- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 23:25
- Written by Ian Paxson
Originally by Liberation News here.
Issues behind the election boycott in Nepal
A heroic attempt to reinvigorate the struggle for socialism.
The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, one of the largest political forces in the country, is leading a boycott of the country's upcoming Constituent Assembly elections, scheduled for Nov. 19. Thirty-two other political parties initially joined in the boycott movement.
A one-day general strike across Nepal’s urban centers shut down transportation, business, industrial facilities and education houses Nov. 11. This is being followed by a transportation strike to last through election day. The state has responded with violent repression, arrests and raids against strike and election boycott organizers. The government’s election “security” plan involves the deployment of 61,000 soldiers across the country along with 54,000 police, 20,000 paramilitary Armed Police Force officers and 40,000 temporary police, a blatant violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the 1996-2006 People’s War led by the Maoists.
There have been scores of arrests targeting CPN-M cadre. Many activists were dragged from their homes in the middle of the night without official warrant.
The first Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution, was constructed after a 10-year armed struggle led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). That struggle led to the 2006 “People’s Movement 2,” which finally overthrew the brutal feudal monarchy headed by King Gyanendra. The Constituent Assembly’s term finally expired in 2012, after multiple extensions, without having produced the constitution. This left Nepal in a state of political limbo that the ruling elites hope to break with the second CA election on Nov. 19.
The CPN-M argues that the election is a plot, primarily authored by India, to impede Nepal’s self-determination. There is a long history of Indian expansionism infringing on the sovereignty of smaller South Asian nations–the classic example being the annexation of Sikkim in 1975. The ruling classes of Nepal and India coordinate closely, with the latter playing the dominant role while subjecting the former to unequal trade terms.
The first CA election in 2008 fulfilled a key demand of the communist-led People’s War: abolishing the monarchy and breaking up the feudal land holdings. These were key tasks of the country’s bourgeois democratic revolution, along with the demand for a federal system that respected the rights of Nepal’s many nationalities. The stated doctrine of the Maoists was that this stage would facilitate, not impede, the ultimate seizure of power by the workers and peasants.
The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)–which added the word “Unified” after a series of controversial mergers–enjoyed the prestige of leading the People’s War and scored huge electoral victories.
Sharp differences among communist forces
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Friday, 15 November 2013 19:54
- Written by CPP- Information Bureau
Originally published at Democracy and Class Struggle here.
CPP Information Bureau
11 November 2013
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) calls on the entire Filipino people, including those overseas, to mobilize and generate the maximum possible emergency funds and supplies for the victims of the recent super typhoon Yoland (international name Haiyan).
An estimated nine million people, or 10% of the entire Filipino population, suffered the wrath of the storm considered to be the strongest in recorded history, which barreled through 36 provinces. Majority of the victims of the storm are small peasants, farm workers, fisherfolk, mountain people, workers and other poor people who are the most vulnerable to the storm.
Wide swathes of land were engulfed by the surging seas resulting in massive destruction of public infrastructure, homes, property and agricultural land. It is feared that the number of deaths may run up to several thousand people.
The revolutionary forces under the CPP commiserate with the entire Filipino people, especially those who lost friends and family members and who are suffering from the grave impact.
The CPP calls on all progressive and democratic forces to immediately organize the collection of funds and supplies for relief and rehabilitation work and ensure their immediate transport of these to the affected areas. Main attention is justifiably centered on extending assistance to Tacloban and the Eastern Visayas provinces. There should also be sufficient attention given to other areas in Central Visayas, Panay, Negros, Masbate, Mindoro and Palawan as well as in Bicol, Southern Tagalog and Eastern and Northern Mindanao.
The national mobilization of resources is necessary to sufficiently extend assistance to all areas devastated by the storm. There must be appropriate national coordination and cooperation in order to appropriately distribute help and supplies. Priority should be given to those requiring immediate medical attention, the children and the elderly.
The CPP calls for the formation of organizations of disaster victims in order to facilitate the distribution of emergency supplies and prevent the situation from leading to widespread chaos. The people need these organizations of disaster victims in order to extend information about their situation and needs.
The commands of the New People’s Army (NPA) units operating in the devastated areas have immediately changed their mode of operation and have carried out search, rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Within the guerrilla front areas, barrio (village) committees, provisional revolutionary government units, and revolutionary mass organizations have immediately been mobilized to carry out efforts to assist the people and organize rehabilitation efforts to help the people resume production and other aspects of their normal lives.
