Protesters demand ‘Free Mumia’

first_imgBill Perry of Veterans for Peace with Pam Africa. WW photo: Joseph PietteDespite the record heat, around 100 people gathered at Fifth and Market streets next to Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell for a “Free Mumia” rally on July 3. Under the theme, “We the people cannot rest until freedom comes,” the demonstrators celebrated the victory of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s release from death row last December and pledged to continue the fight to free him.Speakers addressed the fight to free all political prisoners and denounced continuing U.S. wars and the economic crisis at home. Several entertainers, including The Welfare Poets, were on hand.In a show of solidarity, the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal — which had a permit to use the federal park space that afternoon — welcomed Veterans for Peace to stay at the site after park officials threatened to evict the veterans group when their permit expired. ICFFMAJ also welcomed participants in the Occupy National Gathering to join the speakout. They had been evicted after trying to use the space without a permit.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Education cuts spark big protests in Spain

first_imgTeachers, students, parents’ associations and public servants in the state education system protesting on Oct. 26.Tens of thousands of students, teachers and parents in Spain marched Oct. 24 to protest cutbacks in education and a new education “reform” act that cuts funding of universities, raises tuition fees, places obstacles on university study grants and requires annual exams for students.Thousands of students will be forced into vocational programs instead of university studies in a country with over 27 percent unemployment overall and more than 50 percent among youth. Students called for a general strike if their demands for an end to cutbacks, totaling 6 million euros over the last two years, aren’t met.More than 60,000 people marched in Madrid, where barricades were put up at the Somosaguas campus of the University Complutense and the Autonomous University of Madrid. Major militant demonstrations also took place in Valencia, Alicante and Castellón.The disputed law, called the Organic Law to Better the Quality of Teaching, is also known as the Wert Law, after Education Minister José Ignacio Wert.The third day of a protest called by the Students Union and backed by Spain’s major labor unions saw 170,000 demonstrate in Barcelona in defense of public education and to continue full instruction in Catalán. The new Wert Law would give greater weight to the Spanish language, especially in regions where the people speak a different first language, as in Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country.University students insist that the changes in the law regarding the cost of courses and grants mean that many people cannot afford higher education. They calculate that at the University Complutense in Madrid about 3,500 students will not be able to pay for their next semester. The State Platform for Public Schools supported the demonstrations.While Spain is officially out of recession, further protests against austerity may be as large as last year’s Nov. 7 strike, when more than 3 million school and university students took to the streets.Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Spain’s two biggest soccer teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona, are the world’s richest clubs by income.Austerity for students, many of whom will be added to the ranks of Spain’s unemployed, is infuriating to the Spanish working class, who complain that charges are often dropped against members of the Spanish royal family who are under investigation for embezzling millions of euros of public funds.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Lo que Obama omitió

first_imgEditorial Workers World-Mundo Obrero del 26 de eneroEl “Estado de la Unión” es el discurso presidencial anual que supuestamente informa sobre cómo van las cosas para la gente de este país.En miles de manifestaciones y marchas de protesta en los últimos meses, sobre todo desde los acontecimientos en Ferguson, Misuri, la gente ha ventilado su ira y su dolor sobre los asesinatos policiales de jóvenes de color y los encubrimientos oficiales que han seguido. Las principales carreteras han sido cerradas y un sinnúmero de protestas simulando cuerpos muertos han sido convocadas en lugares públicos. Asombrosamente, un gran número de transeúntes, incluyendo a las personas directamente afectadas por los inconvenientes causados por los atascos del tráfico, han vitoreado las protestas dando su aprobación.Un historiador de este período sin duda esperaría que de todas las promesas hechas por el presidente, traer justicia a las víctimas del terrorismo policial, sería lo primero en su discurso sobre el estado de la Unión.Además, en las últimas dos elecciones presidenciales, una mayoría de las/os votantes emitió su voto por un presidente negro, lo que indica que quieren ver el fin de la brutal historia racista de este país. Ser partidario de la justicia racial y frenar la brutalidad policial es popular aquí en Estados Unidos.Entonces, ¿cómo explicar que Obama mencionara Ferguson y la policía sólo una vez en su discurso de 28 minutos, y eso al final? He aquí lo que dijo:“Podemos tener diferentes perspectivas sobre los acontecimientos de Ferguson y Nueva York. Pero ciertamente podemos entender a un padre que teme que su hijo no pueda caminar a su casa sin ser acosado. Y ciertamente podemos entender a la esposa que no descansará hasta que el policía con quien se casó llegue a su casa al final de su turno”.