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Asia Pacific People's Solidarity Conference

Leaders of the struggle against neo-liberal globalisation in Indonesia are preparing a major gathering of activists to discuss strategies to stop the imperialist onslaught on the Indonesian economy and people.

"The gathering", Kelik Ismunanto, a conference organiser, said, "is not just for Indonesian activists. We are inviting activists from the region, the world even, to join the discussions."

The Asia Pacific People's Solidarity Conference, to be held in Jakarta, June 7-10, is being organised by the Indonesian Centre for Reform and Social Emancipation (INCREASE), a new activist organisation of students, workers, peasant farmers, urban poor, artists and others.

"We are behind in coming to grips with the full nature of neo-liberalism and how to deal with it", said Ismunanto, a member of the INCREASE board. "We hope that the discussions at the conference of experiences from other countries will deepen our understanding."

Leaders from the progressive and labour movements from South Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines and East Timor will participate. Leaders of activist groups in India and Nepal have also been invited. Anom Astika, the conference organising committee chairperson, travelled to Europe to invite activists in the anti-neo-liberal globalisation movement there.

"We are glad to hear that there will be a large delegation from Australia", Ismunanto said. "We hope there is good attendance from activists in the First World, because the movements in the First and Third Worlds must link up."

At least 10 Indonesian movement leaders will address the conference, and scores more activists will present workshops. "Well-known leaders such as Budiman Sujatmiko, the head of the People's Democratic Party, and Dita Sari from the Indonesian National Front for Workers Struggle, will speak.

"The conference is also being supported by the National Peasants Union, the National Students' League for Democracy, the Popular Youth Movement and the Artistic Workers' Network", Ismunanto said.

"We have an exciting radical and activist cultural scene here. Many of our protest actions have what we call 'the people's stage', and we will try to organise something like that for the conference.

"We have never before organised an international gathering like this, and it will be a big challenge for our young activists. We need to do it, and there's a need for more such gatherings to strengthen the anti-imperialist movement here and around the region."

Ismunanto added: "Cuba is taking the lead against capitalist globalisation with President Castro's call for the cancellation of the Third World debt, the abolition of the IMF and the World Bank, and a tax on international financial flows that is under Third World control. We appeal to all those who can help explain the gains and achievements of the Cuban alternative to attend the conference."

Australian activists who wish to attend the conference should contact Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) via asiet@asiet.org.au or PO Box 458, Broadway NSW 2007. Contact INCREASE at increase@indo.net.id.

The conference fee, which includes registration, accommodation, three meals a day and conference materials, is US$230 or A$450 (waged) or US$130 or A$250 (unwaged). INCREASE urges people to register as soon as possible to help with the conference's cash flow.

Second international solidarity conference with Cuba

"We affirm our conviction that the Cuban people have the unquestionable right to construct their own model of economic, political and social development, to decide their own future without interference or aggression and to defend their sovereignty and independence."

So stated the final resolution adopted by the Second World Meeting of Friendship and Solidarity with Cuba, held November 10-14 in Havana. The meeting, convened by seventy-two Cuban organisations and institutions, was attended by 4347 delegates from 118 countries who gathered to condemn the US blockade of Cuba. The 600-strong US delegation was the largest, and defied its government's ban on travel to Cuba.

The meeting heard reports from Carlos Lage, vice-president of the Council of State, Ricardo Alarcón, presiding officer of the National Assembly of People's Power, and Felipe Perez Roque, minister of foreign affairs. The three explained the progress the Cuban people have made since the First World Meeting of Friendship and Solidarity in 1994.

Delegates contributed from the floor, and there were working commissions on the blockade, the disinformation campaign and the solidarity movement around the world. The meeting finished with the adoption of the final declaration and a speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Visits to projects and institutions were arranged, and delegates were invited to an anti-imperialist rally outside the US interests section, Washington's unofficial embassy in Cuba.

Despite the blockade, the Cuban economy and the provision of social services have grown slowly. There has been an increase in the number of jobs as industries expand. The value of the Cuban peso has increased from 150 to the US dollar to 20 to the US dollar. This has been achieved without privatisation, cuts to free health and education or cuts to the support Cuba gives to the Third World.

