Fred Fuentes

Far from taking the closure of the Heinz tomato factory sitting down, workers and community members from the 150-strong rural Victorian town of Girgarre are getting organised. After the announcement by Heinz last year that it would shut down its operations in Girgarre, 200 kilometres north of Melbourne, more than 300 people met there in August and formed the Goulburn Valley Food Cooperative (GVFC). See also How 'productivity' is destroying rural Australia
Behind the hype of Australia’s mining boom and “economic stability” lies the very real crisis affecting rural Australia. The impacts of droughts and floods (aggravated by capitalist-induced climate change) are part of the explanation. The real culprits behind the devastation being wreaked on rural communities are big business and the free market fundamentalists running the country in their interests. And unless a fundamental shift in priorities takes place, the situation is set to worsen. See also:
Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said on March 20 that his government’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) was “central to the government’s plan to spread the benefits of the mining boom to more Australians for generations to come”. Lauding the tax, which had passed through parliament the day before, he said the MRRT was about “ensuring all Australians share in the benefits of the mining boom, not just a fortunate few”.
September 25 will go down as one of the darkest days in Bolivia since Evo Morales was elected as the country’s first indigenous president almost six years ago. After more than 40 days of indigenous protesters marching, police officers moved in to repress those opposed to the government’s proposed highway that would run through the Isiboro-Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS). The controversial highway has met with both opposition and support from the many indigenous and social organisations that form the Morales government’s support base.
Daicy Olaya, a resident of Fairfield for 18 years, explained why she decided to stand as a candidate for Socialist Alliance in the March 26 NSW elections. “Politicians from both major parties have failed miserably in representing the interests of migrants and women here in New South Wales,” she said. “That is why, as a woman migrant from Colombia, who has worked in the textile and cleaning industries, I have decided to stand as the Socialist Alliance candidate for Fairfield in the coming NSW state elections." See also:
Two long-time ALP members, Luis Ernesto Almario and Rosendo Duran, announced their resignation from the ALP on February 17. Both will stand as Socialist Alliance (SA) candidates for the Legislative Council in the March NSW state elections. Almario and Duran are both political exiles from Colombia, forced to leave because of political persecution. Arriving in Australia in the mid-’80s, Almario joined his local branch of the ALP in Blacktown, and was later active in the ALP Parramatta branch.
Aboriginal leaders in Sydney and around Australia, together with the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) and other community organisations, have called for a memorial to be built in the Block in Redfern, for all Aboriginal people who have died in custody. To this end, a march will be held on February 14, seven years to the day that a young Aboriginal boy, TJ Hickey, was allegedly rammed by a police vehicle during a pursuit and killed.
Latin America Social Forum (Sydney) co-founder and respected Latin American community activist Victor-Hugo Munoz was awarded a Diploma of Honour on December 4 by the Guatemala Network for Peace and Development. The award acknowledged Munoz’s tireless, decades-long work in defence of human rights in Guatemala.
Media fanfare has subsided around the October rescue of 33 miners from the San Jose mine in Chile — an event watched by an estimated 1 billion people across the globe. But could this event at least help bring about change for miners’ rights and conditions? Unfortunately, if we look behind all the commotion and government rhetoric about making big changes for the lives of miners in Chile, the answer seems to be no. On November 7, two miners were killed in an accident in the Los Reyes mine near Copiapo, close to where the San Jose mine accident took place.
SYDNEY — After the successful Latin America Solidarity Conference it organised in October, the Latin America Social Forum (LASF) in Sydney has launched a new blog, latinamericasocialforum.blogspot.com. LASF is uploading videos of plenary talks from the conference and the 20 resolutions approved in the conference’s final session. These resolutions have been translated to Spanish and sent to contacts across Latin America, many of who have expressed their appreciation for the work of LASF.

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