Issue Number 8

February 2009

  • Che's revolution lives in Cuba & Venezuela
  • Palestine: Why Israel commits war crimes

International News & Analysis

On January 1, Cuba’s working people celebrated 50 years of freedom from imperialist rule.

By Marce Cameron

I first visited Cuba in 1996. I’d read a lot about the Cuban Revolution, but seeing it first-hand made a deep and lasting impression on me. I wrote at the time: “You know when you greet a horse on a cold winter morning – you put your hand to its nose and you feel the warmth of its breath, powerful, reassuring and full of goodness.

By Marce Cameron

Havana – Many had hoped former Cuban president Fidel Castro would make a surprise public appearance at the January 1 late afternoon event in Santiago de Cuba to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. But as expected, it was Fidel’s brother, Revolutionary Armed Forces minister and current Cuban President Raul Castro, who gave the keynote speech.

By Marcus Pabian

Commenting on the February 15 referendum in Venezuela to decide on amending article 230 of the country’s constitution to abolish the restriction that elected officials serve two terms, the editorial in the December 19 Washington Post claimed Venezuela’s revolutionary socialist president Hugo Chavez is an “authoritarian” who will use “force or fraud” to win the referendum bec

By Kathy Newnam

The true face of Israel was exposed to millions of people throughout the world by the beginning of the Israeli attack on Gaza 0n December 27. The decades-long solidarity movement with Palestine mushroomed overnight, and throughout the three weeks of bombardment of Gaza, the world witnessed some of the largest demonstrations ever in support of Palestine.

By James Crafti

Bolivian President Evo Morales delivered a blow to Israel on January 16 by cutting off diplomatic ties with the Zionist state. Roberto Nelkenbaum, the Israeli consul to Bolivia, said he was “surprised and sad” that Bolivia had taken this action after the two countries shared “good diplomatic relations for more than 50 years”.

Despite campaigning for “change we can believe in”, Barack Obama has attacked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who leads Venezuela’s socialist revolution, as “a force that has interrupted progress in the region” during an interview on January 12 with the Spanish-language TV network Univision. This was not the first time Obama had denounced the Chavez government.

By Barry Sheppard

San Fransisco – President Barack Obama has presented his plan to try to turn around the US economy in the context of a rapid and accelerating decline. Official figures for the fourth quarter of last year indicated that US gross domestic product contracted at a 3.8% annual rate.

By Kim Bullimore

On January 23, just days after the Israeli military finished its 22-day war against the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military censor banned both the Israeli and international media from publishing the names of, or information about, Israeli military officers who participated in the war.

By Allen Myers

A Thai socialist, Giles Ji Ungpakorn, is facing up to 15 years in jail after being charged by police with lese majeste – insulting the king.

By Hamish Chitts

Barack Obama’s first military act as US president was to order two remote-controlled air strikes that killed 22 people, many civilians, in Waziristan, northern Pakistan. The Hellfire missile attacks on two villages were accompanied by presidential rhetoric about “smart power” and “tough love” that could easily have been spoken by his predecessor, George Bush.

Australian News & Analysis

By Clare Middlemas

Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) was introduced by the Howard Coalition government in 2006, the same year as the introduction of the Work Choices legislation, aimed at crippling trade unions. VSU made membership of a student union voluntary and due to a severe decrease in funding, the result was the closure or reduction of many essential campus services around the country.

By Shua Garfield

2008 was the 9th warmest year since measurements began in 1880, according to data published by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies on January 13. At 0.44oC warmer than the 1951-1980 average, it was also warmer than any year on record prior to 1998. The 10 warmest years on record have now all occurred since 1997.

By Doug Lorimer

“Batten the hatches. This is not just a recession. This is the sharpest deceleration Australia’s economy has ever seen”, Australian economic forecaster Access Economics warned in its latest quarterly Business Outlook report, released on January 18.

By Kerry Vernon

On January 20, a boat carrying 20 asylum seekers was intercepted by Australian navy patrol boat HMAS Maryborough, 39 kilometres from Ashmore Island in Australia’s far north-west. The asylum seekers were taken nearly 2000 km to the immigration detention prison on Christmas Island.

By Dani Barley

As Israel began dropping bombs on the Gaza Strip on December 27, Australian Palestine solidarity activists began organising protests. Despite occurring during the “quiet” part of the year, these protest actions snowballed in size during the weeks of Israel’s 22-day war on Gaza.

Views, Discussion & Debate

By Barry Sheppard

[The following are excerpts from a chapter of US socialist Barry Sheppard’s forthcoming second volume of a political memoir of his time as a central leader of the US Socialist Workers Party and earlier of its youth group, the Young Socialist Alliance. The full chapter can be read (in PDF format) at http://www.socialistvoice.ca.

[The following statement distributed by members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party at protest actions in early January against Israel’s war on Gaza.]

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.

Imagine if the Australian government provided all education, from pre-school to post-graduate level, and all medical care, free of charge. Imagine if factories that were to be closed by their owners were taken under public control and put under the management of their workers to produce for the benefit of society.

By Allen Myers

The winners of capitalist competition tend to become monopolies. Monopolies, in turn, reverse the character of capitalist investment. When there was widespread competition in an industry, there was great pressure on each company to reinvest its profits in order not to be left behind technologically and thus to lose out.

Reviews

Reviewed by Andrew Martin

After the Waterfront – the Workers are Quiet
Published by the LeftPress
2008

Reviewed by Dani Barley

Che: Part One (The Argentine)
Runtime: 126 minutes
Che: Part Two (Guerrilla)
Runtime: 131 minutes
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Peter Buchman, based on the writings of Che Guevara
Starring Benicio del Toro, Demian Bichir and Catalina Sandino Moreno
Australian release date unknown

Letters

Conflict in Palestine

Unfortunately the present ceasefire in Gaza is no real solution to the conflict in Palestine. As long as the Israeli occupation continues and Palestinians have no homeland, the resistance and violence will go on.

In Their Own Words

And take the rap if they didn’t?

“The question they want answered is whether we can build automated weapons that would conform to the laws of war.” – British robotics expert Colin Allen, who has been hired by the US Navy to advise on the programming of military robots.