Date: Mon, 6 Mar 1995 16:17:31 CST
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <>
Subject: Wkly News Update on the Americas #266 3/5/95
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Growing Militarization in Venezuela

Weekly News Update on the Americas, #266, 5 March 1995

Venezuelan president Rafael Caldera has converted air traffic controllers by decree into state security officials without the right to strike. The government has also announced that it is seeking to annul decrees that standardize the controllers' salary increases, and has threatened the union with massive dismissals. Venezuela's air force took control of the country's airports on Feb. 19, the 11th day of a rulebook slowdown by the controllers's union [see Update #265]. [El Diario-La Prensa 3/5/95 from AFP]

Social Democratic Senator Antonio Ledezma called the airport takeover a dangerous precedent. One day they may militarize [the government palace of] Miraflores. Prior to the airport strike, the government had placed prisons [see Update #257] and the immigration and documentation registry under military control, and deployed troops in several Venezuelan cities in an unsuccessful crime-fighting ploy. The army took over the distribution of school supplies last year, and the government has openly threatened to militarize the Caracas subway system if a labor conflict there is not resolved. [Inter Press Service 3/4/95]

During the week of Feb. 20, Venezuela's armed forces were bringing up to date a plan for the militarization of all public services hit with labor conflicts. The armed forces are also planning the reactivation of anti-riot groups to prevent labor conflicts from spreading into public protests, though Defense Minister Gen. Moises Orozco denied that the armed forces are preparing to confront an eventual social explosion, like the 1989 one in Caracas that left at least 300 people--international human rights groups say more than 1,000--dead. [La Jornada 2/26/95 from AP, AFP, ANSA, EFE]