October 15, 2016 - No. 40
Reforms in the
Era of the Cartel Party System
How the Cartel
Anna Di Carlo addresses MLPC meeting on electoral reform, Ottawa,
October 1, 2016.
• Parliamentary Report Continues
- Peggy Askin -
• Canadians Speak Out Against Worker
Trafficking and Abuse
• Security in Retirement Is a Human
- K.C. Adams -
Damage by Hurricane Matthew
• Cuban Government and People Stand with
• Haiti Faces Serious Challenges with
Support of Cuba and Venezuela
• Victory Against Canadian Mining Giant at
World Bank Tribunal
• Vigorous Rejection of U.S.-Imposed Control
• Exploitation by Global Biotech
• U.S. President Issues Directive
Changes to Cuba Policy
• U.S. Has Fined 49
Companies for Violating Blockade against Cuba
• Annual Vigil Honours
Victims of Terrorism
Electoral Reforms in the Era of the
How the Cartel Parties Micro-Target Electors
Today, in the era of the cartel party system, the
which vie to come to power for self-serving purposes use
sophisticated databases and micro-targeting techniques to carry
out electoral coups. This is a major concern at this time, all
the more so because Canadians are told that reforms to the Canada
Elections Act past and future are to "enhance
democracy" when, in fact, they are enhancing the disempowerment
of Canadians by these cartel political parties.
The so-called major political parties own databases
which contain detailed information on Canadian electors. They use this
information to micro-target segments of electors for the purpose of
soliciting funds and encouraging them to vote in particular ways or
discouraging them from voting at all. It has nothing to do with being
political, politicizing the electorate or advocating a definite aim and
vision for society.
These political parties have enacted reforms to
electoral laws to help them feed their databases and in the most
self-serving manner exempt themselves from privacy legislation.
Enacting these and other reforms in the name of enhancing democracy is
the biggest fraud of all since the laws actually ensure the citizenry
is powerless to control the outcome of an election.
Youth for Democratic Renewal, the youth organization of
the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC), asked Anna Di Carlo,
National Leader of the MLPC to explain what this is all about.
Anna Di Carlo: Elections Canada is an
independent institution that runs all federal elections and
reports to the House of Commons. However, reforms to the Canada
Elections Act passed by the Liberals and
Conservatives now force it to play a role beyond administering what are
called "free and fair elections." Assisting the political parties that
form the cartel party system to micro-target electors is one of these
For instance, as it stands today, all registered
the official List of Electors put together by Elections Canada
have an identifying number alongside their name and address. An
amendment made concurrently with the introduction of identification
numbers on the electors list requires Elections Canada to provide
candidates with lists at the polls, updated throughout the election, to
show who has voted. These are called "bingo cards" and the logic
presented was that it enhanced democracy. The cartel political parties
argued that if, on election day, they have up-to-the-minute information
on who has voted, they can get those who have not voted out to vote.
It does not take much imagination to figure out that
just as voting can be facilitated, it can also be blocked by targeting
voters with disinformation. When the law was passed
introducing unique ID elector numbers, it did not specifically
say the number should be permanent but it has nevertheless been
assigned and maintained permanently so that electors can be
tracked from election to election.
To be clear, if the lists did not have permanent ID
and "bingo cards" were provided only on election day, the pretext
of "getting out the vote" could be argued. The unique permanent
ID numbers have shown themselves to be instrumental in the
development of political party databases. Elections Canada never
needed special unique numbers because it has other personal data
such as drivers licence numbers and birth dates to update the
National Register of Voters. To assign each voter a permanent ID number
has no purpose other than facilitating the collection of personal
information on electors by political parties, including whether or not
they voted. It smashes the conception of a secret ballot because how
people vote is easy to surmise or extrapolate given the small number of
Canadians allotted to each poll. The parties then add this to other
information obtained through marketing sources, Facebook etc., which
includes things such as civil status, personal and family income
levels, employment history, spending patterns, political, religious and
other views, volunteering activity, personal choices, habits, likes and
In this way, the "independent" elections body and
public funds facilitate the sophisticated methods of the parties which
belong to the cartel to micro-target voters and manipulate results. On
top of this, the political cartel has collectively agreed upon an
interpretation of "election expenses" that does not include the
millions of dollars required to develop and maintain their databases,
thereby thwarting electoral expense limits.
This use of the databases by
the cartel parties is going from
bad to worse with every set of reforms enacted. For instance, the
Conservatives' Fair Elections Act amended the electoral
law so that bingo sheets must be provided to candidates not only
on polling day, but after polling day as well. None of the other
parties objected. Unless the bingo cards are picked up within a
few days of the election, the Returning Officers, by law, are
required to place the bingo cards, along with ballots and
registration forms, etc. in sealed boxes. These are retained for
a prescribed period of time before they can be destroyed, and in
the interim can only be opened by a judicial order in the case of
a contested election. If a candidate shows up a week after the
election demanding all the bingo cards, which part of the law is
to be upheld: the candidate's privilege of accessing such
documents, or the requirement that election documents be treated
as documents that can compromise the secrecy of the vote and
should be kept private? The solution currently being proposed is
to remove "bingo cards" from the list of documents that are to be
sealed, so that they can be accessed at any time, even years
later, by candidates and their parties.
At the heart of the problem is the denial of the right
Canadians to an informed vote and the means which are being used
to influence the vote which have nothing to do with giving rise
to results which legitimize government. And within that, the cartel
political parties violate all kinds of principles Canadians have come
to depend on, including by exempting themselves from having to uphold
privacy principles. While Elections
Canada is subject to the federal Privacy Act governing
how they can use the information they collect, once it is handed
over to the parties as is required, the information is not
subject to any control whatsoever. Elections Canada has no way of
controlling the information on the Electors List once it is
transformed into a database such as Liberalist.
Political parties are also exempt from the Personal
Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA),
which governs private organizations and the use of the data they
collect. Hence, what
Canadians saw during the robocalling scandal, where it was suspected
that the likely source of the information used to suppress the vote was
the Conservatives' database. But this is only what has been revealed so
far. Whatever use is made of the
data is known only to those within the cartel parties whose job it is
to ensure victory for their party. Meanwhile Canadians have no legal
ability to have themselves and their private information removed from
these databases or to prevent Elections Canada from handing it over to
the parties because it is required to do so under the Canada Elections Act.
Youth for Democratic Renewal:
Can you tell
us more about the party databases?
ADC: The Conservative Party
has the Constituent Information Management System (CIMS), the Liberals
have Liberalist that is based on the U.S. Democrats' Voter Activation
Network (VAN), while the NDP have Populus, another system which
originates in the U.S. also used to stage electoral coups in various
As mentioned before, these databases contain all kinds
of private information on Canadians gleaned from various sources,
including their web surfing activity, buying habits and much more,
which is combined with whether they have voted or not based on the
bingo cards and poll-by-poll voting results provided by Elections
Canada. The bingo cards reveal whether an elector voted, while the
poll-by-poll results show the breakdown of votes for each candidate in
a particular polling station. This information is combined and analyzed
over time and then used to "segment" or divide the entire electorate
into categories to determine who should be targeted and how, in order
to get them to vote for a particular party, or not vote for a rival
party. It is deemed to be most effective in tight races.
For example, in the run-up to the 2011 federal
Conservatives targeted 45 ridings using their database and
micro-targeting to reach definite segments of electors, including
those they defined as "very ethnic" Canadians. These ridings
included 18 in the Greater Toronto Area that were snatched from
the Liberals, enabling Harper to form a majority government.
Speaking at the June 2011 Conservative Party Policy
Convention, Senator Irving Gerstein -- who was the Official Agent
of the Conservative Fund Canada in the 2006 and 2008 elections --
bragged to delegates about the Party database as the key to the
party's success in the 2011 election.
Gerstein stated: "The key to the success of our
program is our database and our ability to prospect new donors,
to remain at the cutting edge of political fund-raising
techniques in North America and to effectively use the database
for both fund-raising and political purposes... it reaches out to
Canadians, identifies those who share our values and mobilizes
them. We continue to invest heavily in this program, particularly
in the key battleground ridings across the country."
Gerstein pointed out that the database-driven voter
identification and GOTV (Get Out the Vote) programs accounted for
the margin of victory in the case of some 40 Conservative MPs.
"Yes, you heard me. There are roughly 40 Conservative members in
the House of Commons who would not be there were it not for our
party's extremely effective use of its database."
