International News

GLW Issue 1005

India's top court officially recognised transgender rights today in a landmark ruling.
The supreme court directed the federal and state governments to allow people to identify themselves as outside the binary male/female gender definitions.

The estimated three million transgender Indians will have the same access to welfare programs for the poor, including education, healthcare and jobs to help them overcome social and economic challenges.

The court also ordered the government fight the social stigma associated with transgender people through a public awareness campaign.

Thirty Venezuelan military officers, including several generals, have been arrested for alleged conspiracy to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, a leading national newspaper has reported.

The information, reported by Ultimas Noticias, was attributed to “high level sources” in Miraflores presidential palace. Most arrested were from the Venezuelan Air Force, however a few officers from the National Guard, Navy and Armed Forces were included.

"A new study by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern Universities finds that America's government policies reflect the wishes of the rich and of powerful interest groups, rather than the wishes of the majority of citizens," Gawker reported on April 15.

A new investigation by the Associated Press into a project of the United States government-funded US Agency for International Development (USAID) project to create a Twitter-style social media network in Cuba has received a lot of attention.

The election of Luis Guillermo Solis on April 6 as president of Costa Rica, with 77% of the votes, represents the end of a historical period and opens the door to unprecedented opportunities for the left.

Solis, representing the Citizens Action Party (PAC), crushed the remnants of the Party of National Liberation (PLN), a party that he once served as general secretary.

Farooq Tariq, the general secretary of the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in Pakistan, will be one of the international guests at the 10th national conference of the Socialist Alliance, to be held in Sydney over June 7 to 9. He will speak on “The Struggle for Democracy and Justice in Pakistan” on June 7 at the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville. Visit www.socialist-alliance.org for more details.

Ahead of his trip, Green Left Weekly's Peter Boyle spoke to Tariq on Pakistani politics.

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El Salvador's Legislative Assembly approved the Social Development and Protection Law on April 3. The law was presented by President Mauricio Funes last year to ensure the groundbreaking social services initiated by his administration continued.

These programs are designed to address the needs of historically abandoned and excluded sectors. The law mandates a “legal framework for human development, protection and social inclusion that promotes, protects and guarantees the fulfillment of people’s rights”.

When Barack Obama was elected President in the 2008 election, it marked an historic first. An African-American was elected in the country noted for its oppression of Blacks since the time of slavery.

My next door neighbour, an African-American who knew my history as a supporter of the Black liberation upsurge of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, raised his fist in celebration when he saw me the next day.

The violent anti-government protests that shook Venezuela in February have again thrust the issue of the pace of change into the broader debate over socialist transformation.

Radical Chavistas, reflecting the zeal of the movement’s rank and file, call for a deepening of the “revolutionary process”. Moderate Chavistas favour concessions to avoid an escalation of the violence.

The Spanish congress met in Madrid on April 8 to hear a petition from the parliament of Catalonia: that the power to hold a non-binding referendum on its political future be granted to Catalonia under Section 150 of the Spanish constitution.

Thousands of teachers, civil servants and other workers marched through Casablanca on April 6 to protest against the Moroccan government's austerity plans, the Morning Star said the next day.

During the march, police on motorcycles swooped down and arrested several pro-democracy activists. Officers claimed they were using the rally to denounce the monarchy.

Italy’s new centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has proclaimed his intention to end corruption and economic woe. But there are doubts as to whether his government's actions will benefit the country's working people.

At 39, Renzi, a member of Italy’s Democratic Party, is the youngest PM in Italy's history. His youth and optimistic rhetoric have earned him the title of “Italy’s Obama”.

The Venezuelan people have marked the 12th anniversary of the right-wing military coup on April 11, 2002, that briefly ousted former President Hugo Chavez.

In an historically unprecedented event, the coup was overturned within 48 hours by a mass uprising of the people and soldiers loyal to the Bolivarian revolution.

This year’s anniversary occurs in the context of one of the most intense right-wing destabilisation campaigns since the dramatic days of 2002.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has approved Bs40 million (about $6.75 million) in funding for an environmental mission, and announced the creation of a national ecosocialist school.

During a meeting of Venezuela's environmental movement, Maduro called on students and young people to join in state-sponsored environment rehabilitation projects.

GLW Issue 1004

More than 1000 people from 50 countries have signed the statement launched by Egypt Solidarity in response to mass death sentences imposed by Egypt’s military regime on alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On March 24, a court in Minya province condemned 529 people to death for the murder of a police officer in August last year after a trial which lasted just 45 minutes, where defence lawyers were not allowed to speak.

