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By Miguel Sorans
Many wonder why Obama is traveling to Argentina on 24 March on the 40th anniversary of the genocidal coup backed by the US. Obama is not interested in having demonstrations or rejections of his visit to Argentina. He is not interested because his visit is part of a political operation in Latin America that has two legs: Cuba and Argentina. The reasons for traveling to Buenos Aires are obvious. Obama wants to support the new reactionary and pro-Yankee government of Mauricio Macri. It is a trip to ratify they will be allies, to continue paying the debt and to favour the multinationals and financial capital against the working people.
This is clear and requires no further explanation. But what are the reasons for the trip to Cuba? Answering this question does require a longer explanation. It is not explained with just two sentences. Because, unfortunately, the background of this historic journey is the ratification that Cuba continues to make progress in the process of restoration of capitalism under the leadership of Raul Castro. Obama travels to support this “Cuban” capitalism and to advance US investments in the island.
Related article: Adjustment Cuban Style
Cuban reality refutes the lies of Raul Castro and the CPC. For years Canadian and European multinationals and investors from other countries have been established in Cuba. In the hotel business, for example, there are already the foreign groups Melia, Barcelo, Iberostar, Accor, among others. In nickel mining is the Canadian multinational Sherritt, operating since 1992. In tobacco, formed in 1994, there is Habanos SA, a joint venture with the Spanish Altadis, which is owned by an English group. Havana Club rum is associated with the French Pernod Richard (owners of Chivas Regal whiskey).
On the other side are the Cuban workers who receive a monthly wage of between 15 and 20 dollars, one of the lowest in the world. This in a country where strikes and protests are banned, unions are official and there is a single-party regime.
Obama’s agreement with Raul Castro seeks to end the lack of US entrepreneurs and investments. This is why Obama is betting on this agreement and he intends to bring an end to the remains of the blockade. Part of the agreement is the new investment law passed in Cuba in April 2014, authorizing the establishment of 100 percent foreign capital companies and that Cuban emigration can do business on the island as legal entities or individuals.
As a result, for the first time since the 1959 revolution, an American tractor factory will be established in Cuba without partnering with the state, i.e., without being a joint venture. It will be located in the port of Mariel, which is a free zone they have prepared for the direct installation of private companies (see more data in Clarin, Argentina, 16 February, 2016). The other opening is the 30 daily flights that will take place between the US and Cuba. These will be by US airlines only, with 20 flights to Havana and 10 to other cities. The US telephone company AT&T and the Starwood and Marriott hotel chains will soon announce agreements to do business in Cuba, as reported yesterday by The Wall Street Journal. “We are optimistic that we will get soon a green light from the US government to have hotels under the Marriott banner in Cuba”, said Tom Marder, a spokesman for Marriott, who confirmed that Arne Sorenson, chairman of the hotel chain, will travel to Cuba from 20 to 22 March”(Pagina 12, Argentina, 12 March, 2016).
Some US companies are already acting. Western Union has had 220 stores open for years; Airbnb offers to rent private apartments and homes to tourists; the telephone company IDT and cellular companies Sprint and Verizon Wireless already offer services on the island. Obama’s visit aims to consolidate this opening of business in Cuba.
Although only remnants exist of the embargo imposed in the 1960s by the US, we continue to support the historical claim of the Cuban people for its total abolition and for the return of the Guantanamo base territory.
As we repudiate Obama’s presence in Argentina we also say that his presence in Cuba will do nothing for the Cuban people. There will be no progress with the multinationals, foreign investment and the restoration of capitalism backed by Raul Castro. In Cuba what is essential is the struggle for decent wages, the right to protest, the end of the single-party regime and the need to recover the gains made with the socialist revolution.
First published in El Socialista (Argentina)
Translated by Daniel; proofread by Cynthia.
Statement by the International Workers Unity
March 15 marks five years of the popular uprising against dictatorship of Al-Assad in Syria. Since then, not for a single day have the Syrian people stopped fighting heroically for their freedom against the dictatorship and several invaders.
They were subjected to crushing attacks, including permanent bombings of population centres, as few people in history. There are more than 300,000 dead and millions of refugees in neighbouring countries, hundreds of thousands desperately trying to enter Europe, and millions driven from their cities and homes within Syria itself.
Nevertheless the struggle of its people continues. An important part of Aleppo, which used to be economically the most important city of the country, suburbs of Damascus and dozens of cities and towns remain in the hands of militia rebels, many clustered in the Free Syrian Army and others that have almost no centralisation. The majority, expressing the popular rebellion, are units formed spontaneously by young students or workers in each town in order to confront the genocidal repression.
