
Jamaica (Signed) Mr. Herbert Lewis, Delegate.
Japan (Signed) Mr. Toshio Suzuki, Substitute delegate.
Mexico (Signed) Mr. Jorge de Regil, Delegate.
Norway (Signed) Mr. Vidar Lindefjeld, Delegate.
Saudi Arabia (Signed) Mr. Abdullah Dahlan, Delegate.
South Africa (Signed) Mr. Bokkie Botha, Delegate.
Spain (Signed) Mr. Javier Ferrer Dufol, Delegate.
Sweden (Signed) Mr. Göran Trogen, Substitute delegate.
Switzerland (Signed) Mr. Michel Barde, Delegate.
Tunisia (Signed) Mr. Ali M’Kaissi, Substitute delegate.
United Kingdom (Signed) Mr. Mel Lambert, Delegate.
United States (Signed) Mr. Edward Potter, Delegate.
Venezuela (Signed) Mr. Bingen de Arbeloa, Delegate.
Position of the Government of the Bolivarian Republic
of Venezuela with regard to the complaint made by a
group of employers under article 26 of the ILO Constitution
In a communication addressed to the Director-General of the International Labour Office
(ILO) dated 17 June 2004, (1) certain delegates from the Employers’ group (hereinafter referred to as the complainants) (2) presented a complaint under article 26 of the ILO Constitution against the Government of Venezuela concerning alleged violations of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98).
In the first place, the Government notes the contradictory use by the complainants of terms
such as “violation(s)”, and by the Office itself of the expression “non-observance”, (3) when articles 24 and 26 of the Constitution in fact refer to failure “to secure [in any respect] the effective observance” of a Convention.
In their communication, the complainants refer to a number of situations – which date not
from 1999, as they maintain, but from 1991 – referring expressly to cases already brought by
employers and workers before the ILO’s various supervisory bodies (the Committee on the
Application of Standards, the Committee on Freedom of Association, and the Credentials
Committee of the Conference) and erroneously take over complaints originally made by the
workers, despite the fact that they have no right or authority to do so.
As regards the substance of the complaint, the Government rejects the complainants’
arguments in their entirety, and reiterates all its own previous arguments before the ILO’s
supervisory bodies and the Governing Body in November 2004. It requests that the complaint be declared irreceivable and therefore closed on the grounds that the complainants’ arguments are without foundation; that it would be unnecessary and inappropriate to set up a commission of inquiry in the context of the new conditions that have prevailed in Venezuela since the presidential referendum of August 2004; that it would be inappropriate to allow the overlapping of procedures that have not been concluded yet and concern the same subjects or situations; and lastly, that using the complaints procedure for publicity and political purposes would be a distortion of the ILO’s objectives.
II. Irreceivability of the complaint on the grounds that it is without foundation
The Government of Venezuela rejects all the arguments and opinions presented by the
complainants to substantiate an alleged violation or non-observance of ILO Conventions Nos. 87
A. The Government’s policies are intended to promote continual and systematic measures to
secure the observance of the Conventions
According to article 26, paragraph 1, of the ILO Constitution, “Any of the Members shall have
the right to file a complaint with the International Labour Office if it is not satisfied that any other Member is securing the effective observance of any Convention which both have ratified in accordance with the foregoing articles” (italics and bold type added).
Apart from the fact that the complainants do not indicate the specific provisions that are
supposed to have been infringed by Venezuela in a manner that would justify invoking article 26 of the ILO Constitution, the Government also wishes to point out that the complaint is more concerned with statements and criticisms concerning the country’s social and economic policy than with the rights and freedoms protected by Conventions Nos. 87 and 98. (4) A number of complaints are currently before ILO supervisory bodies; these concern specific situations in connection with which the Government has taken the necessary investigative and corrective measures.
The country is not currently in an extreme situation so as to warrant or necessitate the
establishment of a commission of inquiry. The policies adopted by the Government in direct and
immediate implementation of the Constitution on which the people voted in the 1999 referendum, and in accordance with its leading role and commitment in efforts to combat poverty, have led to renewed economic growth, (5) higher wages in real terms, and financial and monetary stability. At the same time, unemployment indicators have fallen (6) as a result of action by traditional and newer enterprises, as have informal employment, inflation, interest rates and national risk indicators, a fact acknowledged by the international community (see the attached report).
Furthermore, as a result of the policies that have been adopted to combat poverty and
exclusion, millions of Venezuelans are now covered by massive education, vocational training,
health care and social security programmes; they now have institutions for financing and promoting small and medium-sized enterprises, and co-management models involving new forms of enterprise that are socially responsible and accountable to the workers, and committed to joint efforts to create and maintain decent employment. (7)
The Government of Venezuela guarantees the rights to establish in full freedom any
occupational organization deemed suitable for better defending its members’ rights and interests, as well as the right to join or not to join such an organization, without interference. The State protects associations from any act of discrimination or interference contrary to the exercise of the rights provided for in the Conventions (see appendix). (8)
Given that the complaint does not specify the obligations which the State has failed to fulfil,
the measures it has failed to adopt, or the standards or rights under the Convention that have been infringed, the Government of Venezuela requests that the complaint be declared irreceivable.
B. The complainants have no right or authority to take over cases originally presented by workers
The complainants inappropriately rely on situations with regard to which they have no
standing or legitimacy, as they refer to requests made by organizations of workers before the ILO supervisory bodies. Applications which present as one’s own situations that have nothing to do with the complainant, should not be receivable. Under international law principles, the complainants would be justified in taking action only in cases in which they have a legitimate interest or a material connection with a dispute.
The only representation brought by the employers before the Committee on the Application of
Standards was in 1991 and concerned the entry into force of the Organic Labour Act of 1990. The only government in more than a decade to comply with that Committee’s recommendations has been the Government of President Chávez, through the Fifth Republic Movement which leads the National Assembly.
With regard to the Committee on Freedom of Association, the complainants refer to situations
of which they have direct knowledge in relation to a single case (Case No. 2254). (9) Lastly, the
complainants claim that objections were brought before the Conference Credentials Committee
concerning the Venezuela delegation during the 91st and 92nd Sessions of the International Labour Conference in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Apart from the particular situations referred to, the Government requests the dismissal of all
the employers’ arguments on which they have no standing or legitimacy, given that they cannot take over cases which are of no direct concern to them or even contradictory, and the majority of which has been resolved through democratic dialogue.
C. The denunciations brought before the various ILO supervisory bodies are entirely without
The Government of Venezuela thinks it appropriate to consider the arguments put forward by
the complainants with regard to the alleged violations previously examined by ILO supervisory
bodies, in particular, the Committee on Freedom of Association, the Credentials Committee and the Committee on the Application of Standards.
1. Cases examined by the Committee on Freedom of Association
(a) The arguments relating to the Committee’s interim report are invalid and irreceivable because the report contains conclusions and recommendations that are contrary to international law
A number of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations (10) cannot be implemented,
are contrary to international law, and disregard certain fundamental aspects of life in Venezuela.
- The Committee recommended that the Government set up an “independent” commission – endorsed by those responsible for the coup d’état and the oil industry lockout of 2002-03 – to “dismantle”, proscribe or prohibit various social organizations that exercise the right to organize. These included the Fifth Republic Movement, the ruling party with a majority in the National Assembly as well as in 20 of the country’s 22 districts and 270 out of 340 local authorities (11) and the Revolutionary Youth of the MVR. The party has won nine national, regional and local elections since 1998. (12) It is noteworthy that the Committee on Freedom of Association requested the “dismantling” of Venezuela’s main political party and other legitimately constituted social organizations, which apart from being legally impossible would not be practicable.
- The Committee describes the Government’s political party as “violent”, “paramilitary” and “armed”, an assessment at variance with the reports of the international facilitating agencies (the Organization of American States and the Carter Center) that have observed recent elections in the country (see appendices). In Venezuela, neither political parties and
movements nor occupational organizations are prohibited, and the Committee’s conclusion is therefore surprising, given that its implementation would have involved violations of
fundamental civil and political rights.
- The Committee – without identifying the enterprises supposedly affected by discriminatory treatment – requests the Government to modify the current exchange controls system, thereby encroaching on areas of monetary and exchange policy. The system in question was adopted after a massive flight of capital that was intended to create political instability in 2002 and 2003. That flight of capital was also accompanied by shortages of basic foodstuffs and acts of sabotage against essential public services (especially domestic gasoline and natural gas supplies) which endangered the lives, health and safety of the population.
It is evident from the above that the interim conclusions and recommendations made
previously have affected the principles of impartiality, balance and objectivity required of an ILO supervisory body. The result is a set of recommendations that contradict the principles and standards of international law in this area, including those established by the Committee itself with regard to strike action, acute national crisis and essential public services.
To conclude, these conclusions and recommendations, which cannot be implemented or are
inconsistent with international law, cannot serve as the basis of a complaint against the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and the complaint must therefore be declared irreceivable.
(b) The arguments relating to economic and social policies are invalid and irreceivable because they have no relation to the rights enshrined in Conventions Nos. 87 and 98
The complainants in their arguments draw attention to economic and social policies, in
particular, exchange control and monetary measures, measures to promote small and medium-sized enterprises, inclusion in social dialogue of sectors hitherto excluded, and the development of uncultivated land, much of which had previously been occupied by individuals, despite being state property. These issues have no bearing at all on the provisions of Conventions Nos. 87 and 98.
The Government of Venezuela notes that the complainants refer to political issues, making
generic allegations (without giving any specific, documented information corroborated by evidence) and vague assertions that were set out in the employers’ communication to the Director-General of the ILO on 17 June 2004.
The Government is surprised by the recommendation to modify the foreign exchange controls
and administration system in Venezuela, given that the complainants do not indicate the specific
provision(s) on which their claim is based. Moreover, the interpretation of Convention No. 87
applied is a broad one.
This not only disregards the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; a broad interpretation
of a Convention could be regarded as tantamount to the creation of new standards, which is the
exclusive prerogative of the International Labour Conference.
(c) The arguments presented to the Committee on Freedom of Association with regard to Case No. 2254 are totally unfounded
The only case brought before the Committee on Freedom of Association by the complainants
is known as Case No. 2254, on which an interim report has been published. The Government has rejected the complainants’ arguments in their entirety, and is able now to present new allegations.
As regards the points raised in the complaint of 17 June 2004, which are also referred to in
Case No. 2254, the Government draws attention to the following:
- With regard to the alleged discrimination in the foreign exchange controls and administration system, the measure in question was adopted by the Government in response to the massive and deliberate flight of capital which led to a reduction in international reserves and pushed the country into an inflationary spiral which adversely affected the population’s access to basic foodstuffs and services. The employers are required to meet certain basic obligations (relating to tax and social security contributions), and where delays or other problems occur, they can have recourse to the administrative and judicial authorities. At any event, given the non-specific and generic nature of the allegations, we believe that the complainants have confused the initial problems of implementing the foreign exchange controls and administration system with deliberate discrimination. Historically, similar problems led to similar measures in 1961, 1983 and 1994. The case for dismissing the complaint is supported by information contained in the appendices concerning the distribution of foreign currencies at the end of 2004 which affected all the productive sectors, including national and internationally owned enterprises.
- As regards the alleged harassment of employers, it should be emphasized that, despite the tense situations that occurred during this period, no officials of any trade union or employers’ organization were detained and no organization’s premises were broken into, except for isolated measures undertaken in accordance with decisions by the courts and the public prosecution service. These decisions are directly linked to investigations of those responsible for the coup d’état of April 2002 and the economic and oil industry sabotage of December 2002 and 2003. (14) The Conventions do not authorize or legitimize unlawful action, and indeed require the social partners to respect the basic rules of democratic coexistence. (15) The measures adopted by the police followed in all cases previous decisions by independent and autonomous public prosecution organs, and did not involve persecution or restrictions on the exercise of the rights flowing from freedom of association.
- Assertions made by the Committee regarding the supposed violation of due process exhibit certain weaknesses with regard to the principles of burden of proof and evaluation of evidence, and are not consistent with domestic or international law. The Government cannot make up arguments for the complainants, nor overlook the absence of hard evidence in the complainants’ arguments, nor can it initiate inquiries into suppositions or vague allegations decisions of the Public Prosecution Service and courts, which were challenged in the courts by some of those concerned until they finally fled the country. (17) In other cases, the situations lack the systematic character and importance claimed, mistakenly, by the original complainants. (18)
- As regards the alleged establishment of a parallel employers’ organization to weaken the more representative existing organization, the Government reiterates that the complaint makes use of generic, imprecise and unfounded arguments. At any event, the Government notes that the federation representing craftsmen, micro, small and medium-sized manufacturers in Venezuela (FEDEINDUSTRIA) was established in 1973 and has thus been in existence for 32 years; its involvement in economic policy is crucial to the creation and preservation of jobs, and furthermore is consistent with ILO guidelines including the Job Creation in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Recommendation, 1998 (No. 189). Other employers’ organizations have also been founded through the exercise of the rights of participation and association in defence of the interests of micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs, in towns and in the countryside, without any threat to the existence of other associations and their members, unless the latter claim exclusive or monopolistic rights of representation.
- The complainants allege the “marginalization” of most of the existing employers’ organizations and their exclusion from social dialogue and tripartite consultation. In this regard, consultations by correspondence have been taking place since 2002 on minimum wages with FEDECAMARAS and its regional and sectoral affiliated organizations. (19) Such consultations were identical in form to those applied to the other employers’ organizations, and there was no preferential treatment. Since September 2004, these consultations, as well as covering wages, have been extended at various levels to cover areas such as immunity from dismissal. (20)
- With regard to more integrated social dialogue, always in a framework of a strategy for sustainable development and combating poverty and unemployment, the Government, after the failed coup d’état of 2002, activated social dialogue processes at the national and sectoral levels, involving employers’ organizations affiliated to FEDECAMARAS, FEDEINDUSTRIA, CONFAGAN and EMPREVEN. These led to 170 agreements in sectors such as automobiles, textiles and clothing, tourism, the social economy and small and medium-sized enterprises.