More than 500 Indian migrant workers have died in Qatar since January 2012, The Guardian said on February 19, “revealing for the first time the shocking scale of death toll among those building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup”.

The revelation came after The Guardian reported in January that 185 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar last year, taking the total of Nepalese workers to die to at least 382 over two years.

Why does Bosnia-Herzegovina inspire so little interest and curiosity in the media and political class when, on the contrary, Ukraine is front-page news?

Is it because its name evokes the war that, 20 years ago, claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of men and women more than 200,000 dead and 600,000 exiles in the face of virtual indifference in the West as to what was happening one and a half hours by plane from Paris? Or because it often wakes up to the call of the muezzin?

In New South Wales, politicians have been debating a bill known as “Zoe's Law”, originally introduced by Christian Democratic Party’s Fred Nile.

Zoe’s Law aim to give legal rights to foetuses older than 20 weeks or weighing more than 400 grams. The law opens up the possibility of a pregnant woman being charged for damaging her own foetus.

April marks the 50th anniversary of the US-backed military coup d’etat in Brazil. The coup kicked off a brutal 20 military dictatorship.

Military coups followed in Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. With the support of the US government and Paraguay, under dictator General Alfredo Stroessner, the region's regimes organised Operation Condor, a political repression and terror campaign to suppress opposition.

“In a few short months,” principle speaker for Left Unity Salman Shaheen said in a March 31 New Statesman article, the new party “has attracted more than 1,800 members. With a new member joining every 10 minutes over the weekend, the party is going from strength to strength.”

Je yang camp, located a 30 minutes drive on often unpaved or rocky road from Laiza, the capital of rebels in Kachin State in northern Burma, accommodates about 8000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The wild landscape around the camp suggests the scenery would have been far more stunning without the presence of humans.

Despite its secrecy and lack of appropriate media coverage, many people have heard about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the huge free trade agreement being negotiated by some of the biggest economies on the Pacific rim.

Some of it details have been leaked by WikiLeaks, exposing the behind-closed-doors machinations of governments and large corporations.

But very few people have heard about PACER-Plus, a free trade agreement that will include the small island states at the heart of the Pacific.

In yet another parliamentary coup, new austerity measures were passed through parliament, albeit by a narrow majority, on March 30.

The bill contained three articles, which seem to give the final blow to the remaining worker and pension rights, the country’s economy and public ownership of land and services.

As the bill was passed, protesters outside parliament were beaten, tear-gassed and detained by special police squads.

The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a US-sponsored resolution on “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka” on March 27.

But the resolution makes no mention of the plight of the Tamil people. The word “Tamil” does not appear once.

The resolution expresses “serious concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly”.

As they are prone to do, the private media have invented a new thing. In both English and Spanish, they are calling it the colectivos.

They are meant to be irrational, cruel, grotesque armed motorbike riders who “enforce” the revolution in Venezuela and are responsible for most of the violence afflicting the South American nation, which has left more than 30 people dead since February.

The opposition barricaders are presented as the innocent victims of these collectivos, who apparently work with the National Guard and have the support of President Nicolas Maduro's government.

Via Campesina is a global organisation of peasants and one of the largest and most significant international social movements. The statement below in solidarity with Venezuela’s revolution and peasants was released by its International Coordinating Commission of Via Campesina International, which met in Managua, Nicaragua on March 29.

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GLW Issue 1003

United States President Barack Obama has received scorn for remarks made during a speech in Brussels on March 26. Obama defended the US invasion of Iraq in a bid to chastise Russia for its actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

Fending off repeated accusations that the US has lost its moral authority given the invasion of Iraq and other breaches of international law in recent years, Obama said: “Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system.

When the later president Hugo Chavez was first elected president in 1998, it began a process of change that has sought to expand the democratic and social rights of the poor majority who had previously been excluded. This process is known as the Bolivarian revolution.

It has included a new constitution guaranteeing previously unheard of social rights, re-nationalising the oil industry and promoting participatory democracy.

Newly re-elected President Michelle Bachelet has reaffirmed her election promise to introduce free tertiary education in Chile — one of the demands of the country’s powerful student movement.

In elections in December, the New Majority coalition of centre-left parties won a majority in both the Chilean Congress and Senate. Bachelet, the New Majority candidate, was elected president.

On March 11, Bachelet began her second term as president, having served as president from 2006-2010. She replaced right-wing president Sebastian Pinera.