On Friday 4 March in a hundred liberated cities in Syria there were significant popular demonstrations with the slogan “the revolution continues”. A demonstration of the incredible strength of the Syrian people, who for five years have been martyred with explosive barrels, bombings, chemical weapons, mass arrests and torture, and sieges of hunger at the hands of the forces of the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his allies, Putin and Iran, by the attacks of reactionary ISIS (Daesh, in Arabic) and by bombings of the US and its coalition of 18 countries.
The first responsible for this genocide is dictator Al-Assad, heir to a dynasty with 40 years in power. Al-Assad was the one who initiated the bombing of rebel cities, first with missiles and then with barrels loaded with bombs.
The so-called Islamic State, ISIS, is an ultra-reactionary organisation armed by the oil monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are also allied to imperialism. ISIS acts as a “fifth column” dividing the anti-Assad front and establishing its reactionary dictatorship in regions formerly controlled by rebel popular sectors.
Russia, which has a military base on the Syrian coast, is the mainstay of the dictatorship. From the beginning it has sent missiles, bombs and other weapons. Now, under pretext of fighting ISIS, it is directly involved in systematically bombarding rebels and civilians to actually promote the advancement of the military dictatorship. The United States, that says to oppose Al-Assad, also bombs the civilian population with the same argument. Turkey, US ally and member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), covertly protects ISIS because its central objective is to attack the Kurds, oppressed national minority within its territory and also in northern Syria.
All these powers, imperialist and regional, neither act nor acted at any time to defend the freedom of the Syrian people, but to try to keep the “lesser evil” of Bashar al-Assad and expand their own regional domain.
Russia and the United States recently agreed to a military “truce” that would supposedly allow help to arrive in the besieged cities. But the truce is a sham because the bombings continue, with the pretext that “the truce does not include terrorists”. That is, the main function of the “truce”, agreed at meetings in Geneva and Munich, it is to uphold the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and reach a “political solution” in which the United States and Russia direct a “transition” that keep the dictatorship and protect their respective allies and interests.
In turn, European governments armour themselves with all kinds of laws that expel, rob, imprison, and criminalise the refugees, while bombs fall on Syrian territory and in Geneva a ceremonial is prepared to rescue the regime of Al-Assad. We need to knock down all these walls and claim the right to free movement of all those fleeing war and persecution.
Under extreme conditions and under the ruins, the Syrian people are trying to build a future of freedom and social justice that will only be possible with the fall of the genocidal regime. In this struggle it is opposed by the governments of the region, the great powers and ISIS. They only have the solidarity of the peoples, which so far has been hampered by the paralysis of a sector of the world left that either gives explicit support to Al-Assad and Putin or else abstains.
Thousands of Syrians, taking advantage that military action was partially reduced, took to mobilise on the streets in Aleppo, Homs and other cities to repudiate Al-Assad and the bombardments; showing that the revolution is still alive. In the battle for Aleppo the fate of the Syrian people is in play. We call on the peoples of the world to show solidarity with the rebel people of Aleppo and the entire Syria. From the IWU–FI we support the fighters and rebel militias without giving any support their political leaderships.
Down with Al-Assad! Stop the bombings by Russia and imperialism! No to ISIS! Turkey and Iran out of Syria! Unity of Syrian and Kurd rebels! That the governments break relations with Bashar al-Assad! No to the walls of Europe! Freedom of movement for refugees!
International Workers Unity-Fourth International (IWU-FI)
March 11, 2016
Since the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France, the French government has enacted a number of repressive measures to destroy democratic gains and weaken the labor movement. We publish here a statement in French by the International Workers Unity-Fourth International (IWU-FI) on this new political situation developing in France. We express our solidarity with all of those under attack by state repression in France and call for the defense of democratic and workers’ gains. -Socialist Core.
Déclaration de l’UIT-QI sur la situation française
Depuis le mois de novembre et les attentats qui ont frappé Paris, la France se situe à un tournant de sa situation politique. Dans un contexte d’aggravation de la situation économique et de multiplication des conflits sociaux, le gouvernement français a instrumentalisé cette situation en jouant sur la peur des travailleurs de France pour avancer dans la remise en cause des conquêtes démocratiques et ouvrières en instaurant l’état d’urgence et en réprimant le mouvement syndical.
Dès le soir des attentats, le 13 novembre 2015, le président français, le « socialiste » François Hollande, a décrété l’état d’urgence, utilisant pour cela une loi de 1955. Cette loi avait permis au gouvernement de l’époque d’instaurer l’état d’exception dans le cadre de la guerre d’indépendance d’Algérie.
L’instauration de l’état d’urgence c’est la remise en cause des droits démocratiques fondamentaux et c’est la généralisation de l’arbitraire : perquisition sans autorisation, assignation à résidence, interdiction de manifestation, fin de la liberté d’expression.
