May 16, 2020 - No. 17

Matters of Concern to the Polity

Why Should the Pandemic Shut
Down the Economy?

The False Equation Between Balancing Reopening the
Economy and Keeping the Contagion Under Control

- Louis Lang -

Aim of the Measures Announced to Save the Economy 

"Reopening" Quebec and the Need to Give Working People
the Decisive Say on Working Conditions

- Pierre Chénier -

• Federal Government Was Warned of Crisis in Shelter System

Status for Asylum Seekers and Migrant Workers

Permanent Residency for All Migrant Workers
as a Pathway to Full Citizenship!

Trudeau Government Must Grant Status to Asylum Seekers
and Migrant Health Care Workers

Precarious Status Migrants Should Not Be Left Behind

- Dorota Blumczynska, President, Canadian Council for Refugees -
Open Letter to Premier Legault

- Temporary Agency Workers Association,
Immigrant Workers Centre -

Canada Out of NATO! Dismantle NATO!

No to NATO's Recruitment of Youth for Aggression and War

• Deadly Canadian Helicopter Crash During NATO Exercise


End the Catastrophe Imposed on the Palestinian People! 

• All Out to Support the Resistance of the
Palestinian People on Occasion of al-Nakba

• Information on U.S.-Israeli Agenda of Annexation and
Extinguishing Palestinian Right to Be

COVID-19 Update

• World Health Organization Issues Guidelines on Reopening

Pandemic Exacerbates Situation of Unregistered Refugees
and Internally Displaced Persons

Venezuela Brings Pandemic Under Control

On the Global Pandemic for Week Ending May 16

52nd Anniversary of the Reorganization of The Internationalists

A Decisive Event in the Political Life of Canada -- May 7, 1968


• A Need to Change the Direction of the Economy


Matters of Concern to the Polity

Why Should the Pandemic Shut
Down the Economy?

The shutdown of many sectors of the economy has unleashed a terrible economic crisis. Over two million workers have been fired and millions more are on reduced work-time, joining the more than one million who were already unemployed.[1] The situation in the United States has become even worse in many respects.

The global pandemic is a public health crisis and should not in itself result in such a severe economic crisis. Not only do many of the measures governments at various levels and enterprises have taken to contain the virus generate hardships for people in addition to the tragic consequences from COVID-19, but they damage the economy in unprecedented ways. This is due to internal reasons within the organization of the economy as well as the aim of those in control, which is and remains to be to serve very narrow private interests while using the needs of the people as a conduit for doing so. How the governments and big business are intervening in the economy at this time reveals why a pandemic can unleash devastating damage beyond the direct effect on the health of the people.

The biggest problem remains the one of who sets the agenda for the country and decides what policies should be adopted. The people are simply on the receiving end of whatever is decided and have no say in setting their living and working conditions or how they can contribute to the well-being of all.

There are many examples of how the ruling elite compound irrationality simply because they have the power to do so and deprive workers of their right to a say and to make decisions that favour the people and society.

The already badly damaged health care system, which has been deprived of funds for decades, is being further demobilized as hospitals and clinics are labelled virus hot zones and people are told to stay away and postpone treatment. Instead of finding ways consciously to deal with the pandemic without making the health of the people worse in other ways, thousands of surgeries and other treatments have been delayed and people hide their ailments and do not request help from medical professionals as fear mounts of seeking treatment.

Those in control of the food supply, especially the global cartels engaged in agribusiness have workers packed together in unsafe conditions at the best of times, which are a complete disaster in a pandemic.

During the pandemic the ruling elite insist on cutting mass transit instead of expanding it with more buses and trains containing fewer passengers per unit of service and with constant cleaning and other workers mobilized to supervise passengers on how to use the service safely.

Instead of mobilizing teachers, other education workers and students to determine how to safely care for themselves and continue their education in reorganized physical space and time during the pandemic, the ruling elite have shut them out of any decision-making. Teachers, other education workers and students have been sent home to fend for themselves in great uncertainty, without any power to deal with the situation in a coherent, rational way that favours the people.

Meanwhile, many big businesses whose workers have been deployed to work from home or that have laid off their workers will seek to make these arrangements permanent in attempts "to cut down costs."

To reorganize in a safe manner becomes to those in control, an issue of losing private profit, which they refuse to do because they persist in repeating that making profits for the few is synonymous with prosperity for the many, which is simply not true. For the ruling elite to have the workers themselves lead the reorganization to combat COVID-19 is completely out of the question. Nonetheless, the conditions of pandemic have opened a Pandora's Box, which exposes the ruling oligarchs as a hindrance to sorting out the problems of the economy as can be seen in how attempts to "re-open the economy" are based on an irresponsible belief that things can carry on in the old way despite the conditions no longer permitting that to happen. A movement and consciousness which envisions a new pro-social aim and direction for the economy under the control of the working class is taking hold as the collectives of workers take measures to deal with the pandemic in a manner which favours them. The more the increasingly irrational anti-people actions of the imperialist oligarchy are exposed, the more people lay the claims which they must and take measures to make sure they are met.


1. See summary of Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, April 2020 in the supplement to this edition of TML Weekly.

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The False Equation Between Balancing
Reopening the Economy and Keeping
the Contagion Under Control

As governments at different levels move to "reopen the economy," Canadians are told that expertise is required to strike the right balance between reopening the economy and keeping the contagion under control. This is a false equation because what do the two things have to do with one another? Protecting the population has its own requirements as does an economy. The false equation is used to justify taking what are called "calculated risks" with the lives of the people to try to reestablish economic activity based on the old aim of serving private interests. The facts show that it is this aim of serving private interests that has caused the contagion to get out of control in the first place and it is predictable that serving this aim going forward will exacerbate the crisis manifold. It is mischievous to conflate the two categories as if one must necessarily give way to the other.

One of the important lessons learned from the pandemic is that the old way of organizing the economy is incapable of providing the planning necessary to use the resources of the society, both human and natural, in a manner that meets the needs of the people in normal times and that it is totally incapable of dealing with emergency situations such as COVID-19. The social character of production cannot fully realize its potential in terms of meeting the needs of society so long as it is under private control and has as its main aim to satisfy the narrow private interests of oligopolies which have usurped the state, its institutions, agencies and governments. This results in anarchy of production and recurring crises which we have clearly seen arising at every important stage of dealing with the pandemic. Whether it is a matter of personal protective equipment for workers, ventilators, proper testing, adequate forces for contact tracing or to carry out work deemed essential, the system has failed to provide what is required. This is because of the anarchy resulting from conflicting private interests. 

Meanwhile, the cartel parties act to keep their rivals out of power, especially the masses of the people. They act as spokespersons of the ruling elite whose number one job is to cover up the failure of the economy they preside over to meet the needs of the people and the society they depend on for their living. This is done by using police powers to deal with the crises facing society on a self-serving basis. They have seized these arbitrary powers in the name of the emergency, which they say is caused not by their refusal to ensure the economy meets the needs of the people but by the pandemic.

The Liberals federally, and governments of various political stripes provincially and in Quebec, say that the emergency requires them to take all kinds of measures to serve and protect the people. In fact, they impose measures which are not designed to keep the contagion under control or to look after the well-being of the people and even these measures they do not apply with consistency. This is why the premiers flagrantly refuse to draw warranted conclusions from the experience of the pandemic as it unfolds. Far from their aim being to protect the people, the measures they take are pragmatically designed to achieve the recovery of the biggest private interests.

The false equation that a balance must be struck between reopening the economy and keeping the contagion under control is to fool the gullible. The rich guarantee their profits by getting their pound of flesh. "Cutting costs" is a pernicious way of saying that labour is expendable -- "unfortunate but necessary" "collateral damage" -- in the drive to make maximum private profits. The prosperity of narrow private interests in the service of only the filthy rich is falsely equated as being the prosperity of all of society. All of it is intended to make sure that the workers and people are unable to take control of the decisions that affect their lives and the life of the society itself.

It Must Not Pass!

