Fred Fuentes

The annual Latin America Solidarity Fiesta was a success, raising much needed money for social projects in Latin America and maintaining Green Left Weekly’s coverage on the progressive developments unfolding in the region. Organised by the Latin America Social Forum (Sydney), the October 31 fiesta was held at the Great Hall in the Addison Road Community Centre. Pocho Man, Danny Sanchez, DJ Av El Cubano and Jorge Martinez provided music on the night.
Colombian trade unionist, Parmenio Poveda Salazar, is touring Australia to denounce human rights violations in his country. His visit is being organised by Peace and Justice For Colombia (PJFC). Poveda is a representative of the Federation of United National Agricultural workers unions, FENSUAGRO, the largest peasant and farm workers’ union federation in Colombia.
In an attempt to divide staff, on September 13 management at Macquarie University (MQ) proposed to split the current Enterprise Agreement in two, and tried to ram through a second-rate agreement for general staff. If successful this would mean MQ general staff would have the worst conditions of any of the 26 agreements across Australian universities. This has angered the local National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch. The NTEU is campaigning to defeat the push by calling for a “No” vote in a ballot of general staff set to open on September 23.
Greens MLC John Kaye officially welcomed to Sydney the new Cuban consul Reinaldo Garcia as part of an event to mark 12 years since the arrest of the “Cuban Five”. The Cuban Five are anti-terrorist fighters who were arrested in the US for infiltrating and collecting information on Miami-based right-wing anti-Cuban terrorist groups. Despite disclosing information they had gathered to US authorities, it is they and not the terrorists that are facing jail terms, in some cases double life sentences.
Rather than giving us the government we deserve, the August 21 federal election delivered an outcome the two old parties deserved. Because both Labor and the Coalition focused on negative campaigning, sloganeering and scapegoating refugees and other minorities, a large number of voters decided to vote for alternatives with some vision. A hung parliament with the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate was only a partial reflection of this growing disenchantment with the two-party system.
“Businesses like making profits”, said Labor leader Julia Gillard on ABC’s Q&A on August 9. She was explaining why Labor opposed the Coalition’s proposal to raise the company tax rate by 1.5%. “If they’ve got to pay more tax and that’s going to cut into their profits, then they’ll think of a way of adding a bit more profit. “What’s the best way of adding a bit more profit in? They put up prices. “It, you know, just stands to common sense reason, doesn’t it?” The Greens lead NSW senate candidate Lee Rhiannon agrees.
The University of New South Wales' management could face more student protests if it refuses to budge on key issues, the president of the Student Representative Council has told Green Left Weekly. Osman Faruqi told GLW that management’s decision to stand down about 80 staff had been the catalyst for the largest student demonstration in years at UNSW. The stand downs move came as the local National Tertiary Education Union branch imposed bans on the release of student results after management delayed bargaining over union demands for 16 months.
A prolonged industrial dispute is continuing at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) as a result of the ongoing refusal of vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer to bargain in good faith with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) over staff concerns about pay and conditions — especially job security. Hilmer’s intransigence should come as no surprise. When Hilmer announced his decision to take up a tidy $750,000 annual salary package as vice-chancellor of University of New South Wales back in 2005, he said partial deregulation of education was like being “half pregnant”.
On July 18, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) administration was forced to reinstate 80 staff members and start two weeks of intensive bargaining. As a result, UNSW union members voted to lift a ban on releasing student results on July 23. The UNSW branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) imposed the ban from June 30 in response to management delaying bargaining for 16 months over union demands for improved job security, pay and other conditions.
The May 2 internal pre-selection of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidates for the September 26 national elections was an example of the mobilising force of this mass party in construction. More than 2.5 million party members participated. This demonstrated the PSUV is the largest national political force, and highlighted its democratic and participatory nature. The participation rate was greater than the 2.3 million people who voted to pre-select PSUV candidates for governors and mayors in 2008.

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