Depuis les attentats, l’état d’urgence a été prolongé deux fois pour des périodes de 3 mois et est en application au moins jusqu’au mois de juin. À cette date, le gouvernement tentera de prolonger à nouveau l’état d’urgence. En effet, Le premier ministre français, Manuel Valls, a déclaré que l’état d’urgence serait maintenu aussi longtemps qu’existerait une « menace terroriste ». En d’autre termes ce que le gouvernement français veut c’est instaurer l’état d’urgence permanent.
Mais le gouvernement a décidé d’aller plus loin dans la remise en cause des droits démocratiques. Il a décidé de faire voter une loi pour inscrire dans la constitution l’instauration de l’état d’urgence. Le gouvernement compte également inscrire dans la constitution la déchéance de nationalité pour les bi-nationaux: cela revient à créer deux catégories de citoyens français : des Français de plein droit et des sous-citoyens.
Le gouvernement PS a instauré l’état d’urgence soi-disant pour combattre le « terrorisme ». Depuis sa mise en place, l’état d’urgence a mené à 3300 perquisitions administratives, 400 assignations à résidences et 28 poursuites pour terrorisme, c’est-à-dire moins de 1 % des perquisitions. Et encore la plupart de ces poursuites ont été faites pour « apologie du terrorisme ». Les cas avérés concernent moins de 5 personnes.
L’enjeu est donc ailleurs. En effet, en même temps qu’il mène sa prétendue guerre contre le terrorisme, le gouvernement « socialiste » a reçu de la bourgeoisie le mandat de liquider toutes les conquêtes ouvrières : durée légale du temps de travail, code du travail, statut des fonctionnaires, services publics. Pour aller jusqu’au bout de cette logique, le gouvernement a besoin d’un état fort qui lui permette de réprimer toute contestation sociale.
Pour la bourgeoisie cela est un besoin d’autant plus impérieux que la colère gronde contre la politique anti-démocratique et anti-ouvrière du gouvernement. Chaque jour des dizaines de grèves – parfois plus de cent débrayages- se déroulent à travers le pays contre les exigences patronales. Que ce soit pour réclamer des augmentations de salaires, pour s’opposer à des licenciements, pour s’opposer aux privatisations les travailleurs et les jeunes sont de plus en plus nombreux à chercher les voies de l’offensive.
Au début du mois de janvier, le gouvernement a passé un cap dans la répression anti-syndicale. 8 syndicalistes de l’usine de pneumatiques Goodyear d’Amiens (située à 150 kms au nord de Paris) ont été condamnés à 9 mois de prison ferme pour avoir occupé et pour s’être opposés à la fermeture de leur usine et aux licenciements de 1200 ouvriers par les actionnaires de la transnationale américaine. En France, c’est la première fois depuis 1955 que des syndicalistes sont condamnés à de la prison ferme dans le cadre d’une action syndicale.
Cette décision de la justice bourgeoise a engendré un profond courant de solidarité et de mobilisation au sein de la classe ouvrière. Plus de 160 000 personnes ont signé la pétition de soutien aux ouvriers condamnés. Le 4 février plus de 20 000 personnes, dont 10 000 à Paris, se sont réunies dans tout le pays à l’appel de la CGT, le principal syndicat du pays, pour manifester leur soutien aux ouvriers de Goodyear.
Des comités de soutien sont en train de se créer dans tout le pays pour amplifier la mobilisation. De plus, il apparaît de plus en plus que les travailleurs font le lien entre l’instauration de l’état d’urgence et la répression anti-syndicale.
L’Unité Internationale des Travailleurs – Quatrième Internationale apporte son soutien inconditionnel aux ouvriers condamnés de Goodyear et condamne la remise en cause des conquêtes ouvrières et démocratiques. L’UIT-QI soutient et s’associe à toute initiative qui ira dans le sens de la satisfaction des revendications de la classe ouvrière de France. C’est pourquoi l’UIT-QI appel à la plus grande unité internationale pour :
La levée immédiate de l’état d’urgence!
La relaxe pour les 8 ouvriers de Goodyear Amiens-Nord!
As in the rest of the world, new winds are blowing in the political arena of the United States. Faced with a social crisis that advances relentlessly, with its attendant unemployment, low wages and no prospect of improvement on the horizon, the discredit and rejection of the traditional parties has a new expression. The 74-year old veteran socialist Bernie Sanders accumulates victories in primary elections in the Democratic Party, competing head-to-head with Hillary Clinton toward the presidential election of November this year.
