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Photo essay: Mexican indigenous front agitates for rights of migrants in the US

Text and photos by David Bacon

SANTIAGO DE JUXTLAHUACA, OAXACA, MEXICO

MAY 31, 2008 -- The assembly of the Indigenous Front of Binational Organisations in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, one of the poorest areas in Mexico. A large percentage of the indigenous population of Oaxaca and other states has left to work in northern Mexico and in the United States. The FIOB is a political organisation of indigenous communities and migrants, with chapters in Mexico and the US. It advocates for the rights of migrants, and for the right not to migrate -- for economic development which would enable people to stay home.

Howard Zinn: An illustrated people's history of the US empire

 

Since its landmark publication in 1980, A People’s History of the United States has had six new editions, sold more than 1.7 million copies and been turned into an acclaimed play. More than a successful book, A People’s History triggered a revolution in the way history is told, displacing the official versions with their emphasis on great men in high places to chronicle events as they were lived, from the bottom up.

Malaysia: Fuel heats governmental crisis (+ videos)

June 21, 2008 -- The National Front (BN) government led by PM Abdullah Badawi has been shaky since the March general election that returned a much stronger parliamentary opposition — now largely united in a new People’s Front (Pakatan Rakyat).

However, the BN’s recent decision to lift petrol prices by 41% (and diesel by 63%) has galvanised a new round of mass protests. Thousands took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur after prayers at the mosque on June 13 demanding that prices be lowered and a much larger rally is being planned for July 6.

Link’s Peter Boyle spoke on June 19 with S.Arutchelvan, the secretary-general of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), about the recent developments. After a 10-year battle for registration as a legal party, the PSM has just been promised recognition by the embattled government. This follows the PSM winning two seats in the March elections.

Scottish Socialist Party: Free public transport for all: travel doesn't have to cost the Earth

 

The Scottish Socialist Party’s campaign for free public transport is an ``audacious, eye-catching idea'' according to Douglas Fraser, political editor of The Herald newspaper.

In the Belgian city of Hasselt, which covers an area double the size of Dundee, congestion was eliminated in the late 1980s after the introduction of a totally free public transport system.

Free public transport would be the biggest single pro-environment policy enacted by any national government anywhere on the planet, dramatically slashing car use and CO2 emissions.

Free fares would represent a major shift of wealth in favour of the many thousands of people who currently pay sky-high fares to subsidise the transport companies.

Eyewitness report from Venezuela's May Day



June 13, 2008 -- LatinRadical -- Coral Wynter is back after coordinating the distinctive presence of the Australian Venezuela Solidarity Network's ``May Day'' brigade to Venezuela that included, appropriately, a large contingent of Australian trade unionists. The previous Australian government of John Howard had the Australian embassy in Venezuela closed down when a Washington-inspired coup against President Hugo Chavez failed, but hopefully that will change, if Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown (with the Australian brigadistas) returns after his own visit with the news that President Hugo Chavez is not a ``dictator'', but a popularly elected leader who has increased his electoral popularity regularly at each electoral contest.

8.4Mb 64kbps mono 18mins 19secs

Lawyers' `Long March' in Pakistan `a great event in the movement against dictatorship' (+ video)

By Farooq Tariq
Thousands of lawyers, political, trade unions and social movement activists have made their way to Islamabad. They are participating in the Long March called by the lawyers' movement. This is to push the Pakistan Peoples Party government to restore the top judges without any conditions.

June 11 report: The Long March started from Karachi on June 9 and arrived in Sukhar at early hours of June 10. Here they were joined by the participants from different groups from Baluchistan. They arrived at Multan on June 10 in the late hours, where the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Choudary had arrived to welcome the rally. They left for Lahore around 1pm.

Canadian workers demand immediate end to war in Afghanistan (+ video)

By Michael Skinner

On 29 May 2009, the delegates at the national convention of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), representing more than 3 million workers from every region of Canada and Quebec, voted overwhelmingly to demand that the government of Canada immediately end its participation in the illegal war in Afghanistan.

This CLC demand represents a significant consolidation of labour power. Several national unions, notably the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), had already adopted policies to oppose Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan. However, some powerful unions whose members work in the rapidly expanding Canadian military and development industries could profit from continuing the war. The women and men of these unions made the difficult decision to stand in solidarity with the working people of Afghanistan rather than act on self-interest.

Venezuela: Rumbles in the PSUV; Big stakes in Nov. elections; 2.5 million take part in PSUV pre-selection; Candidates announced

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UPDATED: June 5

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Caracas on the Line - Rumbles in the PSUV

June 2, 2008 -- Fred Fuentes in Caracas reports on important struggles being played out within Venezuela's governing PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela). While President Chavez' power base is with the grassroots organisations, some of the entrenched bureaucrats and more conservative politicians are fighting off challenges from delegates representing these organisations. PSUV is currently going through a kind of pre-selection process, and the more conservative elements are using all kinds of dirty tricks to hang on to their influence within the party. Aired on LeftCast.

19.3Mb 128kbps mono 21:08 minutes

Musical interlude: Abdullah Ibrahim's Mannenberg (Is Where It's Happening)

Mannenberg


Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) is seen here visiting Mandela's cell on Robben Island, and wandering in and around Cape Town -- including the famed District Six and Mannenberg -- to the soundtrack of his now classic South African jazz tune Mannenberg (Is Where It's Happening).