In line with policy, the concerned NPA commands, including the NPA Mt. Amandewin Command (NPA-Leyte Island), and leading committees of the CPP can issue appropriate ceasefire orders to their respective units, putting NPA units on defensive mode but ever vigilant to enemy offensive operations. These can seek to facilitate the entry of organizations and agencies extending relief and emergency supply and ensure the safety of relief workers. The people should vigorously oppose continued suppression activities being conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines under Oplan Bayanihan, especially in areas ravaged by the storm.
The Filipino people are angered over the Aquino regime’s slow and terribly inadequate response to the disaster. They critize Aquino for blaming the people for being unprepared. In the hours immediately after the storm, the Aquino government was practically absent in
Tacloban and other parts of the country. They further criticize Aquino for making use of the disaster to make a pitch for the much-detested President’s Social Fund and Disbursement Acceleration Program when, in fact, it has allotted only a minuscule for calamity response.
On the other hand, the CPP extends the people’s gratitude and commendation to various local and international media agencies which have made use of their resources to provide crucial information service to disaster victims. The Filipino people welcome local and foreign volunteer civilian organizations and agencies whose contributions have been invaluable.
The CPP calls on all international civilian agencies to extend maximum possible support to the victims of the disaster. The CPP denounces the Aquino and US governments for taking advantage of the disaster to again deploy more US warships and armed US soldiers in various areas in violation of Philippine sovereignty. The CPP urges foreign governments who wish to extend aid and direct help to course their assistance through their civilian agencies or organizations.
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Monday, 23 September 2013 23:50
- Written by Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY
This semester the war criminal ex-general David Petraeus was appointed to lecture at the City University of New York. Students at CUNY have righteously resisted this appointment by protesting outside of the building he teaches in; every single class. Last Monday six students were attacked by the NYPD, beaten and arrested. Today over a hundred people protested against Petraeus and in defense of the CUNY 6. The protests will go on as long as Petraeus lectures at CUNY, exactly as it should be. (Intro by Nat Winn)
The following article first appeared on the Revolutionary Students Coordinating Committee website.
PRESS RELEASE: UNPROVOKED POLICE ATTACK AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTEST BY CUNY STUDENTS AND FACULTY AGAINST EX-GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS
Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, firstname.lastname@example.org
Unprovoked police attack against peaceful protest by CUNY students and faculty against ex-Gen. David Petraeus
NEW YORK, 17 September — Six students were arrested this evening in a brutal, unprovoked police attack against a peaceful protest by City University of New York students and faculty against CUNY’s appointment of former CIA chief ex-General David Petraeus. Students were punched, slammed against vehicles and against the pavement by police captains and officers, after the NYPD forced them off the pavement and into the street. The demonstration was called by the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY.
The arrested students are presently being held and are to be arraigned this Wednesday, September 18, at some point between 9:00 a.m. and the afternoon in the Arraignment Court in the Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street. All defenders of students’ basic right to protest are urged to come to the arraignment and show their support.
“As students were chanting ‘War Criminal Petraeus Out of CUNY Now,’ I was shocked to see several police officers grab and brutalize one of the demonstrators,” said City College student Yexenia Vanegas. “This was completely unprovoked, as demonstrators made clear that they were there to defend our university in a peaceful protest.” The attack occured in front of CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, where Petraeus has been appointed to teach a class on public policy. “Protestors were marching in a circle on the sidewalk and chanting, but the police forced them into the street and then charged. One of the most brutal things I saw was that five police officers slammed a Queens College student face down to the pavement across the street from Macaulay, put their knees on his back and he was then repeatedly kneed in the back,” said Hunter student Michael Brian. The student was one of those pointed out by “white shirt” officers, then seized and brutalized. A Latina woman student was heaved through the air and slammed to the ground.
A broad range of CUNY students, faculty and staff members, have been carrying out a campaign of “protest and exposure” against the Board of Trustees’ appointment of Petraeus, whose documented actions as Iraq/Afghanistan war commander and CIA chief include drone attacks upon civilians, and the creation of torture centers and death squads. When Petraeus was setting up Special Police Commandos, the “dirty tactics” that were used included the use of white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, against the population in Fallujah. “Petraeus’ man” Col. James Steele, who organized death squads in Central America, had been brought to the area for the same purpose.
With the NYPD being sent to brutalize and arrest CUNY students on behalf of a certified war criminal, organizers state that this blatant use of police brutality against peaceful protestors wil not intimidate or deter those who expose the truth about the actions of David “Death Squad” Petraeus and oppose attempts to turn the City University into “a war college.”