- As regards the adoption of legislation as part of an “Enabling Act” in 2000, consultations took place, in particular in August 2001, with all the sectors, in particular FEDECAMARAS and its affiliated organizations, with common timetables and methods. (21) Nevertheless, the State, having consulted various sectors with a view to ascertaining their specific interests, adopted measures which gave priority to the general public interest, especially the interests of excluded segments of the urban or rural population, and thereby demonstrated its political will to act in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the electorate which elected it. In any event, any disputes concerning the substance of the legislation in question were examined and decided upon by the Supreme Court of Justice, which made the necessary adjustments, including by declaring certain specific provisions null and void. (22)
- Following the presidential referendum of August 2004 and the regional and municipal
elections in October 2004, a positive change was noted in the FEDECAMARAS leadership – from disregard of the will of the people, reflected at first in voices that claimed “electronic fraud”, towards an appreciation of the Government’s efforts to re-establish a climate for social dialogue with the active participation of the Executive Vice-President of the Republic and of various ministries including the Ministry of Labour. (23) In the last of these cases, we have already reported in writing on the initiatives to promote progress in consultations on the reform of the Organic Labour Act and social security legislation. (24) As a result, the leadership of FEDECAMARAS has become involved in the intensive democratic dialogue that has been taking place in the country since 1999, first on the constitutional process and then the transformation of the country’s political, economic and social model.
- In addition, the complainants add another argument, to the effect that 100,000 enterprises have been closed and jobs have been lost. Both of these are consequences of the destabilization that has occurred since December 2001, the culmination of which was the economic sabotage and oil industry lockout of 2002-03 which FEDECAMARAS actively instigated. (25) In particular, the closure of small and medium-sized enterprises as a result of this economic strangulation, and the refusal to supply raw materials and intermediate products, were deplorable occurrences.
In Venezuela, there is no government policy of repression directed against workers or
employers. The situations referred to confirm the will of the Government to pursue antimonopolistic
and anti-oligopolistic policies and restore the public-spirited and humanistic
dimension of economic and social relations. The structure of the Venezuelan State, and its
institutions and mechanisms for regulating the power of the State by encouraging direct citizens’
participation as an indispensable element, preclude any policy of repression of the fundamental
rights and freedoms.
2. Objections brought before the Credentials Committee
At the same time, the complainants indicate that the Credentials Committee of the Conference
has regularly examined objections concerning the composition of the Venezuelan delegation, but
make no reference to the substance or outcome of those representations, and fail to indicate that the Committee has never denied accreditation to a delegation proposed by the Government.
These representations have been intended to secure a degree of exclusivity in Venezuelan
representation at the ILO, to the exclusion of other workers’ and employers’ associations, without even complying with basic legal requirements regarding accreditation of representative status, as the Supreme Court of Justice has indicated. Such a claim to be exclusively representative purports to exclude employers’ organizations that have existed for decades and play an important role in the life of the country.
3. Complaints to the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards
The complainants also refer to situations brought by workers to the attention of the Committee
on the Application of Standards. These cases have already been or are in the process of being
resolved, 26 and the Government of Venezuela has shown its willingness to collaborate in the
implementation of the Committee’s recommendations.
It should be borne in mind here that the last direct contacts mission took place between 13 and
15 October 2004 and was the second such mission in only 29 months. Until such time as a first
report is submitted to the Committee of Experts, and later to the Committee on the Application of
Standards at the next session of the Conference which instigated the mission, the examination
procedures under way before the supervisory bodies should be suspended in accordance with
paragraph 86(d) of the Handbook of procedures relating to international labour Conventions and
Recommendations, (27) as was stated at the last session of the Governing Body and endorsed by the
Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) (see appendix).
The National Assembly has the political will to ensure that the proposed amendments to the
Organic Labour Act are adopted within the current six-month period, and to make progress with
other legislative reforms to ensure that the majority of the population will enjoy the benefits of
democratic and participative development.
(d) A commission of inquiry is unnecessary and irrelevant
because the context and situation of Venezuela have
changed since the employers presented the complaint
in June 2004
The application was made by a number of delegates at the last session of the Conference
before the direct contacts mission took place, in a political context that did not reckon with the
presidential referendum demanded by the political opposition, of which the FEDECAMARAS
leadership was an active part.
Nevertheless, President Hugo Chávez Frías, who is committed to the popular process of
democratic change which he leads, consulted the voters on his mandate through the referendum.
The results – the President won a 20 per cent margin over the opposition (60 per cent versus 40 per
cent of the votes) – were observed by the international community, in particular the Organization of
American States, the Carter Center, representatives of individual countries, human rights NGOs and
workers’ organizations, all of whom rejected allegations of “electronic fraud” as unfounded and
false. Two and a half months later, on 31 October 2004, in a similar process at the regional and municipal levels, the President’s policies won even greater support, winning 20 out of 22 districts
and 270 out of 340 municipal or local authorities. The broad support that has grown out of the
plebiscites of 2004 has confirmed the results obtained since 1998, a year which marked the
beginning of a period of successive victories for the President over an opposition that chose
violence and a non-democratic path.
In this context of peace and democratic encounter, those who had once distanced themselves
from the constructive and broad-based dialogue promoted by the Government and its institutions are
now actively getting involved in it, and this is a positive development. That is why the Government,
after its resounding victory in the constitutional referendum of 15 August 2004, which confirmed
the President’s legitimacy, 28 immediately set about broadening social dialogue to include all
representative employers’ associations including FEDECAMARAS and its affiliated organizations
(see information in the appendix), despite the fact that the current President of FEDECAMARAS
initially tried to direct that dialogue and was prevented from doing so by the other members of the
employers’ umbrella organization. This initiative has been promoted, as previously indicated, by the
Executive Vice-President of the Republic, with the participation of the Ministries of Labour and
There is thus no policy of persecution directed against leaders of workers’ or employers’
organizations or against the exercise of freedom of association and collective bargaining. On the
contrary, Venezuela has shown that it wishes to solve its domestic political problems in an
exemplary manner, peacefully, democratically and through the ballot box, especially those problems
that have resulted from the coup d’état and the lockouts of 2002 and 2003 instigated by the
opposition, including the leadership of FEDECAMARAS.
This new and favourable climate in political and social relations was attested by the members
of the direct contacts mission who visited the country last October, although they have not yet
published their report.
(e) It would be inappropriate to set up a commission of
inquiry because it would lead to procedural duplication
and adversely affect the efficiency of the ILO’s working
The Government has constantly kept the Committee on Freedom of Association informed with
regard to current cases, and many of its arguments have yet to be examined and assessed by the
Committee. It has also repeatedly asked to be informed of procedural criteria applied unilaterally
(regarding mutually exclusive complaints and representations, failure to assess information, etc.).
No reply on these has ever been received according to officials of the Ministry of Labour, as was
recently recalled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in connection with the lack of any response
from the ILO’s Legal Adviser to a number of previous requests.
In all cases in which the Committee invites the Governing Body to adopt certain
recommendations addressed to a government, the Committee invites the Government in question to
indicate, once a period deemed reasonable in the light of circumstances has elapsed, the effect it has
been able to give to any of the recommendations.
In Case No. 2254, the Committee published an interim, non-definitive report in June 2004
(seven months ago). The preliminary nature of its conclusions was confirmed by the request for
information from the Government [see 335th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association,
para. 6, adopted on 16 November 2004 by the Governing Body]. This acknowledges the
Government’s right to present new information regarding the interim conclusions and
Furthermore, as already indicated, a direct contacts mission is under way and its report has not
yet been made available to the Government. This also makes any additional procedure unnecessary.
(f) Setting up a commission of inquiry would be a distortion
of the ILO’s objectives and would serve only political and
In view of the technical assistance procedures that are currently under way, as well as the
sustained improvements that have taken place in Venezuela’s political climate, it would be
inappropriate for the ILO to remain a political forum for resolving domestic problems that have
already been resolved through the electoral process – the presidential referendum and regional and
The IOE adopted, in the past, a position regarding the use of the representation and complaints
procedures under the ILO Constitution in order to achieve publicity and political ends. The
complainants, in the FEDECAMARAS complaint, contradict the IOE statement in 2000, that
“Articles 24 and 26 of the ILO Constitution are sometimes abused in that conflicts are brought to an
international forum for publicity reasons. Means to limit this practice, perhaps by limiting the
receivability criteria or introducing a filter mechanism, should be considered to prevent automatic
discussion of a receivable complaint. The way in which articles 24 and 26 procedures complement
the regular supervisory machinery should also be considered in order to prevent overlapping and
provide more coherence.” (29)
For all these reasons, the complaint should be ruled irreceivable, as the procedure would be
disproportionate by comparison with other situations elsewhere in the world that are deemed by the
international community to be very serious.
1. The complainants’ allegations have been shown to be without foundation. No complaints currently
before the ILO supervisory bodies would warrant the establishment of a commission of inquiry
under the terms of article 26 of the ILO Constitution.
2. It has been shown that it would be unnecessary and inappropriate to set up a commission of
inquiry, in view of the changed conditions that have prevailed in Venezuela since the presidential
referendum in August 2004.
3. It has been shown that overlapping and duplication with procedures still under way in relation to the
same subjects or situations would be inappropriate.
4. Lastly, it has been shown that using the complaints procedure for publicity and political ends would
be a distortion of the ILO’s objectives.
The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requests that the complaint be declared irreceivable and closed.
(1) In the context of the 92nd Session of the International Labour Conference.
(2) A total of 23 delegates from the Employers’ group, including regular and substitute members from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Venezuela.
(3) Letter of 23 July 2004 from Mr. K. Tapiola, Executive Director, Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
(4) Its defects are similar to those of Case No. 2254.
(5) By the end of 2004, economic growth will increase by 18 per cent, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), with growth occurring in all sectors
over the last five quarters. Employment levels and wages have also started to rise again.
(6) From the highest ever recorded level resulting from the lockout of 2002-03 (20.7 per cent in February 2003), unemployment fell by almost 10 percentage points to 10.9 per cent in
(7) On 27 December 2004, the Nutrition of Workers Act (Ley de Alimentación para los
Trabajadores) entered into force.
(8) Constitution of Venezuela, article 95. During the period 1999-2004, some 2,135 associations were established, an annual average of 356. During the period 1994-98 by contrast, only 1,275 were established (255 per year on average).
(9) The text of the complaint to the Committee on Freedom of Association was presented inMarch 2003, a few days after the end of the 62-day lockout against the country’s democraticinstitutions.
(10) The recommendations of the Committee on Freedom of Association adopted by the GoverningBody at its 290th Session.
(11) It won 97 per cent of the state or provincial government seats and 80 per cent of the local
(12) We refer to the position adopted by the Government of Venezuela as reflected in the Minutes of the Governing Body’s 290th Session in June 2004.
(13) The Committee has said that “Political matters which do not impair the exercise of freedom of association are outside the competence of the Committee. The Committee is not competent to deal with a complaint that is based on subversive acts, and it is likewise incompetent to deal with political matters that may be referred to in a government’s reply” [see Digest of decisions and principles of the Freedom of Association Committee, 1985, para. 204]. It has also referred to abuses by representative organizations: “Trade union organizations should not engage in political activities in an abusive manner and go beyond their true functions by promoting essentially political interests” (idem., para. 455).
(14) Those implicated in acts against the Constitution and the country’s democratic institutions include Pedro Carmona Estanga and Carlos Fernández, both former presidents of FEDECAMARAS. The former became President of the Republic for less than 24 hours on 12 April 2002. In both cases, the courts placed them under house arrest instead of sentencing them to imprisonment. They absconded and were subsequently granted asylum. The wife of Fernández even acknowledged publicly that he had been well treated.
(15) Article 8, paragraph 1, of Convention No. 87 stipulates that “In exercising the rights provided for in this Convention workers and employers and their respective organisations, like other persons or organised collectivities, shall respect the law of the land.”
(16) The complaints regarding the alleged ill-treatment of Carlos Fernández were never documented or corroborated by basic evidence. On the contrary, statements in the media by his wife were provided, confirming that he had been well treated. In view of this, it is inappropriate and indeed impossible to initiate inquiries which, instead of elucidating the truth, would seek to create suspicions regarding the actions of institutions that defend the rule of law.
(17) Before fleeing the country, Carlos Fernández obtained some court rulings in his favour, as well as some that went against him. For example, some of the original charges brought against him were dropped, and the ruling of the Appeals Court was overruled by the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, until the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court made a final ruling ordering his arrest in August 2003.
(18) In the case of the former president of CONSECOMERCIO (Julio Brazón) and the president ofthe Bejuma Chamber of Commerce in Carabobo State, the complainants refer to isolated situationsarising from the actions of individuals, not the authorities, in a context of political strife, includingwithin the opposition. Neither of these two cases involves official institutions, and they do notreflect any recurrent pattern of conduct in a country characterized by political and trade unionparticipation and pluralism.
(19) The last of these communications was sent on 16 April 2004 and was answered on 21 April bythe President of FEDECAMARAS.
(20) Communication of 24 September 2004 from the Deputy Minister of Labour to the President ofFEDECAMARAS.
(21) See the Committee’s conclusion in para. 1062 of its 334th Report.
(22) On 20 November 2002, the Supreme Court of Justice (Constitutional Chamber) declared null andvoid sections 89 and 90 of the Act respecting land and agrarian development, following anapplication from the National Federation of Stockbreeders of Venezuela (FEDENAGA).
(23) This evolution in the position of the executive board of FEDECAMARAS can be traced from the communiqué El Manifiesto of 30 August 2004 to the document entitled Los Caminos del Diálogo Social produced by the National Council on 29 November 2004. The reader is invited to explore thesite www.fedecamaras.org.ve . Press notes on the dialogue initiative are attached, as well as a copyof the communication of 8 November 2004 (invitation to a meeting on the reform of the Organic Labour Act).
(24) See attached copy of the communication of 8 November 2004 from the Deputy Minister ofLabour to the President of FEDECAMARAS.
