A general strike starting from refinery workers at the caribbean island of Curacao - awaiting new masters from China

Curacao strike refinery workers 2016
Striking refinery workers posting near the gate

The strike of a week of refinery workers, followed by the general strike on September 15 in Curacao, has aroused much interest in the Caribbean. In particular, the fact that a mysterious third party showed up paying over 1.8 million ANG [Antillean Guilder (ANG). Per 23-9-2016 1 ANG = 0,50 EUR or US$ 0,57] in back wages, has caused astonishment. F.e. Surinam media reported extensively on the workers' actions. One remembers the Curacao strikes and riots of May 30 1969, that were repressed by Dutch marines, and that led to changes in policy.

Submitted by Fredo Corvo on October 5, 2016

Translation based on an article in dutch from blog Arbeidersstemmen "Curacao: the general strike of September 15, 2016, a repetition of the revolt of ‘Trinta di Mei’ in 1969?". See the original article for sources. The translator is no native english speaker, so don’t expect perfection.

Chronology of the strikes

Since September 2011, when the collective agreement of the workers of the Isla refinery expired, their wages have not been increased. Negotiations between employers and the union SGTK run for years without any results. All the while the workers receive no compensation for inflation, over 2010-2015 average of 2.1% per year. At the same time employment in the oil sector went down. In addition, the refinery workers work through contractors, that argue that there is no financial room because of the competition with cheaper Venezuelan contractors. However, this does not impress the refinery workers. Already in 2012 they refuted a proposal of 'their' union for a new collective agreement. The union SGTK in the finest corporatist traditions participates in conversations behind closed doors with the Government and the Curaçao mediation institute. But apparently the union cannot escape from pressure by the workers.

Monday, August 29, 2016

"We ask now 8 percent, next year 5, and in 2018 another 4 percent," a union leader said. Since the earlier hours 600 workers block an important road in the capital Willemstad, close to the Isla Refinery. Thus the strike by refinery workers has begun. They don’t let themselves be sent back to work by Minister of Labor during his mediation talks with their employer.

See also YouTube here (not whole video)

Monday, September 12, 2016

The strike lasts a week. Negotiations led to nothing. The employers agree to the demanded annual wage increases, but the unions are under heavy pressure from the rank and file. They want all 700 employees to receive a lump sum of 3,000 guilders (US$ 1500) as compensation for the years in which the employers remained in default. The employers say 500 guilders (US$ 250) are the maximum attainable.This idea of compensation turns out to live vividly with the strikers. The strikers feel empowered in their fight when workers on the Curaçao Oil Terminal join their strike in solidarity.

On the other hand, the Minister Justice decrees a ban for groups of more than four people on or near the road when it can be reasonably assumed that this involves a threat to public order. Thus the strike threatens to lead to a confrontation with the state.

A century of working class experience shows that the trade union movement in a case like this will do everything to end class struggle. Given the militancy of the workers, the trade union movement can only do so by placing itself behind the strike hoping to take over its control.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Seventeen unions, two trade union federations, with a letter to the Governor support the strikes, including the demand of the lump sum. But in the letter, they also oppose the decree of the Minister of Justice and a law that threatens to limit their 'negotiating freedom”.

In the afternoon former minister and former union leader Errol Cova - who has become spokesman of the trade union movement — declares that the situation is unchanged, and announces a general strike on Thursday morning September 15.

Thursday, September 15

The general strike is shutting off the power for the whole island (which means no air conditioning), closes schools and shops. Behind the scenes there are negotiations led by the national dialogue platform.

Meanwhile, there are discussions as well during the law suit of the utility plant Aqualectra against the unions to oblige the electricity workers to resume work. The unions agree to call their members as soon as possible to resume work immediately, that is to say ... to break the strike. It is unlikely that the electricity workers were willing to do so. But by the preparedness of some of the participating unions to end the strike, a moral breach has been beaten in the front of fighting workers.

Next time, militant workers better restore the power supply of the proletarian neighborhoods and for example the hospital. In this way, they show the population show that as a class, they are able to make function society. Now their opponents used the six-hour outage against the strikers and even spread rumors that the road blockade put at risk the drinking water supply.

At half past five in the afternoon the mediator makes known: “All went fine." The controversial bill has been postponed. And the money the strikers asked for has been obtained: 1.8 million guilders (= 1 million US$). "Provided by the private sector.” Nobody was willing to tell who is this mysterious big spender, already called ’good Samaritan' as if it was charity that paid the outstanding wages.