Él ni siquiera mencionó los asesinatos brutales de tantos jóvenes negros por la policía. Sólo el “acoso”. Pero en cuanto a la propia policía, el mensaje es que las vidas de éstos están en grave peligro.Hay que recordar que, según las propias cifras del gobierno recopiladas por la Oficina de Estadísticas Laborales, ser policía ni siquiera aparece en las 10 ocupaciones más peligrosas.Si la Casa Blanca está realmente preocupada por proteger la vida de las personas con más probabilidades de morir en el trabajo, entonces Obama debió haber mencionado a los pescadores, leñadores, obreros de la construcción, colectores de basura, mineros, trabajadores agrícolas, pilotos, techadores, trabajadores del hierro y conductores de camiones quienes llevan sus vidas en sus manos cada vez que van a trabajar – y generalmente ganan mucho menos dinero que la policía.Todos debemos saber que los discursos presidenciales son cuidadosamente analizados por las personas que ejercen el poder político real. La decisión de tratar el tema de la violencia racista de la policía de esta manera minimalista revela mucho sobre el verdadero carácter del gobierno de EUA. En muchos sentidos, los funcionarios electos, tanto la presidencia como el Congreso, son sólo una fachada para el Estado y su brutal papel de supresión.Debido a las muchas batallas libradas por las/os trabajadores y los pueblos oprimidos durante siglos, el gobierno realiza una serie de servicios útiles: Medicare y Medicaid, servicio postal, inspección de carne y productos alimentarios y creación de parques y escuelas, por nombrar sólo algunos. Pero los fondos de estas cosas útiles constantemente son socavados y subvertidos con el fin de poner más recursos en lo que la clase dominante – la décima parte del 1% – considera que es la función real del estado: la represión.La policía, la Guardia Nacional y el complejo industrial de prisiones son una parte vital de la represión interna, así como el Pentágono, la CIA y otros organismos — algunos de cuyos presupuestos son totalmente secretos — llevan a cabo la represión externa. La mayor parte de nuestros impuestos se gasta en la violencia estatal contra quienes tienen más razones para rebelarse porque son explotadas/os y oprimidas/os por el capitalismo dentro del país y por el imperialismo en el exterior.Ni siquiera a un presidente se le permite criticar a estos cuerpos, no importa cuán descaradamente realizan terror sistemático – ya sea en los calabozos de Abu Ghraib y Guantánamo, en la isla de Rikers y en las prisiones “supermax” de EUA o en las calles de Ferguson y Oakland, California.Eso deja en manos de las/os trabajadores y oprimidas/os el organizar y realizar los cambios revolucionarios que nunca serán realizados por la maquinaria política de la clase multimillonaria.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Baltimore defunds schools, funds youth jail

first_imgPPA says: ‘Jobs & education, NOT YOUTH JAILS,’ at Baltimore City’s Juvenile Justice Center, May 16.WW photo: Joseph PietteBaltimore — The Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously decided on May 13 to spend $30 million for the construction of a new youth jail facility in Baltimore. It was soon announced that $11 million had been cut from funding for education in Baltimore. Coming right after the rebellion of Baltimore youth against police killings, these decisions concretely show the state of Maryland’s and the ruling class’ priorities.On April 25 and 27, Baltimore’s oppressed youth finally said, “Enough is enough!” and militantly fought back against the capitalist state. They smashed and burned cop cars; they took what they needed to live from stores; several police officers reported broken bones.This militant struggle has terrified Baltimore’s ruling class, which has used every trick to restore “order” in the city. First the National Guard was called in, as a threat and show of force. Then there was the decision to charge the six officers; this was a clear concession by the state, which feared further militant protests if police were obviously unpunished. While Baltimore’s ruling class wants the people to believe that the current system can handle and address their needs, the approval of this new budget shows what they really plan.The city and state officials all understand that regardless of the outcome in the case of Freddie Grey, the basic policy of the police in the U.S. will not change under the current system. They