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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

People's Summit: Red Review #61 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from the People's Summit in Los Angeles, Bolivia, Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Spain, France, Ecuador and elsewhere.

People's Summit activists in Los Angeles protest the Summit of the Americas and US sanctions and blockades -- image via Twitter

June 5:

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)’s party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), and its allies won four of the six disputed governorships in Sunday’s elections. Photo: Archives

On Sunday, June 5, the residents of six Mexican states went to the polls to elect their new governors. According to the quick counts released by the National Electoral Institute (INE), the ruling center-left National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party and its allies won four of the six disputed governorships.

The coalition of the MORENA party, the Labor Party (PT), the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM), the Popular Unity Party (PUP) and the Force for Mexico party (FxM) won the gubernatorial races in the states of the Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Tamaulipas. Meanwhile, the coalition of the right-wing opposition National Action Party (PAN), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) won the elections in the Aguascalientes and Durango states.

The six governorships in dispute were previously under the administration of the opposition parties. Four of the six previous governors were from the PAN and two were from the PRI. Sunday’s election results followed the recent trend of progressive forces gaining ground in Mexico, with conservative opposition sectors losing support.

Progressive and anti-war sections in Finland continue to protest the country’s bid for NATO membership. On June 4 and 5, activists from various groups including Stop NATO, Communist Youth Association (Kommunistinuoret), Communist Youth (KTP), Tampere Marxist Study Circle and Pirkanmaa Peace Defenders’ Committee participated in demonstrations in Helsinki and Tampere denouncing the government’s move to join NATO. The protesters claimed that Finland’s accession to the US-led military alliance will make it part of the nexus against the people of the world and will not be in the interest of the Finnish people either.

Finland and Sweden have recently decided to join NATO. The political establishment in the country used the pretext of the Russia-Ukraine war to run a campaign claiming that joining NATO was essential for the country’s security. Prior to this, Finland and Sweden had pursued a policy of neutrality towards the US and the erstwhile Soviet Union, later Russia. Despite significant pressure from centrist and center-right sections to join NATO, the countries had remained committed to this policy. But the ongoing war in Ukraine has caused a rise in militarism and Russophobia in the region, and sections within the social democratic parties in the two countries rooted for NATO membership. Finland and Sweden submitted their application to join NATO on May 18.

June 6:

The GameStop in the Gateway Mall in Lincoln, Nebraska is one of the busiest around, at least according to the person who used to run it. But over the weekend it was closed after four employees decided to walk out and never return over what he says are bad working conditions and a verbally abusive district manager. It’s the second time this year a GameStop in the area saw its entire staff resign in protest.

June 7:

The South African Communist Party and the Communist Party of Swaziland along with several pro-democracy groups have vowed to continue the struggle for Swaziland’s liberation from the rule of King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in Africa, for which Mbedzi paid the ultimate price

Communists and pro-democracy activists across Swaziland and South Africa are mourning the death of Amos Mbulaheni Mbedzi, a South African communist revolutionary who fought against the apartheid regime. He died on Tuesday, June 7, in the city of Polokwane, capital of South Africa’s Limpopo province. He had been serving a prison term in Swaziland but was transferred to South Africa to finish his remaining time in prison after it had become clear that he would not live for much longer, having been denied medical care in the Swazi prison. The 58-year-old had spent the last year of his life paralyzed and wheelchair bound, dependent on his fellow inmates in a maximum security prison in Swaziland.

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) has sent its condolences to South African internationalist Amos Mbulaheni Mbedzi (57) who passed away this morning.

Amos died in Polokwane Provincial Hospital while serving an 85-year sentence after conviction by the Mswati autocracy’s courts in 2012, following arrest in September 2008.

Spain, one of the world's leading markets for prostitution, is hoping to crack down on the practice by targeting people who financially exploit prostitutes, as well as those who buy their services.

On Tuesday, the lower house of parliament took the first step by admitting for debate a governing Socialist party proposal that would bring in fines for those who pay for prostitutes.

The bill would not make prostitution illegal but proposes prison terms of between three and six years, as well as fines, for pimps or procurers. It also proposes penalizing those who make money by knowingly providing premises or apartments for the practice of prostitution.

