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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Avante!: Red Review #22 -- International Left and Labour News

The twenty-second edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Portugal, Cuba, Belgium, the UK and elsewhere.

Overhead shot of the Avante! Festival of the Portuguese Communist Party

September 3-4:

On 3 and 4 September in Anderlecht, the founding Congress of the Communist Party of Belgium was held. There are 517 of them participating in this foundation. The Congress brought together on the one hand the first Communist Party of Belgium founded on 1 November 1920 by the group of the Communist Worker, led by War van Overstraeten and Paul Nougé, who had already participated in the Second Congress of the CI (July-August 1920) and on the other the group "friends of the exploited" around Joseph Jacquemotte who had been expelled from the Belgian Workers' Party. The exploited had become the organ of the left opposition within the POB with a coherent political line: end of the sacred union, resumption of the class struggle, withdrawal of socialist ministers, political and social conquests through struggle, that is to say the strike, adhesion of the POB to the Third International. This trend was structured in local and regional groups of the "Friends of the Exploited", federated at the national level on July 21, 1920. Jacquemotte, a member of the Board of the General Council of the POB, can count on strong support in Brussels. Some votes in national congresses then indicate a support of 20% of the votes to his ideas. The leadership of the POB became frightened and convened a restricted congress on 11 and 12 December 1920 to "restore discipline" and demand the dissolution of the groups of the Friends of the Exploited. On February 27, 1921, the Second Congress of the Friends of the Exploited noted the impossibility of transforming the POB into a revolutionary party but wanted to continue to militate there while morally adhering to communism. On 29 May 1921, the Third Congress of the Friends of the Exploited acts, by 751 votes, the exclusion of the revolutionaries from the POB and founds a second Belgian Communist Party.

September 5:

At the beginning of this third decade of the 21st. century, in which capitalism confirms its exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature, there is a need for its revolutionary overcoming and for the reaffirmation of the topicality of the communist ideal and project.

An ideal and project that opposes exploitation, injustice, discrimination and inequality, a mark of capitalism, a society without exploitation, of equality, justice, full employment, rights, working conditions and well-being.

That opposes oppression, the hallmark of capitalism, with a society of freedom and personal, individual and collective fulfilment.

That opposes aggression and war, the hallmark of capitalism, with a world based on peace and cooperation among peoples.

That opposes the predation of natural resources, a hallmark of capitalism, with a society and a world freed from the dictatorship of profit, based on harmony between human beings and nature of which they are a part.

We respond to great demands, we face difficulties and hurdles and we fight with great joy, for freedom, democracy and socialism, for the communist ideal “the ideal for which it is worth fighting and to which the future belongs”.

Close to 40,000 regular festival goers descended upon Amora, small suburb outside of Portugal’s capital Lisbon, this past weekend for the 45th Avante! Festival—a cultural, musical, and political extravaganza that is a highlight of summer here. The event is named for and sponsored by the newspaper of the Portuguese Communist Party—Avante! (or Onward! in English)—which was instrumental in overthrowing the fascist dictatorship of António Salazar in 1974.

Several thousand people gathered to protest in Berlin on Saturday as part of the Unteilbar (Indivisible) movement against climate change, racism and other forms of social injustice.

An alliance of some 350 organizations including the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), rights group Amnesty International, the Fridays for Future climate movement and the Berlin tenants' association took part.

September 6:

Spain’s ruling Socialist Party is walking back its promises to Catalans. It has delayed, for the second time, a reform of the sedition law under which Catalonia’s independence leaders were imprisoned. And it has poured cold water on hopes that it might allow a Catalan referendum on independence.

Disappointing Catalans is not without risk. The Socialists need the support of Catalonia’s largest separatist party, the Republican Left, for their majority in Congress. Longer term, it puts the unity of Spain in jeopardy.

Czech Communist Party leader to step down after 16 years at the helm

12 members of Labour’s ruling body have written to David Evans and Margaret Beckett to say they “feel deeply uncomfortable” about the way the ban on certain groups is being implemented, LabourList can reveal.

The national executive committee (NEC) agreed in July to proscribe four groups – Socialist Appeal, Labour in Exile Network, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Resist. Their supporters can now be automatically expelled from Labour.

Maria, 58, rapidly sews one piece after another, deftly operating her sewing machine with the kind of skill that comes from her many years of experience as a seamstress. But at just three cents for each label sewed and five cents for adding a trim to a piece of clothing, she never manages to make more than US$6 an hour. Maria, who is undocumented, has been working for 30 years in the fashion district of Los Angeles, the capital of the United States’ garment industry, which employs more than 40,000 people, the vast majority of them immigrants. “As long as I’ve done this job I’ve always been paid by the piece rather than by the hour. And the pay has never gone up,” she says.

