International News

Since opposition protests began in Venezuela in early April, much of the media coverage has focused on clashes in Caracas. However, the opposition’s campaign to bring down the government of Nicolas Maduro has not been limited to the country’s capital.

Marco Teruggi reports on a recent visit to the small, but strategic town of Socopo, in the largely rural state Barinas, which has been the site of a campaign of terror and an all-out struggle for power.

Recent weeks have brought to the fore two main issues concerning US President Donald Trump.

The first was his doubling down on one central theme of his election campaign — economic nationalism. This was found in his charge that most of the rest of the world is somehow “exploiting” the United States — and he will fight back.

The second is his drive to establish himself as an authoritarian president, the “strongman” who can take on the dysfunction in the two capitalist parties that dominate US politics.

In the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the 120 apartments of the Grenfell Tower in London, with at least 17 fatalities, a heartbroken Grenfell Tower Action Group pointed to the repeated, detailed warnings it provided to authorities that the building was a disaster waiting to happen.

"This is a fundamental precept of paramilitarism: clear the land to ensure smooth functioning for big business deals and, in this sense, this is no different to what has happened in the past few years in this country, which is the consolidation of what I would call a militarised neoliberal model, militarised in both a state and para-state sense."

An interview with Renan Vega Cantor, a professor at Colombia’s National Pedagogical University.

Jose Maria Lemus, president of the Tibu Community Board in Colombia’s North of Santander state, has been killed, the Peoples’ Congress reported June 14.

His murder adds to the growing list of recently assassinated social, Indigenous and human rights activists in the South American country.

In the aftermath of Britain’s June 8 elections, in which Labour defied expectations to make major gains while the Conservative government of Theresa May lost its majority, the surge of support for Labour’s socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity platform has grown.

The plan had seemed so well organised.

Its first stage was executed on October 1 last year when the ruling elite of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) got the party’s Federal Political Committee (FPC) to force the resignation of general secretary Pedro Sanchez.

Brazil's trade union confederations have called for a new general strike to shut down the country’s largest cities on June 30 in protest at neoliberal labour and retirement pension reforms, as well as to demand the resignation of unelected president Michel Temer who is currently embroiled in several corruption controversies.

South African President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle is nothing more and nothing less than the latest instalment of a long-running story of the capture of the African National Congress (ANC) and the post-1994 democratic state it has politically run. 

It is but a consequence of a political, economic and social crisis that has been forged and fed by the ANC – and its Alliance partners, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) – as a whole, in conjunction with capital. 

Withdrawing from the United Nations Paris Climate Accord is one of more than 100 electoral campaign promises that Donald Trump made. By delivering on that promise, the US joined Nicaragua and Syria, the only countries that did not sign the agreement.

Nicaragua’s decision to not sign was not due to any indifference or denialism of climate change. Rather, the Central American nation’s reason was the contrary. It was based on its view that the agreement was not enough to address the climate crisis. Syria is in the middle of civil war and under US and European sanctions.

Sarah Ayoub was baking bread. She was putting a loaf into a clay oven when she heard the explosions.

That was on June 5, 1967, the day Israel declared war against Egypt.

As Israel’s tanks drew closer, Sarah grew increasingly worried about Munther, her husband. He had gone out to work, transporting goods along with a merchant.

After an hour passed, he made it back to their home in Beach refugee camp, part of Gaza City.

At the recent G7 summit, held May 26-27 in Taormina, Italy, US President Donald Trump said the US was going to leave the Paris Agreement on climate change, a move that may have a devastating effect for the whole planet.

In response to Trump’s declarations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel labelled Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May as unreliable partners, saying “we must fight for our own future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans”.

An important debate has opened up among the left, both within Venezuela and internationally, as a result of the recent turmoil in the country.

In an attempt to bring the views of grassroots Venezuelan militants to an English-speaking audience, Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes interviewed Stalin Perez Borges.

A life-long union and socialist activist, Perez Borges is today a member of the United League of Chavista Socialists (LUCHAS), a radical current within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

Gay men in the Chechen Republic are being kidnapped and detained in torture camps as part of the government’s attempt to “purge” the country of homosexuality.

