by Emanuel Cancella*
In the first place, the incident highlights the risks the oil workers are exposed to. Those who work in the oil sector, through their labor unions, are always collecting security policies to ensure the health and physical integrity of both workers and the residents who live around the refineries and factories.
In Venezuela, like Brazil our guidelines go beyond the remuneration issue. In Brazil, Petrobras oil workers, who are currently in a wage campaign, settled their claims with the company since August 16, and there are whole chapters about the lack of job security.
However, even with all the precautions, the job is risky and accidents happen. In the case of the fire at the refinery in Venezuela, some aspects cannot be ignored.
The country is in an election year and the candidate, Hugo Chavez, remains with twenty percentage points ahead of his opponent. Opportunistically and inhumanly, part of the Venezuelan press tries to take an electoral advantage of this drama, trying to place the fault for the accident on the Chávez government.
It is worth remembering a significant event in the recent history of Venezuela: in 2002, some PDVSA oil workers "sold out" to foreign capital, wanted to privatize the company and supported the "lockout" against Chávez, paralyzing the refineries. Chavez had to act firmly, dismissing the conspirators and passing control of the company into the hands of those who bravely faced the saboteurs.
Since Saturday, when the fire started at Amuay, the same oil workers that once faced the saboteurs are trying in every way, tackle the fire, with much commitment and competence. It will soon be possible to resume the activities of the refinery. Already the saboteurs prefer to poison public opinion, running to supply the media with unfounded opinions and information, eager to take advantage of the tragedy in order to reverse electoral indices.
A parallel with Paraguay also needs to be made. President Lugo was overthrown as a result of a parliamentary coup, after an agrarian conflict that resulted in the death of several peasants on the pretext of his having been unable to contain the conflict.
In the case of Paraguay, since 2009, WikiLeaks has charged that the United States was brewing a coup against Lugo . In Venezuela, the Spanish newspaper El País published in 2006, there was a story about a videogame manufactured in the United States that aimed to overthrow the Venezuelan government. The villains of the story were "rojos" - reds - and part of the game proposed an attack on the Amuay refinery.
For us, it is difficult not to consider some hypotheses: before these antecedents, there being only 40 days until the presidential elections, will an accident of this proportion have been, in fact, mere coincidence? The question hangs in the air: accident or sabotage?
All the solidarity of oil workers from Brazil to the dead, the wounded and their families!
*Emanuel Cancella is Secretary-General of Sindipetro RJ and director of the National Federation of Oil (FNP).
Translated from the Portuguese version by:
As of the morning of May 12, 23 people remain in Kazan hospitals after the shooting that took place at School N175