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March 11, 2005 | Page 4

Chávez's deal with Uribe
Support the right to resist

Iraqi workers' union rights

WHILE MOST of the news coming out of Iraq focuses on the armed resistance against U.S. and so-called coalition troops, Iraqi workers have been engaged in labor struggles.

Most of these struggles have involved members of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions (FWCU) and the independent Southern Oil Company Union (SOCU). Since these unions are not part of the Iraq Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), they are technically illegal.

Last year, the U.S. puppet government passed legislation declaring the IFTU the only legal labor federation in Iraq. Unlike the FWCU and SOCU, the IFTU supported the Allawi government, and does not call for ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq by the U.S. The FWCU and SOCU have denounced the U.S. occupation.

Last August, by going on strike, the SOCU won pay raises for the lowest-paid workers at one oil company, and succeeded in replacing 1,000 foreign workers with Iraqi workers. During another strike, the U.S. military attempted to face down striking Iraqi oil workers through the use of armored vehicles.

In the city of Kut, textile workers organized a protest to demand better pay and working conditions. Groups of armed men wearing masks showed up and fired on the workers, wounding four. Other labor struggles have involved electrical power workers in Nasriyah and Basra, and workers in chemical, plastic, and soft drink plants in Baghdad.

Supporters of workers' rights need to support the right of Iraqi workers to organize in the unions of their choice--and to have the right to engage in strikes and other activities to improve their working and living conditions.
Ken Morgan, Madison, Wis.

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Chávez's deal with Uribe

I WAS pleased to read Lee Sustar's summary of the last World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil ("WSF 2005: Crossroads for the movement," February 4). As a participant in the World Social Forum, I also found that the WSF was silent and held any criticisms it may have had about the neoliberal orientation of the government of Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva.

On the other hand, there was an overwhelming enthusiasm voiced among participants in support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. People frequently declared that the Chávez government is not a progressive left government, but a revolutionary government.

However, Chávez has not only been cozying up to Lula, as Lee Sustar notes in his article, but he also recently met with Colombian President Álavaro Uribe. Uribe is Washington's conduit for prosecuting the "war on drugs" in Colombia. Chávez is quoted in the press as saying "We've [Chávez and Uribe] decided to turn a work together in the construction of a common project that benefits our people." Meanwhile, Uribe had already met with Bush and will be receiving $741 million for Plan Colombia in 2006.

Plan Colombia will not benefit Colombians nor Venezuelans. Chávez's meeting with Uribe exposes the real contradictory role that Chávez is forced to play: to foment good relations between Uribe and big business in Venezuela on the one hand, and on the other, to act as the conciliator between the former two and the radicalizing Venezuelan population.
Nate Moore, Brazil

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Support the right to resist

I'VE BEEN increasingly disturbed by the number of antiwar activists who hold the idea that they can't support the Iraqi resistance. Support for resistance to the occupation is a lynchpin in our movement; without it, our ideology cannot hold.

Anyone who denies the Iraqi people the right to resist allows the Bush administration to hold American troops hostage to the expansion of U.S. military domination. They would in essence be saying to the Iraqi people, "I know that our troops are there illegally. I know that they are torturing your people. I know that in the last 14 years American policy has killed nearly 2,000,000 Iraqis. But it would be wrong for you to defend yourselves because you might hurt an American."

It is an illogical, untenable position. So why do any antiwar activists hold it? They lack confidence in the sanity of working class people in America. They lack confidence in their own ability to explain to people the logic of the resistance. They lack the politics to accurately analyze the situation both at home and abroad.

The simple truth of the matter is that the death of American soldiers is not the fault of the Iraqi resistance, but of the American ruling class who demanded this war through its domination of the White House, Congress and the mainstream media.

Can anyone believe that lives would have been saved if the Iraqi people had acted irrationally and greeted their murderers with flowers? The U.S. military would have been in Syria by the end of 2003. Had the Syrians capitulated, it would have been on to Iran and North Korea and beyond.

In truth, the only people who would have benefited from a decision not to resist on the part of the Iraqi people are the American ruling class and their servants. The entire rest of the world owes the Iraqi resistance a debt of gratitude.
Cesar Montufar, Los Angeles

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