(25) In December 2001, when the political destabilization formally began with a one-day employers’stoppage, unemployment stood at 11 per cent. By the end of the employers’ lockout directed byFEDECAMARAS in February 2003, unemployment had risen to 20.7 per cent, i.e. almost10 percentage points more.
(26) Questions relating to the sworn statement of assets by trade union officials have been resolved,and draft legislation on trade union rights and guarantees and the democratization of trade unionorganizations has been shelved. The substantive issue still outstanding concerns labour law reformand dates from 1991.
(27) “While direct contacts are taking place, the supervisory bodies will suspend their examination ofthe matters in question for a period not normally exceeding one year, so as to be able to takeaccount of the outcome.”
(28) See appendix containing the results of the referendum held in accordance with the agreementconcluded on 29 May 2003 between the political and economic opposition includingFEDECAMARAS and the legitimate Government facilitated by the Carter Center, the Organizationof American States (OAS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
(29) IOE: ILO Standards, position paper adopted by the General Council of the IOE, Geneva, 9 June2000, available at http://www.ioe-emp.org/ioe_emp/papers_statement/ioe_position_papers.htm .
Complaint concerning non-observance by the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela of the Freedom of
Association and Protection of the Right to Organise
Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to
Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention,
1949 (No. 98), made by various delegates at the
92nd Session (2004) of the Conference under
article 26 of the ILO Constitution
The Employer spokesperson noted the problem arising from the fact that many of the
Employer delegates who had submitted the complaint were present at the meeting of the Committee
on Freedom of Association (CFA) designated to examine it. He requested clarification from the
Legal Adviser as to whether this situation was legal or ethical, as did the Worker spokesperson.
The Legal Adviser stated that his reply to the secretariat of the CFA, which had requested
information in this connection, had been negative: it was not possible to be complainant and judge
at the same time.
The Employer spokesperson asked whether, in the absence of a written rule, the Employers
could select an ad hoc group of their members who had not signed the complaint.
The Worker spokesperson suggested that since the matter had been referred to the CFA, it was
for the Committee simply to disqualify it.
The Legal Adviser referred to the rules governing the composition of the CFA. It was made up
of three regular members and three deputy members. The purpose of the deputy members was to
replace the regular members in cases of conflict of interest – where a regular member’s country was
implicated in a complaint, for example. As to whether the Governing Body could designate an ad
hoc membership of the Committee to examine a particular question, given that the membership was
decided for the duration of the Governing Body’s mandate, this appeared difficult. Other procedures
could be initiated.
The classic solution to the problem would be to follow article 26 procedure, under which the
Governing Body would decide on the complaint after considering it against the Government’s reply,
either by appointing a commission of inquiry, or by closing the procedure.
A further solution, which might be wiser, would be to wait until June, when the Governing
Body was due for renewal; a CFA could then be appointed that would be able to examine this
complaint. Yet further solutions could be found if needed.
The Employer spokesperson said that his group could not accept closure of the procedure. The
question was therefore to choose between a commission of inquiry and waiting for a new CFA in
The Worker spokesperson agreed to examination of the case by the new CFA in November
A Government representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the governments of the
Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC), noted that the case had been referred
to the CFA by the 291st Session of the Governing Body. He further noted that the Committee had
not been able to examine the complaint and make recommendations, given that all Employer
members present on the Committee had signed the complaint. GRULAC observed that the
Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had responded rapidly to the complaint, and
had provided information which proved that its validity was questionable. Moreover, the arguments
put forward in the complaint were closely related to Case No. 2254, without bringing any new
element into play. In the latter case, the CFA had only produced an interim report. Given that the
matter had been sufficiently discussed, the Governing Body should declare that the complaint did
not merit examination by a commission of inquiry, and close the procedure.
GRULAC also believed that the criteria for receipt and receivability of complaints made under
article 26 should be reviewed, to prevent automatic consideration and duplication of procedures.
The Committee on Legal Issues should present a document on criteria for receivability to the
293rd Session of the Governing Body. Furthermore, the legal consultations that the ILO had been
called on to carry out by its Members should take place in an appropriate manner, and not in the
hurried way in which document GB.291/17 had been examined by the last session of the Governing
Body. GRULAC therefore approved the letter sent from the ILO to the Government of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which stated that the Office took great care to maintain clear
rules, in order to ensure adequate legal security.
The Employer spokesperson said that GRULAC was opening a discussion on the substance of
the question. This was proper to a supervisory body, not to the Governing Body, which simply had
to chose between the three proposed options.
A Government representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela recalled that the
previous session of the Governing Body had decided to refer this case to the CFA and had invited
the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to supply additional information. This the
Government had rapidly done. He welcomed the recognition by the three experts and Employer
representatives on the CFA that they were unable to consider the case. In recognizing this, the CFA
concurred with the arguments for non-receivabiity put forward by the Government during the
discussion of the case in November. Moreover, as GRULAC had stated, another procedure was
under way in the same field, causing inefficient duplication. The representative noted with approval
the Legal Adivser’s opinion that experts could not be complainant and judge at the same time. This
careful and considered opinion appeared to have cancelled the delay incurred in respect of a
previous inquiry made by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
The report submitted by the Government to the Director-General gave details of measures
taken to guarantee the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. There was at
present in the country an intense process of debate, dialogue and interaction between the social
actors, including social actors who had not, by their own choice, previously been included in the
debate. The president of FEDECAMARAS, the employers’ organization at the origin of this
complaint, had last week recognized the Government’s will to promote dialogue, and had agreed to
work willingly with the government authorities. These meetings of the social actors had been
examining and revising the Government’s policies in respect of labour and of social security. It was
therefore no longer necessary to retain this question on the agenda of the Governing Body. The
procedure should be declared closed because it no longer corresponded to the reality in the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, but referred to facts already outdated.
A Government representative of Uruguay supported the GRULAC statement, and requested
that the procedure be closed.
A Government representative of China believed that the reply given by the Government of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was complete and clear, and that the Government had taken
appropriate measures. Moreover, the complaint was almost identical to that in Case No. 2254,
which had been examined carefully by the Governing Body. The Governing Body should continue
to work closely with the Government to reach a solution.
A Government representative of India noted that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic
of Venezuela was collaborating well with the Office. This process should not be disrupted, and the
complaint should not be referred to a commission of inquiry.
A Government representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya said the efforts undertaken by the
Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela should be encouraged, and the present
A Government representative of the Russian Federation did not support referring the case to a
commission of inquiry.
The Chairperson noted that the Governing Body contained a small minority supporting
referral to a commission of inquiry, a small minority for closing the procedure, and a large degree of
agreement in support of referral to the new committee that would be established in June 2005.
Governing Body decision
The Governing Body decided that the complaint concerning non-observance by the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the
Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to Organise and Collective
Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98), made by various delegates at the 92nd Session
(2004) of the Conference under article 26 of the ILO Constitution should be referred to
the Committee on Freedom of Association, after the renewal of the Committee in June,
for examination at its November 2005 session.
CASE NO. 2254
Complaint against the Government of Venezuela
— the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and
— the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce
and Manufacturers’ Associations (FEDECAMARAS)
Allegations: The complainant organizations have
presented the following allegations: the
marginalization and exclusion of employers’
associations in the decision-making process,
excluding them from social dialogue, tripartism and
the holding of consultations in general (particularly
in relation to the very important legislation that
directly affects employers), thereby not complying
with the very recommendations of the Committee on
Freedom of Association; action and interference by
the Government to encourage the development of
and to promote a new employers’ organization in the
agricultural and livestock sector to the detriment of
FEDENAGA, the most representative organization
in the sector; the arrest of Carlos Fernández on 19
February 2003 in retaliation for his activities as
president of FEDECAMARAS, without a legal
warrant and without the guarantees of due process;
according to the complainant organizations he was
badly treated and insulted by violent groups headed
by a government deputy; the physical, economic and
moral harassment, including threats and attacks, of
the Venezuelan employers and their officials by the
authorities or people close to the Government
(various cases are listed); the operations of violent
paramilitary groups with governmental support,
with actions against the facilities of an employers’
organization and against protest actions by
FEDECAMARAS; the creation of an atmosphere
hostile to employers in order to allow the authorities
(and on occasion to encourage them) to dispossess
and occupy farms in full production, in violation of
the Constitution and legislation and without
following legal procedures; the complainant
organizations refer to 180 cases of illegal invasions
of productive land and indicate that most of these
cases have not been resolved by the relevant
authorities; the application of an exchange control
system decided unilaterally by the authorities,
discriminating against companies belonging to
FEDECAMARAS in administrative authorization
for the purchase of foreign currencies, in retaliation
for participation by this employers’ confederation in
national civic work stoppages
1500. The Committee examined this case at its June 2004 meeting and submitted an interim report to the
Governing Body [see 334th Report, paras. 877-1089, approved by the Governing Body at its
290th Session (June 2004)].
1501. Subsequently, the Government sent new observations in its communications of 22 and 25 February
1502. Venezuela has ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise
Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949
A. Previous examination of the case
1503. At its May-June 2004 meeting, the Committee on Freedom of Association made the following
recommendations [see 334th Report, paras. 1053-1089, approved by the Governing Body at its
290th Session (June 2004)]:
(a) In a general way, the Committee wishes to underline the seriousness of the allegations and it
regrets that, in spite of the fact that the complaints were presented in March 2003, the
Government’s reply, dated 9 March 2004, does not give specific replies to a large number of
(b) Taking into account the nature of the allegations presented and the Government’s reply, the
Committee expresses generally its serious concern about the poor situation of the rights of
employers’ organizations, their representatives and their members. The Committee draws the
Government’s attention to the fact that the rights of workers’ and employers’ organizations
can only be exercised in a climate that is free from violence, pressure or threats of any kind
against the leaders and members of these organizations; the Committee also underlines that
freedom of association can only be exercised in conditions in which fundamental human
rights, and in particular those relating to human life and personal safety, due process and the
protection of premises and property belonging to workers’ and employers’ organizations, are
fully respected and guaranteed. The Committee urges the Government to fully guarantee
these principles in the future.
(c) The Committee regrets that the Government has not convened the National Tripartite
Commission for a number of years and that it usually does not carry out bipartite or tripartite
consultations with FEDECAMARAS regarding policy-making or legislation that has a
fundamental effect on its interests in labour, social or economic matters, thereby violating the
basic rights of this employers’ confederation; the Committee urges the Government to stop
marginalizing and excluding FEDECAMARAS from social dialogue and, in future, to fully
apply the ILO Constitution and the principles therein on consultation and tripartism. The
Committee also urges the Government, without delay, to convene periodically the National
Tripartite Commission and to examine in this context, together with the social partners, laws
and orders adopted without tripartite consultation.
(d) In the current critical situation facing the country and noting that there has for years existed a
permanent conflict between the Government, on the one hand, and FEDECAMARAS and the
CTV, on the other, the Committee offers the Government the services of the ILO to provide
the State and society with its experience so that the authorities and the social partners may
regain trust and, in a climate of mutual respect, establish a system of labour relations based
on the principles of the ILO Constitution and of its fundamental Conventions, as well as the
full recognition, in all its consequences, of the most representative confederations and all
organizations and significant trends in the labour world.
(e) The Committee urges the Government to reinstate FEDENAGA to the Agricultural and
Livestock Council and to stop favouring CONFAGAN to the detriment of FEDENAGA.
(f) The Committee considers that the arrest of Carlos Fernández, President of FEDECAMARAS,
as well as being discriminatory, aimed to neutralize or act as retaliation against this
employers’ official for his activities in defence of employers’ interests and, therefore, it urges
the Government to take all possible steps to annul immediately the judicial proceedings
against Carlos Fernández and to ensure that he may return to Venezuela without delay and
without risk of reprisal; the Committee requests the Government to keep it informed in this
respect. The Committee deeply deplores the arrest of this employers’ official and emphasizes
that the arrest of employers’ officials for reasons linked to actions relating to legitimate
demands is a serious restriction of their rights and a violation of freedom of association, and
requests the Government to respect this principle; the Committee also requests the
Government to take steps to carry out an investigation into how the police carried out the
arrest of Carlos Fernández, his being imprisoned and held incommunicado for a day and the
type of cell in which he was imprisoned, and to keep it informed in this respect.
(g) With regard to the allegations relating to the application of the new system of exchange
control in 2001 (suspension of free buying and selling of currencies) unilaterally established
by the authorities, discriminating against companies belonging to FEDECAMARAS in the
administrative authorization for the purchase of foreign currencies (in retaliation for its
participation in the national civic work stoppages); having taken account of the alleged
discrimination and serious difficulties expressed by the complainant organizations because of
the negative impact in many industries of this system, the Committee requests the
Government to examine with FEDECAMARAS, without delay, the possibility of modifying
the current system and that it guarantee, meanwhile, in case of complaints, the application of
this system without discrimination of any sort, through impartial bodies. The Committee
requests the Government to keep it informed in this respect.
(h) The Committee urges the Government to take the necessary measures without delay:
(i) to ensure that the authorities do not try to intimidate, pressure or threaten employers
and their organizations for their activities with regard to legitimate demands, in
particular in the communications and in the agro-industrial sectors;
(ii) to carry out, without delay, an investigation with regard to: (1) the acts of vandalism at
the premises of the Lasa Chamber of Commerce by Bolivarian groups supporting the
regime (12 December 2002); (2) the looting of the office of Julio Brazón, president of
CONSECOMERCIO (18 February 2003); (3) the threats of violence on 29 October
2002 by alleged members of the government political party against Adip Anka,
president of the Bejuma Chamber of Commerce;
(iii) to carry out an investigation, without delay, into the allegations relating to 180 cases
(up to April 2003) that have not been resolved by the authorities of illegal invasion of
lands in the states of Anzoátegui, Apure, Barinas, Bolívar, Carabobo, Cojidas, Falcón,
Guárico, Lora, Mérida, Miranda, Monagas, Portuguesa, Sucre, Taclira, Trujillo,
Yanacuy and Zulia, and requests that, in the case of expropriations, it fully respect the
legislation laid down and the relevant procedures; and
(iv) to urgently carry out an independent investigation (by people in whom the workers’ and
employers’ confederations have confidence) into the violent paramilitary groups
mentioned in the allegations (Coordinadora Simón Bolívar, Tupamaros movements and
Círculos Bolivarianos Armados, Quinta República, Juventud Revolucionaria del MVR,
Frente Institucional Militar and Fuerza Bolivariana) with a view to dismantling and
disarming them, and that it ensure that there are no clashes or confrontations between
these groups and protestors in demonstrations, and to keep it informed in this respect.
