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Cuba: Voluntary work abolished -- a step forward?

By Luis Sexto, Havana

September 7, 2011 -- Progreso Weekly -- Voluntary work in Cuba, as a practice on weekdays or Sundays, has been abolished. In view of this action, neither original nor daring, one might suppose that the decision by the Cuban Trade Union Confederation (CTC) to end voluntary work, except in times of disaster or when enterprises face acute needs, has earned the implicit approval of most Cubans.

But to state the opposite, namely that many Cubans are not in agreement, might mean that one dons the mask of someone who is unthinking or opportunistic, or of a dogmatic person who does not understand the society in which they live and the circumstances that surround it.

To deny the decision's importance in the strategy of changes would not be accurate either, in my view. The effects of the measure – adopted during the 87th plenum of the CTC's national council on February 18 – are several. First, we must acknowledge that voluntary work, as it evolved, shortened leisure time for workers and reduced their status as free individuals through union and administrative pressures.

Cuban Five: Judge issues cruel and bizarre ruling

Judge Lenard order's René González to live in Miami on supervised release

[Below the article is a model protest letter; please adapt and send. For more background to the cases of the Cuban Five, click HERE.]

By Jose Pertierra

September 19, 2011 -- Counterpunch via the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society -- On September 16, a US federal district court judge made a bizarre ruling concerning one of the Cuban Five defendants who completes his jail sentence on October 7. Judge Joan Lenard ruled that René Gonzalez, who has already served 13 years in a federal penitentiary for being an unregistered agent of the Cuban government, will be forced for the next three years to live in Miami on what is called “supervised release”.

Gonzalez had asked the court to allow him to return home to Cuba to be with his wife, Olga, and his two daughters, Ivette and Irma. Several years ago, the US Department of State decided to permanently bar Olga from getting a visa to come to the United States. She has been able to visit her husband only once during the last 13 years. A cruel and unusual punishment for any prisoner.

Venezuela: Communes in Caracas

Concrete block production by the Ezequiel Zamora Commune, Antimano, Caracas.

September 7, 2011 -- Cuidad CSS, translated by Owen Richards for Venezuela: Translating the Revolution. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Among the aims of community organisation is that of building the communal state, where power is exercised directly by the people, through self-government, with an economic model of social property and local self-development.

Based on this premise, 236 communes and more than 9000 communal councils have been established, according to information from the Ministry of Popular Power for the Communes.

Through this process the city of Caracas has turned into a space full of examples of self-government.

Socioeconomic model

In the Capital District around 44 sectors exist that are in the process of building communes in order to lay the foundations for Venezuelan socialism.

In the Antimano ward, 18 communal councils of the Carapita sector and part of Santa Ana organised to establish the Victoria Socialist Commune.

Derek Wall: 'Ecosocialism places Marx at the centre of its analysis'

September 10, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- Economist, activist and writer Derek Wall (pictured above) is a member of the Green Party of England and Wales (and the Green Left grouping within it) and is the author of several books on ecology and politics. Wall will speak via video link at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne,r September 30 to October 3. He maintains the ecosocialist blog Another Green World. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler about the politics of ecosocialism.

* * *

What are the most valuable insights ecosocialists can bring to discussions about the source of our ecological problems?

Ecosocialism, without being reductionist, cuts to the roots of the ecological crisis. The destruction of the environment is not an accident. It is not simply a problem of false ideas and it is not a product of inappropriate policies that can easily be dealt with by electing a new set of politicians.

Bolivia: Development before environment?

Indigenous Bolivians begin a 500-kilometre protest march to La Paz.

By Federico Fuentes

September 8, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- The decision by leaders of the Sub Central of the Indigenous Territory and National Isiboro Secure Park (TIPNIS) to initiate a 500-kilometre protest march on Bolivia's capital of La Paz has ignited much debate about the nature of Bolivia’s first Indigenous led-government. The Sub Central of TIPNIS unites the 64 indigenous communities within the park.

Much analysis has focused on the supposed hypocrisy of the government headed by Evo Morales, Bolivia's first Indigenous head of state. The Morales government has been criticised for pursuing pro-capitalist development and trampling on the rights of its own Indigenous people.

Many analysts have also highlighted the contradiction between Morales’ public discourse in defence of Indigenous rights and Mother Earth, and the proposal of his government’s to build a highway that would run through this protected area of the Amazon.

`Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement, August 2011 issue

September 3, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

The tide of rebellion and revolution now sweeping Latin America is posing a serious challenge to imperialism’s brutal global rule. For anyone who wants an end to war, exploitation and oppression, Latin America’s struggles to create alternatives are crucially important.

Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly is strongly committed to supporting the growing “people’s power” movement in Latin America. Through our weekly articles on developments in the region, GLW strives to counter the corporate media’s many lies about Latin America’s revolutions, and to give a voice in English to the people’s movements for change.

