Venezuela: Chávez’ carrot
President Hugo Chávez, who considers the private sector the “oligarchs” of society, dangled a carrot before those in the productive sector who are members of Fedecámaras with his invitation to dialog following the announcement that he had won the recall referendum. After his victory, the Head of State was all generosity and conciliation, calling on the businessmen to join him in dialog.
In response, Fedecámaras drew up a business sector manifesto or declaration of principles, which it took almost three days to prepare. Many of its points are contained in the Constitution and the laws, such as the right to private property and the tripartite agreement for setting wages. But the government’s response was to waive a stick, when Minister of Communications and Information Jesse Chacón stated that the president would not accept “conditions” for establishing a dialog.
The fact of the matter is that it was the government who started imposing conditions, by preceding its invitation to dialog with announcements of expropriations of rural and urban land, forcing the business sector to issue a declaration of principles.
Fedecámaras demanded respect for freedom and democratic coexistence, private property, the freedom of expression, the independence and autonomy of the branches of government, political decentralization, the disarming of the civilian population, and the security of persons and property.
The government’s response was negative. However, some sectors of the business community have decided to approach central government on their own account, which means that they will have to dialog otherwise they will be excluded from the projects undertaken by the biggest business in the country, the State.
So, it is quite clear that, when the President dangled the carrot, his intention was to divide the business sector and isolate its leadership organization, which has accompanied civil society, shoulder to shoulder, in the struggles against authoritarianism in the past four years.
Many business chambers, including some that are members of Fedecámaras, are already responding positively to the government’s call to talk business, although they won’t be taken in. They will go to the negotiating table knowing that the government awaits them with stick in hand and that there is room only for those who support the regime unconditionally in this participative democracy.
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