International News

GLW Issue 1050

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 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.

Nearly one million children in Nepal are in urgent need of aid after a catastrophic earthquake struck, leading children's charity UNICEF warned Sunday.

At least 940,000 children are living in areas badly affected by the 7.9 magnitude tremor, which has killed over 3,200 so far. ​According to the charity, supplies of food and water are dwindling, electricity is down, and hundreds of thousands of people are sleeping out in open areas out of fear of strong aftershocks, which have further impeded rescue efforts.


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 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.

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.

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 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!)


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.

A central pillar of the Spanish economic and political establishment came crashing down on Paril 16.

Rodrigo Rato, former deputy prime minister in the 1996-2004 People’s Party (PP) government of Jose Maria Aznar and head of the International Monetary Fund from 2004 to 2007, was detained on suspicion of tax evasion, concealment of assets and fraud.

Greek prime minister and leader of Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras, released the statement below on April 20, which is abridged from .

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The latest humanitarian tragedy, with hundreds of casualties off the coast of Lampedusa, fills us with sadness and worry. None of us can remain impassive when hundreds of souls are lost in the Mediterranean, in their effort to escape war and poverty.

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.

“Too many people have already lost their lives in the Mediterranean sea, more than a thousand this week, which is a major crime against humanity,” The Party of the European Left (EL) said in a April 20 statement. “We need to stop it immediately!”

The EL, a group made up of left-wing parties from across Europe, said: “We reject any attempt to solve the so-called 'migration problem' by an increased militarisation.”

Results for Sudan’s parliamentary and presidential elections, held between April 13 and 15 and extended for a further day after low voter turnout, will be announced on April 27. Yet no one doubts the return to government of President Omer al-Bashir and his National Congress Party.

GLW Issue 1049

The revolutionary “The Law for Labour Justice and Recognition of Work from Home,” was passed by Ecuador's National Assembly on April 14, TeleSUR English reported on April 15.

The law, which was first proposed by President Rafael Correa on November 15 to about 100,000 workers, passed by 91 votes to 29. The law will extend the benefits of the social security system to all Ecuadoreans wishing to be affiliated.

Up to 90% of the electorate voted in Bolivia’s “local” elections on March 29 for governors, mayors and departmental assembly and municipal council members throughout the country.

The governing Movement for Socialism (MAS) of left-wing President Evo Morales once again emerged as the only party with national representation. It is by far the major political force in Bolivia, and far ahead of the opposition parties, none of which has a significant presence in all nine departments.


Photo: Unite.org.nz.

Striking McDonald’s workers took part in marches and pickets in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin on April 15, with many speaking to the crowds and media about the hardship of living with insecure work and income.

Meral Cicek (pictured) is the chair of Kurt Kadin Iliskiler Merkezi, the Kurdish Centre for Women's Affairs in Erbil, in the autonomous Kurdish Region in northern Iraq).

Cicek spoke to the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s Florian Wilde during the World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunis last month. It has been translated by Leandros Fischer.

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Workers in more than US 200 cities across the US went on strike and joined marches on April 15 “during what organisers claimed was the largest protest by low-wage workers in US history”, the Guardian said the next day.

“A high-ranking official close to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the Greek government is not planning to give in to its creditors’ pressures and go against the program they had promised to the Greek people who brought them to power,” GreekReporter.com said on April 16.

The comment came amid rising tensions between Greece's SYRIZA-led anti-austerity government and its creditors — the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Whistleblower website WikiLeaks published a slew of documents on April 16 casting light on secretive efforts by entertainment and electronics giant Sony to lobby the US government on hot button issues such as cracking down on online piracy.

One collection of emails indicates staff from Sony's US subsidiary, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), sought to maneuver around a US$5,000 limit on corporate contributions to political campaigns to contribute to Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's re-election war chest.

Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) persisted with April 13-15 national elections, despite widespread condemnation of the process from inside and outside the country.

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 coup, contested the presidency among 15 mostly unknown candidates.

The election was boycotted by opposition groups. They have called for an inclusive consultation process to resolve the country’s substantial problems, establishing a transitional government, and immediately ending the repression of dissent as prerequisites for free and fair elections.


President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela began his visit to Panama City for the Summit of the Americas with a visit to the impoverished neighbourhood of El Chorrillo to lay a wreath at the monument to those killed by the US bombing of the community during the 1989 US invasion of Panama.

The seventh Summit of the Americas, held in Panama City on April 10 and 11, was widely hailed as a victory for left-leaning and progressive forces in the region, particularly Venezuela and Cuba.

A recently published report has revealed that the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq was responsible for the deaths of about 1 million Iraqis, or 5% of the population. The report also tallies hundreds of thousands of casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the US-led war.

Ecuador has lifted 1.3 million people out of poverty in the past eight years, a new survey revealed on April 13, TeleSUR English said that day.

The results of the first “Survey of Living Conditions in Ecuador” showed that poverty has fallen by one third. It also revealed that 900,000 individuals have been lifted out of extreme poverty, whilst the Gini coefficient, which measures wealth gaps, has dropped 4.8 points since 2006.

United States politics is witnessing a new sorry spectacle — and one with real consequences for Australia, as well as other nations on the Pacific rim.

US President Barack Obama is trying to drum up support from his party to implement the agenda of the huge corporations that sought to block his election and re-election via the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” deal involving 12 Pacific rim nations.

The text of the proposed agreement and the negotiations have been kept secret, but key chapters have leaked and been published by WikiLeaks.

The Greek government said on April 17 that it was releasing detainees in its neglected immigration centers.

“The people that were there, were living an indescribable barbarity,” said Greek immigration minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou. According to Christodoulopoulou, many of the detainees were illegally being held indefinitely.

Spain's left-wing Podemos party would win a general election if it were held today, a Metroscopa poll released on April 12 found. General elections are scheduled for December.

Podemos, which was founded in January last year, came first with the support of 22.1% of those questioned. The opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) regained lost ground to come second with 21.9% of the vote. The ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) would come third with 20.8% of the vote.

A video released by Minority Rights Group on April 8 shows the aftermath of the “Paniai massacre” in West Papua in December last year, bringing to light Indonesia's human rights abuses.

On December 8,Indonesian security forces shot dead four protesters — Simon Degei, 18; Otianus Gobai, 18; Alfius Youw, 17; Yulian Yeimo, 17 — and wounded dozens of others in Enarotali, Paniai district, in West Papua.