Picking up the demands of the movement “Occupy Wall Street,” Sanders promises to tax the rich, raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, ensure free universities and public health, and other democratic issues such as the fight against racism, support of the LGBT community and against US military interventions. In all, a very progressive movement essentially of youth has formed, which no longer fears the word “socialism,” which is becoming popular and is engaging, albeit a minority, of workers.
Its growth also expresses a disappointment with Obama (who years ago awakened the same or greater expectations than Sanders), because after two terms, the social divide that separates the billionaires from a working population and an increasingly impoverished middle class, has deepened.
In the state of New Hampshire, Sanders won 85 percent of the vote of those under 30 and 65 percent of the vote of the workers receiving less than $ 50,000 a year. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton is a favorite among older voters and those with higher incomes.
On one hand we have Sanders threatening Hillary Clinton’s primacy; on the other, among the Republicans, is the growing popularity of billionaire Donald Trump, a racist and xenophobe, who campaigns promising to expel all Muslims from the country, among other gems.
On the side of the working class, most of the unions and the powerful AFL-CIO, traditional allies of Democrats, support Hillary Clinton, although sectors that have struggled— such as nurses, postal and communication workers, as well as thousands of disgruntled workers— support Sanders.
At the same time, the economic and social crisis explains why sectors of people 40 years and older, and of white middle-class workers, are frightened by the presence of a population of blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc., who compete for the few and poorly paid jobs, are actively supporting the magnate Donald Trump.
Independent until 2015, the current senator for the state of Vermont, Sanders, as a young man, became linked to socialism and has always had progressive ideas, vindicating a “Nordic” style or reformist socialism.
He founded and organized various groupings, pitting Democrats and Republicans. In Vermont, he became the Mayor of Burlington and was re-elected four times; in 1990 he was elected Member of the House of Representatives, a post he held for 16 years before being elected senator in 2006, an occasion at which he was officially supported by the Democratic Party. Former Vermont Democrat Governor Howard Dean said Sanders “was an ally who votes with Democrats 98 percent of the time” (he has even endorsed the Democratic Party support for Israel) and Sanders also had the support of then-Senator Obama. He was reelected to the Senate in 2012 and in 2015 decided to contest the presidential nomination of Hillary Clinton and Obama’s party.
In July 1986, at a conference of socialists and activists in Berkeley, Sanders gave this message: “We discuss whether or not we socialists should be working within the Democratic Party to impose our ideas. But the Democratic Party is not the party of the Socialists, but of their enemies, the bourgeois politicians… It isn’t the party of the workers, of their class, of the socialists, because it defends the class that oppresses the workers… If we have shown that we can win elections against the Democrats, participating in that party, wouldn’t we be postponing indefinitely our own birth as a political force? Wouldn’t it be the worst crime against our own ideas?” (International Courier, October 1986).
Unfortunately, 30 years later, Sanders has changed his mind. Instead of strengthening the struggle for the creation of an independent socialist party, which even being reformist would be an extraordinary step, to the extent that it would challenge the traditional bipartisanship, he decided to reinforce it. The bipartisanship between the two major parties of big business monopolies and big capital of the main imperialist country in the world is a straitjacket that prevents political independence of the working class.
So, citing the Argentine political analyst Marcelo Cantelmi, we could say that “Sanders would be an expression of social anxieties, but this does not means he represents them.” Because he not only pledged his vote to Hillary Clinton if she wins the primary, but because his program will be impossible to implement during this period of crisis of capital, unless the people are mobilized to impose the revolutionary way, which is not in Sanders’ plans.
Hence it is wrong to confuse the progressive movement of millions of youth and bands of workers vindicating socialism (even in a social democratic version) with figures or parties that are occasionally at the forefront.
Sanders is far from being an outsider. He is an experienced politician who knows that traditionally the Democratic Party has tolerated or allowed to run various wings and more or less progressive sectors, while at the same time, the Party’s position also makes it possible to keep within the framework of bipartisanship, in this case with the Democrats, the vote of millions of young people.
Unlike Syriza, born as a new anti-capitalist party independent of the traditional parties, expressing a very tough struggle and dozens of general strikes (with Tsipras subsequently surrendering himself into the hands of the Troika), the Democratic Party is one of two parties of the bourgeoisie of the main imperialist country in the world.
Therefore, our call is for Sanders to return to the path of his 1986 speech and place himself at the head of an actual independent movement of the left, which would be a powerful lever for the advancement of the working class and youth towards producing a change in the heart of the empire. Otherwise, support for the Democratic candidate will end up reinforcing the imperialist bipartisanship.
* The author is a member of CST/PSOL(Brazil) and the International Workers Union-Fourth Internaltional (IWU-FI)
Translated by Daniel; proofread by Cynthia.
