Latin America

We support the call of the Brazilian workers!

The following statement is by three imprisoned Iranian labour activists. (more…)

Chile: The forgotten September 11

On the day when the remembrance of the deaths of almost 3000 innocent people in America is one of the top news items, it is important to remember an older act of terrorism – committed by a state against its own government – that took place exactly 40 years ago.

While today’s workers and youth are very familiar with the human tragedy that unfolded in New York on September 11, 2001, and how it was justified to unleash new wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is important to note that these militarist policies of the United States date back over a century and have included coups, invasions and destabilisation in nearly all parts of the world, especially Latin America, eastern Europe, East Asia and Africa.

Chile: The forgotten September 11
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. The Pinochet regime set a new standard of brutality in post-war history: according to official figures 3,065 were killed or disappeared and 40,018 people were victims of human rights abuses. One of the first to die was President Allende himself – bombed in the presidential palace by his own air force!

Allende, head of the Popular Unity coalition government, had carried out modest land reforms and various nationalisations, including the all-important copper industry (hitting big US companies). Popular Unity’s land redistribution programme was in fact a continuation of President Eduardo Frei’s policy that allowed the big landowners to keep 80 hectares of the best land as well as buildings, machinery, animals and so on.

The main target of nationalisations was the country’s copper mines: largely controlled by two US companies, Anaconda and Kennecott, who sold Chilean copper to their US-based plants […]

By |September 12th, 2013|Chile|3,396 Comments

World series of social protest: here comes Brazil!

The following article was first published as the editorial of workplace bulletins distributed by members ofConvergences Révolutionnaires, the monthly journal of the L’Etincelle (The Spark) faction active in France.

June 24, 2013
World series of social protest: here comes Brazil!
“A human ocean, an outpour of signs and banners” said the press, counting one million people marching all over Brazil, including 300,000 in Rio de Janeiro. Police repression rained down on the protesters with batons, tear gas and plastic bullets, causing hundreds of injuries.

The movement started almost two weeks ago to protest the increase in transportation fares, while Brazil is spending huge amounts to organize the soccer Fifa cup and another 15 billion dollars for the 2014 world cup. While minimum wage is 240 euros monthly and an average San Paolo worker makes about 500 euros, the monthly transportation cost of 80 euros is prohibitive. Romario, an ex- pro soccer player who won the world cup in 1994 with Brazil, now a federal representative, candidly said that Fifa (which got a tax exemption from the government in April 2010) “is setting up a show, spends not even one cent and gets all the profits.” Rivaldo, world champion in 2002, talked about ” the shame of spending so much money for the world cup while hospitals and schools are in a bad shape.” The protesters got the fare increase cancelled, but a student explains why the movement still goes on: “we cannot stop here. Everyone knows that our demands go well beyond the increase in transportation costs.”

The “left-wing” government orders major public works that enrich the wealthy, through kickbacks, and for the poor only has expropriations, evictions, tax increases. Despite the (bogus) promises made by President Dilma Rousseff […]

Brazil: From Transit Protests to a Mass Movement

The following article was first published on the Speak Out Now! website.
Brazil – From Transit Protests to a Mass Movement
June 24th, 2013

In the last weeks Brazil has seen the biggest protests in 20 years. People, young and old, and especially the poor and working class, have taken to the streets to protest the arrogance of the Brazilian government which supports the wealthy elite against the population.

It all started with only a fare increase. Across  Brazil various city governments decided it was time to raise the bus fares again by an average of 30 cents. But this attack was one too many. Public transport, often the only means of transportation for workers in Brazil, can cost between five and ten dollars per ticket. Another 30 cents was simply an insult and people weren’t going to take it.

Small protests against the fare increases began in May, but by June 17, the movement had become a massive national mobilization. There were 100,000 marching in Rio, 60,000 in Sao Paulo, thousands in Brasilia, Bahia, Porto Alegre. Even after the protests forced many cities to repeal the 30-cent fare increase, on June 20th, over one million people across Brazil came out to demonstrate. As one protestor’s sign read: “30 cents was just the beginning.” The movement had gone far beyond its beginning and now people were protesting everything from corruption to poverty to layoffs.

The government responded by sending the national guard to put a stop to the demonstrations. The police were brutal, imprisoning thousands of protesters, killing one 18 year old.

It is no wonder that the fare increase was one attack too many. Brazil’s poor and working class have been under constant attack. The government has spent lots of public money […]

Did Chavez leave a “socialist” legacy?

