Almost a week has passed since several retirees from the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) , a government holding company, began a hunger strike by prostrating themselves a few meters from the state company’s headquarters. The reason for the protest is that they demand the payment of their social benefits (pensions, health care, etc.) and after resorting to all the regular channels and receiving no answers, they made the decision to express their disagreement in this way.
By Pableysa Ostos/Correspondent lapatilla.com
The hunger strike was started by five retirees: Pablo Millán, retired after 55 years of service; Francisco Díaz, retired after 35 years of service; Hipólito Cedeño, with 44 years at the company; José Rodríguez, 48 years of service, all from Siderúrgica del Orinoco (Sidor) the “Alfredo Maneiro” steel smelter. The fifth protester is Hugo Medina, retired with 62 years of service in Venalum (Venezuelan Aluminum, Aluminum refiner and smelter) and who is also President of the Federation of Associations of Retirees and Pensioners of the Bolívar State.
Today only Hugo Medina remains on hunger strike, who with a neck brace still has a certain strength to testify. The health of the other comrades began to suffer in the face of the extreme conditions involved in undertaking this type of protest. Some had problems with blood pressure.
“We reached a point of six days, almost 530 hours, when we made this decision, although peaceful, but extreme, to reclaim all the benefits that we have stopped receiving, such as our social benefits, which are to demand immediate life (benefits), the right to health,” Medina said on the morning of this Monday, August 21st.
The retiree said that on Wednesday when the strike began, the vice president of the CVG, Alexis Rodríguez Cabello, went to the place where they are holding the protest and “wanted to condition the protest, telling us to end the strike and trust his word. But on April 5th we met with the President of the CVG and he told us that we would have an answer in 15 days. All that time has passed and we still haven’t had any response.”
He added with frustration: “Imagine, the President of the CVG could not and did not give us an answer, how can we then trust the word of the vice president. We are too old for that.”
“That which he said was that they improved the “bag” (food aid). What improvement? If they give us a mortadella that we don’t know of what ingredients is made of, we don’t know what the expiration date is, what the manufacturing date is. I would like them to sit down to eat an arepa with mortadella with us, but one of those that they give us (…) When one has gone through this, one knows what it is to be hungry, what are you going to be afraid of. There is a saying out there that says: If we speak, they kill us; if we remain silent, they kill us too. That is why we have decided to speak so as not to die in silence,” said Hugo Medina.