understand that more people will be murdered, and, increasingly, more people will fight back. While they will talk about “Black-on-Black crime,” drug use and other things unrelated to the rebellion, it is no coincidence that they are building a jail for young people right after a major uprising of people who were almost entirely under the age of 30. The ruling class is saying loud and clear that both austerity and repression are here to stay, regardless of the words of any individual politicians.What the youth of Baltimore need right now is amnesty for any charges related to the rebellion, as well as increased investment into the most poor and oppressed communities in Baltimore. That means funding quality education, recreation centers, health care, suitable housing and jobs with a livable wage. Youth do not need an increased presence of police to terrorize them, nor more jails to lock them away.When a people are left without any decent jobs, without the education required to get jobs (if they existed), without other basic necessary services — and all they are left with is police and jails — they will demand systemic change. If the city and state governments continue down this path of austerity, they will be sowing the seeds of future rebellions.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Los Angeles PRIDE forum

first_img“Liberation and solidarity in the age of the Black Lives Matter movement” was the topic of discussion during a June 13 Workers World Party Pride Month forum held in Los Angeles at the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice featuring Shelley Ettinger, Rebecka Jackson and John Parker.Ettinger spoke about being in solidarity with those fighting for equal marriage rights while struggling around issues that impact the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities even more, like the Black Lives Matter movement. She gave the statistics of violence and murder against Black trans women and stressed that this type of solidarity was essential to the struggle to end this capitalist system, which is necessary to end all oppression by the repressive state.Ettinger, author of the novel “Vera’s Will,” also attended a local book signing at the Book Soup bookstore during her Los Angeles visit.Rebecka Jackson and John Parker gave reports on the “Peoples Tribunal Against Police Terror” in Baltimore on June 6, which was a resounding success with almost 200 people participating. The tribunal was organized by the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly and the Baltimore Southern Christian Leadership Conference in response to the police murder of Freddie Grey in April and the further police racist terror that included a military mobilization against the community.Jackson reported on the proposals taken up by the tribunal and the speakers, who included family members of victims of police murder, and emphasized the importance of the tribunal and PPA in building the struggle against police brutality. She proposed that the Los Angeles Workers Assembly and other organizations working at the Harriet Tubman Center build a similar tribunal for Los Angeles.Jackson, who works in the film industry, also spoke of plans to go back to Baltimore to work on a documentary about the community’s uprising after the murder of Freddie Grey. Parker, along with Jackson, helped with outreach for the Peoples Power Assembly in building the Baltimore tribunal. He played a video he had made documenting the housing situation in Baltimore with interviews of courageous youth doing cop watch programs to protect the community. Parker emphasized that these youth again demonstrate why the working class, especially the most oppressed, are the most determined and capable fighters against state violence and ultimately against the system of capitalism.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this Shelley Ettinger Rebecka Jacksoncenter_img John Parkerlast_img read more

Liberación agridulce de Oscar López

first_imgEn una acción sorpresiva, el pasado jueves 9 de febrero, regresó el prisionero político puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera a su tierra natal, Puerto Rico, luego de que la pasada Administración Obama le conmutara su sentencia a mediados de enero. Pero lo que tantas personas ansiaban, recibirlo entre abrazos, banderas boricuas y consignas libertarias, dejándole saber su amor y agradecimiento, fue impedido por las órdenes crueles y vengativas del imperio estadounidense.López Rivera llegó al Aeropuerto de San Juan acompañado de su hija Clarisa López, su hermano José López, su abogada Jan Susler, y las/el funcionarios electos Carmen Yulín Cruz alcaldesa de San Juan, la presidenta del consejo municipal de la ciudad de Nueva York Melisa Viverito y el congresista Luis Gutiérrez, representante demócrata por Chicago.Las personas que se habían congregado para recibirlo en el terminal donde llegaría Oscar, quedaron asombradas por la rapidez de los eventos y la absoluta imposibilidad de saludarlo. Quienes acompañaban a Oscar en su viaje desde Carolina del Norte a