Sarah Ausburn

Touring Colombian unionist Parmenio Poveda Salazar, an official with the National Unitarian Federation of Agrarian Unions (Fensuagro), has called for increased international solidarity with unionists and human rights activists in Colombia. Parmenio said: "Many leaders of Colombian unions have been assassinated, and others have been forced into exile" by the policies of former president Alvaro Uribe. These same policies are continuing under new president Manuel Santos with at least 22 unionists and social justice activists being killed in the first 75 days of Santos’ presidency.
The Cyprus Club was packed out at a special “Viva Cuba” solidarity dinner on October 31. About 180 people welcomed the new Cuban ambassador to Australia Pedro Monzon Barata, the new Cuban consul general Reinaldo Garcia Perera and new Cuban consul Maribel Espinosa Begueri. Tim Anderson, senior lecturer in political economy at the University of Sydney, gave a sneak preview of his new documentary about Cuban medical and education projects in East Timor. Cuba is training more than 900 doctors as part of the programs.
Three hundred people gathered at Sydney Town Hall on October 29 to protest against physical and sexual violence against women, as part of global Reclaim the Night protests. Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at the University of Technology Sydney, Larissa Behrendt, outlined the challenges Indigenous women face, not only from Indigenous men but also the white legal system when reporting incidents of physical and sexual assault. Charlotte Long from Burma Campaign Australia spoke about the systematic rape of ethnic minority women in Burma.
One hundred people rallied in Sydney on October 9 in solidarity with a young Cairns couple charged with abortion-related offences under Queensland’s 1899 criminal code. The court case begins on October 12, and the couple will be supported by a vigil outside. The rally was organised by the Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC) as part of a national day of action coordinated by ProChoice Action Collective Qld: WAAC NSW: and Radical Women Vic. It called for the repeal of all abortion laws from the criminal code and for free, safe and accessible abortion.
On September 23, the Daily Telegraph reported on a wall mural in the Sydney inner-west suburb of Newtown by artist Sergio Redegalli with the slogan “Say no to burqas”. Redegalli’s mural has sparked protests by local residents who have condemned it as racist. Sydney Socialist Alliance activist Kiraz Janicke says Redegalli’s piece “has no other value than to promote racism”. She has responded with an artwork of her own — a submission to the Live Red Art Awards, titled “Burqa revolution”.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has vowed to fight the imposition of a “sub-standard” enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) after a majority of general staff voted in favour of the agreement in a September 29-October 1 poll. The agreement fails to meet award protections that limit the use of fixed-term employment, allowing for further deregulation of the workforce. It also reduces flexibility on annual leave entitlements and allows for forced redeployment within the university.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is calling on professional, technical and general staff to reject a management offer of a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA). The union says it fails on salaries, job security and on respect. The offer will be put to a ballot of all non-academic staff this week, following a deal between the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and university management. Both unions cover non-academic staff. The CPSU will be campaigning for a “yes” vote.
Peru’s Amazonian indigenous people have announced the creation of their own political party and will contest the presidential elections in April 2011. The indigenous people clashed with Peruvian President Alan Garcia’s government in 2009 to defend their ancestral lands in the largest indigenous uprising in recent history.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have vowed more industrial action to fight the ongoing refusal of vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer to negotiate on improvements to job security, pay and other conditions for UNSW staff. In particular, the union is concerned about the unregulated use of fixed-term contracts and casual employment at the university. An NTEU meeting on August 4 voted for partial work bans in preparation for and participation in UNSW promotional events from August 30 to September 4.
The “world’s first dedicated climate election website” , which rates political parties climate change policies, has recommended a vote for the Socialist Alliance in the upcoming August 21 federal elections. Vote Climate provides detailed policy analysis based on available policy as the primary source, and public documents and public statements as a secondary source. SA is ranked first as the only party that has “policies that might stop runaway climate change” and “adopt a climate emergency response”.
In further moves to strengthen the state’s role in the economy, Venezuelan President Chavez announced on May 11 the creation of a publicly owned import-export company as part of a broader plan to combat “the hegemony of the bourgeoisie”, speculation and inflation. Despite price controls and a fixed exchange rate, inflation reached 25.1% in 2009 — the highest in Latin America. Central bank figures reported inflation climbed 5.2% in April (double that of March), bringing accumulated inflation for 2010 up to 11.3%.
On April 13, Venezuela celebrated eight years since a popular uprising defeated a US backed coup against President Hugo Chavez in April 2002 with a swearing in ceremony of 35,000 new militia members in Caracas. The day was named “Day of the Bolivarian Militias, the Armed People and the April Revolution”.
Jorge Enrique Medina Delgado, a member of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), was assassinated on March 17 in San Antonio del Tachira in the opposition-controlled state of Tachira.
In a February 17 article “Venezuela’s Renegade Aid” in the US Huffington Post, freelance journalist Patrick Adams implied there is something counter-productive about Venezuela’s aid effort in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
Tens of thousands of students rallied on February 12 in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in a show of support for President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution.
Dwarfing recent opposition protests, more than 100,000 supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez marched in Caracas on February 4 in defence of the government and to celebrate 18 years since Chavez led a failed civilian-military uprising against a corrupt government in 1992.

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