Chechnya is currently ruled by the wealthy war criminal Ramzan Kadyrov, who has the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Russia’s "gay propaganda laws", which criminalise the dissemination of information about LGBTQI issues, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chechnya’s deeply homophobic culture. 

Theresa May desperately clung to power yesterday by resorting to a coalition of terror with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

After months of smearing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a so-called “terrorist sympathiser” for engaging in peace talks with the IRA, she leapt into bed with the notorious loyalist party to avoid the humiliation of seeing her opportunist snap election force her out of No 10.

Ten DUP MPs will allow a government that looks set to be — in the words she previously used against other parties — a “weak and unstable coalition of chaos.”

After promising for months that she’d never call an early election, Tory Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election in April — fully expecting to be returned with a thumping Conservative majority.

Instead, the cynically conceived June 8 poll resulted in a disaster for Conservative politics in Britain. The Tories have lost their majority and now face a hung parliament.

Jorge Martin, secretary of Hands Off Venezuela, an international organisation that campaigns in solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and in opposition to imperialist intervention, recently visited Venezuela in the midst of the current upheaval rocking the nation.

About 60,000 public school teachers gathered on the streets of Colombia’s capital, Bogota, on June 6 demanding a government response to a crisis in the sector.

The teachers have been on strike for over a month now demanding reform in education that would see dramatic investment in the sector in terms of pay and medical care as well as a reduction in the student-teacher ratio and improvement in school meals, among others.

Colombia’s government reached an agreement with Buenaventura residents on June 6, bringing an end to 22 days of strike action in the country’s largest port city.

The strike action in Buenaventura resulted from decades of utter neglect of the region coupled with unfulfilled promises by successive governments to address the situation in the port city.

Two major anniversaries recently marked the significant change that has taken place on the Spanish left in the last several years.

May 15 was the sixth anniversary of the Indignados mass mobilisations and protests against the brutal austerity unleashed by Spanish government in the wake of the economic crisis. Meanwhile, May 25 marked the third anniversary since the emergence of Podemos as the political voice of the anti-austerity movement with the election of the five Podemos candidates (including key leader Pablo Iglesias) into the European Parliament.

Government-sanctioned mass killings in Gambella in Ethiopia by South Sudanese forces, which decimated the Anuak Tribe in January last year, is a clear example of the second wave of atrocities of the maleficient rulers towards the forgotten people of the African Horn.

The hunger strike launched in April by more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners ended on May 27 when the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) agreed to key concessions to improve the prisoners’ conditions.

The announcement of the end of the 41-day hunger strike, coinciding with the start of Ramadan, was greeted with relief and joy by prisoners’ families and supporters across Palestine and the world. By the time the deal to improve conditions to end the hunger strike was struck, about 800 prisoners were still participating.

What seemed at first to be a depressing and predictable British election, with the hard right Tories under Prime Minister Theresa May set for a larger majority, has become a fascinating election contest.

Labour’s support has surged to the point where something unthinkable just weeks ago — a Jeremy Corbyn prime ministership — is now at least an outside chance.

In the face of ongoing attempts to violently depose the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, the Socialist Alliance reaffirms its support and solidarity with the Venezuelan people, their government and the Bolivarian revolution.

Contrary to claims by the corporate media and right-wing governments in the region, Venezuela is not witnessing a peaceful protest movement for democracy but rather its opposite: a counter-revolutionary wave of violence that seeks to provoke greater bloodshed, and potentially, an international intervention.

Two murders and an attempted murder in Portland, Oregon, on the first day of Ramadan (May 26), by a white racist are the latest in a string of hate crimes inspired by President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and actions since he took office.

Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps track of hate crimes, told Democracy Now! on May 30: “President Trump, whose words in the campaign unleashed against immigrants, against Muslims and others, unleashed a wave of hate crimes and bias incidents, especially right after the election.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) and its current secretary general Luis Almagro has pursued policies that aggravate the current crisis in Venezuela.

Rather than providing a way to help mediate the bitter conflict in Venezuela, Almagro has joined one side.

The position of the OAS sadly reflects the longer history of the organisation.

Less than a year after being installed in power via a constitutional coup, the government of Brazilian President Michel Temer is teetering on the brink of collapse.

