February 17, 2018 - No. 6

Verdict in the Case of Killing of Colten Boushie

Another Moment of National Shame


Saskatoon, February 10, 2018, rally outside courthouse where not-guilty verdict was handed
down in Colten Boushie case the previous day.

Cross-Canada Rallies Demand Justice for Colten Boushie
Letter to the Editor
Joint Statement on Deaths of Fort Albany Members
Following Altercation with Police

- Nishnawbe Aski Nation -

February 14 Women's Memorial Marches and Vigils
Demand Justice for Families of Murdered and Missing
Indigenous Women and Girls!

Employees Acquitted of Criminal Negligence in
Lac-Mégantic Disaster

Attempts to Hide Economic Aim of Those Responsible
Governments and Oil Monopolies Must Render Account for
Their Criminal Negligence

Important Demands to Ensure Accountability and Safety for Lac-Mégantic and all Rail Communities

Venezuela Convokes Presidential Election on April 22
U.S. and "Lima Group" Continue Their Gross Interference
in Venezuela's Internal Affairs

Korean Nation's Striving for Peace and Reunification
From PyeongChang to Lasting Peace
- Hyun Lee -
DPRK's Proposal for International Forum to Clarify Legal Basis
of "Sanctions Resolutions"

Preparations Underway for 2019 Cuban Trade Union Congress

170th Anniversary of The Manifesto of the Communist Party

The Manifesto Revolutionized the Thinking of Human Beings

Verdict in the Case of Killing of Colten Boushie

Another Moment of National Shame

Toronto, February 11, 2018

Justice for Indigenous people without ending the colonial relations Canada imposed on them in 1867 and before that is a false ideological belief. The Trudeau government likes to promote this belief to maintain those colonial relations in the name of all kinds of high ideals and this is despicable.

On August 9, 2016, 55-year-old farmer Gerald Stanley shot and killed Colten (Coco) Boushie in the driveway of his farm where Colten and some friends are said to have come to seek help while out on a drive. Colten was 22 years old. He lived with his family on the Red Pheasant Cree Nation Reserve in Saskatchewan, just south of North Battleford.

Calgary, February 11, 2018

On February 9, a Saskatchewan jury acquitted Stanley of second degree murder in Colten's death despite the fact death did occur at Stanley's hand, with Stanley's gun, while on Stanley's farm and none of that is in dispute. Stanley said the gun fired by mistake and that was that. Not guilty of second degree murder.

The killing of Colten Boushie is another moment of national shame and so is the not-guilty verdict and so are the Trudeau government's crocodile tears and cover up. The series of events shows that state-sanctioned genocide and terror continue to wreak havoc on the Prairies. Facts show that Saskatchewan settler farmers have been a target of the state-organized racist propaganda against the Indigenous peoples. Everything has been done to cause ill feelings between them and the Indigenous peoples and block any attempt to sort out the problems of sharing the land and working together to build a new economy in the modern conditions. Right from the beginning of colonial settlement farming, restrictions were placed on any interaction between the Indigenous peoples and settler farmers. These did not exist in the early stages of the fur trade when Indigenous guides and traders were needed, which gave rise to the Métis whose demands to live in peace were also suppressed in blood. With farming settlements and the treaties that followed, the state deliberately drove a wedge between the peoples with laws forbidding interaction such as prohibiting any trade of Native farm produce off their particular reserve. This meant the reserves could not accumulate any funds to buy machinery and other means to develop agriculture. Farming stalled, along with interaction with the settler population.

Underscoring the genocidal intent, this underdevelopment was ascribed by the colonial state to an alleged racial inadequacy of the Indigenous peoples. Official state mythology said the RCMP and military were needed to defend the settlers who could make a go of it in the harsh conditions and suppress those who wanted to take back the land and turn it into a natural plain once again.

A central theme of the racist mythology is that the Indigenous peoples are dangerous, violent and useless, and settlers should be fearful of them. This contrasts sharply with the earlier trading period when European fur traders depended on the Indigenous peoples for their survival and to produce the furs. Sadly, many Saskatchewan farmers are still infected with the state propaganda that restoration of the rights of the Indigenous peoples means a loss of their land and other property and way of life. Those infected with this racist outlook see an Indigenous youth as a potential thief and killer or at least a disruptor of their allegedly pastoral farming lives, also a myth because international conglomerates are rapidly taking over all the land and farming, and the land and rural economy is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

To this day, state-organized racism is used to cover up the history of the state-organized theft of Indigenous land and the destruction of their economic base and way of life such as what happened to the Plains Cree and other nations and what is happening today to the very settler population itself. The state-organized racism has taken on new life in the conditions of the huge private interests and their thirst for the raw materials such as oil, gas, copper, and the land, where the Indigenous peoples are seen as an impediment to control. Racism and division of the peoples are pushed more than ever in the name of unity in diversity and other slogans of the Trudeau government and programs aimed at making sure the colossal private interests get what they want and the people remain divided despite having common interest to sort out problems on a peaceful basis.

Reflecting the historical truth, Chief Clinton Wuttunee of the Red Pheasant First Nation said just before Stanley's acquittal, "The story we witness unfolding in the Stanley trial, serves to remind First Nations people that our lives are less valuable than the lives of non-First Nations people."

Following the verdict, Chief Wuttunee said he believes that statement is truer than ever. "First Nations People have hoped for more from the Canadian people. Perhaps our hope was in vain," he said.

Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), has called on Canada to step into the breach and appeal the verdict, to be followed by a public inquiry into the conduct of the justice process in regards to the trial.

Vancouver, February 10, 2018

On the day of Colten's killing by Stanley, Colten's friends said they had stopped at Stanley's farm to seek assistance for car trouble. Stanley perceived them as a threat and an altercation began. Stanley fired two warning shots, while a third shot, claimed by Stanley to be an accident and fired at point blank range, struck Colten Boushie in the head and killed him.

The case highlights the racial prejudice, criminalization and guilty-until-proven-innocent outlook toward Indigenous peoples by state agencies from the beginning of the case. Here is how Colten's mother Debbie Baptiste was informed of his death by RCMP officers: "Is Colten Boushie your son?" the officers asked. "Yes, he is," Ms. Baptiste replied. "He's deceased," one of the officers told her. Baptiste, completely distraught, collapsed on the porch. The officers then entered her home without invitation or a warrant and began to search the premises.