By Mercedes Petit
The terrible images of the refugees show that this is a humanitarian catastrophe that was covered up by capitalist governments. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of refugees and displaced comes to 60 million people. This group of persecuted would be the 24th country in the world. There is a single explanation: the growth of poverty and wars caused by the capitalist-imperialist system.
This is the largest number of refugees since World War II. The numbers are growing every year from 2007-2008, when the capitalist economic crisis entered a new acute phase with millions of unemployed and new plans of adjustment and looting worldwide.
The military and economic actions of imperialism and the multinationals have exacerbated the suffering of the people. Social inequality keeps growing. Already 1.2 billion people are recordedin poverty, living on US$ 1.25 perday, according to the annual reportof the UN Development Programme(UNDP). Meanwhile the number of billionaires increased. Between 2009 and 2013 it went from 10 to 13.7 million (Clarin, Argentina, 23 November 2014). Africa has 60 percent of arable land on the planet but millions suffer from hunger and only 10 percent is in production and in the hands of multinationals and local elites. The refugees are fleeing from hunger and poverty in Africa, Central Asia (Pakistan), Central America or from the destruction of imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also they are fleeing the bombing of al-Assad in Syria.
In 2015 there is a leap in the number of refugees who risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The numbers are compelling. Throughout 2014, 260,000 people were recorded crossing the Mediterranean. By August 2015 the figure was already 550,000 people and with a tendency to grow until the end of the year. In 2014, 3,279 drowned and in September 2015 the number reaches about 2,980, while the risk continues for many more crossing in precarious boats and rubber dinghies.
Thousands risk their lives paying people smugglers between € 2000- 3000 per person; when a legal plane ticket from Istanbul to Athens costs € 250-300. Why does this happen? Simply because of the criminal policy of European and imperialist governments who refuse to give legal asylum to those who request it. This is what happened to the family of child Aylan who went to the Canadian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to seek asylum and they were demanded a certificate of “residence”; when it is known that the reactionary government of Erdogan denies the Syrians this “certificate”. Thus the Kurdish family of Aylan, originally from Kobane, had no choice but to risk the desperate action of crossing illegally in the worst conditions; with the known sad end result.
Where do the refugees come from? According to UNHCR 43 percent are Syrian, 12 percent Afghan, 10 percent Eritreans, 5 percent Nigerians, and Somalis 3 percent. The remaining 27 percent are distributed among Iraqis, Libyans, Pakistanis and, surprisingly, Kosovars (37,500) were also recorded. Kosovo (which was part of the former Yugoslavia) is in Europe and has about 35 percent unemployment.
Thousands come to the Greek islands from the Turkish coast. Initially, and under the pressure of their peoples, the governments of Germany, Austria and France had to open their borders faced with the dramatic and tragic images of refugees. And also due to the widespread repudiation to the repression by the Hungarian police on the refugees and to their right-wing government policy of erecting four metre high barbed wire fences at its borders. European peoples showed a high degree of solidarity. But this opening of borders was short-lived. Seventy-two hours later, Merkel and Hollande resolved to again close their borders and the EU. After long debates, they ended by agreeing to an asylum to 120,000 over two years, when Merkel had spoken of giving asylum to 800,000 refugees this year. An openly hypocritical attitude. To top it off, they agreed to a distribution in quotas where Germany leads with only 17,037 refugees, followed by France with 12,062 (data from EU Council, in El País, Madrid, 23 September). In addition, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark are outside these agreements of the EU and refuse to receive refugees.
Given this drama, the mobilisation of the peoples of Europe and the world should continue supporting the refugees and the rebellious Syrian people to finish with al-Assad. By way of the liberation of Syria it will be possible to stop the tragedy of death or exodus for hundreds of thousands that this war causes. Meanwhile the struggle of the peoples in defence of the refugees must continue, demanding the capitalist governments to open their borders and provide protection, food, shelter and work.
Originally published in International Correspondence N°37, 2015
We publish here a statement issued by the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSL-Venezuela). -SC
On 6 December the government of Nicolas Maduro and the PSUV suffered a heavy political defeat at the hands of the pro-imperialist opposition grouped in the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD).
The MUD obtained a qualified majority of two-thirds in the National Assembly (NA) with 112 deputies, while the PSUV won 55 deputies. Chavism has thus lost the majority in the National Assembly, which had held for 16 years.
It was a crushing defeat. The MUD won 7,707,422 votes, representing 56.2 percent, while Chavez won 5,599,025 votes, or 40.8 percent.
The massive vote for the MUD reflects a clear punishment vote of the majority of the people and workers against the growing deterioration of their living standards. It was a vote of rejection of high inflation, the shameful queues, against shortages of basic products, low pay, insecurity, layoffs, and lousy public services. It was a punishment vote against a government that has criminalised protest, persecuted those who fight, laid off thousands of workers of public bodies, ignored collective agreements and systematically violated the autonomy of popular organizations and unions.