The Dutch newspaper Trouw writes: "The unions are relieved at last after three weeks. ‘A great victory,’ spokesman Cova says”. But a victory for whom? If the arrears of wages are actually paid, the incomes of the workers may have taken some pace with price increases. Economically, their situation has not deteriorated for that matter, but they have neither shared in the growing increase in labor productivity. As noted above, employment in the oil sector has deteriorated. If we may assume that the workload has not diminished, then the same work is done with fewer people. The bitter truth is that despite workers' struggles the rate of exploitation is increasing.

The real victory for the workers has been the one on themselves: they have overcome their divisions and have built a fighting unity that gave them the courage to confront the contractors and behind them the owners and tenants of the Isla Refinery with their demands. In addition, they also had to deploy their forces against their ‘own’ trade unions and against the trade union movement in a broader sense, which is not defending the workers' interests but only its own interests, its survival as an organization with 'freedom of negotiation,' against the pressure resulting from the state. The trade union movement is relieved because it has been agreed that the controversial law “Optimization government-related entities” shall not be in force as long as the parties are participating in the national dialogue. The national dialogue takes up to a month, from September 26. Then the parties must submit a report with conclusions. Regarding the decree by the Mister of Justice, it was agreed that this would be withdrawn once the strike ended. The parties agreed to discuss subjects in the public interest on the national dialogue platform. Thus, the trade union movement in Curacao, under threat of the law and the decree which restrained its 'bargaining' continues its way of integration into the state.

Curacao in the Caribbean and in the world

The small caribbean island of Curaçao has its important refinery since World War One. In 1914, oil was found in the Maracaibo Basin of Venezuela. Currently this oil accounts for 50% of the crude oil from Venezuela. Shell and its servant, the dutch state, decided in 1915 to establish a refinery on Curaçao, on territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, just 45 km from the Venezuelan oil fields, near the spot where in the past slaves were traded. Shell and Exxon controlled the oil market, from extraction in Venezuela, refineries in Curacao and Aruba (also a Dutch colony) and distribution to customers in America, especially in the tremendously growing market of the United States, a growth stimulated by the latter status of super power as a result of its remote participation in the World War One. In 1938, when Mexico's oil industry was nationalized, Shell and Exxon took a sigh of relief: they had done well with founding refineries at Curacao and Aruba. A safe haven in which the imperialist oil interests could be protected by the Navy during World War Two , separated by water from potential social and political unrest in Venezuela. But in 1975, Venezuela nationalized the oil industry. Shell now needed to purchase crude oil at world market prices. The refineries in Curacao and Aruba were still convenient to process oil from Venezuela, but the margin of profit was lower. In 1985, Shell withdrew from Curaçao because of continuing losses at the refinery and global overproduction. The refinery was sold for 1 guilder to Curacao and eventually came into the hands of Venezuela. The now rusty old refinery creates a lot of pollution on the island. In 2014 the Prime Minister of Curacao, the vice president of Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA, Asdrúbal Chavez (yes, the cousin of ...) and the ‘Refineria di Kòrsou’ signed a statement of intent to cooperate in searching a third party, to finance investments for the modernization of the Isla Refinery. This "third party" however, would take a long time to be found ...

The ‘Trinta di Mei’ revolt in 1969

In order to offer education to the children of dutch Shell employees, in the early 20th century language at schools changed from Spanish into Dutch. Through compulsory education the colonizer urged its language to the public. In the 1950s, with the refinery at its peak production, the infrastructure was improved and homes were build at a large scale. In 1952 Shell reached its maximum of 12,631 employees. Compared with Venezuela, incomes in Curaçao were - and still are - high. But especially the Afro-Caribbean population, shared little in welfare. The tranformation of a strike into the ‘insurrection’ of May 30, 1969 was for a larger part fueled by this unease.

We quote from (dutch) Wikipedia on ‘Trinta di Mei’ to show some aparent similarities with the strike of this year:

"On Curaçao the economy went downhill in the 60's. The rising prices were not sufficiently offset by increases in wages, thereby reducing the purchasing power of the population. Moreover the contractor system introduced by Shell, where Shell fired its workers that then had to do the same work through subcontractors for much lower wages and no social protection, led to serious unrest. The immediate cause of the strike was the stagnation of the negotiations for a new collective agreement."

