Punishment for killers of political activists!
On May the 5th, Argenis Vásquez, Secretary of Organisation of Toyota Workers’ Union in Venezuela, was shot dead on his doorstep. As he was leaving his house to meet a lawyer as part of his trade union duties, he was killed at close range by hit men who were in a nearby car.
The Toyota workers reacted immediately. They occupied the factory straight away. The workers pointed the finger at the Japanese multinational as being potentially politically and intellectually responsible for this vile murder, which came after 30 days of strike at the company.
To make things worse this is part of a series of killings of progressive and working class activists in Venezuela in a short period of time, and which have gone completely unpunished.
Last week Yubez Ortega, student leader in the state of Mérida, who was participating in a student and teachers protest was killed by the police force who answer to Marcos Díaz Orellana, the Chavista state governor.
In November 2008, Richard Gallardo, Luis Hernández and Carlos Requena, leaders of the local UNT (National Union of Workers), from the trade union current CCURA and of the Unidad Socialista de Izquierda (USI) or Left Socialist Unity, were killed by hit men, after supporting the occupation of the Lacteos Alpina plant, a Colombian based Dairy Producer. In January of this year, after violent eviction attempt at Mitsubishi Motors, which was being occupied by its workers in defence of their jobs, the workers Pedro Suárez and Javier Marcano were killed by the police of the state of Anzoátegui which is governed by the Chavista Tarek William Saab.
We need to put an end to this use of hitmen, with the criminalization of protest, state repression and impunity for repressors in Venezuela. The massacre of Aragua still goes unpunished. Neither the Chavez government nor the courts have located those responsible (politically and physically) for the crimes against the three worker leaders of Aragua, neither have they done anything against those politically and intellectually responsible for the killing of the comrades from Mitsubishi, when this latter crime was perpetrated by the state forces and under the leadership of a Chavista governor, just as happened in the case of the student leader from Merida at the hands of the police force. Neither can we allow this latest crime against the trade union leader from Toyota to go unpunished.
Only popular and working class mobilization in Venezuela and international solidarity will be able to stop this series of crimes against the workers movement as it comes out to fight for its demands.
We call on political, trade union, student, democratic and progressive organizations to demand on the government of Hugo Chavez an end to the impunity of hitmen and police repressors, and that those physically and intellectually responsible for the crimes against worker, peasant and student leaders be punished.
May 6th 2009
Partido de Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS)
Movimiento al Socialismo (Nuevo MAS)
Participants of the Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores, Anticapitalista y Socialista (Socialist and Anticapitalist Front of Workers and the Left)