It is not a turn to the right, far from it. The vote obtained by the MUD is not accompanied by a great confidence in their leaders or their political proposals; it was above all a clear vote against the government and the disaster that has engulfed the daily lives of working people. It is not a blank check. Many voted for the MUD with a “handkerchief on the nose”.
Nor is it the failure of socialism, as some bosses and pro-imperialist sectors may seek to show. In fact, in Venezuela there is no socialism. What failed was a political, economic and social model that has allowed bankers, telecommunications and oil transnationals, Bolivarian bourgeoisie and corrupt officials to enrich themselves at the expense of deteriorating living standards for the population, benefitting from oil revenues, deceiving the people and hiding their business behind a false socialist discourse. Those responsible for these variants of centre right to strengthen are Chavism and the failure of its political project.
In the last two years the Venezuelan working people have seen their living standards plummet. Venezuelans are going through a lot of labour. Their salaries are destroyed by daily inflation. The hardship of long and exhausting queues to purchase basic products has overcome the patience of the people. The drama of the dismal public services, disastrous transport, lack of water and electricity, has caused the daily lives of millions of people to become unbearable. All these vicissitudes explain the strong punishment vote of the working people against the government of Maduro and the PSUV.
It is evident that the majority did not believe the tale of “economic war”, behind which the government has tried to evade responsibility in the severe economic crisis. The people did not buy the election slogans using the figure of the late president as a banner. “We are of Chavez”, “The candidates of Chavez” could not overcome the discontent that has been accumulating in the Venezuelan people. The election results gave the lie to a pollster linked to the government before the elections who said that the Venezuelan people were “culturally Chavist”.
The results of 6 December are just a new phase of the political, economic and social crisis. Now there are two opposing bosses’ powers: one is controlling the executive and other institutions, and another is controlling the majority in parliament. We understand the people’s rejection of the government, but we cannot place any confidence in the new National Assembly and the deputies of the MUD.
The Socialism and Freedom Party (PSL) argues that the workers and the people must continue to rely on our own strength, our independent and autonomous mobilisation, both from the government and the MUD. This is critical for fostering from below, from the workers, our own agenda of demands to the new Assembly.
In this regard, the PSL demands the NA to pass a law for a general wage increase, and for providing the minimum wage to be adjusted to the basic basket and increased every three months according to inflation. An Act of Reenlistment for all unfairly dismissed workers, including the reinstatement of our comrades Bladimir Carvajal and Orlando Chirino, and payment of lost wages. An Act of Amnesty for all union, community, students, and indigenous activists and political leaders arrested or with precautionary measures for protesting or expressing their political position. Including Rodney Alvarez, worker of Ferrominera Orinoco detained for five years for a crime he did not commit. The Pemon Indians with open trials. Parliamentary inquiry into the murder of Sabino Romero, as well as the slaughter of La Encrucijada, the killing of two Mitsubishi workers in January 2009 in the context of a strike, the slaughter of Hato Las Flores against Yukpa Indians, and the disappearance of Alcedo Mora in Merida. Raise the reform of laws restricting the right to demonstrate and strike. And the termination of joint venture contracts in the oil sector, for PDVSA to belong 100 percent to the state, without corporations, and managed by their workers, technicians and professionals, among other laws.
The own President Maduro and former PSUV’s Deputy Elvis Amoroso announced economic measures and a new adjustment, which would aggravate the hardships of the working people. It is possible they may be contemplating increasing the price of gasoline and other unpopular measures. In this, the deputies of the MUD have full agreement with the government. The new situation demands the strengthening of the self-organization of the people and the workers, and the mobilisation to confront the government and the National Assembly, to resist the adjustment plans and the regressive measures that seek to promote both.
11 December, 2015
We publish here a statement in solidarity with the people of Tunisia by the International Workers’ Unity – Fourth International (IWU-FI)
On November 24, ISIS attacked to the capital city of Tunisia once again after its massacres at the Bardo Museum in the capital on March 18 and in Susa on June 26. Aimed at the bus carrying presidential guards, the suicide bomb attack occurred in front of the headquarters of the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD), the party of ousted leader Ben Ali, in Mohammed V Avenue, one of the busiest locations in the capital. Twelve people, who were all presidential guards, died and 20 were injured in the attack.
The government has declared state of emergency after the attack, just as it did after the Susa massacre. However, the law is enforced much more strictly this time. As part of the state of emergency, the curfew will be implemented between from 21:00 to 05:00 for one month across the country. The rights to assemble, demonstrate and march are also banned. Moreover, Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) cancelled the general strike of the private sector which was to be held in the capital city on November 25 with the excuse of the need for “national unity”.
