International Notes: August 25, 2017

 
International Notes: August 25, 2017

Brazilian Communist state governor bucks  move to right

Flavio Dino was elected governor of Brazil’s Maranão State in 2014.  He is the only governor who belongs to the Communist Party of Brazil (Partido Comunista do Brasil).  While the interim national government headed by right-winger Michel Temer pushes a radical neo-liberal program of drastic austerity, slashing the social safety net, Dino is moving in the opposite direction with a program he calls “More Jobs” (“Mais Emprego”). The strategy is to give tax breaks to those companies who establish new jobs, to the tune of $500,000 reis per job, or 155,000 U.S. dollars.  Furthermore, Dino’s state government is investing 100 million reis ($310 million) to give the state of Maranhão a modern economy.  If the state legislative assembly approves the batch of measures Governor Dino has sent them, poor families will receive substantial subsidies for housing construction and other things.

 

Uruguayan Communists hit back at red baiting

The Communist Party of Uruguay has published a sharply worded response to a red-baiting editorial in the right wing Montevideo newspaper “El Pais”.  The daily had complained that in the July 24 internal elections of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio), the coalition structure that currently governs this South American country, the Communist Party had emerged as the second-largest vote-getter, with 15.7 percent of the vote, or about 10,000 votes.  Far from congratulating the Communist Party for this achievement, El País painted a dire picture of violent revolution and red dictatorship to come.   On August 19, the Communist Party of Uruguay responded with a slashing editorial on their website.  “How bad, ugly and undesirable we communists are!” But the statement pointed out that not very long ago in Uruguayan and South American history, El País had been eager to defend and support some of the most bloodthirsty dictators on the continent, such as Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, the Somoza family of Nicaragua, and the “genocidal” regime of Jorge Videla of Argentina.  In Uruguay itself, El País had disparaged democratic norms and applauded the violent persecution of the Communist Party.  But the Communist Party was not wiped out as the Uruguayan dictatorship had tried to do.  “You see, gentlemen of El País” continues the article, “you couldn’t [do it].  We are sorry it hurts you so much, but life is tough….for you, the unity of the people, the unity of the left and the people’s struggle are bad things. Now, for the people of Uruguay, although it is not enough, the internal elections of the Broad Front are good news.”

 

Burkina Faso to honor Thomas Sankara

On October 9 to 15th, Thomas Sankara, the President of Burkina Faso from 1983 until his assassination in 1987, will be honored by special memorial activities in the Burkinabé capital, Oagadougou.   This is the second year in which the “Thom Sank” festival has been held.  According to organizers, the theme this time will be “The role of youth in the creation of responsible growth in Burkina Faso”.  Thomas Sankara, an army officer, came to power in 1983 and set his country, formerly called Upper Volta, on a course of radical reform guided by socialist and anti-imperialist ideals.  He rejected the controls of French neo-colonialism and aid from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and promoted self-sufficient national growth, but was assassinated in 1987.  Many people in Burkina Faso, including members of Sankara’s family, believe that another army officer, Blaise Compaoré, who subsequently became president of the country, was directly to blame for Sankara’s death.  Compaoré is now in exile in Ivory Coast, whence Burkina Faso is trying to extradite him.

 

India: Communists demand freedom of expression for students

“People’s Democracy”, the online newspaper of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has sharply criticized a tendency in Indian universities to restrict freedom of expression of their student bodies.  An article by a student, Nitheesh Narayan,  published on August 21, gives examples of new policies several important universities are requiring students to sign onto as the Fall term begins.  At the English and Foreign Languages University, admission to the institution cannot be finalized until the student signs a form including phrases such as “I will not indulge in acts of indiscipline and misconduct that will compel the authorities to take disciplinary action against me” and “I undertake not to bring the name of the institution of disrepute [sic] through any social media and not to indulge in any form of libel and slander against the university”.  These extremely “open to interpretation” promises result from a high level of student activism at universities in India in recent years, and also the increasingly intolerant attitude of the right-wing national government of Prime Minister Modi.  Several communist and leftist students were prosecuted recently as a result of the clash of these two dynamics.  The article ends by saying “It is not worthy to call a place ‘university’  where obedience is cultivated through autocratic ‘orders’. The word for it is prison.  The time has now come for loud slogans;  ‘Free, Free our Universities!’”

Author

    Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Emile Schepers was born in South Africa and has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He has worked as a researcher and activist in urban, working-class communities in Chicago since 1966. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He now writes from Northern Virginia.

     

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