[The following article by Cuba’s retired president is reprinted from the May 2 edition of Granma, the daily paper of the Communist Party of Cuba.]
International News & Analysis
On April 26, left-wing Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa was re-elected with the support of 52% of the country’s 10.5 million voters, under a new constitution approved last September by 65% of voters. Correa easily trounced his closest rival, former president Lucio Gutierrez, who scored only 28.4%.
US and Mexican authorities claim that neither knew about the “swine flu” outbreak until April 24. But after hundreds of residents of a town in Veracruz, Mexico, came down with its symptoms, the story had already hit the Mexican national press by April 5.
The Indonesian General Elections Commission has not yet completed counting all the votes in the April 9 elections to the national parliament and scores of local assemblies. However, some things have become clear. There was a very high level of voter abstention, a phenomenon already evident in many elections for provincial governors during 2007-08.
“A top Venezuelan opposition leader is seeking political asylum in Peru … after fleeing his country to avoid what he calls a politically motivated witch hunt directed by the government of President Hugo Chavez”, the April 22 Washington Post reported.
US President Barack Obama faces growing pressure to end the US economic blockade of socialist Cuba, imposed in 1962. On April 13, prior to attending the Organization of American States (OAS) heads of government meeting in Trinidad, Obama eased restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting and sending money to family members in Cuba.
Government troops were still advancing into the so-called no-fire zone in the north-east of Sri Lanka on April 29, adding to what the Australian Tamil Information Service calls “an unprecedented humanitarian crisis”.
The Australian Labor government joined the all-white boycott of the UN’s Durban Review Conference held in Geneva on April 20-24.
Australian News & Analysis
Forty years ago, on May 19, 1969, Victorian tramway workers union secretary Clarrie O’Shea was jailed for refusing to obey a court order that his union pay $8100 in fines under the penal sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
On April 16, a young couple faced court in Cairns on charges brought against them under the anti-abortion provisions in the Queensland Criminal Code (sections 224, 225 and 226).
“It’s time to bite the bullet on paid maternity leave” after “12 years of neglect”, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated in September. But the Rudd Labor government is now trying to renege on a national parental leave scheme in the forthcoming federal budget – citing the global financial crisis as the prime excuse.
The tragic April 16 explosion on a boat carrying Afghan asylum seekers from Indonesia has refocused public attention on the Australian government’s refugee and “border protection” policies. The explosion – which killed 5 of the 47 asylum seekers on the boat – occurred while an Australian navy vessel was taking the boat to Christmas Island.
The global crisis of capitalism is being used by the ALP as an excuse to water down workers’ rights and measures to tackle climate change as well as for a general “belt tightening” of public services. But the Rudd government is keeping its commitment to maintain the Howard government’s annual 3% real increase in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) budget.
Views, Discussion & Debate
[The following is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in the April edition of International Viewpoint, the monthly English-language journal of the Fourth International (FI), the largest international association of Trotskyist parties.
We stand for the transformation of human society, from its current basis of greed, exploitation, war, oppression and environmental destruction, to a commonwealth of social ownership, solidarity and human freedom, living in harmony with our planet’s ecosystems.
If you conducted a random survey asking people what “democracy” means, probably the most frequent answer you would receive would be “government by the people” or “the people rule”. That’s not a bad answer; it’s the meaning of the Greek words from which “democracy” comes. Ancient Greece, particularly Athens, offers the best-known examples of early democracy.
Tim Anderson is mistaken in thinking that there was a “split” in the DSP last year and that the existence of the RSP is the result of “sectarianism”.
On April 22 a protest action was held in front of the Hilton Hotel in Adelaide Attended by 35 people, the protest organised by Action For Palestine, a newly affiliated club at the University of Adelaide. Among those who attended were people from the Eco-Socialist, No War, the Young Greens and Resistance groups.
Dear DSP and RSP, I observed with alarm the split in the DSP [Democratic Socialist Perspective] last year, and the creation of another party, the RSP [Revolutionary Socialist Party], a minority faction which now competes with the DSP’s Green Left Weekly through a rival paper, Direct Action.
The Marxism 2009 conference held at Melbourne University over the Easter weekend was attended by 764 people according to its organisers, Socialist Alternative (SAlt). Around half of those attending came for the session with left-wing journalist John Pilger, which was sold out.
In Their Own Words
And wings to pigs
“This is a historic opportunity afforded us to give capitalism a conscience.” – French President Nicolas Sarkozy, prior to the April 2 G20 London summit.