As more and more islanders joined a protest marche of striking refinery workers and dockers, and hit the streets with the slogan ‘Pan i respet’ (= bread and respect) they dispayed in public a deeper discontent, and the strike changed from a simple wage battle into a popular revolt. As so often, the striking workers lost the battle, by lack of control over their own struggle. Dutch marines were flown in to end the popular movement and with that the strike. The leader of the strike, "Papa" Godett, shot in the back by police during the riot, founded a political party "Frente Obrero i Liberashon Tue May 30". This "radical", "socialist" party achieved a great victory in the September elections. Godett was at that time in prison for his role in the "uprising" of May 30th. He was released and took his place as a member of parliament. In the Government Evertsz (1973 - 1977) Godett was Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, and a shortly later also of Culture, Sports and Recreation. Despite good intentions, he reached nothing. The greatest act of Godett as minister was to lower the retirement age, but he failed to raise premiums, making Antillean pensions rather worthless.

Henceforth the ruling class of the island was supported by an elite of the Afro-Caribbean part of the population. That was the change brought by the ‘Trinta di Mei’ in 1969. But the workers in the port, in oil storage and the refinery continued to be wage workers and the unemployed remained unemployed workers. From now new political parties could achieve mixed success in elections by appealing to feelings of oppression and inferiority from the period of slavery, which slipped away ever further into the past. For the proletariat of Curaçao this cultivation of the past, distracted its attention from its actual existence as wage laborers. But reality cannot be denied. The wages of those who did work were more and more incapable in providing livelihoods.

The rulers of Shell left and were replaced by Venezuela. But after Cuba, Venezuela - the other model of Latin American "socialism" - is now on the verge of bankruptcy. The Isla Refinery will have to change into hands again. To know what this change means for the workers, it is interesting to see how bourgeois politics handle this.

The bourgeoisie of Curaçao

We have seen above how the formation of political parties with a "socialist" verbiage and a voter base in the Afro-Caribbean population, has strengthened the state. The old ruling class has learned to use conveniently the repulsion in the majority of the population against the ‘makambas’, the Dutch colonizers. Under the guise of anti-imperialism this bourgeoisie plays the nationalist card, its tool of choice to keep the workers subordinate. The same can be said of the prevailing aversion to Aruba, an island that is as much dependent on a refinery; an effective means to play off workers against each other that are doing the same work under the same poor conditions. The origin of the proletariat of the island is largely from migration - longer ago or more recently - from other Antilles or other islands, including Haiti and the Dominican Republic, from Venezuela, from Surinam, and so on, while parts of the emigrants from Europe and Asia belong to the proletariat as well. These immigration movements are as inevitable as the emigration to e.g. Netherlands. Capital uses migration to turn workers against each other based on their origin, culture or religion, and to pretend that the "fatherland" will protect them against 'foreigners'.

For decades, the politics of the island show a picture of populism, deceipt of voters, abuse of power and corruption. Apart from the divide-and-rule politics that it took over from the Dutch colonizers policy in their homeland, and the anti-colonial and "socialist" rhetoric to Latin American example, this island-bourgeoisie has learned from the American mafia, widely represented in the drug trade and the gambling sector, which manifests itself in political killings, such as on the politician Wiels, when he dared to threaten with revelations about corruption. Financial and legal malpractice, hidden behind Calvinistic hypocrisy, using international accounting firms based in the tax haven, complete the competencies of the ruling class of Curaçao.

But the world is changing, driven by the economic crisis of capitalism, capitalism flies into a new inter-imperialist war. Countries disintegrate and various attempts are made to form new economic and military blocs. Curacao cannot escape new convulsions - given its strategic location.

Who is Erroll Cova?

The magazine Amigoe writes in a review of the strike:

"The whole course of the past few weeks also raises questions about the role of Errol Cova in these actions. Cova, who was long gone from the political and trade union scene and was engaged in the background with counseling, was prominently at the forefront the whole week. Is he making a comeback? Time will tell."

Wikipedia tells us the following about Erroll Cova:

"Cova was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Affairs in the Government of Etienne Ys. He represented the ‘Labour Party People's Crusade’. He proved himself an admirer of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and traveled several times to the big neighbor. His overt support for President Hugo Chavez led him into trouble. As he claimed in an interview the departure of the US Drug Enforcement Unit of the West Indies, and he told the Venezuelan vice president Mangel, Dutch colonialism produced within Antilleans an inferiority complex against the Dutch, but also a sense of superiority towards other nations in Latin America. Cova eventually had to resign. In 2008, he vehemently protested against the political agreement between the Netherlands and the individual islands, which should lead to greater autonomy or even closer ties with the Netherlands. Cova called on the Netherlands to use the United Nations Charter Article 73 to move towards the independence of the Antilles."