The way they were treated struck them as callous, Ms. Baptiste and her sons later said. They want to know why, at a time of such distress, police rummaged through the family home as though they'd done something wrong, the Globe and Mail reported on October 20, 2016. The report continued:

After a few minutes an officer tried to force a weeping Ms. Baptiste to her feet.

"He grabbed my wrist right here and he said 'Ma'am, get yourself together.' And I told him, 'No,'" Ms. Baptiste recalled.

She was in denial, begging the officer to take her to the body so she could prove it wasn't her son: "You've got the wrong person. That's not my son lying out there. He's not dead. That's not Colten. It's somebody else," she told him.

He responded by asking if she was drunk.

"He said, 'Ma'am, was you drinking?' And I said 'No.' And then he smelled my breath," she said.

This report raises serious questions about the racial prejudice harboured by the RCMP in Saskatchewan. It raises serious questions about the lack of impartiality in the investigation that underpinned the acquittal verdict of Gerald Stanley.

Saskatchewan's First Nations chiefs said at the time that the RCMP linked the news of Colten's death to a recent surge of thefts in the area. Shortly after Colten was shot and killed, the RCMP issued a press release saying two women and a man were taken into custody as part of a related theft investigation. This provided "just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified," FSIN Chief Cameron said in a statement. Not only that, but such state-organized fearmongering by the RCMP directly contributes to sowing divisions and can be used to incite and justify future such killings.

From the get-go, the RCMP's insinuations put the onus on the dead Indigenous youth to prove that he was not fair game that anyone who perceived as a threat could shoot and kill with impunity. Many of the signs at the February 10 actions highlighted this point, with slogans such as "Only Stanley Is on Trial."

In the summer of 2017, as tensions over Boushie's killing continued to increase, the situation was further exacerbated when Saskatchewan's Justice ministry unveiled a $5.9 million "Protection and Response Team," to deploy 258 armed officers, including 30 police, to rural areas. Despite several recommendations from the FSIN, the governing Saskatchewan Party decided on a law-and-order approach that supposedly targets "rural crime" but in reality targets Indigenous people. As Saskatoon StarPhoenix columnist Douglas Cuthand wrote at the time, "In Saskatchewan 'rural crime' is a dog whistle term that means aboriginal people."

The FSIN had been asking for an expansion of its own anti-gang and crime-prevention strategy, a reformed Gladue court system (that takes into account all reasonable alternative sentences to imprisonment for Indigenous youth), and a renewed Indigenous policing policy. Indigenous people make up 15 to 17 per cent of the population in Saskatchewan but the highest per cent of the prison population in the country: 80 to 90 per cent of men in the province's jails, 90 to 95 per cent of women and more than 80 per cent of youth are Indigenous.

The situation requires that people not only demand justice for Colten, his family and his people but that they also pay close attention to the conditions that created the shameful situation in which an unarmed Colten Boushie could be shot and killed with impunity.

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Cross-Canada Rallies Demand Justice
for Colten Boushie

Ottawa, February 10, 2018

A Day of Action on February 10 and further actions followed the not-guilty verdict in the trial of Gerald Stanley for the killing of Indigenous youth Colten Boushie of the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan. Across the country non-Indigenous people joined Indigenous peoples to decry the criminalization of Indigenous peoples and their treatment as fair game that led to the killing of Colten and the failure for anyone to be brought to justice for his killing. Actions were held at provincial and territorial legislatures and in Ottawa on Parliament Hill, as well as at city halls, police stations and courthouses to highlight the demand that justice must be rendered for Colten and his family.



Prince Albert

Dawson City










Thunder Bay











(Photos: TML, J. Mann, T. Rex, M. Jacques, L.W. Bathory, C. Morrit-Jacobs, F. MacDonald, M. Pierre, K.D.T. Barefoot, J.A. Gale, A.L. Eagle Speaker, M. Corbett, F.H. Pewapisconias, Colonialism No More, S. Dixon, D. Crocker, W. Fiddler, M. Katt, D. MacClellan, M. Roy, L. Henry Whiteye, N. Forde, P. Barata, Silence Is Violence U of T, J. Stayshyn, Red Works Photography, J. Ngiam, M. Gaju, @sauvage2heart, Council of Canadians, J. Brake, P. Bourque, agencies.)

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Letter to the Editor

I am sending you the story of Neil Stonechild as told by reporter Betty Ann Adam in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on October 23, 2004 (see link below).

Neil was my high school classmate. Allegations abound that the police killed Neil in 1990. Those allegations extend to the Saskatoon police and the widespread belief in Saskatoon that they killed many others by driving them to the outskirts of town on cold winter nights to leave them to die. "Starlight rides" they were called. I will never forget the public announcement at Bedford High during class. The impression we were given is that it was just Neil getting what was coming to him given his lifestyle. We were never given to understand the history or the present. But I was not totally naive. I had my own run-ins with the Saskatoon police and they were, and still are, a nasty bunch so I had no illusions once the truth started to surface about the "Starlight rides" and subsequent cover-up.

Recent actions and demands of Indigenous peoples into the thousands of missing women and girls, with the support of Canadians of all walks of life, have forced the government to hold something of an inquiry into their deaths and disappearances and, now with the killing of Colten Boushie and not guilty verdict, the federal Liberals are going to grandstand. And I get it, we do need to get to the bottom of this and punish those responsible. We need to draw attention to the plight of Indigenous peoples. But let's be honest, is this issue some kind of mystery?

The First Nations are not and never have been respected by the Canadian State. Their sovereignty and right to self-determination are trampled on. As a result, they have faced every kind of atrocity past to present. The federal Liberals, who speak as if problems are mostly of the past (residential schools) and who "un-hung" Louis Riel, will pretend they want to fix some problems that are "out there" and help the First Nations help themselves because, by and large, they have only themselves to blame. But these Liberal illusions will give way to another Ipperwash, another Gustafsen Lake, another Kanesatake, another....

