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Lecturers to speak on political crisis

As the strike of oil workers in Venezuela continues, USF invites two visiting scholars from Venezuela to speak on the political crisis of the strike and the reasons behind this crisis.

Omar Astorga and Ani Martinez will discuss the ongoing crisis with students today in CPR Room 459 at 12 noon.

The Democratic Action Party have used the Venezuelan oil workers to hold the economy of the country hostage. And, naturally, in every hostage situation there is a demand.

This demand is why gigantic Venezuelan oil companies, such as Citgo, aligned with the domestic banks and the upper class, are causing the oil workers in Venezuela to go on strike. Oil is Venezuela’s primary economic resource, and when something shuts down its production, it cripples Venezuela’s economy.

According to geographia.com, oil produces more than two thirds of the country’s export revenue.

USF political science professor Harry Vanden, who was an international election observer in Venezuela, said the strike is not to gain higher wages or better working conditions for oil workers, but this strike is for political purposes. The oil workers’ strike is an attack on the lower class to put them further into poverty with the intention of swinging votes away from Chavez, Vanden said.

Vanden was an observer in December 1998 when Nationalist leader Chavez was elected president.

“Poor people, who are the majority, really support Chavez,” Vanden said.

Chavez acknowledges the situation of poverty in his country and wishes to change it. However, the efficiency he has shown in office to execute these claims has been minimal, and as a result he has lost some loyalty among voters, even the poor ones, said Vanden.

Despite his “weak policy implementation,” he was re-elected in 2000 and is still considerably popular in Venezuela today. The economic elite, however, has food and luxuries, and do not “appreciate the fact that Chavez wants an independent foreign policy regarding oil production and exports,” said Vanden.

If Venezuela did have an independent foreign policy, the oil aristocracy would lose a great deal of their money, he said, and the vast economic gap would lessen, which leads to possibly diminishing Chavez’ power.

Vanden said the upper class use their position and power to further exploit and keep down the lower class.