We have no indication that Erroll Cova has changed his views. He is and probably will continue to be a populist that will try to gain political advantage in the coming elections of September 30th with anti-colonialist and ‘socialist’ rhetoric. Currently, he is active in various trade unions and pretends to be a working class friend, which he probably really believes himself. But the history of Castro in Cuba, Lula in Brazil (started as a trade union leader), Chavez in Venezuela, shows that this kind of leaders achieve nothing for the working class. At a world level, they play a role in so far as they collide with the United States. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union they could, for this reason, rely on support from the Eastern Bloc. Without this financial support, they are hit hard by the crisis of capitalism. As many companies that they may nationalize, wage labor continues, capital and crises remain, in most cases capital taking the form of an inefficient state capitalism. On the other hand, the smaller anti-colonial ‘socialists’ as Godett on Curacao, only play a role in the struggle between local capitalist interests, and eventually are integrated into the state. Erroll Cova already played this game. Repetition is hampered by the failure of the Chavez regime in Venezuela. For him, the same applies the same as for the prevailing politics of Willemstad, having to comply to new masters.

The Good Samaritan

We might say more about those new masters, if we knew who have showed up with the 1.8 million guilders with which the strike has been bought off. Someone from the union that during the lawsuit already demonstrated a willingness to break the strike, probably knows more. When confronted with the refusal of the employers-contarctors, this union leader declared ”Then we get the money from somewhere else”.

We notice that after the end of the strike was announced, finally, after two years the 'third party' has been found to finance the huge investments needed to modernize the Isla refinery, the Chinese oil company Guangdong Zhenrong Energy, one of China's largest companies in the fields of refining, petrochemicals, storage and distribution of refined products. The government and the Chinese company have given themselves four months to negotiate the details. The signs seem favorable. The Chinese ask no government guarantee and promise to transform the refinery into an environmentally friendly company with good working conditions, that will still be competitive 20 years after its completion.

Guangdong Zhenrong Energy will provide finance, design, engineering and construction. There are plans to increase capacity, modernize the electricity plant by switching to liquefied natural gas, which will also be stored for export. But who will operate the refinery? The contract with the Venezuelan State company PdVSA expires in 2019. The work will begin when the contract with the current operator has expired. The Chinese have the responsibility to ensure the supply of crude oil. "Before that, there will have to be negotiations with Venezuela first, because of the long relationship we have," explained Whiteman, the current president of Curacao. As is known, Venezuela is in a deep economic and political crisis. In this area there are still problems to be expected. China is the main buyer of crude oil from Venezuela and appears aiming to assure continued delivery, whatever the destiny of the Chavez regime, through an influence on the Isla Refinery.

Promises to the workers of Curaçao

Guangdong Zhenrong Energy is prepared to invest 18 billion guilders (US $ 10 billion, or more than € 9 billion). Compared with the 1.8 million guilders promised to the strikers this is a pittance. To be precise, 0.1 per thousand, a very small beer. Sunday, September 18, in a live speech on radio and television president Whiteman told the advantages the new Chinese masters offer to the island from. In an obvious attempt to prevent new flames from the workers' struggles just extinguished, and to prevent any escalation to a new ‘Trinta di Mei’, he addressed the proletariat:

• In the future, workers employed at Isla by way of a contractor or subcontractor, will earn the same wages as colleagues who are employed at the refinery.
• The Chinese government will not allow sending their employees to Curaçao. Guandong will therefore train people to do the work in cooperation with the Curaçao government. The army of local unemployed young and adults will get the chance to learn a trade and to earn their living in a dignified way.
• The 4,000 workers who are likely to be needed, will bring back on track the funds of health insurance and pensions.
• The social sector, education and housing will benefit from the capital injection.
• Significant reduction in environmental pollution.

Finally Whiteman referred to the need for Curaçao to adheres to certain principles - read, the state retains its credibility and the ruling elites can remain - such as the principle of ‘good and clean governance’, social 'justice', 'accountability’, the 'emancipation of dependency and, ‘the dominance of money’ (sic). Other key principles are an 'inclusive policy' where all residents have the opportunity to actively participate in society and move forward.

China - why it invest and where

After years of double-digit growth, the Chinese economy is in decline since the 'credit crunch' in 2008. Compared with other countries, growth rates are still high, but low enough to lead to domestic political problems: increasing strikes and riots by workers, particularly by those from rural areas who work on temporary permits in the factories in the Pearl River Delta. There is a massive overproduction of steel, for example, but China's rulers dare not to close steel mills and coal mines because of the workers' revolt which could be the consequence. So, some factories have closed down and the workers are at home still being paid their salaries. Other factories continue production and their products are looking for outlets worldwide.

