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Labor Politics in Latin AmericaDemocracy and Worker Organization in the Neoliberal Era$
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Paul W. Posner, Viviana Patroni, and Jean François Mayer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781683400455

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683400455.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Laboring under Chávez

Laboring under Chávez

Populism for the Twenty-First Century

(p.162) 7 Laboring under Chávez
Labor Politics in Latin America

Paul W. Posner

University Press of Florida

In contrast to cases such as Chile and Mexico, which have undergone substantial economic liberalization and labor flexibilization, labor reform under the Chávez regime’s twenty-first-century socialism promised greater protection for workers from market forces and the development of a strong, autonomous labor movement capable of advocating effectively for workers’ rights and interests. However, this chapter argues that such potential was not realized under Chávez and will not likely be realized under his chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro. Indeed, while in rhetoric the regime vehemently rejected neoliberalism, in practice it promoted de facto flexibilized labor relations through the creation of worker cooperatives, which serve as sources of subcontracted labor, particularly for state-owned industries. In addition to exploiting vulnerable workers in cooperatives, the Chávez regime’s “rentier populism” employed divisive institutional practices that encouraged the fragmentation and weakening of organized labor, impeded the labor movement’s autonomy, contravened essential labor rights such as free union elections, collective bargaining, and the right to strike and engaged in reprisals against unions and workers it perceived as threats. These key features of labor organization in contemporary Venezuela indicate a pronounced contradiction between the Chávez regime’s avowed commitment to socialist principles of worker solidarity and equality and its political economy in practice.

Keywords:   Venezuela, Chávez regime, Nicolás Maduro, Socialism, Rentier populism, Worker cooperatives

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