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IW 06

Uruguay

Andrés Olivetti: “The Government is trying to build a National Cause in defense of the multinationals and imperialism”

Interview with the trade-unionist Andres Olivetti, by Afutu (Asociación de Funcionarios de la Universidad del Trabajo de Uruguay ) on Radio Centenario (CX36), Montevideo, February 2.

“The Government is trying to build a National Cause in defense of the multinationals and the empire and in this logical sense is aiming its guns against all the mobilizations in Argentina. So, the fact that the PIT-CNT (national workers trade union confederation), with a resolution that was not adopted by its Representative Board, has shown itself to be another link in the general policy of the Uruguayan Government, joining this logic, destroying its commitment with the workers… it should be the other way round, it should be coordinating its task with the Argentine brothers and sisters, frustrating this climate of war that has been created, this should be the main task of the PIT-CNT. What is happening is very serious.

Journalist : Let’s go to the subject of the paper mills.

A.O. There is a resolution of the PIT-CNT´s Eighth Congress that backs the decision taken by the District Trade Unions Assemblies of Soriano and Rio Negro, opposed to the construction of the paper mills, it is approved unanimously by the 2003 Congress, the last PIT-CNT Congress, that was voted by our union, and we think that of course, the PIT-CNT is far behind — to say it generously- in the struggle to concrete its resolution.

J: Some days ago it gave a press conference and stated that the construction of the paper mills is already a fact, that nobody could stop it and, as a result what it has to do is try to fight for working conditions, that it is an accomplished fact, that cannot be stopped…

AO: It is even worse, it attacks the Argentine decisions against the factories, in fact, what happened the other day is very serious for many reasons. The Government is trying to build a National Cause in defense of the multinationals and the empire and in this sense is aiming its guns against all the mobilizations in Argentina.

So, the fact that the PIT-CNT (national workers trade union confederation), with a resolution that was not adopted by its Representative Board, has shown itself to be another link in the general policy of the Uruguayan Government, joining this logic, destroying its commitment with the workers… it should be the other way round, it should be coordinating its task with the Argentine brothers and sisters, frustrating this climate of war that has been created, this should be the main task of the PIT-CNT. What is happening is very serious.

J: Is this a decision of the Secretariat?

AO: It is a decision of the Secretariat that turns the PIT-CNT into a transmission belt for the central government policy of building a national cause behind the multinationals: it is very serious. I do not think it is going unnoticed, yesterday we talked and we spoke about this subject.

J: Should the Representative Board act now?

A:O: In the Board our union will present this subject.

J.: Do you know about other unions that have adopted a declaration in the recent past or now?

A.O. I do not want to lie, we are trying to coordinate, but up till now there has emerged no such declaration. We think it is important that the different unions state their opinions on how we can make viable the resolution of the Eighth Congress and the way to dismantle this chauvinist and morbid climate of war. It is amazing to listen to the young people asking themselves if we are going to fight against Argentina, we have never experienced this kind of thing, on this question, we workers are the key. We, the Argentine and Uruguayan workers are united in a shared project, precisely in the opposite direction of the multinationals.

J: Some people called expressing the idea that the ones who can talk about this subject are “those who know”, the technicians. The right of the citizens in general was always defended but the vast majority of the people are not technicians in this area, in this or any other, but has the right to their opinions. But on what basis are they speaking?

A.O.: Look, there are many sides to consider, there is a subject that we think is substantial, and the productive country the workers want. We want public investment, public investment with democratic participation of the workers, to make possible the enterprises of the workers, the recovered factories will be completely different if they were a global movement of public investment to tie democratically the workers to public investment, to produce and promote stable jobs. The coming model, with the multinational projects, particularly the paper mills, goes in the opposite direction, that is, it does not promote stable jobs. At this moment the jobs are being increased, but then they will be slowed down and finally it will be half the number of jobs than before. Besides, the profit, a key subject respect to those who produce and for whom the surplus is, yearly, hundreds of millions of dollars that the paper mills will get in the free tax zone, even worse, they will take away the whole profit, nothing will be left in this country, nothing to solve the health or production questions, it is a project that comes from the North.

Uruguay was born as a buffer state, it was invented as a wedge, this wedge business is what the multinationals are doing, it is linked to the investment treaty, it is not strange, it is an imperial enclave in this region to have insurance and this business is being promoted from the government, it is strongly promoted. We, the workers have interests absolutely in common the Argentine and Brazilian workers, and peaceful ones, and a production and accumulation project feasible, stable, this project has nothing to do with that of the government, they are betting for the worst. We have to transform the wedge into a popular factor of power. Ours is a unified project and is popular, because the subject of the wedge is growing and the war between brothers.

J.: It seems we are going to fight against everybody, over water, oil, food, gas and it is as if we have to be prepared for all of that.

Maria, from La Union, says that what is going on is that they are trying to install a kind of US base. And that it is necessary to see what is behind this.

Mirta, from Cerro, says that she is against the paper mills and asks on which side she has to fight, that she is not going to let her children fight, in that case it is better for her to ask for her passport.

Jorge, from Malvin Alto. Is it true that the youth that are the most harmed, are going to be trained to defend that shameless lot? Let the Army go, they are paid for doing it.

