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Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal seeks to promote the exchange of information, experience of struggle, theoretical analysis and views of political strategy and tactics within the international left. It is a forum for open and constructive dialogue between active socialists from different political traditions. It seeks to bring together those in the international left who are opposed to neoliberal economic and social policies, and reject the bureaucratic model of "socialism" that arose in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.

Inspired by the unfolding socialist revolution in Venezuela, as well as the continuing example of socialist Cuba, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is a journal for "Socialism of the 21st century", and the discussions and debates flowing from that powerful example of socialist renewal.

Links is also proud to be the sister publication of Green Left Weekly, the world's leading red-green newspaper, and we urge readers to visit that site regularly.

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World Social Forum returns to Brazil, marks Latin America's `swing to the left'

Latin America's leftwing presidents meet with WSF participants. Photo by Marc Becker.

By Marc Becker

February 5, 2009 -- After an absence of four years, the World Social Forum (WSF) returned to Brazil during the last week of January 2009. More than 100,000 people descended on the city of Belem at the mouth of the mighty Amazon River to debate proposals and plan strategies for making a new and better world.

The forum first met in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 2001 as a gathering of social movements dedicated to fighting neoliberalism and militarism. Nine years later, Latin America has shifted significantly to the left, and the forum has played an important role in that process.

The forum began on January 27, 2009, as all of the forums have, with a massive march through the streets of Belem. The theme of the march was from Africa, where the last unified forum was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in

2007, to the Amazon. A drenching tropical rain momentarily stalled the planned events. The march concluded with a massive rally featuring speeches and music.

Thailand: `Red Siam' manifesto

Thais donned red shirts in protest at the far-right PAD's opposition to Thailand's elected government.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

February 9, 2009 -- The enemies of the Thai people and democracy may have their army, courts and prisons. They may have seized and rigged parliament and established the government through crimes like the blockading of the airports and other undemocratic actions by the PAD [Peoples Alliance for Democracy]. Yet those who love democracy, the Redshirts, have strength in numbers and are waking up to political realities. Disorganised and scattered, this movement of ours will be weak, but a party that is organised and self-led can create a democratic fist to smash the dictatorship.

While world leaders such as US President Obama struggle to solve the serious economic crisis, the Democrat Party government in Thailand is allowing thousands of workers to lose their jobs. The government sees its priority only in cracking down on the opposition using les majeste, it has even created a website where citizens can inform on each other. Troops have been sent into communities and villages to stifle dissent.

Meltdown, fires as climate emergency hits Australia: Urgent action required

By Katherine Bradstreet

Melbourne, February 7, 2009 -- The heatwave across south-eastern Australia in recent weeks has given a hint of what we can expect as global temperatures continue to rise: black-outs, fatalities and transport chaos as privatised infrastructure fails. 

Many are in mourning as bushfires have devastated rural Victoria, with the death toll passing triple figures and more than 750 homes destroyed. The country town of Marysville has been erased from the map. Several other towns have all but been destroyed.

Even before the bushfire catastrophe, South Australia and Victoria had seen a sharp increase in deaths as a result of the heatwave, with Adelaide’s central morgue quite literally overflowing — the “excess” cadavers were stored temporarily in a refrigerated freight container.

Thousands of homes were left without electricity as demand soared, overwhelming the existing grid. Melbourne’s rail system collapsed into chaos as temperatures reached over 40°C.

World Social Forum: `We won't pay for the crisis. The rich must pay!' & Belem Climate Assembly declaration

World Social Forum, Belem, Brazil, 2009. Photo by Marc Becker.

Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements at the World Social Forum, January 27-February 1, 2009, Belem, Brazil.

February 1, 2009 -- We the social movements from all over the world came together on the occasion of the 8th World Social Forum in Belem, Amazonia, where the peoples have been resisting attempts to usurp nature, their lands and their cultures. We are here in Latin America, where over the last decade the social movements and the indigenous movements have joined forces and radically question the capitalist system from their cosmovision. Over the last few years, in Latin America highly radical social struggles have resulted in the overthrow of neoliberal governments and the empowerment of governments that have carried out many positive reforms such as the nationalisation of core sectors of the economy and democratic constitutional reforms.

South Africa: Victory for workers' solidarity as Israeli ship sneaks out of Durban still loaded

Congress of South African Trade Unions and Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)

[See http://links.org.au/node/888 for more background information.]

