Jed Brandt, a member of US Kasama Project, is in Katmandu reporting on the ongoing struggle between Nepal’s poor majority, led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M), and the US and Indian-backed elite that removed the UCPN-M-led government last year.
We have just finished a very successful May Day brigade to Venezuela, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN). The majority of the 14 participants were from Australia, with two Canadians and one from the US also taking part.
May Day was, of course, a highlight of the 10-day tour: more than 1 million marchers, all in red t-shirts. Brigadistas were greeted with cheers of welcome — we were easily identified by our Australian solidarity activists shirts and banner.
On May 1, Nepal was entirely shut down by huge demonstrations called by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) to call for the resignation of the unpopular government. In Kathmandu, at least 500,000 marched — the streets a sea of red flags.
The Maoists are calling for the replacement by a “national unity” government headed by the UCPN-M, which easily won the largest number of seats on the constituent assembly elections in 2008. The army chiefs and political elite removed the UCPN-M-led government a year ago in a “soft coup”.
The May 2 internal pre-selection of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidates for the September 26 national elections was an example of the mobilising force of this mass party in construction.
More than 2.5 million party members participated. This demonstrated the PSUV is the largest national political force, and highlighted its democratic and participatory nature.
The participation rate was greater than the 2.3 million people who voted to pre-select PSUV candidates for governors and mayors in 2008.
Socialist Alliance is planning an ambitious socialist ideas conference in Perth for the last weekend in June. Featured guest speakers include Socialist Party of Malaysia member of parliament Jeyakumar Devaraj. He will speak about the role of socialists in parliament and the link between parliamentary work and community organising.
“In a stunning demonstration all over the island”, Prensa Latina said on May 1, “Cubans showed the power of unity to face the media campaign launched against the country by United States and its European allies.
“Millions of men, women and even children packed in the main squares, marched along central avenues all over the provinces and municipalities of the nation declaring their support to the revolutionary process they have freely chosen.”
The March 15 banning of two Socialist Alliance activists, Paul Benedek and myself, from the University of Sydney was revoked on April 9, after vice-chancellor Michael Spence received a storm of protest letters.
Among the many who protested against this attack on freedom of speech were renowned journalist John Pilger, 15 professors and lecturers at Sydney and other universities, Sydney City councillors Meredith Burgmann and Irene Doutney, leaders of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), students and civil rights activists.
Two hundred and seventy people gathered for the Resistance 2010: The World Can't Wait! conference in Thirroul, near Wollongong, over April 24-26. The national conference brought together young activists from all over Australia to discuss a broad range of political issues and to get organised in the face of an uncertain future.
David Lowe, a Townsville-based administration officer and union activist, was preselected by the Socialist Alliance Queensland state conference on April 17 to join Brisbane Aboriginal community leader Sam Watson on the Senate team for the upcoming federal election. Lowe is helping to establish a Socialist Alliance branch in Townsville.
Below, Lowe explains what prompted him to run with the Socialist Alliance.
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The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) concluded its five-month extraordinary congress on April 25 with the approval of highly anticipated party principles and statutes. This was just in time for primaries on May 2, in which millions of PSUV members will choose parliamentary candidates to run against a newly united opposition platform called the “Democratic Alternative” in September.