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Venezuelan trade union leader Esmin Ramirez was killed on April 23 in Guayana City in the south-eastern state of Bolivar after being kidnapped in an act that people close to him say was politically motivated.

Ramirez was a member of the Movement 21 union in the state-run iron ore producer Ferrominera and a member of the governing United Socialist party of Venezuela (PSUV). The union leader was killed by several gunshots to the head. He had been kidnapped the night before.

No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson
By Jeff Sparrow
Scribe Publications, 2017
Paperback, 292 pp

Melbourne writer Jeff Sparrow’s new book, No Way But This is a thoughtful, sensitive and respectful examination of the life and work of Paul Robeson, the great African-American baritone, Shakespearian actor, and left-wing political activist.

Speaking to tens of thousands of supporters gathered to commemorate International Workers Day on May 1, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced he would call a constituent assembly, effectively remaking the country's constitution.

"Today, on May 1, I announce that I will use my presidential privileges as constitutional head of state in accordance with article 347, to convene the original constituent power so that the working class and the people can call a national constituent assembly," President Maduro said.

Women took to the streeks of Caracas on April 27, demanding an end to violent opposition protests, Venezuelanalysis.com said that day. The rally was supported by dozens of women’s groups from across the country, after being called by the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, Blanca Eekhout.

“Sisters, let's go together to fill the streets with love in the defence of life,” Eekhout said ahead of the march. She added, “We will overcome!”

“Labour is solidly ahead of the Conservatives with voters under 40 years old, despite being more than 20 points behind in the polls overall, according to a significant new poll,” The Independent said on April 26.

Venezuela is in flames. Or at least parts of it are.

Since April 4, right-wing opposition militants have carried targeted acts of violence, vandalism and arson. They are deliberately clashing with security forces in a bid to plunge the country into chaos and forcefully remove the elected socialist government.

It is the continuation of an 18 year effort to topple the Bolivarian revolution by any means necessary — although you may have seen it miraculously recast in the mainstream media as “promoting a return to democracy.

One hundred years ago, on May 7, 1917, the following declaration appeared on the front page of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda under the title, “Draft of a mandate for use in electing delegates to the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies”. 

This “mandate” marked the first appearance of the slogan “All power to the Soviets” in an official party statement.

The Soviets emerged out of the February Revolution that year, which succeeded in overthrowing the Tsar. The Soviets were based on elected delegates of workers, soldiers and peasants.

Prime Minister Theresa May has called a general election for June 8.The Tory leader is hoping that Labour has been sufficiently weakened by the attacks of the right on Labour’s left-wing leadership around Jeremy Corbyn that she will be rewarded with a further five years in office.

It is, of course, a complete coincidence that rumours had started to emerge that the Crown Prosecution Service were about to move against 30 individuals for electoral fraud in the last general election, threatening the Conservative government.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of the capital on April 19 in huge pro-government rallies marking the country’s independence day. 

Thousands of right-wing opposition also took to the streets in often violent protests. The day after the large pro- and anti-government marches, more right-wing violence broke out. The government accused opposition protesters of attacking public institutions, including a maternity hospital, on April 20. Ten people were also confirmed dead after a riot in Caracas.

Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Shock followed by surprise followed by upset. The French presidential election, whose first round is April 23, is yet another expression of the political volatility produced by the aftershocks of the biggest economic recession since the 1930s and the incapacity of both neo-liberalism and social democracy to maintain support for their pro-austerity governments.

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