donde fue trasladado de la prisión Terre Haute en Indiana, caminaban rápidamente tratando de ocultarlo rodeándolo y poniéndole una gorra para taparle el rostro.Esta escritora pudo ver a través de las cámaras de un programa televisivo que pudo captar – no sin objeciones de los acompañantes de Oscar quienes intentaban tapar el lente – parte de la caminata por las galerías del edificio del aeropuerto. Esas tomas, que lograron un acercamiento al rostro de Oscar, despertaron una inmensa alegría a la vez que una enorme indignación, sentimientos que fueron compartidos por muchas personas a juzgar por los múltiples comentarios en las redes sociales.Rafael Cancel Miranda, héroe boricua y ex prisionero político, al ser entrevistado por los medios sobre el arribo de Oscar, comentó sobre la importancia que tuvo ser recibido por miles de boricuas en el aeropuerto en 1979 a su arribo a PR junto a Lolita Lebrón, Irving Flores y Andrés Collazo luego del indulto por el presidente Jimmy Carter. Habló de la extraordinaria alegría – euforia aclaró – que fue ver a miles de personas congregadas con la bandera boricua al llegar a suelo boricua luego de 26 años en mazmorras yanquis.Esta bienvenida sin embargo, le fue prohibida a Oscar. Su abogada Jan Susler dijo: “Está bajo una supervisión estricta … Está bajo custodia del Negociado de Prisiones. Él, si quiere estar en Puerto Rico, tiene que ser en confinamiento domiciliario. Él tiene que cumplir con las condiciones. Cuando me hablaron de las condiciones, la mayor, aparte además de cumplir con la ley, es mantener un perfil bajísimo”. (endi.com)Este “perfil bajo” incluye arresto domiciliario en casa de su hija Clarisa, de la cual sólo podrá salir para visitas médicas y al Negociado de Prisiones; no puede hablar con personas con antecedentes en prisión, estar en ninguna vista pública, ni ser entrevistado por los medios; además de llevar un grillete electrónico hasta el 17 de mayo que al cumplir 36 años prisionero, le será finalmente finalizada su sentencia.Contexto políticoNo hay razón alguna dentro de los parámetros de la “justicia legal” estadounidense para que la conmutación de su sentencia en enero pasado no estuviera acompañada de su inmediata liberación. No sólo ha sido una crueldad manifiesta, sino un acto sumamente político donde se previene que Oscar sea sujeto activo en la lucha independentista y elemento cohesivo de la lucha boricua.La lucha por su liberación ha tenido el aval de las más diversas fuerzas puertorriqueñas, desde el ahora gobernador pro-estadidad Ricardo Roselló, hasta todas las tendencias independentistas y socialistas, pasando incluso por la comunidad religiosa de todas las creencias y todos los movimientos sociales. Oscar significa la voluntad de unión de un pueblo para luchar por lo que considera justo. Tal y como lo fue la victoriosa lucha de Vieques para sacar a la Marina de Guerra de EUA.Ahora es un tiempo crítico para el archipiélago borincano donde acontecen peligrosos sucesos. Primero está la imposición de una avasalladora y dictatorial Junta de Control Fiscal que busca sangrar a la clase trabajadora para pagar a los bonistas de Wall Street, entre los cuales se encuentra la firma de fondos buitres del ya famoso John Paulson, uno de los principales consejeros del presidente Donald Trump. Acompañando esta imposición, se ha establecido otra administración perjudicial a la clase trabajadora puertorriqueña, la de Roselló que avanza imponiendo reformas precarizadoras que buscan complacer a la JCF. Encima, hay otra fútil propuesta para un plebiscito de estatus a celebrarse el 11 de junio.Nunca antes la lucha por la verdadera soberanía boricua ha sido tan crucial. Una encrucijada que se encuentra enmarcada dentro de esta fase terminal del capitalismo que busca sus ganancias a merced de la misma vida de la clase trabajadora eliminando todos los logros obtenidos a través de decenas de años de lucha.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Behind the Grenfell Tower disaster: capitalism

first_imgCapitalist greed is the root cause of the raging inferno that killed at least 79 residents of Grenfell Tower in London on June 14 and left hundreds homeless. It began and spread through unsafe building materials that even some capitalist countries have barred from use.The British government is guilty of neglect and prioritizing cost-cutting above all in maintaining and renovating the high-rise building.  Of lesser — or no — importance to the British rulers was ensuring safe public housing for the multinational working-class and poor families, including many immigrants, who lived there.Protesters, including survivors, community members and other progressive forces immediately mobilized to demand that the empty luxury housing in that area house all survivors of the catastrophe.  Labour members of Parliament called for uninhabited housing in wealthy Kensington, where Grenfell Tower was located, to be provided for them. Calls resounded for Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation and for criminal prosecutions of those responsible for the fire.People came from all over Britain to express their solidarity with the victims.  