Elena, she was pleased to listen to the Senators from Entre Rios (Argentine province across the river) they explain their ideas, they speak plainly to the people, that is the great difference with our authorities who are acting like children in a fight, giving childish excuses without any seriousness.

Mirta says it is strange to see Mario Arana with a little piece of paper in his hand saying they are going to reopen the portland cement factory in Sayago.

A.O. What you read from Saravia´s declaration. If he were talking about these subjects because we had in our hands a project of accumulation that belonged to us, facing the empire, if that were the reason why Saravia called, we should prick up . The problem is that he makes this call at a moment in which there are multinational projects being processed, fighting with the Argentine people. Besides, they are mobilizing for what the trade unions had voted against, taking into consideration the framework in which it is said, it is completely crazy, it is working for the worse side.

J:: In a framework in which there is no discussion, there is a very strong campaign through the mass media and they have decided to show very important personalities talking: Benedetti, Rosencoff, who has a very important position in the Montevideo government, yesterday Drexler… what is lacking is the opportunity of debating the issue.

A:O. In general, every time in which there was a serious debate in any sphere, from television to the barrios, every time in which a debate takes place the idea of backing the paper mills vanishes. The real reason why there is no debate is because we want to debate, explain how the model projects itself in the same direction as before, even Tabaré himself in a speech talked about how the multinationals used our country as a garbage dump, that is how it is, without any doubt. Their arguments are not solid. For this reason they do not allow any debate in the spaces of power.

J.: Among the scientists there are different opinions…

A:O: There is an important group of technicians and scientists that for a long time, at the Science Faculty, have been denouncing the characteristics of the plants and what it implies. Sometimes you lose the magnitude of what is being done, it is heard that everything pollutes, but it is necessary to know the magnitude of what we are talking about. It is the biggest paper mill in the world. People come from Pontevedra to say that they have it is a “little paper mill” compared to what is going to be built here, it will be five times bigger than Pontevedra´s. We need to have an idea of the magnitude of things. That is not a “little plant” they are bringing to our country and we are really screwed. There is the problem of sovereignty, they said: show me the map of the world, where are we going to put the factories that we have to be removed from Europe? Let’s put them there. So, that is where we are.

J:: There is a question that has to do with the workers of Sunca, the metalworkers, about the quantity of jobs, the quality of the jobs, the people from Pontevedra said that at the beginning they employ people and they are going to keep with a much select personnel, only few.

A:O: The problem of misery is what makes one lower their head, lose one’s course and you are on the side of the corporations. We have together the bosses policy and the misery and submission of the lower classes, because people have nothing and say that is what there is and take it, it is a perverse exploitation of the misery that obliges people to be on the side of the corporations, to lose perspective of the kind of model of country that is being built, where the question of land is solved from the point of view of the multinationals, that is why the brothers and sisters will become enclosed inside the viewpoint of the corporation.

J:: In this subject the main subjects are brought together: water, land , sovereignty, and many things.

A:O: Afutu´s statement was read yesterday, and for this reason I did not speak. We are going to promote in the PIT-CNT, the CSEU, the unions, the associations, the reaffirmation of the position of the Eighth Congress, the necessity to invite all the unions to change this pro-corporation vision in order for everybody to line-up to fight for the resolution of the Eighth Congress: mobilization, talks, and debates. There is a Coordinating Committee, in which we formally do not yet take part, against the paper mills, but Afutu has decided to promote all the mechanisms to get people to become aware, to mobilize, to present requests, and we are going to fight in order for the Argentine and Uruguayan workers to express their opinions together. That is what we are going to work for, we are now going to discuss the subject with the teacher’s union.

J. With reference to PIT-CNT, the Congress will take place this year…

A.O. No other way than yes, it is already delayed.

J. In the interior, the subject of the Assemblies..

A:O The question of the persecution is terrible, it should not be like that.

J.¨What can be done about it?

A:O. All the sisters and brothers have to be aware in every union that it is a problem that affects fundamentally all workers and that they cannot look the other way, we must work in every union, and we have to change the way all the situation is developing.

J: Today at 7:30pm there is a Popular Assembly at the Huelga General, we have to be there, it promotes local participation.

AO: There are many things to do, there is a History inside the worker and popular movements that is fundamental to recover; when nationalist war climates have emerged, historically the workers were the ones that have fought against these tendencies. That is patrimony of the workers for which we all have to fight. Workers have a huge responsibility, because it is as if we had been shot with dope so as not to react. We have to throw off that drowsiness, the only possibility to gain unified peace is for us to participate everywhere, all the workers.

J.: What is the role of the new unions…

A:O. It is fundamental, the best way to understand is fighting, those who are being trained in the struggle have the strength to see and put capital in its place, and they have to put their strength to regain their internationalist spirit peculiar to the workers. One of the tasks of the trade unions movement is to fight for wages in a unified way, joint mobilization should be called to show that your specific situation depends on the general situation. We have had a big depoliticizing and a big fragmentation of the struggle, it is one of the things that has to be reversed in the trade union movement.

Radio Centenario, CX36, February 23, 2006