In 1992, the UN General Assembly resolution that condemned the US blockade was supported by fifty-nine votes to three, with forty-six absent and seventy-one abstentions. This year's vote recorded 167 in favour, three against, fifteen absent and four abstentions. Only the US government, Israel and the Marshall Islands voted against the resolution.

The Elian Gonzalez affair has boosted support for Cuba. During the seven-month struggle to have Elian returned to his father, eighty committees were set up in fifty-seven countries. In Miami, the stronghold of the extreme right-wing Cuban emigres, pro-Cuba immigrants for the first time were able to mobilise. Polls in May showed seventy-one per cent of the US people favoured restoration of normal relations with Cuba.

The fight for Elian's return mobilised and strengthened the Cuban people's support for the revolution. This was commented on by Castro in his closing address. He said that if the low period of 1994 had occurred a few years after the 1959 revolution, the revolution would have been defeated because the consciousness among the people would not have been sufficient to sustain them through the privations.

The Second World Meeting of Friendship and Solidarity with Cuba demonstrated a growing confidence that the US blockade can be defeated by increased international solidarity. This was reflected in the final resolution, which approved a range of measures to extend and strengthen the global solidarity movement. These included:

  • the declaration of 2001 as an international year of solidarity against the blockade and other anti-Cuban laws;
  • the organisation of a week of global solidarity with Cuba (April 15-22) to mark the fortieth anniversary of the declaration of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution and the victory at Playa Girón in 1961;
  • the declaration of October 10 as Global Solidarity Day with Cuba as part of the 150th anniversary year of the birth of José Martí; and
  • sending a message to the next US president condemning the economic war against Cuba.
  • Other recommendations included greater coordination among solidarity activists to end the blockade, counter the lies and misinformation and spread the truth about the Cuban Revolution.

On November 14, to mark the close of the conference, a rally against the blockade of 12,000 people took place outside the US interests section. It was televised throughout Cuba and internationally.

Twelve delegates, representing the five regions of the world attending the world meeting, voiced their support for Cuba's independence and sovereignty and denounced the US blockade as immoral and illegal. They were Pat Brewer, of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, Rosemary Janches from South Africa, Frei Betto from Brazil, Eleonora Contreras from Mexico, Luis Miranda and Jose Antonio Rodriguez (who are Cuban Americans) from the US, Despina Markou from Greece, Fathi Abu Ardat from Palestine, Plamen Bonev from Bulgaria, Rafael Cancel Miranda from Puerto Rico and Lucius Walker, a minister from Pastors for Peace, a US group that has defied the blockade.

Blockade stock exchanges on May 1

(The following call was issued by the Australian organisations Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance following the successful S11 blockade of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne.)

The Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance call on the escalating movement against corporate globalisation that showed its strength at Seattle, Washington, Melbourne and Prague to support the proposal for a Global Strike Against Corporate Tyranny on May 1, 2001.

Neo-liberal capitalist globalisation is bringing unprecedented misery to eighty per cent of the world's population just to enrich a tiny minority who are already obscenely wealthy. It is also worsening an already catastrophic global environmental crisis.

But now global corporate greed is being challenged by a movement of global solidarity.

The global corporate rulers are already frightened and arguing among themselves about how to combat our growing people's movement. Some think that changing the name of those instruments of death and misery for millions, the IMF structural adjustment programs, to "poverty reduction strategies" is going to fool us into leaving the streets. Others are trying to convince us that making the corporate barons even richer will mean that some gains will trickle down to the poorest. But we will not be put off.

Sentiment is growing around the world, after the series of mobilisations against the oppressive international financial institutions, for continuing coordinated global action. More and more people are seeing the sources of the problems of the majority of the world's people, and are willing to do something about it. The downtrodden of the Third World have known the cause of their oppression for decades, as recently demonstrated in Indonesia, Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia. Today more and more people in the First World, especially the youth, are expressing their solidarity with the majority of the world's oppressed.

We would like to see this international solidarity expressed, not just in a series of actions as the World Bank, IMF, WTO or WEF meets, but in cities around the world in a simultaneous demonstration of opposition to exploitation and injustice.