Across the country and worldwide, people expressed outrage at the British government’s callous disregard for human life.May and her Tory colleagues were shaken to the core by this crisis and the domestic and global reaction. The government quickly announced that it had purchased 68 apartments in the posh Kensington Row complex for those displaced by the fire. (Guardian, June 21)For years, Grenfell Tower residents had complained of the 24-story building’s dangers — no alarm system, no sprinklers, no fire escapes, no evacuation plan and only one exit.  Showing disdain for the tenants, the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, the building’s owner, and its management company, ignored them.  Racism and class contempt factored into their neglect.Residents’ complaints grew louder in 2016, when a contractor, the Rydon Group, refurbished Grenfell Towers, cutting costs at every corner to maximize profits.  Dangerous work imperiled tenants during the renovation.  Unsafe materials were used to cover the building’s façade. Called “cladding,” the material in this case was made of aluminum-composite panels encasing flammable insulation. This type of cladding easily ignites, allowing a fire to climb quickly up the exterior of the building and spread inward to the apartments.Architects and building experts blame this flammable cladding for the conflagration.Arconic, a cladding manufacturer, admitted on June 22 that its flammable panels were used in Grenfell Tower. A mere $6,377 more would have purchased non-combustible cladding for the entire building!An extensive June 25 New York Times article on the disaster points to “failure of government oversight, a refusal to heed warnings” and corporate-friendly Conservative and Labor governments’ drive “to free businesses from the burden of safety regulations.” Fire safety laws were weakened and fire inspections reduced.  Pro-business politicians decided that “cost concerns outweighed the risks of flammable materials to be used in façades.”Safe housing is a right!About 800 households were evacuated on June 23 from Chalcots’ five public housing high-risers after fire inspectors determined that the buildings were dangerous. The British Guardian newspaper reported on June 25 that, to date, 60 housing towers across England had been found to have unsafe cladding in post-Grenfell Tower fire inspections.Diane Abbott, Labour Party MP and shadow home secretary, blamed the Conservative government for the disaster, saying hundreds died.  She stressed: “Grenfell Tower is not just an accident.  Those hundreds of people who died are a direct consequence of Tory attitudes in social [public] housing.  The Tories think people in social housing are second-class citizens … and they are offering them second-class standards of safety.”   (Independent, June 24)In 1987, Abbott was the first Black woman elected to Parliament, and still faces racism and misogyny.Fire survivors, community members and progressive activists are seeking the truth about the number of casualties. Many people suspect a cover-up, with information being withheld to assuage growing anger and “unrest,” says Labour MP David Lammy. There is concern about the status of apartment subletters, visitors and undocumented immigrants, whose families fear deportation if they inquire about their relatives.John McDonnell, Labor Party shadow chancellor, said the victims were “murdered by political decisions” made over recent decades. He cited austerity measures, such as the closing of fire stations and elimination of 10,000 firefighters. (Guardian, June 25)British capitalists, including landlords, aim to maximize profits. Building expensive housing for the rich is very lucrative.  Public housing is a low priority, with costs minimized and safety coming last. Profits trump human need, even human life.Only continuing struggle will bring justice for the Grenfell Tower victims.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Syracuse, N.Y., activists protest ICE raid

first_imgRebecca Fuentes, organizer with the Workers’ Center of Central New York, speaks at protest in front of ICE offices, Syracuse, N.Y., April 20.Syracuse, N.Y. — Dairy worker Marcial de León Aguilar was kidnapped from a farm in Rome, N.Y., on April 18 by seven armed agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A protest to mobilize for Aguilar’s release was held April 20 in front of ICE offices in Syracuse, called by the local Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network and the Workers’ Center of Central New York.John Collins, the farmer who employed Aguilar, witnessed the kidnapping. So did two of Aguilar’s children waiting for the school bus. Collins heard yelling and ran inside a barn to see armed men attacking Aguilar. The men were not wearing ICE jackets and had no warrant or legal paperwork. Collins ordered them to leave Aguilar alone and leave the property. When Collins attempted to photograph the men, they smashed his phone, handcuffed him and threatened