B. The Government’s new observations
1504. In its communication of 22 February 2005, the Government states, in relation to the Committee’s
recommendation on social dialogue, that the Government takes note of the recommendation of the
honourable Committee in subparagraph (c) of paragraph 1089. On this point, and taking into
consideration the background of destabilization and attacks on democratic institutions, the
Government undertook a series of initiatives to consult about and validate measures and actions
designed to protect the interests and rights of the majority sectors of the country who are victims of
poverty and structural exclusion, due in large measure to the negative impact on these majority
sections generated by unilateral neo-liberal and anti-nationalist policies about which there was no
consultation. Noteworthy among these measures and actions were a set of legal instruments, whose
drafting and approval by the National Executive had been previously authorized by the National
Assembly (enabling act), which were submitted to processes of consultation and dialogue with the
social actors. Although the positions adopted were not those of the business sector, there is no
question of this consultation process not taking place. Perhaps the misunderstanding arose due to
the traditional way in which the dialogue and consultation occurred, in which the Government
surrendered its role of protector of the interests of the majorities, allowing a progressive trimming
of the economic, social and cultural rights of the population.
1505. The Government indicates that the most striking disagreements with these legal provisions were
those relating to demands concerning the privatization of oil and hydrocarbons; land and rural
development; fishing and coasts and the Public Administration Act, the latter giving rise to a
complaint to the Committee, Case No. 2202, subsequently withdrawn by the complainant trade
unions when the observations submitted were remedied. The remainder of the 47 authorized to be
drafted and approved by the National Executive entered into force smoothly and did not give rise to
1506. According to the Government, the criticisms that surfaced around this legislation gave rise to
actions against democratic institutions, involving key representatives of the social actors, even to
the point of a coup d’état and sabotage of the country’s main economic activities, with paralysis of
essential public services and causing an acute national crisis in the country.
1507. The Government adds, however, that the complaint which gave rise to this case fails to mention the
process of dialogue conducted by the authorities prior to approval of the legislative measures and
even after their approval consultations took place, without prejudice to recourse to other
mechanisms and remedies set out in the national legal system.
1508. In the latter regard, the Government points to the controversial Land and Rural Development Act
which was challenged in the Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court of Justice, and which led
to several decisions, annulling several of the most controversial articles or provisions. Particular
mention should be made of the decisions of the Constitutional Division of 20 November and
11 December 2002, on the application of the National Federation of Stockbreeders (FEDENAGA),
whose president is Mr. José Luis Betancourt, which declared null articles 89 and 90 of the Decree
with rank of law, the Land and Agrarian Development Act, while at the same time providing an
interpretation of articles 25, 40 and 43 of the Act.
1509. Likewise, the Government states that, following an intensive process of consultation and debate in
the National Assembly, the text originally approved by the National Executive on the Public
Administration Act was revised. Indeed, the new version was approved by the National Assembly
on 11 July 2002, extending rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Amendments
resulting from the consultations were even introduced into the original text, which allowed the
Latin-American Workers’ Confederation (CLAT) to withdraw the complaint it had submitted to the
Committee, recognizing the fruits of the dialogue that had taken place. Thus there is little basis for
disputing the form in which the texts were approved by the National Executive as omitting the
power to amend them at a later stage in the National Assembly, and also in the Supreme Court of
1510. The Government states that, despite the public actions of Mr. Carlos Fernández in the April 2002
coup d’état, the President of the Republic, in a gesture of humility and magnanimity, invited him a
few days later to participate in the forums for dialogue which he was initiating with the country’s
various social sectors. Despite the fact that Mr. Fernández withdrew from the forums for dialogue
within a few days, in the specific case of the labour sector, these forums for dialogue continued
with grassroots employers’ and workers’ organizations, leading to important sectoral agreements at
grassroots level (in key sectors such as motor vehicles and spare parts, chemicals and
pharmaceuticals, tourism, small and medium-sized enterprises, transport, textiles and clothing,
among others). Therefore the Committee’s statement concerning the supposed deliberate
“marginalization” and “exclusion” of FEDECAMARAS by the Government is perhaps inexact and
insufficient, when paradoxically within a few days of a coup d’état led by the president of
FEDECAMARAS, the vice-president of FEDECAMARAS was asked to form part of the national
social forums for dialogue. In the light of this, it seems more appropriate to state that it was a case
of self-exclusion and self-marginalization.
1511. The Government indicates that in order to overcome the political crisis caused by the coup d’état
led by the president of FEDECAMARAS, Mr. Carmona, the Government in November 2002
launched a process of national dialogue with the opposition. This process of dialogue was
facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS), the Carter Center and the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP). The opposition side included a representative of
FEDECAMARAS. This dialogue process took place despite the fact that within a few days
Mr. Fernández, acting as president of FEDECAMARAS, allied himself publicly with an act of
military rebellion led by the generals in the Plaza Altamira de Caracas. In addition, within a few
days, Mr. Fernández led the work stoppage for over two months to bring about the removal of the
President of the Republic. These elements will put into perspective the soundness of the
Committee’s recommendation on the supposed marginalization and exclusion of FEDECAMARAS
from the dialogue. As both the Committee and other ILO monitoring bodies have been informed
repeatedly, the process of dialogue facilitated by the OAS, the Carter Center and the UNDP
culminated in the signing of an agreement on 29 May 2003, which ultimately led to the calling of
the popular referendum on 15 August 2004.
1512. According to the Government, the consultations on minimum wages since 2002 have been
conducted through written requests sent to the various social actors at national, regional and local
level. The measures adopted by the Government in this field, particularly in 2004, permitted a
recovery in workers’ wages against a background of economic growth, and declining rates of
unemployment, informality and inflation.
1513. The Government indicates that the consultations on other work-related measures, such as labour
immobility, agreements of the Andean Community of Nations, action plan on child labour,
ratification of Conventions, Workers’ Food Act, etc. have in most cases been conducted through
correspondence or letters. This government action aimed at all the social actors has intensified since
1514. According to the Government, the consultations on the reform of the Organic Labour Act were
conducted directly with representatives of the various social actors, both in the National Assembly
and the Ministry of Labour.
1515. The Government adds that, following the regional and municipal elections, the Executive Vice-
President of the Republic held meetings with representatives of FEDECAMARAS, at both national
and regional level, and with representatives of the affiliated chambers (CONINDUSTRIA,
CONSECOMERCIO, among others). This effort by the Government is intended to restore social
dialogue with leading social actors, without prejudice to maintaining the impetus of regional and
sectoral meetings such as those held since 2002.
1516. The Government indicates that on 14 January 2005, in an event which had not occurred since 2001,
the president of FEDECAMARAS attended the session where the President of the Republic
reported to the nation on the management of the previous year.
1517. For the Government, as well as an immediate commitment of the National Executive, this effort to
meet also directly involved the presidency of the National Assembly, where the national committee
of FEDECAMARAS was recently received. This aspect is of particular importance because the
President of the National Assembly comes from the Caracas Metro Workers’ Union which
committed itself to promoting a common agenda for labour legislation, in particular reform of the
Organic Labour Act.
1518. As regards social dialogue in a direct and participate democracy, the Government indicates that, in
paragraph 1066, the Committee rightly “recalls that the 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia that forms
part of the ILO Constitution reaffirms among the fundamental principles on which the ILO is based,
the following: the war against want requires to be carried on with unrelenting vigour within each
nation, and by continuous and concerted international effort in which the representatives of workers
and employers, enjoying equal status with those of governments, join with them in free discussion
and democratic decision with a view to the promotion of the common welfare”.
1519. The Government indicates that the Committee’s observation in the previous paragraph is also
shared by the Government, which highlights that in no other period of the country’s history has
there been an inclusive policy of consultation and decision-making involving all elements of
Venezuelan society, both organized and otherwise. In the specific case of employers’ organizations,
the terms “inclusive” and “grassroots” as part of this dialogue should be highlighted, due to the fact
that in the past broad swathes of employers’ and workers’ sectors were left out of the discussions
and decisions which affected or regulated their relations with the Venezuelan State, and as
established in the Declaration of Philadelphia “the representatives of workers and employers,
enjoying equal status with those of governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic
decision with a view to the promotion of the common welfare”.
1520. In this regard, what the Government has done is to enlarge the basis of the customary consultations
or dialogue which took place during the so-called “representative” democracy which existed in the
Republic until 1999, dominated by the exclusiveness and privilege of the employers’
representation, before giving way to plurality instead of exclusion, allowing, for example, the
Federation of Artisans, Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Industrialists of Venezuela
(FEDEINDUSTRIA), founded over 30 years ago, to participate in forums for dialogue or
consultations, something which was not usual until the present Government came into power.
1521. The Government adds that it is important to stress than, in terms of bipartite and tripartite dialogue
and consultation since 1999, what was done was simply to comply with the ILO Constitution and
the provisions of the Conventions duly ratified by the Republic, highlighting in this process the
importance of including participatory, proactive and inclusive democracy, i.e. that the country’s
important decisions are the subject of wide consultation with all members of the different
productive sectors, in this case old and new employers’ organizations.
1522. Consequently, what has been seen is that the conduct of FEDECAMARAS from 2001 up to
November 2004 was directed – inexplicably – at marginalizing and excluding itself, by changing
from a social actor to a political one, causing economic losses to a large number of its members,
promoting disregard for legality, and evading its social obligations and responsibilities. Such acts
are not only contrary to the spirit of social dialogue in a democratic framework, but contrary to the
social state under the rule of law and justice with which Venezuelan men and women are blessed
under the Constitution.
1523. According to the Government, the process of establishing mechanisms of consultation and
participation is what has made economic recovery possible, generating new fair and decent work,
progressively surmounting social exclusion and enhancing the quality of life of the population,
correcting in ample measure the various situations noted by the complainants and the Government
before the Committee in March 2003 and March 2004.
1524. As regards the statements concerning the responsibility of FEDECAMARAS, like the Committee,
the Government also regrets the discrediting of FEDECAMARAS and its officials (paragraph 1057
of the Conclusions). However, it should be stressed that, at the time of the events at the end of
2001, throughout 2002 and early 2003, there were few protests by other employers affiliated to the
employers’ organization expressing their disagreement or differences with the leadership indicated
in advance (prior to the actions of Mr. Carmona and Mr. Fernández).
1525. In this case, the Government is referring to employers affiliated to FEDECAMARAS who at that
point in time and in the then political situation, did not express their disagreement with the wellknown
public actions of their leaders. In any case, as was already made clear, the Government
points out that, since then, matters have been evolving in a positive way, particularly since the
holding of the presidential referendum of 15 August and the regional and municipal elections of
31 October 2004. The new political events have enabled the re-establishment of forums for meeting
and dialogue, turning the page on the rifts that occurred between 2001 and 2003. Thus, many of the
unconstitutional and illegal actions perpetrated against Venezuela’s institutions and people are now
in the hands of the respective law enforcement agencies and the courts (Office of the Attorney-
General and the Judicial Power), where those under investigation enjoy due guarantees in the
framework of due process.
1526. In its communication of 25 February 2005, concerning the coup d’état of April 2002, the
Government draws to the Committee’s attention that, in its conclusions (paragraph 1055), it should
take into account, based on the observations submitted by the Government, that “the Committee
observes that in response to the complaint as a whole and to an incidental claim by the
complainants (that the national civic work stoppage on 9, 10 and 11 April 2002 led to the national
crisis that resulted in the resignation of the President of the Republic which was publicly confirmed
by the country’s highest military official, but that only lasted a few days as it was later cancelled by
the President himself) …”.
1527. The Government points out that, in highlighting the facts, the Committee contradicts itself, since it
states in paragraph 1056 “… that this complaint does not relate to Pedro Carmona, that the
allegations relate to situations both preceding and following the events of 12 and 13 April 2002
(above all the national civic work stoppages of December 2002 to January 2003), that its mandate is
limited to examining the allegations of violations of the rights of workers’ and employers’
organizations, their representatives and affiliates, and that it is not the competent international
forum to deal with questions of an exclusively political nature”.
1528. The Government indicates that the Committee itself supports the Government’s argument through
an “incidental claim by the complainants” [IOE – FEDECAMARAS], in other words, the
complainants themselves assume the involvement of the employers’ organizations and their then
leaders in the observations made by the Government in March 2004 which the Committee
summarizes in paragraph 1056.
1529. For the Government, the participation, inter-dependency and relationship that existed between both
members of the FEDECAMARAS leadership (whose president was Mr. Carmona and vicepresident
Mr. Fernández) in the events of April 2002 is clear. The actions by both led to a coup
d’état. These actions are evidenced in documents and newspaper articles provided by the
Government to the Committee in its observations of March 2004.
1530. The Government refers to the Committee’s summary in paragraph 924 (the Government’s reply),
which it quotes: “Carlos Fernández succeeded Carmona Estanca in the presidency of
FEDECAMARAS, as he was the first vice-president of the association when the unconstitutional
presidency of Carmona Estanca as de facto President was announced. The first official act of Carlos
Fernández as president of FEDECAMARAS was to acknowledge the regime of Carmona Estanca,
and it was on 12 April 2002 that Mr. Fernández signed the ‘Act of Constitution of the Government
of Democratic Transition and National Unity’ as representative of the employers. The Act referred
to tried unconstitutionally to justify the coup d’état by the employers, the military, opposition
political parties and a minority of ‘civil society’ with the so-called ‘Government of Democratic
Transition and National Unity’”.