YDR: What about the voter ID,
identifier"? How did this become a tool in the hands of the
ADC: The introduction of a
list and the subsequent amendment of the Canada Elections
Act to assign each person on it a unique voter ID number was
one of the measures taken to facilitate the development of these
databases. It is important to note that we are not talking about
databases of party supporters, but databases of all electors and
the use of various means to track and build information on them. Prior
this, registered parties received the lists without permanent ID
numbers for electors. The cartel parties complained that, over
time, their internal lists of electors become less accurate as
electors moved, were added or their names were changed. The use
of a stable permanent ID eliminated this problem.
The bingo cards have checkboxes beside a series of
that relate to the order in which electors appear on the pages of
the Electors List. As people vote, the poll workers check their
numbers off and hand them over to the party representatives who
come to pick them up. This information is then correlated to the
elector's ID number and plugged into the respective parties'
databases and software referred to as "get-out-the-vote
software." The significance here is that the political parties
themselves used to have to send out volunteers to keep track of
who had turned up to vote. Their scrutineers would record the
information and hand it over to campaign workers who would take
the information and use it. Given the demise of party
membership and volunteer campaigners, this became a real burden
on the parties. They have now been relieved of this as Elections Canada
workers have been handed the task. No longer do the parties have to
worry about collecting the data, save having a few people who drive to
the polls to pick up the bingo cards and then transmit that
information, probably electronically, to their call centres.
As mentioned, the Conservatives went even further with
their Fair Elections Act, requiring Elections Canada to allow
candidates to access all the bingo cards after election day. This
revealed clearly that while they claimed the bingo cards were to be
used to boost voter turnout through Get Out the Vote efforts, it was in
fact part of a scheme to get more information on how people voted.
However, due to
the parties' lack of members and volunteers, even picking up the
bingo cards during election day has become a problem. Only the
Liberals and Conservatives have managed to do this and only for roughly
half of all ridings. In essence, on election day itself, it is
only in tight ridings where the information on who has voted
becomes critical. However, for overall profiling purposes and to
prepare for the next election by constantly enhancing the
profiles of electors, the parties want to know who votes and who
doesn't and want to be able to comprehensively add this
information to their databases.
To solve the problem of a lack of members and
volunteers to pick up bingo cards, there is now a push by the cartel
parties to have Elections Canada post these bingo cards digitally -- to
a party-exclusive web portal -- so that the political parties can have
"real-time" information as to who has voted without having to pick up
the bingo cards themselves. None of this use of modern methods of
communication has anything to do with empowering Canadians.
The Liberals now appear to want to take this
further, preparing conditions for people's political affiliation
to be added to the List of Electors along with their unique ID.
The author of a 2011 document produced by the Liberal Party,
then-party president Alfred Apps, framed the problem facing the
party in terms of the Conservative Party's relative advances in
building their CIMS to gain electoral advantage. Apps suggested
that the extra-parliamentary wing of the party (i.e. the
Liberals' social base) "press for another generation of balanced
democratic process reforms today, only one of the ultimate
side-effects of which would be to neutralize the unfair political
advantage that [the Conservative Party] has acquired over all
He proposed that the Liberals should fight for the
maintenance of a "registered voting list" for each riding that
would be available to all political parties, "containing the
registered party preference of every voter entitled to cast a
Apps wrote: "This would require an additional data
the current permanent voters' list. Each voter would be able to
either a) disclose a registered party affiliation b) claim an
'independent' voting status or c) declare an 'exempt' voting
status." He also proposed that the registration would be
permanent, but voters could be "permitted" to change at any time.
Elections Canada would be required to conduct leadership
selection contests for any party that "grants universal suffrage
to its registered voters" and the cost would be borne by
Elections Canada -- i.e., the public purse.
The document suggested that the Liberals should behave
though this electoral reform was already in place, something that
can be seen now with the amendments to the Liberal Party
Constitution which eliminates the category of "members" and
replaces it with the category "Registered Liberals." Apps
concluded: "Some Liberals may balk at the notion of the overt
partisanship implied by a Registered Voters List. But the
[Conservative Party] has already converted politics into a
tougher and more partisan landscape and it is certainly not
By behaving as though the electoral law was already
the Liberals would "very quickly leap-frog its opponents and, in
one massive outreach and voter engagement exercise -- a Voter
Registration conducted by Electoral District Associations across
Canada -- address most of the technological, organizational and
funding challenges which have plagued the Party for almost a
decade," the 2011 Report concluded.
YDR: These aspects of the
permanent voter IDs and the use of databases of electors are not
widely-known. Have there been any efforts to seek the views
ADC: Elections Canada's own research
following the 2011 federal election and Robocalling scandal into
the views of Canadians on communication of parties with electors
and the use of their private information by parties was very
clear on where Canadians stand. It stated: "More than 75 per cent
of the electors surveyed felt that they should have the right to
‘opt out' of communications from political entities. As well, 69
per cent of electors disagreed with the view that it is important
for political parties to be able to collect personal information
on electors. When asked what is more important, the right of
political entities to communicate with electors or the right of
electors to protect their privacy, two-thirds expressed the view
that preserving their privacy is of greater importance."
YDR: What is the position of
the MLPC on
ADC: The MLPC has
repeatedly raised the
issue that individual identifier numbers not be handed over to
political parties or if they are, they should not be permanent,
they should be changed with every election. This would contribute
to upholding electors' privacy by making it more difficult for
the list to be used as the foundation for a regularly maintained
permanent database of information about the electorate and
correlating poll results with how individuals vote. There are
standards to gauge undue influence in an election and how these
data bases are misused for this purpose can be readily
At this time, Elections Canada can still choose not to
the voter identifier permanent and change it every election so
that it is not useful to the databases of the cartel parties.
Since the electors list is handed out to registered political
parties and Members of Parliament once a year, even between
elections, it would be advisable to give each elector a new
unique number every time the list is updated and handed out.
The MLPC also supports any measure which would prevent
Canadians' private information on whether they have voted or not from
being used by political parties without their consent. An elector's
explicit consent should be required on whether they want this handed
over, either on polling day or afterwards.
1. The Privacy Act deals
individual's right to access and correct personal information the
Government of Canada holds about them, and with the Government's
collection, use and disclosure of personal information -- whether
about federal employees or other individuals in the course of
providing services (e.g., old age pensions or employment
insurance). The Act applies only to federal government
institutions listed in the Privacy Act Schedule of
Institutions. The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer and as a
result Elections Canada are on that list. The Office of the
Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees compliance with the Privacy
The Privacy Act does not apply to
parties and political representatives as they are not listed in
the Schedule of Institutions despite the fact that they receive
lists of Canadians' private information from Elections Canada. As
a result, when Elections Canada hands over lists of electors, bingo
cards indicating who has and has not voted on voting day, and
poll-by-poll results after an election, these are no longer subject to
the Privacy Act.
Most private entities receiving Canadians' personal
information come under the jurisdiction of PIPEDA. However PIPEDA
grants an exemption for political parties.
PIPEDA sets out the ground rules for how private-sector
organizations collect, use or disclose personal information in
the course of commercial activities across Canada. It also
applies to personal information of employees of
federally-regulated works, undertakings, or businesses
(organizations that are federally-regulated, such as banks,
airlines, and telecommunications companies). It is said to be
based on the ten fair information principles which the Chief
Electoral Officer wants applied to political parties.
PIPEDA does not apply to organizations that are not
in commercial activity. As such, it does not generally apply to
not-for-profit and charity groups, associations or political
parties, for example -- unless the organization is conducting a
commercial activity (fundraising is not considered a commercial
activity). The members of the Canadian cartel party system have
increasingly become appendages of the state, highly dependent on
public funding. Nevertheless, they claim that they are neither
private institutions nor public institutions -- they have created their
own limbo where they can stand above
9, 2016 - No. 28.
Liberal Plan to Expand Temporary Foreign
Parliamentary Report Continues Anti-Worker Agenda
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Human
Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with
Disabilities (HUMA) tabled its report on the Temporary Foreign Worker
Program (TFWP) in Parliament on September 19. In preparation for the
release of the report, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and
Citizenship John McCallum said, "What we are seeking to find is a
middle ground where there are legitimate needs for temporary foreign
workers in certain industries."
The 74-page report makes 21
recommendations and reads like an echo chamber of the industry groups
which dominated the brief committee hearings. The "middle ground"
according to the Trudeau government is to be found by reversing many of
the "excesses" of the Harper Conservatives. When it became too blatant
that the program had nothing to do with "labour shortages," the Harper
Conservatives had to undertake an "overhaul" of the TFWP to quell the
public outcry. However, the main outcome of this "reorganization" was a
new category of temporary foreign workers brought in under
International Mobility Programs which have even fewer restrictions than
the TFWP and do not require companies to make any effort to hire
citizens or residents or pay migrant workers the prevailing wage rate.