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Aim of the Measures Announced to
Save the Economy

So many measures have been announced during the pandemic in the name of saving the economy that the ruling class itself does not see the dangers which they are creating. The organization of the economy is linked to the aim of those in control which is, at the end of the day, to expropriate maximum profit from the value the working class produces. This aim governs the actions of the ruling elite in all they do. This aim is in fundamental contradiction with the socialized economy, which needs a modern aim consistent with the socialized character of the productive forces and modern humanity. Only those who put the well-being of the human person at the centre of decision-making by empowering them to deal with the relations between humans and humans and between humans and nature will take measures which do not exacerbate the crisis inherent to the capitalist system.

Everyone depends on the socialized economy and what the working class produces. Nobody can escape their dependence on the socialized economy for work and social product. The economy must in turn be organized and have an aim that recognizes and is consistent with the socialized people's dependence on it. The aim cannot be to make this or that individual rich. Such an absurd aim leads to trouble, to unresolved problems, to recurring economic crises and to incapacity during emergencies, such as the current pandemic, to deal with it rationally and properly in ways that favour the people and not a tiny minority seeking to preserve their privilege and power.

The obsolete aim of the imperialist oligarchy has left social programs bereft of the strength they require in normal times let alone emergencies such as today. Why would hospitals have to shut down operations, elective or not, because they cannot cope with the additional stress from those with COVID-19? Why is society lacking in personal protective equipment? Why have long-term care homes for the elderly and others become incubators of the virus and a death sentence for many? Why is food security under threat? The lack of planning and the chaotic conditions are a result of the obsolete aim of those in control. This is a lesson from the pandemic that is ignored at our peril.

The fact is that the imperialist oligarchy is using the pandemic to consolidate and expand its wealth and power, attacking the working class to keep it subjugated. The bankruptcies of many small and medium-sized businesses will be used to consolidate wealth in fewer hands. Demands for payment of outstanding debts continue even though most revenue has evaporated, whereupon the positions of the bankrupt businesses within the economy will be further controlled in fewer hands.

The conditions of pandemic and measures being taken reveal more than anything else that the economy needs a new direction under the control of those who do the work. The working class needs to empower itself to make the decisions relating to the economy and its direction.

The economy needs a new aim that puts the people and their well-being and that of the society at the centre of all decisions. The aim must be to guarantee the well-being and rights of all and to humanize the social and natural environment. Such an aim is consistent with the modern socialized economy and with the need and desire to make Canada a zone for peace and to trade and interact with all humanity as one for the mutual benefit and development of all without rancour, exploitation, interference and war.

Now is the time for a new pro-social direction and aim for the economy.

All Out for Empowerment and to Build the New!

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"Reopening" Quebec and the Need to Give Working People the Decisive Say on Working Conditions

The Quebec government's recurring theme is to "reopen Quebec." Talk over recent weeks has been all about reopening elementary schools, daycare services and businesses previously considered non-essential that have been shut down. The "reopening of Quebec" is to be different in Montreal than in the regions. According to the Legault government, the situation in the regions, particularly in remote areas, is completely under control, while Montreal was declared to be close to being under control. However, data started to emerge showing an increasing number of cases and deaths in Montreal, Laval, and Montérégie administrative region, on Montreal's South Shore. A projection by the National Public Health Institute of Québec at the end of April showed that the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths would increase rapidly if confinement measures were to be relaxed too fast in the Montreal region. Also, a serious outbreak of COVID-19 was reported in the poorest neighbourhoods of Montreal, especially in Montreal North where a large number of low paid health care workers live, many of them asylum seekers, many working as orderlies in long-term care homes. It was reported that the outbreak was mainly due to the spread of the virus between long-term care homes, where workers work with seriously inadequate protective equipment, and that in these neighbourhoods people live in cramped dwellings. On May 4, Public Health Director Mylène Drouin declared that the situation is actually getting worse in Montreal. "We are not lowering the epidemic curve," she said. "We can see a plateau and even an increase in cases." As a result, the reopening of elementary schools in the Montreal region, which had been announced for May 11, was postponed to September.

What is striking about the government's statement on "reopening" is the disconnect between government statements and the reality on the ground. For example, in order to address the problem of patients in residential and long-term care homes (CHSLDs) and seniors' residences being left alone in their rooms when a regular worker is not with them, a family caregiver is now allowed to visit them. However, it was decided that the caregivers would first have to be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed into the centres and the residences. This caused an uproar and extreme anxiety because caregivers were not warned that they had to be tested. Then, suddenly, on May 8, it was announced that they would not need to be tested, without any explanation of why the policy was changed overnight.

Another disconnect is the clash between the claim that currently all the necessary protective gear is fully available for front-line health care workers and the reality that this is not the case. The situation in the CHSLDs, seniors' homes and home care is still the worst in this regard.

The arrogance of the government in the face of justified demands is such that a member of the Premier's executive team coined the slanderous expression "armchair critics" to dismiss those raising demands.

Another striking characteristic of the statements made by the government team is the pragmatic nature of the arguments put forward. For example, the executive team first excluded people aged 60-69 from those having to return to work as elementary schools and daycare centres reopen, because of the serious danger posed to their health if they are infected with the virus. On May 7, without warning, Premier Legault, in his usual cavalier fashion, said that decision has been reversed and now people between the ages of 60 and 69 will also  have to report to work.

To justify the change to this decision, Premier Legault provided a chart that detailed the percentage of COVID-19-related deaths based on age, which reveals that people aged 60-69 represent over six per cent of those who have died from the virus, while people 70 and over represent 90 per cent of the deceased. The chart also shows that no one below the age of 30 has died. This is intolerable, as it ignores the complexities of the propagation of the virus, noted by Public Health authorities, which is precisely one of the main concerns about having kids return to school en masse to interact with teachers and staff of all ages, including those over the age of 60. What we are witnessing here is the authority operating on the basis of nothing other than pragmatism and a disconnect with and disregard for the people. Authority should be principled and deeply connected to those who are doing the work and who must have a decisive say in how that work should be carried out, in a safe and healthy way, especially within such a crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic.

People were also incensed when it was revealed in the media that the Executive Council Office, which is under the direct authority of the Quebec Premier, hired the U.S.-based global private consulting firm McKinsey, to provide models of deconfinement and the reopening of Quebec. Among other things, this firm is known for its links with the U.S. military and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for which it did "consulting work," that resulted in cuts to spending on food and medical care for migrants and the acceleration of the deportation process.

This shows that not only does this government not rely on the concerns, views and demands of workers for what it calls the reopening of Quebec, but neither does it rely on the Quebec scientists, civil servants and Members of the National Assembly to deal with the problem.

Meanwhile, polls have also started to appear in the media, assessing the "popularity" of the Legault government and this or that measure regarding the reopening of Quebec.

People are rightly asking if this crisis is going to be dealt with as a kind of election campaign, with private marketing agencies in command, as is the case in "normal times" when people are treated as "consumers" and not decision-makers on matters that directly affect their lives. Are we going to see the usual kind of corruption? This situation is dangerous and requires the mobilization and organization of the people speaking in their own name and asserting their rights to decide society's affairs.

Workers are not stepping up to the plate to protect all the members of the society, including themselves, just to be treated in such an undignified and disrespectful way. It is the workers who have to determine their working conditions and the measures that are needed to get through this crisis in a way that is beneficial to the people.

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Federal Government Was Warned of
Crisis in Shelter System

Car caravan in Toronto, May 6, 2020.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) sent a letter to the Prime Minister, the Premiers of the provinces and territories, and the leaders of the other federal parties, detailing the crisis brewing in shelters across Canada in the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a press release dated May 8, the union says that the letter urges the federal government to take swift action and that the many issues facing shelters and the vulnerable people they serve are a ticking time bomb.

In the letter, NUPGE President Larry Brown outlines the two key issues at play: first, people experiencing homelessness aren't receiving any COVID-19 benefits or protections from the virus, and second, Community Service Workers (CSWs) aren't receiving adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) or funding that enables them to do their jobs safely.