1531. The Government adds that the cited observations were accompanied by the copy of the Act of the
so-called transitional government over which Mr. Carmona presided for a few hours and which
Mr. Fernández endorsed with his signature on behalf of the employers of Venezuela. These actions,
the Government recalls, led to:
– the removal and persecution of the President of the Republic, the Executive Vice-President of
the Republic, ministers and other government officials;
– the removal and persecution of governors and mayors belonging to the government party,
previously elected (like the President of the Republic) by the will of the people;
– removal and suppression of the National Assembly (National Legislative Power);
– removal of the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice (Judicial Power);
– removal of the Office of the Attorney-General, Office of the Ombudsman and Office of the
Comptroller-General of the Republic (Civil Power); and
– removal of the judges of the National Electoral Council (Electoral Power).
1532. The Government adds that these acts transmitted throughout the country by radio and television
clearly showed that these representatives of FEDECAMARAS (president and vice-president) were
acting contrary to the Constitution, laws and international Conventions on human rights. These acts
include the unconstitutional detention or deprivation of liberty, in the form of kidnapping of the
President of the Republic, legitimately elected in 2000 by the vast majority of the Venezuelan
people (over 60 per cent of the vote).
1533. The Government states that any attempt to distinguish the action of Mr. Carmona from that
subsequently taken by Mr. Fernández is a serious error, both in historical and legal terms, since it
was a case of a series of facts or events related to each other, as shown by the actions that were
1534. For example, the Government adds, prior to the indefinite employers’ stoppages of December 2002
and January 2003, there had already been the employers’ stoppage of 10 December 2001, the
employers’ stoppage of 9, 10 and 11 April 2002 and the employer’s stoppage of 21 October 2002.
In all those cases, those who represented FEDECAMARAS as president (first Mr. Carmona and
later Mr. Fernández) acted with the support of private television and radio companies on public
channels, directing their actions against the democratic system.
1535. As regards the judicial detention of Mr. Carlos Fernández, the Government is concerned at the
statements by the Committee on Freedom of Association in its interim conclusions on the judicial
detention of Mr. Carlos Fernández, the opinions expressed by the Committee on Freedom of
Association and adopted by the Governing Board with the respective reservations by the
Government of Venezuela at the 290th Session of the Governing Board (summary record of the
meeting annexed). The Committee exceeds its powers on the substance of the matter, when it
overlooks the principles of international law on the burden of proof and evaluation of evidence.
Consequently, its conclusions are reckless and mistaken because they are based on false
suppositions. The Government stresses that Mr. Carlos Fernández is a fugitive from justice, which
places him in a special position because he has evaded justice.
1536. In the Government’s opinion, the Committee exceeds its powers on the substance of the matter
when it passes judgment on matters which are a matter for the criminal courts of Venezuela and
which are not established in Conventions Nos. 87 and 98. According to the Government, in
pronouncing on whether a person has been the victim of ill-treatment during his detention, the
Committee did not take sufficiently into account the observations submitted in this case, as set out
in the reply and annexes in March 2004.
1537. The Government indicates that the Committee overlooks the principles of international law
concerning the burden of proof and evaluation of evidence. Indeed, according to the Government,
the Committee reverses the burden of proof and its evaluation of the evidence submitted by the
parties is inadequate. The Committee, by breaching the principles of international law, reverses the
burden of proof and finds the complainants’ statements to be true even when the Government
presented solid evidence and documents such as judicial decisions, and statements by the alleged
victim and his wife to the mass media.
1538. Concerning the putative ill-treatment alleged by the complainants, the Government states that,
while the complainants stated in the Committee that Mr. Fernández had been ill-treated, the alleged
victim never made any complaint in that respect to any national authority. This is a negative fact
about which the Government cannot present any evidence, it being up to the complainants to
provide evidence that Mr. Fernández entered a complaint of any kind for alleged human rights
violations. In this respect, they should annex the complaints made to the competent judicial organs,
i.e. the Office of the Attorney-General and the Office of the Ombudsman. Unlike the complainants,
the Government submitted documentary evidence consisting of statements to the mass media by
Mr. Fernández’ wife saying that he had been well treated.
1539. The Government adds that faced with the above situation, the Committee rejects the evidence
presented by the State because it considered that it is “of limited value as evidence”. By virtue of
the application of the principles of burden of proof, even if a more limited role is given to the value
of a statement to the press, the Committee should give it precedence over the statements by the
complainants to the Committee on Freedom of Association. The Committee’s conclusions and
recommendations “to carry out an investigation in this respect and to keep it informed” are futile
and difficult to comply with, since the Government cannot initiate an investigation into facts which
have never been reported to it by Mr. Carlos Fernández. The Government reiterates that the
conditions under which Mr. Fernández was arrested were in accordance with the law and he did not
suffer any ill-treatment during his judicial arrest and brief imprisonment.
1540. The Government urges the Committee on Freedom of Association to send the evidence presented
by FEDECAMARAS and the IOE in support of the alleged ill-treatment that caused injuries and
bruises to Mr. Carlos Fernández at the time of his arrest and imprisonment, such as forensic
examinations (physical and psychological), as this would lend greater credibility to the statements
of the complainants and the Committee on Freedom of Association.
1541. With regard to the alleged violation of due process to which the Committee refers (paragraph 1075
and following), it is the Government’s opinion that although the complainants stated to the
Committee that Mr. Fernández’ right to due process had been violated, the Government maintains
that in the present case the judicial organs respected due process, since the arrested person was
immediately brought before a judge and the judge took measures concerning his detention in a
reasonable time and in accordance with the current law. In this regard, the Government reiterates
the following observations:
(1) The detention of Carlos Fernández occurred following a legally valid request executed by the
Office of the Attorney-General of the Republic, in the person of the Sixth Prosecuting
Attorney of the Office of the Attorney-General.
(2) The proceedings were originally initiated for the offences of instigation to commit an offence,
devastation, incitement to conspire and treason, at the request of the Office of the Attorney-
General of the Republic, in accordance with the organic Criminal Procedures Code (COPP).
These accusations were brought against him given the extent of the evidence of damage to the
country by the repeated public protests by Mr. Fernández which gave rise, among other things,
to sabotage of the oil industry, closing of food-producing firms during the public and
notorious leadership by Mr. Fernández of the so-called “civic work stoppage” or lockout that
took place in December 2002 and January 2003.
(3) The trial judge was No. 34 of the criminal jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas,
who in turn was challenged by the defence lawyers of Mr. Fernández, exercising his human
right to defence, and the case was transferred to trial judge No. 49.
(4) The offences of treason, incitement to conspire (conspiracy) and devastation were not
accepted by the new judge but the judge upheld the accusations of civil rebellion and
instigation to commit offences and ordered Mr. Fernández to be placed under house arrest (at his residence and home), as he suffered from blood pressure problems, thus enjoying procedural privileges and special treatment during the trial proceedings as laid down in our criminal procedures legislation.
(5) It should be noted that on 30 January 2003, before his judicial detention, Mr. Fernández made a statement as a witness at the premises of the Office of the Attorney-General, following which he had been summoned to make another statement as a defendant, a summons that he did not attend.
(6) Consequently, on 18 February 2003, the representatives of the Attorney-General requested the trial judge for the arrest of Mr. Fernández and that he should be brought before the jurisdictional body, and the judge to rule as appropriate.
(7) On 19 February 2003, Court No. 34, in the exercise of its powers, agreed to the request and issued an order for the arrest and detention of Mr. Fernández.
(8) On 20 March 2003, the Appeals Court decided to free Mr. Fernández, withdrawing the charges against him. Mr. Fernández then immediately left the country.
(9) On 20 March 2003, in the Appeals Court of Caracas, the Sixth Prosecuting Attorney in the Office of the Attorney-General lodged an appeal for the protection of constitutional rights (amparo) with the Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court of Justice which accepted the allegations set out by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Republic and once again ordered the house arrest of Mr. Carlos Fernández. The Supreme Court of Justice upheld the detention order in a decision read out by the president of the Court on 2 August 2003. As
Mr. Fernández was outside the country and did not report to the judicial authorities, he is thus a fugitive from Venezuelan justice.
1542. The Government indicates that, in paragraph 1076 of the report, the Committee observes that the Government had conveyed the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice (8 August 2003) that revoked the decision of the Appeals Court on procedural grounds (missing signature of one of the three magistrates (21 March 2003) who, for reasons of health, had been absent from the court for some hours).
1543. The Government stresses that in any trial, mishaps may occur. In the case of Mr. Fernández, the mishaps that arose were resolved satisfactorily. Specifically, the charges and and other recourse exercised by a plaintiff may not be interpreted, nor should the Committee be “surprised” that “a judge was challenged; three of the charges were suppressed by another judge and the Appeals Court ended up dropping all of them” (…) “The decision of this court was appealed in the Supreme Court of Justice, which revoked it on procedural grounds and once again, at the request of the Office of the Attorney-General (the same prosecuting attorney that had originally accused him of the five offences) ordered the arrest of Mr. Fernández.” All these observations by the Government show that in Venezuela the justice system is autonomous, independent and impartial.
1544. Moreover, the Government is concerned that the Committee did not express an opinion on and did not take into account the Government’s explanations in its reply of March 2004 concerning the conduct of the trade union officials, which was in violation of Article 8 of Convention No. 87: “In exercising the rights provided for in this Convention workers and employers and their respective organisations, like other persons or organised collectivities, shall respect the law of the land”.
1545. The Government indicates that it is clear that the detention of Mr. Carlos Fernández, president of FEDECAMARAS in this instance, having succeeded the dictator Pedro Carmona Estanca, is directly and immediately linked to the employers’ lockout and oil stoppage which took place from 2 December 2002 to the end of January 2003. These are offences laid down in law prior to the events themselves and before the current President of the Republic took office. The Government stresses, as laid down in Article 8 of Convention No. 87 cited above, that no political or trade union
activity means, nor can mean, licence to commit offences.
1546. As regards the supposed legitimacy given to the so-called “civic work stoppage” of December 2002 and January 2003, the Government states that, in paragraphs 1080, 1081 and 1082, the Committee refers in worrying terms to the economic sabotage imposed in an anti-democratic manner for two months by the political opposition including the employers’ organization FEDECAMARAS as
“civic work stoppages”. The Government’s attention, as representative of the Venezuelan people from which it derives its existence and the legitimacy of its mandates, is drawn to the subtle justification and even validation of breaking the law applicable in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in relation to the said stoppage. In this regard, reference is made to paragraphs 1080, 1081 and 1082 (part) of the report in question.
1547. The Government indicates that the conclusions expressed by the Committee in this regard are similar to the grounds wrongly asserted by opposition parties during the so-called “civic work stoppage” to justify human rights violations on a massive scale and interruption of essential public services, which seemed to be validated as the inevitable and necessary consequences or lesser evils of the promotion of the stoppage organized against the legitimate authorities and against the Constitution of the Republic.
1548. The Government adds that the extremely broad definition of human rights enshrined in the Constitution is no reason to seek to justify actions in the name of neo-liberalism and neo-fascism to the detriment of the majority and the democratic system which this majority choose freely and in the exercise of its sovereignty.
1549. Thus, the Government indicates, in relation to articles 53 and 97 of the Constitution, the Committee errs in both cases in omitting the provision that rights of public assembly and strike must be exercised in express compliance with the respective laws.
1550. The Government adds that in this regard, article 53 of the Constitution states: “Any person shall have the right to meet, in public or in private, without prior authorization, for lawful purposes and without arms. Meetings in public places shall be regulated by law”. The expression “regulated by law” denotes the importance that this provision of the Constitution attaches to people’s right of assembly, without seeking to undermine the exercise of other rights by the remainder of the
population, such as the right to life, food, freedom of movement, etc. However, what is of concern is the expression ignored by the Committee “… for lawful purposes and without arms. Meetings in public places shall be regulated by law”. This needs emphasizing, since precisely what Mr. Fernández was doing was to incite incessantly to violence and breach of the law.
1551. Thus, the Government indicates, the Committee erred in its conclusions by including the phrase “very generously”, alluding in a partial manner to the provisions of the Constitution “and the right to strike, in the public and private sector” (article 97), inexplicably ignoring the rest of article 97 “shall have the right to strike, under such conditions as are established by law”. It is important to
stress that the promoters and leaders of the so-called “civic work stoppage” did not comply with the special legislation, the Organic Labour Act, Title VII, Collective Labour Rights, specifically on the regulation of the right to strike.
1552. The Government states that, in the case of the right to strike to which article 97 of the Constitution refers, the Organic Labour Act, which came into force in 1990 and was reformed in 1997, not only expressly does not recognize the concept of general strike but also expressly abolished the concept of lock-out, in contrast to its recognition in the repealed 1936 law. The abolition of the concept of lock-out in the 1990 Organic Labour Act (known as the Caldera Act) was considered as very
appropriate by the social actors, which regarded it as a step forward in protection against anti-trade union practices. In any case, the Organic Labour Act and its subsidiary regulations expressly establish the requirements and conditions for the exercise of the right to strike, which may never affect the rights of others and even less so the rights of majorities of the population.
1553. The Government indicates that these aspects were sufficiently supported in the observations sent by the Government in March 2004, because the law specifically guarantees peaceful coexistence of citizens and prevention of anarchy, abuse by a few to the detriment of the majority and contempt for the freedom of all. Thus, those who deliberately ignore it, as well as placing human rights in jeopardy, must be subject for their actions to the appropriate sanctions laid down through due
process in the competent judicial organs.
1554. The Government states that, as established in its previous replies on the same events of December 2002 and January 2003 (Case No. 2249), the Committee seems to have fallen unnecessarily into contradictions, including with its own doctrine on paralysis of essential public services, general strike, acute national crisis, among other issues. The Committee’s clear contradiction of a doctrine built up over the years, as well as implying a negative or regressive precedent with respect to human rights, is a worrying signal with regard to legal certainty for members of the Organization.
1555. As to the inappropriate justification of the so-called civic work stoppage based on article 350 of the Constitution of the Republic, the Government indicates that it might be interpreted that the Committee is trying to minimize or divert attention from the Government’s allegations submitted in March 2004, as well as seeking to criticize the Constitution by using the expression “very generously”. The broad recognition in the Constitution of rights and guarantees and of a deeply
democratic and participatory economic, social, political system cannot be taken and used to distort its content, since the Constitution itself establishes parameters to prevent this, together with the respective laws and court decisions which interpret it.
