International Notes: September 10, 2016

BY:Emile Schepers And CPUSA International Department| September 10, 2016
International Notes: September 10, 2016

Portuguese Communist Party celebrates accomplishments at Avante  festival

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the festival, after the overthrow of the Fascist dictatorship of Salazar and Caetano, with the “Carnation Revolution” in 1974, which in turn led to the approval of a new constitution in 1976 which has allowed the left and the workers’ movement to flourish. The first Avante! Festival was celebrated in that year.  The Avante! Festival combines political, cultural and artistic activities and this year as always attracted huge crowds.  The acquisition of the “Quinta do Cabo” estate for the Avante! Festival was intended to accommodate the extra numbers.  The Portuguese Communist Party General Secretary, Jeronimo de Sousa, addressing the crowd, listed the triumphs achieved this year and the challenges which the communists, the left and the Portuguese working class still face.  Something to celebrate, said de Sousa, is the removal from power of the right wing government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and his replacement as prime minister with the Socialist Party’s Antonio Costa, whose government is supported from “outside” by Communists, Greens and the Left Bloc, the result of advances in the elections of October 4, 2015.  But the Secretary General warned that there are still great challenges to the Portuguese working class, including the straightjacket the country faces through the undemocratic structures of the European Union, the Euro Zone and their institutions. .


Russian Communists criticize government on eve of national elections

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) has denounced what it sees as a dirty tricks campaign organized out of President Vladimir Putin’s governing United Russia party.  This campaign, aimed at the coming National Duma (Parliament) elections on  September 18,  includes creating fake newspapers in the name of the CPRF, and the subsidizing of spoiler candidates and fake rival political parties.  Electoral authorities have also severely cut back the number of poll watchers that will be permitted, and journalistic access.  Nevertheless, the CPRF expressed confidence that it will triumph. It is running on a platform of re-nationalizing state enterprises and services that were privatized on the disappearance of the Soviet Union, increased responsiveness of the state to the people, and improvements in the lives of Russian workers by means of help for housing problems and increased funding for health care, education and cultural programs.


Costa Rican party denounce right wing politicians

The People’s Vanguard Party, which is Costa Rica’s communist party,  is criticizing some political developments among the country’s conservative and centrist established parties, in the lead up to national elections to be held in 2018.  There have been sharp discussions between former Presidents Oscar Arias Sanchez and José Maria Olsen, both of the centrist National Liberation Party, who are quarreling over the leadership of that entity.  Figueras Olsen is also the son of former President Pepe Figueras Ferrer, who took power after an armed uprising in 1948, and, while improving the lives of many Costa Ricans, also allied himself closely with the United States and suppressed the Costa Rican communists.  The People’s Vanguard points out that both Arias and Figueres Olsen are closely associated with neo-liberal and “structural adjustment policies that have been harmful to Costa Rican workers and the poor, including entry of Costa Rica into CAFTA-DR, a trade pact with the United States similar to NAFTA.  The difference, according to People’s Vanguard, is that Figueres Olsen is bidding for progressive support because of his stand on some social issues while proposing to continue right-wing, anti-worker economic policies.  People’s Vanguard is also skeptical about another potential presidential candidate, Otton Solis Vallas of the centrist Citizens’ Action Party, who is proposing a government in which all parties would be included.


Left discusses options in 2017 Honduran elections

National Elections, both presidential and legislative, are scheduled for November of 2017 in Honduras. The current president Juan Orlando Hernandez of the right wing National Party, looks to be their probable candidate.  This is remarkable because in June of 2009, the left wing president, Manuel Zelaya, was overthrown by a military coup because of false information that he was planning to run for re-election, at that time forbidden by the Honduran constitution.  Hernandez was subsequently elected in 2013 in an election marred by many irregularities.  It subsequently was revealed that money had been diverted from health care funds meant to help the Honduran poor and channeled into Hernandez’ election  campaign.  Because of that and other scandals, the Hernandez regime has been the subject of large scale popular protests for over a year.  But earlier this year, Hernandez’ supporters managed to ram through legislation allowing him to run again, exactly the thing that was the pretext for the 2009 coup.

Much of the left in Honduras is grouped, at this point, in the LIBRE (FREE) party, an entity which arose out of the anti-coup movement.  On August 29, not only LIBRE supporters but those of several other parties participated in large scale demonstrations in several parts of the country, to denounce the plans for the re-election of Hernandez.  The main leaders of LIBRE include ex-president Zelaya and his wife, Xiomara Castro, who was LIBRE’s candidate in the 2013 presidential elections.  Demonstrators also denounced the increased poverty of the Honduran people and the high level of crime and violence, which has shot up since the coup.  The issue of who will be the left’s candidate in 2017 is now under discussion, LIBRE is pushing Xiomara Castro for the job.





    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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