International News

Residents of the Caribbean islands of Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy and the British Virgin Islands have been left with little support to face the humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Irma.

According to the latest count, nine people died on the French administered side of Saint Martin and hundreds more were injured after Irma hit on September 5. About 1 million people have had no water or electricity since the hurricane hit with winds of 250 kilometres an hour, destroying around 95% of the French side of Saint Martin.

Cuban brigades and volunteers are continuing the arduous task of rebuilding after the damaging and deadly effects of Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region that left dozens dead and caused widespread damage.

Described by meteorologists as one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the Caribbean in a century, Irma left a path of widespread destruction in Cuba and several north-eastern Caribbean Islands, especially Barbuda.

Travelling past El Calvario Park, just a few blocks from the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, we see a familiar image: an outline of late former president Hugo Chavez’s eyes, painted across several stairs.

This image can be seen all over Caracas. The government of President Nicholas Maduro has converted it into a recognisable trademark, much like the iconic image of Che Guevara that is splashed across T-shirts, flags and walls the world over.

With the Venezuelan right-wing opposition in disarray after failing to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro through violent protest, and divided in the face of the upcoming October 15 regional elections, the frontline of the battle for Venezuela’s future has shifted outside its borders.

US singer-songwriter and activist David Rovics wrote the following post on his blog while the US was hit with a range of extreme weather events at the same time.

As Barbuda, part of the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, reels from having almost the entirety of its infrastructure and 95% of its homes destroyed due to Hurricane Irma, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rejected a moratorium proposal to discuss the island's US$3 million dollar debt.

In his September 2 article “Responding on Sanders and reforming the Democrats”, Barry Sheppard fundamentally mischaracterises the position I outlined in “Socialists and Bernie Sanders”. I specifically did not argue in favour of the far left in the US trying to “reform” the Democratic Party.

Nathan is a young London-based activist who has joined the British Labour Party as a supporter of the platform of socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn. A student who is part of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and a member of Socialist Resistance, Roberts was recently in Australia for the Radical Ideas conference in Melbourne organised by Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance over August 18-20.

Filipino socialist group, the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), released the statement slightly abridged below on September 3 after the Australian government announced to it would send special forces to work with the murderous Rodrigo Duterte regime in Mindanao in the name of the “war on terror”.

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The PLM demands that the Australian government withdraw the two Australian air force Orion spy planes participating in combat since June in Marawi, Mindanao, and abandon plans announced by Australian government ministers to send special forces.

The strike at two branches of McDonald’s in Britain was “just the start”, Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said on September 4. Speaking at a rally outside Parliament the day before, the shadow chancellor hailed the striking workers as an “absolute inspiration”.

Workers at the burger giant’s restaurants in Cambridge and Crayford, south-east London, downed aprons in protest at the harassment of workers and the victimisation of union members.

More than 100 community and social activists were assassinated in Colombia between January 1 and August 18 this year, according to a new report released by the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz). The report showed that a further 194 activists received death threats during this same time.

The report also found that 12 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were assassinated between April 14 and August 17, as were 11 relatives of FARC members.

Colombia’s communist army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), relaunched itself as a political party on September 1 at a concert for “reconciliation and peace” in Bolivar Square, Bogota.

The guerrilla movement, which fought one of the longest civil wars in history until agreeing to a ceasefire with the government last year, confirmed its new name the day before at the end of its five-day congress.

It is now known as the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons, which will allow it to retain the FARC acronym.

More than 100,000 people filled the Plaza de Mayo in the country’s capital, Buenos Aires, on September 1 to demand the reappearance with life of indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado. The rally was held to mark a month since 28-year-old Maldonado was last seen.

Maldonado had been participating in a protest with a group of indigenous Mapuche people on August 1 in Chubut province, in Argentina’s iconic Patagonia region. The protest was repressed by Border Force officers, who witnesses allege were seen dragging Maldonado into a van.

At the press conference to announce his run for president last year, Donald Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as “drug dealers, criminals, rapists” who must be stopped by “building a wall”.