1556. Thus, the Government states that the unconstitutional and illegal nature of the so-called “civic work stoppage” cannot be justified by the phrase “very generously”, by which the Committee refers to the Constitution, especially as it does not take sufficient account of the observations sent by the Government in March 2004. In the light of this situation, we request the Committee on Freedom of
Association to provide detailed clarification of the thinking behind its interpretation of our Constitution. This clarification could also involve other organs of the Organization in relation to article 350 of the Constitution.
1557. The Government states that the Committee’s interpretation in paragraph 1082 of article 350 of the Constitution coincides with the interpretation made and wrongly invoked by the political opposition. It should be indicated that in this regard the Supreme Court of Justice, in a judgement of the Constitutional Division of 22 January 2003 (annexed by the Government) interpreted the said article 350 and set aside the incorrect interpretations of that article of the Constitution.
1558. The Government indicates that the judgement in question was subsequently ratified by the Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court of Justice itself on 13 February 2003. Both judgements already existed and were fully known, due to the importance of the subject, at the date of the submission of the complaint by FEDECAMARAS and the IOE on 17 March 2003. In other words, they were handed down almost two months before the submission of the abovementioned complaint to the Committee, which shows that they did not act with due reasonableness and
fairness before this tripartite body, i.e. in seeking the truth on the interpretation of this constitutional provision.
1559. In any case, the Government points out that, the Committee was informed by the Government of both judgements of the Supreme Court of Justice in a Case (No. 2249) dealing with the same events and the actors acting jointly with FEDECAMARAS in the so-called “civic work stoppage” in a letter sent on 15 June 2004, specifically pages 20-24 inclusive.
1560. The Government indicates that the above is intended to alert the Committee to its mistaken conclusions concerning article 350 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, since according to the interpretations of the Committee on Freedom of Association, “because this is a recent Constitution, these rights have not been developed in legislation (for example, in cases of
conflicts of constitutional rights; or of minimum services to be maintained during strikes)”.
1561. On the decision on exchange control and control of issue of foreign currency, the Government views with concern that in paragraph 1085 of the 334th Report, there was minimal mention of the reasons justifying such an urgent and necessary measure as the establishment of exchange control, creating for the purpose the Foreign Exchange Control Commission (CADIVI). In this respect, the Government reiterates that its reply sent in March 2004 contained sufficient explanation, and now
provides further details by annexing information on foreign currency authorized, as well as making available to the Committee the explanation by the Ministry of Labour in the abovementioned communication of 10 January this year, including annexes in accordance with the procedure established in article 26 of the ILO Constitution:
With respect to the alleged discrimination in the foreign exchange administration and control system, this was a measure adopted by the Government to control the massive and deliberate flight which depleted international reserves and led to rising inflation in the country which affected access by the population to food and basic services. Employers must satisfy the basic conditions (lack of indebtedness to the tax and social security administration) and in the event of mishaps in
the process they may resort to the administrative and judicial authorities. In any case, given the imprecise and general nature of the allegation formulated by the complainants, we consider that they confused the teething problems in implementing a foreign exchange control and administration system with discriminatory action. It is certainly true that historically similar problems of implementation arose when similar measures were taken in 1961, 1983 and 1994. In order to refute the allegations of the complainants, the distribution of foreign exchange at the end of
2004 is shown in the annexes. This distribution covered all productive sectors, including nationally and internationally owned companies.
1562. In turn, the Government indicates, the Minister of Labour observed in the same communication that:
The Committee, without identifying the companies affected by alleged discriminatory
treatment, requests the Government to “modify the current system”, which invades areas of monetary and exchange policy, adopted after a massive capital flight intended to create political instability in 2002 and 2003. This capital flight, as it happened, was accompanied by basic food shortages and sabotage of essential public services (in particular petrol and domestic gas), thereby endangering the lives, health and safety of the country’s population.
1563. The Government says that it still hopes at the present time that the complainants and the Committee on Freedom of Association itself will officially convey the list showing the precise identity of the firms affected by the discriminatory application of the foreign exchange control system operating in
the country since 2003. The Government hopes that the complainants will present formal
complaints to the competent national authorities with respect to the alleged discriminatory
treatment to which the Committee’s report refers.
1564. The Government places on record that it has held regular meetings with the employers’ sector, in
particular, the industrial sector affiliated to FEDECAMARAS, and the social actors to resolve
problems in the application of the system and to correct its failings. An example of this is the
meetings held by CONINDUSTRIA with CADIVI last November.
1565. The Government has systematically explained to the ILO monitoring organs that the existence of
armed groups is completely false, let alone that these alleged groups have the support of the
Government or other government authorities.
1566. The Government also notes that, according to the 334th Report, paragraph 1087, the Committee
regrets that the Government has not specifically replied to these allegations. In this respect, the
Government reports that the complainants do not attach the relevant complaints concerning the
events about which the Committee requests the Government to inform it in paragraph 1087.
1567. The Government stresses that the specific political violence and intolerance by the sectors in
dispute during 2002 and part of 2003, the product of political polarization, which has now been
overcome, was a problem addressed from the outset in the so-called Table for Negotiation and
Agreement (November 2002-May 2003) facilitated by the Carter Center, the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organization of American States (OAS). This forum for
dialogue managed to achieve a commitment by both sectors (Government and opposition) to
condemn violence, followed by an important product of the agreement, namely the Decree on the
disarming of the population (illegal arms) and suspension of the carrying of arms without exception
for all citizens of the Republic, in order to establish and maintain a reliable register of those with
permits to carry arms in accordance with the law. In addition, the Constitution of the Republic
clearly establishes that the State has a monopoly of arms.
1568. In any case, the Government states that the Committee was informed of this and the respective
agreements of the Table for Negotiation and Agreement were submitted to it, stressing the
participation of FEDECAMARAS on a permanent basis through the president of one of its
branches, the Venezuelan Chamber of Food (CAVIDEA).
1569. With respect to the above paragraph, the Government reiterates its comments on the matter in its
communication (already indicated), No. 004 of 10 January 2005, which states:
The Committee recommended the Government to establish an “independent” commission,
(by people responsible for the coups d’état and petroleum lock-out in 2002-2003, with a view to
“dismantling”, proscribing or banning various social organizations which exercise the right of
association. Among them the Quinta República Movement, a government party with a majority in
the National Assembly as well as in 20 of the 22 State governments and 270 of the 340
municipalities in the country and Juventud Revolucionaria del MVR. This political party has won
nine national, regional and local elections between 1998 and the present. It should be noted that the
Committee on Freedom of Association requested the “dismantling” of the main political party in
Venezuela and other legally constituted social organizations, which is legally impossible, and
would not be feasible in practise. (Annexed is a press article which mentions the MVR as the main
1570. As regards the investigation into acts of vandalism and 180 cases of alleged invasion of farms, the
Government states what was already explained in the abovementioned letter No. 004 of 10 January
2005, as follows:
As regards the alleged harassment of members of the employers’ organization, it should be
stressed that despite the tension experienced at times during the period concerned here, no trade
union or employers’ leader was arrested and no trade union office raided, except for those specific
measures implemented in accordance with judicial decisions and those of the Office of the
Attorney-General. These judicial decisions are directly linked to the investigation into those
responsible for the coup d’état in April 2002 and the economic and oil sabotage in December 2002
and January 2003. The provisions of the Convention do not authorize or lend legitimacy to acts in
violation of the law, but on the contrary require representatives of the social actors to respect the
basic rules for living together in a democracy. The measures adopted by the police authorities were
always the result of proceedings and previous decisions by the independent and autonomous organs
of the public power, which did not involve persecution or limitation of the exercise of rights and
freedoms of association.
1571. Regarding the alleged invasions of farms (180) and other abuses, which, according to the
employers’ organization, were suffered by the president of CONSECOMERCIO, Mr. Julio Brazón,
during an alleged looting of his office, and the harassing of the president of the Bejuma Chamber of
Commerce, Mr. Adip Anka, in the form of alleged threats of violence by alleged members of the
government party, the Government considers that there is no basis whatsoever in either case, and
there is no evidence to support or prove them.
1572. The Government states that the institutions and population in general are fully aware that
Venezuela functions under the rule of law and justice, such that whenever there is a breach or
violation of the law, the facts must be reported to the appropriate authorities. For this purpose, a
complaint must be made to the competent authorities providing evidence of the facts. As evidence
that what the complainants in this case allege happened actually happened, the complainants could
at least have annexed the respective complaints to the administrative and judicial authorities of the
Venezuelan State to the written submission to the Committee on Freedom of Association. The
Government therefore regrets that the allegations of the employers’ organization FEDECAMARAS
were not supported by sound evidence and requests the Committee to consider this aspect, and to
discount it for the reasons set out above.
1573. As to the comments on enabling acts, the Government reiterates what it stated in its reply sent in its
communication No. 094 of 9 March 2004, and also sets out what it indicated in its communication
of 10 January, namely:
As regards the approval of laws passed in the context of an enabling act of 2000,
consultations were held with all sectors, mainly in August 2001, following a systematic method of
work and timetable, in particular with FEDECAMARAS and its affiliated organizations. However,
it should be clearly understood that after consulting with the sectors concerned and listening to their
particular interests, the State adopted measures in which the general interest of the population was
given priority or preference, particularly excluded sectors in the urban and rural areas,
demonstrating the exercise of political will in accordance with the majority of the electorate which
elected it. In any case, any disputes of particular items of the content were examined and decided at
the time by the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, and the necessary corrective measures
taken, including declaring null certain specific provisions of various bodies of legislation.
1574. In any case, the Government informs the Committee of the results of the appeals by the employers
affiliated to FEDECAMARAS in relation to the decree-laws under the Enabling Act and the
consultations in the National Assembly concerning review and correction of some articles of those
decree-laws. These can be summarized as follows:
On the Decree with rank and force of law, Land and Agrarian Development Act, published in
the Official Gazette, No. 37,323 of 13 November 2001, it should be pointed out that the Supreme
Court of Justice, Constitutional Division, ruled as follows:
ONE: the articles of the laws set out in articles 82 and 84 of the Decree with rank and force
of law, Land and Agrarian Development Act published in the Official Gazette, No. 37,323 of
13 November 2001 are held to be constitutional.
TWO: interprets and, in consequence, recognizes, in the terms set out in this ruling, the full
force and validity of the provisions contained in articles 25, 40 and 43 of the Decree with rank and
force of law, Land and Agrarian Development Act published in the Official Gazette, No. 37,323 of
13 November 2001.
THREE: articles 89 and 90 of the Decree with rank and force of law, Land and Agrarian
Development Act published in the Official Gazette, No. 37,323 of 13 November 2001 are found to
FOUR: in accordance with the provisions of articles 119 and 120 of the Organic Act of the
Supreme Court of Justice, the immediate publication of this judgement in the Official Gazette of
Venezuela is ordered, stating in the summary the following title:
Ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice, in the Constitutional Division, which holds that
articles 82 and 84 are constitutional; which finds that articles 89 and 90 are unconstitutional; and
interpretation of articles 25, 40 and 43 of the Decree with rank and force of law, Land and Agrarian
Development Act published in the Official Gazette, No. 37,323 of 13 November 2001.
FIVE: The effects of this ruling shall be effective with immediate effect, that is from their
publication in the Official Gazette.
To be published, recorded and notified. Let what is ordered be done.
Done, signed and sealed in the chamber of the Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court
of Justice, in Caracas, on this 20th day of the month of November two thousand (2000). Year: 192
of Independence and 143 of the Federation.
The President …
1575. The Government states that the Supreme Court of Justice, Constitutional Division, in Ruling
No. 1157 of 15 May 2003, upheld the application in the present case against Decrees Nos. 1546 and
5120 with force of law, the Land and Agrarian Development Act and the Organic Hydrocarbons
Act, published in the Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, No. 37,323 of
13 November 2001.
1576. On the Public Registry and Notaries Act (enabling act) the Supreme Court of Justice, Constitutional
Division, on 15 July 2003, admitted an action in respect of the unconstitutionality of articles 14, 15,
62, 63, 64, 65 and 66 of that Act.
1577. On the Fisheries and Fish-farming Act (enabling act), the application for nullity on the grounds of
unconstitutionality and the request for a temporary injunction to suspend the effects of the decreelaw,
the Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court of Justice declared inadmissible the
application for a temporary injunction, in Judgement No. 408 of 8 March 2002. However, the
National Assembly partly reformed that law, which is intended to regulate the fisheries and fishfarming
sector by means of provisions which allow the State to encourage, promote, develop and
regulate fisheries, fish-farming and related activities, based on guiding principles which ensure the
production, conservation, control, administration, promotion, research and responsible and
sustainable exploitation of fish-stocks, taking into account the relevant biological, technological,
economic, food security, social, cultural, environmental and commercial aspects.
1578. The Government states that on the decree with force of law, the Coastal Zones Act, which was
republished in Official Gazette No. 37,349 of 19 December 2001, it is clear that “it reserves the
rights legally acquired by private individuals …”. With respect to this law, it should be borne in
mind that article 9 of Decree No. 1468 with force of law, the Coastal Zones Act, published in the
Official Gazette No. 37,319 of 7 November 2001, was declared null on 24 September 2003 in
Judgement No. 2573-240903-01-2847.