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 22:29
- Written by Anita Gates
There is a new documentary series on PBS on Latino Americans that starts airing Tuesday September 17th. I thought it would be good for our audience to be aware of it. This post could also be a discussion space for commentaries and reviews about the film. The following article appeared in the New York Times. intro by Nat Winn
The Hidden History of a Substantial Minority
‘Latino Americans,’ a Six-Hour PBS Documentary
by Anita Gates
Have you ever heard about the American pilot who took off from an aircraft carrier on Dec. 7, 1941, for a routine check of its next port, Pearl Harbor? His last words were a desperate "Hold your fire" message, just before he was shot down — no one is sure by which side — as one of the first American casualties of World War II. That was Ensign Manuel Gonzales, as viewers will learn through "Latino Americans," an important and enlightening three-part, six-hour PBS documentary that begins on Tuesday night.
Then there was the soldier who in 1836 shouted, "Remember the Alamo!" and led a regiment in Sam Houston's Republic of Texas Army to victory over Santa Anna's Mexican forces. You know: Juan Seguín. And the World War II hero who won the Silver Star for capturing 1,500 Japanese prisoners of war. That was Guy Gabaldon, a Mexican-American who, in the movie about his exploits ("Hell to Eternity," 1960), was played by the blue-eyed Jeffrey Hunter.
For those who sometimes imagine that Latinos arrived in the United States in the 1950s, just in time to audition for "West Side Story," it is a particular revelation that Latino American history goes back quite a bit further and has been, to a distressing degree, Anglo-washed. The documentary's story moves along quickly, though: by the third hour, Dr. Hector Garcia is working with the Johnson administration in the 1960s. "Latino Americans" is the kind of polished, intelligent documentary series that PBS does so well. The format is a traditional one now, with vintage film clips, zooms and pans of old paintings and photographs, and an assortment of thoughtful talking heads. But this time, those heads belong to historians named García, Montejano and Ruiz; political organizers named Gutierrez, Velásquez and Esparza; academics named Padrón; and journalists named Suárez and Salinas. Adriana Bosch, the documentary's Emmy Award-winning producer, moved to the United States from Cuba in 1970. Most of the time, we meet the successful adults — like the actress-singer-dancer Rita Moreno, whose acceptance of her Oscar in 1962 we see at least three times — and then are familiarized with their backgrounds. Ms. Moreno was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York with her mother when she was 5. In one case, though, we hear about an activist's early years first. In 1946 a Navy war veteran everyone called C. C. desegregated a movie theater in Delano, Calif., just by taking a seat one night in the middle section with the Anglos. After this story, we learn that C. C. was Cesar Chavez. By the middle of the 21st century, there are expected to be about 127 million Latino-Americans, nearly 30 percent of the projected United States population. Some Latinos see today as "the Hispanic moment" and urge that opportunities be seized now or lost. The second and third parts of "Latino Americans," whose subjects include Chavez, the Chicano movement, the Dominican Republic, Central America, the battles against bilingualism and the Mariel boat lift, will be shown next Tuesday and on Oct. 1. Latino Americans On PBS stations on Tuesday nights (check local listings). Produced by WETA Washington, Bosch & Company Inc. and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB). Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan, executive producers for WETA; Sandie Viquez Pedlow, executive producer for LPB; Adriana Bosch, series producer; Salme Lopez, supervising producer; Nina Alvarez, Dan McCabe, Ray Telles and John Valadez, producers; Sabrina Avilés, Yvan Iturriaga and Monika Navarro, associate producers. For re-enactment sequences: David Belton and Sonia Fritz, directors; Cathleen O'Connell, producer. Benjamin Bratt, narrator.
For those who sometimes imagine that Latinos arrived in the United States in the 1950s, just in time to audition for "West Side Story," it is a particular revelation that Latino American history goes back quite a bit further and has been, to a distressing degree, Anglo-washed. The documentary's story moves along quickly, though: by the third hour, Dr. Hector Garcia is working with the Johnson administration in the 1960s.
"Latino Americans" is the kind of polished, intelligent documentary series that PBS does so well. The format is a traditional one now, with vintage film clips, zooms and pans of old paintings and photographs, and an assortment of thoughtful talking heads. But this time, those heads belong to historians named García, Montejano and Ruiz; political organizers named Gutierrez, Velásquez and Esparza; academics named Padrón; and journalists named Suárez and Salinas. Adriana Bosch, the documentary's Emmy Award-winning producer, moved to the United States from Cuba in 1970.