Let's go on the offensive on May 1, 2001, with a truly global action against global corporate tyranny. Let's walk out of our workplaces, campuses and schools and converge on those temples of corporate greed, the stock exchanges. Let M1 unite the massive power of the victims of corporate tyranny in the First World and the Third World!

Abolish the IMF, World Bank and the WTO!

Cancel the Third World debt!

Globalise resistance!

Expropriate the corporate robbers!

Democratic Socialist Party; Resistance, socialist youth organisation; PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia. Telephone: 61 2 9690 1230. Fax: 61 2 9690 1381. dsp@dsp.org.au. website: www.dsp.org.au.

Nepal: Socialism 21 Conference

The Socialism 21 Conference in Kathmandu finished on a high note as representatives from seventeen countries linked arms and led a spirited 10,000-strong rally against price rises on November 9. The rally was organised by four left parties, the major one being the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), which also coordinated the conference.

Socialism 21 concluded with a call for the 21st century to be the century of socialism, justice, freedom and peace. The high-profile conference was a great success and could not have been ignored by anyone in Kathmandu. The city was festooned with flags and banners to welcome the international guests.

According to Pradip Nepal, the CPN-UML leader and the coordinator of the conference, the meeting of socialists from around the world expressed the view that socialists must lead, support and participate in people's movements for civil liberties and against discrimination on the basis of gender, race or class. It reaffirmed the need for socialists to intensify resistance against imperialist economic globalisation and continue to lead and support national liberation movements and democracy throughout the world.

Pradip Nepal said that globalisation had become the main challenge and threat to the socialist movement and the sovereignty of small nations.

Mobilising for Quebec City

On April 20-22, Quebec City has the dubious honour of hosting the Summit of the Americas, which brings together the thirty-four heads of state of North, South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean (except Cuba). Besides the usual scaremongering about security and terrorism, and empty rhetoric about democracy and human rights, the stated purpose of the summit will be to put the final touches on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement.

The FTAA extends the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) to the entire hemisphere, and is to be implemented no later than 2005. The FTAA is also an extension of the reach of capitalist globalisation, aiming to subject health care, education and environmental and labour standards to the so-called logic of the free market. Negotiated behind closed doors, and imposed unilaterally, the FTAA aims to suppress the gains of popular struggles, and reinforce the power of cash and cops over our lives.

In April in Quebec City, the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC in its French initials) will participate in a large-scale grassroots mobilisation against the FTAA. The CLAC, which is based in Montreal, is organising a Carnival Against Capitalism (which will include teach-ins, conferences, workshops, concerts, cabarets, street theatre, direct actions, protests and more) as well as helping to convene a North American conference in conjunction with Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade (PGA).

For more information, contact CLAC clac@tao.ca.

Coming international conferences:

January 25-30. World Social Forum on Globalisation. Porto Alegre, Brazil. Fsm2001@uol.com.br

January 29—February 2. Third Conference of International Economists Globalisation & Development Problems. Havana, Cuba

February 2-4. Retrieval of Lenin Conference. Essen, Germany. lenin@kwinrw.de

April 17-23. Peoples' Summit of the Americas. Quebec, Canada. clac@tao.ca

April 20-22. Labor Notes Conference. Detroit, USA. labornotes@labornotes.org

April 25-27. São Pãolo Forum. Antigua, Guatemala. urng@guate.net

April 25-27. International Scholars Conference. Havana, Cuba. serrano@hist.cipcc.inf.cu

May 17-19. Fourth International Meeting on Organic Agriculture. Havana, Cuba actaff@minag.gov.cu

June 7-10. Asia Pacific People's Solidarity Conference. Jakarta, Indonesia. increase@indo.net.id ">increase@indo.net.id

August. World Youth Festival. Algiers. wfdy@mail.matav.hu

September 26-29. Marx International Congress III. Paris. ActuelMarx@u-paris10.fr

January 3-7, 2002. DSP and Resistance Education Conference. Sydney. dsp@dsp.org.au ">dsp@dsp.org.au

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