Friday, November 03, 2006

El Burro Gives Venezuelan Oil Workers An Offer They Can't Refuse

From the Associated Press:

Opponents of Chavez Release Video

Opponents of President Hugo Chavez released a video Thursday showing Venezuela's oil minister urging state oil company workers to support Chavez's re-election bid. The opposition said the comments were political coercion.

During the 14-minute video, the minister Rafael Ramirez said the 40,000-member work force at Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, firmly stands behind Chavez ahead of the Dec. 3 vote. His comments were allegedly made during a closed-door meeting at the company's headquarters in the capital Caracas.

"It's a crime, a counterrevolutionary act for any manager here to try to curb the political expression of the workers in favor of President Chavez," Ramirez said in the amateur video. "Whoever doesn't feel comfortable with this orientation, it's necessary that they give up their seat to a Bolivarian."

Chavez calls Venezuela's brand of socialism the Bolivarian Revolution, a reference to the South American independence fighter Simon Bolivar.

In reference to the color of Chavez's ruling party, Ramirez said: "the new PDVSA is red, very red, from top to bottom."

Supporters of leading opposition candidate Manuel Rosales played the video at a news conference and said the minister's comments constituted clear proof of political coercion. They were unsure when the video was recorded, but said they believed it was taped within the last 10 days. They did not explain how they obtained the video.

Geraldo Blyde, one of Rosales' campaign aides, said Ramirez's statements clearly violated constitutional prohibitions on political discrimination and use of state resources in favor of a candidate.

"The (state) oil company should not be politicized," Blyde said, calling Ramirez's words a "promotion of hate, discrimination."

Soon after the video was aired on television, more than 100 PDVSA employees and contractors gathered for a rally outside the building where the video was allegedly taped, chanting: "Oh, No! Chavez Won't Go!"

Manuel Perez, a union leader, said no one had pressured any PDVSA employees politically.

"We've decided ... in a voluntary and conscious manner to step forward and organize ourselves in support of Commander Chavez," Perez said. The crowd responded with loud applause and cheers.

Rosales' allies plan to present the video along with complaints requesting investigations to the Organization of American States and the European Union, which have been invited to observe the election.

Officials of PDVSA, which Ramirez heads as president, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed


Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Alternate caption for that photo:

I always want to be a proctologist!

heraldphobe said...