What’s good for GM ain’t so good for Venezuela

Found something interesting and curious at Aporrea and just had to translate:

“For 60 years, we of GMV have been working with Venezuela and its people; it’s our fundamental job to think of this organization as a great human team, which has the right to exercise its functions to contribute to the well-being of the country, of business, of its families, and ourselves.” (El Nacional, Page 1-21, Sunday, August 17, 2008)

Some older workers will recall that during the first administration of Rafael Caldera, General Motors had an assembly plant in La Yaguara, Caracas–surrounded by high electric fences and watchtowers with reflectors, in order to defend itself against guerrilla attacks.

A rebellious worker, detained by company security and the National Guard, was incarcerated and tortured for several days in a dungeon on the premises, before being handed over to the DIGEPOL, the infamous political police of those days. When he was finally freed, the worker took his case to the Ministry of Labor whose head, Tarre Murzi, ordered an inspection of the GM plant.

The Ministry inspectors weren’t allowed to enter, on the grounds that GM was a US business, so the Ministry had no jurisdiction over it. The minister, indignant, called a press conference to which, strangely, no one came. When a second such conference was similarly boycotted by the official and private media, Tarre Murzi took up the embarrassing matter with President Caldera–who, true to his “principles”, fired the minister.

Leftist mythology? This case was registered and documented in the Social Communications thesis of UCV graduate Rosa Elena Casañas, an excellent professional who is far from being a Chavista, titled “The Penal Responsibilities of Journalists”. And it’s not the only abuse committed by transnationals in Venezuela with the repugnant complicity of the lackey-governments of the Fourth Republic.

Today, General Motors is embroiled in a nasty labor conflict, and it’s natural that it defends its own interests. But it’s undignified and disgusting that this business avail itself of the services of private media, who are always attentive to and complicit with imperialism and the oligarchy, to paint itself as the victim of violence and try to make us believe that they are “working with Venezuela and its people”. They should drop the philanthropic mask and comport themselves as serious businesspeople in a serious country. In Bolivarian Venezuela we call things by their right name, and juridical security is for everyone. If they don’t like it, let them go to Colombia, whose “juridical security” is for the bosses and lets them get away with the murders of workers and unionists.

Thus wrote Eduardo Rothe. Now, let Your Humble and Obedient chime in.

Can anyone imagine such a lot of baloney being cut up and tossed around up here in Canada? The logical equivalent of this would be, say, the appropriate minister under Brian Mulroney taking the case of workplace abuse to that feckless PM, and getting sacked. And all the media, from the excellent, publicly-funded CBC on down to the wretched sack-of-pond-scum that is the private CanWest Global network, or (even lower) that tacky right-wing tabloid, the Toronto Sun, would just mysteriously fail to report on GM’s abuses. They would also not show up (twice!) at the ministerial press conference, censor anything that reflected badly on GM and, oh, say, the Mounties (who would be complicit in the tortures at GM’s Oshawa plant). Instead, these illustrious media would place themselves at GM’s service to publish, with a straight face, drivel like that shit from El Nacional which I translated above.

You can’t imagine that happening in Canada, can you? No, of course not, you say. Canada has laws against that.

Well, then, imagine this: All that and much, much more happened in Venezuela. Venezuela used to have no laws against all that, and much, much more. There were no laws against GM building up its local assembly plant as an armed fortress, complete with electric fences and guard towers (christ, just like Kingston Pen!) No laws against GM having a dungeon on the premises, where unruly workers and uppity union organizers could be tortured at the whim of the management. And certainly no laws preventing the same detainees from being further tortured by the National Guard and those sinister Gestapo-like federales, the DIGEPOL. And no laws preventing the government from demanding censorship of it all in the news media.

Well, today, I imagine, Venezuela does have laws against pretty well all of that, including any presidentially mandated censorship of the press. Case in point: the above-mentioned shitty drivel from “GMV”–General Motors of Venezuela. They’re allowed to dictate absolute bullcrap to the media, who in turn are allowed to publish it, even if it is a bald-faced lie that would make any thinking person break out in huge belly laughs of disbelief. And Chavecito couldn’t censor it even if he wanted to. Which he doesn’t. From all I’ve seen, he’s amused at what asses the media make of themselves, and thinks that if anything, their wacky antics deserve the widest airplay possible, so people learn to discern all the ways in which they can lie to the public. With a straight face, of course.

But you know something? They would never be able to get away with that in Canada. Up here, we have laws against publishing false news, just as we have laws against teaching false history (such as, say, “The Nazi Holocaust never happened.”) We also have human rights tribunals whose job it is to investigate human rights abuses in school, on the job, between landlords and tenants, etc.

What I find hysterically funny is all the free-speechers up here defending bullshit just like that which the Venezuelan opposition routinely spews, and attacking our human rights tribunals, whose job is also to stand up for their rights. It’s as though for them, the right to babble and lie supersedes all other rights, including the right to peaceably assemble (eg. in unionizing a workplace), the right not to be discriminated against on racial or religious grounds, and the right not to get the shit beaten out of one’s ass by an employer’s hired goons. You’re not allowed to say boo about genuine evil, but you are supposed to feel sorry for a punk like Ezra Levant, who advocates openly for religious persecution of Muslims and then, when called on his shit, cries that he is the one being persecuted. (He’s strangely consistent about his love for “free speech”, too!) Or for a nutter like Malcolm Ross, who never met an antisemitic lie he couldn’t teach to impressionable high-schoolers as if it were gospel (and who also cried persecution when called on his bullshit).

Funny how so many free-speechers defend these liars and bigots, but not anyone whose human rights are under real attack, whether here or abroad. You’d think they had something against human rights, would you not?

But you know what? I’d like to hear how those free-speechers talk if they were subjected to a genuine tyranny, as Venezuela was under the “democratic” Rafael Caldera. Let them go to work for GM in Oshawa…and, if they try to agitate for better working conditions (which, please note, is a proper and legitimate use of free speech!), let them be thrown in a dungeon on the premises. Let them face several days of interrogation and torture, as that poor luckless Venezuelan worker did. And then, when a government minister charged with preventing such abuses tries to take up their case with Harpo, let him get sacked for being jurisdictionally out of line (because GM Oshawa is owned by the General Motors Corporation of the US).

And then let’s hear the free-speechers squall! That is, if the “freedom-loving” media deign to listen to anyone other than General Motors. Which I suspect would not be the case, if those “freedom-lovers” got what they’re actually clamoring for.

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