The continent-wide rebellion is weakening imperialism’s power. As a result, it is taking increasingly threatening steps to push back the power of the people. Our solidarity, to help the people of Latin America defend and extend their tremendous achievements, is vital.

Bolivia: How Jeffrey Webber's 'From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia' turns reality on its head

Review by Federico Fuentes

From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia: Class Struggle, Indigenous Liberation, and the Politics of Evo Morales
By Jeffrey Webber
Haymarket Books, 2011

August 19, 2011 -- Aborado - Latin America uncovered -- The Evo Morales government recently celebrated its 2000th day in power in Bolivia – a feat in its own right for a country that has had around 180 coups since 1825 – any serious attempt to explain the underlying dynamics of this decade long political process should be welcomed. Combining his academic research and extensive fieldwork in Bolivia, Jeffrey Webber sets out to do exactly that in From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia. Unfortunately, the end result leaves a lot to be desired.

The election of Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, on the back of a mass rebellion that overthrew successive governments has stirred great interest in this small Andean nation.

Cuba: Changes go deep -- democratic reforms

Cubans vote for members of their local Assembly of People's Power.

[For more analysis and discussion on the changes in Cuba, click HERE.]

By José Alejandro Rodríguez, Havana

August 17, 2011 -- Progreso Weekly -- Apart from some exceptions, the powerful international media has ignored a recent Cuban parliamentary bill that would deepen democracy on the island. The reason is obvious: the news is not convenient. The initiative is made within socialist institutionalism, not in terms of the “transition” whose staging is highly anticipated and promoted by certain hegemonic interests in this world.

The idea is to give the green light to an experiment in the new provinces of Mayabeque and Artemisa, which, if they bear fruit, would be extended to the whole country through constitutional reform: the reassignment of the duties of the chairperson of the local Assembly of People's Power and chairperson of the assembly's territorial administrative board to different people, in each municipality and province.

Venezuela: Communist Party backs Hugo Chavez, builds workers' control movement

By Rachael Boothroyd, Coro

August 10, 2011 -- Venezuelanalysis.com – On August 7, the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) concluded its 14th congress in Caracas following three days of discussions. More than 526 national delegates and 43 international representatives attended the conference, which was convened in conjunction with the PCV’s 74th anniversary.

Issues on the agenda included leadership, the 2012 presidential elections, an assessment of the Bolivarian revolution’s progression to date and the creation of the “Patriotic Pole” – a coalition of pro-Chávez political forces. Carolus Wimmer, PCV secretary of foreign relations, stated that the conference would be influential in determining the party’s “new national direction”.

“The PCV must adapt its structure to the historical moment. We have 80 years of history and the recognition of the Venezuelan people; that is why we exist, if it were any other way, we would just be a sect”, said Wimmer.

Chavez

Bolivia: Evo Morales' fight to control the military

By Federico Fuentes

August 7, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- Speaking to CNN en Espanol on July 27, Bolivia's President Evo Morales said, “When presidents do not submit to the United States government, to its policies, there are coups.” His comments are backed by attempts by the US and Bolivia’s right wing to bring down his government.

Recently released WikiLeaks cables prove the US embassy was in close contact with dissident military officers only months before a coup attempt was carried out in September 2008.

But the close relationship between the US and Bolivia’s military has a long history.

In recent years, the “war on drugs” provided the US with cover to extend its control over Bolivia’s armed forces. As a coca grower union leader from the Chapare region, Morales faced the direct and brutal consequences of the US “war on drugs”.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Chapare region, nestled in the heart of Bolivia, became the site of bloody massacres carried out by US and Bolivian anti-narcotics forces. As part of its attempts to destroy coca, seen by indigenous Bolivians as a “sacred leaf” and part of their traditional way of life, the US established and funded the Mobile Units for Rural Patrolling (UMOPAR) in the Chapare.

On the meaning of ‘popular front’

The Bolivarian movement led by Hugo Chávez contains bourgeois forces and has been the scene of repeated struggles between popular and bureaucratic wings. But far from subordinating workers to bourgeois leadership, it has served as the instrument to mobilise the masses in struggles that have won significant gains.

By John Riddell

August 8, 2011 -- also availabe at johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- In a comment posted July 16 to my article “Honduras Accord: A Gain for Ottawa?” Todd Gordon warns against the danger of “popular-front style organization” and a “popular front electoralist strategy” (see his comment below this article). Socialists often use the term “popular front” or “people’s front” as a form of condemnation. But what exactly does the term mean, and how does apply it to poor, oppressed countries like Honduras?

Cuba: National Assembly approves economic changes; Raul Castro's speech

"More than once, I have stated that our own worst enemy is not imperialism but our own errors and that these, if they are deeply and honestly analysed, can be transformed into lessons in order not to fall into them again." -- Raúl Castro

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic changes in Cuba, and assessments of the sixth congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, click HERE.]

