“Capitalism is the number one enemy of humanity”, Bolivian President Evo Morales said in his closing speech to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held on April 19-22 in Cochabamba. “It turns everything into merchandise, it seeks continual expansion. The system needs to be changed.” More than 35,000 people attended the summit, organised by the Bolivian government in response to the challenge of climate change after rich nations refused to allow an agreement for serious action at the December United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen.
Over April 17-18, Tamils across Australia voted overwhelmingly in favour of the formation of an independent and sovereign homeland — Tamil Eelam — in the north and east of Sri Lanka. In what was described by organisers as “the most successful political event for the diaspora in Australia”, 99.38% of participants voted “yes”.
Venezuela’s principal trade union federation, the National Union of Workers (Unete), held the second session of its extraordinary congress on April 24, in a push to re-launch the federation. Hundreds of trade union delegates from around the country gathered in Union House in El Paraiso to discuss and vote on new set of statutes for the federation and a plan to organise nationwide elections scheduled for July.
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) concluded its five-month extraordinary congress on April 25 with the approval of highly anticipated party principles and statutes. This was just in time for primaries on May 2, in which millions of PSUV members will choose parliamentary candidates to run against a newly united opposition platform called the “Democratic Alternative” in September.
As a doctor working in the front line of the public hospital system for a decade, I have been watching the debate around health reform with great interest. The phrase “controlled locally, funded federally” has been repeated ad nauseam by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Imagine if we could hear him saying “free universal health care for all ... no more handouts to the private sector ... break the feudal strangle hold of the colleges on the number of specialists being trained ... will include dentistry ... a healthy society ... a shorter working week so we have time to exercise...”.
Bolivia's World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was radical, inspiring, uncompromising and exactly what was needed. Up to 30,000 people from six continents took part in the summit, which was held in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba from April 19 to 22. The huge oil spill from a BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico underscores the summit’s significance. About 800,000 litres of oil are spewing out a day. The company admits it may not be able to stop the leak for weeks — or even months.
On May 1 in Kathmandu, between 500,000-1 million people took over the streets in a dramatic show of force by Nepal’s Maoists to demand a return to civilian rule and a democratic process of creating a new, pro-people constitution. With the government refusing popular demands for its resignation, an indefinite general strike has been called from May 2 in what the Maoists are calling a “final push” to resolve the struggle for power between the poor majority and Nepal’s elite.
Green Left Weekly stands for putting people before profit. That includes rejecting the idea that anything that people need or enjoy should be subordinate to the drive for profit, be it health care, public transport or indeed sport. But unfortunately sport under capitalism is increasingly driven by the dollar, not people's enjoyment or community participation.
African American artist Gil Scott-Heron, whose political poetry influenced a generation of rap artists, sensationally announced the cancellation of his planned gig in Tel Aviv on April 24. Speaking onstage at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Scott-Heron told the audience he “hated war” and told the packed audience his Israel tour date would not be going ahead. Fans dismayed at the planned gig had earlier disrupted his concert. They repeatedly heckled the performer and asked him to cancel.
Two hundred and seventy people gathered for the Resistance 2010: The World Can't Wait! conference in Thirroul, near Wollongong, over April 24-26. The national conference brought together young activists from all over Australia to discuss a broad range of political issues and to get organised in the face of an uncertain future.