Red Review #82 -- International Left and Labour News
With news from France, Peru, Swaziland, Vietnam, the USA, Greece, Italy, Spain, Canada and elswhere.
Image from the General Strike in France, January 19
On Jan. 14, a large crowd gathered in Times Square in New York City to honor the true legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and demand an end to the brutal U.S.-NATO proxy war being waged in Ukraine. Throughout the rally, speakers emphasized how King organized against what he described as the “three evils” of society: militarism, racism and poverty.
The march was organized by the ANSWER Coalition and The People’s Forum, and endorsed by CodePink, Veterans for Peace, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, United National Anti-War Coalition, Haiti Liberté, Rising Together, Peace in Ukraine Coalition, NYC-DSA Anti-War Working Group, Green Party of Connecticut, Massachusetts Peace Action, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and many others.
On Saturday 14 January 2023, tens of thousands of people and youth packed the Peace and Friendship Stadium to attend the historic concert organized by the CC of the KKE to honour the work of the great Greek composer Stavros Xarchakos. The participation of the people exceeded all expectations, crowding every available space in the stadium.
The GS of the CC of the KKE, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, delivered the opening speech before the concert, stressing among other things that “We thank you for the uncompromising honesty of your art, free from ideological and political prejudices... We wish you and all of us to live for the day when your efforts will be vindicated, the day when our people, in the abundant Greek light, ‘will sow grass in the wilderness’ and turn ‘the earth into a cradle for unborn children”.
“For me it is a historic day. What is happening here today, has never happened before in the cultural events of the country. The KKE has surpassed the characterization of progress and exceeded the normal framework. This action takes guts. And the only party that has the guts to do it is the KKE”, said the composer in his greeting.
Family physicians and pediatricians in Madrid’s primary health care system resumed the strike launched in November last year, as negotiations with the regional government balk. The health workers continued with the industrial action shortly after another mass protest in support of public health care on Sunday, January 15, and only days ahead of a demonstration planned by health workers on January 18.
A wide base of support for public health care has been built in Madrid over the past weeks, with trade unions, neighborhood groups, professional associations, and citizens becoming more and more critical of the state of the health system. Approximately 30,000 people joined the protest on Sunday, coordinated by the local organization of Marea Blanca, called La Mesa en Defensa de la Sanidad Pública de Madrid, openly criticizing the commodification of healthcare that the region has been witnessing for years.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is accusing three former executives, including ex-leader Warren (Smokey) Thomas, of improperly using millions of dollars in cash and assets for personal enrichment.
The allegations are part of a lawsuit filed by OPSEU in a Toronto court on Monday.
The union alleges that Mr. Thomas, who served as president of OPSEU for 15 years before retiring last April, along with Eduardo Almeida, former vice-president and treasurer of OPSEU, paid themselves “significant compensation” they were not entitled to, and transferred union-owned assets such as vehicles to themselves and family members for free.
The suit accuses both men of paying out cash from the union’s strike fund to themselves and a third union executive, financial administrator Maurice Gabay, and entering into “agreements,” which ultimately enriched themselves at OPSEU’s expense.
Workers across the UK have intensified their agitation against the ‘Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill’ that is being pushed by the Rishi Sunak-led Tory government. On Monday, January 16, trade unions, social movements, and progressive political groups staged a demonstration outside Downing Street while the second reading of the bill was on at the House of Commons.
Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT), Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Unite the Union, Unison, Communication Workers Union (CWU), University and College Union (UCU), Equity, and others participated in the protest and denounced the bill.
The bill would allow the state and employers to demand workers in England, Scotland, and Wales ensure minimum service during trade union strikes in eight key sectors. These include health, ambulance, fire and rescue, security, education, and transport. It has also been reported that the bill would empower bosses to sack workers who refuse to provide a minimum level of service during walkouts across key sectors and sue trade unions in court both to prevent strikes and claim damages.
Thousands of people from Peru’s North, Central, South, and East regions have departed their homes in caravans headed towards the capital, Lima, to intensify protests against the coup and to call for de facto president Dina Boluarte’s resignation. The delegations composed of peasant, Indigenous, social, and trade union organizations are en route to Lima as part of the second ‘Marcha de los Cuatro Suyos’ or ‘March from the Four Corners’ to bring the voices of Peru’s marginalized communities to the capital.
The march was announced on January 10 by Indigenous and peasant leaders and already several groups of protesters have reached the capital. Meanwhile, thousands of members of the Aymara and Quechua Indigenous communities, as well as members of various social organizations and trade unions, departed in caravans from different provinces to Lima on January 16.