Most of the time, we meet the successful adults — like the actress-singer-dancer Rita Moreno, whose acceptance of her Oscar in 1962 we see at least three times — and then are familiarized with their backgrounds. Ms. Moreno was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York with her mother when she was 5. In one case, though, we hear about an activist's early years first. In 1946 a Navy war veteran everyone called C. C. desegregated a movie theater in Delano, Calif., just by taking a seat one night in the middle section with the Anglos. After this story, we learn that C. C. was Cesar Chavez.
By the middle of the 21st century, there are expected to be about 127 million Latino-Americans, nearly 30 percent of the projected United States population. Some Latinos see today as "the Hispanic moment" and urge that opportunities be seized now or lost.
The second and third parts of "Latino Americans," whose subjects include Chavez, the Chicano movement, the Dominican Republic, Central America, the battles against bilingualism and the Mariel boat lift, will be shown next Tuesday and on Oct. 1.
On PBS stations on Tuesday nights (check local listings).
Produced by WETA Washington, Bosch & Company Inc. and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB). Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan, executive producers for WETA; Sandie Viquez Pedlow, executive producer for LPB; Adriana Bosch, series producer; Salme Lopez, supervising producer; Nina Alvarez, Dan McCabe, Ray Telles and John Valadez, producers; Sabrina Avilés, Yvan Iturriaga and Monika Navarro, associate producers. For re-enactment sequences: David Belton and Sonia Fritz, directors; Cathleen O'Connell, producer. Benjamin Bratt, narrator.
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Saturday, 07 September 2013 07:28
- Written by A World to Win New Service
U.S. preparations for attacking Syria and Obama's speech
The Middle East is a pivotal region for the whole world – economically and geopolitically – and the U.S. has dominated it since WW 2. Everything it has done and continues to do is based on maintaining and deepening that domination. Right now the region is in tremendous upheaval – the old arrangements that "held things together" (for the imperialists and local butchers) have come under increasing strain and in some cases begun to disintegrate, and there is a massive scramble by all kinds of forces. These include rivals like the Russians, who back Assad; "friendly" imperialists like the French, who back the rebels; all kinds of local butchers; etc. And, painfully, there is no coherent progressive force acting within this mix. ...
In this situation, the U.S. may be pulling a page from the bloody playbook it used in the Iran-Iraq War. In that war, the U.S. aimed for both sides to devastate each other, and the result was a million deaths.
Many people will see this as a situation in which "something must be done." Even people who have some sense that the U.S. is driven by anything but humanitarian motives will argue that at least U.S. intervention will stop the horror right now.
But reality doesn't work that way. It matters – in fact it is decisive – to understand the nature of a U.S. attack on Syria, and what would be driving it. It would be an attack driven by the needs of a global capitalist-imperialist superpower intent on maintaining its domination of the planet. How is any move on that basis going to contribute anything positive to a humanitarian nightmare in Syria?
2 September 2013. Following are excerpts from two articles that appeared in Revolution, newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. The first, posted on 27 August 2013, is entitled "Only Worse Suffering and Horrors Can Result from a U.S. Attack on Syria". The second, signed by Larry Everest, was called "Obama's Speech on Syria: Lies to Justify an Immoral War".
There is a growing danger of a direct U.S. military attack on Syria – which is being framed as a "surgical strike"– using planes and/or Cruise missiles. U.S. Secretary of "Defence" Hagel announced that "the U.S. military is "ready to go" if ordered to attack Syria.
These attacks must be opposed with determined political protest and clear-eyed understanding of how they would make the situation worse. It is essential that people understand what is behind U.S. moves and not be duped into passive complicity with a U.S. attack on Syria that would make the situation much worse for the people of Syria, and the world.
The rulers of the U.S. view atrocities and war crimes – real, or invented – through the warped and twisted lens of "How does this work for us." Shelling hospitals, like Israel did in the 2008-9 massacre in Gaza is ignored. Staged, fake human rights outrages, like false testimony in the U.S. Congress that Iraqi troops disconnected incubators killing babies in Kuwait are concocted and then invoked to justify all kinds of U.S. crimes. The incubator hoax was invoked to justify the first U.S. invasion of Iraq, "Operation Desert Storm", that killed 100,000 Iraqis and created great suffering for millions, including babies who died as a result of cutbacks in medical care resulting from U.S. sanctions that followed that war.