"We've heard frightening stories from our members. The shelter system was full before the pandemic. Many facilities have shared common areas and use bunk beds. There's no room for physical distancing or self-isolation," says Brown. "On top of that, there are knowledge gaps, so residents don't or can't understand why they're being told to wash their hands a lot and/or to wear a mask. It's dangerous and mentally draining for residents and community service workers."

The NUPGE press release makes the point that people experiencing homelessness are part of Canadian society and, as all Canadians, must be protected. It states:

"People experiencing homelessness don't live separately from the rest of society. They visit food banks. They go to grocery stores. They interact with people on the street. The same risks exist for the CSWs that work with these individuals. A single asymptomatic CSW could potentially spread COVID-19 to hundreds in their community.

"An outbreak in any sector of our society is still an outbreak. People experiencing homelessness should not be of less importance than any other person living in Canada. The CSWs who work with vulnerable populations deserve the same protection as other public-facing workers."

In the last section of the letter, Brown outlines short-term and long-term needs to deal with the problem and avoid an all-out crisis breaking out in the shelter system. He writes:

"The immediate, short-term asks are simple: we ask that the federal government work with the provinces and CSWs to create action plans for people experiencing homelessness.Testing, tracking, and protecting are top priorities. CSWs need adequate PPE to safely interact with their clients. Staff also need proper training on PPE procedures, and employers need to collaborate with workers and unions to develop risk assessments. Everyone in the shelter system needs to be tested in order to properly isolate those who test positive. All new clients must be tested before entering, and they must be able to receive their test results in a timely manner. There needs to be widespread movement to get all people experiencing homelessness off the streets, tested, and into accommodations. Employers must keep an open line of communication with staff and be transparent about protocols, such as those around shelter cleaning. Access to mental health support for people experiencing homelessness must be improved and maintained. We recognize that the federal government has reconfirmed its immediate investment of $207.5 million to support organizations that service vulnerable populations. However that amount is insufficient to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness in a pre-pandemic world, let alone during the pandemic.

"The long-term asks are more difficult to fulfill. But these must be discussed now as we start thinking about our new normal. There's likely to be an increase in youth experiencing homelessness as a result of closing drop-in centres and after-school programs due to COVID-19. It's unclear how the labour market will function as businesses begin to reopen. While the federal government has done a commendable job providing funding to individuals and businesses, it's undeniable that some businesses will never reopen, and some jobs will be permanently lost. It's estimated that Canada has around 50,000 "hidden homeless." These hidden homeless are likely to become visible as friends and family who are providing temporary refuge become financially insecure and vulnerable themselves. This means there's a high risk that shelters will see a surge of new clients -- something they'll be unable to handle if COVID-19 is still running rampant in our shelters. Shelters have been traditionally under-resourced and lacked capacity to deal with demand before the pandemic started. More funding must be allocated for the immediate crisis, but we cannot allow the return to a pre-pandemic status quo once it's over.

"There must be a 2-pronged strategy -- developed in partnership with workers, unions, and other stakeholders: 1. to properly fund organizations that serve people experiencing homelessness; 2. to provide stronger supports for low-income families and individuals to prevent them from experiencing homelessness in the first place."

Brown ends his letter by warning the Trudeau government that "If stronger measures aren't taken now, we're likely to see a crisis in our shelter system like the one we saw in long-term care. Society is only as strong as its most vulnerable member. And our society has left people experiencing homelessness in a very vulnerable position."

(Photos: OCAP, B.S. Waters, R. Danielson, A. Sampson)

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Status for Asylum Seekers and Migrant Workers

Permanent Residency for All Migrant Workers
as a Pathway to Full Citizenship!

"The COVID-19 pandemic reveals how foreign migrant workers contribute to Canada's economy and society by doing the jobs that too few Canadians want. Their work ensures that our food industry thrives, that young, elderly, and at-risk Canadians receive proper care, and that families have much-needed support," KAIROS Migrant Justice Coordinator Connie Sorio, a leading advocate for migrant rights in Canada, writes in a May 7 article in the Hill Times.

She considers the action taken by Portugal as "an effort to safeguard everyone's health and safety." She writes, "Portugal took the unprecedented step of granting migrants, including migrant workers, resident status during the pandemic, and providing full access to health care and social services." She is also of the opinion that Canada must do the same, but "could go one step further and grant all overseas workers permanent resident status."

Sorio recalls that in Canada, until the 1960s, "workers from abroad who filled labour shortages were granted permanent residency upon arrival." However in 1973, she informs, "the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) replaced permanent residency and while the need for migrant workers never abated, their working and living environments suddenly became precarious."

She further explains: "Under the TFWP, most workers are tied to one employer. While the recently introduced Open Work Permit for Workers at Risk provides workers with the opportunity to leave abusive situations, the onus is on the workers to provide proof of abuse. Because there is no guarantee the permit will be granted and fearing deportation and the loss of the vital income that sustains their families, many workers remain silent and as a result workplace abuses and injuries are seldom reported."

Sorio also informs that "Opportunities to apply for permanent residency range from difficult to impossible depending on the occupation. For example, under the new Caregiver Pilot Program, prospective caregivers can apply but only after a gruelling and expensive process, while agriculture workers and meat processors cannot, despite working for years and sometimes decades in Canada. Until recently, no workers could bring their families with them, a cruel separation that has finally and mercifully ended for caregivers, but not others."

Even though the federal government has taken certain steps such as lowering eligibility requirements to access Employment Insurance (EI) and introducing new criteria for farmers to help safeguard worker safety, she asserts that "much more needs to be done."

The federal government's new supports cover "temporary foreign workers who have lost their job due to COVID-19 layoffs, or who have had to stop working because of illness, but workers face barriers in accessing the benefits because information about support is not available in their language or requires a computer and internet, which many don't have," she writes.

"Also, the package does not support workers who lost their status because they fell through bureaucratic cracks," nor does it " guarantee compliance of public health directives on farms, in meat processing facilities, and at other workplaces."

"The Canadian government need only look to Portugal for an efficient and speedy solution to safeguarding the safety and security of these critical workers and all Canadians: grant them residency status." It is also her view that moving forward all migrant foreign workers should be given "access to permanent residency upon arrival as part of building a fair and inclusive country. In 2019, the federal government took steps in this direction by strengthening the caregivers' pathway to permanent residency conditional to having completed two years of work in Canada. It must extend this program to workers in all sectors."

Sorio concludes: "COVID-19 has shined a light on the precarious employment of many essential workers, including those from overseas. Granting residency to migrant workers will demonstrate genuine appreciation for the services they provide, creating a pathway to citizenship and eliminating the systemic barriers embedded in temporary foreign worker programs.

"Now is the time for change."

(With files from Hill Times. photos: TML, J4MW)

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Trudeau Government Must Grant Status to Asylum Seekers and Migrant Health Care Workers

In a video posted online on May 6, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau saluted the Haitian community, saying "throughout Quebec, doctors, nurses, orderlies and many other health care workers of Haitian origin are standing up, day and night, bravely fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.... We are working to protect you, just as you are working to protect us."

On May 7, Haitian Dialogue for Migrants (CHPM) and the organization Stand Up for Dignity sent two open letters to the Trudeau government in which they stress that the first thing that is needed to protect these workers is to regularize the status of many of them. It is well known that many people of Haitian origin, along with others, work as care attendants in very difficult conditions. Moreover, the fact that many of them are refugees makes them more vulnerable to blackmail and threats. "These people bring us their skills, dedication and dignity in exceptional conditions to help us fight this pandemic while risking their own health and that of their families. Many of them have been near death and have lost colleagues. It is hard to imagine that our guardian angels could be deported from the country as soon as the battle is won," says the CHPM, adding that a special immigration program could be set up to regularize the status of these workers and their families.