Since taking office, Trump has continued to reiterate that message through policy initiatives designed to further degrade the quality of life for undocumented workers and their families. The overtly racist targeting of migrant and immigrant people by Trump has excited the far-right, and emboldened their efforts to organise, mobilise on a national scale, and terrorise working class communities of colour. 

But Trump and a re-energised far right did not appear in a vacuum.

The unthinkable possibility of nuclear war is once again in the headlines after US officials reacted with shrill threats to the North Korean government claim to have tested its most powerful nuclear bomb yet.

This is the latest escalation in a game of nuclear chicken, with calculated provocations on all sides. But to judge from the mainstream media, it is only North Korea’s Kim Jung-un who is driving the world to the brink of a nightmare.

This is false.

Flying into Caracas, the plane was full of middle class Venezuelans travelling home from Miami. On board, no one spoke to the passenger next to them for fear of finding out they were on the opposite side of the political divide.

In highly polarised Venezuela, these things are best left unsaid.

“The US is doing the same thing as it did with the economic blockade on Cuba, to try and suffocate the Venezuelan economy” explained Williams Camacaro, a long-time Venezuelan grassroots activist based in New York.

Speaking to Green Left Weekly in Caracas, Camacaro said “The sanctions will cause a lot of difficulties for Venezuela”, but “the reality is that a lot of time has passed since [the blockade was first imposed on Cuba]. Many things have changed.”

During the early hours of August 25, some 20 to 30 police posts were attacked in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships in the north of Rakhine State in Myanmar (also known as Burma). Twelve police were killed along with 16 attackers.

Responsibility for these attacks was later claimed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

In the two weeks since, the Myanmar military’s response has been brutal, widespread and indiscriminate. While accurate figures are not available, between 400 (military’s estimate), and “around a thousand” (United Nations estimate) Rohingya have been killed by the army.

Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim group who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar.

Many Rohingya came to Myanmar from what is now Bangladesh during the British colonial period (1820s to 1940s) to expand rice cultivation in Rakhine State.

About 1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar, mostly in Rakhine State, making up some 2% of the country’s population and about 30% of the state’s population.

The huge devastation, death and misery that Hurricane Harvey wreaked upon Texas and Louisiana has been seen around the world.

Meanwhile, fresh havoc is being wreaked upon the Caribbean and the US’s south-east by Hurricane Irma. In less reported news, more than 1400 people have been killed in recent weeks by horrific flooding in South Asia. The consequences of such disasters caused by extreme weather reveal the intersection of crises caused by the capitalist system.

Despite the clear signals that President Donald Trump would drop the axe on a program that protects unauthorised immigrant young adults from deportation, the announcement by Attorney-General Jeff Sessions provoked an immediate and passionate backlash from the 800,000 young immigrants who benefited from the program, as well as their supporters.

The decade-old Israeli blockade on Gaza has dramatically undermined the coastal strip’s agriculture sector.

The electricity crisis has exacerbated this problem. With electricity available for only three to four hours a day, most productive sectors in Gaza are debilitated to the point of paralysis.

Australian surf life savers once used the beach in Gaza to put on an impressive display of their skills for soldiers serving in Palestine. Surviving British footage from about 75 years ago shows a pristine and spectacular setting which could be any beach, anywhere in the world.

But now Gaza, subjected to a near-total blockade by Israel since 2007, is best described as the world’s largest, open air prison.

Half-a-million people marched in the Catalan capital of Barcelona on August 26 to express the profound desire in Catalan society to stay tolerant, open and un-militarised in the face of the August 17-18 terror attacks on Barcelona’s Rambla and in the seaside town of Cambrils.

This was partly because the attacks — claimed by Islamic State and causing 15 deaths and up to 130 wounded — coincided with the tensest moments to date in the fight between the Catalan and Spanish governments over the planned October 1 referendum on Catalan independence.

More than 800 Somali and Eritrean refugees were violently evicted on August 24 from a building they were occupying in the centre of Rome. The occupation, which began in 2013, had come to symbolised the inefficient and broken nature of refugee reception policies in Italy.