The Chinese state makes a virtue of necessity and gives production searching for markets an outlet in infrastructural projects, not only in China itself, where new industrial areas and transport facilities are developed, but also abroad. So a huge project - the New Silk Road - is going to connect the Chinese industrial centers via railways and ports over land and across the water to the markets in Europe, across Eurasia. If this ambitious plan succeeds - there are problems with third-party financing and the political stability of the areas where the route running through it - the geostrategic division of the world would be dramatically changed because China, Russia and Europe will become closely interlinked. Despite the fact they originally have developed it themselves to offer a perspective to Afghanistan, the United States view this project with growing suspicion, because they want to contain Russia economically and militarily, and because the project is presented by some as an alternative to neoliberal ideology and economic practices. According to some sources, the New Silk Road, also involves other continents, F.e. Africa and Latin America and North America (via the melting polar cap). In Brazil, China has te defend a large market for industrial products, and in Venezuela China has found a major supplier of fossil fuels. Investment in the Isla Refinery fits into this picture.

As before and during the First and Second World Wars, Curacao is now, in what can become the foreplay of a third world war, of great strategic importance: Willemstad was, is and will be a node in the supply of energy. Both the United States and China want to get, or keep Curaçao under their influence to safeguard their imperialist interests.

The Chinese model of industrial relations

It is noteworthy that China has added a kind of social clause in the agreement with the government of Curacao, which President Whiteman is trying to placate the working population. China is known to do business with any ruling clique, regardless of its policy, including industrial relations. But for China, Curacao is no state, no country or island, it is a refinery ... pretty explosive. Domestically, the Chinese government is not very picky when it comes to workers' rights. Only the party- and state-controlled trade union central is tolerated as so-called organization of the workers. Strikes are suppressed, eruptions of workers' anger in riots are beaten down. The reality of labor relations in China gives the following picture:

1. Only when strikes exert great pressure, the demands are met before the movement expands.
2. Next followes repression against the leaders (that almost always are fired, often imprisoned, sometimes killed by police or gangsters).
3. As indicated above, the companies work with migrants from the countryside with only a temporary residence permit. These workers are constantly under pressure and have to go back to the countryside as soon as they are jobless.
4. Movements which are too large to suppress in this way, as the 'student' uprising Tiananmen, sees its the leaders (students) appeased, to be included in the party, provided well paid jobs. The workers are treated harshly by the military.

This approach has avoided a workers' uprising in China till now. But declining economic growth affects the ability to make minor concessions that did stop the mass of workers striking and / or rioting.

A smart reader will have noticed that point 1 corresponds to the conduct in the recent strike: bought off!
Point 2 can still take place as soon as the strike threat has disappeared.
Point 3 is already a reality as "contractors" from Venezuela are active on the Island.
Point 4 is already applied to Curaçao after ‘Trinta di Mei’ with strike leaders Godett and more recently Eroll Cova going into politics.

Strikes, riots and rebellion

Strikes - whether they succeed to obtain what they demanded or not - are always more than purely economic struggles. The ‘Trinta di Mei’ started because of loss of income and job security when Shell began working through contractors. While the workers took to the streets, the struggle changed from a strike for to 'bread' into a battle for something that was breeding already longer and that went much deeper: 'respect'. In this the feelings of indignation played a big role, that is they felt not being treated as human beings, but still as slaves. At that time the slave rebellion of 1795 came to memory, led by the revolutionary slave Tula, whose tales of mouth have been handed down to future generations. Here this history is considered as known (see wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curaçao_Slave_Revolt_of_1795) because we will compare this true insurrection to the ‘Trinta di Mei’, who was called an insurrection but in fact was just a riot.

Tula led an insurrection because he had a preconceived goal, liberation of the slaves and a plan of the steps to be taken. The movement was well prepared and freeing slaves were involved in the movement by the grown awareness that, like their owners, the slaves were humans with the same rights. Thereby Tula aligned the insurrection with the ideals of the French Revolution who had led in the French colony of Haiti to the abolition of slavery. Since at that time Holland was occupied by France, he hoped that the actions would also result in Curaçao to the abolition of slavery in this Dutch colony. In vain. The revolt was beaten and Tula horribly put to death. In Suriname rebellious slaves were more likely to succeed if they managed to reach the jungle, where they could return to their African way of life, possibly undertake attempts of liberation from the jungle.