Stand Up for Dignity notes, "These refugees are a gold mine for rapacious employment agencies. They are the cannon fodder for our health care system in this pandemic context. ...Why should they continue to live with the uncertainty of their precarious status? Why should their children continue to be excluded from subsidized child care? Why can they not have the same protections as other workers when they are injured on the job?"

On May 9, the organization posted an online petition in support of migrants and refugees working in the health care field, calling on the Trudeau government "to end their torment by granting them permanent residency as they respond with their presence and their heart to this call for humanity for COVID-19 patients. We call on the Prime Minister to show humanity towards these humanitarian workers by concretely recognizing their contribution by regularizing their migratory status, which will facilitate their de facto inclusion and integration."

The petition can be signed here.

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Precarious Status Migrants Should Not
Be Left Behind

Signs from caravan organized in support of migrant workers by Justice for Migrant Workers in May 2020.

Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) President Dorota Blumczynska has written a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau to draw attention to the particular situation facing migrant workers in Canada during the pandemic. With or without status, she notes, "migrants in Canada are sometimes in exploitative situations, and are particularly vulnerable to labour violations, gender-based-violence, human rights violations, human trafficking and other types of abuse." Thus, their precarity "is amplified during the pandemic crisis" and they are "in need of urgent support."

In her letter, the CCR's President asks that immediate action be taken in the following areas:


Although the federal government has extended access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to migrant residents with a valid Social Insurance Number who earned at least $5,000 in the previous 12 months, she points to the fact that "a number of gaps still remain to address the urgent needs of migrant workers, migrants in trafficking situations, international students, refugee claimants, and other precarious migrants. This, she notes, is "forcing some to work in conditions dangerous to their own and public health, to go 'underground' or to stay in abusive situations in order to make ends meet."


"[I]t is essential that health care be provided to everyone living in Canada, regardless of their immigration status," the letter notes. "We ask all levels of government to provide necessary COVID-related services, including access to testing and necessary treatments in the same manner that all residents of Canada are entitled. Additionally, a person's health status must be kept confidential, particularly in terms of communication with immigration authorities or employers."

Immigration Status

During the pandemic crisis, Blumczynska notes, "the federal government should ensure pathways to permanent residence in Canada are maintained, including pathways for refugee claimants, trafficked persons, migrant workers, and precarious migrants applying on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. No precarious status migrant should fear deportation at this time."

The CCR's president also wants the government to prioritize various existing "short-term remedies to regularize status" and is calling on the government to immediately implement a "clear and standardized application and approval process, taking no longer than ten days," for those "who apply for Victims of Human Trafficking Temporary Resident Permits, Open Work Permits for Vulnerable Workers, Temporary Resident Permits for Victims of Family Violence."

Community Support

The organization's president also wants the federal government to consult with the many community organizations "on the front-line of providing support to migrants at this critical time." The letter stresses, "These organizations should be consulted in the process of developing policy and community level responses to COVID-19. Organizations that support migrants should receive adequate funding to provide the essential outreach, popular education, and case intervention that is necessary at this time." 

"Migrant youth are also particularly affected by the current crisis. Youth-led organizations, and front-line organizations supporting youth, should receive adequate funding to provide outreach, mental health support, and appropriate tools to manage the current crisis."

The CCR president concludes by noting, "Human rights and public health standards must be central to policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time."

(Photos: J4MW)

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Open Letter to Premier Legault

Mr. Premier,

In this period of pandemic, we wish to draw your attention to the plight of undocumented people. This is with respect to essential workers who have been ignored and for whom we are demanding:

1. Access to an income for the duration of the pandemic.

2. A health care card with all the benefits provided to citizens.

3. A Quebec Selection Certificate that enables them to apply to the federal government for permanent residency.

Undocumented people are found in many of society's essential service sectors: planting and harvesting of fruits and vegetables, food labelling and wrapping, food preparation, caring for children, seniors and the sick, cleaning restaurants, offices and residences, etc. However, they do their jobs with a marked disadvantage: no documentation. More often than not, that means they must accept an hourly wage of $9-$10, while knowing that as of May 1, the minimum wage is $13.10. Sometimes, they're not paid at all. Further, when there's an accident at work, these workers are excluded from the compensation provided for in the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases and are also unable avail themselves of health care. Women who are without status are often sexually and psychologically harassed without being able to lodge a complaint with the Labour Standards, Pay Equity and Workplace Health and Safety Board. Like other immigrant and racialized women, they are overrepresented in care and domestic work, which is very physically and psychologically demanding, besides being poorly remunerated despite the great value of the work they do.

Undocumented workers participate in struggles to increase the minimum wage to $15 within the Temporary Agency Workers Association (TAWA), the Migrant Workers Association of Quebec (ATTMQ), and the Coalition Against Precarious Work. The leadership provided by these undocumented workers was a determining factor in the adoption of the new Quebec regulation on placement agencies that better protects agency workers. Despite their professional and social commitment to Quebec society, they do not receive fair compensation. Despite the stress and fear caused by the risk of detention and deportation for strictly administrative reasons, these people have proven themselves to be strong and worthy of staying, working and fighting.

Just like many workers, they have lost their job, however unlike the rest of the population, they have no access to income replacement programs. They now have access to Covid-19 testing but despite the Health Minister's announcement, exorbitant health care fees are not covered in all hospitals. This places the lives of these people at risk, and defies all logic of health care. People without status must have the same rights as the rest of the population! Decisive government intervention is required now so that these undocumented workers can take care of their health, well-being and families.[1]


1. Le Devoir, May 9-10, 2020

(Translated from original French by TML. photo: J4MW)

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Canada Out of NATO! Dismantle NATO!

No to NATO's Recruitment of Youth for
Aggression and War

On April 29, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a new Young Professionals Program (YPP) aimed at recruiting "the brightest young minds in our Alliance" to join NATO to "respond to the security challenges of today and tomorrow." Only youth from NATO's 30 member nations, including Canada, will be eligible to apply.

According to the information provided by NATO, recruitment will be open to qualified graduate students with a year's work experience, who are 21 years old or older. Successful candidates will be eligible to do three one-year placements in three different NATO settings in "12 different areas of work, including political affairs, cyber defence, innovation and emerging technologies, marketing, finance, law and engineering." Six civilian and military bodies in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the U.S. are taking applicants. The aim is to groom future "leaders and influencers" for NATO's war agenda.

The YPP is part of the ongoing campaign by NATO to present itself to youth as some type of benign force that is promoting human rights, freedom and democracy. But youth are not buying it. The 2018 report of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on National Defence entitled Canada and NATO: An Alliance Forged in Strength and Reliability, lamented that there was little support or understanding among young people for NATO or what it is doing. It noted that 71 per cent of millennials are not aware of NATO's important role, and that this lack of knowledge hinders the government's support for NATO. What is not understood or appreciated by these warmongers is that youth of today in Canada and abroad have taken up social responsibility for the social and natural environment, and in their hundreds of millions oppose imperialist war and aggression.

To counter this spirit of the youth, the Canadian government and NATO have developed an extensive network -- with organizations such as the NATO Association of Canada, the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at the University of Toronto, and many others -- to disinform youth about the true nature of NATO as an instrument of war and imperialism. Job offers, internships, training and networks with influential academic, corporate and government agencies and contacts are the "perks" offered.

TML Weekly condemns this latest recruitment ploy by NATO to subvert our youth and the youth of the world in the name of learning skills and employment. NATO is an aggressive military organization, one of the greatest threats to the life and well-being of humanity and the environment of our planet.

Not a Single Youth for Imperialist War!
Get Canada Out of NATO!
Dismantle NATO!
Organize for an Anti-War Government!

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 Deadly Canadian Helicopter Crash
During NATO Exercise

On April 29, a Royal Canadian Air Force Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military mission, with six Canadians on board, crashed violently in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece. It had flown from the Canadian naval frigate HMCS Fredericton, whose home port is Halifax, which was deployed in the area as part of Operation REASSURANCE.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has members serving on Operation REASSURANCE in Central and Eastern Europe. They are there as part of NATO, to reinforce that organization's "collective defence." During this operation, the CAF is conducting training, exercises, and some NATO-specific tasks.

