International News

Peasants across Africa are intensifying their struggles against land grabs and other harmful policies that promote industrial agriculture. At a recent international conference organised by the world’s largest peasant movement, Via Campesina, African peasants had opportunities to share their experiences of struggle and to learn.

“It is amazing to see how linked our struggles are,” said Nicolette Cupido from the Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign (FSC) in South Africa.

Rescue personnel had discovered 499 dead bodies as of August 20, since a devastating landslide hit near the Sierra Leone capital Freetown on August 14, the city's chief coroner said. Humanitarian groups say that more than 600 people remain missing.

The worst flood-related tragedy Africa has seen in years occurred when the side of Mount Sugar Loaf collapsed after heavy rain. It buried parts of the mountainous suburbs of Regent town, overwhelming relief efforts in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Thousands of Muslims voiced their rejection of jihadi extremism on August 21, marching through central Barcelona with banners reading “Terrorism has no religion”, Morning Star Online said.

It came in the wake of the August 17 terrorist attacks in Catalonia, which killed 13 and was claimed by Islamic State.

United States President Donald Trump announced that the US would continue the ongoing war in Afghanistan, which is already the longest war in US history, Democracy Now! reported on August 22.

The Pentagon is likely to deploy about 4000 more US troops to Afghanistan in the coming months. In recent months, the US has intensified its air war in Afghanistan. During June, the US carried out 389 airstrikes in Afghanistan — the highest monthly total in five years.

An air strike by the US-backed Saudi-led coalition on a hotel near the Yemeni capital Sanaa killed dozens of people on August 23, multiple news agencies have reported. It came as a humanitarian crisis extended its grip on the impoverished nation.

AFTER Charlottesville, we know the truth: The supposedly respectable "alt-right" isn't so "alternative." They're a new generation of the same violent, racist reactionaries of yesteryear.

And from the days after Charlottesville, we know another truth: They are being aided and abetted by none other than the current occupant of the White House.

Democracy Now!'s show on August 14 takes an in-depth look at the "Unite the Right" white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12 that erupted into violence, resulting in three deaths.

There has been a lot of media focus on Venezuela’s recently inaugurated National Constituent Assembly (ANC). However, little attention has been paid to the response it has generated among grassroots organisations or the variety of proposals being discussed in communities in terms of potential constitutional changes.

Haiti’s Senate has passed a bill that makes same sex marriage a crime and bans public displays of support for LGBTI rights. The bill — which would affect Haitian nationals and foreigners — will now go to the Chamber of Deputies, although a date for a vote has not been set.

Haitian law already defines marriage as being between a man and woman. But this bill seeks to expressly criminalise same sex marriage, with “parties, co-parties, and accomplices” to a same-sex marriage  — meaning even those who simply attend — facing potential jail terms of up to three years and an $8000 fine.

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Environmentalists from Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay marched on August 5 in the department of Paysandu, Uruguay, to protest against oil and gas exploration being carried out by Australian company Petrel Energy. The company’s exploratory works, and potential exploitation, threaten the integrity of the Guarani Aquifer, one of the world’s largest deposits of groundwater.

Since 2013, Petrel Energy has been the majority shareholder in the US company, Shues

More than 200,000 protesters marched through Mumbai, disrupting traffic and straining the railway network, to press their demands for quotas in government jobs and education.

Rising unemployment and falling incomes are driving farming communities across India to redouble calls for reserving jobs and education, especially for the underprivileged Maratha community in western India.

I know exactly where I was on August 9, 2007. It was a hot summer’s day — “debtonation day”.

Bankers all over the world had lost their collective nerve and refused to lend to each other. The globally synchronised financial system froze, and began its descent into sustained failure. It then took more than a year, and Lehman Brothers’ collapse, before the world understood the gravity of the crisis.

Ten years on, that slow-motion crisis, a prolonged period of disinflation, noflation and deflation, is still playing out.

Flanked by military commanders, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was in the nation’s second-largest city, Mosul, on July 10 to announce the city’s liberation from ISIS.

An end to the three-year-long rule by the extremely violent and authoritarian terrorist group is obviously good news for the city's residents. But it seems unlikely the group’s defeat will mean an end to their suffering, which began long before ISIS captured the city in June 2014.