The reality is that if the problems of the Indigenous peoples were of their own making, they would have solved them long ago. In fact, their main problems lie deeply rooted in the colonial invasion of their land, its theft and destruction of their way of life. Their problems lie with the racist state which continues its racist policies and practices today. It is the responsibility of all Canadians to change the situation, to recognize Indigenous peoples' sovereignty, establish nation-to-nation relations and provide adequate compensation for the hundreds of years of abuse and genocide. Trudeau's talk is cheap.


For an account of what happened to Neil Stonechild and the "starlight rides" in Saskatoon, click here.

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Joint Statement on Deaths of Fort Albany Members Following Altercation with Police

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon, and Fort Albany First Nation Chief Andrew Solomon have issued the following statement regarding two Fort Albany members who have died following altercations with Timmins Police Service over the past few days:

We are shocked that two Fort Albany members have died at the hands of police. We are very troubled by these tragedies and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and Fort Albany community. We do not yet know all the facts around these altercations but encourage the Special Investigations Unit and the Chief Coroner of Ontario to get to the bottom of these incidents without delay.

Our people must continually leave their families and communities to come to cities to seek services that are not available in their respective communities. We have seen systemic racism in the City of Thunder Bay, and must now wonder if this is also happening in Timmins. We expect the respective ministries and officials to take these concerns seriously and work with the families of the deceased, the Fort Albany community, the Mushkegowuk Council, and the City of Timmins.

Joey Knapaysweet, 21, had been living in Timmins to access medical services not available in Fort Albany. According to reports, on Saturday (February 3) he had an interaction with Timmins police which led to him being tasered and ultimately shot and killed by the police.

Agnes Sutherland, 62, used a wheelchair and suffered from health complications. It is alleged that when police attended at the scene of the local shelter Ms. Sutherland was treated roughly while being taken into police custody. She suffered severe complications during her detention and ultimately was taken to hospital where she died Sunday evening (February 4).

Chief Andrew Solomon has addressed these concerns to the Attorney General for Ontario and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. He has called for an investigation into the actions of the Timmins Police Service as they relate to the deaths of Joey Knapaysweet and Agnes Sutherland.

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February 14 Women's Memorial Marches and Vigils

Demand Justice for Families of Murdered and
Missing Indigenous Women and Girls!

Vancouver, February 14, 2018.

Marches and gatherings took place in at least 20 towns and cities across Canada on February 14, many of them in British Colombia, where the first Memorial March was held 28 years ago in Vancouver. The marches honoured the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls and demanded justice for them and an end to the violence. Marches also took place in 10 U.S. cities, several for the first time.


Port Hardy


Fort Ware

Prince Rupert

Prince George






Sault Ste Marie

Thunder Bay




(Photos: TML, M. Kagis, K. Bell, C. Warren, Goot Ges, Brad Crowfoot Photography, D.P. White Quills, D. Taylor, L. Fabriz, Gladys Radek)

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Employees Acquitted of Criminal Negligence in Lac-Mégantic Disaster

Attempts to Hide Economic Aim of
Those Responsible

State attempts to hide the root cause and economic aim of those
responsible for the tragedy

Three former employees of the now defunct Montreal Maine and Atlantic (MMA) railway company accused of criminal negligence in the deaths of 47 people in the Lac-Mégantic tragedy of July 6, 2013 were acquitted on January 19. The train driver Thomas Harding, the rail controller Richard Labrie, and Quebec MMA operations manager Jean Demaître were charged by the Quebec Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) in May 2014, at the behest of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). The trial began on October 2, 2017 at a time everyone was still mourning the victims and discussing the root causes and economic aim that led to the tragedy. Meanwhile, MMA declared bankruptcy in August 2013 and its assets were bought by Fortress Investment Group in January 2014.

From the get-go, the state and its agencies presumed that the three former MMA employees were guilty until proven innocent, and sought to divert the people's attention from the important discussion to seek the truth. The SQ's tactical squad violently arrested Thomas Harding, throwing him on the ground and handcuffing him in front of his family. All three accused workers were paraded into court in handcuffs as if violent criminals, further humiliating them and undermining the presumption of innocence.

Since being charged in May 2014, the lives of these three men have been a nightmare. Charging these individuals is one of the most blatant examples of the criminalization of workers that covers up the real criminal negligence and economic aim which leads to tragedies such as the devastation in Lac-Mégantic and the loss of 47 lives, while blocking the efforts of working people to build public support to find a way to ensure such tragedies never happen again.

To convince the jury and others that the assumed criminal negligence of these three employees was the cause of the tragedy, the prosecution ignored the context in which the event occurred on that fateful night. Prior to the commencement of the trial, the judge refused a request to admit into evidence the report of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada released in August 2014. The report raises safety issues related to the relationship between MMA's practices, Transport Canada's policies and the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic. Also banned was any discussion of the cause of the fire that broke out on the lead locomotive two hours before the train began to roll, which experts say played a decisive role in the disaster. All attention was focused on the two hours before the tragedy, just before the convoy of crude oil laden rail cars began to drift downhill with no one on board, derailed at a turn, caught fire and exploded in downtown Lac-Mégantic.

Having willfully ignored the context in which the events took place and the economic aim that dictates actions, the prosecution called dozens of witnesses to "corroborate" the charges of criminal negligence laid against the three employees. The state prosecutors summoned all their weapons to prove the three caused the accident through "wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons" as per the wording of the Criminal Code.

Had the defendants been convicted of criminal negligence in the deaths of the 47 people killed at Lac-Mégantic, they could have faced life imprisonment. However, the evidence presented by the prosecution was so weak and the charge so outrageous that the lawyers for the accused decided not to call witnesses during the trial. They presented the case for each of the accused, demonstrating that the charge of criminal negligence had not been and could never be proved.

The DPCP has also laid criminal charges against the corporate entity MMA, the U.S. rail company in control of the convoy and former employer of the three accused. That case is scheduled to begin in April; however, the proceedings are uncertain, as the U.S. company declared bankruptcy in 2014 and its assets have been liquidated. The judge refused the defence request that the charges against MMA, which are of the same nature and were filed at the same time as those against the employees, be heard simultaneously. Meanwhile, the former Chairman of MMA is living a life of impunity in Chicago, apparently at this point unconcerned with being held to account.

