During the 14-minute video, the minister Rafael Ramirez said the 40,000-member work force at Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, firmly stands behind Chavez ahead of the Dec. 3 vote. His comments were allegedly made during a closed-door meeting at the company's headquarters in the capital Caracas.
"It's a crime, a counterrevolutionary act for any manager here to try to curb the political expression of the workers in favor of President Chavez," Ramirez said in the amateur video. "Whoever doesn't feel comfortable with this orientation, it's necessary that they give up their seat to a Bolivarian."
Now I don't know about you but I certainly get his message, and my guess is those in attendance did as well. 'Bolivarian or busted.'
Supporters of leading opposition candidate Manuel Rosales played the video at a news conference and said the minister's comments constituted clear proof of political coercion. They were unsure when the video was recorded, but said they believed it was taped within the last 10 days. They did not explain how they obtained the video.
Geraldo Blyde, one of Rosales' campaign aides, said Ramirez's statements clearly violated constitutional prohibitions on political discrimination and use of state resources in favor of a candidate.
"The (state) oil company should not be politicized," Blyde said, calling Ramirez's words a "promotion of hate, discrimination."
Not that it matters, but Blyde's right. However, given how Chavez has stacked the deck for the upcoming election, it is really something no one can do anything about, either electorally or legally.
Rosales' allies plan to present the video along with complaints requesting investigations to the Organization of American States and the European Union, which have been invited to observe the election.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday that he may block some private TV channels from renewing their broadcast licenses next year, accusing them of fomenting conspiracies against his government.
"Don't be surprised if I say there are no more concessions to some TV channels," when their licenses expire in March, Chavez said in a televised speech.
His warning came after an opposition-aligned private TV station aired a video Thursday showing Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez telling state oil company workers to support Chavez or give up their jobs.
Chavez accused his opponents of "mounting a show" to provoke a scandal and deliberately "agitating" the situation as part of a campaign against his government.
Meanwhile, I love that the President can prevent renewal of license in a country. Now, can you imagine that happening here (Yes, I’m sure SOME of you can, and probably think it’s IS going to happen....)