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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #85 -- International Left and Labour News

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

With news from France, Ecuador, Brazil, the USA, India, Cuba, Swaziland, the Turkish-Syrian earthquake and elsewhere.

Over 2 million workers in France protest February 11 against proposed reactionary pension "reforms" -- Image via Twitter

February 4:

On Saturday, February 4, communists and other anti-imperialist groups in Greece protested the docking of nuclear-powered American aircraft supercarrier USS George HW Bush (CVN-77) at the port of Piraeus in Athens. Activists from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) marched to Alexandra’s Square in Pasalimani, near the port, protesting the docking of the warship. The protesters demanded that NATO “get out from Greek bases” and called on the conservative New Democracy (ND)-led Greek government to abstain from participating in imperialist interventions led by NATO. Member of European Parliament (MEP) from the KKE Kostas Papadakis, KKE General Secretary Nikos Abatielos, and president of the Greek Committee for International Détente and Peace (EEDYE) Stavros Tassos were among those who participated in the protest march.

February 5:

On Sunday February 5, over 10 million Ecuadorians participated in local elections, electing mayors, councilors, and prefectures, as well as the members of the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control (CPCCS). According to preliminary results issued by the National Electoral Council of Ecuador (CNE), with over 98% of the votes counted, progressives emerged victorious in crucial regions of the country.

The Citizen Revolution Movement (RC), led by former president Rafael Correa, won the prefectures in nine of the 23 provinces. The RC also won mayor’s offices in sixty cities, including the capital Quito, and the country’s largest city, Guayaquil. Progressives were also elected for the prefectures in Azuay, Cañar, Guayas, Imbabura, Manabí, Pichincha, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Sucumbios.

The RC thanked the people of Ecuador for their support. “After more than six years of persecution, of taking away the legal status of our political organization, of unjustly imprisoning our comrades and forcing others to live in exile, in these 2023 sectional elections we demonstrated that we are the main and largest political force in Ecuador. We are more alive than ever…It is a historic victory…A new era begins to recover Ecuador from the territories, together with the people who know that we were better off before!” the party said in a statement.

February 6:

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, after bowing – or kneeling – to belligerent pressures from U.S. and NATO war hawks, and trying to rejuvenate fading laurels for himself and Germany, flew off on his first official trip to Latin America. After brief, uneventful courtesy visits to Chile and Argentina he landed in Brazil, hoping to wean the world’s fifth-largest country into the NATO and European cradle – and away from the West’s Russian and Chinese rivals.

The closing press conference with Lula was full of smiles and back-slapping, at first! “We are all happy that Brazil is back on the world stage,” Scholz assured. But then, suddenly, he got the happiness kicked out from under him.

No, Brazil would not send over to Ukraine the desired parts of the German-made Gepard air defense tanks and no ammunition either. Lula declared: “Brazil has no interest in handing over munitions that can be used in the war between Ukraine and Russia. We are a country committed to peace.”

A Chicago-based publishing house will offer free e-books focused on Black history after the College Board revised its Advanced Placement African American studies course earlier this month.

And Haymarket Books has Florida, specifically, in its sights.

February 7:

By a 96%-4% margin, workers from six unions who toil at Disney resorts in Central Florida voted down the firm’s dollar-an-hour wage hike for each year of a proposed five-year contract.

The Disney theme parks clustered in and around Orlando employ 45,000 workers, two-thirds of whom make $15 an hour under a 2018 contract that expired in October. And before that pact, many—especially cooks and housekeepers—made $10.

Bargainers for the Service Trades Council Unions, the joint negotiating team for the six unions, had recommended the workers reject the pact. STCU President Matt Hollis said the hike does not keep up with Central Florida’s inflation, which he calculated was 8% last year. Hollis is also president of one of the six unions, Transportation Communications Union-IAM Local 1098.

“A ‘no’ vote will show that Disney workers do not accept a $1 raise and want to keep pushing for higher raises for everyone,” STCU said in a statement before results were announced on the evening of Feb. 3.

The workers and their unions demanded a minimum of $18 an hour. Workers interviewed by various news organizations said the current $15 rate doesn’t leave them enough money to pay their bills. A study published by the two Unite Here locals added 62% of workers it surveyed had less than $100 each in the bank.

February 8:

With Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva warning his administration "will not allow illegal mining on Indigenous lands," the government announced Wednesday that environmental special forces destroyed at least one helicopter, an airplane, and a bulldozer used by "mining mafias" in the territory of the Yanomami people in the Amazon rainforest this week.

