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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #83 -- International Left and Labour News

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

With news from the USA, Swaziland, Peru, Australia, India, Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere. There is also a section related to news from the CELAC summit in Argentina.

Tyre Nichols Protests January 29, USA -- Image via Twitter

January 22:

A move by the far-right Vox party, a member of the incumbent executive in Spain’s autonomous Castilla y León community, to restrict access to abortions and reproductive health care in the region has led to widespread protest from women’s rights groups and other progressive sections in the country.

On January 22, activists from the Platform for the Rights of Women of Palencia, United Left (IU), and others protested in the city of Palencia against the misogynist, anti-abortion protocols proposed by the far-right and demanded free and safe abortions in the community. The Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE), Podemos, and Collectives of Communist Youth (CJC) also protested the anti-women policies of the regional government, controlled by the far-right Vox and the conservative People’s Party (PP) in the region.

Plans announced by the vice president of the executive of Castilla y León, Juan García-Gallardo (from Vox), in the second week of January, which would have mandated that health professionals “provide pregnant women with 4D images of the fetus, as well as listening to their heartbeats” had been roundly criticized by women’s right groups.

January 23:

January 24:

On January 19 the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) held an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Amílcar Cabral, the great Bissau-Guinean and Cape Verdean revolutionary, theoretician and independence leader.

At the packed event Paulo Raimundo, General Secretary of PCP, gave a tour-de-force speech about Cabral, his incredible legacy, the role of the PCP and the Socialist Bloc in supporting the liberation struggle, and the ongoing struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism in Africa.

The speech was released in English on January 24.

January 25:

The CPI (M) will contest 43 of the 60 Assembly seats in Tripura, leaving 13 seats for the Congress and allocating one each to the CPI, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Forward Bloc. One seat has been allotted to an Independent candidate.

CPI(M) leader Manik Sarkar, who served as CM for four consecutive terms (1998-2018) will not be in the fray. The CPI(M) efforts to rope in new regional outfit Tipra Motha did not succeed with the latter demanding a written assurance on “Greater Tipraland”. The ruling BJP is yet to announce its candidates’ list.The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress too has thrown its hat in the ring.

January 26:

"January 26 should be recognized as a day of mourning, as opposed to Australia Day celebration, because it's not a celebration for the Indigenous people," a protester said.

On Thursday, tens of thousands of people attended "Invasion Day" rallies held across Australia's major cities, calling for changing or abolishing the date as the country celebrates its national holiday Australia Day.

In Peru’s capital Lima, massive mobilizations have occurred daily for the past week to demand the resignation of de-facto president Dina Boluarte, the closure of the right-wing dominated Congress, early general elections, and a new constitution through a Constituent Assembly. Peaceful mobilizations were also recorded in Piura and Tacna regions.

On Thursday January 26, protesters marched along the Panamerican highway from the north of Lima to Plaza Dos de Mayo and Plaza San Martín. The marches in the capital have seen widespread participation from students and workers in the city, but have been largely composed of the delegations of peasant, Indigenous, and trade union organizations who arrived to Lima from Puno, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, and other regions to bring their demands to the seat of government. The regions which sent delegations have seen high levels of violent repression and high death tolls over the past month so they have also been calling for an end to the brutal police and military repression, justice and reparations for the victims.

The marches in the city center have also been met with violent repression. Day after day, the National Police have deployed hundreds of officers who launch tear gas canisters and fire pellets to disperse the crowd. Dozens, including human rights defenders and journalists, have been injured.

Roberto Morales, Secretary of Organization of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), on Thursday held a meeting with Yanis Varoufakis, Secretary-General of the MeRA25 political party.

During the meeting, Morales explained issues related to PCC´s activities in the current national and international context.

Varoufakis, on the other hand, reaffirmed his party’s solidarity stance against the blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.

Varoufakis is presently paying an official visit to Cuba in order to attend the Congress on the New International Economic Order to be held in the framework of the 5th International Conference For the Balance of the World.

At the handover ceremony of the Presidency of the G77 + China, now with Cuba at the helm for the first time, the member of the Political Bureau of the Party and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, said that "the great challenges that the current economic order has generated for the developing world reach their most acute expression in these times of systemic crisis."

In a speech in which he thanked the confidence placed in Cuba, the Minister made reference to the health, climate, energy, food and economic crises, as well as the escalation of geopolitical tensions and renewed forms of domination and hegemony.

He warned that the modest progress achieved in the 2030 Agenda promoted by the United Nations (UN), "is at risk of being reversed in a more divided and selfish post-pandemic world."

Two Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) members were arrested by Mswati's police on Wednesday 25 January 2023 following a political school that was held at Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU), organised by SNUS.

The two students are Comrade Sambulo Shongwe, a student from the University of Swaziland (UNESWA) Mbabane campus who also serves as the SNUS UNESWA Mbabane Campus branch Chairperson, and Comrade Lwazi Maseko, a student at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, and a member of SNUS.

These two students are also members of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS).