Following the trial and acquittal of the three employees, a hearing began in the Quebec Court on February 5, on charges the federal government laid in 2015 related to the violation of the Railway Safety Act (RSA) and the Fisheries Act. Based on out-of-court settlements at the end of 2017, Thomas Harding, Jean Demaître and four executives of MMAC (MMA Canada) pleaded guilty to violating the RSA. This relates to the failure to perform as prescribed by law an effectiveness test to ensure the hand brakes as applied were sufficient to immobilize the convoy. Harding was sentenced to a six-month conditional sentence with community service and the others were fined $50,000. MMAC was sentenced to the maximum fine under the Fisheries Act, namely $1,000,000 for the crude oil spill into Lake Mégantic and the Chaudière River.

These proceedings and charges are an attempt to hide the federal government's role in this tragedy. They highlight the hypocrisy and socially irresponsible inaction of the federal government and its state institutions, which are ultimately responsible for the well-being and security of the people. The government in these proceedings is treating the company's owners, management and employees as equal entities when in fact the company is in control of the operations and was proven not to be enforcing the security measures prescribed in law, and the government was turning a blind eye. The MMA was known for its constant pressure on workers to take the least possible safety measures in the name of maximizing train travel time and controlling costs.

The community of Lac-Mégantic and the people of Quebec were never fooled by the charges of criminal negligence against the three employees. The people have persisted in demanding that the root causes of such tragedies must be exposed and the real culprits and their aim be held to account. This struggle must be relentless in this era of state social irresponsibility and corporate aim and dictate that money profit trumps all other considerations.

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Governments and Oil Monopolies Must Render Account for Their Criminal Negligence

A frank public discussion is needed regarding the responsibility of governments and oil monopolies for tragedies such as occurred at Lac-Mégantic. The people are fighting for justice and to ensure the safety of all railway communities in Quebec and Canada which are at risk. Successive Canadian governments have deregulated the rail industry since the 1980s in the name of competitiveness amongst the railway monopolies and with the monopolies of other transportation systems. This deregulation is a key element that led to the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic.

For example, in the 1980s and '90s the federal government allowed the major railways to rid themselves of railway lines they considered unprofitable. This led to a proliferation of railway companies, particularly U.S.-controlled ones, that specialize in the purchase and resale of railway lines.  These companies drastically reduce the workforce, attack the working conditions and wages of workers and concentrate on cutting any value they put into the rail service. Montreal Maine and Atlantic (MMA) is one of the companies whose trademark has been not to maintain railways properly.

In 1995, the federal government privatized Canadian National without public debate, putting it in the hands of major private interests, mainly from the U.S., who dictate policy for the sole purpose of obtaining the highest possible rate of return on their investment. They have responded to workers' struggles for safe working conditions with a steady reduction in the number of workers (while workers are scapegoated for accidents) and with previously unimaginable developments such as the assignment of office workers to drive trains. The government says it "cares" about rail safety as a top priority but it considers such measures "private decisions" that are not its concern.

The entire industry has been turned into a secret world of private decisions that are not the concern of the government. The introduction in the early 2000s of Safety Management Systems, secret deregulated security systems of the railways (secret so as to protect their competitive position) has heightened security problems and deepened the culture of secrecy that is in open conflict with the public interest.

All these decisions and the socially irresponsible inaction of the government have ensured that Lac-Mégantic tragedies, derailments and other events are just waiting to happen.

The Lac-Mégantic tragedy and other similar derailments and explosions that did not cause mass casualties simply because they occurred outside (but sometimes near) inhabited areas, occur because of the irresponsible aim and race of oil monopolies for the highest profit possible regardless of the consequences to communities, workers and the economy.

In the case of Lac-Mégantic, the significant increase in oil production through fracking in North Dakota led Irving Oil in New Brunswick to demand greater amounts of oil for refining be shipped across the two countries. This resulted in a tremendous increase in the number and size of train loads of oil travelling to the east coast.

All the parties involved, who saw the potential for huge profits, were fully aware of the nature of the oil being transported and the dangers involved. Due to the fracking process, the cargo was a highly explosive mixture of oil and solvents. The labelling of the rail cars was false and did not match the highly explosive contents that were being transported. Besides being aware of the dangerous contents, these monopolies were also aware that the DOT111 tank cars being used were inadequate. Despite all the known risks of transporting this oil in this manner, they ramped up production and transportation to satisfy their aim of maximum profit without any consideration for the safety of the workers or the communities put at risk. This negligence driven by a degenerate aim was the source of the problem. It should be considered a criminal offence.

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Important Demands to Ensure Accountability and Safety for Lac-Mégantic and all Rail Communities

The recent acquittal of the three former employees of the bankrupt U.S. company Montreal Maine and Atlantic (MMA) on charges of criminal negligence in the Lac-Mégantic disaster has rekindled the community's demands for accountability and safety for itself and all communities with rail lines running through them.

One of these demands is that an independent public inquiry be held to shed light on the tragedy so as to avoid similar disasters in the future.

"This is the only way to review all the elements that led to this disaster. It's not for fun, it's for the purpose of preventing others elsewhere in Canada," said Robert Bellefleur, spokesperson for the Coalition of Citizens and Organizations Committed to Railway Safety in Lac-Mégantic. Bellefleur added that a public enquiry is needed so that the dangers are identified publicly and the regulations adjusted accordingly and enforced. "It is imperative that we do a broader investigation to give Transport Canada its real role as a watchdog for rail safety in Canada," he said.

The City Council of Lac-Mégantic passed a resolution in May 2015 calling on the Government of Canada to hold an independent public inquiry into the tragedy that befell their community. The former federal government of Stephen Harper simply dismissed this demand and the people are now asking the Trudeau government to support and facilitate this demand.

The community has also put forward specific demands to ensure its safety and peace of mind after the trauma the people have experienced. It wants and expects the construction of a railway bypass so that trains do not pass through downtown Lac-Mégantic. Agreements are being finalized with neighbouring municipalities on a route for the bypass.