As socialists of IWU-FI (International Workers’ Unity – Fourth International), we condemn this attack carried out by ISIS! With these terrorist attacks of ISIS, the government justifies its own repressive policies and causes the withdrawal of mass mobilization. The counter-revolutionary role of ISIS in the North African and Middle East revolutions strengthens further with these attacks.
All ruling governments after the ousting of dictator Ben Ali have been trying to control the movement of masses without fulfilling any of their demands, by the help of the implications of democratic reactionary policies pursued in the cooperation with the imperialism just as the current president Beji Caid Essebsi and the ruling party Nidaa Tounes. The government, once more, has used this attack of ISIS in order to justify itself as it has done before, and attacks the freedom of the Tunisian people and workers through the implementation of repressive methods, curfews, prevention of the rights of strike, of protest demonstration and of marching through a discourse of “national unity” and “fight against terrorism”. In the country, no progress can be seen under this so-called democratic transition; the social and economic crisis increasingly deepens and each day the importance of the struggle for a humane and dignified life becomes more crucial. Moreover, the government uses the attacks carried out by ISIS to improve its collaboration with imperialism. Regarding this collaboration, the government has signed an agreement with the European Union at the amount of 23 million Euros for renewal of the security forces in early November and announced that 20 percent of the budget for 2016 will be allocated to security and defence spending. To sum up, the government forces Tunisian people to make a choice between ISIS terrorism and the state terrorism.
As IWU-FI, we reject the repressive policies of the Tunisian government as we condemn the attacks of ISIS! In Tunisia, the main dynamics of the struggle against counterrevolution can only be provided by a struggle program targeting democratic, economic and social transformations. A struggle front led by UGTT, People’s Front, Revolutionary Front and other youth and labour organizations can stop the repressive policies and make it possible to set back the radical Islamists, through an action plan based on the mobilization of the masses.
We condemn the attack of ISIS in Tunisia! We reject the repressive implementations of the Tunisian government! No to the state of emergency! No to the curfew, the prevention of the right of strike, of assembly and of demonstrate in protest!
International Workers’ Unity – Fourth International (IWU-FI)
November 25, 2015
Statement by the International Workers’ Unity-Fourth International
On the night of 14 November there was a series of bombings in Paris, the capital of France. The victims number about 150 people. The terrorist attacks were carried out indiscriminately on the defenceless population, killing people in an artistic performance or in a football stadium. A reprehensible and unacceptable criminal action.
The socialists of the IWU-FI repudiate this terrorist action that pollutes and weakens the legitimate cause of the Arab peoples, especially of the Syrian or Palestinian people fighting against imperialism and its reactionary allies like Bashar al-Assad or the Zionist Benjamin Netanyahu. And because, once again, this will be used by French imperialism, by its government of social democrat Hollande, to strengthen the repression on its peoples and its youth.
The origin of this attack is the conflict in Syria and the repeated imperialist intervention of the so-called coalition against terrorism headed by the US and which France is part of, carrying out bombings of Syrian territory. In the same way as Russia and Iran do it.
The dictator Bashar al-Asaad came out to declare the French government is also responsible for what happened because it “endorses” terrorism against his “legitimate government”. This is false. Both Bashar as well as France and US imperialism have their share of responsibility for these attacks. Firstly, the government of Bashar al-Asaad is not “legitimate”, but a dictatorship which faces since 2011 a popular rebellion that was part of the “Arab Spring” began in Tunisia and Egypt. Since then he has been slaughtering his people with tanks, bombs and chemical weapons. With the open support of reactionary Putin it is indiscriminately bombing civilians opposing the dictator. Secondly, also France, England, Turkey and the US with their “coalition” bomb rebel areas, coordinating with Bashar and Russia, with the same argument to fight the “terrorism” of ISIS. That is, they all objectively hold Bashar or seek a negotiated solution with the dictator. As they have been discussing in Vienna and at the meeting of the G20 in Turkey.
In the war of Syria there are three fronts: 1) the one headed by the dictatorship al-Asaad, 2) the reactionary ISIS (Islamic State) and 3) the remains of the armed rebel people which had started the popular revolution of March 2011, which includes the Free Syrian Army (FSA) militia and various independent Kurdish brigades from Kobane and elsewhere. ISIS, which has claimed to be the author of the criminal attacks in France, is a splinter of Al Qaeda; it is an ultra-reactionary jihadist militia that was created in 2013 and funded in the beginning by oil and pro-Yankee monarchies Saudi Arabia, Qatar and by Turkey. It is suspected that Bashar let them run, even releasing many of its militants who were prisoners in his jails. They play the role of fifth column to defeat the popular revolt against Bashar with the project of creating a “caliphate”, i.e. a new dictatorship but of a theocratic type. Therefore their terrorist actions in France or elsewhere must be repudiated, because they are at the service of a reactionary cause and contribute to create even further confusion in the masses about who their real enemies are, i.e. imperialism, Russia and their agents such as Bashar and all the reactionary governments in North Africa and the Middle East, including, among them, Israel and also ISIS.
