Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

The defeats inflicted on workers by the fourth Labour government and their pals atop the trade union movement, subsequently codified by the fourth National government, took a heavy toll on workers and unions here.  Over the several decades since, the working class has lost the ability, and even the inclination, to fight – with a few exceptions which have been most notable for being exceptions.

While workers here are more likely to cry than occupy – or fight back in any systematic way – when workplaces are shut down, austerity is imposed etc, the working class in the Third World is far more prepared to fight.  Anbd when they fight, they are serious.  They don’t just stand around on picket lines looking sheepish and uncomfortable – if they show up to their own picket lines at all; workers in the Third World show up prepared to fight.  They really fight the bosses, they break the law, they do battle with the state, and more.  And they do so in defiance of the state and the timid trade union leaderships.

Below is an article on the April 6 general strike in Argentina, where powerful waves of workers’struggle have been taking place for some time now.

The largest labor unions in Argentina called a general strike today, April 6, against President Macri’s economic policies. Workers around the country are protesting against the high inflation rates, austerity measures, layoffs and subcontracting. The transportation workers have completely stopped working, as have airline workers, canceling hundreds of flights in and out of Argentina. Schools are also closed, and this general strike comes after weeks of teacher mobilizations and strikes in Buenos Aires.

The streets of Buenos Aires are completely (more…)

But only if the masses choose to use that potential power. . .

But only if the masses choose to use that potential power. . .

One of our biggest concerns at Redline is that, while workers’ rights, living standards and general conditions of life have been made worse over the past 30 years, workers’ resistance has declined to negligible levels.  Moreover, the rare tussle that does take place is a defensive one.  Workers in this country, with the possible exception of the early days of Unite union when it was organising new workplaces and fighting to get contracts for new union members, haven’t been going on the offensive for several decades now.

imagesSometimes it seems that two generations of workers got defeated – through the 1980s and 1990s – and the next generation therefore hasn’t had a fighting spirit and class consciousness passed on to it nor developed these through its own experiences.

But if workers here have forgotten or, in the case of the new generation, not yet learned what resistance is let alone what going on the offensive is, there is no shortage of examples of powerful workers’ upsurges and of workers’ workers_power_lets_organize_against_capitalismresistance pointing to, or at least offering a glimpse of the potential for, alternative ways of organising economic, social and political life.

The really big stuff: dress rehearsals for workers’ emancipation
France, May-June 1968: the glimmer of revolution
Forms of popular power in Chile, 1970-1973
The grandeur of workers’ revolution: Portugal, 1974

History’s biggest general strike (2013)
History’s biggest strike: Indian workers show us how

Recent Workplace Occupations (and one from 1989)
Workers occupy Paris Bakery, Moore St, Dublin
When workers occupied – the Cockatoo Island occupation of 1989

Portugal 1974

Portugal 1974

Factory takeover in Argentina sees discussions on workers power, women’s liberation
Greek lessons: workers occupy factory, continue production
Video on the Vio.me struggle
Greek factory: “the machines of self-management have been turned on”
Workers’ self-management only solution: interview with spokesperson for the Vio.me occupation

Resisting austerity and taking on the state in Ireland
Working class resists water tax in south of Ireland

Working class community organising against Class A drug pushers
Standing up for ourselves: a brief history of the IWCA’s campaign against Class A drug dealers in Blackbird Leys

What about New Zealand?
When workers had class
Which way forward for workers and unions?

Further reading:
Whatever happened to workers’ resistance?

by Daphna Whitmore

While holidaying in Mexico I took a side trip to Cuba last week. Here are just some initial impressions.

The first impression getting a taxi from the airport was that the roads were good and the buildings looked adequate, but  nothing very new looking. Once we got to old Havana where we were staying the run down state of the historic area was very evident.  Closer to the centre of the old city there was a lot of really good restoration going on. Possibly 20% of the old buildings have been restored and look amazing.

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Old Havana is very rundown but restoration is underway

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The people were great, and the music was stunning. Really fantasticmusicians playing on the streets and in the cafes and bars. What talent. It struck me as rather like New Orleans where a whole city is dedicated to music.

