International News

GLW Issue 1095

Truck drivers blocked major roads across France on May 17 while angry workers and students marched through city streets. Demonstrators were protesting against the longer working hours and reduced overtime payments ordered by President Francois Hollande’s government.


Protest against cuts to the Library of Birmingham last year.

The main thing to realise about the crisis in Britain's steel industry, which is rapidly shedding jobs, is that the government has been clear and decisive.

A few months ago, when political commentators looked ahead to the coming year, there was a widespread prediction that Labour would suffer substantial losses in the May 5 local council elections. Would it be 200 seats lost? Perhaps a little less, perhaps even more?

After all, these elections would be for seats previously contested in 2012, a mid-term peak for Ed Miliband. It was assumed that Labour's new left-wing, anti-austerity leader Jeremy Corbyn must be electorally unpopular.

The May 9 election of controversial populist Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippines is a sign that capitalism is in crisis in the Philippines, chairperson of the left-wing Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) Sonny Melencio told a conference in Sydney on May 14.

Melencio told the Socialism for the 21st Century conference: “People were fed up with the old 'trapo' [traditional politician] and elite forces that have long ruled the government since the overthrow of military dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on May 11 to 13 reinforced extractive industry and high-tech myths.

The gathering unveiled the elite’s exuberant imagination and its lack of exposure to the continent’s harsh economic realities. As an antidote, grassroots protesters all over Africa are questioning the logic of export-led “growth” and renewed fiscal austerity. Instead they demand policies that meet their basic needs.

Bernie Sanders is more likely to defeat Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump in the November general elections than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton according to recent polls, Al Jazeera said on May 17.

Nonpartisan polling organisation Real Clear Politics showed that Sanders — who has run as a socialist supporting a political revolution against Wall Street — had a 13% advantage over Trump. Clinton's lead was about 5%.

US Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told a crowd of supporters in North Dakota on May 13 that it would be wrong to view him as a saviour who could solve the country's problems alone, TeleSUR English said.

The self-styled democratic socialist said the US needed a movement of millions of people instead.


Democratic Convention, Nevada, May 14.

The 16 hour-long Democratic Convention in Nevada crumbled into chaos on May 14, TeleSUR English said that day, as supporters of socialist presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders raised allegations of voter suppression.

US Uncut reported on May 17 that Sanders issued a blistering response to the Nevada convention in which he denounced the entire process as illegitimate.

Candidate for the socialist Awami Workers Party (AWP) Baba Jan will contest a May 28 by-election for the assembly of the Pakistani-administered Himalayan territory of Gilgit-Baltistan from his jail cell.

Baba Jan has been described as a climate justice prisoner. In 2010, his home area in Hunza was devastated by climate change-fuelled floods and landslides. A protest movement developed against the misappropriation of relief funds. Police responded with brutality and protesters were killed and arrested.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has hit out at “mounting aggressions” against his government after it was confirmed that a US plane had twice violated Venezuelan airspace.

The US Boeing 707 E-3 Sentry is reported to have illegally entered Venezuela’s national airspace on May 11 and 13.

Both incursions were detected by Venezuela’s Bolivarian air force and have sparked rumours that the US might be conducting covert spying operations over Venezuela.

“This plane has all the mechanisms to carry out electronic espionage,” said Maduro on his television program on May 17.

Brazil’s Federal Senate voted on May 12 to proceed with the impeachment process against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff in a move that many see as an attempt by the right-wing opposition to carry out an “institutional coup”.

Right-wing protests hit the streets of Caracas and other cities across Venezuela — and in some cases turned violent, attacking police and other targets.

The protests were part of a May 18 national day of action to demand that electoral authorities speed up the process of scheduling a recall referendum against left-wing President Nicolas Maduro.

The national mobilisation came after right-wing leader Henrique Capriles gave a press conference on May 17 in which he invoked violence and called for the country's armed forces to “pick a side”.

A group of over 800 international academics and intellectuals from around the world, calling themselves "Humanity Against the Coup in Brazil" released a statement on May 16 condemning the ouster of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff by right-wing elements. The statement says that Rousseff's ouster on May 11 was an "imposed coup d'etat by a questionable and corrupt Congress."

As protests continue in Brazil over the Legislature’s vote to suspend President Dilma Rousseff and put her on trial, Noam Chomsky told Democracy Now!: "We have the one leading politician who hasn’t stolen to enrich herself, who’s being impeached by a gang of thieves, who have done so. That does count as a kind of soft coup."