The report is silent on these changes. It sheds crocodile tears about
the horrific abuses of migrant workers exposed by the migrant workers
who did manage to appear. But the main demand of migrant workers and
their organizations for permanent residency upon arrival was brushed
off with vague statements about considering a "path to permanent
Among the committee's recommendations are the
withdraw the requirement that an employer must first attempt to
hire a Canadian citizen or resident for some (unspecified)
sections of the program;
- speed up the approval process and
establish a "trusted" employer category to further fast track
- consider including seafood processing in the
category of primary agriculture;
- raise the cap on the
proportion of temporary foreign workers who can be hired at a
jobsite from the current 10 per cent to a minimum 20 per cent
with a further review of sector and geographic considerations;
extend work permits from one to two years for caregivers;
the "four in-four out" rule;
- tie work permits to a sector and
location rather than one employer;
- introduce multiple-entry
work visas for the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
The recommendations which supposedly benefit the
workers are geared towards making it easier for employers to recruit
temporary foreign workers, extend the TFWP and maintain the temporary
status of migrant workers. Recruiters will be able to continue their
modern-day slave trading, employers their exploitation of migrant
workers' vulnerable position, while families will be separated and
workers denied citizenship rights.
Nothing will change for seasonal agricultural workers
who spend up to 30 years producing food in Canada, enduring brutal
conditions and facing removal from Canada if they are injured or become
sick, or are simply removed as a reprisal for speaking out about their
working conditions and organizing their peers to defend their rights.
As well, current regulations force many migrant workers to return to
their home countries after four years with a four-year hiatus before
they can return to Canada, to ensure that organizing work is disrupted.
The proposed multiple-entry work visas will, however, make it easier
for employers to bring workers back year after year. As for "trusted"
employers, there is no explanation of what makes a "trusted" employer
whose requests would be fast-tracked. It certainly seems that it has
nothing to do with how workers are treated. In November 2015 the
government reported that it had received more than 1,000 responses on a
tip line set up in April 2014 by the Harper government. The Liberals
say they have "massively" increased the number of inspections, but have
been silent about what happened to these complaints. Only two employers
have been sanctioned for violating the law since the Liberals came to
Workers make up one
undivided class whose rights as workers and as human beings must not be
denied. The security of all workers lies in the fight for the rights of
all. Now is the time to take further actions to demand that the
Temporary Foreign Worker Program be abolished along with all such
programs that create strata of vulnerable workers deprived of rights,
assaulting the dignity of the working class and violating the rights of
all. Such programs have no place in a modern Canada and should be
abolished with redress, status and rights for all workers.
The committee's report dutifully represents the outlook
the rich that workers are just a cost to be lowered wherever
possible so as to maximize profits. The committee's report serves
the aim of driving down the overall standard of living and
concentrating social wealth in the hands of a few.
The working class rejects this outlook and fights for
the dignity of labour and the rights of all, and for the right of the
working class to determine the direction of the economy, to participate
in politics to provide solutions to problems facing the class and the
nation, including such important matters as immigration which should
not be privatized or put in the service of the monopolies and other
Canadians Speak Out Against Worker
Trafficking and Abuse
Rally on Parliament Hill culminates Harvesting Freedom Caravan, October
Migrant workers and their organizations, and labour
federations have rejected the report of the Standing Committee on Human
Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with
Disabilities (HUMA) on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The
report was adopted by the Committee on June 15 and presented to the
House of Commons on September 19. They point out that the Liberal
government is planning to expand the program in the service of the
monopolies and are opposing the government's divide and rule strategy.
The month-long Harvesting Freedom Caravan organized by
Justice for Migrant Workers culminated in an October 6 rally in Ottawa
to demand that the government act to provide permanent status to
migrant farmworkers. The caravan was organized to mark 50 years of the
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). Workers who come to Canada
under the SAWP may return to work in Canada for 25 or even 30 years,
but their status remains temporary. They are permitted to remain in
Canada for no more than eight months between January 1 and December 15
Without permanent immigration status, the
committee's recommendations are futile, Justice for Migrant Workers
organizers point out. They add that the committee's vague talk about
"pathways to permanent immigration status" has nothing to do with
upholding rights. "The Live-In Caregivers Program, for example, has had
pathway to residency for years. [The workers have] called it a pathway
to exploitation: it's waving a carrot in front of someone who knows
that if they put up with bad working conditions for several years,
eventually they can get permanent residency," organizer Tzazna Miranda
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) said the report was
unacceptable. CLC President Hassan Yussuff said, "Overall, HUMA
released a pro-business, pro-employer report with few positive concrete
recommendations for Canadian and migrant workers.... This report
recommends expanding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and making
it more accessible to employers, while increasing the existing
two-tiered labour market. Migrant workers are being treated as a
disposable workforce, and that's unacceptable."
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) also condemned
the report. "When it comes to the exploitation of guest workers and the
use of guest workers to drive down wages and displace Canadian workers,
the Liberals' approach might actually be worse than the Conservative
approach," AFL President Gil McGowan said. "The report confirms that
the Liberals have committed themselves to maintaining, and indeed
growing, a two-tier labour market," he added.
Migrante Canada issued a
statement that concludes the report is blatantly anti-worker: "Despite
decades of migrant workers' campaigns which have kept Canadian society
and all its past governments aware and sufficiently educated about the
slave-like conditions and the suffering of migrant workers, the
government has once again chosen to look completely the opposite way.
The HUMA parliamentary committee report on TFWP has chosen
to 'reform' the migrant workers' program for the continued profit
and well-being of employers, companies and global capital.
Essentially, it has chosen to maintain an exploitative and
oppressive immigration and labour system that has no concern at
all for the welfare and well-being of migrant workers....
"Most of all, there will be continued restrictions and
difficulties on the 'pathway' to permanent residency. The caps
for almost all the streams remain, and the monitoring system
lacks so much to be called functional."
The committee also failed to make recommendations to
stop the modern day slave trade of human traffickers, Migrante says.
"The report shows government really has no concern about the violation
of the worker's human rights and labour rights, from recruitment to
LMIA [labour market impact assessment] stage and all the long way to
the application for permanent residency stage. No solid answers about
these violations -- even about the first big problem for migrant
workers, much acknowledged in the report, which is abuses of
recruitment agencies. There are only directives for Employment and
Social Development Canada to review, together with some unnamed
'stakeholders' to set up an 'accreditation system' for recruiters and,
as if it were an easy sure-fire thing to do, a moving away from a
'complaint-driven model of program enforcement', to supposedly cover
conflict resolution between employer and worker."
Harvesting Freedom Caravan pickets Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto,
September 25, 2016.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) Brant/Hamilton/Halton
called on the federal government to provide full immigration
status on arrival for migrant workers now. The NFU letter
highlighted the denial of rights migrant workers face, including
extortion by private recruiters, "medical deportation" of workers
who become sick or are injured, and the fact that workers are
tied to their employers, "creating a stark power differential
that makes it hard to leave abusive workplaces."
"As farmers, we believe everyone engaged in the vital
growing food to nourish other humans should have fair access to
conditions allowing them and their families to thrive. All food
producers deserve dignity and respect," the NFU Local said.
Harvesting Freedom Caravan in Ottawa (left) and Cobourg.
Changes to Canada Pension Plan
Security in Retirement Is a Human Right!
On October 6, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau tabled
legislation to implement changes to the Canada Pension Plan
(CPP) with the introduction of Bill C-26, An Act to amend the
Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act
and the Income Tax Act. This followed an October 4 announcement by
Prime Minister Trudeau that British Columbia had agreed to accept the
government's changes to the pension plan, meaning that all nine
provinces had agreed, while Quebec has its own national pension system.
Trudeau stated, "This is
yet another example of how
can accomplish for our citizens when there is close collaboration
between provinces, territories and the federal government on
common goals." The changes will increase the required
contributions for workers and employers beginning in 2019 and
beginning the same year "increase the maximum level of
pensionable earnings by 14 per cent as of 2025." It is not clear
what this will amount to when compared to inflation and other
At a time when so many retirees are struggling with
poverty and insecurity, these reforms are presented as a solution
despite the fact that they will not assist the most vulnerable today.