February 6, 2009 -- The Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) is pleased to announce that its members, dock workers belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), achieved a victory last night when they stood firm by their decision not to offload the Johanna Russ, a ship that was carrying Israeli goods to South Africa. This, despite threats to COSATU members from sections of the pro-Israel lobby, and despite severe provocation.

Spain: Anti-apartheid protesters disrupt Israeli basketball team's game

Barcelona, February 5, 2009 -- Protesters opposed to Israel's apartheid policies and its atrocities in Gaza chanted slogans and waved Palestinian flags during a basketball match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Barcelona on Thursday, February 5, 2009. Despite tight police security, protesters managed to disrupt the game by running onto the court before being dragged away by aggressive cops and security guards. Tel Aviv was thrashed 85-65 by Barcelona.

Boicot del partit de bàsquet Barça -- Maccabi de Tel Aviv. Palau Blaugrana. 5 de febrer de 2009. Boicot a Israel. Solidaritat amb Palestina!!

The capitalist crash and the challenges facing socialists in Canada

By Roger Annis and John Riddell

[Roger Annis will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

The first casualty of the financial collapse has been the claim that “there is no alternative” to unrestricted free market capitalism. The imperialist governments are bankrolling imperilled banks and industrial conglomerates with immense bailouts — an estimated $5.1 trillion in the US alone by November 2008 — while preparing “stimulus” packages aimed at restoring financial markets.[1]

The “stimulus” includes potentially useful projects along with many that are far more dubious. But urgently needed social investment, such as housing or a national daycare program, receives scant consideration. The spending is shaped to restore corporate profitability, not to sustain workers’ livelihoods. Thus, the US government’s auto industry bailout is conditional on wages and working conditions in union-organised plants being cut to match non-union operations, and Canada’s federal government has set similar conditions.

New left party -- Power of the Masses Party -- formed in Philippines


Part 1: Interview with Sonny Melencio, chairperson of Partido Lakas ng Masa of the Philippines. Conducted by Peter Boyle for Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewalin Manila on February 1, 2009. (Parts 2 and 3 below).
 
[Reihana Mohideen, a representative of Partido Lakas ng Masa, will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

By Peter Boyle

San Francisco trade unionists support boycott of apartheid Israel


San Francisco trade unionists support boycott of apartheid Israel, protest in soldarity with the Palestinian people, January 10, 2009.

Australia: Climate Summit unites new environment movement


Human chain surrounds Parliament House, Canberra, February 3, 2009. Photos by Greenpeace.

By Simon Butler, Canberra

Fidel Castro: Contradictions between Obama’s politics and ethics

By Fidel Castro Ruz

February 4, 2009 -- A few days ago I referred to some of Obama’s ideas which point to his role in a system that denies every principle of justice.

Some throw their hands up in horror if anything is said to criticise the important personality, even if it is done with decency and respect. This is usually accompanied by subtle and not so subtle darts from those with the means to throw and transform them into the elements of media terror imposed on the peoples to sustain the unsustainable.

Every criticism I make is always construed as an attack, an accusation and other similar qualifiers reflecting callousness and discourtesy towards the person involved.

This time I’d rather address some questions of many that could be raised and that the new President of the United States should answer.

The following for example:

Chavismo: Christian, pro-Muslim, pro-Jewish and anti-Nazi

By Roy Chaderton Matos, Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States. Translated by Yoshie Furuhashi for MRZine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

January 30, 2009 -- Watching television footage of one of the necessary and legitimate protests against the Israeli Embassy in Caracas, I spotted a lone sign with a slogan that left me thunderstruck.  The slogan was something like: "We condemn Hitler for not having completed his work of extermination..."

The frightening message, totally alien to the Bolivarian process and the Chavista commitment to liberty, democracy, equality and social justice, shows that, every now and then in our struggles and protests, "loose cannons" come dog us and that we have to detect them and neutralise them and expel them like any foreign body.

South African dockworkers announce ban on Israeli ship; Palestinians salute decision

FREE PALESTINE! ISOLATE APARTHEID ISRAEL!

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) launch Week of Action for Palestine supported by the Young Communist League and other progressive organisations

February 3, 2009 -- In a historic development for South Africa, South African dock workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, February 8, 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.

The pledge by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) members in Durban reflects the commitment by South African workers to refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe.

