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Venezuela: American Teamsters tour printing factory

By staff

FRSO labor delegation with workers at printing factory.

Maracay, Venezuela – The Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) labor delegation toured a large printing factory on March 13 in Maracay, Venezuela, about two hours outside Caracas. As the delegates bus pulled up to the factory gates, a huge sign welcomed them, “We don't speak ill of Chavez here!” The head of the factory and a group of workers excitedly gathered around to greet the American members of the Teamsters union.

In a bold and historic move, this factory was taken over by the workers themselves during the presidency of Hugo Chavez in 2005. The previously laid off workers formed a new team under self-management and breathed life into the printing presses, to serve the children of Venezuela.

The print workers make notebooks, maps, composition books and other paper products for over 6 million Venezuelan school children. Each child in Venezuela gets a backpack with school supplies for free.

Venezuela leaders made a special presentation of gifts to the American Teamsters. There was an exchange of solidarity between Venezuelan and American workers, and then the proud print workers crowded together for photos and selfies.

The FRSO labor delegation toured the presses and observed the production process. Two of the Venezuelan worker-leaders guided the American trade unionists from start to finish in the making of a children's notebook on massive presses. The American trade unionists were able to see the workers run the machinery up close. They also were shown a display of valuable products, such as school bags and backpacks, from nearby sister factories made with components from Turkey and China.

After the tour, the visitors had lunch with the workers in the factory cafeteria, eating a fresh meal prepared on site. The workers explained how they make food for each other on a daily basis and introduced the FRSO delegates to the three chefs who cooked that day's meal.

The labor delegation was impressed with the ingenuity and dedication of the workers in maintaining and running their factory despite U.S. sanctions. Their creativity in working around the punishing sanctions was on display. Inspired by their mission to continue producing and distributing educational materials for millions of children in Venezuela, all outgoing boxes of printed books are stamped with the label “Made in Socialism.”

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