The ruling elite present security in retirement not as a human right
but a matter of compelling individuals to "save more" or "save better."
The Liberals present their plan to increase minimum contributions to
the CPP as the solution while the Conservatives had their own schemes
to get people to save more via tax free savings accounts and income
splitting. The changes to the CPP also come at a time when pension
funds are being coveted as the next big source for investment capital,
particularly in infrastructure.
Pensions are a part of the reproduced-value that
reproduce at work to reproduce both themselves as individual
workers and the entire working class.
Pensions and post-employment benefits are social
reproduced-value in the sense the amounts they contain are
reproduced socially in the present by the working class for the
entire class to ensure its well-being and security during
retirement and its constant reproduction as the productive class
from generation to generation.
Wages and benefits are individual reproduced-value.
social reproduced-value, individual reproduced-value includes
specific individual claims on the value workers produce in the
present to reproduce through work-time themselves as active
workers and their immediate family.
Each working generation of
workers reproduces the next
generation and sustains those who no longer work for whatever
reason. A portion of the value workers reproduce in the present
sustains the generation that has already retired commonly called
In exchange for its capacity to work with the social
force that owns and controls the material productive forces and state,
the working class both individually and socially claims the
reproduced-value it reproduces as the productive social class.
Within a dialectic with those who own the means
of production and control the socialized productive forces and state,
workers exchange their capacity to work for a claim on the
reproduced-value they reproduce during work-time. The worker makes the
claim individually, although sometimes negotiated collectively at the
place of work, and also socially, as a member of the working class,
through a public authority and its public services and social programs,
Workers exchange their capacity to work for
reproduced-value in the present as individuals, although often through
collective class struggle to obtain a certain arrangement within the
social relation with the other social force that owns and controls the
material productive forces and state. The exchange of workers' capacity
to work with the same social force represented by the state has a
social component. The exchange must be considered over a lifetime and
socially without individual considerations of unemployment, illness,
injury, ability, quality etc.
For the working class to agree to exchange its capacity
work for reproduced-value, the social force buying the capacity
to work must agree to a working class claim on social
reproduced-value from birth to passing away by virtue of all
workers being a member of the working class, the actual producers
of all value. To guarantee workers are available to work, the
social force buying the capacity to work must agree both to the
individual claim of workers and their social claim on the
reproduced-value within the new value they produce.
From the new value they produce, workers claim
reproduced-value in wages and benefits, and social
reproduced-value as public services and social programs including
importantly pensions in retirement or payments when injured, sick
or unemployed for whatever reason.
The social force that owns and controls the material
productive forces and state buys workers' capacity to work. In the
present social conditions, no new value can be produced without the
social force in control buying workers' capacity to work and putting
that capacity to work into action on the socialized productive forces.
Liberal Line of Pensions as a Policy Objective
The social force in control often refers to pensions as
deferred wages or worse as a policy objective. The line of
deferred wages is meant to extract concessions from the working
class on its wages and benefits, the individual reproduced-value,
and thus accept a lower standard of living in the present in
hopes of receiving a pension upon retirement. The line of
pensions as deferred wages views pensions upon retirement as a
policy objective rather than a right, and a way to reduce
workers' individual reproduced-value and increase added-value as
profit in the present. The Trudeau Liberal government's first
budget raises payroll taxes for the CPP for most workers, up to
11.9 per cent of "eligible earnings" for many workers. The
payroll tax effectively lowers individual reproduced-value in the
present while the promise of social reproduced-value upon
retirement remains a policy objective subject to changes
according to circumstances.
The "deferring" of wages
and sends the amount to the government as a claim on added-value
to be put in a pension fund, and also to an individual employer
if a promised pension is contracted with a company. This
concession extracted from the working class not only reduces
individual reproduced-value but also provides a huge fund of
social wealth that the financial oligarchs control and use for
their private interests and to reinforce the police powers of
their state. This also strengthens the liberal line of pensions
as a policy objective and opens the door for diversionary debates
over the solvency of pension funds and the use of "exceptional
circumstances" and bankruptcy protection and other methods to
steal pension funds.
The private interests controlling the investments of
pension and other social funds of the working class annually skim
off a usual 2 per cent of the combined social wealth plus 20 per
cent of any profit. Executive managers of large funds routinely
claim millions of dollars annually for themselves and become
important propagandists and impediments to making pensions a
right for all with payments coming not from funds but from a
public authority claiming social reproduced-value from the
economy in the present on behalf of the entire working class.
The liberal line of pensions as deferred wages, the
imposition of pension payroll taxes on individual workers and the
creation of pension funds stands in opposition to the affirmation
of the right of all to retirement at a guaranteed established
standard of living.
A public authority in charge of pensions for all should
directly claim new value from the economy according to the amount
needed in the present to guarantee the right of all retirees to
an established standard of living. The claim for pensions on new
value the working class produces in the present represents social
reproduced-value. The claim on new value should go directly to
retirees and not sit in a fund of social wealth under the control
of the financial oligarchs to be used in a corrupt manner for
private purposes by parasites and as a weapon to turn pensions
into a policy objective in opposition to the right of all to
retirement at an established standard of living.
Exchange of Workers' Capacity to Work
Workers exchange their capacity to work with the social
force that owns and controls the socialized means of production and
state. This exchange between two social forces within a social relation
and dialectic occurs both individually and socially. For the exchange
to occur individually, in the particular, the two social forces must
also be in existence generally.
The explicit exchange occurs between an individual
and an employer who controls a particular socialized productive
The implicit exchange occurs between the working class
as a whole, which sells its capacity to work as the actual producer,
and the social force that owns and controls the material productive
forces and state, which buys the capacity to work of the working class.
For socialized industrial mass production to continue seamlessly, the
exchange must result in the reproduction of both the individual worker
and the social productive force as a whole, the working class, through
work and its production of new value both reproduced-value and
A portion of the new value the working class produces
work is claimed by the actual producers to reproduce themselves
as individuals and by a public authority to reproduce workers as
a social class.
The portion of new value workers claim to reproduce
themselves is called individual reproduced-value. The portion of
new value workers claim through a public authority to reproduce
the working class as a whole is called social
reproduces the entire working
from birth to passing away in addition to and in the absence of
individual reproduced-value during those instances when workers
cannot work for whatever reason such as childhood, old age,
injury, illness or insufficient work made available by the social
force in control of the socialized productive forces and
Reproduced-value is new value arising from the
work-time of the actual producers and is necessary for the well-being,
security and perpetuation of the working class. Reproduced-value is in
contradiction with added-value, which arises from the same new value
the working class produces. Those who own the means of production and
control the socialized productive forces and state claim the
added-value workers produce as their profit. Profit is distributed
amongst those who own the means of production and control the
socialized productive forces and state. They claim a portion of the new
value workers produce as added-value, generally called profit,
according to the degree of ownership and control of the existing social
wealth and property they possess in the form of equity ownership, debt
ownership and land ownership or through a high position in the
hierarchy of the ruling elite. The imperialist state also claims a
portion of added-value to finance its police powers, bureaucracy and to
pay the rich in various ways.
During the transitional period between the overthrow of
feudal petty production and its autocratic rule and the complete
transformation into socialized industrial mass production and
democratic rule under the control of the actual producers the society
requires equilibrium to avoid a catastrophic collapse. The social force
that owns and controls the material productive forces and state during
the transitional period must assume its social responsibility to
provide employment and social programs for the working class so that it
can successfully reproduce itself both individually and socially. The
ruling social class must guarantee the collective and individual
well-being of the people throughout their lives.
In return for employment, social programs, the
its rights and to ensure equilibrium, the working class
guarantees to be available to work in return for a claim for
individual reproduced-value and a claim through a public
authority for social reproduced-value at an agreed established
standard of living. The claims of the working class for
reproduced-value on the value it produces guarantee its
reproduction from birth to passing away at a certain standard of
living reflecting the level of the productive forces and its
organized class struggle to defend its rights and well-being.
Any interruption of the guarantee of reproduced-value
recognition of rights destroys the equilibrium and throws the
society into crisis. The crisis can only be overcome with a
return of the guarantee or the ascension to political power of
the working class in a new state that deprives the social force
presently in control of the socialized productive forces and
state of its control and power to disrupt the guarantee of
An ascension of the organized working class to
political power and control of the socialized productive forces and
creation of a new state resolves the contradiction of the transitional
period between the working class and those who seized ownership and
control of the material productive forces and state upon the overthrow
of the feudal autocratic regime of petty production. The rise to
political power of the organized working class and its agenda for
nation-building and mass democracy ushers in a new period of
equilibrium in the relations of production and society.
