Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to "support" the homelands.
Oil giant Chevron Corp is fighting to avoid paying compensation awarded to about 30,000 Ecuadorean citizens severely affected by the dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste in the Amazon. Chevron called on a US appeals court on April 20 to stand by a US court decision last year that ruled the US$9.5 billion compensation package awarded by an Ecuadorian court had been secured fraudulently.
In April last year, the government of the Marshall Islands announced it would be taking nine nations — China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Britain and the US — to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague over their possession of nuclear weapons. The Marshallese have paid a heavy price for other countries’ nuclear weapons. After World War II, they were incorporated into the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands administered by the US.
Saudi Arabia’s month-long aerial offensive against Yemen resumed on April 22, one day after the Saudi regime announced it was over. Yemen is undergoing a humanitarian crisis, with millions of Yemenis lacking basic access to food, clean drinking water and health care. The Saudi bombardment has only worsened the plight of the Yemenis, with schools destroyed, hospitals and healthcare facilities targetted, and electricity supplies cut off. Basic infrastructure is being shattered, threatening a catastrophic health crisis for Yemeni residents.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), campaigning groups and labour-supporting members of the European parliament launched protests this month about the continued harassment and jailing of trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow has noted that, in Swaziland, “Violations against the fundamental rights of workers have become systemic”.
The United Front is a new organisation in South Africa initiated by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) that held its first People's Assembly in December under the slogan “Kwanele Kwanele!” (Enough is Enough!)
Three British oil companies are violating Argentine law by carrying out exploration efforts without permission from the state, Argentina says. Argentine Minister of Malvinas said on April 17 that an Argentine judge will soon open the prosecution against three British-based oil companies conducting exploratory activities in the Malvinas Islands, and possibly two others from the US. The Argentine government has stated that foreign companies are violating Argentine law by carrying out exploration efforts without permission from the state.
The United States is threatening the small Central American country of El Salvador with financial repercussions for supporting Venezuela's campaign for the repeal of US sanctions against the country. The left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) government of Salvador Sanchez Ceren, together with all of countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, has called on US President Barack Obama to repeal his executive order declaring Venezuela to be a “threat” to US national security.
Cuban President Raul Castro casts his ballot in April 19 municipal elections. Photo: Granma. More than 7.7 million Cubans out of 8 million registered voters cast their ballots on April 19 to elect nearly 12,600 delegates out of about 27,000 candidates to the country’s Municipal Assemblies, TeleSUR English said the next day.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will continue its unilateral cease-fire, as long as the Colombian armed forces suspends all military operations against it, TeleSUR English said on April 20. FARC representatives made the commitment at peace talks in Havana with the Colombian state, which aim to end the decades-long civil war that has wracked the South American nation.
About 800 refugees were drowned in the Mediterranean on April 18 when a boat carrying them from Libya, and trying to reach the south of Italy, capsized. Just three days earlier, more than 400 people drowned when another boat on the same route sank. Refugee deaths in the Mediterranean are rising sharply. “According to the UN and the International Organisation for Migration, 1,776 people are dead or missing so far this year, compared with 56 for the same period last year,” the April 24 Guardian reported.
A Short History Of Social Democracy: From Socialist Origins To Neoliberal Theocracy By John Rainford Resistance Books $20, 184pp. The rise and then fall of social democracy as a movement for fundamental social change is a modern tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It is one of the epic stories of the 19th and 20th centuries.