Latin America

The article below is based on a talk by Felipe Stuart Courneyeur to the Canada-wide convention of the Canadian Network on Cuba, in Toronto in June.

Courneyeur has dual Nicaraguan-Canadian nationality; he divides his time between the two countries. He is an active member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). The article is abridged from johnriddell.wordpress.com.

Venezuela’s government and opposition both claimed millions voted in rival symbolic elections on July 16.

Meanwhile, the US has responded to the opposition vote, with President Donald Trump describing the unofficial referendum as an example of “democracy, freedom, and rule of law” in a White House statement on July 17.

The Cuban Revolution has created international ripples ever since its military victory on January 1, 1959. The United States was quick to recognise the threats to its dominance in Latin America and set out to crush the rebel regime.

In response, the revolution’s leaders took the process rapidly leftwards, socialising property and seeking to help revolutionaries in other countries. The moral and political weight of Cuba’s revolutionaries remains far out of proportion to their economic and military strength.

Cuban moral authority within the Third World of super-exploited countries is absolute. However, the Cuban Revolution has proven a litmus test for the intellectual and moral fibre of socialist currents in the advanced capitalist countries — a test that some have failed.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has responded to the latest threats to Venezuela's sovereignty from US President Donald Trump, in which the US leader promised "swift and strong actions" if Venezuela decides to proceed with the July 30 elections for a National Constituent Assembly.

Maduro called Trump's threats "vulgar", TeleSUR English reported. He said: "The process of the constituent assembly is already in the hands of the people who will exercise their right to vote. This is my response, the constituent assembly does not belong to me.

Venezuelans were taken by surprise with the announcement that opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez would serve out his jail term under house arrest. The move is an unprecedented concession that seeks to calm the waters in the lead up to the July 30 Constituent Assembly elections. 

But the conflict in the country is showing it has multiple faces. On July 10, a day after the official election campaign began, a candidate was assassinated in the middle of a campaign event.

Workers at a PepsiCo factory in Argentina have occupied the plant following its closure on June 20, which left 600 workers without a job.

The company claims the closure is due to an “economic crisis”, despite making millions of dollar in profits last year. However workers at the factory, which is located in Vicente Lopez, in Greater Buenos Aires Province, see the move as part of a broader anti-worker offensive by bosses and the pro-corporate government of President Mauricio Macri.

Last year, a group of studying music at the LGBTI Centre in Bogota decided to organize a rock band unlike any other in Colombia. Members say the band, 250 Milligrams, is the first transgender male rock group in South America. 

Police brutally repressed thousands of Brazilians who took the streets on June 30 to oppose austerity measures and the Michel Temer government. The actions were part of the second general strike in three months.

The “general strike” included work stoppages by teachers and workers in the banking, metals, health care and oil refinery sector, among others.

PepsiCo is a multinational that owns nearly all the brands we expect to see in any general store around the world, including Pepsi, Lay’s, Quaker, Dorito, Starbuck’s Ready-to-Drink, 7UP, Cheetos, Aquafina, Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Tropicana. The sheer corporate strength of the second largest food and beverage company in the world makes the struggle of over 600 workers in Buenos Aires against a PepsiCo snack factory both an uprising against great odds and an inspiring stand against corporate dominance.

Revolutionary activist and sociologist Reinaldo Iturriza has spent many years working with popular movements in Venezuela and writing on the rise of Chavismo as a political movement of the poor. He also served as Minister for the Communes and Social Movements, and then Minister for Culture in President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet between 2013 and 2016.

Together with activists from a range of grassroots revolutionary organisations and social movements, he is standing as a candidate for the Popular Constituent Platform in the July 30 elections for a Constituent Assembly that will seek to find a political way out of the current turmoil gripping Venezuela through the drafting of a new constitution.

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