The community also demands immediate security measures. For example, when the railway was rebuilt, it was done with a curve even more pronounced than the one where the runaway train derailed in 2013. In addition, Transport-Canada still allows the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQR), which acquired the assets of the defunct MMA, to park and sort convoys carrying dangerous goods on the same slope and at the same place in Nantes where the train broke loose. These convoys are left unattended for long periods of time. The demand that the curve be modified to be less pronounced and for an end to the parking of convoys on the main slope is widely supported by the population. The people of Lac-Mégantic also demand that the maintenance of the railway be improved and repairs be made in various places along the rail line which they have identified as problems.

For the sake of all the communities across the country with rail lines running through them, measures must be taken to ensure that all the parties to this enterprise render account for their actions. Regulations must be put in place that require full information be made available to everyone, including railway workers and communities, in advance of any transportation of dangerous materials. The anti-social outlook that rail safety is the private business of the railways because it is a "cost" to them and affects their profit, and the culture of secrecy that pervades railway operations under the hoax of preserving the private competitiveness of railways and the oil and other monopolies involved must be rejected with utter contempt and replaced with full disclosure so the people are conscious of the activities and dangers involved and can draw warranted conclusions.

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Venezuela Convokes Presidential Election on April 22

U.S. and "Lima Group" Continue Their Gross Interference in Venezuela's Internal Affairs

On February 13, the self-appointed Lima Group of countries, which includes Canada, met in Lima, Peru and issued their fifth declaration in seven months attacking the Bolivarian government of Venezuela by calling its electoral processes and institutions illegitimate. Instigated by the United States, Canada played a leading role in forming the so-called Lima Group. Its aim is to isolate and force regime change in Venezuela.

This particular meeting was held to coincide with the call issued in Venezuela for the presidential election April 22. Current President Nicolás Maduro was unanimously acclaimed as the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and his candidacy is also being supported by, among others, the We are Venezuela (Somos Venezuela) Movement, which recently became a registered political party. Other traditional allies that along with the PSUV make up the Great Patriotic Pole are holding assemblies and conferences of their own to decide whether to put forward their own candidate or throw their support behind Nicolás Maduro to avoid dividing the people's forces. Most opposition parties have yet to announce their intentions officially although some have already indicated they will not participate. Official candidate registration takes place February 26 and 27. Voter registration is currently taking place inside Venezuela and at the country's diplomatic missions abroad.

The latest meeting of the so-called Lima Group, like all the others, is an egregious interference in Venezuela's internal affairs. The 14 signatories of the new declaration say they "strongly reject" the holding of the presidential election on the date announced. They then spell out the conditions they say must be met, failing which, they claim the election will lack all legitimacy and credibility.

Canada Persists in Its Nefarious Role

Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called her own press conference and issued her own statement to express Canada's support for the announcement by Peru that President Maduro will not be welcome to attend the upcoming Summit of the Americas to be held in Lima, and to reiterate Canada's "full agreement" with the latest declaration of the "Lima Group." She made a point of saying that sufficient advance notice was not given for the presidential election in Venezuela. This despite the fact that in Canada, called the paradigm of democracy, a ruling party has the prerogative to call an election in a manner which puts the opposition at a disadvantage, including using its privileged position to buy votes with self-serving giveaways of federal monies, and an electoral campaign of one month to six weeks is not considered abnormal. Even fixed election dates, adopted because of opposition to how self-serving elections have become, are used in an anti-democratic manner.

The self-righteous protest of Chrystia Freeland and other members of the "Lima Group" that have given themselves the right to police Venezuela's democracy only exposes their own hypocrisy. The very forces in Canada and the U.S. who are up in arms about alleged "Russian interference" in their elections -- even if only to justify trampling freedom of conscience and expression -- are interfering blatantly in Venezuela's elections, citing high ideals about democracy and human rights.

Canada needs to clarify who nominated it and 13 other countries as the guardians of democracy in Venezuela.[1] Under what authority do these countries get to change the rules which govern the international rule of law established in the post-WWII period? That international rule of law, over which the Charter of the United Nations presides, condemns foreign interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.

The stand of the government of Canada and other members of the so-called Lima Group, with the U.S. choreographing in the background, clearly has nothing to do with democracy or upholding the rule of law as they claim. In his speech at the University of Texas before setting out on his five-country tour of Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson openly incited the Venezuelan military to carry out a coup d'état and depose President Maduro. A similar call was given by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. They received a sharp rebuke from the Venezuelan Armed Forces. A statement read by Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino López declared: "The Bolivarian National Armed Forces militantly reject such deplorable statements, which also constitute a nefarious act of interference, and ratify their absolute adherence to the Constitution and the laws of the country." The statement went on to say, "The times of dictators trained in the School of the Americas will never be imposed again, nor the infamous Containment Strategy or the criminal Plan Condor, all of which caused so many peoples of the region to be plagued by misery and oppression."

Other Hostile Actions Being Prepared

Thus far the U.S. has been unable to bully and bribe enough members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to get a mandate to take punitive action against Venezuela, thus forcing it to assemble the illegitimate Lima Group. This is largely thanks to member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sticking together in support of the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of sovereign nations. One of the aims of U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson's recent visit to Jamaica, which currently holds the presidency of CARICOM, was to try to break that unity in the event another vote is contemplated at the OAS to get an institutional mandate for punitive action against Venezuela. He also offered "options" to countries who currently import oil at substantially reduced rates through Venezuela's Petrocaribe initiative which supports the development of Caribbean countries through regional integration. Such initiatives are part of Venezuela's internationalism which has assisted sister countries in the region to affirm their sovereign rights and acted as a counter to U.S. schemes to use its control of oil and other fuels to dictate what countries can and cannot do and with whom they are permitted to have relations.

According to a report published by Mision Verdad, U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson's trip to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica was focused in large part on building a multilateral coalition to broaden support for the U.S. blockade of Venezuela. Tillerson said at a press conference with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Michael Holness, "We had a very comprehensive discussion on ways to promote increased energy independence, not just for Jamaica but throughout the Caribbean... We stand ready to assist Jamaica and other partners in the Caribbean to explore and develop the resources they have, but also to share the abundance of resources that North America enjoys." This refers to the Energy Security Initiative promoted by the United States to eliminate the influence of Petrocaribe.

 Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza meets with Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén and members of social movements in El Salvador on February 15, 2018 during
his Dignity Tour to Caribbean and Latin American countries.

