International Notes: September 4, 2016

 
International Notes: September 4, 2016

India: political general strike shuts the country down

A general strike called by India’s major labor unions and federations shut much of the country down on Thursday September 2.  The strike was directed at anti-labor, anti-worker policies of the right wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.   Unions put forth a list of twelve demands which amount to a total repudiation of much of Modi’s  ruling National Democratic  Alliance (NDA).  The NDA consists of Modi’s own Bharatiya Janata Party and other pro-business, right wing groups, and has promoted a neo-liberal economic program of free trade, austerity, privatization and weakening of organized labor.  These demands include: a monthly minimum wage of 18,000 rupees ($270) , which is double what the government has been offering.  Unions also want an end to austerity and privatization policies, and a halt to labor “reforms” that rob workers of their collective bargaining rights.  Modi’s government says that these labor reforms, which would make it harder to unionize a workplace or authorize a strike are necessary to attract investment by foreign corporations.  The strike was supported by both India’s Communist Parties (Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India-Marxist) as well as other left groups, who have a strong presence in organized labor in this country.  Initial reports are that as many as 180 million workers participated in the one day strike, including private and government employees, white collar and industrial workers and transport workers.  Some cities were practically brought to a halt as other people’s organizations called on their followers to stay home.  In West Bengal state, there were reports that right wing supporters of the state government physically attacked strikers.
Iran:  Tudeh Party celebrates its 75th birthday

The Tudeh Party, which is the successor party to the Communist Party of Iran, will celebrate its 75th Birthday on October 3 of this year.  The Tudeh Party was founded in 1941, immediately after the authoritarian ruler Reza Shah was deposed by a joint action of the Soviet Union and Britain.  The Tudeh operated legally under the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mosaddegh, gaining strong support especially among workers in Iran’s petroleum industry, whose nationalization by Mosaddegh it supported.   But had to go underground after Mosaddegh was overthrown in a CIA engineered coup in 1953 and Reza Shah’s son and heir, Mohammed Reza, established a repressive monarchical regime.  The Tudeh was able to emerge openly again after Mohammed Reza Shah was overthrown, but was subsequently persecuted by the Islamic Republic which remains in power. Nevertheless, the Tudeh continues to struggle for a democratic and progressive Iran.
Latin America:   Communist and revolutionary parties meet to counter right offensive

On August 26 to 28, Communist and left wing parties from Latin America met in Lima, Peru, to compare perspectives and develop a united approach to the regional offensive of the right wing, neo-liberalism and imperialism.  The meeting was co-hosted by the Peruvian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Peruano) and the Communist  Party of Peru – Red Homeland.  (Partido Comunista del Perú-Patria Roja).  Represented at the meeting were communist and other left-wing parties from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.  At the end of the deliberations, the participating organizations issued a joint “Declaration of Lima” calling for more unity of the left and increased struggle to turn the tide against neo-liberalism, to defend the beleaguered Bolivarian government of Venezuela, and to end the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba.  The parties paid special tribute to former Cuban President Fidel Castro on the occasion of his 90th birthday

 

Paraguay:  Remains of communist leader identified

The Paraguayan Communist Party has announced that the remains of an outstanding communist leader, former party Secretary General Miguel Angel Soler, have been identified by a special research unit.  Soler, born in 1923, headed the Paraguayan Communist Party from 1965 until his disappearance in 1975, after he and others were arrested by the homicidal dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner. Stroessner cooperated with other South American dictators in the U.S. supported “Operation Condor”, which tracked down Latin American leftists across borders and kidnapped and murdered them.  In addition to Soler’s remains, the research team identified the remains of an Italian woman, Rafaela Filippatzzi, who had been living in Montivideo, Uruguay, when she disappeared.  These murders and many more were carried out during “Operation Condor”, a program organized by the South American dictators of that time with tacit U.S. support, which tracked down exiled leftists across international borders and murdered them.  It is believed that the remains of many more people killed at that time are buried in various places in Paraguay and neighboring countries.  The Paraguayan Communist Party notes that the current government of the country, under President Horacio Cartes, which took power after a constitutional coup in 2012 very similar to the one that just happened in Brazil, is in some ways a continuation of the Stroessner dictatorship.

 

Ireland:  Communists discuss Brexit fallout and Irish worker’s interests

The Communist Party of Ireland’s National Executive Committee has discussed the fallout for both parts of Ireland from the Brexit referendum vote in Britain (the vote by a majority of British voters to leave the European Union).  While defending the right of the British people to make the decision they made, the Irish communists note that, because of the extremely close economic relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom, this is going to have major implications for their own country, which is also a member of the European Union, and of the Euro monetary group as well.  The Irish communists note the degree to which many institutions in Ireland, including sections of labor, have become dependent on aid from the European Union, and the fact that the part of Ireland that is ruled from London will be particularly strongly impacted by Brexit.  In a statement, the Communist Party emphasizes that “A debate about whether the Irish state should remain within the Euro zone is now an urgent necessity. It is in the people’s interests to break out of this fiscal and political straitjacket.

“The workers’ movement here in Ireland and throughout the European Union needs to use the limited window of opportunity now presented with the Brexit vote and the divisions that have opened up to press its own demands, which are of vital interest to workers throughout the EU.

“The workers’ movement needs to step up the demand for greater national control over economic and fiscal policies, ensuring that national democracy and sovereignty are not mere slogans….”

Photo: Vijay Prashad Facebook

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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