The organized working class
itself assumes the control
direction of the socialized productive forces and new state. The
organized working class guarantees that work is available for all
members of the class and fashions an agenda of nation-building
and mass democracy to guarantee the rights of the people, which
belong to them by virtue of being human. The organized working
class sets to work to complete the transformation to socialized
industrial mass production and mass democracy with modern
relations of production in conformity with the socialized
productive forces to put an end to all the remnants of feudal
autocratic rule once and for all.
With the actual producers in control of the material
productive forces and new state, the organized and political new
working class, now liberated from the oppressive and disruptive social
relation with those who owned and controlled the socialized productive
forces and state, through its work produces the new value necessary to
sustain and enhance the people's well-being and security from birth to
passing away without interruption.
The control over the entire new value including both
the reproduced-value and added-value allows the organized and political
new working class to sustain and enhance all aspects of society. It
improves itself as a class of, for and by itself through work and with
the enhancement of mass democracy and constant improvements to its
relations of production as it further develops the socialized
productive forces. The entire people are mobilized within the
nation-building project to complete the transformation from petty
production and the autocratic rule of the previous era into socialized
industrial mass production without economic crises where modern
relations of production vest sovereignty in the people and establish
mass democracy as the political norm.
Confronting Massive Damage by Hurricane
Cuban Government and People Stand
with Hurricane Victims
Cuban President Rául Castro is warmly greeted by residents of Baracoa
municipality in eastern Cuba on a tour of areas hit by Hurricane
Matthew, October 9, 2016.
The eastern provinces of
Cuba were badly hit by Hurricane
Matthew on October 4. Yet there were no deaths and the damage and
injuries were mitigated by Cuba's high level of civil defence
preparations which enables the country to prepare for and respond to
natural disasters like no other.
Army General Raúl Castro Ruz stated during an October
working meeting at the Maisí Municipal Defence Council, "It is now
vital to identify the damages precisely and as quickly as
possible, in order to determine what is needed in each place." He
outlined key issues for the recovery of the municipality of
Maisí, where the towns of La Máquina (municipal capital), Punta
de Maisí and Los Llanos, were the hardest hit with the passage of
Raúl was accompanied by Army Corps General Ramón
Martín, deputy minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, who is
currently based in the most affected areas together with other
national and local leaders, overseeing the measures implemented
in the recovery stage.
He noted that it is estimated that over 90 per cent of
in the area were severely damaged, as well as the majority of
state facilities. Vital services for the population, such as
communications, electricity and water supply, were also severely
During the meeting, the negative impact of the
access routes to this municipality and on agriculture -- mainly
coffee plantations (Maisí is the largest coffee producer in the
country) -- were also discussed.
Given this situation, Raúl emphasized the urgency of
alternatives to ensure the people are provided with necessary
resources. Likewise, he stressed the importance of recording all
the experience gained from the passage of this weather event, to
be used in future scenarios.
Raúl also participated in
the meeting which took place at the
municipal Party headquarters, where Lina Pedraza Rodríguez,
minister of Finances and Prices, informed the presidents of the
eight people's councils in the municipality of how to implement
the decision of the revolutionary government as regards the sale
of construction materials to those whose homes had been
"You received a heavy blow, but we will recover," Raúl
assured as he shook hands and received embraces. Meanwhile, the
people expressed their thanks over and over again to Fidel and
Raúl himself for their constant support.
"This visit strengthens us, it encourages us to keep
stated Erodis Fuente López, who offered his home to shelter
almost 40 people.
"Trust in us that we will succeed! The most important
is that we are alive! Send our greetings to the Comandante! Take
care!" These are some of the messages expressed by the population as
Raúl toured the area. Meanwhile, the Cuban President thanked
those gathered for their continued resistance and called on them
to return to their normal daily activities as soon as possible,
in particular the resumption of classes, which he reiterated
could take place in any adequate space.
Again there were scenes of emotion and hope as those
offered and received advice, anecdotes, and took photos alongside
"I congratulate you because you are courageous,
very revolutionary. I'm proud of Cuban women and men across the
country, but above all of you, because this has been a very tough
test," Raúl stated in response to the excited cheers of
TML is posting below a firsthand account from Granma
reporters of the social solidarity and swift
response to those affected in the eastern municipality of
All of Cuba in Baracoa
- Ángel Freddy Pérez
Jorge Luis Merencio Cautí,
Ortelio González Martínez -
When the reporters think they have seen it or heard it all, a new story
appears of how people are helping each other.
What a mystery -- amidst the most difficult
circumstances, we Cubans always dig up the virtues that best
characterize us as a people.
Several days of following Hurricane Matthew's trail
the country's eastern provinces has reinforced our pride in
having been born in this land, imperfect as it may be, like any
other work in progress. We saw so many great things -- small and
simple things -- they can't fit in these few lines.
Seeing a group of children who have lost practically
everything -- their books, backpacks, teddy bears and shoes --
playing in the rubble, with a Cuba flag waving alongside, makes
one's heart beat a little faster than usual.
What to say about the interminable caravans of
telephone, construction, and transportation workers, who, like
ants, have been the first to arrive in disaster zones, under the
worst conditions, all with the single-starred flag on their
And just when you think you've seen or heard it all,
demonstration of solidarity is recounted, acts that prevented a
category four hurricane from taking a single human life in
That 50, 60, or more people
could take refuge in one
was common, and in the darkness, they shared the pain and fear,
and the little or much of what they had: a sip of coffee, a
towel, or diaper for the baby.
Amid the devastation, children seek
ways to overcome the consequences
of Hurricane Matthew.
There is Yaliseidy Londres Cobas, a Guantánamo native
in San Germán, one of the most remote settlements in Baracoa, who
after taking some 60 people into her home is still accommodating
two families who lost everything, telling us that they could stay
as long as necessary. There are many more families doing the same
So much solidarity and spiritual growth in the face of
adversity was captured by a young driver from Guantánamo, who,
amazed by the interminable caravans of human and material
resources moving toward the First City, Maisí and other affected
areas, said, "Man, all of Cuba is in Baracoa."
Haiti Faces Serious Challenges with Support of
Members of the Cuban Henry Reeve Brigade board plane for Haiti, October
A severe tropical storm, designated Hurricane Matthew
struck the Caribbean countries and the United States between
September 29 and October 9. It caused flashfloods in Jamaica on
October 2, despite being hundreds of kilometres away from the
centre of the storm. It made landfall in Haiti on the morning of
October 4 and then Cuba that same evening as a Category 4
hurricane (sustained winds of 209-251 km/h). It then travelled north to
the Bahamas as a Category 3 (sustained winds of 178-278 km/h) and
Category 4 hurricane. Matthew made landfall in South Carolina on
October 8 as a Category 1 hurricane (sustained winds of 119-153
km/h), causing severe flooding. It was downgraded to a
post-tropical storm on October 9 as it moved away from North
TML sends its deepest sympathies to the peoples
of the Caribbean and the United States affected by Hurricane Matthew
and gives its full support for the internationalist humanitarian
response of Cuba and Venezuela. It also vehemently rejects any attempts
by Canada, the U.S., France or anyone else to exploit this tragic
situation for self-serving aims.
Massive Destruction in Haiti
Path of Hurricane Matthew.
Of the countries struck by Hurricane Matthew, Haiti is
most severely affected. This is due not only to the intensity of
the storm when it hit but especially because of political chaos
caused in the country by foreign intervention and exploitation on
the part of Canada, the U.S., France and the UN mission to Haiti
(MINUSTAH). This interference has deprived Haitians of
sovereignty over their affairs, introduced a deadly
cholera epidemic and left Haiti vulnerable to natural disasters
and further exploitation particularly in its times of greatest
The United Nations estimates that 1.4 million people in
Haiti require assistance. Some 20,000 homes were destroyed along
with crops and food reserves, at least 300 schools have been
damaged and some towns and villages have been nearly wiped off
the map, the UN and news agencies report. "It seems to me like a
nuclear bomb went off," said Paul Edouarzin, a UN Environmental
Program employee based near Port-a-Piment to Reuters. "In terms
of destruction -- environmental and agricultural -- I can tell
you 2016 is worse than [the 2010 earthquake]," he added.