1579. With respect to Decree with Force and Rank of Law, No. 126, which establishes the value added
tax, partly amended by the National Assembly, Official Gazette, special edition, No. 5,600 of
26 August 2002, the Government states that the Supreme Court of Justice, in Judgement No. 1505
of 5 June 2003, declared admissible the action for protection of constitutional rights (amparo)
brought by Fernando José Bianco Colmenares, acting as president of the College of Physicians of
the Metropolitan District of Caracas and in defence of the broad interests of all Venezuelans against
the provision in article 63, paragraph 5, of the Act to amend in part the Value Added Tax Act,
published in the Official Gazette, special edition, No. 5,600 of 26 August 2002 and reprinted for
material error in Official Gazette, special edition, No. 5,601 of 30 August 2002. In this case, the
Court ruled that the Act did not apply to all value added taxpayers who provided or received private
medical services, dental services, surgery and hospitalization, given the effective protection of the
general rights and interests inherent in the present case; and in order to ensure effective tax justice,
it declared medical and healthcare services, dental services, surgery and hospitalization provided by
private bodies exempt from value added tax, for which reason article 3 also of the Act in question
did not apply with respect to those services. This means that in this matter, the provisions of the
original decree-law in respect of the abovementioned services are reinstated.
1580. The Government indicates that the foregoing summary complements the observations provided in
March 2004 on enabling acts, showing that, in the face of non-conformity by the complainants, the
Supreme Court of Justice and the National Assembly acted in favour of social harmony and the
interests of the Venezuelan population as a whole and the priority economic and political sectors
with which it historically maintained relations.
1581. As regards the alleged exclusion and marginalization of FEDENAGA, the Government states that
FEDENAGA took part in the forums for social dialogue which were held following the failed coup
d’état in 2002, which makes it surprising that they should now say that they were not invited.
Another problem is the fact that they abandoned this legitimate path provided by the Government
using their self-exclusion as justification for their subsequent involvement and participation in the
work stoppage called by Mr. Carlos Fernández at the end of 2002.
1582. The Government states that it recognizes the employers’ organization FEDECAMARAS and
welcomes the positive change in the attitude of FEDECAMARAS as can be seen from its
communication No. 004 of 10 January 2005, in which we state that:
Following the holding of the presidential referendum in August 2004 and the regional and
municipal elections in October 2004, a positive development on the part of the FEDECAMARAS
leadership can be seen, shifting from disregard for the will of the people, initially coming to a head
in loud claims of “electronic fraud”, to an appreciation of the efforts made by the Government to
restore a climate of social dialogue, with the active participation of the Executive Vice-President of
the Republic, as well as several ministries, including the Ministry of Labour. In the latter case, we
stress the initiatives taken in promoting consultation on reform of the Organic Labour Act and the
various social security laws. Thus the FEDECAMARAS leadership has involved itself in the
intensive process of democratic dialogue that has been taking place in the country since 1999,
linked initially to the constitutional process and subsequently to the transformation of the political,
economic and social model. The Government annexes documentation relating to this.
1583. Concerning the need to maintain a balance and equality in proceedings before the Committee, and
with a view to keeping this important tripartite committee on course, its actions must reflect balance
and fairness in the treatment of information and its evaluation. Weaknesses perceived in this area
will affect both the credibility and the working methods used to reach conclusions and formulate
the respective recommendations.
1584. In this respect, and without prejudice to what has been stated above, the Government wishes to
stress its concern that the Committee indicated that the press articles presented by the Government
as items of evidence or arguments to indicate and rebut the allegations of ill-treatment of Mr. Carlos
Fernández were of limited value and practically ignored them in its conclusions, where it states that
the press articles are of limited value as evidence.
1585. The Government adds that a few paragraphs later, however, in the same report, specifically
paragraph 1082, the Committee, in explaining the issues involved in determining the nature of the
work stoppage, considered, with respect to the complainants, the press articles sent by the
Government, and quotes: “includes statements vindicating Mr. Fernández that show that the
national civic work stoppage was an act of protest by FEDECAMARAS for employer reasons …”.
1586. The Government indicates that this differential treatment merits clarification by the Committee on
Freedom of Association, since that would make it possible to interpret the inexplicable legitimacy
assigned to the declaration by the complainant employers’ organization to justify a series of events
including the call to the unconstitutional and illegal work stoppage.
1587. In other words, for the Government, credibility means maintaining predictable, balanced and fair
parameters, in order to preserve the necessary legal certainty that the different actors which make
up the International Labour Organization deserve, to the exclusion of any differential treatment in
the evaluation of arguments or evidence.
C. The Committee’s conclusions
1588. As regards the various outstanding issues relating to the exclusion of FEDECAMARAS from the
social dialogue, in its previous examination of the case the Committee pointed out the following:
(1) the Government’s reply does not mention any bipartite or tripartite agreement or consultation
with FEDECAMARAS as from September 2001 in matters (policies or legislation) of a labour or
economic nature; (2) the Government has not denied that the National Tripartite Commission has
not met for years as stated in the allegations; and (3) the Government has also not denied the
alleged lack of consultations with FEDECAMARAS in respect of the process of drafting important
legislation such as the Labour Procedure Act, the widespread increase in the minimum wage of
20 per cent by way of order or in respect of the process of ratification of ILO Convention No. 169,
the new banking control scheme or, on a more general note, the establishment of economic policies
and guidelines [see 334th Report, para. 1064]. Furthermore, with reference to the question of the
consultations relating to the 47 Decrees which had been issued as a first stage only (up to August
2001) and then interrupted, the Committee had urged the Government to examine together with the
social partners, all laws and Decrees adopted without tripartite consultation.
1589. The Committee observes that the Government has not replied to its recommendation without delay
to periodically convene the National Tripartite Commission as envisaged in the legislation. The
Committee again urges the Government to comply with its legislation and without delay to
periodically convene the Tripartite Commission.
1590. As to the question of laws and Decrees adopted without tripartite consultation mentioned in the
complaint, the Committee notes that the Government states that: (1) the complaint fails to mention
the process of dialogue conducted by the authorities prior to approval of the legislative measures
and even after their approval consultations took place, without prejudice to recourse to other
mechanisms and remedies set out in the national legal system; (2) the Government applies an
inclusive policy of consultation and decision-making involving all elements of Venezuelan society,
both organized and otherwise, eliminating exclusiveness and privilege in the representation of
employers, making way for plurality and, for example, allowing FEDEINDUSTRIA and the other
productive sectors to participate regularly in dialogue; (3) from 2001 up to November 2004 the
conduct of FEDECAMARAS was directed, unacceptably, at marginalizing and excluding itself by
changing from a social actor to a political one with actions contrary to the spirit of social dialogue
and abstaining from participation in the forums for social dialogue; (4) the consultations on
minimum wages since 2002 were conducted through written requests sent to the various social
actors at national, regional and local level and in 2003 an agreement was concluded between the
Government and the political opposition, also signed by a representative of an organization
affiliated to FEDECAMARAS. As to the Government’s assertion that FEDECAMARAS did not take
part in the forums for dialogue in 2002, the Committee recalls that this absence was due to the fact
that the authorities had not invited the president of the principal workers’ federation in that
1591. In the light of the information in the Committee’s possession (information from the complainants
and the Government’s successive replies), it considers that, in the period between August 2001 to
the date of the IOE complaint (17 March 2003), the Government’s consultations with
FEDECAMARAS on social, economic and labour issues (apart from the consultation on minimum
wages in 2002 to which the Government now refers) were practically non-existent, and the
Government has not shown that in the process of adopting the 47 Decrees, they were significant to
the extent of taking duly into account the legal and constitutional defects invoked by
FEDECAMARAS and which were detailed in the previous examination of the case [see
334th Report, para. 884]. The Committee observes in this respect that the Government in its reply
refers to a series of decisions of the Supreme Court of Justice annulling certain provisions of the
Land and Agrarian Development Act or interpreting others, admitting an action for
unconstitutionality of various provisions of the Public Registry and Notaries Act, and partially
reforming the Fisheries and Agriculture Acts and declaring null an article of the Coastal Zones Act
and making the Value Added Tax Act inapplicable to certain services. According to the
Government, the remaining Decrees did not give rise to significant observations. The Committee
further observes that the Government has not provided specific information which might refute the
allegation relating to the lack of consultation in the period covered by the present conclusions with
respect to the Labour Procedures Act, ratification of ILO Convention No. 169, the new exchange
control system or, more generally, the establishment of economic policies and directives.
1592. The Committee reiterates the importance of draft bills which affect them directly being the subject
of consultation with the most representative workers’ and employers’ organizations and again
points out to the Government the following principle [see 334th Report, para. 1065]:
The most representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, and in particular the
confederations, should be consulted at length, on matters of mutual interest, including everything
relating to the preparation and application of legislation concerning matters relating to them and to
the fixing of minimum wages; this would contribute to legislation, programmes and measures that
the public authorities have to adopt or apply being more solidly founded and to greater compliance
and better implementation. This being the case, the Government should, as far as possible, also
base itself on the consensus of workers’ and employers’ organizations, which should share the
responsibility for achieving well-being and prosperity for the community in general. This is
particularly true in the light of the growing complexity of problems facing societies, and also, of
course, facing the people of Venezuela. No public authority should claim to hold all knowledge nor
presume that what it proposes will always and entirely satisfy the objectives in any given situation.
1593. With respect to the subsequent evolution of social dialogue since the last examination of the case,
the Committee observes that the Government reports certain improvements in terms of
consultations since the previous examination of the case, specifically consultations with
FEDECAMARAS since August 2004 on labour immobility, agreements of the Andean Community
of Nations, action plan on child labour, ratification of Conventions, Workers’ Food Act (in most
cases conducted through correspondence or letters); according to the Government, consultations
on the reform of the Organic Labour Act and social security legislation were conducted directly
with representatives of the various social actors both in the National Assembly and the Ministry of
Labour; the Executive Vice-President of the Republic held meetings with national representatives
of FEDECAMARAS and certain affiliated chambers; the president of the National Assembly
received the national leadership of FEDECAMARAS and the president of FEDECAMARAS
attended the session where the President of the Republic reported to the nation on the management
of the previous year. The Committee notes that the Government also reports: (1) that the new
political events (constitutional referendum of 15 August 2004 and the regional and municipal
elections of 31 October 2004) have enabled the re-establishment of forums for meeting and
dialogue, turning the page on the rifts that occurred between 2001 and 2003; (2) that
FEDECAMARAS has pointed to government efforts (Vice-President of the Republic and various
ministries, including labour) aimed at restoring social dialogue with the leading social actors; and
(3) the Government highlights a positive development on the part of FEDECAMARAS and a
favourable change of attitude to the extent of appreciating the Government’s efforts, and that the
FEDECAMARAS leadership has joined in the intensive process of democratic dialogue.
1594. The Committee underlines that over and beyond the consultations and meetings held between the
authorities and FEDECAMARAS, which the Committee can but encourage, it is important to
consolidate these first steps in the new direction and structure them on a permanent footing. The
Committee again offers the Government the services of the ILO to provide the State and society
with its experience so that the authorities and social partners may regain trust and, in a climate of
mutual respect, establish a system of labour relations based on the principles of the ILO
Constitution and of its fundamental Conventions, as well as the full recognition, in all its
consequences, of the most representative confederations and all organizations and important
tendencies in the world of work [see 334th Report, para. 1089(d)]. The Committee requests the
Government to keep it informed of all instances of social dialogue with FEDECAMARAS and
bipartite and tripartite consultations, and any negotiations or agreements that ensue and the
Government’s intentions with respect to the above offer of ILO technical assistance.
1595. With respect to the previous recommendation urging the Government to reinstate FEDENAGA to
the Agriculture and Livestock Council and to stop favouring CONFAGAN to the detriment of
FEDENAGA, the Committee notes that the Government states: (1) that FEDENAGA took part in
the forums for social dialogue which were held following the failed coup d’état in 2002; (2) that
another problem was the fact that they abandoned this legitimate path provided by the Government
using their self-exclusion as justification for their subsequent involvement and participation in the
civic work stoppage called by Mr. Carlos Fernández at the end of 2002. The Committee points out
that the forums for social dialogue to which the Government refers still do not exist, and are not the
same as the Agriculture and Livestock Council. Consequently, the Committee reiterates its previous
recommendation and requests the Government to reinstate FEDENAGA to the Agriculture and
1596. As regards the recommendations concerning the president of FEDECAMARAS, Mr. Carlos
Fernández, the Committee noted that the Government states that it “reiterates” that the conditions
under which Mr. Fernández was arrested were in accordance with the law and he did not suffer
any ill-treatment during his judicial arrest and brief imprisonment, that he did not report these
matters to the authorities and that it produced documentary evidence (press articles) consisting of
statements to the mass media by Mr. Fernández and his wife that he had been well treated. The
Committee wishes to refer to the Government’s comments critical of the fact that limited value as
evidence had been attached to the press extracts and expressing the view that it had exceeded its
powers. In this respect, the Committee points out: (1) that it is one thing for the Government to
refer to press articles as it did in its first reply and quite another, as now, to state categorically that
Mr. Fernández’ arrest was in accordance with the law and he did not suffer any ill-treatment;
(2) that the Committee did not state that Mr Fernández had suffered ill-treatment but had requested
an investigation into the alleged instances of ill-treatment listed; (3) that the Committee has
expressed an opinion many times on allegations of physical ill-treatment in the course of criminal
judicial proceedings. As to the absolute contradiction between the allegations and the
Government’s new reply and taking into account its assertion that Mr. Fernández may lodge
complaints if he so wishes, the Committee will not proceed with examination of this aspect of the
1597. As regards the recommendations and allegations concerning a number of irregularities or breaches
of due process, the Committee notes all the statements and comments made by the Government
which essentially reiterate its previous statements. The Committee refers to the extensive
allegations of the complainants [see 334th Report, paras. 1073 and 1074] on these questions,
points out that the Government had not replied in detail to them and recalls its previous
conclusions that in this case there had been a lack of impartiality [see 334th Report, para. 1076].