On January 20, HMCS Fredericton set sail for a six-month deployment on Operation REASSURANCE. Since 2014, the CAF have deployed a frigate on a persistent rotational basis to be employed in exercises and operational tasks that are part of NATO's Maritime Command.

HMCS Fredericton's deployment is part of a range of activities that include the provision of military capabilities for training, exercises, demonstrations and assigned NATO tasks and demonstrates Canada's involvement in warmongering in Central and Eastern Europe.

Prime Minister Trudeau, in announcing the crash, described Operation REASSURANCE as "Canada at its best -- bolstering security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe."

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) mourns the loss of life of the six Canadians who died and sends its sincere condolences to their families. However, Canada's participation in this aggressive and warmongering military pact cannot in any way be attributed to the defence of Canada. Contrary to what the Prime Minister has declared,  it is bolstering insecurity and instability in Central and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, to maintain these exercises during a coronavirus pandemic  is leading to contagion on the ships and within the ranks of the troops of several NATO member countries, Canada included. It is unconscionable. 

On the occasion of May 9, the 75th anniversary of Victory Day, we expressed our heartfelt gratitude to the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe for their huge sacrifice during World War II, so that humanity could rid itself of Nazism and fascism. But it is not the cause of peace, freedom and democracy that NATO represents but preparations to embroil the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe in aggression and war once again. Canadians want to eliminate the threat of  aggression and war so that the world's peoples can live in peace and security and further develop relations between countries based on mutual benefit.

Canada, Out of NATO Now!
Make Canada a Zone for Peace!

(With files from PMO, Government of Canada)

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In 2016, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed to enhance its military presence in the eastern part of the alliance. As part of this effort, NATO established three distinct missions in Europe: an enhanced Forward Presence, Standing Naval Forces, and a tailored Forward Presence.

NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence

The Forward Presence mission consists of four multinational combat-ready battle groups based in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These battle groups are led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and the United States, respectively -- collectively known as framework nations for the enhanced Forward Presence. The presence of these battle groups makes clear that an attack on one member will be considered an attack on the whole alliance, and represents the biggest reinforcement of NATO's collective defence in a generation.

Canada's participation as a framework nation leading the battle group in Latvia includes: a Task Force and a Battle Group headquarters, an infantry company in Light Armoured Vehicles, a combat support company (intelligence and communications), and a support company (transportation, supply and medical).

Enhanced forward presence forces are complemented by logistics and infrastructure to support pre-positioning and to facilitate rapid reinforcement.

The multinational enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia trains and exercises regularly. The exercises are multinational in nature and often integrate with the Latvian national defence forces and other allied forces from outside the Battle Group, which enhances interoperability, and enables versatility in employment within the region.

The Canada-led battle group is comprised of approximately 1,400 troops, with eight other contributing nations: Spain (300 troops), Poland (200), Italy (160), Slovakia (152), Czech Republic (60), Slovenia (50), Albania (21) and Montenegro (10).

Canada has committed to leading the battle group in Latvia until March 31, 2023. Canada's Minister of National Defence and his Latvian counterpart regularly co-host meetings of Defence Ministers with troops in Latvia as part of the Canadian-led battle group. These meetings take place on the margins of the NATO Defence Ministerial meetings.

NATO's Standing Naval Forces

This mission includes four multinational integrated Standing Maritime Groups: two destroyer/frigate groups and two mine countermeasures groups. These groups are continuously available to perform tasks ranging from participating in exercises to conducting NATO missions.

Standing Maritime Groups provide NATO with an immediate operational response capability.

Canada currently deploys a frigate to the Standing NATO Maritime Group, which conducts routine patrols in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Command of the Maritime Group rotates between nations, with Italy currently commanding, replacing Canada in January. HMCS Fredericton is a unit of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.

NATO's Tailored Forward Presence

This mission refers to air policing activities in the southeastern region of the alliance. It involves the 24/7 presence of fighter aircraft ready to react quickly.

To conduct the air policing mission, allies forward deploy aircraft to bases in three regions: the Baltic States, Romania/Bulgaria, and Iceland.

Canada contributes up to six CF-18 fighter aircraft and 135 personnel on a four-month episodic basis to conduct air policing, surveillance, and training activities.

(Government of Canada, NATO)

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End the Catastrophe Imposed on the Palestinian People! 

All Out to Support the Resistance of the Palestinian People on Occasion of Al Nakba

May 15 marks the 72nd anniversary of Al Nakba -- the Catastrophe -- a day marking a "continuous journey of pain, loss and injustice" for the Palestinian people. It marks the day that some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes during the 1948 war. Palestinians were forced from their lands and homes due to military attacks by Zionist forces, supported by the British and U.S. governments. The Israeli Zionist forces attacked 774 cities and villages, and occupied 80 per cent of the Palestinian soil after killing nearly 15,000 Muslim and Christian civilians. Those who survived were forced to migrate to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and neighbouring countries, such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

May 15, Al Nakba Day, is living memory of these crimes, crimes which set the scene for today's conditions where more than seven million Palestinians live in exile, while two million are living in the Gaza strip, the world's largest open-air prison.

This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic conditions, the form the mass mobilization will take is online seminars, film streaming and online expressions of support of all kinds. The peoples of the world support Palestinian resistance, statehood and their right to be and will honour and recognize their struggle with all their hearts and minds, demanding that the world community of nations do its duty and end the injustice once and for all. 

Leading up to Al Nakba Day, Israeli occupation soldiers brutally shot and killed Zaid Qaysia, a 15-year-old Palestinian from Hebron, on May 12. Four others were wounded. Israeli soldiers were raiding the Al Fawwar refugee camp. Dozens more Palestinians have been detained in Israeli raids across the occupied West Bank. One Israeli soldier died at the hands of the resistance while carrying out these savage raids in recent days.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the day Israeli troops killed Zaid Qaysia. Pompeo commented that "Israel has the right to defend itself and America will consistently support you in that effort."

Painting depicting the Nakba by Palestinian artist Ismail Shammout.

Pompeo was in Israel to discuss Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territories. Netanyahu set July 1 as the date to officially annex parts of the West Bank and a number of illegal Israeli settlements. Pompeo said "there remains work to do and we need to make progress on that" revealing that annexation and extinguishing the right to be of Palestinians is the U.S. imperialist agenda, not simply an Israeli agenda. Annexation is what the U.S. "Deal of the Century" announced earlier this year by President Trump is about.

The Israeli Zionists are pushing ahead. On May 6, according to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett approved the expansion of the Efrat settlement south of Jerusalem (al-Quds), and endorsed the plan for some 7,000 new settler units in the 11,000-resident municipality.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned Israel's plan to annex much of the occupied West Bank, saying the move will shut the door on possible "peace negotiations" with the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority has rejected the "Deal" with utter contempt. The Arab League has said annexation would be a "war crime." The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates denounced the Israeli regime's approval for the construction of the 7,000 new settler units in the West Bank as a flagrant violation of international law and UN resolutions. According to the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, the UN Security Council will meet to discuss the situation on May 20.

On this occasion of the 72nd anniversary of Al Nakba Day, the world  salutes the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people and once again raises the demand to end the injustice now!

No to Israeli Annexation!
No to the U.S. Deal of the Century!
Free Free Palestine!

Great Return March actions in Gaza, near the Israeli border, mark Nakba 70 in 2018.

(Photos: Ralph JH, Ismail Shammout Great Return March)

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Information on U.S.-Israeli Agenda of Annexation and Extinguishing Palestinian Right to Be

Demonstration in Ramallah, February 11, 2020, one of many in Palestine and around the world rejecting the Trump administration's "Deal of the Century."

U.S President Donald Trump announced his so called "Deal of the Century" on January 28 this year. It aims to legitimize the role of the Zionist state over the Palestinians, depriving them of their livelihoods and lands and, in particular, negating their rights as a people, including the right of return. The Palestinian people have rejected the "Deal of the Century" in its entirety, while the Israeli state and its political leaders are acting as if it is a done deal.