"The PCV is in the streets, fighting for the construction of the broadest unity of action to confront the offensive of capital and its allies in Miraflores," affirmed Janohi Rosas, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Venezuela, during a press conference this Monday.
The statements coincided with a new national day of protest by the education workers, who had planned to gather outside the Ministry of Education but had to concentrate in the surroundings of the Central University of Venezuela after the National Government ordered a last minute partisan act to avoid the protest.
The popular response was thousands of teachers marching towards the center of the capital to demand the dignity of the profession and the restitution of the violated rights.
The workers not only face "the effects of the capitalist crisis and imperialist aggressions, but also the anti-popular policies of the Maduro government," said Rosas.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) dips its red flag and conveys its deepest condolences to the family of liberation struggle stalwart and champion of the working-class, Myrtle Witbooi (31 August 1947 – 16 January 2023).
May her children Jacqui, Linda, and Peter, as well as her three grandchildren, be comforted by her sterling work in fighting for the rights of the working-class in South Africa and the world.
The SACP also sends its condolences to the liberation movement and the entire working-class, both in South Africa and beyond, in particular domestic workers, a sector to which she devoted her life to uplift.
The 13th Party Central Committee convened a meeting in Hanoi on January 17 to consider and give opinions to the wish to cease holding his positions, to stop working, and to retire by Nguyen Xuan Phuc, member of the Politburo, member of the 13th Party Central Committee, President of Vietnam, and Chairman of the Council of National Defence and Security for the 2021-2026 tenure.
Born into a family with revolutionary traditions, Phuc is a key leader of the Party and State. He received fundamental training, grew up from the grassroots, and was assigned by the Party Central Committee and Politburo of different tenures to many important leading positions of the Party and the State.
As the Prime Minister in the 2016-2021 tenure, Phuc made great efforts in leading, directing, and managing the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic which reaped important results.
However, he bears the political responsibility of the head in letting many officials, including two Deputy Prime Ministers; three ministers commit wrongdoings and mistakes, causing very serious consequences. The two Deputy Prime Ministers have applied to cease holding their positions, while two ministers and many other officials have been criminally handled.
Clearly aware of his responsibility before the Party and people, Phuc has submitted his application to cease holding the positions assigned, stop working, and retire.
The KKE is appalled by the murder of Latif Afridi, former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Pakistan, renowned jurist and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of the country, that took place in the court premises.
We express our deepest condolences to the Communist Party of Pakistan and his relatives, our support to the members and cadres of the Communist Party who selflessly continue the struggle for the working people's needs and rights under extremely difficult conditions including attacks, violence, abductions and murders, that exist under the responsibility of the bourgeois state, its mechanisms and reactionary religious organizations
On Wednesday, January 18, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), one of the largest workers’ organizations in South Korea, was raided by the intelligence and the police as the government escalated its persecution of trade unions and progressive groups in the country. Multiple raids were conducted at the offices of the KCTU and its affiliates by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) along with the National Police Agency.
As per reports, the NIS procured a search and seizure warrant from the court against the KCTU based on alleged charges of violating the controversial National Security Act of 1948. NIS officials reportedly stated that the search came after years of “internal investigations into … alleged links to North Korea,” but refused to divulge any further information.
Left-wing groups in Italy have accused the ruling class of complicity in the crimes committed by the Sicilian mafia and raised concerns regarding the authenticity of the recent arrest of mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro in Palermo. In a statement on January 18, Potere al Popolo (Power to the People) voiced suspicions that the much celebrated arrest of 60-year-old Messina Denaro—who remained elusive for 30 years—on January 16 happened as part of a covert agreement between the mafia and state authorities. Maurizio Acerbo from the leadership of the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) stated, “we’re always happy when a mafia boss is arrested but heavy shadows are obvious in the case involving Matteo Messina Denaro.”
An activist was shot and killed by police on Wednesday during a violent raid of the protest camp and community gathering space that has blocked construction of an enormous police training facility known as “Cop City” on roughly 100 acres of public forest in southeast Atlanta.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation initially said a suspect was shot and killed after allegedly firing a gun and injuring a Georgia state trooper during the raid, but fellow protesters and community activists doubt the official narrative and are calling on journalists and legal observers to investigate. Tensions between police and the tree-sitting protesters (known as “forest defenders”) have been rising for months, and activists said they had previously demanded police stop bringing guns and other weapons into the forest to prevent needless injury and death.
Statements from activists identified the person who was killed by police as a protester named Manuel Teran, who also goes by the name Tortuguita. Teran is described as a “generous,” “kind” and “fierce” activist who was a trained medic and ran a mutual aid group as part of the forest defense community.
