Indonesia: Call for Venezuela-style oil nationalisations; Papernas May Day statement

April 29, 2008 -- About 1000 workers, students and urban poor held a pre-May Day demonstration outside GKBI Towers in Jakarta, a flashy skyscraper that is the Indonesian headquarters of companies like ExxonMobil, ANZ Bank, Cable & Wireless, Credit Lyonnais Capital, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical,
France Telecom, KPMG, McKinsey & Company, OCBC Bank and the Swiss Bank.

The rally echoed Papernas' demand that all foreign-owned mining and oil companies be nationalised and their profits redirected to resolving the crisis facing most Indonesians amidst rising fuel and food prices. Actions around this demand have been taking place all around Indonesia over the last few months. Dominggus Oktavianus, the general secretary of the National Front of Workers' Struggle (FNPBI), has said Indonesia should follow the example of socialist Venezuela in nationalising its oil industry to feed, educate and house the poor.

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Let’s build national unity for the nationalisation of the foreign-controlled mining sector

Joint political statement

National liberation greetings!

April 29, 2008 -- Indonesia is a nation rich in natural (mining and minerals) and agricultural resources. At a time when the prices of oil and minerals are high, and in the midst of high agricultural prices, the welfare of the people has not improved; instead it is declining – not least ofwhich is the welfare of workers.

Why is this? The welfare of the people and the state of national industry are worsening because of the effects
of the economic policies of the government, since the New Order until the SBY government, which are wrong and which betray the people and the 1945 Constitution. Unfortunately until now, there is no political action
that has successfully changed this situation yet.

Almost all the mining sector in this country has been handed over to foreign interests. This has resulted in increases in the revenue of large mining companies, companies such those belonging to the forces of
imperialism such as ExxonMobil, Freeport, Inco, Newmont, Chevron, British Petroleum, ChonocoPhilips, Freeport, Newmont – these companies are the biggest robbers of the minerals we produce in this country.

They are the ones that control the largest gas reserves in the world (170 trillion cubic feet); the largest coal exporter in the world (117 million tonne each year); oil resources (9 billion barrels), gold resources (4.4 tonne), copper, nickel in the soil, silica, manganese, alumunium, iron ore, zinc, tin and other strategic mineral deposits. The rise in food prices and plantation products could only be enjoyed by a few, namely food importers and plantation capitalists who are greedy and who congregate around the small ruling class.

Wrong government policies on agriculture, such as the liberalisation of agricultural products; and plantation policies which prioritise exports have destroyed the agricultural sector and destroyed the people’s buying
power. What have the imperialists, the government and its comprador opposition left for the people, the workers and for the national industry? Kerosene queues, scarcity and price rises in gas, electricity, the nine basic commodities, in fertilisers; cooking oil queues, the bankruptcy of national industry, mass sackings, low budgetary allocation for education so that the cost of education is no longer affordable for the majority of people. People have been limited to just being able to read and write.

As if these attacks were not enough, the rice bowl of the majority of the poor continues to be plundered politically – the state budget is plundered to pay for external debt and the debt inherited from the corrupt conglomerates of the New Order cronies. The majority who enjoy these debt repayments are imperialist governments and their capitalists.

This is the basis of our thinking for why this May Day in 2008, we feel it is necessary to urge again that all the people, all political elements that care about what happens to the people, that we all unite
and struggle together in all political arenas to end the control of- and theft by foreign imperialists and the government that acts obediently on its behalf. This kind of political and economic situation must be
brought to an end.