“In a democracy, women are not for purchase nor for sale,” Adriana Lastra, the Socialist party’s deputy secretary general told Parliament.

The People’s Summit for Democracy began in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 8. However, it is much more than just an alternative to the Biden administration’s and the Organization of American States’ Summit of the Americas.

The Summit of the Americas has historically been a place for the United States, which plays a central role in the OAS and which continues to exploit the Americas for resources and markets, to present its own agenda for the region.

But this year, beginning with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, many Latin American leaders across the continent decided to boycott the summit entirely. The boycott was a protest against the exclusion of the Latin American nations that the United States is most hostile towards: Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba. Although this is not the first time certain countries have been excluded from the summit, it is the first time those exclusions have been met with such a strong response.

In February, Starbucks fired seven union activists who were trying to organize a store in Memphis, Tennessee. Now that store is unionized.

The union Workers United decisively won an election to represent baristas at the store by a count of 11-3, according to a ballot tally held Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board. That makes the store one of roughly 120 Starbucks locations that have unionized in just a few months.

The campaign, known as Starbucks Workers United, has been organizing stores around the country, but the vote at the Memphis store at Poplar Avenue and S. Highland Street was one of the most closely watched due to the firings. The NLRB, which oversees private-sector union elections, has not yet certified the Memphis results.

On Tuesday evening (7 June), New York’s Museum of Modern Art hosted its annual Party in the Garden fundraiser, this year honouring artist Wolfgang Tillmans, film-maker and former gallerist Linda Goode Bryant, whose legacy will be celebrated in an exhibition at the museum this autumn. Film-maker George Lucas and his wife, the celebrated businesswoman Mellody Hobson—the co-chief executive and president of Ariel Investments, the chair of the board of directors at Starbucks and, with her husband, co-founder of the $1bn Lucas Museum of Narrative Art currently under construction in Los Angeles—were also honoured at the event for their philanthropic work.

As festively dressed attendees began to arrive at the museum’s West 53rd Street entrance around 6pm on Tuesday, they were met with a crowd of union organisers wielding signs, distributing flyers and chanting in unison, “Starbucks partners under attack! What do we do? Stand up, fight back,” and, more pointedly, “Mellody, it’s not hard to see, you’re on the wrong side of history.”

June 8:

Thousands of Australian public service workers go on day-long strike Public sector workers in the Australian State of New South Wales went on a day-long strike. According to different estimates, anywhere between 30,000 and 40,000 public service workers in the country’s most populous State walked out of their jobs as part of a “day of action” on Wednesday, June 8, demanding better pay.

The strike was organized by the Public Service Association of NSW (PSA) and included prison guards, court sheriffs, child protection officers, school support staff and customer service workers.

The strike came after union members rejected a deal proposed by the State’s conservative government led by Premier Dominic Perrottet of the Liberal-National Coalition. The deal offered a 3% wage increase and AUD 3,000 (around USD 2,165) in “appreciation pay” to certain categories of health workers for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teamsters representatives are continuing to connect with Hamilton workers as part of their push to unionize Amazon employees across Canada.

Members of Teamsters Local 879 were once again handing out information pamphlets to employees outside the Aeropark Boulevard fulfilment centre Wednesday.

Six Teamsters members were on site at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., when shifts change at the 24-hour operation, which is off Upper James Street near the Hamilton airport.

June 9:

During a meeting held in Algiers on Thursday, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced their support for the historic struggle of the Palestinian and Saharawi peoples and for the holding of elections in Libya..

On Thursday, June 9, thousands of Venezuelan workers took to the streets of the capital Caracas in support of President Nicolás Maduro’s economic protection policies for workers and in rejection of the country’s exclusion from the Ninth Summit of the Americas.

The workers gathered at the Candelaria square and marched to the office of the Vice-President of the Republic. Representatives of different trade unions delivered a letter to Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez, in which they thanked the socialist government for approving their demands and reiterated their support for President Maduro and the government of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the face of US attacks.

More than 170 years since the publication of the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Marx and Engels, the "spectre of communism" still haunts the bourgeois class.

The news come from Sweden, the country which alongside Finland submitted an application to join NATO, where the Communist Party cannot participate in September elections under its own name!