The French Revolution was a bourgeois revolution that brought the owners of capital political power that helped them to further liberate the capitalist economy of all restrictions to the market. Labor power could be freely traded by the dispossessed, who were turned into wage laborers. The wage slave is not sold by another, he sells himself his labor power, his ability to work for a certain time. In the United States, the abolition of slavery made it possible that former slaves left for the north into a new slavery - to work in the meat industry of Chicago and later in the automobile industry of Detroit - as wage laborers.

The situation of wage laborer is different from that under previous forms of slavery. Slave revolts in antiquity - think of the Spartacus rebellion in the Roman Empire - made possible at best that the freed slaves returned to the social relations of the past. In contrast, Tula could venture into an uprising to make a historic leap forward by forcing the state to abolish slavery, something that eventually was inevitable by the unstoppable rise of capitalism. The development of slavery to wage labor was definitely a historical progress, which most of the people involved chose deliberately, by fleeing to move, if necessary, by entering into a fight that could cost them their lives, simply because they did not want to live as slaves anymore.

Liberation from wage slavery is still something that lies ahead. It is not possible by a return to social relations of the past, and fleeing into the jungle is hardly possible. For the working class, self-liberation is only possible in an arduous revolutionary process in which all social relations are revolutionized. The workers fight to defend their living conditions against the effects of the crisis, that in itself shows that capital society brings only more misery and imperialist war. In that struggle they develop their organization as a class and class consciousness. That is, who they are, that they should lead their struggle themselves, who are their enemies, that they should learn to resist the attacks by the state, and ultimately defy the state. As combattants they change themselves from subordinate and exploited by capital into self-confident people. The revolt against the power of the state is an important part of this revolutionary process. After the victory the power of the workers' councils over the society starts. The workers' councils themselves control directly the means of production, without the intervention of a state or capital. They enable the production in the service of satisfying social needs instead of the greed of a small group, as hitherto.

It should be understood that ‘Trinta di Mei’ was no insurrection in the above-mentioned meaning. There was not even a preconceived plan to defy the inevitable repression by the state. It could not be otherwise, because there was no consciousness other than elementary outrage, just the beginning of a revolutionary process of growing consciousness. Because this outrage was widespread, a large part of the other proletarians joined the workers. But they had no idea what to do, other than looting shops and setting fires. This is called rioting. By lack of perspectives, rioters are unable to defend themselves against the repression that inevitably follows.

How further?

The leaders of the strike of 2016 have been widely praised by the elites that the strikes did not turn into riots again. From the standpoint of the working class this is not a bad thing either, but for a completely different reason: a repetition of the riots would only would have brought new repression. We must go beyond rioting. In the future, protesting workers better prepare for the repression which it is to be expected. One important way of doing this is to expand the strikes to as many companies as possible, preferably to other countries as well. Expansion to the proletariat in the popular neighborhoods is also an important defense. At a time when they have firm control over their movement, strikers can provide the workers' districts with energy, water, food, education and health care. This way it becomes clear that the wage slaves of today can be the free and equal producers of tomorrow, which will create a society in which everyone can develop his unique and personal qualities.

At present the workers who were previously involved in the strike, are demobilizing again. They work subordinated to bosses, becoming further divided again. In this situation repression threatens to hit those who were prominent in the struggles. Promises by the employers have less and less to be met. It is important to keep in touch with each other and to follow developments closely, keep each other alert to get moving again if the situation requires so.

Not every worker can be motivated for this. Eventually, only small, loosely connected groups can maintain themselves, that are trying to stay alert and that draw lessons for future movements. Since outside a period of struggle the trade unions will not be put under pressure by the workers, it is important to pay attention to how far they go in their 'consultation' with the bosses and the government to save their ‘freedom of bargaining' at expense ... of the workers. The same applies to these other organizations part of which pretend to defend the workers, political parties.

Each division of the working class unity must be actively combatted, especially when attempting to play off workers from Curaçao against those from other islands or states.

The future of the proletariat of Curacao is a workers' revolution in the entire Caribbean.

Fredo Corvo, September 25, 2016.



7 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on October 10, 2016

Just seen this article now, great stuff and very informative about a part of the world I'm afraid I know absolutely nothing about, so thanks very much for that.

I now want to research more the uprisings in 1969 and 1795 for the history section. If you know of any good accounts in English of these please do post them up!


7 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on October 13, 2016

Interesting stuff! If you could post any of that to our history section it would be much appreciated