to arrest him. (syracuse.com)Aguilar is partnered with Virginia, a Guatemalan who is seven months pregnant. She is seeking asylum for herself and their children because of violence in her country. Since a 1954 U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala to protect United Fruit Company property, genocidal anti-Indigenous and anti-worker purges have devastated people’s lives there.While ICE was kidnapping Aguilar in Central New York on Wednesday morning, its agents were also conducting raids in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley, arresting 225 immigrant workers. (ABC7/NY, April 18) These attacks are being justified by labeling the workers as “criminals.”The racist fabrication of this criminality is clear in two detentions in Central New York in the last two weeks.Agus Susanto, carrying an Indonesian passport, was seized April 7 waiting for a Greyhound bus at the Syracuse Regional Transportation Center, where the U.S. Border Patrol trolls for travelers of color to detain. Pastor Herrera Núñez was arrested April 16 after being stopped for a “seat-belt violation” by Manlius police and turned over to ICE. Previously Manlius cops engineered the detainment of four immigrant workers after stopping them for “snow obstructing the view of license plates.”Anti-immigrant raids are ranging deeper and wider, from individual workers and families in rural areas, to groups of urban workers at chain stores like 7-Eleven, to immigrant rights organizers.Worker leaders have been under increased scrutiny, including Arely Tomás Orozco of Syracuse. In 2014, she was part of a delegation that succeeded in limiting collaboration of New York State Troopers with ICE and the Border Patrol. In December 2017, ICE arrested her partner, Hector Navarro, now in Buffalo Federal Detention in Batavia, N.Y.The local Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network is demanding an end to deportations, an end to local police collaborating with ICE and the Border Patrol, and an end to racist policing. They ask for support for the Greenlight NY: Driving Together campaign to ensure access to licenses for all. The Defense Network is planning to pack the courtroom for Marcial de León Aguilar on April 24. To support their work, go to Facebook for Workers’ Center of Central New York.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

No respite from class struggle in French summer holidays

first_imgParis, France, July 12 — The arrival of summer, synonymous with vacations, is eagerly awaited by all workers. Those eager include workers fighting for justice, who know their struggles will be placed on hold for two months until the start of the school year in September. This time, however, due to the social turmoil that has shaken the country since the beginning of the year, it is mainly the government that found time passing too slowly before the summer holidays.In the halls of power, some are certainly convinced they have won the war. They mean the social war launched against the people by the capitalists — who on July 3 selected a pure descendant of the French nobility, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, to be the head of their employers’ organization (MEDEF) — and their devoted president and “monarch” Emmanuel Macron. Despite their convictions, everything indicates that the main confrontation is still ahead. Things are just beginning to get serious.Neoliberal forces — those wanting to privatize everything and cut jobs — are already in battle order. They are ready for the next offensive, which will attempt pension “reform,” a new stage in the demolition of workers’ social protection.For that task, they appointed a “high commissioner,” Jean-Paul Delevoye. He is a right-winger, a former minister under Jacques Chirac with more than 80 years of cumulative mandates in politics. He recently joined the current president’s party, La République en marche! Delevoye is charged with preparing a draft pension law that the government will present to Parliament in 2019 as part of the Action Plan for Company Growth and Transformation, called the PACTE.Under the pretext of “harmonizing” pension plans by “aligning” public sector plans with those in the private sector, the aim is to promote retirement savings markets as called for by the banks and insurance companies. The proposal would freeze contributions, thus condemning pension balances to fall as the number of pensioners and life expectancy increase.There will be no guaranteed pension levels for savers. These instead would be entrusted to the vagaries of stock market returns. Nor would savers be guaranteed recovery of their savings! It is indeed a hidden privatization of the pension system that is envisioned [something like a 401k in the United States].In addition to capturing part of these pension savings, the proposal jeopardizes the financing of Social Security in France. Globalized finance — and pension fund managers, frustrated since the 2008 crisis by close to zero interest rates — are rubbing their hands like flies on a piece of sugar! After all, isn’t