The food was either not good, or extremely good. The food was more Spanish style than in Mexico, which makes sense as Cuba’s indigenous population was wiped out rapidly after colonisation. There was also a bit of Caribbean influence in the cuisine. Our hotel was grotty and overpriced. Generally it wasn’t expensive to eat, drink and get about (though we mostly walked).

Cuba is clearly a poor country, but the people look healthy, and the positive aspects of the revolution such as universal education, and excellent health system and a lack of disparity were evident.

The tourism industry has grown enormously and (more…)

The PFLP released the following statement on November 26:

cuba-palestino

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine extends its condolences to the Cuban people, the Palestinian people and the revolutionary movements of the world upon the loss of the former prime minister and president of Cuba and the historic international revolutionary leader, Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, on Friday, November 25, 2016.

castro-habashCastro’s internationalist revolutionary commitment to fighting imperialism and capitalism – manifest in the revolutionary victory against US imperialism and its puppet Batista regime in the 1959 Cuban revolution – consistently stood with the oppressed peoples of the world in their confrontation of imperialism, Zionism, racism and capitalism. Throughout his life, Fidel was a supporter and an example of revolutionary struggle in (more…)

Fidel and Che

Fidel and Che

Fidel Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban Revolution, died on Friday, November 25.  Below is an extract from the speech made in court by Fidel Castro Ruz, during his 1953 trial, following the revolutionaries’ attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26 of that year.  

Those who survived the attack and the state tortures and murders afterwards were initially jailed.  However, they became popular heroes and the dictatorship was forced to release them.  They then established the July 26 Movement.

 In Mexico, they began training and organising and in November 1956 they sailed to Cuba on the yacht Granma to launch the revolutionary struggle that just over two years later toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.  Batista fled on Thursday, January 1, 1959 and the following Thursday the Rebel Army entered Havana and quickly began implementing the changes that had been promised in History Will Absolve Me.  

This, indeed, was one of the crucial differences between the July 26 Movement and other radical-democratic movements in Latin America and elsewhere.  Under pressure from domestic ruling classes and the imperialists, most such movements backed down – often part of these movements organised a counter-revolution.  But the July 26 Movement was determined to implement their programme of sweeping reforms and when they found that would require carrying through a socialist revolution they did not hesitate to begin abolishing capitalism. 

Rebel Army enters Havana

Rebel Army enters Havana

. . .  In terms of struggle, when we talk about people we’re talking about the six hundred thousand Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily bread honestly without having to emigrate from their homeland in search of a livelihood; the five hundred thousand farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, who work four months of the year and starve the rest, sharing their misery with their children, who don’t have an inch of land to till and whose existence would move any heart not made of stone; the four hundred thousand industrial workers and laborers whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose benefits are being taken away, whose homes are wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from the hands of the boss to those of the moneylender, whose future is a pay reduction and dismissal, whose life is endless work and whose only rest is the tomb; the one hundred thousand small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs, looking at it with the sadness of Moses gazing at the promised land, to die without ever owning it, who like feudal serfs have to pay for the use of their parcel of land by giving up a portion of its produce, who cannot
(more…)

Yesterday, September 11, marked the 41st anniversary of the coup in Chile.  On September 11, 1973 the democratically-elected left-wing government led by Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.  Several thousand people were murdered during the coup and tens of thousands imprisoned and/or tortured in its aftermath.  Pinochet remained in power until 1990, but held on as head of the Chilean Army until 1998.  Even after that he was a senator for life.  He was subsequently charged, however, with 300 offences relating to human rights abuses, tax evasion and embezzlement.  He died in 2006, before going on trial.  During his time in power he amassed a fortune estimated at $US28 million (about 40 million NZ dollars) and carried out a set of ruthless ‘new right’ economic reforms, a number of which were mimicked by the fourth Labour government in NZ in the 1980s.

The 1973 coup came as the Chilean ruling class and its supporters, especially in the United States, worried about the growing class conflict in the country and the rise of new forms of workers’ power.

Read about the forms of popular power that were emerging here.

On the coup, see Remembering the September 11 terrorist bloodbath.