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Friday, 06 September 2013 19:30
- Written by Prison Hunger Solidarity
Below is the statement on the suspension of the California Prisoners Hunger strike. More updates, news and statements can be found on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website.
Greetings of Solidarity and Respect!
The PBSP-SHU, Short Corridor Collective Representatives hereby serve notice upon all concerned parties of interest that after nine weeks we have collectively decided to suspend our third hunger strike action on September 5, 2013.
To be clear, our Peaceful Protest of Resistance to our continuous subjection to decades of systemic state sanctioned torture via the system’s solitary confinement units is far from over. Our decision to suspend our third hunger strike in two years does not come lightly. This decision is especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met (despite nearly universal agreement that they are reasonable). The core group of prisoners has been, and remains 100% committed to seeing this protracted struggle for real reform through to a complete victory, even if it requires us to make the ultimate sacrifice. With that said, we clarify this point by stating prisoner deaths are not the objective, we recognize such sacrifice is at times the only means to an end of fascist oppression.
Our goal remains: force the powers that be to end their torture policies and practices in which serious physical and psychological harm is inflicted on tens of thousands of prisoners as well as our loved ones outside. We also call for ending the related practices of using prisoners to promote the agenda of the police state by seeking to greatly expand the numbers of the working class poor warehoused in prisons, and particularly those of us held in solitary, based on psychological/social manipulation, and divisive tactics keeping prisoners fighting amongst each other. Those in power promote mass warehousing to justify more guards, more tax dollars for “security”, and spend mere pennies for rehabilitation — all of which demonstrates a failed penal system, high recidivism, and ultimately compromising public safety. The State of California’s $9.1 billion annual CDCR budget is the epitome of a failed and fraudulent state agency that diabolically and systemically deprives thousands of their human rights and dignity. Allowing this agency to act with impunity has to stop! And it will.
With that said, and in response to much sincere urging of loved ones, supporters, our attorneys and current and former state legislators, Tom Ammiano, Loni Hancock, and Tom Hayden, for whom we have the upmost respect, we decided to suspend our hunger strike. We are especially grateful to Senator Hancock and Assembly Member Ammiano for their courageous decision to challenge Governor Brown and the CDCR for their policies of prolonged solitary confinement and inhumane conditions. We are certain that they will continue their fight for our cause, including holding legislative hearings and the drafting legislation responsive to our demands on prison conditions and sentencing laws. We are also proceeding with our class action civil suit against the CDCR.
The fact is that Governor Brown and CDCR Secretary Beard have responded to our third peaceful action with typical denials and falsehoods, claiming solitary confinement does not exist and justifying the continuation of their indefinite torture regime by vilifying the peaceful protest representatives. They also obtained the support of the medical receiver (Kelso) and Prison Law Office attorney (Spector—who is supposed to represent prisoners interests, and instead has become an agent for the state) to perpetuate their lie to the public and to the federal court — that prisoners participating in the hunger strike have been coerced — in order to obtain the August 19, 2013 force feeding order.
We have deemed it to be in the best interest of our cause to suspend our hunger strike action until further notice.
We urge people to remember that we began our present resistance with our unprecedented collective and peaceful actions (in tandem with the legislative process) back in early 2010, when we created and distributed a “Formal Complaint” for the purpose of educating the public and bringing widespread attention to our torturous conditions.
After much dialogue and consideration, this led us to our first and second hunger strike actions in 2011, during which a combined number of 6,500 and 12,000 prisoners participated. We succeeded in gaining worldwide attention and support resulting in some minor changes by the CDCR concerning SHU programming and privileges. They also claimed to make major changes to policies regarding gang validation and indefinite SHU confinement by creating the STG/SDP Pilot Program. They released a few hundred prisoners from SHU/AD SEG to general population in the prison. But in truth, this is all part of a sham to claim the pilot program works and was a weak attempt to have our class action dismissed. It didn’t work.
In response we respectfully made clear that CDCR’s STG-SDP was not responsive to our demand for the end to long term isolation and solitary confinement and thus unacceptable. (See: AGREEMENT TO END HOSTILITIES)
Our supporting points fell on deaf ears, leading to our January 2013 notice of intent to resume our hunger strike on July 8, 2013 if our demands were not met. We also included Forty Supplemental Demands.
In early July, CDCR produced several memos notifying prisoners of an increase in privileges and property items, which are notably responsive to a few of our demands, while the majority of our demands were unresolved, leading to our third hunger strike, in which 30,000 prisoners participated and resulted in greater worldwide exposure, support and condemnation of the CDCR!
