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Posted: 12/11/2001 4:51:53 PM EDT
Venezuelan Businesses Declare Strike By JORGE RUEDA, Associated Press Writer CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez responded to a nationwide business strike by vowing to swiftly implement a package of economic laws he insists will benefit Venezuela's majority poor. His critics contend they'll stifle the nation's economy. Fedecamaras, Venezuela's biggest business confederation, called Monday's 12-hour strike to protest laws that increase the state's role in industries ranging from oil to agriculture. Fedecamaras head Pedro Carmona declared the strike a success and said he hoped Chavez's government would ``rectify'' both the laws and the way they were enacted - by presidential decree. Venezuela needs ``a change of attitude, a change toward a more tolerant democracy ... more openness and disposition to dialogue,'' Carmona said. Fedecamaras' members employ 8 million workers - about 70 percent of the work force - and represents 90 percent of Venezuela's non-oil production. Organizers said the strike cost $480 million in lost production. A defiant Chavez, however, vowed to quickly enact the laws and accused a ``cowardly oligarchy'' of seeking his downfall. He dared the opposition to ``go into the street to defend immorality, egoism, individualism ... and they will confront a people ready to defend the revolution. ``I won't start a dialogue with them (Fedecamaras) and betray the people,'' Chavez said. The president blamed the news media for promoting the strike and said his government will consider legislation regulating the content of news reporting. In ceremonies attended by thousands of supporters in Caracas and in his home state of Barinas, Chavez formally unveiled a land reform law that has drawn the ire of Venezuela's private sector. The law - the first attempt at land reform since 1961 - seeks to redress a situation in which 1 percent of Venezuela's population owns 60 percent of its arable land. It also provides for credits and machinery for small farmers and calls for a sweeping revision of land titles. Business interests object that the law requires farmers to conform to a government agricultural strategy or risk having their land confiscated and redistributed to the poor, who are 80 percent of Venezuela's 24 million people.
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Link Posted: 12/11/2001 4:52:40 PM EDT
``We're poor people and we need the land law because it will allow us to work,'' said Domingo Guevarra, who said he earns $300 a year from farming. ``I have been working in the country for decades and it's the first time that large farmers are rebelling because they know the land law is for us, not them.'' Fedecamaras also objects to a law requiring the state-owned oil company to own a majority stake in future joint ventures with private corporations. Carmona insisted that ``we don't want a radicalization ... but if that happens, we won't be afraid of it.'' It appeared Monday's events shoved Venezuela in that direction. Chavez began the day by hosting the air force's annual air show over Caracas, instead of the central city of Maracay, as is customary. With each military flyover, many residents banged pots and pans from their windows in protest. Chavez supporters responded with powerful fireworks. Police used tear gas and water cannon to repel Chavez supporters who set off fireworks near Fedecamaras' headquarters. Two officers suffered slight leg burns, Metropolitan Police Chief Henry Vivas said. Five people were arrested. Venezuela's largest media association, the Bloque de Prensa, joined the protest, as did the opposition-aligned Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, Venezuela's largest labor group with 1 million members. Many stores, schools and offices closed nationwide. Caracas' subway and most buses and airlines operated normally but carried fewer passengers. Hospitals and pharmacies were open, and street vendors tried to take advantage of the strike. Millions, however, stayed home to support the strike or to stay clear of violence.
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Link Posted: 12/11/2001 4:59:56 PM EDT
The more educated a people become, the less likely they are to embrace communism. Until they get to post-graduate studies and then all they become is Marxist! Go figure! Eric The(CanYouImagineWhatTheFacultyMustBeLikeAtTh­eUniversityOfCaracas?JustLikeTheFacultyAtHarv­ard,OnlyNotAsWellPaid!)Hun[>]:)]
Link Posted: 12/11/2001 7:29:30 PM EDT
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