Plagued by corruption scandals – the same pretext used by the right-wing controlled judiciary and parliament to topple centre-left president Dilma Rousseff – and popularity figures in the single digits, the Temer regime is now facing a growing revolt from below demanding “direct elections now!”

As security forces repressed anti-government protests in the capital, a military police operation to break up a protest camp left 10 civilians dead, with witnesses claiming they were killed execution-style.

None of this made it into the international media however, because it happened in Brazil, not Venezuela.

Filipino police and military forces in the small city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao attempted to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf criminal gang, on May 23. By the end of the day, President Rodrigo Duterte’s government had declared martial law throughout the island for 60 days and launched a military assault.

By June 2, that ongoing assault, including air strikes, had killed at least 160 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

This dramatic escalation represents the further slide of Duterte’s administration towards authoritarian rule and a betrayal of his election campaign promise to pursue a negotiated end to Mindanao’s multiple insurgencies.

A rebellion has been raging in Buenaventura - Colombia’s largest port city - since May 16, when residents decided to embark on massive anti-government marches to demand an end to chronic state neglect and abandonment, corruption, crime and armed conflict.

The government’s inability to attend to protesters’ demands has only spurred an escalation of protests that has not shown signs of calming, even though the mayor’s office issued a decree declaring a curfew and a ban on public demonstrations.

Colombia’s national teachers’ strike marked three weeks on June 1 as tens of thousands of education workers continue to pressure the government to respond to their demands for better working conditions, higher salaries and more investment in public education.

In the latest mass protest, about 300,000 teachers took to the streets on May 31 to call attention to education issues in major cities across the country, including Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla.

According to data from a new report, Venezuela and Uruguay have the most equal wealth distributions in Latin America, while Colombia and Guatemala are the most unequal nations.

The report was published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), which is a United Nations regional commission based in Santiago, Chile.

As of 2015 Venezuela and Uruguay each have Gini coefficients (used to measure inequality in which 0 represents the absence of inequality and 1 a maximum) of 0.40 or less, compared to the continent's average of 0.469.

As President Donald Trump delivered his expected announcement in June 1 of withdrawing the United States from Paris climate agreement, environmental group 350.org laid out steps for an energised people's movement that could “rise up like never before” and stop the anti-science White House from destroying the planet.

A new influenza pandemic is quite possible, according to a study by researchers at the University of NSW’s School of Public Health. The study notes that 19 different influenza strains have affected humans in the last 100 years, but the speed with which new strains have emerged has increased over the past 15 years. There have been seven new strains in the past five years alone.

After 40 days without food, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have suspended their hunger strike in Israeli jails.

The end of the strike came after 20 hours of intense negotiations between the strike’s leaders, including imprisoned Fatah figure Marwan Barghouti, and the Israel Prison Service, according to a statement issued on the morning of May 27 by the prisoners solidarity committee.

The following statement was released by Filipino socialist party Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) on May 25 in response to the government's May 23 declaration of martial law in Mindanao for a 60-day period.

* * *

An eco-socialist and international coordinator for the Greens Party of England and Wales, Derek Wall is challenging Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May as the Greens candidate for May’s seat of Maidenhead under the slogan “Make June the End of May”.

Campaigning against racist migration controls, austerity and May’s support for fox hunting is giving Wall’s campaign traction, and it enjoys strong support from the Kurdish community.

In his first hours of freedom after 36 years behind bars in US prison, Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera vowed on May 17 to continue to fight for freedom and independence while expressing solidarity with progressive movements across the Americas.

“During the years I was jailed I always thought I would return home,” Lopez said during a press conference, thanking all the progressive organisations and world leaders who supported him and worked for his release over the years.

In recent weeks, there have been some worrying developments in the Italian political scene. Extremist, anti-refugee and xenophobic ideas are increasingly gaining ground.

In a growing climate of uncertainty and social instability, all major political forces seem to be riding the wave of discontent to raise their electoral profiles, rather than trying to calm things down.

A maternity hospital in Venezuela's Miranda state was attacked on May 17 as the death count in ongoing violent anti-government protests rose to 53. 

The attack comes as violent opposition protests demanding early presidential elections enter their seventh week, with new deaths being reported as opposition supporters clash with authorities, attack public institutions and state security personnel, and blockade roads nationwide. 

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