that why they choose Macron?A fair system?A fair system would guarantee everyone continuity of their best career standard of living when they move from work to retirement. The European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development recommend capitalization, that is, the kinds of steps in Macron’s “reform.”Despite this recommendation, the French system still operates largely — and fortunately — on a pay-as-you-go basis. Current contributions finance current pensions and these contributions constitute future pension rights, thanks to intergenerational solidarity and the obligation for all who work to contribute. This pay-as-you-go regime, with guaranteed benefits, is secure because it is financed by contributions from wages throughout the country. This takes place without recourse to financial markets, and thus without the risk of a stock market catastrophe.It is this solidarity that years of neoliberalism have weakened but failed to dismantle. It is this regime that President Macron wants to destroy as a service to the financiers. It is this pension system that workers in France will soon have to defend, to make it stronger and universal. Pensions do not present a demographic issue, based simply on the age distribution of the population, but rather a social justice issue. Society has a fundamental choice: either solidarity for all or each one for themself.The ruling elites, arrogant and sustained by a balance of power historically favorable to capital, must nonetheless remember that, in 1995, the largest popular mobilizations since the general strike of 10 million workers in May 1968 were launched precisely to defend pensions. Powerful strikes paralyzed the country for more than a month (November-December) that year and, under the pressure of two million demonstrators, forced the government (then of Alain Juppé, Jacques Chirac’s prime minister) to abandon its “reform.”But in 2010, under Nicolas Sarkozy, three million more demonstrators were not enough to stop the infernal neoliberal machine. How many millions will have to be in struggle in 2019 to force Macron to order a retreat?Herrera is a Marxist economist, a researcher at the Centre national de la Recherche scientifique (CNRS), who works at the Centre d’Économie de la Sorbonne, Paris. WW staff translated this article.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Se celebrarán elecciones marcadas por la corrupción y la migración

first_imgEl dia 16 de junio se celebran elecciones presidenciales y congresionales en Guatemala. Estas podrían ser importantes debido a una profunda crisis política y la migración hacia el norte que no da señales de terminar.Otro factor que podría influir en las elecciones es que por primera vez podrán votar los guatemaltecos que viven en el extranjero. Por ahora hay pocos votantes registrados de este grupo, pero con la migración que se está viendo y el peso económico de las remesas, podrían llegar a convertirse en un bloque importante.Una de las características importantes de la crisis política es que varios partidos, que en un momento eran grandes e influyentes, han sido cancelados por los tribunales. Por otro lado, han emergido varios partidos nuevos, tanto de derecha como progresistas y de izquierda.Los dos partidos de derecha que más escaños ganaron en 2015 fueron cancelados debido a repetidas violaciones de las leyes de financiamiento electoral. Otros, incluyendo el partido del actual presidente Jimmy Morales, tienen procesos legales abiertos en su contra que se han suspendido hasta que se concluyan las elecciones.La candidata que según las encuestas tiene más apoyo es Sandra Torres, candidata del partido Unión Nacional de Esperanza (UNE). UNE es un partido socialdemócrata, con algunas propuestas que buscan aliviar el sufrimiento del pueblo sin cambiar la base económica. Como todos los partidos tradicionales de Guatemala, tiene una sombra larga de investigaciones y acusaciones de corrupción y financiamiento ilícito.Otra candidata notable, que ha venido ganando apoyo en las últimas encuestas, es Thelma Cabrera, mujer Maya Mam y candidata del Movimiento para la Liberación de los Pueblos (MLP). MLP es un vehículo electoral recién formado por integrantes del Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (Codeca) y otros movimientos sociales aliados.Este partido se formó después de que se separó Codeca de la URNG, el partido formado por los guerrilleros revolucionarios cuando se firmaron los acuerdos de paz. La base social del MLP, por sus orígenes como movimiento social, está compuesta principalmente por campesinos y comunidades originarias ubicados geográficamente en la Costa Sur y el Altiplano.Como partido que representa intereses campesinas y de los pueblos originarios, MLP ha citado a las políticas de Evo Morales y el “milagro económico” que hoy se ve en Bolivia como uno de sus principales fuentes de inspiración. Entre sus propuestas están la renacionalización de la energía eléctrica, revisar las concesiones de los recursos naturales y la creación de una Asamblea Constituyente Popular y