From our perspective, we’ve gained a lot of positive ground towards achieving our goals. However, there’s still much to be done. Our resistance will continue to build and grow until we have won our human rights.
For the Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement
Todd Ashker, C58191, D1-119
Arturo Castellanos, C17275, D1-121
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C35671, D1-117
Antonio Guillen, P81948, D2-106
And the Representatives Body:
Danny Troxell, B76578, D1-120
George Franco, D46556, D4-217
Ronnie Yandell, V27927, D4-215
Paul Redd, B72683, D2-117
James Baridi Williamson, D-34288. D4-107
Alfred Sandoval, D61000, D4-214
Louis Powell, B59864, D1-104
Alex Yrigollen, H32421, D2-204
Gabriel Huerta, C80766, D3-222
Frank Clement, D07919, D3-116
Raymond Chavo Perez, K12922, D1-219
James Mario Perez, B48186, D3-124
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Monday, 02 September 2013 12:29
- Written by Christian Tym
While everyone's eyes have turned toward an impending US attack on Syria, another people's uprising has emerged, this time in Colombia. Campesinos originally initiated the uprising in opposition to free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union. These trade agreements are ruining their way of life, by driving down prices of agricultural goods and driving many into the slums around Bogota. Starting on August 19th as a movement of campesinos, the protests have grown as miners, students, and others joined and declared their indignation with the current situation.
The mainstream media has been deafeningly silent about the uprisings in Colombia which have involved hundreds of thousands of people and have faced heavy police and even military repression. As we post this the miltary has occupied Bogota and the situation has calmed down.
The Colombian government has been the main US ally in Latin America in the context of a situation where a number of left wing governments have been elected into power. This makes the events in Colombia all the more significant.
The following article from Green Left Weekly sharply lays out some of the context and details of the current rebellion. I encourage others to share more information, including on the clashes between tens of thousands of students and police on Thursday (August 29th), that the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has used to red-bait and to call in the army. (intro by Nat Winn)
Colombia: Rural uprising breaks out for fair prices, against 'free trade'
by Christian Tym
An uprising of the rural poor (campesinos) in Colombia entered its 11th day on August 29. An estimated 250,000 people took part in strikes and highway blockades across the South American country's highlands, where most of Colombia's population of 42 million is concentrated.
The central objective of the uprising is to guarantee minimum prices for agricultural products, and to annul Colombia's free trade agreements (FTAs) with the United States and the European Union.
The blockades are strongest in the provinces of Boyaca and Cundinamara, in the centre of the country around the capital, Bogota. The region is home to 8.5 million people.
Despite worsening food scarcity, residents in Bogota have shown their support for the uprising by blockading highways on the outskirts of the city, where they have engaged in a running battle with riot police.
In the south of the country, blockades in the provinces of Narino, Caqueta and Cauca have cut off traffic between Colombia and Ecuador and countries further south.
Protesters have also temporarily blockaded highways around Cali and Medellin, Colombia's second and third-largest cities, over the past week and a half. As of August 27, 48 highways were blockaded across eight provinces.
As of August 25, one police officer had been killed and more than 160 wounded in the uprising, according to the government.
The casualty list for the campesinos remains unknown. Though none have been killed, there have no doubt been several hundred if not a few thousand injured among the protesters.
The campesinos' central negotiating committee has denounced the "criminalisation of the protests, the disproportionate use of force, and the police use of firearms" to create fear and intimidation.
A student journalist arrested at the site of one blockade also denounced police violence. Along with five others arrested with him, he was beaten by police after being captured. After being charged and released, the journalist had to be hospitalised.
Oscar Gutierrez, spokesperson for Dignidad Cafetera (Dignity for Coffee-Growers), told Associated Press: "We are fighting [the riot police], but it is a very difficult situation. The government is really sticking it to us."
Further intensifying the situation, on August 25 a guerrilla attack in the south-east reportedly killed 14 Colombian army soldiers. The attackers were unknown, but may have been guerrillas from the left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN). The ELN is not taking part in the peace negotiations being held in Cuba between the Colombian government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), the largest guerrilla army on the continent.
When the uprising began on August 19, the central concern was the collapsing prices for agricultural products provoked by FTAs with the US and EU. The campesinos want minimum price guarantees for their products, along with government support for fertilisers and other inputs.