Under these circumstances, the cholera epidemic that
finally brought under control -- caused by improper sanitation by
UN peacekeepers -- now threatens to reemerge. UNICEF warns that
overflowing rivers, stagnant waters, and animal and human corpses
are perfect breeding grounds for waterborne diseases. "Every day
that goes by increases the threat of cholera. We are in a race
against time to get to these children before diseases do," Marc
Vincent, UNICEF Representative for Haiti, said in a press
The UN says it is working with Haitian officials to
the needs and on October 10, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
announced that the UN had "launched a $120 million flash appeal
covering the UN system's needs for the next three months."
The UN News Centre on October 10 reported that
the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA), the appeal targets vulnerable groups in identified
priority sectors, and it takes into account the national-level
capacities and those of humanitarian partners on the ground. Over
the next week, partners will develop individual projects in
support of sector activities and financial requirements
identified in this appeal, adapting the response to the most
up-to-date assessment results."
Immediate Internationalist Aid Provided by Cuba and
Venezuela prepares a shipment of humanitarian aid for Haiti, October 5,
Cuba and Venezuela have once again distinguished
by being amongst the first countries to provide the humanitarian
assistance required by Haiti, as was the case during the 2010
earthquake. This rapid response has everything to do with a profound
policy of providing internationalist assistance which benefits the
people in a concrete way and, in the case of Venezuela, in recognition
of the historic debt owed to this sister nation for providing
assistance to the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean in their
anti-colonial independence struggles.
By October 7, Venezuela had sent three lots of
aid, the last of which contained 660 tonnes of food, medication,
water, blankets and mattresses. It also included 450 tonnes of
heavy machinery to remove rubble and rehabilitate roads.
The following week, Venezuela sent 50 health
Haiti. Vice-President for Social Development and Revolutionizing
the Missions Jorge Arreaza confirmed on October 10 that the
Simón Bolívar Humanitarian Task Force was
dispatched to assist the "beloved people" of Haiti and will work
in the country for approximately eight days. The team includes 40
epidemiologists and 10 general medical practitioners. The doctors
are recent graduates of the Salvador Allende Latin American
School of Medicine located in Caracas, Venezualanlysis informs.
The school is the result of cooperation between Cuba and
"We reached Haiti with our solidarity; two boats and
planes have left and we will continue to extend our solidarity
and humanitarian aid with the people of Haiti in every way," said
President Nicolás Maduro on October 9. Maduro informed
that a total of 200 doctors will travel to Haiti to offer medical
Cuba, despite also being hit by Hurricane Matthew,
on October 7 that it is sending a 38-person medical brigade to
Haiti, members of the renowned Henry Reeve International
Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and
Serious Epidemics. These health personnel are greatly experienced
in the hygienic-epidemiological field, ACN reports. The group is
made up of three doctors, 10 hygienic-epidemiologic specialists and 10
technicians, among others. This group will work alongside some of the
hundreds of Cuban health professionals already working in Haiti. Cuban
doctors have been in Haiti since 1998, after Hurricane Georges.
Members of the Henry Reeve Brigade prepare to leave for Haiti. This is
24th contingent of
the Brigade sent abroad since its
creation in 2005.
For its part, the U.S. is sending "assistance" through
military means, as it did in 2010. It is deploying an aircraft
carrier and 300 marines to provide relief.
Haitians Reject Repeat of Self-Serving "Assistance"
Haitians are extremely suspect of the so-called aid
received in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. This "assistance"
did little to relieve their hardship while lining the pockets of
various self-serving middlemen.
Nadia Prupris, writing for Common Dreams on
11, points out that "the legacy of foreign aid in Haiti has left
many residents fearful of large organizations like the American Red
Cross descending on the impoverished island. As Pro Publica and NPR
revealed in a joint investigation last year, when Haiti was hit with a
devastating earthquake in 2010, the American Red Cross raised half a
billion dollars in aid and built a grand total of six new homes.
"Many observers [...] are urging those eager to support
Hurricane Matthew relief efforts to donate to local grassroots groups
instead of the American Red Cross and other massive organizations."
Hillary Clinton, the U.S. presidential nominee for the
Democratic Party, and her husband former U.S. President Bill
Clinton are also notorious for the role played by their Clinton
Foundation to use billions of dollars in Haiti relief funds to
enrich themselves, their friends and financial supporters, as
well as open up Haiti for further exploitation by global
monopolies. In response to a tweet from Bill Clinton about what
the foundation was doing in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew,
one person tweeted, "Is this a joke, you looted Haiti once
already," while another responded, "Clintons still scamming off
poor Haiti after a natural disaster."
TeleSUR points out, "With the help of corporate donors,
Clinton Foundation raised billions of dollars in relief
"Controversially, however, U.S.$6 billion was spent on
formaldehyde-riddled trailers distributed by a top Clinton
campaign donor -- Clayton Homes -- that sickened Haitians left
homeless by the earthquake, with trailer occupants complaining of
headaches and other illnesses."
Similarly, ABC News reported on October 11 about the
industrial park and sweatshop garment factory opened up in Haiti
by the Clinton Foundation in the town of Caracol:
"The modern industrial park, with wide, clear roads
connecting rows of low-slung warehouses, [was] paid for by the
Inter-American Development Bank, which provided $256.8 million in
grants to support construction. The bank has donated $1 million
to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to its
website. Large American retailers, including Wal-Mart and Gap
Inc., have served as buyers for the clothes shipped from Haiti to
the U.S. with special U.S. tax breaks. Wal-Mart has given $1
million to $5 million, and Gap has given $100,000 to $250,000 to
the foundation. And in 2012, SAE-A, the Korean garment company
that was recruited to become the anchor tenant of the park, gave
$50,000 to $100,000 to the foundation."
October 4, 2016: left: destruction wrought by Hurricane Matthew, Aux
Cayes; right: UN
armored car patrols the streets of Port-au-Prince.
1. Simon Bolívar, leader of Latin
liberation struggles against Spanish colonial rule was aided greatly
by the Haitian revolution. Haiti was the first independent nation in
America and the only nation in the world whose independence was gained
part of a successful slave rebellion. The Haitian president
Bolívar and his forces sanctuary and protection and the
possibility of launching
new attacks against the Spanish. Within this, Haitian soldiers joined
for freedom in the rest of the Americas as part of Bolívar's
soldiers and vital material support provided by Haiti, Bolívar
Venezuela and fulfilled a promise to Pétion by issuing a decree
their freedom in territories under his control on June 2, 1816.
Victory Against Canadian Mining Giant
at World Bank Tribunal
Activists supporting El Salvador celebrate the country's victory over
monopoly right and mining firm OceanaGold at a rally near the
constituency office of Minister of International Trade
Freeland, Toronto, October 14, 2016.
The World Bank tribunal
on October 14 against the Canadian-Australian gold mining giant
OceanaGold's claim that El Salvador interfered with its profits
when the government pulled the plug on a proposed gold mine.
The seven-year, multi-million dollar, largely secretive
battle had pitted mining-affected Salvadoran communities --
supported by human rights organizations in Canada, the U.S.,
Australia and the Philippines -- against the deep pockets of
OceanaGold, formerly Pacific Rim, in an international trade
court ultimately awarded El Salvador's government U.S.$8 million to
cover legal fees and costs.
The conflict sparking the U.S.$301 million lawsuit
dates back to 2007, when El Salvador took a stand for national
sovereignty and clean water by denying OceanaGold, then Pacific Rim, a
new permit to extract gold. The government raised concerns over the
company's failure to fulfill national mining standards at its El
Dorado gold mine, including the fact that it dodged submitting a
feasibility study and Environmental Impact Assessment for the project.
But the corporation saw the decision as an assault on its profits and
In 2009, Pacific Rim
leveled a U.S.$77 million lawsuit against El Salvador at the World
Bank's investor-state tribunal, the International Center for the
Settlement of Investment Disputes, that allows corporations to use free
trade agreements to sue countries for perceived infringement on their
future profits. The mining giant later upped the price tag on the suit
to a whopping U.S.$301 million -- equivalent to three years of El
Salvador's public spending on health, education and public security
The government primarily rejected OceanaGold's proposed
over fears of water pollution and scarcity in the country, the
most water-stressed in Central America. Water quality is a major
problem in El Salvador, where some 90 per cent of surface water is
considered unsafe to drink by international standards. Metal mining is
a major culprit in water contamination.
"By allowing transnational companies to blackmail
to try to force them to adopt policies that favor corporations,
investor-state arbitration undermines democracy in El Salvador
and around the world," said Marcos Orellana of the Center for
International Environmental Law. "Regardless of the outcome, the
arbitration has had a chilling effect on the development and
implementation of public policy necessary to protect the
environment and the human right to water."