The students were arrested after attending the SNUS political School after a confrontation they had with traffic police in a roadblock that was staged near the SANU gate where the political school was held.

Witnesses reveal that, a few moments after the confrontation, the students, who were travelling in a big group, were approached by plain clothed police officers who then harassed the two students and forcefully arrested them. They drove off with them to Manzini Police Station where they were kept for interrogation.

The students spent the night in Mswati's police cells in Manzini without any legal representation. The police concocted charges of obstruction of justice against them.

On Thursday morning, the police secretly took the two students to Manzini Magistrate Court without legal representation. The magistrate thereafter swiftly ruled that they should remain in custody until Monday 30 January for their judgment on the case.

The CPS condemns the attacks on students by Mswati’s police. The CPS also demands their release for they have committed no crime except to capacitate themselves, in community with fellow students, with political education.

The struggle for democracy in Swaziland will win, and our country shall survive. No amount of intimidation and attacks will douse the people’s hunger for freedom.

January 27:

Jan. 27th marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the agreement which ended the American War in Vietnam, or as it is known in the United States, the Vietnam War. From 1955 to 1973, the United States waged one of the harshest wars in modern history against the Vietnamese people, as part of its aggressive Cold War anti-communist foreign policy.

During the war, the U.S. military dropped more bombs than were used in all of World War II (often on civilian targets). It also deployed chemical weapons, napalm, and cluster bombs, and sent hundreds of thousands of draftees to kill or be killed, usually against their will. Millions of Vietnamese people were killed, maimed, and poisoned. The war was illegally spread to Laos and Cambodia, where more death and destruction were spread.

Despite the best efforts of the U.S. government and military, the imperialist attempt to maintain dominance over Vietnam failed. To this day, the U.S. War in Vietnam marks one of the biggest military and foreign policy disasters in the history of the United States.

As the Memphis Police Department prepares to release footage of the five Memphis police officers brutally beating Tyre Nichols, a beating that resulted in his death, the Movement for Black Lives issued the following statement.

Despite the weather, more than a dozen people came out to The Spirit of Detroit Friday night at the same time of the video release of Tyre Nichols’ arrest in Memphis, Tennessee.

They held signs and spoke out against the brutality seen in the video.

As protesters gathered in Memphis, a group of Detroiters stood in the snow in solidarity, speaking out against the beating of Nichols by Memphis police.

“Kidney failure and cardiac arrest, that's how badly these officers brutalized him,” said Sammie Lewis with Detroit Communist Party USA.

The Workers’ Party of Ireland wishes to acknowledge the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army.

The NAZI occupation of Poland, the mass murder and network of concentration camps it oversaw in Eastern Europe was amongst the most evil and depraved events in human history.

The exclusion of Russia from the Commemoration Events is highly ignorant given its role as the primary successor state to the Soviet Union and the great sacrifices rendered by that State’s armed forces and citizens in the struggle against Nazism.

Meanwhile the inclusion of states — Latvia, Ukraine — who openly extol the virtues of their Nazi collaborationist ancestors illustrates that the commemoration has been instrumentalised to fit contemporary political narratives. This does both a disservice to its many, many victims and to those who liberated the camp.

The exclusion of the Russian Federation also removed an opportunity for the parties to the conflict — NATO states, as well as Russia and Ukraine — from engaging in exploratory dialogue that could lead to peace.

Peace is a vital necessity and unless the present conflict is to be seen through to a military conclusion — with all the suffering that this entails — contact between the adversaries is essential.

As such, we call on the Irish government to support the inclusion of Russia in the events in the future and for the labour movement and Communists everywhere to recall the decisive contribution of the USSR to destruction of Nazism.

The Press Office of the CC of the KKE issued the following statement:

"The new government of the murderous state of Israel is daily sharpening its occupation practices against the suffering Palestinian people.

The invasion of the occupation forces in Jenin in the occupied West Bank has led to the death of at least 11 Palestinians and the injury of dozens of others. This is the highest death toll recorded in an Israeli operation in the West Bank in many years. The Israeli forces, who did not hesitate to deliberately fire tear gas at the paediatric clinic of the Jenin hospital, have once again demonstrated the appalling brutality of the Israeli occupation.

The current Israeli government, which enjoys the constant support of the USA, NATO and the EU imperialists and was also congratulated by the Russian leadership, has killed 24 Palestinian civilians in less than a month since it took office, i.e. the beginning of the year.

The KKE condemns Israel's new crime against the Palestinians and calls on the people to continue expressing their multifaceted solidarity with the suffering Palestinian people even more actively."

Following a peaceful protest to the Manzini Police Headquarters on Friday to demand justice for assassinated human rights lawyer, Thulani Rudolf Maseko, Mswati’s police opened fire on the protesters, heavily injuring two protesters and assaulted many more.

The two activists who were shot are Mhlonishwa Mtsetfwa, Central Committee member of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), and Sibusiso Vilakati, member of the Swaziland Liberation Movement. The police shot Mhlonishwa Mtsetfwa from behind, around the waist, while Sibusiso Vilakati was shot on the left leg.