Immediately after the terms of the "Deal" were disclosed, the publication Canada Talks Israel-Palestine issued a summary of its main features and presented its assessment to Global Affairs Canada "to help Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne make up his mind on the substance of the Deal." The government of Canada has remained silent.

Here are ten of the main provisions of the Deal identified by Canada Talks Israel-Palestine:

Expansion of Israel's Borders: Israel's borders will now extend to the Jordan River. In the process, Israel will gain another 20 per cent of the West Bank. It will give up some mostly uninhabited desert land in the Negev near the Gaza-Egypt border. Israel will retain sovereignty over territorial waters, which means not only that it will control access to Gaza, but also the subsea resources (chiefly natural gas) off the Mediterranean coast.

Exclusive Israeli control over Jerusalem: Palestinians will have to accept that all of Jerusalem ("undivided") is Israel's capital and under Israeli control, including the Old City. Palestinians will be allowed to keep some land on the periphery of East Jerusalem and call it their "capital." (In Canadian terms, "we will take Ottawa as our capital and you can have Barrhaven.")

Settlements: Israel will annex the Jordan Valley and claim sovereignty over 100 Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This includes 15 isolated settlements, which will be enclaves within an eventual Palestinian state. The Israeli military will have access to these isolated settlements.

Israeli military control: Israel will be in control of security from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The Israel Defense Forces will be able to go anywhere in the West Bank and Gaza.

Right of return denied for almost all refugees: Over half the Palestinian population are refugees -- between 5 and 7 million people. They are the descendants of non-Jews (Muslims and Christians) who were driven out of what became Israel in 1947/48. But according to the plan, only a small number of Palestinian refugees and their descendants will be allowed into the new Palestinian "state." None will have the right to enter Israel. The rest will have to give up the idea of return, despite the fact that it is guaranteed in international law

A Palestinian "quasi" state -- "eventually? maybe?": The plan does not include immediate recognition of a Palestinian state; rather, it holds out the prospect of a future Palestinian "State" -- eventually, and under certain conditions. But this state is unlike any other state in the world. It will be a strange collection of separate "areas" cut off from each other by Israeli-only roads, and pockmarked by Israeli settlements, which will be Israeli territory. The Palestinian state will have no territorial contiguity, and the parts of the West Bank will be connected via 12 tunnels or bridges. Israel will maintain control of all its borders. The West Bank and Gaza Strip will be connected by a 20-kilometre tunnel.

Some Palestinian Israelis could lose Israeli citizenship: The plan leaves open the possibility that Israel will redraw its borders to exclude several large Palestinian towns now on Israel's borders. By including them in the future Palestinian "state," Israel would reduce the number of non-Jews in Israel by several hundred thousand.

An end to resistance: Trump also called for the disarmament of Palestinian political factions like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and "firm rejection of terrorism" as a requirement for Palestinian statehood. Palestinians would give up their right to defend their homes and schools from attacks by settlers, for example. The plan also demands that the Palestinians drop their request that the International Criminal Court investigate Israel for "crimes against humanity."

Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State: Palestinians would be required to recognize Israel as the Jewish State, and accept that the Israeli border will be along the Jordan valley. Israeli citizens who are not Jewish (i.e., Palestinian citizens of Israel, who number 1.5 million) will have to accept permanently their situation as second class citizens with fewer rights than those of Jewish Israeli citizens.

Promises of new investment and job creation: The plan holds out the lure of $50 billion in investments over 10 years. "Over the next 10 years, one million great new Palestinian jobs will be created," Trump promised, adding that the poverty rate will be cut in half, and the Palestinian GDP will "double and triple." He did not say who will pony up the money, however. The implication seems to be that it will come from other Arab states, though none has offered any.

Statement Issued by Global Affairs Canada on January 28 on the
Release of U.S. Middle East Peace Plan

Montreal demonstration, February 2, 2020, stands with the Palestinian people in denouncing the "Deal of the Century."

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated "Canada remains committed to the goal of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This includes the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and ensuring Israel's security within its own borders.

"Canada recognizes the urgent need to renew efforts toward a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and will carefully examine the details of the U.S. initiative for the Middle East peace process.

"Canada has long maintained that peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. We urge the parties to create the conditions for such negotiations to take place.

"Canada reaffirms its readiness to support meaningful dialogue between the parties toward a negotiated and viable two-state solution."

Toronto protest February 1, 2020, rejects "Deal of the Century."

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COVID-19 Update

World Health Organization Issues
Guidelines on Reopening

Various countries have begun the process of "reopening," lifting various lockdown and social distancing measures for purposes of restarting various activities such as schools, public events and businesses. The World Health Organization (WHO) on May 12 issued guidance on this process, entitled, "Public health criteria to adjust public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19." This document is a follow up to previous guidance issued April 16 entitled, "Considerations in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19," at a time when most countries were experiencing a sharp increase in cases and deaths.

The criteria issued May 12 are grouped into three domains that the WHO says should be evaluated to address three main questions:

1. Epidemiology -- Is the epidemic controlled? (Yes or No)

2. Health system -- Is the health system able to cope with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases that may arise after adapting some measures? (Yes or No)

3. Public Health Surveillance -- Is the public health surveillance system able to detect and manage the cases and their contacts, and identify a resurgence of cases? (Yes or No)

The WHO goes on to state, "The criteria are not prescriptive, and it may not be feasible to answer some of them owing to lack of data, for instance. To the extent possible countries should focus on the criteria most relevant for them to inform decision-making. The thresholds are indicative and may need to be revisited as further information about the epidemiology of COVID-19 becomes available. It is recommended to systematically assess the criteria at least weekly at a subnational administrative level when feasible."

Regarding the first criterion, the WHO states that if the effective number of secondary cases per infectious case in the population (Rt) is less than one for at least two weeks, this is the best indication that the epidemic is under control and declining. It adds that in countries with large populations, the number of secondary cases per infectious case should be estimated at a regional level. The WHO also provides other supplementary criteria to assess whether the epidemic is controlled if the above rate cannot be properly assessed.

Regarding the second criterion, the WHO states that the key measure to assess the capacity of the health care system to handle a resurgence is whether the number of new cases requiring hospitalization is smaller than the estimated maximum hospital and ICU bed capacity of the health system (i.e., the health system can cope with new hospitalizations without becoming overwhelmed while maintaining delivery of essential health services). It provides a list of additional assessment criteria if the above figure cannot be determined.

The third criterion concerns whether a country has sufficient laboratory testing capacity and a clear testing strategy in place to reliably identify cases, and to do so in a timely manner with daily reporting, as well as the ability to carry out effect contact tracing.[1]

The WHO states its May 12 document presents only public health criteria, "while other critical factors, such as economic factors, security-related factors, human rights, food security, and public sentiment, should also be considered."

It is crucial that the WHO is providing this guidance at a time when reopening societies is on the horizon in various countries. However, it also brings out the political situation facing working people in Canada, Quebec, the United States and other countries around the world where the liberal democratic system of representative democracy deprives them of political power. They are the ones most affected by the pandemic, yet they are deprived of the power to decide when and how society should reopen, regardless of whether the health criteria to do so have been satisfied. Already, tragedies continue to unfold because private interests and the governments that represent them are pushing self-serving agendas, while health care and other essential workers are not guaranteed the equipment and conditions to do their work safely. Working people must take up their own empowerment as part of ensuring that future pandemics cannot wreak havoc on humanity.


1. To read the document in full, click here.

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Pandemic Exacerbates Situation of Unregistered Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

Amidst the global pandemic, the situation facing refugees is both dire and not well known. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) reports that, as of May 9, 134 countries that host refugees are reporting local transmission of COVID-19. Notably, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the main have fled conflict arising from imperialist war and aggression in their regions, such as the 2011 NATO war on Libya, and the foreign intervention in Syria to foment a civil war, which together culminated in the refugee crisis that came to the fore in 2015. In various places, the call of the UN Secretary-General for ceasefires in all military conflicts during the pandemic is yet to be heeded, with civilian infrastructure, including health care facilities, continuing to be damaged and more and more refugees and IDPs being created.