Not only is the gold mining industry notorious for
contaminating surface and groundwater systems with toxic metals through
its cyanide-intensive extraction process, but it also sucks up
staggering amounts of water on a daily basis. OceanaGold's proposed
mine would have used thousands of tons of cyanide and hundreds of
thousands of litres of water every day in a country where adequate
access to water is already an issue.
In 2009, the same year OceanaGold filed the lawsuit
against El Salvador, the newly-elected progressive Farabundo
Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) government tried to
institutionalize an official moratorium on mining concessions. Although
the law has not been passed, the government has continued to uphold a
ban on new mining projects. Meanwhile, local water defenders have
fought for years -- together with the governing FMLN party -- to
pressure lawmakers to enshrine the human right to water in the
constitution and force corporations to play their part in preserving
the precious resource. To date, the conservative-dominated Congress has
opted to continue shielding private profits instead of introducing
industry regulations to protect human rights.
Vigorous Rejection of U.S.-Imposed Control Board
Protest camp at the U.S. Federal Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico begins,
June 29, 2016.
The people of Puerto Rico are rejecting the
Control Board, an unelected body that the U.S. government claims
will bring Puerto Rico's U.S.$72 billion debt under control.
Puerto Rico's debt is directly the result of its status as a U.S.
colony. For more than a century, the U.S. has exploited
Puerto Rico's human and natural resources, while corporations
have been heavily subsidized through various pay-the-rich schemes
such as federal tax exemptions and infrastructure paid for using
money borrowed from U.S. financiers. The imposition of the
Control Board underscores Puerto Rico's colonial status that
must be ended immediately.
Puerto Rico's colonial constitution mandates that it
creditors holding general obligation bonds as a priority, over
any public spending, such as education or pensions. To that end,
various anti-social austerity measures have already been imposed
on the people in recent years, worsening their living and working
conditions, despite the fact neither they nor the social programs
on which they rely are the cause of the debt. Puerto Rico does
not even have recourse to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code since it is a
U.S. territory, not a state, and U.S. Congress refuses to grant
it an exemption as the Puerto Rican government has requested.
The Control Board was put
in place by the Puerto
Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA, Spanish
for "promise"), passed on June 30 by U.S. Congress. With its members
drawn from the wealthy neo-liberal elites in Puerto Rico and the U.S.,
the Board protects U.S. financiers by enforcing the payments to the
rich and opens the door to stepped-up anti-social austerity measures
that the colonial government has not been willing to carry out. The
"promise" of the Board is to carry out even more neo-liberal wrecking,
including the further cutting of pensions, the elimination of public
workers' contracts, cuts to social services and the reduction of
minimum wage for young workers to only $4.25 an hour. These
arrangements make clear that government is no longer to have any
pretense of providing for the needs of society, but rather is to be run
as a business solely serving the monopolies. Even before PROMESA,
Puerto Rico had a 45 per cent poverty rate, with more than half of
Puerto Rico's children living in poverty while schools have been closed
and funding for essential services cut in the name of paying down the
Despite the passage of PROMESA and the austerity
already imposed, the Puerto Rican government defaulted on a July
1 debt payment of $1.9 billion, with a government spokesperson
saying that this was done to "ensure the residents of Puerto Rico
continue to receive essential services while the commonwealth
continues to face a delicate financial situation." This marked
the first time Puerto Rico failed to pay general obligation bonds
since the Great Depression, CNN reported.
Mass Protests Against PROMESA and Control Board
Puerto Ricans have a long and glorious history of
against colonialism, first that of Spain and now the U.S. This
spirit of resistance is being brought to bear in the present
situation. The people have broadly rejected PROMESA and the
attempts to put the blame for the crisis on them, not the U.S.
and its colonial exploitation of the country which incurred the
debt yet portrays the people as "living beyond their means."
Protests began before PROMESA was passed and continue
present, including a protest camp outside the U.S. Federal Court
in Hato Rey, launched on June 29. Various social and activist
organizations are also studying the potential impacts of PROMESA
to help develop next steps for the movement against the bill.
Community leaders also called for an analysis of how Puerto Rico's
"colonial condition" has led to PROMESA and the new challenges it
brings, local media reported.
The ongoing protest camp at the U.S. Federal Court in San Juan. Signs
read "Only the struggle gives us what the law denies us" and "Puerto
Rico does not belong to the invadors. Puerto Rico belongs to Puerto
Puerto Ricans mark Labour Day as a "Day of Unemployment" with a protest
at Walmart, September 5, 2016. Sign reads "You pay taxes; Walmart
Protests are also targeting U.S. monopolies that enjoy
very low corporate taxes in Puerto Rico. On October 3, protestors shut
down the country's largest Walmart, in protest against the anti-social
offensive on Puerto Ricans while Walmart refuses to pay increased
corporate taxes. Protesters elaborated how Walmart damages the local
economy and provides only precarious jobs that are often just
part-time. In September, a U.S. appeals court ruled against Puerto Rico
in its efforts to raise Walmart's corporate tax rate from two per cent
to 6.5 per cent. One of the protesters shutting down Walmart stated, "I
am an active member and spokesperson of the Camp Against the Control
Board. We closed Walmart's operations for the day, and, in part, this
is proof that when the people unite, we succeed. We need people to keep
coming out to these protests, so that every multinational begins
stepping back. While the Control Board remains, we're going to
Actions are also being held in the U.S. For example,
Comité Boricua en la Diáspora issued a call for a
protest in New York City. Organizers vehemently rejected the
Control Board, its propagation of colonialism and the fact that it was
hold its very first meeting in New York City.
New York City, September 30, 2016
Illegitimate Debt Exploited by U.S. Vulture Funds
TeleSUR reported July 21 on a recent report by the
America Project. The report "found that nearly half of Puerto
Rico's debt load is interest on loans underwritten by a slew of
Wall Street firms. [... These] bondholders are poised to reap
massive profits through what the researchers of the report
compared to a payday lending scheme.
"The report found that U.S.$33.5 billion of the debt is
interest at an effective interest rate of 785 percent, while dismal
trading at just 5 cents on the dollar gives investors a 1,900 per cent
profit on the loans. As a result, the ReFund America Project argues
that a big chunk of the nearly U.S.$73 billion debt is illegitimate and
suggests Puerto Rico shouldn't have to pay in full.
"The Caribbean island's debt debacle recalls
15-year court battle with vulture funds that swooped in to
profiteer from economic crisis when the country defaulted on its
debt in 2001. Holdout bondholders who refused to restructure the
debt effectively hijacked Argentina's economy for windfall
"Ultimately, vulture funds prevailed once President
Macri agreed to re-enter into negotiations with holdout creditors
and paved the way to issuing more bonds to pay off the debt.
Experts argue the case also set a dangerous precedent by
emboldening predatory lenders to continue to pressure vulnerable
countries in economic distress."
End Puerto Rico's Colonial Status Now!
Far from Puerto Rico owing a debt to U.S. financiers,
the U.S. that owes reparations to Puerto Rico for its robbery of
her wealth and resources for more than 100 years. Using U.S. law
to impose an unelected Control Board only further demonstrates
the colonial nature of the relationship and its thoroughly
undemocratic character. Including some Puerto Rican faces on the
Control Board -- bankers serving U.S. interests -- does nothing
to hide this fact. It does nothing to solve the problem of
colonialism. It only further entrenches and makes more blatant
TML condemns the U.S. colonial oppression of
Rico and its people and gives its full support to the patriotic
forces fighting for the cancellation of Puerto Rico's debt,
and against PROMESA, the Control Board and all other expressions of
U.S. colonialism. The UN's decolonization procedure must be
implemented immediately. This includes removing the military,
freeing Puerto Rican independence fighters held in U.S. prisons
and removing all U.S. economic and political influence so that
Puerto Ricans are finally able to exercise their right to
determine their affairs for themselves.
Exploitation by Global Biotech Monopolies
Puerto Rican journalist Eliván Martínez
Mercado recently reported on how global biotech monopolies such
as Monsanto and Pioneer Hi Bred (now Dupont) have been handed
hundreds of millions of dollars by the colonial government of
Puerto Rico while neo-liberal austerity is imposed on the
"Monsanto and Pioneer Hi Bred [...] received benefits
the bankrupted U.S. colonial territory in the Caribbean while
their headquarters made billionaire profits worldwide," Martínez
reports. "Monsanto reported a global net profit of $2.3 billion
only in 2015, while Pioneer Hi Bred reported $2 billion last
year, according to their respective reports for investors."