The raids aimed at removing illegal mining operations involving tens of thousands of ore and gold miners from the region began on Monday, just over a month after the leftist president, known as Lula, took office.

A First Nations man is seeking $11 billion from the Canadian government on behalf of Treaty 1 status members he argues are owed "full and fair" annual payments promised by the Crown as part of treaties signed in the early days of Confederation.

Zongidaya Nelson of Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation said compensation in the form of adequate annuity payments is more than 150 years in the making.

"It's a long time coming," Nelson said at a news conference Wednesday in Roseau, about 80 kilometres south of Winnipeg. "We're tired, tired of waiting."

Ada Colau, the left-wing mayor of Barcelona, wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to announce the city would suspend relations until Israel ended the “systematic violation of the people of Palestine’s human rights”.

“I have decided to temporarily suspend relations with the state of Israel and with the official institutions of that state -including the twinning agreements with the Tel Aviv City Council – until the Israeli authorities put an end to the system of violations of the Palestinian people and fully comply with the obligations imposed on them by international law and the various United Nations resolutions. We cannot be silent,” wrote the mayor.

Colau stressed the boycott of Israel did not apply to Israeli or Palestinian people who “work to build peace in the Middle East”.

Activist and Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters addressed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Wednesday, February 8, on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and demanded an “immediate ceasefire” as the “only sensible course of action today.”

Waters stated that the Russian war in Ukraine was “illegal” and condemned it. He, however, also condemned the “provocateurs” who provoked the Russian aggression in Ukraine, without naming any country.

The war in Ukraine began last February after NATO failed to address Russian apprehensions regarding NATO’s expansion close to its international borders and Ukraine’s refusal to address the long-standing conflict in the Donbass region involving Russian-speaking people.

Waters was invited to speak at the UNSC by Russia. The meeting was called to highlight the West’s relentless supply of arms to Ukraine, which Russia claims will make any possibility of a peaceful settlement difficult.

February 9:

February 10:

Trader Joe’s workers in Louisville, Kentucky, are poised to become the grocery chain’s third store to unionize. Nearly 60 percent of the workers in Louisville voted to affiliate with the new independent union Trader Joe’s United, which also represents Trader Joe’s workers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Hadley, Massachusetts.

The company is contesting several yes votes cast in the Louisville election, but organizers predict that the National Labor Relations Board will decide in workers’ favor. In its objection to the election results, the company cited “an atmosphere of fear and coercion” created by union organizers. Organizers responded that the allegation was ironic, considering that “we have several unfair labor practice charges on file against Trader Joe’s for coercion, intimidation, threats and surveillance in the weeks leading up to our election.”

“Trader Joe’s will try to elongate this process for as long as they possibly can,” said Connor Hovey, a Louisville Trader Joe’s employee, in conversation with Jacobin. “But we have such a dedicated group of people at the helm that we’re going to just stick to our guns.” Hovey sat down with Jacobin contributor Peter Lucas to discuss their pending victory, organizing in the South, and the current surge in unionization campaigns across the country.

Friday, 10 February 2023: The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) together with Swazis in the diaspora, on Friday delivered a petition at the Department of International Relations in Pretoria, South Africa.

At the picket, the CPS called upon the South African government to not turn a blind eye as its own citizens are being used by the Mswati autocracy to assassinate democracy activists in Swaziland.

CPS International Secretary, Pius Vilakati, during the picket emphasised that the mercenaries hired by the regime are South Africans. He thus called upon the South African Government to intervene on the matter and prosecute those murderers who are acting as part of Mswati's killing machinery.

"The assassination of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and Muzi Mmema, among others, forms a long list of assassinated democracy activists by the tinkhundla regime. We know that for decades they have used their police and army to murder the people of Swaziland", said the CPS International Secretary, Pius Vilakati.

"Therefore, let us set 12 April 2023," continued Vilakati, "as our first immediate moment for the regime to fall. Let us throw all our efforts to ensure that we end Mswati's war of oppression by intensifying the People's Liberation War!"

Vilakati went on to call for unity amongst the people of Swaziland for the total overthrow of the ruling autocracy, which is Africa's last absolute monarchy.

"Comrades, there is no greater tool than unity among the fighting forces of our country, otherwise we are doomed to more oppression", he said.

February 11:

ABOUT two-and-a-half-million protesters took to the streets in France on Saturday against President Emmanuel Macron’s attack on pension schemes.

