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U.S. Teamsters get warm welcome at Venezuela’s Canaima laptop plant

By Emily Butt and Tom Burke |
March 21, 2020
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FRSO labor delegation at laptop factory.
FRSO labor delegation at laptop factory. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Workers at the Canaima laptops and tablets factory in Caracas, are going all out
Workers at the Canaima laptops and tablets factory in Caracas, are going all out to serve the people of Venezuela.

Caracas, Venezuela - A Freedom Road Socialist Organization labor delegation toured the Canaima laptops and tablets factory in Caracas, Venezuela on March 12. The Canaima plant is located within walking distance of the bridge where U.S. puppet Juan Guaido launched a failed coup d’état April 30, 2019. Upon arrival, leading representatives of the Canaima assembly plant greeted the American Teamsters with genuine smiles and warm handshakes.

A Venezuelan educator and Canaima spokesperson, Oscar Martinez, explained the assembly plant’s purpose, “Our goal is to produce a laptop or tablet for every school-aged child in Venezuela, over 6 million. We have delivered millions. Children are allowed to keep the laptops and bring them home. They are made of heavier casing material so they do not break easily if dropped on the ground.”

Martinez continued, “We are currently producing our fifth version, and we are hoping to launch a sixth one soon. Unfortunately, U.S. economic sanctions are making it difficult to obtain necessary parts, so production is slowed for now.”

The spokesperson then introduced workers in the plant who prepare and test different components. At the first station, he pointed out two women testing hard drives. They unpackaged them and plugged them in. A green light indicates correct functioning, ready for assembly. A red light requires further testing for repair.

Next, the American trade union delegation proceeded down the fast-moving line to where the components were assembled into laptops. This required soldering and precision attachment with tiny screws. The workers were intently focused on their tasks, but paused to smile and share their role in production. They clearly took pride in their work.

Quality control was next with three steps, including for software and hardware, with the occasional laptop being sent back. At the end of quality control, a worker placed each laptop in a protective sleeve, another worker would put the sleeves into padded boxes, and another would weigh each box to make sure that none of them were missing any components. All of the boxed laptops and tablets were then put into larger boxes, which were put on pallets ready to be shipped out and distributed to Venezuelan students free of charge.

After seeing the whole process and taking photos with some of the factory workers, the labor delegation toured another part of the plant. They were shown large windows that wrapped around a tree. Martinez explained that if you see the building from a bird’s eye view it is a strange shape because an architect designed the structure around the existing trees to minimize the impact on the landscape. The design gives the building a pleasant feel and some natural sunlight.

Spokesperson Martinez then pointed to a wall with striking images of two of Venezuela’s greatest heroes, Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez. The worker who created these images framed them using reused packaging materials from the factory. The worker-artist then presented autographed versions, including two of Venezuelan President Maduro, as gifts to the American trade unionists. He was proud to the point of tears, thanking the FRSO labor delegation for their support, especially coming from U.S. workers.

The tour was not over yet though. The Canaima representatives led the American Teamsters back to the front entrance and they were asked to sit down. Canaima workers, professionals and staff packed into the entranceway, shoulder-to-shoulder, beaming with excitement. Martinez and the others then brought out five boxes with brand new tablets inside, handing one to each delegate.

The American trade unionists stood up, amazed by the generosity of the gifts, profusely thanking everyone within reach. The Venezuelans were grinning from ear to ear, proud of their work.

Gabriella Killpack spoke for the delegation: “We are overwhelmed by your generosity today. This is totally unexpected! We came here to show our solidarity with our fellow workers in Venezuela and to understand the gains being made with the Bolivarian Revolution. We thank you so much!”

The Canaima tour guide Martinez spoke with passion, as tears welled up in his eyes, “Speaking from the heart, solidarity with workers in the U.S. is so important for us. We cannot believe you have come all the way here to stand with us! We recognize that the sanctions are imposed by the U.S. government and not the American people. We do not hold any resentment or anger towards workers in your country, but rather share a sense of solidarity that we face similar struggles against the same people in power in the U.S.”

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