1598. Concerning the substance of the matter (trial and detention of Mr. Carlos Fernández, president of
FEDECAMARAS), the Committee notes the Government’s statements and once again observes that
they essentially reiterate previous statements. The Committee recalls its final conclusions on that
subject. In relation to this and to certain Government’s statements, the Committee stresses: (1) that
the national civic work stoppage of December 2002-January 2003 was several months after the
coup d’état and was massively supported by a large part of the population and that on some days a
million-and-a-half people took part in the protests; (2) that the oil sector is not an essential service
in the strict sense of the term, that is the interruption of which would affect the life, safety or health
of the persons and that the principles of freedom of association recognize the right to general strike
in protest against the Government’s economic and social policy; (3) that the Government has not
provided a single piece of evidence to show that Mr. Carlos Fernández incited sabotage, acts of
violence or similar offences; the Committee stresses that the causes of the civic work stoppage have
their roots in the absence of social dialogue and the Government’s economic and social policy, as
it appears from the allegations, and that in its previous reply, the Government sent press articles on
FEDECAMARAS’ criticisms of that policy; (4) that for the reasons set out by the Committee, it
does not share the view that the civic work stoppage had nothing to do with employers’
organizations or trade union matters as the Government asserted, even though the work stoppage
did also have obvious political ends which were nevertheless not illegal at the time; (5) that
criminal responsibility of members of trade unions or employers’ organizations for any individual
offences must not be transferred to leaders of the organizations; (6) that apart from the president of
FEDECAMARAS and the CTV, no other organizer of the civic work stoppage (NGO, political
parties, etc.) was arrested; (7) that in its reply, the Government gave incomplete quotations from
the Committee’s previous conclusions; (8) that it is surprised that the Government invokes the
shortage of basic foods, gas or petrol or the Committee’s principles in cases of acute national crisis
or paralysis of essential services to suggest that the Committee has breached such principles in the
present case given that the Government did not provide any solution whatsoever by imposing
minimum services essential to the community, either in this long civic work stoppage or in previous
civic work stoppages; (9) that in its conclusions the Committee did not criticize the Constitution but
indicated that the legislation (new legislation) had still not determined the scope of public rights
and freedoms and that it could give rise to confusion (as happens every time a new Constitution is
adopted in a country); (10) that in relation to this question, the Government itself refers in its reply
to decisions which, for example, interpret article 350 of the Constitution and indicates that the
judgement “set aside the incorrect interpretations of that article of the Constitution”; and (11) that
the Committee had not interpreted the wording of the Constitution but had merely indicated that
some of its provisions provided very generously for certain human rights, for which reason it does
not understand why the Government can think that the Committee was criticizing the Constitution
in this regard since the Committee had no intention to make criticisms. Finally, the Committee
points out that the Government has not explained why it implicates the president of the private
sector workers’ confederation in the paralysis of the state oil company PDVSA.
1599. Taking all the foregoing into account, the Committee again considers that the arrest of Carlos
Fernández, as well as being discriminatory, aimed to neutralize or act as retaliation against this
employers’ official for his activities in defence of employers’ interests and, therefore, it urges the
Government to take all possible steps to annul immediately the judicial proceedings against Carlos
Fernández and to ensure that he may return to Venezuela without delay and without risk of
reprisal. The Committee requests the Government to keep it informed in this respect. The
Committee deeply deplores the arrest of this employers’ official and emphasizes that the arrest of
employers’ officials for reasons linked to actions relating to legitimate demands is a serious
restriction of their rights and a violation of freedom of association, and requests the Government to
respect this principle. The Committee deplores the fact that this employers’ leader has already been
in exile for several years and cannot return to the country for fear of reprisal by the authorities.
1600. With regard to the previous recommendation concerning the application of the new system of
exchange control, the Committee notes that the Government states: (1) that the complainant
organizations have not indicated the specific firms allegedly suffering discrimination under this
system; (2) that the Minister of Labour stated that “the Committee, without identifying the
companies affected by alleged discriminatory treatment, requests the Government to ‘modify the
current system’, which invades areas of monetary and exchange policy, adopted after a massive
capital flight intended to create political instability in 2002 and 2003”. In this respect, the
Committee stresses that it did not request the current system to be modified but after criticizing the
fact that it was established unilaterally requested the Government “to examine with
FEDECAMARAS, without delay, the possibility of modifying the current system”, following
allegations of discrimination by the authorities against firms belonging to FEDECAMARAS in
relation to administrative permits to purchase foreign exchange. The Committee notes in this
respect that the Government has held regular meetings with the employers’ sector affiliated with
FEDECAMARAS and the social actors to resolve problems in the application of the system and
correct any failings found in it. The Committee trusts that this dialogue will ensure that the
exchange control system will be applied without discrimination against firms affiliated to
1601. As regards the Committee’s recommendation concerning the allegations regarding the operations
of paramilitaries (the Government had not replied specifically to that allegation) the Committee
notes that the Government states: (1) that the Committee had requested the “dismantling” of the
main government political party (Movimiento Quinta República) and other legally constituted
social organizations (the Committee underlines in this respect that the Government did not reply to
the allegations about paramilitary groups, that the allegations did not mention that political party
but rather groups such as “Círculo Boliviarianos Armados, Quinta República” or “Juventud
Revolucionaria del MVR” and that it did not request the dismantling of the Movimiento Quinta
República); (2) that the existence of armed groups is completely false, let alone that these alleged
groups have the support of the Government or other government authorities; (3) that the specific
political violence and intolerance by the sectors in dispute during 2002 and part of 2003, the
product of political polarization, which has now been overcome, was a problem addressed from the
outset in the Table for Negotiation and Agreement (November 2002- May 2003) facilitated by the
Carter Center, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organization of
American States (OAS); (4) that this forum for dialogue managed to achieve a commitment by both
sectors (Government and opposition) to condemn violence, followed by an important product of the
agreement, namely the Decree on the disarming of the population (illegal arms) and suspension of
the carrying of arms without exception for all citizens of the Republic, in order to establish and
maintain a reliable register of those with permits to carry arms in accordance with the law; (5) that
the Constitution of the Republic clearly establishes that the State has a monopoly of arms. The
Committee observes that the Government recognizes that there was political violence and
intolerance in 2002 and part of 2003 by the conflicting parties. The Committee also observes that,
since the submission of the complaint, the complainant organizations have not sent new allegations
relating to acts of violence by violent or armed groups. The Committee will therefore not pursue the
examination of this aspect of the case unless the complainant organizations produce new evidence.
1602. As regards the previous recommendations urging the Government: (a) to carry out, without delay,
an investigation with regard to the acts of vandalism at the premises of the Lasa Chamber of
Commerce by Bolivarian groups supporting the Government (12 December 2002); the looting of
the office of Julio Brazón, president of CONSECOMERCIO (18 February 2003); the threats of
violence on 29 October 2002 by alleged members of the government political party against Adip
Anka, president of the Bejuma Chamber of Commerce; (b) to carry out an investigation, without
delay, into the allegations relating to 180 cases (up to April 2003) that have not been resolved by
the authorities of illegal invasion of lands in the states of Anzoátegui, Apure, Barinas, Bolívar,
Carabobo, Cojidas, Falcón, Guárico, Lara, Mérida, Miranda, Monagas, Portuguesa, Sucre,
Táchira, Trujillo, Yaracuy and Zulia; and (c) requested that, in the case of expropriations, it fully
respect the legislation laid down and the relevant procedures, the Committee notes that the
Government states that these allegations are unfounded, that there is no evidence to support them
and that those concerned have not lodged complaints with the national authorities. Nevertheless,
the Committee considers that, whether or not the parties concerned lodged complaints with the
national authorities, these are serious and relatively precise allegations, for which reason it
reiterates its previous recommendations and suggests that the Government should make direct
contact with the persons and institutions mentioned and with FEDECAMARAS with a view to
carrying out an independent judicial investigation.
The Committee’s recommendations
1603. In the light of its foregoing interim conclusions, the Committee invites the Governing Body
to approve the following recommendations:
(a) The Committee again urges the Government to comply with its legislation and
without delay to convene periodically the tripartite commission.
(b) The Committee reiterates the importance of draft bills which affect them directly
being the subject of consultation with the most representative workers’ and
employers’ organizations and again points out to the Government the principles set
forth in the conclusions concerning consultations.
(c) The Committee underlines that over and beyond the consultations and meetings held
between the authorities and FEDECAMARAS, which the Committee can but
encourage, it is important to consolidate these first steps in the new direction and
structure them on a permanent footing. The Committee again offers the Government
the services of the ILO to provide the State and society with its experience so that the
authorities and social partners may regain trust and, in a climate of mutual respect,
establish a system of labour relations based on the principles of the ILO Constitution
and of its fundamental Conventions, as well as the full recognition, in all its
consequences, of the most representative confederations and all organizations and
important tendencies in the world of work. The Committee requests the Government
to keep it informed of all instances of social dialogue with FEDECAMARAS and
bipartite and tripartite consultations, and any negotiations or agreements that ensue
and the Government’s intentions with respect to the above offer of ILO technical
(d) The Committee again urges the Government to reinstate FEDENAGA to the
Agricultural and Livestock Council and to stop favouring CONFAGAN to the
detriment of FEDENAGA.
(e) The Committee once again considers that the arrest of Carlos Fernández, president of
FEDECAMARAS, as well as being discriminatory, aimed to neutralize or act as
retaliation against this employers’ official for his activities in defence of employers’
interests and, therefore, it urges the Government to take all possible steps to annul
immediately the judicial proceedings against Carlos Fernández and to ensure that he
may return to Venezuela without delay and without risk of reprisal; the Committee
requests the Government to keep it informed in this respect. The Committee deeply
deplores the arrest of this employers’ official and emphasizes that the arrest of
employers’ officials for reasons linked to actions relating to legitimate demands is a
serious restriction of their rights and a violation of freedom of association, and
requests the Government to respect this principle. The Committee deplores the fact
that this employers’ leader has already been in exile for several years and cannot
return to the country for fear of reprisal by the authorities.
(f) The Committee again urges the Government to carry out, without delay, an
independent investigation with regard to: (1) the acts of vandalism at the premises of
the Lasa Chamber of Commerce by Bolivarian groups supporting the Government
(12 December 2002); (2) the looting of the office of Julio Brazón, president of
CONSECOMERCIO (18 February 2003); (3) the threats of violence on 29 October
2002 by alleged members of the government political party against Adip Anka,
president of the Bejuma Chamber of Commerce; and (4) the allegations relating to
180 cases (up to April 2003) that have not been resolved by the authorities of illegal
invasion of lands in the States of Anzoátegui, Apure, Barinas, Bolívar, Carabobo,
Cojidas, Falcón, Guárico, Lara, Mérida, Miranda, Monagas, Portuguesa, Sucre,
Táchira, Trujillo, Yaracuy and Zulia, and urges that, in the case of expropriations, it
fully respect the legislation laid down and the relevant procedures. The Committee
suggests that the Government should make direct contact with the persons and
institutions mentioned and with FEDECAMARAS with a view to carrying out an
independent judicial investigation.
Latest reply by the Government to Case No. 2254
Ministry of Labour,
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Ms. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry
Director of the International
Labour Standards Department
Caracas, 26 October 2005
May I reiterate hereby the contents of the communications transmitted by the Government of
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, on 9 March 2004 (ref. 094) and 25 February 2005 (ref.
094/2005), and request the Committee fairly to evaluate the testimonies contained in said
documents, as well as evidence provided in support thereof.
The Government also reiterates its deep concern with the incorrect evaluation of the
allegations submitted by the various parties involved in the complaint. The Government wishes in
particular to draw attention to the unfair and inappropriate treatment afforded to the evidence
submitted by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as opposed to the presumed
veracity and legitimacy given to the allegations submitted by the complainant organization. In
addition, it is somewhat paradoxical that an international body in charge of the protection of human
rights should not take into account a public and notorious fact, i.e. the coup d’état of April 2002, nor
the responsibilities of those who participated in that criminal act and now requests the end of the
inquiries launched to punish those who were responsible for this extremely serious violation of the
human rights of all citizens.
Notwithstanding the above, and in a spirit of full cooperation, the Government hereby
provides a chronological compilation of events from August to October 2005, supported by
documents establishing the reinforcement of the social dialogue initiated by the Government, which
calls for the participation of a major number of interested partners, and seeks the successful signing
of agreements in the labour, social and economic fields; these agreements will benefit the majority
of citizens and will reinforce the struggle against poverty and social exclusion that has been
launched for several years in our country.
This evidence shows that, inasmuch as employers’ organizations and their affiliates have
resumed their associative functions and recognized the legitimacy of the President of the Republic,
who has been elected democratically in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution and the
legislation, this created a new situation which strengthened social dialogue, by integrating each time
an increasing number of new and former partners of the socio-economic order. In that process of
reactivation of social dialogue, it has become clear that the traditional employers’ organizations
gradually steered away from radical groups that still want to overthrow the constitutionally elected
President, as these organizations acknowledge the evident social and economic progress and growth
resulting from the actions of the Government.
As demonstrated by the evidence adduced, there was never and there is no Government
favoritism towards any employers’ organization or its affiliates. Quite the contrary, those who
refused social dialogue and promoted counter-productive confrontation were the employers’
associations that participated actively in the coup d’état of April 2002 and in the successive attempts
at overthrowing the constitutionally elected President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Fortunately, these days are now a thing of the past, and common sense has finally prevailed within
employers’ circles, which should now recognize that it is necessary to go back to using the
institutions of democratic participation.
It is worth emphasizing in this context that the current president of FEDECAMARAS, Mr.
José Luis Betancourt, who until recently was president of FEDENAGA, the two complainant
organizations in this case, publicly recognized the Government’s proactive attitude as regards social
dialogue and expressed their intention to participate in such dialogue, by sending the president and
the executive of FEDECAMARAS to participate in high-level meetings with Mr. Hugo Chávez
Frías, constitutionally elected by the vast majority of the people of the Bolivarian Republic of
One should also mention that, as demonstrated by the evidence adduced, social dialogue has
been initiated with employers’ organizations in the regions, where agreements have been signed and
spaces of economic cooperation created, between private employers and the national and state
Finally, the Government requests the Committee to evaluate the evidence and arguments in a
fair and balanced fashion, that is by applying uniform procedures, so as to reinforce the legitimacy,
transparency and credibility of such an important international organization.
(Signed) Rubén Dario Molina,
Office of International Relations
and Liaison with the ILO.
Geneva, 11 November 2005. (Signed) Professor Paul van der Heijden,
Points for decision: Paragraph 358;
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