US President Donald Trump told the media on August 10 that he would not “rule out “military options” for dealing with Venezuela. His comments were followed by the imposition of economic sanctions against Venezuela on August 25.

Labeling Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as a "dictator", the White House said in a statement that the new sanctions seek to block "a critical source of funding" for the Venezuelan government, which is having to deal with a deep economic crisis.

Many commentators in the US and elsewhere have poured cold water on the idea there could be a short term war between the US and North Korea.

The Guardian said on August 9: “But despite two unpredictable nuclear-armed leaders trading barbs, most observers believe the possibility of conflict remains remote, with the North Korean leadership using its nuclear program as a bargaining chip rather than an offensive weapon.”

The threat by US President Donald Trump to unleash nuclear war against North Korea is not a Trumpian “excess”.

That has been made clear by his Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James Mattis, who backed Trump. The administration is demanding that North Korea freeze its nuclear program, including the testing of missiles.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) held their national conference in Chicago on August 5 and 6, at a gathering that confirmed its emergence as stronger, younger and more radical group than it has ever been.

Before last year’s US presidential election, the DSA boasted between 7000-8000 members. Since then, it has ballooned to 25,000 members — mostly young and hungry for a fight.

Quim Arrufat is a joint national spokesperson for the People’s Unity List (CUP), an organisation that he has likened to “urban Zapatistas” – in reference to the insurgent indigenous movement based in Chiapas, Mexico – that is committed to Catalan independence and socialism.  

Stalin Perez Borges is an activist with LUCHAS (United League of Chavista Socialists) and a member of the Consultative Council of the Bolivarian Socialist Workers’ Central (CBST).

He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes about the July 30 elections for the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) and its subsequent inauguration, as well as the August 6 armed assault on a military base by right-wing opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government.

In January last year, Henry Ramos Allup, president of the then newly-installed Venezuelan parliament, hastened to make a demonstration of institutional power. The opposition bloc had obtained a strong victory in the 2015 legislative elections and the veteran political leader of Democratic Action (AD) was probably thinking that Venezuela would soon follow Argentina’s suit and do away with its leftist government.

Britain Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, has said he is saddened by the violence and loss of life in Venezuela, “either of those on the streets or of the security forces who have been attacked by those on the streets”.

“Violence is not going to solve the issues,” Corbyn told the media, at the end of a local party meeting in the southern English town of Crawley. He said there has to be dialogue and a process that respects Venezuela's institutions, including the independence of the judiciary.

The United States submarine captain says: “We’ve all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you’re never ready, because you don’t know when it’s coming.

“Well, now we do know and there’s nothing to be done about it.”

He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.

The war was over in a month

Nuclear weapons are in the news again, for all the wrong reasons. But the adoption of a new United Nations treaty could kickstart a re-energised effort to abolish these expensive, dangerous and immoral weapons.

On July 7, the UN General Assembly adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the nuclear ban treaty. It was voted in by 122 countries, with only one country voting against.

However, all nine nuclear weapon states, and most nuclear umbrella states, failed to attend the treaty negotiations and boycotted the vote.

As the 19th round of trade negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) took place in Hyderabad, India from 17-28 July, trade unions and civil society groups in the country have joined forces to voice concerns over the trade deal, and called for more transparency. 

RCEP is a proposed mega regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated by 16 countries, including ASEAN members and its six FTA partners — namely India, China, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The Turkish government has proposed a new law which will ban the use of the words and terms “Kurdistan”, “Kurdish city/cities” and “Armenian Genocide” in parliament.

Parliamentarians who use these words or terms will be fined 12,000 Turkish liras (about $4500) and be banned from participating in three sessions in the Grand Assembly.

Carrying placards, which opposition parties often do to criticise the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, will also be banned.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously on July 28 to disqualify the country’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, from office in relation to the exposure of secret assets as part of the Panama Papers leaks.

The court has referred Sharif’s case to the country's top anti-corruption authority for an investigation into his family's offshore assets. His party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, will have to appoint an interim prime minister to serve until the next election, due midway through next year.

Popular mobilisation in the Rif region in Morocco’s north have continued and spread to several of the North African country’s towns, despite repression by security forces and the regime's attempts to discredit the movement.