In an April 29 article, the website Counterfire noted, "Only a few days ago, Lebanon reported its first positive case in one of the Palestinian camps in Beqaa, where refugees have been forced to live in squalid and unsanitary conditions for generations. Meanwhile, deaths have been confirmed in parts of besieged northeastern Syria where 3 million IDPs have been squeezed into a region of 500,000 inhabitants. Elsewhere in the region, Turkey is pressing for repatriations, whilst Afghan refugees are fleeing from Iran back to Afghanistan in their thousands, adding an extra strain to the sending countries where health care systems are already fragile. Meanwhile, camps in eastern Africa and south Asia, that can be labelled 'cities of their own,' are bracing for the worst."

In Europe, the article notes that refugee camps in Calais, France and Lesbos, Greece are "far beyond capacity and resources and access to health care scarce since the onset of the lockdown measures."

In the United States, "the detention facilities of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) are becoming death traps for those incarcerated. Isolation and hygiene measures have become mission impossible in these conditions."

However, there are also many refugees out live outside official refugee camps. The article explains that "urban destitution where unregistered refugees are forced into poverty is a much larger problem and much more dangerous since access to health care is hard to navigate and most funds and NGO programs are directed towards those living in camps. Urban impoverishment is ever more present since 2015 with most of the refugees leaving the camps and ending up squatting in unsanitary facilities in the big cities, living under threat from, rather than the protection of, public authorities."

Economically and politically, refugees are made especially vulnerable because many countries that host large numbers of refugees may be impoverished and not equipped to meet their needs, or have policies to exclude refugees from access to state resources, including social programs. Counterfire gives the example of Lebanon and Jordan as two such countries, although the same is true in Canada and many other so-called developed countries. They are also made vulnerable by being scapegoated as a drain on resources by unscrupulous and backward political forces.

Imperialist aggression in the form of sanctions is another source of pressure on some refugee-hosting countries during the pandemic. The Counterfire article points out that "Iran is the hardest hit country in the Middle East and repatriation of Afghan refugees is ensuing on a massive scale, accompanied with all the dangers caused by forced cross-border movement, plus those posed by the pandemic. UNHCR has moved to provide some aid to refugees in Iran, yet, with the organization facing major funding challenges, Iran is left with one more issue to tackle."

The Counterfire article notes that various countries are changing their policies on immigrants and refugees due to the pandemic. It states that Jordan has "started following UNHCR guidelines and treating refugee camps as an indispensable part of its public health policies. Also, Portugal moved to give all migrants citizenship rights and Germany is trying to tap into the vast labour pool it has accumulated from the refugee crisis. Yet, after the advent of the disease, we should do everything possible so that these rights are not rolled back, in the hope of redefining the debate about refugees and migration."

Situation in Central America

On May 15, the UNHCR gave a press briefing on the situation of refugees and IDPs in Central America. The agency noted that "Violence has forced some 720,000 people in the region to flee their homes, as of the end of last year. Almost half of them are now displaced within their own country, including some 247,000 people in Honduras and some 71,500 in El Salvador, while others have fled across borders.

"Today, despite COVID-related lockdowns in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, IDPs and community leaders report that criminal groups are using the confinement to strengthen their control over communities. This includes the stepping up of extortion, drug trafficking and sexual and gender-based violence, and using forced disappearances, murders, and death threats against those that do not comply.

"Restrictions on movement make it harder for those that need help and protection to obtain it, and those that need to flee to save their lives are facing increased hurdles to find safety.

"In addition, strict lockdowns have resulted in many displaced and vulnerable people losing their livelihoods.

"As businesses are ordered to close and informal jobs vanish, people living in these vulnerable communities are losing their only sources of income.

"Many now have limited access to basic services like health care and running water. Faced with these dire circumstances, people are increasingly resorting to negative coping mechanisms -- including sex work -- that put them at further risk both in terms of health and by exposing themselves to violence and exploitation by the gangs.

"The intra-urban nature of internal displacement in the north of Central America, and the fact that it often involves one person or family at a time, can make new forced movements difficult to detect."

In this situation, the UNHCR reports that it "is working across the north of Central America, concentrating on the most critical humanitarian interventions to the extent that movement restrictions allow."

Mass Displacement in Libya Due to Military Conflict

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated in an April 7 press release that according to its research, more than 200,000 people have been displaced within Libya due to the escalating military conflict there. The IOM states that Tripoli accounts for approximately 150,000 of recorded new displacements, but people were also forced to leave their homes in other conflict-affected areas in the country, including Murzuq, Sirt and Abu Gurayn.

"A year into the conflict, the humanitarian situation in Libya has never been worse," said IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda. "The needs have never been greater and the conditions have never been more challenging. Despite calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, the fighting continues amid serious fears of a COVID-19 outbreak."

The IOM informs, "Since April 2019, the conflict has caused widespread damage to health facilities and other infrastructure in the capital, leaving tens of thousands of internally displaced Libyan families and migrants, some of whom are detained, in very difficult living conditions. Most of these vulnerable people are living in overcrowded accommodation with limited access to health services, at constant risk of shelling.

"The security situation is increasing humanitarian needs and making it more difficult for aid workers to reach vulnerable populations. Security challenges are now coupled with grave health concerns posed by the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus, especially in detention centres. Libya recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 24. [...]

"While at least 1,500 people are in detention in Libya, thousands of others remain in the hands of smugglers and traffickers in even worse conditions where humanitarian aid cannot be provided.

"IOM reiterates that civilian lives must be protected and safe passage provided to those fleeing conflict, and to allow humanitarian workers access, especially amid the fast-spreading global pandemic.

"All vulnerable populations must be included in the health response and measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19, including prevention, testing and treatment.

"IOM has been conducting regular disinfection and fumigation campaigns in detention centres and disembarkation points and providing hygiene items to detained migrants. These efforts are coupled with awareness raising and health education sessions conducted for migrants and displaced people. Through its mobile clinic, IOM medical teams continue to provide emergency and primary health assistance, including screenings for COVID-19 symptoms."

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Venezuela Brings Pandemic Under Control

On May 15, Jorge Rodríguez, Vice President for Communication, Tourism and Culture of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, presented a detailed update on the results of his country's management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the country's total 469 confirmed cases, he said 229 -- close to 50 per cent -- had recovered, with 220 being treated in hospitals, clinics or followed in special comprehensive diagnostic centres. Ten people have died -- with no new deaths occurring since April 19.

Rodríguez reported that Venezuela's mortality rate was the lowest in the region, at an impressive 0.35 per million. Its low number of confirmed cases -- at 16 per million -- is surpassed only by Nicaragua’s four per million. Venezuela also has administered more tests per million (just over 18,000) than any other country in the region. While the cases and deaths reported by a good many countries and jurisdictions are widely considered to be underestimated because of the abominably low levels of testing, this is not something Venezuela can easily be accused of. Its aggressive testing policy has been made possible by the supply of test kits made available to it for both laboratory and rapid diagnostic tests by China and Russia. As well, its overall public health approach to combatting the coronavirus has been boosted with the help of Cuba's Henry Reeve Medical Brigade and other medical workers it has sent to assist Venezuelan doctors and health teams in implementing the personalized and community-based diagnostic and treatment model Cuba is renowned for.

Rodríguez provided graphs to show how Venezuela had indeed flattened the curve of COVID-19, while neighbouring countries continue to struggle with rising numbers and much higher death rates. He attributed Venezuela's success to the government having taken the decision early on to implement social distancing, the wearing of masks and strict quarantining, which had proven successful in China. It also moved quickly to institute a nationwide survey and household-to-household follow-up with anyone who reported COVID-like symptoms. As of May 15, 210,678 home visits were carried out. He emphasized that Venezuela's having controlled transmission of the disease is not a reason to relax these measures, as there is the risk of a resurgence in short order should the protocols be lifted. He announced that a million rapid tests are now going to be administered around the country to check for antibodies as part of planning for the future.

