Date: Mon, 6 Jul 98 11:40:36 CDT
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #440, 7/5/98
Article: 38432
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** reg.nicaragua: 67.0 **/
** Topic: Weekly News Update #440, 7/5/98 **
** Written 9:37 PM Jul 5, 1998 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **

Venezuelan Workers Protest Amid Economic Crisis

Weekly News Update on the Americas, #440, 5 July 1998

Court workers in Venezuela began a national strike on July 1 to protest the Judiciary's failure to comply with their collective bargaining agreement or approve new wage increases. In Zulia state, workers seized the court's administrative headquarters, adding to their demands that the new Justice building in Maracaibo be opened, since the current one is notoriously overcrowded. A march has been called for July 8. [El Universal (Caracas) 7/4/98] Doctors and teachers have also been staging strikes, demanding that raises already agreed on in union contracts be instituted, and university students are protesting the elimination of transport and dining hall subsidies. The government insists it has no money to meet the demands. [Clarin 7/1/98, EU 7/2/98] Congress president Pedro Pablo Aguilar has proposed calling a state of emergency that would suspend the right to strike for workers in strategic sectors. [EU 7/5/98]

Venezuela's economy is being battered by a drastic drop in oil prices; the government's finances are 70% dependent on oil exports. President Rafael Caldera responded to the crisis with a cabinet shakeup on June 30: Economy Minister Freddy Rojas Parra was replaced with Maritza Izaguirre, Venezuela's delegate to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), who is considered to have solid contacts with international banking institutions and with the US. Interior Minister Jose Andueza and Presidency Secretary Asdrubal Aguiar switched jobs, and anti-drug minister Carlos Tablante and Caracas governor Abdon Vivas Teran were asked to resign (the Caracas governor's post is the only regional post appointed by the president). [Clarin 7/1/98]