Meanwhile, several thousand police officers have been sent to Al Hoceima to stop the demonstrations.

Appearing before a backdrop of smiling uniformed police officers on July 28, US President Donald Trump encouraged the brutalisers in blue to be more abusive and violent toward people they arrest in a speech given at Suffolk County Community College on New York’s Long Island.

Long-time South African climate justice activist and author Patrick Bond is professor of political economy at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand.

Ethemcan Turhan and Cem Iskender Aydin spoke with Bond on the need for an international climate justice movement to target the Donald Trump administration.

One hundred years ago in the aftermath of defeat of the July 16-20 [3-7 in New Style] protest movement by workers and soldiers, the Bolsheviks responded to the “July Days” setback by calling on the people to ignore provocations and expose rightist slander.

The wave of protests was repelled by military and police attacks, with hundreds of casualties, on the orders of the Provisional Government — the capitalist government that came to power after the February Revolution overthrew the Tsar and which was supported by the moderate socialists.

It was a key phase in the storm that swept Russia during 1917. This storm culminated in the October Revolution when, led by the Bolsheviks, the soviets (councils) of workers, soldiers and peasants took power, overthrowing the Provisional Government.

Relatives of Berta Caceres, the iconic Indigenous environmentalist from Honduras who was killed in March last year, denounced on July 26 a "hate campaign" against them.

The environmental activist's family expressed concern about the "most aggressively executed hate campaign" against them after the Dutch Development Bank, FMO and the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation, Finnfund, decided to pull out from the Agua Zarca dam project on the Gualcarque River that flows through the Indigenous territory of the Lenca people.

Paraguay's lawmakers voted on August 2 in favour of the Financial Rehabilitation bill to support small farmers overwhelmed by debts.

The farmers, who have been holding protests for three weeks in the capital Asuncion, brought the city to a standstill once more prior to the vote.

The legislation, introduced by the progressive Guasu Front, will fund and restructure the debts of small farmers who own less than 30 hectares of land with subsidies of up to US$10,000 a person.

The head of the campaign for Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (ANC), Jorge Rodriguez, said on August 2 that the National Electoral Council (CNE) had been asked to complete the audit of the electoral process following the July 30 vote.

Rodriguez insisted that the only valid results of the ANC election are those provided by the CNE, which originally counted 8,089,320 votes.

After weeks of imperialist threats and opposition violence, the elections for Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (ANC) took place on July 30. The result was a huge turnout of more than 8 million voters, around 41% of the electorate, which gave Chavismo a much-needed shot in the arm.

Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the US armed forces via Twitter on July 26. The ban reverses a series of orders made by the Barack Obama administration to explore the integration of transgender service personnel into the military — and for any costs associated with gender affirmation medical technology to be covered.

The ban has re-raised questions about what attitude left-wing forces should take to questions of discrimination in the armed forces of imperialist countries. Should such discrimination be opposed and on what basis should you do so?

Check out some of the latest articles from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

The relevance of October 1917: A discussion with China Miéville

One hundred years ago, between July 16-20 [3-7 in New Style] 1917, a protest movement of workers and soldiers in Petrograd was repelled by military and police attacks, with hundreds of casualties.

It was a key phase in the storm that swept Russia during 1917. It  culminated in the October Revolution when, led by the Bolsheviks, the soviets (councils) of workers, soldiers and peasants took power, overthrowing the capitalist Provisional Government that was formed after the February Revolution deposed the Tsar.

Twenty civil society groups from across Africa have released the statement below in support of protests in Morocco and other North African countries against growing state repression, resource theft and imperialist expansion. They call for respect for people’s rights and just development. The statement is reported from Pambazuka.

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On September 26 last year, Podemos’s Castilla-La Mancha secretary-general Jose Garcia Molina said that his party’s agreement keeping the regional Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government in office in the autonomous community had “died of depression and shame”.

In a New York Times op-ed in June titled “How Democrats Can Stop Losing”, Bernie Sanders slammed the Democratic Party.

“In 2016 the Democratic Party lost the presidency to possibly the least popular candidate in American history,” he wrote. “In recent years, Democrats have also lost the Senate and House to right-wing Republicans whose extremist agenda is far removed from where most Americans are politically.

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