While the U.S. Secretary of State was on his tour to drum up support for more sanctions and an oil embargo against Venezuela, Venezuela's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza set out on a Dignity Tour that has taken him to a host of Caribbean and Latin American countries where he has been warmly received. News reports say the purpose of his tour is to promote regional integration, discuss challenges governments and people of the region are facing and strengthen ties of solidarity in the face of the "interventionist attacks of the U.S. and its allies."

As part of his Dignity Tour Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza meets with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt in Dominica on February 14, 2018.

Another weapon being readied for use against the Bolivarian government is the International Criminal Court (ICC). Its chief prosecutor announced that the court will be opening a "preliminary investigation" into police abuses in Venezuela from April 2017 onwards, in the context of demonstrations and related political unrest. This is in spite of the fact that arrests have been made in Venezuela and legal proceedings are taking place against those accused of such abuses. According to the rules which established the ICC, this eliminates the need for the court to be involved.

The action being taken by the ICC appears to be related to the efforts of OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro and other sworn enemies of the Bolivarian government to have Venezuelan officials indicted for crimes against humanity. This is in keeping with the trend seen in Brazil and elsewhere of police powers, which have usurped the role of legislatures and the courts, being used to overthrow those forces which take pro-social stands.

The "democracy" that the Venezuelan government's accusers want to restore is one of repression and impoverishment for the people, and the "international law" they want to enforce is a system where foreign monopolies are free to plunder the vast resources of the country in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. The Venezuelan people deserve the full internationalist support of the global community for their efforts to preserve and advance the empowerment and progress they have achieved through their Bolivarian revolution.


1. The "Lima Group" includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia. According to Global Affairs Canada, "the Lima Group was established on August 8, 2017, to coordinate participating countries' efforts and apply international pressure on Venezuela... until the full restoration of democracy in the country."

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Korean Nation's Striving for Peace and Reunification

From PyeongChang to Lasting Peace

Perhaps the most moving moment in the opening days of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics was when Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Presidium of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, quietly wiped his tears as North and South Korean singers sang in unison at a concert celebrating the winter games. South Korean K-pop star SeoHyun held hands with North Korean singers as images of tearful North-South family reunions played in the backdrop of the finale of the North Korean Samjiyon Orchestra's historic performance in Seoul on February 11. As the concert came to a close, they sang, "Be well, let us meet again. Go safely, let us meet again," and waved their hands as the audience waved back and Kim silently wept.

Kim Yong-nam, (left) the President of the Presidium of the DPRK's Supreme People's Assembly, watches finale of Samjiyon Orchestra's concert. Seated with him (left to right) are Kim Yo-jong,  Vice Deputy Director of the Central Committee of DPRK's Worker's Party of Korea, south Korean President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook.

Sometimes, art can point to answers that the stuffy logic of policy wonks cannot. Those who have truly felt, even for a passing moment, the pain of seventy years of artificial national division, probably felt a stir in the pit of their hearts at seeing the ninety-year old North Korean statesman's rare display of emotion. The sense of excitement at the fleeting inter-Korean reunion, followed by pain and sorrow at not knowing when or if the two Koreas will ever meet again, is shared by Koreans on all sides of the division. And therein may be the answer to the perpetual and seemingly unresolvable conflict on the Korean peninsula. That shared sense of longing for reunification will ultimately prevail over threats of maximum pressure and a "bloody nose strike."

Prospect for North-South Summit

Kim Yong-nam, accompanied by Kim Yo-jong, the vice deputy director of the Central Committee of North Korea's Worker's Party and sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, sat next to the South Korean First Lady and President Moon Jae-in at the concert. He reportedly turned to President Moon and said, "As we have created opportunities for exchange of ideas and frequent reunions in the future, I am hopeful that we shall meet again," to which President Moon reportedly replied, "Let us foster the spark created by our meeting."

Republic of Korea K-pop singer SeoHyun (second from right) joins singers from Samjiyon Orchestra.

The day before, the North Korean high-level delegation had met with President Moon at the Blue House and delivered an official letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proposing an inter-Korean summit in the near future. If realized, the meeting would be the third inter-Korean summit following the historic meetings between former leaders Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il in 2000 and Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il in 2007. It is safe to assume that as long as the North and South remain in talks and continue to mend relations, the North would refrain from further testing of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. And a North-South summit could pave the way for peace talks between the United States and North Korea.

There is a precedent for this. In 2000, then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung traveled to Pyongyang to meet with the North Korean head of state. Then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il personally greeted Kim Dae-jung at the airport, and after three days of meetings, they produced the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration, which outlined shared principles for peaceful reunification. The summit was followed by a series of North-South ministerial and military working-level talks as well as reunions of separated families in Pyongyang and Seoul in August 2000. South Korean President Kim Dae-jung received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the summit. On the heels of the historic summit, the United States eased sanctions on North Korea, which reciprocated with a pledge not to flight-test its long-range missiles. Just four months after the inter-Korean summit, in October 2000, North Korea's Vice Marshall Jo Myong-rok traveled to Washington and met with then-President Clinton. They signed the U.S.-DPRK Joint Communique, which stated that in light of the "changed circumstances on the Korean Peninsula created by the historic inter-Korean summit," both sides agree to "remove mistrust and build mutual confidence" based on the principles of "respect for each other's sovereignty and non-interference in each other's internal affairs." U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright subsequently traveled to Pyongyang to pave the way for a summit between Kim Jong-il and then-President Clinton. This took place during President Clinton's last days in office, and he unfortunately ran out of time to make the summit a reality. The momentum toward rapprochement was then quickly scuttled by George Bush Jr, who scrapped all agreements with North Korea as soon as he took office.

Almost two decades later, we have another rare opening for peace. If the North and South are able to build on the momentum of good will from their cooperation in PyeongChang, they could, once again, reunite separated families and resume cross-border economic cooperation. They could also create the conditions for detente and talks between the United States and North Korea. The main obstacle, as plainly exhibited in PyeongChang, however, is the obstinate Trump administration, unwilling to veer off its warmongering path.