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that Latin American and Caribbean countries have the right to independently choose their own development paths and cooperation partners.

On Wednesday, the Puebla Group ratified its rejection of the exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from the 2022 Summit of the Americas, which takes place from June 6 to 10 in Los Angeles, California.

"The Puebla Group expresses its concern about the development of the Summit of the Americas," this organization of progressive Latin American intellectuals and politicians said, rejecting the actions promoted by Washington against these three nations.

On Monday June 6, 51-year-old welder Quoc Le was crushed under a 2,000 pound bulkhead while working on a rail car. Le was pronounced dead after paramedics rushed him to hospital.

Le’s workplace death is the third at National Steel Car in 21 months.

Labour responded immediately by calling a protest at the factory gates for the afternoon of Thursday, June 9. The United Steelworkers Local 7135, which represents 1,400 workers at the plant, and the Hamilton Labour Council backed the call. Over fifty people attended on short notice.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Wednesday replied to a letter from all participants of the Former Liberation Movements of Southern Africa Leading Cadres Workshop 2022 at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School.

In his letter, Xi said he is pleased to know that the workshop was successfully held, during which the participants discussed the important topics of what kind of development a ruling party should lead its country to pursue in the new era and how to pursue it, learnt from each other and gained better understanding of such topics.

Xi pointed out that the realization of national development, national rejuvenation and people's happiness requires continuous efforts for generations.

ANYONE fancying a pint of Budweiser, Stella Artois, Becks, Boddingtons or Export Pale Ale could go thirsty this summer as workers are striking in a pay dispute.

Budweiser workers from the BBG Samlesbury site, who are members of the GMB Union, have announced a series of summer strikes, with the first taking place yesterday.

A total of 225 GMB members downed tools and will do so again in a series of dates throughout June in anger over a "real terms pay cut".

Giorgos Marinos, member of the PB of the CC of the KKE and MP, made an intervention in the Standing Committee on National Defence and Foreign Affairs demanding that the Minister of National Defence inform the Committee about the sending of military equipment to Ukraine and not hold a briefing behind closed doors. He stressed that the issue is crucial and linked with the dangerous involvement in the war and the US–NATO plans.

The transfer of armoured vehicles to Ukraine is another step forward in the entanglement of Greece in the imperialist war. The ND government bears heavy responsibility since the country is being sucked in the maelstrom of the conflict between NATO and Russia, which is escalating into the war in Ukraine and entails the risk of a generalization of the war in the wider region, including the Balkans, where the situation is balanced on a knife-edge.

In addition to the network of US bases in the Greek territory that are working around the clock to add fuel to the fire of imperialist war by providing weapons, troops, and information; the missions of the Greek armed forces at the side of the US aircraft carriers and bombers; and the missions abroad to develop new aggressive NATO formations such as in Bulgaria, the government plays its last card for the interests of the bourgeoisie, turning our country into a perpetrator against other peoples and the Greek people into a target.

June 10:

Activists attending the People’s Summit for Democracy rallied at the convention center where the Summit of the Americas is being held in Los Angeles today (June 10). They were protesting US sanctions against countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as well as the exclusion of those countries from the Summit of the Americas itself.

The Presidents of Mexico, Honduras and Bolivia all boycotted the summit to protest this exclusion.

The People's Summit is being held to counter the US and imperialist narratives at the "official" event and since June 8 has held workshops and events around global warming, labour justice, prison abolition, housing, food sovereignty and other issues.

The organizers of the People’s Summit for Democracy were determined to close out the summit with a lasting impression on the last day, June 10.

The People’s Summit was organized in opposition to the Summit of the Americas that was organized by the US-influenced Organization of American States (OAS) and hosted by the US in Los Angeles. The Summit of the Americas has historically been a place for the US to dictate a political agenda to the Latin American countries.

The Summit of the Americas has been plagued by difficulties since May 10, when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced that he would boycott the Summit in protest against the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua from the Summit. Following AMLO’s boycott, a host of Latin American leaders announced their own boycotts of the Summit.

On the morning of June 10, volunteers and organizers of the People’s Summit were determined to bring the spirit of the excluded countries right up to the doorstep of the Summit of the Americas.