Now France, USA, Germany and the whole imperialism and its allies will want to present themselves as “victims” when in fact they are, historically, those most responsible for this debacle.
French imperialism has a long history of colonial violence in Africa. Now they are part of the coalition that systematically bombs Iraq and Syria. Along with Germany and the US, they support the warmongering policy of NATO. And they support the Zionist crimes against the Palestinian people. They are insensitive to the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees coming to Europe to escape capitalist poverty and hunger and the wars they cause.
From the IWU-FI we repudiate, once again, these new terrorist attacks that taint the cause of peoples in struggle and objectively help imperialism to continue its policy of repression and bombings in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. Only the struggle of the peoples of the world will be able to end the imperialist aggressions and genocidal dictators like Bashar al-Assad.
We repudiate the attacks of the ISIS in France! Enough of Bashar al-Assad! No to ISIS! Stop the bombings by Russia, the US and France! Long live the struggle of the rebel Syrian people. Long live the Palestinian struggle! Full solidarity with the refugees!
International Workers Unity-Fourth International (IWU-FI)
November 14, 2015
By Miguel Sorans
Syriza is the expression of a new failure of the projects of the reformist left in the XXI century. Millions in Europe and Latin America break with the old parties and turn left seeking a fundamental change. This is what has been happening in Latin America in the last 15 years; with the PT governments of Lula and Dilma in Brazil and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela as the most prominent.
In Europe, as a result of the capitalist crisis and the cuts by the Troika, this turn has been expressed in demonstrations and electorally in Syriza, in Podemos, in the mayors of Madrid and Barcelona or in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain. We define as neo reformism these new and different political movements or formations. New because they come to occupy the place left by the fall of the apparatus of the bureaucracy of the former USSR and the communist parties. Also by the fall of the European social democracy due to the crisis that has been demolishing the PSOE, the French PS or PASOK in Greece, which were making it clear they are direct agents of imperialism and the EU. Throughout the last century the global apparatus of Stalinism stopped the revolutionary demonstrations and urged the governments of class conciliation, of unity with bourgeois sectors supposedly “democratic” and “progressive”.
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the hatred of the masses to the bureaucratic and reformist apparatus of the bureaucracies of the Communist Parties and Social Democrats resulted in millions to begin looking for alternatives. The absence of a strong revolutionary socialist pole has also facilitated the emergence of these “new left” variations which take on a centrist program, which do not claim socialism as the goal of this change and which reject the formation of parties for revolutionary action. They drive “broad” movements or parties, essentially directed to the electoral and parliamentary activity, with internal tendencies revolving around the central leadership, sometimes directly a oneman leadership, and not driving or being centred on the mobilisation and organisation of workers and youth as key factors to face the bosses’ governments and to achieve substantive changes.
Syriza: another failure
In the last two or three years Syriza was transformed in the dazzling “star” of the European and international left. What is its origin? It is a party that emerged from a coalition of several left Eurocommunist parties, former PASOK socialists, Maoists, Trotskyists and environmentalists, and which was first introduced to elections in 2004. Its main force was Synaspismos, of Eurocommunist origin, oriented by Tsipras and which was already a party in 1991. In July 2013 the coalition becomes a legal broad party, they designate a Central Committee and Tsipras is re-elected as president. In its statement of principles it is defined as “a party founded on Marxist thought”. And they adopt ambiguous points as that their objective is a society “based on social ownership and management”. And some not as ambiguous as that they will strive for the “nullification of the Memoranda of austerity” (note by Amelie Poinssot in Mediapart, 31 July, 2013).
In January 2015 they win the election by 36.6 percent when years earlier they did not reach 5 percent. They form a government of class collaboration, what we call a “popular front”, with the “shadow of the bourgeoisie”, in the words of Leon Trotsky. They formed government with the nationalist right Independent Greeks, giving them the important Ministry of Defence. And so they backslid in the way of the old reformist utopia of wanting to achieve a “positive” settlement for the hardships of the masses at the negotiating table with the major imperialist powers. False discourse to sell out and end up yielding. They discard the workers’ and popular mobilisation. In Greece there were about 30 general strikes. This was the deciding factor, even for Syriza to come to government. They quickly fell in direct betrayal, just six months after taking office.
Full article in International Correspondence issue N˚ 37•October 2015.