Ugly Behavior at the Olympics

On his way to PyeongChang, U.S. Vice President Pence met with Japanese Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo on February 7, then vowed to "unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever." As if waging a one-man protest, Pence then toured South Korea's Navy 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, where he met with North Korean defectors. He prompted international rebuke after he sat dour-faced and refused to applaud during the Unified Korean team's introduction at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. That's not all. After arriving fifteen minutes late to a reception for world leaders hosted by President Moon, Pence made an awkward point of shaking everyone's hands except for those of Kim Yong-nam, then decided to skip out on the dinner altogether to avoid sitting across from the North Korean official.

In lock-step with Pence, Japanese Prime Minister Abe, too, tried to rain on South Korea's parade. He caused a commotion by ordering an inspection of underground parking garages around the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in preparation for evacuation of Japanese tourists in the event of a North Korean missile attack during the winter games. At a meeting with Moon on February 9, he insisted South Korea resume its joint Key Resolve Foal Eagle military exercise with the United States after the Olympics. He also demanded South Korea uphold the "final and irreversible" bilateral pact on the comfort women issue and remove statues of comfort women that have been installed in several countries, including the United States, Australia and Germany. In reply, Moon essentially told him not to meddle in South Korea's "sovereignty and internal affairs" and suggested that Japan instead ought to reflect on history. This fraught exchange was probably fresh in Moon's mind as he watched Hyun Song-wol, the leader of North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra, in a surprise performance in the finale of the February 11 concert, revise the lyrics of a North Korean song to sing, "Dokdo, too, is my country" (referring to the contested Dokdo/Takeshima Islands between Korea and Japan in the East Sea).

U.S.-Led War Games: The Greatest Obstacle to Peace

The United States and Japan are currently conducting joint military exercises even as the Winter Olympics are still ongoing. The dock landing ship USS Rushmore, with elements of the U.S. 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (SDF), concluded five days of amphibious landing exercises off the Southern California coast on February 7. The annual Cope North exercise, involving more than 100 aircraft and 2,850 personnel of the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, began on February 14 and will take place in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands through March 2. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Navy will also hold a four-day computer-simulated joint missile defense drill on board Aegis destroyers starting February 16.

Key Resolve-Foal Eagle, the joint U.S.-ROK war games that happen every year in the Spring have been delayed this year due to the Olympics but are scheduled to resume in April. Ulchi Freedom Guardian, another massive joint military exercise, is scheduled for August. These exercises are offensive war games. Last year's Foal Eagle involved 300,000 South Korean and 15,000 U.S. troops, including the notorious SEAL Team six, the unit that assassinated Osama Bin Laden. It also involved B-1B and B-52 nuclear bombers, F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, as well as an aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine. These exercises rehearse OPLAN 5015, a war plan that includes special forces assassinations, contingencies for North Korea's regime collapse, preemptive strikes, and the so-called Korea Massive Punishment & Retaliation (KMPR) battle plan, which involves surgical strikes against key North Korean leadership figures and military infrastructure.

The upcoming military exercises pose the greatest obstacle to efforts for peace and North-South reconciliation in the current moment. If they move ahead as planned, North Korea will almost certainly respond by resuming nuclear and/or ballistic missile tests. Moving forward with the joint war games, in other words, is the surest way to undermine the process of detente that has begun between the North and South through their Olympic cooperation.

A North-South summit that can pave the way for talks between the United States and North Korea is our only chance at peace on the Korean peninsula. It is essential, therefore, for those who desire genuine peace in Korea to raise a unified voice urging the White House and the Pentagon to halt the provocative joint war games and support the Korean initiative for dialogue. Let us nurture the seed sowed in PyeongChang to take root for lasting peace.

Hyun Lee is Managing Editor of Zoom in Korea.

(Zoom in Korea, February 16, 2018.)

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DPRK's Proposal for International Forum to Clarify Legal Basis of "Sanctions Resolutions"

On February 12, the UN Permanent Mission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) issued a press statement, a follow-up on its January 2017 proposal to the UN Secretariat that it organize an international forum of legal experts to clarify the legal basis of the "sanctions resolutions" passed against the DPRK. The January 2017 request is a response to the fabrication of unlawful "resolutions," one after another, by the U.S. and forcing their implementation by abusing the authority of the Security Council, in disregard of officially recognized international laws and norms. These points were reiterated in the DPRK's press statement:

It is well-known that the criminal illegality and inhumanity of all "sanctions resolutions" -- which were fabricated and imposed against the DPRK by a Security Council usurped by the U.S. and its followers in the name of "preventing nuclear development" -- are nakedly revealed in their pursuit to outrageously violate the legitimate rights of a sovereign state and officially-recognized international law, as well as to erase the right to exist and develop, and basic human rights of our people.

Moreover, the expanded and intensified anti-DPRK "sanctions resolutions" to impose a blockade are strongly condemned by the international community as inhumane and uncivilized behaviour taking our society back to the Dark Ages, by totally denying our people's right to exist and develop, and destroying an entire civilized culture.

The "sanctions resolutions," cooked up by the Security Council in a most despicable and hostile manner, show their criminal nature and offensive purpose by trying to suffocate all aspects of life, including our national economy, people's livelihood, public health, sports and humanitarian assistance.

This clearly proves that the UN Security Council, overpowered by the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the U.S., has been turned into a tool to infringe on people's right and of barbarous state-sponsored terrorism, by fabricating such illegal "sanctions resolutions" that hinder and threaten the exercise of our people's human rights.

The press statement asks the UN Secretariat to clarify what is being done to hold this international forum of legal experts. It points out:

In this proposal, we have indicated that the international forum of legal experts, with the participation of all government and non-government level lawyers and international legal organizations, could serve as the right place to clarify the legality of the "sanctions resolutions" of the Security Council.

Furthermore, we have given our detailed issues to be debated as agenda items in the forum, i.e.:

a) Are the Security Council's "sanctions resolutions" that prohibit the DPRK's satellite launches in conformity with international law, which clearly stipulates that the peaceful use of outer space is an inalienable sovereign right of States?

b) Do the Security Council's "sanctions resolutions" that prohibit the DPRK's nuclear tests have legal validity under the situation in which an international law on a total ban on nuclear tests has not yet come into force?

c) Do the permanent members of the Security Council who prevent the international law on a total ban on nuclear tests from coming into effect have any moral justification to prohibit the nuclear tests of other countries?

d) The Security Council condemned the nuclear tests and satellite launches by the DPRK only as "threats to international peace and security" and imposed sanctions without taking issue with such tests and launches by other countries. Are those double standards of the Security Council in conformity with Article 2 and 51 of the UN Charter, which recognize the principles of sovereign equality and the right to self-defence of countries?