There are few, if any, presidents whose death, especially after ruling for well over a decade, can cause such an outpouring of genuine grief among many thousands of citizens. Soon after it was announced that Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías had died thousands of people came into the streets weeping for the president they had lost.

Lieutenant Colonel Chávez, who was first elected President of Venezuela in February 1999 (after failing as a putschist in 1992), made a real difference in lifting the material conditions of the lives of millions of poor Venezuelans through his multi-facetted reform programme – the so-called “Bolivarian Revolution”.

Using the vast oil wealth of Venezuela to create many missions – unlike most other oil-rich countries where this revenue is nearly all appropriated by a very small minority – over the past 14 years the poverty and the illiteracy rates were drastically reduced and the health and living standards of the workers, the poor and ordinary Venezuelans were raised.

That is why the masses voted him in at three further presidential elections and came on to the streets on many occasions, particularly at the time of the 2002 coup that briefly removed Chávez, to support him and his policies.

Chávez’s record

When Chávez was elected in 1999 14.5% of the total labour force were unemployed and per capita GDP stood at $4,105. By 2009 unemployment had nearly halved (7.6%) and the per capita GDP had more than doubled to $11,404! And this took place within the context of a significant growth in the population from 23,867,000 in 1999 to 28,583,000 in 2009. Poverty also decreased: from 23.4% in 1999, the recorded rate of people in extreme poverty fell to 8.5% in 2011.

The policy of launching missions to tackle various social […]

Open letter to President Hugo Chavez from Iranian Revolutionary Socialists’ League

The following is an open letter to President Hugo Chavez from Iranian Revolutionary Socialists’ League written in July 2006.
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez from Iranian Revolutionary Socialists’ League
Mr Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias,
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Dear Mr President,

In November 2004, at the time of your fourth official visit to Iran, a number of Iranian labour activists wrote to you (a copy of the letter is enclosed) expressing their concern about how the Iranian regime was using your name and popularity among the Latin American masses, and progressive and anti-globalisation activists throughout the world, to falsely present a similarly positive image for itself.

Your Excellency, they highlighted the fundamental differences between the Bolivarian government, which enjoys popular support and strives to eliminate many longstanding economic and social problems in Venezuela, and a regime which came to power by crushing the mass movement that had mobilised millions of people against poverty and against the Shah’s CIA-installed dictatorship.
Two governments with opposite programmes
In the 20 months since their letter the economic, social and political situation in Venezuela and Iran have developed in opposite directions. Although both countries have seen a similarly significant boost to their oil (and gas) revenues the contrast between the ways in which this extra money has been used by the two governments could not be more marked: their economic policies, social programmes and political priorities are diametrical opposites.

On the one hand, in Venezuela, we have seen the nationalisation of an increasing number of companies, the free provision of healthcare, education and so on, and the policy of granting the masses, especially the workers and the poor, more rights in a new constitution. For workers these developments have meant giving them greater control over the […]

Open letter to the workers of Venezuela on Hugo Chavez’s support for Ahmadinejad

The following is an open letter by Maziar Razi urging Venezuelan workers to stand together with Iranian workers and condemn Chávez’s policy of supporting the Islamic regime. It was written in July 2009.

Open letter to the workers of Venezuela on Hugo Chávez’s support for Ahmadinejad

Honourable workers of Venezuela,

The Revolutionary Marxists of Iran are aware of your achievements as part of the Bolivarian Movement and have always supported this movement against the widespread lies and the open and covert interference of imperialism. In order to defend your invaluable movement and to confront the attacks and interference of US imperialism in Venezuela, labour and student activists in Iran have set up the ‘Hands Off Venezuela’ campaign in Iran and during the past few years have stood together with you in confronting the imperialist attacks. It is obvious that your achievements were gained under the leadership of Hugo Chávez and, for this reason, you reserve deep respect for him.

In terms of his foreign policy, however, Chávez has made a mistake. With his support for Ahmadinejad he has ignored the solidarity of the workers and students of Iran with your revolution, and in a word, made it look worthless. Most are aware that two weeks ago Ahmadinejad, with the direct support of Khamenei, committed the biggest fraud in the history of presidential elections in Iran and then, with great ferocity, spilt the blood of those protesting against this fraud. You just have to take notice of the international media reports to be aware of the depths of this tragedy. All over the world millions of workers and students, and also those of Marxist and revolutionary tendencies (which mostly are the supporters of the Bolivarian revolution), protested against these […]

On Ahmadinejad’s fourth trip to Venezuela

IRMT statement on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fourth trip to Venezuela.