The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) conveys its message of solidarity to the Polisario Front and conveys its solidarity and congratulations on holding a successful 16th Congress from 13 to 17 January 2023, held under the theme “Intensify the armed struggle to expel the invader and build sovereignty.”
The Congress was held under difficult conditions as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic remains occupied by Morocco. We commend Polisario Front’s gallant fight to unite the people in your country in the resilient fight for freedom.
The CPS reiterates its support for the affirmation of the Sahrawi people’s right to freedom and self-determination. The CPS will continue to unite with various justice and peace-loving people of the world to demand the end of Moroccan colonialism of the Sahrawi people.
Hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike and marched in Paris and in other cities and towns all across France in opposition to President Macron's push to "reform" pensions by raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 while also raising the number of years of work it takes to qualify for a pension.
Tens of thousands of Peruvians from across the country arrived in the capital Lima to take part in a national strike called for today, January 19, to reject the legislative coup against former president Pedro Castillo and demand the immediate resignation of the de-facto president Dina Boluarte.
Peasant and Indigenous communities together with members of numerous social organizations and trade unions from all regions of Peru traveled in caravans to reach Lima. The caravans were organized as a part of the second ‘Marcha de los Cuatro Suyos’ or ‘March from the Four Corners’ to bring the voices of the excluded masses of deep Peru to the seat of power.
The organizations have called to hold marches from different parts of Lima to the center of the city against the Boluarte government under the banner of ‘Toma de Lima’ or ‘Taking of Lima.’ The marches are especially organized to condemn the brutal police and military repression the de-facto government has unleashed against peaceful protests as well as to demand justice for the victims.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the most senior member of the Council and the city’s only elected socialist, will not seek reelection when her term expires in December.
Sawant announced Thursday that she will instead form a new national labor movement, The Seattle Times reported.
Since she was first elected in 2013, Sawant has championed progressive policies with an emphasis on the working class, including successfully mobilizing supporters of a $15 minimum wage. Seattle was the first major city in the U.S. to adopt such a measure. Sawant also pushed for rent control, cutting police funding and expanding taxes on Amazon and other large companies to pay for affordable housing, schools and community services.
Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves have jetted off to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, this week, in order to schmooze with the global elites and rub shoulders with the strategists of capital.
This is the latest step in Starmer’s campaign to make it clear to the ruling class that “Labour is back in business”; that the ‘unruly’ days of Corbynism are no more; and that the party is once again a safe pair of hands for managing capitalism, in place of the increasingly discredited Tories.
A resolution on the “creation of a special tribunal for Russia” was adopted on 19/1/23 by the People’s Party, the Social Democrats, the Liberals, the Greens and far-right groups in the European Parliament. The 2 KKE MEPs voted against it.
In a statement on the resolution, the MEPs of the KKE stress the following:
“The joint resolution of the People’s Party, the Social Democrats, the Liberals, the Greens and far-right groups on the creation of a ‘special tribunal for Russia’s war of aggression’ constitutes another step in the escalation and intensification of the EU’s involvement in the imperialist war in Ukraine by all means. It reflects the war frenzy of the EU’s political staff in the military conflict between the Euro-Atlantic camp and capitalist Russia, who massacre the Ukrainian and Russian people, bringing about painful consequences, poverty and suffering for the peoples of Europe.
It attempts to whitewash the crimes of the USA, NATO and EU imperialists throughout the world, and their imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and today in Ukraine; to exonerate the bloody imperialist interventions of the Euro-Atlantic powers all over the world; to erase their countless victims from collective memory. The reprehensible military invasion of Ukraine by capitalist Russia does not provide an alibi for the Euro-Atlantic camp, which is steeped in the blood of the peoples.
The peoples must reject the war frenzy of the imperialists on both sides. They must wage their independent struggle for their own interests. They must judge and condemn the imperialist war, the bourgeois governments and the unions of the monopolies that wage it, the barbaric capitalist system that they all serve.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping, on behalf of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, extended Spring Festival greetings to all Chinese Friday at a reception in Beijing.
Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered a speech at the gathering at the Great Hall of the People, greeting Chinese people of all ethnic groups, compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and overseas Chinese.
This year's Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Jan. 22.
Swaziland (renamed Eswatini by the monarchy) human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was brutally murdered in his home on Saturday, January 21. He was shot down in front of his family and children.
Maseko had been a relentless campaigner for democracy in one of the world's last absolute monarchies. Swaziland has seen wave after wave of protests for democracy all of which have faced brutal repression. He was imprisoned in 2014 though ultimately released after national and international protests.
His killing has been condemned United Nations humans rights chief Volker Türk. It was also condemned by numerous other leftist and worker groups across the continent and around the world.
Both the Communist Parties of Swaziland and South Africa also released statements.