Plurinacional.Aunque la UNE tiene mayor intención de voto, las encuestas señalan que aproximadamente 66 por ciento de los que responden no tienen preferencia ninguna. Estos números no sorprenden, debido a la gran falta de credibilidad que tienen los partidos tradicionales y el hecho de que las izquierda guatemalteca todavíano se ha recuperado completamente de la guerra civil.Candidatos descalificadosLa intervención de las cortes en el proceso electoral ha tenido una influencia enorme en determinar las fuerzas que ahora disputan la presidencia. Por ejemplo Zury Ríos, hija y heredera ideológica del dictador genocida Efraín Ríos Montt, parecía tener la capacidad de unir la derecha guatemalteca antes de que el Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) la descalificó.Otra candidata descalificada es Thelma Aldana, candidata del Movimiento Semilla que tuvo que huir a El Salvador después de que el gobierno emitiera una orden de captura en su contra. Unas semanas después fue acusada de corrupción y descalificada. Aldana y el Movimiento Semilla surgen de las clases profesionales urbanas que forzaron la salida del presidente Otto Pérez Molina en 2015, y su plataforma electoral está enfocado en combatir la corrupción.Un tercer candidato, del partido de derecha Unión del Cambio Nacional fue detenido en Miami por cargos de narcotráfico vinculados al cartel Sinaloa. Tambien fue acusado de intentar asesinar a rivales politicos, que incluian a Aldana. (tinyurl.com/y54aczox)Corrupcion, subdesarrollo, y sequia: las principales causes de la miseriaLa crisis política del país origina de las movilizaciones anti-corrupción en 2015 que forzaron la salida del entonces presidente, y en los últimos años ha estado enfocado en la Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG). Esta comisión establecida por la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) ha iniciado muchas de las investigaciones que han impactado a los políticos tradicionales.Para el movimiento progresista, acabar con la corrupción y la impunidad es la más alta prioridad, porque sin eso será imposible enfrentarse a las graves problemas estructurales que están causando la gran migración hacia el norte.Desde el golpe de Estado en 1954, que acabó con la llamada “Revolución Guatemalteca” y desencadenó la guerra civil de 36 años, la derecha ha mantenido un monopolio sobre el poder, con la breve interrupción del gobierno socialdemócrata de Álvaro Colom (esposo de Sandra Torres). En general su política ha sido favorecer a los empresarios, grandes terratenientes, y las transnacionales y oprimir a la clase obrera, los campesinos, y los pueblos originarios. Durante la guerra civil incluso llegaron al genocidio contra el pueblo Maya Ixil.El resultado de este monopolio conservador es un país con casi todos los servicios privatizados, con una infraestructura a punto de colapsar, y una economía completamente dependiente del extranjero, en forma de inversiones extranjeras, remesas, y exportaciones agrícolas.La oligarquía tampoco está interesada en desarrollar la capacidad industrial del país. A pesar de invitar a las transnacionales a construir mineras, y un sector agropecuario enorme, todas estas materias primas se destinan al extranjero. Los empresarios están más que contentos enviando los recursos al extranjero, y vendiendo los productos que luego importan. Con que ellos mantengan su porcentaje, las ganancias se salen del país con menos dificultad que los migrantes.Las políticas conservadoras también han causado una gran destrucción ambiental en el país. Los pueblos originarios del país, sean mayas, xinka, o garífuna, están en constante lucha con el Estado para proteger sus tierras y ríos de la contaminación de las minorías y otros proyectos extractivistas. Muchos de los bosques se tallaron para crear las fincas grandes que cultivan café, palmas, y otros productos orientados a los mercados externos, y los que quedan están siempre amenazados.La destrucción del ambiente, y la apropiación de las tierras más fértiles por parte de los grandes finqueros ha creado una situación desesperada para muchos guatemaltecos. El país, a pesar de tener una economía principalmente agrícola, no produce los alimentos que necesita para sostenerse. Los niveles de desnutrición son altísimas, y no hay mecanismo para bajarlos.Donde se produce comida en las comunidades campesinas, varios años de sequía, que se pueden vincular al cambio climático, han causado que fallaran las últimas cosechas. Recientemente, el New York Times entrevistó a varias familias que citaron estas sequias como causa principal de la migración. (tinyurl.com/yytlv49a)Lo que no quiere mencionar el NYT es que estas comunidades que viven de la agricultura de subsistencia, han sido desposeídos de las mejores tierras, que han podido aguantar las sequías, por siglos de colonialismo e imperialismo. Si las tierras que hoy producen café y otros cultivos comerciales se usarán para el cultivo de maíz, frijoles, y otras comidas básicas, el país no estaría al punto de quiebre.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more