To save the republic, to defend the people and the workers, Indonesia needs a NEW ROAD, needs A CHANGE IN DIRECTION. A new road for the Indonesian economy by saving natural resource assets. This
means that imperialist control in the mining industry must be ended. The demand of the people for nationalisation, for contracts to be renewed in the mining sector that include provisions for social justice must be rolled out. This also means that the people’s money, the state budget must be rescued from being used for debt repayments. The abolition of debt repayments and at least a long-term moratorium on debt repayments must absolutely be two components of the struggle program

The Change in Direction Movement is a movement to change the economic system, which has thus far been on the side of the imperialists, change it to becoming an economic system that is independent, prioritises development and rescue of the national industry from the jaws of destruction and death. The economic program will be successful if the structure of government and power is changed, so that it can consequently implement public welfare and the advancement of the people through free education and health care. Because of this, the Change in Direction Movement is a movement for unity to struggle for a new government, a new president, a new political party – as our common instruments of struggle.

As it was in the past, and it will be in the future, May Day represents to us an opportunity for stressing again the struggle program which in our opinion is important to implement, in order to bring about an independent economic and political system, one that aims to be self-sufficient, to ``stand on one’s own feet'', as Sukarno once said; and to be socially just.

  1. Subsidise the prices of the nine basic commodities so they can be accessed by the people. At the same time, there must be policies to normalise the prices of food and plantation products, so that the prices of these items are accessible for the people, by subdising the price of inputs, such as fertilisers, seeds and so on, so that people who are dependent for their livelihoods on the agricultural and plantation sectors can improve their wellbeing.
  2. To make education and health care free for everybody.
  3. To provide cheap energy (oil, gas and coal) for households and industry. Through cheap supplies of energy, the national industry (thousands of industrial manufacturers and millions of small and medium enterprises) can reduce production costs so they can avoid bankruptcy – with the proviso that some of these savings are directed to improve workers’ welfare and wages.
  4. Provide the bountiful raw materials (nickel, gold, copper, aluminium, zinc, tin, iron ore etc) to develop national industrialisation in the future. All foreign companies in mining, of course after they have had their contracts revised to include provisions of greater social justice, must process their raw materials into semi-processed products in this country and must prioritise the needs of domestic industry. This is important to lay the foundation for kickstarting and advancing national industry.
  5. Because of the above, the entire mining sector needs to be nationalised in stages; all contracts with foreign mining companies must be redrafted in such a way as to benefit the people and domestic
  6. Protect domestic industry from the ravages of greedy imperialists who pretend to be advocating ‘free trade’, where in reality the imperialist countries and their capitalists conduct their ``free trade'' discriminatively and dishonestly.
  7. Abolish foreign debt. The policy of devoting the state budget to debt repayments must be stopped, within the next 10 to 15 years. All of the state budget must be prioritised for assisting the recovery of- and advancing domestic industry and to improve the people’s wellbeing.
  8. The struggle program to alter the economic system and this pro-imperialist government can only succeed if the entire people’s movements struggle tenaciously in all political arenas.

As well as continuing to organise the mass movement to demand the urgent and immediate rights of people, the people’s movements must unite with intellectuals, artists, religious figures that are on the side of the
people, and nationalist capitalist-democrats to struggle in the electoral arena, in the general and the presidential elections, local elections, local representative councils, in political parties or as

The political power of the rulers and the so-called opposition who in reality simply act as agents of imperialists must be cast aside, as much as possible, as quickly as possible from their seats in the central
government, regional government, house of representatives, regional representative councils and regional houses of representatives.

This is our call to the nation and people of Indonesia

Indonesian Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI), National Student League for Democracy (LMND), Indonesian Urban Poor Union (SRMI), National Peasants’ Union.

Happy May Day 2008!

Enough of being a coolie nation, time to rise up to be an independent

Fly the three banners of national unity: Abolish the foreign debt, Nationalise (take over) the foreign-controlled mining industry! Construct a national industry for the people’s welfare!

A new road with a change in direction: A new economic system; a new president! a new party!

Jakarta, 29 April 2008

Dominggus Oktavianus
General Chairperson

Lalu Hilman Afriandi
General Chairperson
LMND - National Executive

Marlo Sitompul
General Chairperson

Yudi Budi Wibowo
General Chairperson

[Translation by Vannessa Hearman]