`For international solidarity between workers' -- British left debates Lindsey oil refinery strike wave (updated Feb. 7)

Below are a range of views from the British and Scottish left on the strike wave that erupted at the Lindsey oil refinery and rapidly spread across the country. Statements from Socialist Resistance, Scottish Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, Respect MP George Galloway, the Socialist Party, the Morning Star, Lenin's Tomb blog and the Socialist Unity blog.

* * *

For international solidarity between workers

Socialist Resistance statement

Luis Bilbao: Venezuela and `the rebirth of the idea of revolution'

Photo by Coral Wynter.

Interview with Luis Bilbao, conducted by Agustina Desalvo for the Argentinian journal Razón y Revolución, issue #18 (second semester 2008). Translated by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes and published with the permission of Bilbao.

Luis Bilbao is a central participant in the construction of the mass United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR); founding editor of the Latin America-wide monthly magazine América XXI. Luis Bilbao will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.

* * *

Sri Lanka: Genocide of the Tamil minority

Tamil refugees who fled from Sri Lankan military operation in Vanni

By Brian Senewiratne

January 23, 2009 -- There is a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, where the Tamil minority in the island’s north and east are facing annihilation at the hands of the Sinhalese-dominated government. 

This article will deal with the current crisis, with the more fundamental problem of the legacy left by colonial British rule (1796-1948) dealt with in later articles. These colonial administrative structures will need to be reversed of there is ever to be peace or prosperity in Sri Lanka.

I am a Sinhalese, from the majority community, not from the brutalised Tamil minority. I quit Sri Lanka in 1976.

Who runs that country is of no concern to me, as long as it is run without serious violations of human rights. Sri Lanka was tossed out of the UN Human Rights Council in May last year due to its human rights record, and the drift of a democracy to a fascist politico-military dictatorship, none of which have been publicised internationally.

Current problem

Bolivia's vice-president:‘We are consolidating our process of change’

Alvaro Garcia Linera with Bolivia's President Evo Morales

Interview with Bolivia's vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera conducted by Pablo Stefanoni from Argentina's Clarin newspaper. Introduction and translation by Green Left Weekly's Federico Fuentes.

January 31, 2009 -- The people of Bolivia on January 25 voted overwhelming to approve a new constitution, a demand first raised by the indigenous movements in the early 1990s. It was also a key promise of the successful 2005 election campaign of the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales.

The new constitutional text will dramatically increase the rights of the indigenous majority within a “plurinational” state. This includes official recognition of the languages of Bolivia’s 36 indigenous peoples and the right to “self government and the exercising of self-determination”, allowing for greater indigenous control over local development and natural resources.

Along with indigenous autonomy, the new constitution also establishes autonomy at the departmental, provincial and municipal level, but within the framework of defending national integrity.

Brazil: Landless Workers' Movement marks 25th anniversary, announces `new phase' in struggle

Joao Pedro Stedile addresses the January 24, 2009, national meeting of Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement, marking the MST's 25th anniversary. Stedile is co-founder of the MST. Below the videos Michael Fox reports on the MST's ``new phase'' in the agrarian reform struggle, against Brazil's mainly US-owned agro-industry.

Part 1

Solidarity map of Israel's Gaza massacres

By Solidarity Maps

Solidarity Maps is a project from a group of Lebanese and Palestinian designers, architects, researchers, media people, and many other random activists who have worked together previously, mainly doing media and mapping work during the summer 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, and some of them later on advocacy and design for the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp.

To download PDF: Gaza - Dec. 27 -18 Jan, 2009 - Map of Bombing Intensity & Casualties (PDF)

Available in French, Spanish and Arabic.

Italian metalworkers, Western Australian maritime workers call for boycott of apartheid Israel

Italy's metalworkers: Prosecute Israeli war crimes, suspend EU-Israel agreement

Federazione Impiegati Operai Metallurgici nazionale (FIOM), the largest metalworkers' union in Italy, whose membership numbers 360,000, called for prosecution of Israeli officials for war crimes and suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, as well as of the military cooperation agreement between Italy and Israel. The following is FIOM's January 13 2009 statement on Gaza, published on the union's web site.

Federazione Impiegati Operai Metallurgici nazionale, Corso Trieste, 36 - 00198 Roma, tel. +39 06 85262341-2 fax +39 06 85303079, http://www.fiom.cgil.it/, email: protocollo@fiom.cgil.it.

COMITATO CENTRALE F.I.O.M.

13 gennaio 2009

GAZA

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