Both have since been rushed to hospital. The police shot Mhlonishwa Mtsetfwa at close range with what appears to be a rubber bullet. He is currently in theatre, scheduled to undergo a critical procedure.

These brutal attacks on peaceful and unarmed protesters by the Mswati autocracy constitute some of its acts of desperation to cling to power and maintain Swaziland as Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

A mere two days ago, Wednesday 25 January, Mswati’s police targeted and arbitrarily detained and assaulted two Swaziland National Union of Students activists in Manzini, following a political school organised by their union. The two students, Sambulo Shongwe and Lwazi Maseko, are still in custody. The police have denied them their right to legal representation.

January 28:

January 29:

The renewal of Fabien Roussel at the head of the Communist Party (PCF) is on the right track after the broad victory, on Sunday January 29, of the pro-Roussel orientation text which will form the basis of the next party congress in April.

The text of his supporters obtained nearly 82% of the votes of the 29,898 voters, out of 42,237 up-to-date militants registered, against 18% for the text “Emergency of communism” presented by the internal opponents of the outgoing leader.

Fabien Roussel, presidential candidate for 2022 (2.3%), came forward as the big favorite to succeed him at the head of the PCF. He considers the left-wing Nupes coalition limited to conquering power and intends to continue on its “identity” line, wishing to bring the party out of the shadow of La France insoumise. He also continues to want to promote “work value”a speech that arouses much controversy on the left.

January 30:

Faculty at Memorial University are on strike.

MUNFA had set a deadline of midnight to work out a deal, however the two parties are at an impasse.

Memorial University, in an unexpected news conference yesterday, revealed their offer to the association, which includes a 12 per cent increase in salary over four years, an additional 20 weeks of supplemented parental leave, and increased compensation for teaching additional courses. According to the school, MUNFA has consistently requested a salary increase of 14 per cent.

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Meeting:

Bolivia’s President Luis Arce has called on the region to condemn the coup attempts that threaten Latin America in his speech at the VII Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Buenos Aires.

“We request that this Latin American and Caribbean movement become a single voice to condemn, in the strongest and most energetic way, all these acts of violence, torture, terror, destruction of institutions, and destabilization, which threaten the countries of our region, their political systems and peaceful coexistence, and at the same time demand unrestricted respect for the popular will expressed through the vote,” said President Arce.

The VII Summit of Heads of State Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) concluded Tuesday with an affirmation of support for the dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the political opposition.

Citing security concerns, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro opted not to participate personally in the summit in Buenos Aires.

“Latin America and the Caribbean must be heard, in a single voice, and tell the United States of America: no more interventionism, no more coup plots, enough of sanctions against the free and sovereign countries of the continent,” said Maduro in a video message delivered during the gathering of the region’s heads of state.

On January 24, Latin American and Caribbean leaders reaffirmed their commitment to advance in regional integration and unity at the 7th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). The summit was held in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

During the summit, the leaders discussed common issues and how to overcome them through joint regional strategies such as consolidation of peace and democracy in the region, reduction of hunger and poverty, improvement of public health and education systems, advancement of sustainable development in the face of climate change, strengthening of human rights, among others.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández, who held the pro tempore presidency of the regional bloc and inaugurated the summit, called for strengthening “institutionality and democracy in the face of a recalcitrant and fascist right.”

The seventh summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), hosted by Argentina, the country which temporarily presides over the bloc, was preceded by a joint summit of social organizations and trade unions. This summit took place on the afternoon of January 23, in Buenos Aires, at the former Army Mechanics School. This school was once a clandestine detention center during the Argentine military dictatorship, which today functions as a human rights space and museum of memory.

With the presence of about 300 leaders of social organizations, unions and people’s movements from all over the region, the meeting served as a forum for debate on the most relevant issues affecting the different countries in the context of the CELAC conference.

The Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of State Workers (Clate), one of the organizations participating in the social summit, highlighted that the Social Summit is part of the permanent search to “institutionalize permanent spaces for dialogue between governments and social organizations and movements, and the participation of organized civil society.”

The much awaited return of Brazil to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was celebrated during the VII Summit of the bloc on Tuesday January 24. In his opening address to the Summit, Argentine President Alberto Fernández highlighted the return of Brazil to the bloc and emphasized that “a CELAC without Brazil is a much emptier CELAC”.

Fernández received Lula on Monday January 23 at the Casa Rosada, the seat of the Argentine government, and the two leaders defended the resumption of diplomacy and cooperation between the two largest economies in South America.

Brazil left the CELAC during the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL), a measure that Lula classified as “inexplicable”.

In his speech, the Brazilian president defended points that can collaborate towards regional integration and a “peaceful world order”, such as the potential to participate in the energy transition of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

On Wednesday, Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez expressed his satisfaction with the outcomes of the 7th Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"It was a propositional and very promising summit,” Rodriguez said, stressing that its final declaration condemned the U.S. blockade against his country and rejected the inclusion of Cuba in the U.S. list of “State sponsors of terrorism.”


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