Agriculture in the US and EU is heavily subsidised. An estimated 18% of US farmers' income comes from government subsidies, and in the EU the figure is 35%. In this context, the "free-trade" deals cut between Colombia and the US and EU have left Colombian campesinos in an impossible situation.
"Before, we used to earn 800 pesos [$0.46] for every litre of milk sold," said Moisés Delgado, a campesino spokesperson.
"Now, with the free trade agreement, we only get 500 pesos and we cannot live off this."
The FTA with the US came into effect in May last year.
This situation has forced many campesinos to sell their lands and join the burgeoning slums in Colombia's cities. This has led to the further concentration of land in the hands of agribusiness.
This also fits with one of the FTA's central aims ― to increase the profitability of Colombian textile factories, which rely on cheap urban labour.
President Juan Manuel Santos claims to want to find a solution to the problem, "so that the campesinos can have a dignified income, can stay in the countryside, and can see the future with hope and optimism". But his trade policies tell a different story.
As Cesar Pachon, leader of the potato-growers sector, made clear, the uprising follows protests in November 2011 and May, each of which led to negotiations with Santos's administration, but no real change.
"We have been tricked twice now," Pachon said. "This time we are not going to yield until we see dramatic solutions."
The rural uprising has since become a lightning rod for discontent against the US-backed Colombian government. This extends to opposition to privatisation of social services and cheap concessions to multinational mining corporations.
On August 28, campesinos were joined in protest by unions representing teachers, health-sector workers, students and industrial workers. Truck drivers are also striking alongside the campesinos.
Colombia is the highest recipient of US military aid in Latin America and is the US's key ally in the region. In a region of left and left-leaning governments pursuing policies aimed at regional independence from Europe and North America, Colombia hosts several US military bases.
In June, it also made overtures towards participation in Nato. Its right-wing, US-friendly stance therefore stymies further integration between the left-wing ALBA alliance, and particularly between Venezuela and Ecuador. With elections due in May next year, any change in the political climate in Colombia would be of dramatic significance for South America.
Colombia's right-wing status quo is, however, sustained by perpetual political violence. The country has been repeatedly condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for the high rates of assassination of journalists, human rights workers and trade unionists.
The campesinos' negotiating committee has denounced paramilitary intimidation of protesters at several sites. They also report that police have been offering up to 10 million pesos ($5000) to protesters who identify the uprising's leaders.
A serious campaign for political change has begun in Colombia, but significant progress will come about only through further, intense struggle.
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 10:01
- Written by kasama
There are points where the oppressive nature of this society cannot be easily masked by its rulers and those under the boot of that society at first seeking legal remedies to ameliorate unjust conditions are driven to more radical means and ideas to fight against their oppression. Late on August 21st, Dreamers in Phoenix successfully turned back a deportation bus leaving an ICE center. It was a bold and heroic action with great implications for what the future may hold in store. The following article was posted on the website Popular Resistance. Video footage of the action can be found here. - (intro by Nat Winn)
Dreamers Stop Deportation Bus In Phoenix
August 22 – Late last night, leaders from United We Dream and the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, an affiliate of United We Dream, engaged in unprecedented civil disobedience and escalated action to stop a bus in the middle of deportation proceedings at the Phoenix Removal and Detention Facility, the ICE post in downtown Phoenix. Six heroic DREAMers sat in front of the bus for more than two hours, before the bus finally retreated back into the ICE complex.
Last night's action shone a spotlight on ongoing detentions and deportations and the urgent need for the Obama administration to stop separating our families and for Congress to deliver real immigration reform.
Over one hundred people encircled the ICE facility until well after midnight to shut down operations and ongoing deportations, before local police arrested two leaders. Those arrested included undocumented youth activist in Arizona, Jose Patino and Ray Jose, a United We Dream leader and recent DACA recipient from Maryland. After being flooded with phone calls demanding the release of the two DREAMers, authorities released both Jose and Patino..
"I am doing this because I am so fed up with people playing games with our lives," said Ray Jose. "My mom and my dad are getting tired. My dad cannot do physical labor any more. It is for the sake of my family, who sacrificed so much for me, that I am ready to do this."
Last night's action was the climax of a week of action from Arizona Dream Act Coalition and United We Dream, including sustained presence outside the ICE facility, including civil disobedience, prayer vigils, press conferences, and Jericho Marches to protest the massive raids in Arizona on Saturday and to share the stories of families that are being separated everyday and the moral crisis in our communities. The escalation constitutes the next phase of UWD's campaign for immigration reform, ramping up pressure on Congress by calling attention to the inhumane separation of families happening every day.