Venezuela's socialist president Nicolas Maduro told a crowd of supporters on May 15 that to increase productivity and help alleviate scarcity of basic products facing the South American nation, all businesses and factories closed down by their owners would be seized and handed over to their workers so production could be restarted.

“A stopped factory [is] a factory turned over to the people,” Maduro said. “The moment to do it has come, I'm ready to do it to radicalise the Revolution.”

Last year, Puerto Rico's governor announced it simply did not have the money to repay its US$72 billion debt — on bonds owed mainly to US financiers.

On May 2, the US's Caribbean colony defaulted on $400 million that was due on that day. A further $2 billion is due on June 1.


United Left leader Alberto Garzon and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias celebrating the formation of an alliance between the two parties.

Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos and older left-wing party United Left announced on May 9 that they had reached a preliminary agreement to run on a joint platform before Spain's new general election on June 26.

GLW Issue 1094


Bernie Sanders addresses a huge crowd in Sacramento, California. Photo via US Uncut.

More than 15,000 supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders gathered in Sacramento’s Bonney Field stadium in California as part of an event organized by the senator’s campaign ahead of the major primary in the state next month.

Italy's militant trade union centre, the General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), drew tens of thousands onto the streets of Rome on May 7 to denounce the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the EU and the US.

Demonstrators gathered in San Giovanni Square held up anti-TTIP banners reading: “American chicken stuffed with hormones on our tables? Stop TTIP.” Other posters proclaimed: “People before profits” and “Free circulation? For people not capital,” while chanting slogans denouncing the treaty.

John Bellamy Foster is the editor of US-based Marxist journal Monthly Review. His most recent book, written with Paul Burkett, is Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique (Brill, 2016). The French magazine La Revue du Projet asked him to reply to three questions on ecology and Marxism. A translated version below is reprinted, slightly abridged, from Climate & Capitalism.

With an organisation as important as the Labour Party accused of something as serious as antisemitism, it’s a relief that everyone has managed to stay calm and measured, and not exaggerate things in any way.

Fort McMurray, the city that serves as the hub of one of the world’s largest climate-wrecking projects, Canada’s Alberta tar sands, is burning to the ground due to wildfires sparked by unseasonably dry and hot weather.

The wildfires began at the end of April in forests west of the city. It worsened when strong winds carried the fires into the city, creating quasi-apocalyptic conditions. The city centre is burning, including the city hospital. Flights in and out of the airport were cancelled as of May 4.

In the wake of Obama's historic visit, the Cuban Communist Party held its 7th Congress on April 16-19 in the Havana Convention Centre. Beneath a backdrop featuring a huge likeness of Fidel Castro, PCC secretary Raul Castro delivered the main report on behalf of the Central Committee.

Fidel being Fidel, many Cubans would have been reassured by his surprise appearance at the closing session on the eve of his 90th birthday. Traditionally, PCC congresses are the culmination of a months-long process of consultation with the Party's activist base and the wider Cuban society.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn publicly criticised human rights abuses in Indonesian-occupied West Papua and backed Papuan demands for self-determination, in a May 3 meeting at Britain’s House of Commons.

The meeting was a “historic step on the road to freedom for West Papua”, International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) said. At the meeting, a new declaration was signed calling for an internationally supervised vote on the independence of West Papua.

This picture looks like any ordinary scenery from the Kobanê countryside. The idyllic villages and golden wheat fields with the sleepy little houses tucked away across the distance. But, it is more than that.

This is Ain Issa, an area of Tell Abyad and the frontline between the Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD) and Daesh (Islamic State).


Supporters of British Labour Party's socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Despite his insurgent campaign scoring a string of impressive against-all-expectations wins, Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was declared all but dead-and-buried after Hillary Clinton won a clear victory in a controversial New York primary marred by irregularities on April 19.


A National Day of Action to Defend Democracy was held on March 31, to oppose the coup plot against Dilma and mark the anniversary of the 1964 military coup.

Right-wing forces in Brazil are seeking to impeach Workers' Party (PT) President Dilma Rousseff in what has been widely condemned as an “institutional coup”.


Protest against TTIP. Hanover, Germany, April 23.

Could things get any worse for the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the United States and the European Union?

On May 2, a hugely damaging leak of TTIP texts confirmed exactly what everyone had feared about the deal — with all its hugely pro-corporate provisions on display for everyone to see.


Fighters in the Rojava-based Women's Protection Units (YPJ) militia.

Since a “cessation in hostilities” in Syria's multi-sided civil war was declared on February 27, about 6000 people have been killed in the conflict.