The left-wing CGT trade union centre said that around half-a-million alone marched through the streets of Paris.

Hundreds of thousands of people also marched in Lille, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes and many other cities and towns to mount pressure on the government to back down.

Later on Saturday, President Díaz-Canel and his wife Lis Cuesta Peraza visited the Edzná archaeological zone and observed the progress of the Mayan Train. Following a visit to one of the stations under construction of the Mayan train, President AMLO awarded President Díaz-Canel with the “Order of the Aztec Eagle,” Mexico’s highest medal of honor for foreigners, for his work in strengthening relations between the two countries.

At the same time, AMLO demanded that the United States government lift the economic, commercial and financial blockade that has been imposed on Cuba for more than six decades. “As a sign of goodwill and that all the countries of the Americas are willing to join forces, I consider and express with respect that the US government should lift, as soon as possible, the unjust and inhumane blockade of the Cuban people,” he stated.

“The US model of relations imposed in the region is completely worn out, anachronistic, it has no future or point, and it no longer benefits anyone. It is time for a new coexistence among all the countries of Latin America. It is time to express and explore another option, to dialogue with the rulers of all countries, especially with the US rulers, to convince them that a new relationship is possible,” AMLO added, opposing the US sanctions against Cuba.

In the light of the same, President AMLO expressed his willingness to lead an international campaign demanding lifting of the embargo. “Mexico is going to lead a more active movement to unite all countries and defend the independence and sovereignty of Cuba. Nothing to treat them as a terrorist country or put them on the black list of alleged terrorist countries. Cuba is a deeply humane people and government. Long live the dignified people of Cuba!” he announced.

February 12:

The 13th Congress of the youth organization of the KKE, the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), was held at the headquarters of the KKE on 10–12 February 2023.

The opening of the proceedings took place in a climate of enthusiasm and militant optimism, in the presence of a large number of youth and militants of all ages, as well as prominent figures in the field of art, literature, culture and sports. The opening was also attended by a large delegation of the CC of the KKE, headed by the General Secretary of the KKE, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, as well as delegations from 28 Communist Youth and Anti-imperialist Organizations, while many others sent messages of greetings.

“We express our full solidarity with the neighbouring peoples of Turkey and Syria, who are suffering the consequences of past week’s devastating earthquake”, said N. Ambatielos, Secretary of the outgoing Central Council of KNE.

“We are guided by the Resolution of the 21st Congress of our Party for a ‘Strong KKE; Mind-Heart-Organizer of the workers’-people’s struggle, for socialism’, as its slogan said, the contemporary revolutionary Programme of the KKE, the conclusions drawn from the study of the Party's History, as comprehensively reflected in the volumes of the History Essay of the history of the KKE, which is a valuable asset for every young communist today. Through our discussion and the Resolution of the 13th Congress, we declare that we will succeed in meeting these expectations. With thousands of young people who will join the class struggles, thanks to the contribution of our Organization and the ranks of KNE as vanguards!”, the outgoing Secretary of KNE noted.

February 13:

General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong has sent a letter of congratulations to General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Zyuganov on its 30th founding anniversary (February 14).

In his letter, General Secretary Trong wrote that over the past three decades, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has always firmly adhered to the Marxism-Leninism as an ideological foundation, been loyal to the interests of the working class, farmers, intellectuals and people, making significant contributions to the development of modern Russia and playing an important role in the global communist and workers’ movements.

The CPV always attaches importance to deepening the traditional friendship with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, thus strengthening the comprehensive strategic partnership between Vietnam and Russia, for the benefit of the two peoples and for peace and stability in the region and the world, he said.

He wished that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation would reap greater achievements in the cause of building socialism for prosperity and well-being of Russian people.

Turkey & Syria:

Communist and workers' parties around the world express solidarity with the people of Syria and Turkey and condemn ongoing sanctions. With statements from the KKE, WFTU, Canada, Chile, Swaziland, Belgium, South Africa and elsewhere.

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struggles to defend his response to last Monday's devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake, videos from a few years back have emerged showing him hailing some of the housing projects that crumbled, killing thousands of people.

Critics say contractors were allowed to skip crucial safety regulations, increasing their profits but putting residents at risk.

The videos have fueled public outrage over slow efforts to help residents in the aftermath of the massive earthquake — the world's deadliest in over a decade — that killed more than 35,000 people in Turkey and neighboring Syria, and left many injured and without a home, food or heating in the middle of winter.



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