"I did this for my mother, because she works more than anyone in my family, and for my family, because they deserve a chance to fulfil their dreams," said Arizona leader Jose Patino.
This action came only hours after four other heroic DREAM leaders were arrested for chaining themselves to a fence of the ICE complex, shutting down ICE operations. Those arrested were Yadira Garcia and Francisco Luna, who are DREAMer leaders with ADAC and UWD, as well as UWD National Coordinating Committee member Maria Castro and Alejandra Sanchez, a mother of both a U.S. citizen and DREAMers. For the first time, parents of DREAMers are coming forward to lead groundbreaking escalations and apply political pressure to Members of Congress alongside their children, immigrant youth activists.
These actions in Arizona are also targeting Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Congressman Ed Pastor (D-AZ) to urge them to help deliver immigration reform that halts aggressive, senseless enforcement practices, unites families, and creates a clear path to citizenship for Americans without papers. UWD is calling on Congress to act now on immigration reform, as well as challenging the Obama administration to immediately cease deportations and the separation of our families as Congress debates immigration reform..
As some in Congress suggest backwards measures like the so-called SAFE Act, and with Speaker Boehner coming out in support of this legislation yesterday, DREAMers will not let up pressure on elected officials. Bills like the SAFE Act would only lead to the "Arizonification" of the entire nation, implementing "show me your papers" policies nationwide and ramping up our already excessive enforcement system to criminalize all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
"We cannot accept any legislative proposal that would amplify the pain our communities have been subjected to for decades while blocking our families from a path to citizenship," said Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream. "Terrorizing our communities or creating a permanent underclass is un-American and unacceptable."
The Arizona Dream Act Coalition is the largest immigrant youth led organization in the state of Arizona. Our mission is to have a nation full of educated and integrated immigrant youth. We are an affiliate of the United We Dream Network.
United We Dream is the first and largest immigrant youth-led network in the nation with 51 affiliate organizations in 25 states that organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status. UWD's current priority is to win citizenship for the entire undocumented community and end senseless abuses and deportations.
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 18:16
- Written by Bayan Philippines
This first appeared at Bayan.
We strongly denounce the detention of Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum by the Bureau of Immigration. Thomas was prevented from boarding his flight this morning and is being held by Immigration officials at the NAIA. Thomas was already leaving the Philippines and we see no reason to detain him. This is plain harassment in light of the many threats issued by the BI against Thomas during the past two weeks. It is ridiculous that a person already set to leave the country will be detained only to be eventually deported. However, this is not the first time this has happened as other foreign activists have also been held before by Immigration officials only to be deported and then blacklisted.
Immigration officials have also told media that van Beersum is "overstaying" in the Philippines. If true, then he should just have been made to pay the corresponding fine instead of being detained. The whole thing is just political harassment and is meant to send a message to other foreign activists showing solidarity with the Philippines.
As of this posting, Thomas' lawyer Atty. Rey Cortez from the National Union of People's Lawyers has not been allowed to access his client at the airport.
Thomas was in the Philippines to visit different people's organizations and show solidarity with their struggles. He has also supported the campaign for justice for Dutch development worker Wilem Geertman who was killed in Pampanga last year. Though a citizen of the Netherlands, he has embraced the struggle of the Filipino people and is aware of the many issues confronting the Philippines.
We demand the immediate release of Thomas van Beersum and his safe passage back to the Netherlands. We demand that his rights be respected, including his right to counsel. We demand that he not be paraded like some criminal even as no charges have been brought against him.
- Category: News & Analysis
- Created on Sunday, 28 July 2013 22:00
- Written by Dog Gone
This first appeared at IVN.
This was a suspicious story from the beginning.
We have seen news reports of protesters doing thousands of dollars of damage to be wrong. The claims of separate attacks by protesters over the Zimmerman verdict turned out to be false. Now added to the list of false news reports appears to be the story of George Zimmerman heroically rescuing a family of four from a burning SUV.
The initial report was that George Zimmerman was ‘just coincidentally’ driving by after a car accident occurred, that he leaped out of his vehicle, fire extinguisher in hand, to come to the rescue of the family of four trapped inside as the vehicle caught fire, pulling them to safety. That was followed by the claim that the family he rescued had planned a press event to thank George Zimmerman, but that they canceled due to threats from Trayvon Martin supporters.
It appears they may have canceled the event because they did not want to be part of the fraud of making Zimmerman out to be a hero, when that story was not precisely true.