The Ninth Summit of the Americas, which began on June 6 in the city of Los Angeles in California, US, concluded on Friday, June 10. The Summit had been a subject of controversy since the exclusion of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from the event was announced by the host, the US. The government of President Joe Biden received widespread criticism from across the region for not inviting these three countries to the conference.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was among the first to explicitly criticize the US policy to exclude countries with political ideologies different from its own, and soon, over a dozen Latin American leaders also followed suit and several announced that they would boycott the conference if all countries were not invited.

The threats of a boycott came true. The Summit saw the absence of multiple Latin American leaders, including AMLO, Bolivian President Luis Arce, Honduran President Xiomara Castro, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Everard Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Grenada Keith Claudius Mitchell, and Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis Timothy Harris, who skipped the event as it was not inclusive. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele boycotted it due to US interference in their internal affairs. Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou dropped out after testing positive for COVID-19.

In a victory for justice and democracy former de facto Bolivian president Jeanine Añez was sentenced to ten years in jail on June 10 for her role in the OAS and US backed coup that ousted the democratically elected leftist president Evo Morales in 2019.

Families of the victims of army and police repression and violence in the wake of the coup had been calling for far stiffer sentences of up to 30 years.

The Communist Party of Mexico (PCM) has condemned the involvement of the country’s armed forces in what it described as “inter-imperialist military drills” led by the United States.

By taking part in the Tradewinds military exercises sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command, the Mexican army is “strengthening the forces of repression,” the party said.

“This action is an expression of the inter-imperialist alliances in which various bourgeois states participate — Belize, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the United States of America, France, Guyana, Holland, Jamaica, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic, and Suriname.”

The United Steelworkers union (USW) has filed with the British Columbia Labour Relations Board for union certification for Starbucks workers at Clayton Village, store #4620, in Surrey, B.C. There are 38 workers at the Clayton Village store.

The workers in Surrey join the growing number of Starbucks workers across North America who are organizing unions for better working conditions and wages. The Clayton Village Starbucks will join another unionized corporate store in Victoria, B.C., and six other stores in Alberta where workers are seeking union-certification votes.

The United Steelworkers union (USW) has filed with the B.C. Labour Relations Board an unfair labour practice complaint against Starbucks after the coffee giant refused to extend wage increases to the unionized staff at the corporate drive-through store.

“Our complaint concerns Starbucks’ decision to implement significant wage increases for employees at its non-union stores in Canada, but not for those at its sole unionized store, in an effort to compel its unionized employees to cease to be members of the union,” said Scott Lunny, USW Western Canada Director. “This intimidating and coercive conduct arises from the significant anti-union behaviour from Starbucks and represents an interference with the administration of a trade union contrary to the Labour Code.”

June 11:

A successful two-day camp of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) in Friedrichroda, close to Erfurt, Germany, was concluded on Saturday 11 June with a political event, portal reports.

June 12:

France: Left surge sees Macron's majority under threat The left, not the far right, is now the opposition that threatens the main parties of French capitalism. The New Popular Ecological and Social Union (NUPES), the name of the left-wing, social democratic coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon had a strong showing on Sunday’s first round voting of the French Parliamentary Elections. When results were initially announced at 8pm, Mélenchon and his party were projected to beat Macron’s neoliberal grouping, Ensemble, by the slim margin of 25.6% to 25.2%.

“The truth is that the presidential party was beaten and defeated in the first round,” Mélenchon stated in Paris on Sunday night after voting projections were announced. The second round of voting will be held on Sunday 19 June.

Despite the strong showing of NUPES, there’s a decent chance that Macron will once again control the majority in Parliament as his coalition performs better in suburban and rural areas which afford him more seats in parliament. Mélenchon’s candidates gained significant support from the multiracial working class in French cities where their votes are stacked up in fewer districts. When Sunday’s votes were counted in full, the results had the two leading parties in a virtual tie. At 25.7% of the vote share. The far-right party placed third with 18.7%

June 13:

From the early hours of Monday, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) began a national strike against the government of Guillermo Lasso by blocking highways in provinces such as Pastaza, Napo, and Guayas.


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