September 1 marks one month since the last time he was seen. Santiago Maldonado, a 28-year-old artisan, was protesting on August 1 in solidarity with the struggle of the Mapuche people from the Lof Cushamen community in Chubut province, in Argentina’s Patagonia region.

Football players, past and present, have spoken out on the case of Santiago Maldonado, an indigenous rights activist who has not been seen since Border Force officers violently broke up a protest by a Mapuche community in Argentina’s Patagonia region on August 1.

Flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which smashed into the Gulf Coast on August 25, had left at least 23 people dead by August 31, thousands in need of rescue on rooftops or in boats, hundreds of thousands more without power and tens of thousands in need of shelter.

Yet characterisations of the carnage by the National Weather Service as “historic”, “unprecedented” or “beyond anything experienced” should not be conflated with the spurious claim that the devastation wrought by Harvey was “unpreventable” or “unexpected”.

In his response to my August 1 (GLW #1148) piece on the strategy of US Senator Bernie Sanders, Danny Fairfax writes in GLW #1150 on why he thinks the Democratic Party can be reformed.

One error the comrade makes is his view of the primary system in the United States. He thinks it gives roughly the same chances for “grassroots movements to defeat entrenched [Democratic] party elites” as the structure of the Labour Party in Britain allowed Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the leadership. It doesn’t.

Two articles and a video presentation looking at Russia's two revolutions in 1917, Marx and Engels on ecology and Lukacs' views on alienation and class consciousness

Now is exactly the time to talk about climate change and all the other systemic injustices — from racial profiling to economic austerity — that turn disasters like Harvey into human catastrophes.

As Hurricane Harvey continues to batter Texas and Louisiana in the United States, where nearly 30 people are reported dead, the flooding and landslides that have swept Bangladesh, India and Nepal for weeks have killed more than 1,200 people and displaced millions so far.

Western media, for the most part, has paid little attention to the catastrophic flooding that has swept these South Asian regions.

The Donald Trump administration announced new, unprecedented sanctions against Venezuela on August 25 that are designed to cut off financing to Venezuela. The Trump team pretends that the sanctions are only directed at the government. But as any economist knows, this is clearly false.

By starving the economy of foreign exchange, this action will harm the private sector, most Venezuelans, the poor and the vulnerable.

A new investigation conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Research Associate Jake Johnston reveals key details involving US officials and their support for the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted former President

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has slammed the major damage caused to Venezuela over recent months of opposition violence, comparing the right-wing protesters to the white supremacists in the United States who organised violent and deadly protests  in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12.

Speaking at a media conference on August 22, Maduro deplored how “fascist groups” attacked people based on their observable ethnic characteristics — in the United States and Venezuela.

After a long battle, women will have the right to abortion for therapeutic reasons. Chile’s Constitutional Court announced a bill allowing abortion in such circumstances had been approved on August 21, despite pressure from conservative right-wing forces.

Leafing through my August 1 copy of Green Left Weekly, I thought I spotted an egregious typo. Surely, Barry Sheppard’s dispatch from San Francisco, “Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Party strategy fatally flawed” in issue 1148 had had an apostrophe inserted in the headline where there should have been a colon.

Tens of thousands of people mobilized in Boston on August 19 in a magnificent display of solidarity against a rally that far-right and neo-Nazi forces had been organising for weeks.

Defying sweltering summer heat and humidity, thousands marched and chanted their way through the streets of Boston.

About 15,000 took part in a two-mile march from Roxbury Crossing to Boston Common, where the white supremacists were gathering. But by the time the march arrived, the two-dozen or so fascists had already packed up and left, with the help of a heavy police escort.

Catalonia’s regional government has declared it will hold a referendum on October 1 over whether it should become independent from Spain. In response, Spain’s conservative People’s Party (PP) Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed that the “unconstitutional” referendum will not take place, setting the scene for the biggest crisis in the Spanish state since the 1978 transition from the Franco dictatorship.

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Phoenix, Arizona when US President Donald Trump held a campaign rally on August 22, the first since his administration was engulfed by mass outrage following his remarks about the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, that included a far-right terrorist attack that left one peaceful protester dead.

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