The Spanish-language article, published in July by the
for Investigative Journalism (CPI), notes that under Puerto
Rico's three most recent governors, the territory gave biotech
monopolies "preferential tax rates, tax exemptions, industrial
incentives and wage subsidies."
"Those wage subsidies come from the General Fund which
money collected directly from Puerto Rican taxpayers. They also
allowed Monsanto and Pioneer, for example, to receive [900
million litres] of free water from an underground water reserve
in the south of Puerto Rico, between Salinas, Guayama, Juana
Díaz and Santa Isabel," Martínez writes. "And so it was
that 11 agricultural biotechnology enterprises found an oasis of
easy money in Puerto Rico throughout 10 years of fiscal
An examination of public records showed that the
monopolies received $477.5 million in wage subsidies "because the
Department of Agriculture considers them bona fide farmers." The
wage subsidy law is intended to allow farmers to pay farmhands a
higher wage, to assist an industry that has historically
struggled to retain workers.
"But agricultural biotechnology enterprises are not
the same thing as farmers," Martínez explains. "They are dedicated
to research and development, a scientific and corporate activity
that for the last 10 years in Puerto Rico can be summed up in the
following equation: over 1,694 experiments to develop genetically
modified corn (55 per cent) and soybean (37 per cent) seeds,
according to an analysis of the testing licenses granted by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture."
Moreover, the Puerto Rican government allows Monsanto
other biotech monopolies to use far more land than other foreign
"farmers" because the government, paradoxically, also does not
consider these corporations to be farmers.
Martínez writes that the government relies on
Justice Guillermo Somoza Colombani, who had decreed that these
enterprises could rent more than 500 acres because biotechnology
could not be considered an agricultural activity. 'It is rather
an activity primarily scientific in nature, whose results are not
available for immediate consumption,' explained Somoza in an
opinion issued in 2012 after an inquiry from the Puerto Rico
Industrial Development Company."
Thus, the Puerto Rican government continues to treat
biotechnology corporations as both farmers and non-farmers:
"As a matter of fact, Monsanto Puerto Rico received
million in wage subsidies over the last 10 years, according to
the Administration for the Development of Agricultural
Enterprises (ADEA), for its Spanish acronym), while Monsanto
Caribe rented 768 acres of public land. They are different legal
entities in Puerto Rico's Registry of Corporations, although they
work under the same economic strategy in their headquarters in
A graphic illustrates the enormous amount of funds
to these multinational companies over the past ten years:
The corporations are additionally benefiting from
incentives for building infrastructure and purchasing
agricultural equipment, as well as receiving municipal and
property tax exemptions.
And because they are considered farmers, the biotech
monopolies are allowed to withdraw as much water as they want for
free from public sources.
"Out of the six corporations who have franchises to
water from the southern water sources," Martínez writes, "Monsanto
Caribe and Pioneer Hi Bred extracted [900 million litres] in the
last 10 years, according to reports from the Department of
Natural and Environmental Resources. If they hadn't been
considered bona fide agriculturists, they would have had to pay
$476,389, which is the industrial cost for this amount of
consumption. The water sources in the south have been in trouble
because of 'over-extraction' and lack of rain."
Those in favor of the enormous tax breaks and subsidies
that the biotechnology sector is a major employer in the
impoverished colonial territory. Puerto Rican economist
Ramón Cao "differs from this appraisal," Martínez
"It's an important amount, but at what cost? Each [job]
represented an annual fiscal cost of $15,354 which is
approximately the minimum yearly wage for an employee," Cao told
Martínez. "At that fiscal cost, they could have hired about 2,000
teachers a year, including employee benefits."
Argeo Quiñones, professor in the University of Puerto
Rico's Department of Economics, points out how Puerto
Rico's economy has been made to be dependent on the monopolies
instead of serving the national interest: "We have moved from
foreign manufacturing enterprises to petrochemical industries,
from the petrochemical industries to the pharmaceutical
industries, from the pharmaceutical to biotechnology.
"And that does not translate into a sustainable
activity that could be identified as growth and development for
Puerto Rico," Quiñones said to Martínez. "It is the
philosophy that we have to give our soul away. It is a model of
U.S. President Issues Directive Consolidating Changes
Pickets Against U.S. Blockade of Cuba
Monthly picket outside U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, September 17, 2016.
On October 14, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a
presidential policy directive aimed at consolidating changes
adopted with regard to Cuba, and making the new policy toward the
island irreversible, Prensa Latina reports.
According to the document, "Under the new policy, the
United States expands and promotes authorized engagements with Cuba to
advance cooperation on areas of mutual interest, and increase travel
to, commerce with, and the free flow of information to Cuba," although
the more than 50-year-long economic, financial and commercial blockade
remains in force.
The text disseminated by the White House notes that
the United States announced on December 17, 2014, that it would
chart a new course with Cuba, we have re-established diplomatic
relations and have made progress toward the normalization of our
bilateral relationship," including the opening of embassies,
among other actions.
"This new directive
consolidates and builds upon the
we've already made, promotes transparency by being clear about
our policy and intentions, and encourages further engagement
between our countries and our people," reads a statement issued
the same day by President Obama, regarding the new policy
The document continues, "Consistent with this approach,
Departments of Treasury and Commerce issued further regulatory
changes today, building on the progress made over the last two
years, to continue to facilitate more interaction between the
Cuban and American people, including through travel and
According to the U.S. President, "These changes are
representative of the progress I saw firsthand when I visited
Havana," last March. The new measures announced by the U.S.
Departments of Treasury and Commerce, which are set to enter into
effect on Monday, October 17, include new avenues for joint
cooperation projects in the fields of scientific research, and
U.S. imports of Cuban manufactured pharmaceutical products.
Meanwhile, U.S. citizens permitted to travel to the
under the 12 authorized categories will be able to import, for
their personal use, unlimited quantities of Cuban rum and cigars
in their luggage.
The U.S. agriculture sector will be able to export
as pesticides or tractors to Cuba; transactions which will no
longer require the island to pay in advance and in cash.
The restriction which prevented hundreds of foreign
which had docked in Cuba from making port in the United States in
order to load or unload for a period of 180 days, is also being
lifted. The U.S. Department of the Treasury also announced that
scholarships for scientific research and religious activities
will be made available.
U.S. Has Fined 49 Companies for Violating
Blockade against Cuba
During Barack Obama's presidency, a total of 49 fines
been imposed on U.S. and foreign entities for violating the U.S.
blockade against Cuba, according to the records of the Office of
Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Government.
The cumulative value of the fines is $14,397,416,827,
unprecedented figure in the history of the U.S. blockade against
Cuba, despite the fact that both countries reestablished
diplomatic relations almost two years ago. After more than half a
century without hosting each other's embassies, the U.S.
economic, financial and commercial siege against the small
Caribbean country is still in force.
Since the December 17, 2014 announcement of the process
normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States,
eight entities (five U.S. and three foreign) have been fined a
total of $2,836,681,581, with a chilling effect on the banking
and corporate sector.
The entities that have been fined by the United States
December 17, 2014 for violating the U.S. blockade are as
Commerzbank (Germany): $1,710,000,000
PayPal (U.S.): $7,658,300
Navigators Insurance Company (U.S.): $271,815
Crédit Agricole (France): $1,116,893,585
Gil Tours Travel, Inc. (U.S.): $43, 875
WATG Holdings, Inc. (U.S.): $140,000
CGG Services S.A. (France): $614,250
Halliburton (U.S.): $304,706
Clearly, the blockade persists. It harms the Cuban
well as those of other countries.
Annual Vigil Honours Victims of Terrorism
Hundreds of students, athletes, and workers gathered on
October 5, to honour the thousands of victims of terrorist acts
against Cuba over the last 50 years.
The event took place at Havana's José
Martí Memorial, on the
eve of the anniversary of the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner
mid-flight off the coast of Barbados, with families of the
martyrs in attendance.
"No one can make us forget the past that is part of our
history. We demand justice and an end to the impunity that this
crime has enjoyed for these 40 years," said Thalía Gattorno
Espinosa, granddaughter of Miguel Espinosa, co-pilot of CU 455,
who died along with the 73 passengers aboard the flight.
"Every time a call has been made for a vigil, I sign up
volunteer, because showing respect for the victims of terrorism
is also preserving memory," Frank Javier Pérez Menéndez,
student at the Higher Institute of International Relations, told Granma.
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