Migrant workers in South Africa: Photography and social justice struggles

Born in Durban and the author of a forthcoming book on Wentworth in Durban, Peter Mckenzie was a co-founder of the photo collective Afrapix agency under the auspices of the South African Council of Churches and the chief photographer for Drum magazine until the late 1980s before going freelance. He was also the co-ordinator and facilitator of the photojournalism department at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism from 1996 to 1999. Mckenzie has published and exhibited both in South Africa and internationally, and is recognised as one of South Africa's greatest photographers.

Below, McKenzie provides a commentary on aesthetics and representation strategies for popular movements committed to social justice.


 

 

Pre-post: A trajectory in South African photography

By Peter Mckenzie, Sean O’ Toole and Jo Ractliffe

Sean: Very often in discussions of contemporary South African photography, and I would say I’m a guilty culprit here too, commentators have tended to speak of the 1990s signalling a break in continuity. After decades of socially committed photography, Drum magazine in the 1950s and early 1960s, and more pointedly the socially committed vision of the Afrapix collective in the 1980s, it seems that after Mandela’s release and the transition to a non-racial democracy photography splintered. At least so goes the master narrative. Or will history, which is good at flattening things, simply define the 1990s as the identity decade?

Xenophobia tears apart South Africa's working class

By Thandokuhle Manzi and Patrick Bond

May 26, 2008 -- The low-income black township here in Durban which suffered more than any other during apartheid, Cato Manor, was the scene of a test performed on a Mozambican last Wednesday morning (May 21). At 6:45am, in the warmth of a rising subtropical winter sun, two unemployed men strolling on Belair Road approached the middle-aged immigrant. They accosted him and demanded, in the local indigenous language isiZulu, that he say the word meaning ``elbow'' (this they referred to with their hand). The man answered ``idolo'', which unfortunately means ``knee''. The correct answer is ``indololwane''. His punishment: being beaten up severely, and then told to ``go home''.

 

March against xenophobia, Johannesburg, May 24, 2008.

Prospects for socialist revolution in Venezuela and Latin America -- Celia Hart

 

Cuban revolutionary Celia Hart addresses the ``A World in Revolt'' conference, Toronto, Canada, May 22-25, 2008. She discusses the reformist and revolutionary trends in Latin American politics, the right-wing ``autonomy'' moves in Bolivia and Venezuela, and the challenges that face the revolutions in Bolivia and Venezuela. She concludes by discussing the significance of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution for Latin America.

 

 

The conference was sponsored by Socialist Action-Canada, Socialist Action-United States and the Socialist Unity League (LUS) of Mexico.

 

 

El Salvador: FMLN's Jorge Schafik Handal Vega discusses the 2009 election

May 24, 2008 -- Jorge Schafik Handal Vega --son of the legendary FMLN founder ``Comandante Simon''' Jorge Schafik Handal -- joined the militant left in El Salvador in 1968 as a student. He was a combatant commander throughout the people’s war in the 1970s and 1980s and, following the 1991 peace accords, was integral to the successful transition of the FMLN’s combatant structures into the political and civil institutions of El Salvador. He is currently a deputy for the FMLN in the Central American Parliament.

Handal Vega is toured Australia in May 2008 to build solidarity with the FMLN’s 2009 election campaign, a message that was enthusiastically received. All recent opinion polls in El Salvador indicate that the FMLN will win both the mayoral and presidential elections next year, wresting the last Central American country to be governed by the extreme right wing out of its control. Desperate to prevent this, the US-backed ruling Arena party has launched a massive campaign of bribery and intimidation, which is accompanied by a growing number of brutal attacks on, and murders of, FMLN leaders and activists.

The FMLN is expecting Arena to also use fraud to try to win the elections, and is urging Australian activists to travel to El Salvador in December-January to act as international observers of the election.

Photo essay: Silicon Valley janitors go on strike against Yahoo!, Cisco

Photos and text by David Bacon

Mountain View, California, May 20, 2008 -- Silicon Valley janitors, mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America, walked out of Cisco Systems and Yahoo buildings in the first day of a Bay Area-wide strike intended to force building service contractors to sign a new agreement with their union, Service Employees Local 1877.

Timor Leste - Fretilin's comeback; literacy and governance

May 13, 2008 (Latin Radical) -- Estanislau Da Silva was a prime minister of Timor Leste (East Timor) when Fretilin was the party in government. Before that, he was the minister for agriculture. He was in Australia this week to attend the launching of a book by a Timorese man, Naldo Rei, who grew up in Indonesian-occupied Timor Leste, as a committed supporter of the Fretilin-led resistance movement.

Videos: Cuba's green revolution

A clip from the BBC's Around the World in 80 Gardens (2008) introduces the urban organic food gardening revolution in Havana, Cuba. Click HERE for a three-part talk by Cuban permaculturist Roberto Perez that delves deeper into Cuba's green revolution, and an interview with the makers of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, the film in which Perez featured.

So there’s nothing to stop us from emulating the Cuban farming revolution.

`Tipping point' in New Zealand politics at the grassroots: the Residents Action Movement

The Residents Action Movement (or RAM) is a left-wing local government electoral ticket in the Auckland Regional Council of New Zealand's largest city. RAM is in the process of becoming a national-level political party to contest the 2008 elections. RAM can be characterised as as broad left coalition, stretching from social liberals, community activists and former National Party members to social democrats, democratic socialists and left-wing radicals. Its chairperson is currently Grant Morgan, who is also a leading member of Socialist Worker (Aotearoa).

This interview with Grant Morgan, Daphne Lawless (a RAM candidate in last year's Auckland Regional Council election and is a current member of the RAM executive) and Oliver Woods, RAM co-organiser, was recorded by telephone on May 1, 2008, and broadcast by LeftCast.

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