In order to earn around US$250 a week, Maria has to work up to 12 hours a day Monday to Friday, from 7am to 1pm on Saturdays and sometimes even on Sundays. The working conditions she faces aren’t too dissimilar to those found in some sweatshops in Asia: despite the high temperatures that prevail most of the year in Los Angeles, most factories are neither air-conditioned nor ventilated. “Many workers even avoid drinking so they don’t waste time going to the toilet. My colleagues often develop kidney problems because of this,” she says.

A few months ago, Maria joined a female-led coalition fighting for passage of the Garment Worker Protection Act (also known as Senate Bill 62), a bill currently being debated in the California State Legislature that would put an end to exploitative practices in the garment industry.

“SB62 targets the problem of wage theft, which is particularly prevalent in the fashion industry,” explains California State Senator Elena Maria Durazo, who authored the bill. “The garment industry in California owes more than US$7 million in unpaid wages,” says Durazo, who understands the problem well. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, in the 1980s Durazo worked as a union organiser for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, one of the largest garment workers’ unions in the United States. “Despite the passage of several pieces of legislation over the last few decades aimed at ending the problem of unpaid wages, not much has changed. Factories still manage to take advantage of loopholes in the system to continue their practices,” she says.

September 8:

A historic first Africa-CARICOM Summit was held virtually this Tuesday, attended by Heads of States and Government of the African Union and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States.

Hosted by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, and with the theme ‘Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration’, participating governments looked at ways to strengthen the linkages between the people of Africa and the Caribbean regions by addressing integration challenges across continents.

The Alberta government has backed away from its demand that nurses take a three per cent wage cut.

September 9:

The First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, received Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Movement towards Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP) on Thursday morning.

During the fraternal meeting, they exchanged on the regional and international situation and challenges of Latin America. The former President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia expressed his unwavering solidarity with the Cuban people. Díaz-Canel thanked Evo for his messages of support and for the donation of food and medical supplies sent by the Bolivian government and people in August.

September 10:

The fate of the Organization of American States (OAS) will be discussed at the upcoming summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

In a press conference at Mexico’s embassy in Washington DC on Thursday, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said that the issue of whether to replace or reform what has become known as the U.S. “Ministry of Colonies” will be addressed at the VI Summit.

Albania’s new parliament members were formally sworn in and elected a new speaker Friday, in the house’s first session after an April 25 election.

Serving its third consecutive mandate, the left-wing Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama has 74 of parliament’s 140 seats, while the main opposition center-right Democratic Party has 59.

Today September 10, 2021, marks 101 years since the founding of the Türkiye Komünist Partisi or the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP). The party was created in the period following Russia’s October Revolution, in a moment where the ideas and inspiration of the Bolsheviks gave new energy to causes for national liberation and working class struggles globally.

In Turkey, this was a moment of great struggle and upheaval. The centuries-old Ottoman Empire was in its final days, and new movements were being born to fight for the establishment of a republic and the creation of a new society. The Communist Party in this period was part and parcel of this movement for national liberation, from a perspective of fighting for working class unity and power, not by exacerbating ethnic tensions and social and economic divisions in society. The party faced repression and persecution by the young republic’s government as it embarked on bold efforts to organize industrial workers in major cities in the country. Yet, armed with its commitment to socialist revolution and working class power, it continued to resist and organize.

September 11:

The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) has condemned attempts by the United States to manipulate the origins tracing of COVID-19 for political gains, according to a statement published Friday on the PCC's website.

The historic leader of the Shining Path, Abimael Guzman, died Saturday at the age of 86 in Peru while serving a life sentence in the maximum security prison of the Callao Naval Base.

3.5 tons of donated medical supplies have arrived in Cuba through the Bolivarian Alliance’s humanitarian air bridge.

The solidarity shipment departed from Argyle International Airport with cargo sent by ALBA-TCP Member States Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The humanitarian bridge was first established at the ALBA-TCP Social Council Meeting held in January 2021 with Bank of ALBA and Conviasa acting as financial and operational arms for the logistics of the transfer. The bridge had previously been used to deliver Sinopharm vaccines to Dominica in March and to Antigua and Barbuda in June.

A Bolivian criminal investigating judge of the city of El Alto, on September 8, ordered six months of preventive detention for former police commander, Rodolfo Montero. The order came a day after he was arrested by the police for his alleged participation in the massacre perpetrated in the Senkata town of El Alto city on November 19, 2019.

The Prosecutor’s Office ordered Montero’s detention after he gave his statement in the Senkata massacre case at the La Paz City Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday. The Prosecutor’s Office charged Montero with the crimes of genocide, homicide, serious and minor injuries. He will be held in the San Pedro prison in the capital La Paz.



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