On Ahmadinejad’s fourth trip to Venezuela

As the long-running cold war between US imperialism and the Iranian regime escalates to its highest level in decades, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes his fourth trip to Venezuela. In addition to Venezuela he will also be travelling to Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

The aim of Ahmadinejad’s Latin American tour is clear: that despite the mounting diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions and boycotts, the Iranian regime has friends and allies in many parts of the world, including in ‘America’s backyard’.

Other than boosting the morale of the reactionary regime’s diminishing social base, however, this tour will yield no significant results. At a time when a range of countries – including India, Japan, South Korea and others – are joining the US and EU’s sanctions and restrictions on trade or investment in Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua can offer no serious help to free the regime from its predicament.

In addition to the economic sanctions, the on-going covert operations, various forms of surveillance, assassinations of scientists connected with the nuclear programme, sabotage of strategic military facilities and so on have been stepped up. Further measures like cutting off Iran from America’s banking system, and the looming EU boycott of Iranian oil, will mean that the regime will be facing its bleakest hours since August 1988 when the war with Iraq ended.

Taken together these factors may give the impression of a defiant ‘anti-imperialist’ and ‘revolutionary’ country that is ‘standing up for its rights’ against imperialism. This, unfortunately, is the image that many people in Venezuela and other parts of Latin America have of the Iranian regime. This is precisely the image that the regime projects through its […]

Chilean Students: Three months of struggle and still gaining strength

Diego Carmoni – Alternativa Revolucionaria Comunista – ARCO

After two days of National General Strike that ended at midnight Thursday 24th August, 1394 people were arrested, 153 injured policemen, 53 civilians injured and a dead boy 16 years old, killed by a police bullet according to his brother and family.

The Chilean TUC (CUT) was obliged under the pressure of the students and parents to call for a national stoppage, only after 3 months of students struggle, on the 24 and 25 of August 2011, instead of an indefinite strike. Despite the limited work made by the bureaucracy for this mobilisation, this was a success, thanks to the students, the parents and their supporters.

At this moment the students and workers demands are intertwine in following points.

1. For a tax reform, demanding companies and the rich to pay higher taxes.

2. Change in the pension system. For the State to have a bigger role in the pension system and for firm’s compulsory contribution to their employees’ pension fund.

3. Improvement of health care for all Chileans.

4. New education rules. Support for the students’ demands: end of profit in education and access warranted for everyone.

5. New Labour Code. For a new code that warrants union freedom, right to strike, among other reforms.

6. New Constitution. For a Constituent Assembly.

The Chilean school system has been subject to acrid criticism and student protest since the initial decentralization and partial privatization of primary and secondary schools in 1981. Under the harsh dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, funding for university level education dramatically decreased. Accordingly, universities were obligated to counter the shortage of funds with higher tuition fees. The dictatorship adhered to the neoliberal belief that students should essentially “pay for the private returns they got from […]

By |September 28th, 2011|Latin America|8,307 Comments

President of Iran in Vnezuela

As Iranian President Ahmadinejad visits Venezuela, the Iranian Marxists send an appeal to the Venezuelan workers and youth explaining the plight of the masses in Iran.

 

Today, 17 September 2006, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is making his first trip to Venezuela. This follows five official visits by President Hugo Chavez to Iran and three by Mohammad Khatami – Ahmadinejad’s predecessor – to Caracas.

 

It is expected that during the two-day visit over 20 agreements will be signed, including one for building a vehicle production line in Venezuela. Then at a ceremony on Monday 18 September, Mr Chavez and Dr Ahmadinejad will inaugurate the petroleum drilling operation of Petropars, a state-owned Iranian company, in the Orinoco oil belt. They are also going to Bolivar state, in eastern Venezuela, where they will hand-over tractors to farmers. These tractors are manufactured by an Iranian-Venezuelan joint venture inaugurated by Khatami in March 2005. To date the Iranian regime and capitalists have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Venezuela.

While we appreciate the need of every government to have good diplomatic and trade relations with a large and varied number of governments throughout the world, we are, nevertheless, highly critical of the Chavez government’s extraordinarily close and fraternal relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). We believe that this is based on a misconception of the IRI as a ‘revolutionary’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ regime. This relationship, which has included Mr Chavez calling Dr Ahmadinejad his “brother” on a number of occasions, helps boost the regime and weaken the mass movements in Iran – particularly the struggles of workers for their basic trade union rights.

We therefore urge all Venezuelan revolutionary, socialist and labour activists to publicise the true nature of the […]