The DPRK's UN Mission decries the foot-dragging of the UN Secretariat. It points out:

The Permanent Mission of the DPRK to the UN, during the past year, has persistently requested of the UN Secretariat the earliest organization of an international forum of legal experts, through meetings with the Secretary-General, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs respectively, and letters from the DPRK Permanent Representative addressed to the Secretary-General five times, four press statements as well as five press conferences and interviews by the Permanent Mission.

However, the UN Secretariat still turns aside our justified requirement for organizing an international forum of legal experts, persistent in its outdated sophistry that pursuant to Article 39 of the UN Charter, it is up to the Security Council to determine whether or not a particular action or set of actions or a particular situation or dispute constitutes a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression. Thus it is for the Security Council to decide what recommendations to make or what measures are to be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The UN Secretariat should value and listen carefully to the voices of numerous legal experts and lawyers of many countries, who are supporting our proposal for an international forum, insisting that the Security Council does not have a single legal or moral justification to condemn nuclear tests or launches of ICBMs and satellites as violations of international law.

In conclusion, the DPRK's Permanent Mission to the UN "requests once again that the Secretariat of the United Nations respond immediately in a positive way to our proposal to organize an international forum of legal experts, in conformity with the mission of the Charter of the United Nations."

(Excerpts from press statements edited for grammar and clarity by TML.)

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Preparations Underway for 2019
Cuban Trade Union Congress

Plenary session of Confederation of Cuban Workers, January 28, 2018, calls for 21st National Labour Congress.

The call for the 21st Congress of the Cuban Workers' Federation (CTC) was announced on January 28, coinciding with the 79th anniversary of its founding and the 165th anniversary of the birth of Cuban National Hero José Martí. Preparations for the Congress will characterize union activities throughout 2018, which entails a process to assemble opinions, demands, and guidelines of all collectives to be evaluated at the national event, stated CTC Secretary General Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, a member of the Communist Party of Cuba Political Bureau, during a press conference.

Over the next 12 months, in the lead-up to the Congress to be held January 2019 to mark the CTC's 80th anniversary, union locals will undertake an organic discussion process, make agreements, design new strategies and elect their leaders. These workplace meetings will address issues related to employment, salaries, improvement of working conditions, health and safety, and respect for labour rights, taking into account the role of unions in guaranteeing justice in the workplace and transparency in the labour reorganization process underway in Cuba, the newspaper Granma informs.

The meetings will also feature debates on changes to be made in the trade union movement and the will to transform the methods and work style applied by the organizations. In addition, Guilarte de Nacimiento noted that the Congress will mark the search for better leadership and greater recognition of the work of the unions within labour collectives.

"Our Congress will take a deep, analytical, wide-ranging look at the economic issue, the main battle waged in the country to reach higher rates of growth of the Gross Domestic Product," Guilarte de Nacimiento said. These topics will also be discussed by participants at the national conferences of the unions of Culture, Tourism, Civil Defense, and Sugar industry workers, which will meet in 2018.

All these union events will focus their debates on drawing up strategies within a labour scenario marked by the reorganization of employment, that has been growing in the non-state sector, in which 29% of the country's economically active population now works.

"Today we have a qualitative change in the composition of our labour landscape, as guidelines have been established in the regulatory framework. Right now the legal norms of non-state work are being perfected and the improvement of the business system, referring to socialist state enterprises, has just been published in the Official Gazette of the Republic," the CTC secretary general explained.

Referring to the U.S. all-sided blockade of Cuba, Guilarte de Nacimiento also noted that the financial and material tensions experienced will persist, therefore reserves of untapped efficiency must be exploited, especially as regards savings, import substitution, and the production of exportable goods. He insisted on the need to avoid wasteful use of fuel, electricity, water, and gas, and highlighted the unity, discipline, and solidarity shown by workers during the recovery process following the serious damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

Referring to the leading role of the workers united as one under the leadership of the Communist Party and the people's power in recovery work following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Guilarte de Nacimiento said: "Through our own efforts we were able to rebuild the tourist infrastructure of the country, mainly in the northern keys, in only 62 days. In just another 20 days the power grids were ready for the generation and supply of energy. Under the leadership of Provincial and Municipal Defense Councils, communications and electricity workers, builders, and food industry workers were mobilized, who worked uninterruptedly and ensured basic services."

In this regard, Guilarte de Nacimiento noted that unions selected some 500 labour collectives and about 2,500 individual workers to receive awards in recognition of their efforts. In January 2019, individuals will be decorated as Heroes of Labour of the Republic of Cuba, and receive the Lázaro Peña Order in the first, second and third grades, medals, and diplomas. Meanwhile, outstanding collectives will receive the Labour Achievement banner, distinctions, and certificates.

The union leader sent a message of congratulations to all. "On this new anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, on the road to achieving 60 years of socialist victories, we send our regards, affection and appreciation, for having shown class consciousness and monolithic unity around the project we have decided to build. We wish the compañeros and their families the greatest prosperity, health, and all our gratitude."

The CTC secretary general also sent greetings to friends around the world and noted that the current international context is characterized by a divided trade union movement, under attack with the direct impact of neo-liberal policies, in which underemployment, discriminatory policies against immigrants, young people and women predominate. Added to this is the loss of social gains and labour rights.

"We appeal for the involvement in a counter-offensive of social interlocutors such as the landless movements, ecologists, feminists, and youth and student movements, who in their mobilizing practice have reflected a standard of unity and integration, to confront this neo-liberal offensive," the Cuban union leader stressed.

"From Cuba and as part of our administration as a vice president of the World Federation of Trade Unions, we advocate for global spaces within organizations such as the International Labour Organization, forums, congresses, and events, to ensure the real mobilization of workers. We need a unified platform for action within the international trade union movement to confront imperialist policies," he concluded.

(Based on a Granma International report by Nuria Barbosa León, February 13, 2018)

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Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca