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Newsletter (in English)


During the night of Thursday, 27 November, Richard Gallardo, Luis Hernández and Carlos Requena were murdered in Cagua in the Venezuelan state of Aragua. The three trade unionists had been supporting a struggle of the 400 workers at the Alpina dairy products factory. The workers had occupied the factory, owned by a Colombian multinational, to protest against management threats to close the plant. Earlier in the day, they had been attacked and evicted by the police, but with the support of the three activists from the trade union they were able to re-take the factory.

Luis Hernández, a trade union leader at Pepsi Cola, and Richard Gallardo, the president of the National Workers’ Union (UNT) in the state of Aragua, declared a few hours after the confrontation with police that in the case of a closure “we demand that the government expropriate the plant and we will begin production under the control of the workers.” All three were leaders of the UNT’s class struggle tendency (CCURA). Further, Luis Hernándenz and Richard Gallardo were militants of the Trotskyist group “Socialist Unity of the Left” (USI/ UIT) and had stood as candidates in the local elections of 23 November. Luis Hernández won more than 4,000 votes, reflecting his position in the local workers’ movement.

Workers’ assemblies in the state of Aragua are calling for demonstrations and strikes to condemn the murders. Orlando Chirino, national coordinator of the UNT, reports that in the past two years, seven CCURA militants have been murdered with no response by the authorities. The workers’ movement in Aragua has led militant struggles (for example at Sanitarios Maracay in 2007) and faced savage repression by both police and paramilitaries. These brutal murders of trade unionists and socialists are a clear attempt by the capitalists and their agents (quite possibly linked to the state police) to break this workers’ movement.

We call on the newly elected governor of Aragua, Rafael Isea of the PSUV, to immediately open an investigation of the murders, run by a commission made up of representatives of workers’ and human rights organizations. We call on the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, to condemn this cowardly attack on the workers’ movement. Again we see that under Venezuela’s “Socialism of the 21st Century”, the capitalists have free reign to exploit and repress the working class. That is why it is so important that the workers of Venezuela follow the examples of comrades Richard, Luís and Carlos and rely on their own strength as workers – not “Bolivarian” capitalists and state bureaucrats but an independent, revolutionary workers’ movement is necessary to defend workers’ interests!

Our deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends and comrades of the dead. We will contribute to an international campaign to condemn these murders and support the mobilizations of the workers in Aragua.

A deep sense of sadness fills us, but we will turn our sadness into struggle, because the only way to honor the memory of the comrades is to continue their struggle for workers’ rights and socialist revolution in Venezuela.

Compañeros Richard, Luís y Caros – presentes!
Hasta el socialismo siempre!

November 29, 2008
REVOLUTION – independent youth organization
Permanent Revolution
Revolutionär Sozialistische Organisation (RSO)

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