By President Raúl Castro

Speech given by President Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers, to the 7th ordinary session of the 7th legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, August 1, 2011. The parliament earlier that day also adopted the amended Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution as state policy.

Compañeras and compañeros:

Bolivia: Cut war spending to aid victims of climate change

A positive initiative would significantly reduce military spending and allocate monies to a fund that addresses the impacts of climate change in developing countries.

Statement by Ambassador Rafael Archondo, permanent representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations, in the debate of the United Nations Security Council on maintenance of international peace and security: the impact of climate change, New York, July 20, 2011. Thanks to Climate and Capitalism for the text.

* * *

Thank you Mr. President.

Bolivia joins the statements made by the Group 77 and China, represented by Argentina and the Non-Aligned Movement, whose voice has been expressed by Egypt.

Mr. President:

Climate change is a real threat to the existence of mankind, other living creatures and Mother Earth, and given its systemic nature, can be analysed from multiple dimensions such as social, economic, cultural or environmental.

Excerpt from 'Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care'

July 19, 2011 -- Monthly Review Press has kindly given permission to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish an excerpt from one of their latest books, Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care by Steve Brouwer. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.

Readers of Links are also urged to purchase copies of Revolutionary Doctors; click HERE to order.

* * *

Honduras resistance launches political party; Political statement of the FARP; Cartagena Accord debated

By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer and John Riddell

July 11, 2011 -- johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- A national assembly of the resistance, uniting more than 1500 delegates from across Honduras, voted on June 26 to launch a new political party, the Frente Amplio de Resistencia Popular (Broad Front of Popular Resistance, FARP).

The assembly was convened by the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (National People’s Resistance Front, FNRP), the main coordinating body of popular struggle since a right-wing coup overthrew the democratically elected government of President Manuel Zelaya two years ago, on June 28, 2009.

The new party is to function as an arm of the Resistance Front in the political-electoral arena and will contest the 2013 presidential elections.

The delegates met under large suspended banners displaying the images of ALBA presidents—Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Raúl Castro (Cuba) and Evo Morales (Bolivia), alongside those of Francisco Morazán, Simón Bolívar, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Honduras was illegitimately removed from the ALBA alliance by the coup regime established in 2009.

Cuba: Historian's party membership restored

Esteban Morales.

Message to my readers and friends

By Esteban Morales. Translation by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews

July 7, 2011 -- This is to let you know that last week I was summoned by the Appeals Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba to a meeting in which I was informed of their decision to nullify the separation order from the party given last year by the Playa Municipality Committee and to return my card and full membership.

I'd like to seize the opportunity to state how grateful I am for all the support I have received in the last few months from friends, intellectual colleagues and people I've never met who got in touch with me through different ways, made statements about this issue, or simply stopped me in the street for an update on my situation.

I also want to thank my family for their support in these difficult and yet extremely enlightening days. I will keep on working as hard as I have on the topics I have been writing about in my blog. I'm looking forward to your attention.

China, Brazil, Indonesia: Capital is a fickle lover

By Walden Bello

June 22, 2011 -- Foreign Policy In Focus -- "China is today the ideal capitalist state: freedom for capital, with the state doing the 'dirty job' of controlling the workers”, writes the prominent Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek. “China as the emerging power of the twenty first century … seems to embody a new kind of capitalism: disregard for ecological consequences, disdain for workers' rights, everything subordinated to the ruthless drive to develop and become the new world force."

Capital, however, is a fickle lover.

Recently, a growing number of corporate leaders are having second thoughts about the “Chinese model” that has been so central in the globalisation of production and markets over the last three decades.

Labour rises

`Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement, June 2011 issue

June 15, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

The tide of rebellion and revolution now sweeping Latin America is posing a serious challenge to imperialism’s brutal global rule. For anyone who wants an end to war, exploitation and oppression, Latin America’s struggles to create alternatives are crucially important.

Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly is strongly committed to supporting the growing “people’s power” movement in Latin America. Through our weekly articles on developments in the region, GLW strives to counter the corporate media’s many lies about Latin America’s revolutions, and to give a voice in English to the people’s movements for change.

Cuba: Notes on socialist democracy, by Dario Machado Rodriguez

Photo by Roberto Suarez.

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic reforms in Cuba, and assessments of the sixth congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, click HERE.]

Introduction by Marce Cameron

June 12, 2011 -- Cuba's Socialist Renewal, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Generation R is an new bilingual blogin Cuba launched by pro-revolution Cuban university students. It's their answer to Generation Y, the blog of Yoani Sanchez, a Havana-based counterrevolutionary whose diatribes just happen to be translated almost instantaneously into over a dozen languages by her "fans" overseas. You can check out the English version of Generation R here.

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