Rodríguez pointed out that Venezuela's low mortality and high recovery rate is also thanks to treatments provided to all COVID-19 patients, using a number of drugs that have proven helpful in Cuba, China and elsewhere, including Cuba's Interferon Alpha 2B and others.

In breaking down the data he presented, Rodríguez noted that the state of Nueva Esparta on the Island of Margarita had the highest number of cases in the country due to the fact that officials of a private baseball academy ignored the quarantine and travelled with some players to the Dominican Republic, where they became infected, then transmitted the virus to their students and others upon returning home.

Vice President Rodríguez also pointed out that during the month of May between 70 and 80 per cent of new cases had originated outside the country as migrants returned home in their tens of thousands from other South American countries, mainly Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru and Chile, where rates of infection are much higher and the pandemic has not been brought under control. In March alone, 34,000 migrants are reported to have returned to Venezuela, many because they were left without jobs, homes, any source of income or status in countries they have migrated to in search of work. The Venezuelan government has a repatriation policy and welcomes all Venezuelan citizens who wish to return from countries they migrated to, in many cases transporting them at its own expense. Upon arrival at the border, all are screened, tested and quarantined for 14 days with food and lodging provided at no cost in special centres, and those who require care are admitted to a treatment facility until they have recovered, in order to prevent transmission of the disease inside the country. 

This generous repatriation initiative is not something one will find reported in the imperialist media, that have gone out of their way in recent years to tell horror stories about Venezuelan "refugees" fleeing to countries whose governments are part of the Lima Group, which is engaged in demonizing the Venezuelan government and plotting with the U.S. to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro. These same media, along with hypocritical and dishonest international coup plotters, including the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, refuse to acknowledge these undeniable achievements of the Venezuelan people and their government. Instead they continue to embrace a criminal imposter who is ready to see the blood of his compatriots shed at the hands of mercenaries, as the "legitimate president of Venezuela," and conspire with the worst of the worst in Latin America about how they are going to solve Venezuela's "humanitarian crisis," which they say threatens the entire region, all in order to justify their interference.

Congratulations to the Venezuelan government and people for the results they have achieved in managing and bringing the pandemic under control by prioritizing the health and well-being of the population, based on science and solidarity as first considerations! It is all the more worthy of recognition given the brutal siege they are under, including the constant and growing threat of a foreign invasion -- something the accomplices and appeasers of the U.S. imperialists in both the north and south of the hemisphere, to their shame, cannot bring themselves to condemn.

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On the Global Pandemic for Week Ending May 16

Number of Cases Worldwide

As of May 16, the worldwide statistics for COVID-19 pandemic as reported by Worldometer were:

- Total reported cases: 4,647,961. This is 642,306 more than the total reported on May 9 of 4,005,655. The increase in cases compared to the previous week was 579,273.

- Total active cases: 2,567,983. This is 214,088 more than the number reported on May 9 of 2,353,895. The increase in total active cases compared to the previous week was 261,951.

- Closed cases: 2,079,978. This is 428,218 more than the number reported on May 9 of 1,651,760. This compares to an increase in the previous week of 317,322.

- Deaths: 308,985. This is 33,316 more deaths than on May 9, when the toll was 275,669. This compares to an increase in the previous week of 35,181.

- Recovered: 1,770,993. This is up 394,902 from the May 9 figure of 1,376,091 and compares to an increase the previous week of 282,141 recoveries.

There were 99,405 new cases from May 15 to 16. This compares to the one-day increase in cases from May 7 to 8 of 96,262 new cases.

The disease was present in 213 countries and territories, up from 212 the week prior. Of these, 52 countries had less than 100 cases, as compared to May 9 when there were 56 countries with less than 100 cases. There are 15 countries/territories without active cases this week, up from four the previous week. They are Mauritius (332 cases; 322 recovered; 10 deaths); Faeroe Islands (187 cases, all recovered); Eritrea (39 cases, all recovered); Timor-Leste (24 cases, all recovered); Belize (18 cases; 16 recovered; 2 deaths); New Caledonia (18 cases, all recovered); Saint Lucia (18 cases, all recovered); the Malvinas (13 cases, all recovered); Greenland (11 cases; all recovered); Suriname (10 cases; 9 recovered; 1 death); Papua New Guinea (8 cases; all recovered); Caribbean Netherlands (6 cases; all recovered); St. Barth (6 cases, all recovered); Western Sahara (6 cases, all recovered); Anguilla (3 cases, all recovered); Saint Pierre et Miquelon (1 case, recovered).

The five countries with the highest number of cases on May 16 are noted below, accompanied by the number of cases and deaths per million population:

USA: 1,484,287 (1,068,029 active; 327,751 recovered; 88,507 deaths) and 4,488 cases per million; 268 deaths per million
- May 9 1,318,686 (1,018,180 active; 222,008 recovered; 78,498 deaths) and 3,984 cases per million; 237 deaths per million

Spain: 274,367 (57,941 active; 188,967 recovered; 27,459 deaths)
and 5,868 cases per million; 587 deaths per million
- May 9: 260,117 (65,410 active; 168,408 recovered; 26,299 deaths) and 5,563 cases per million; 562 deaths per million

Russia: 272,043 (206,340 active; 63,166 recovered; 2,537 deaths)
and 1,801 cases per million; 17 deaths per million
- May 9: 187,859 (159,528 active; 26,608 recovered; 1,723 deaths) and 1,287 cases per million; 12 deaths per million

UK: 236,711 (active N/A; recovered N/A; 33,998 deaths) and 3,489 cases per million; 501 deaths per million
- May 9: 211,364 (179,779 active; recovered N/A; 31,241 deaths) and 3,114 cases per million; 460 deaths per million

Italy: 223,885 (72,070 active; 120,205 recovered; 31,610 deaths) and 3,702 cases per million; 523 deaths per million
- May 9: 217,185 (87,961 active; 99,023 recovered; 30,201 deaths) and 3,592 cases per million; 500 deaths per million

The U.S. alone has about 31.93 per cent of all cases worldwide as compared to 33 on May 9. Cases in Europe comprise 37.46 per cent of all cases worldwide, as compared to 39.48 on May 9.

Cases in Top Five Countries by Region

In Europe on May 16, the two other European countries with the highest number of reported cases after Spain and Italy, listed above, are France and Germany:

France: 179,506 (91,529 active; 60,448 recovered; 27,529 deaths) and 2,751 cases per million; 422 deaths per million
- May 9: 176,079 (94,067 active; 55,782 recovered; 26,230 deaths) and 2,698 cases per million; 402 deaths per million

Germany: 175,699 (15,998 active; 151,700 recovered; 8,001 deaths) and 2,098 cases per million; 96 deaths per million
- May 9: 170,678 (21,468 active; 141,700 recovered; 7,510 deaths) and 2,037 cases per million; 90 deaths per million

A major development in Europe this week is the lifting of travel restrictions or plans to do so in the near future, including by those countries the most affected by the pandemic.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on May 10 that the UK would gradually begin to lift various confinement measures during the week. He said that while people should continue to work from home if possible, construction and manufacturing workers would be encouraged to go to work. However, people should avoid using public transport, which will continue to operate at around 10 per cent capacity, said Johnson, adding, "This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead, we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures." The plan will see shops and primary schools re-opened from June 1, while hospitality businesses and other public places could reopen -- "if the numbers support it" -- on July 1, Johnson said. He stressed that the plan was "conditional" and would depend on the infection rate remaining low, as well as other criteria, including a sustained and consistent fall in the death rate, testing for coronavirus, and the availability of critical care facilities.

In the UK at least, such plans are underway despite the lack of confidence in the government's efforts to contain the pandemic and the real danger of a resurgence of infections that could result.

In Italy, under a new decree approved on May 16, inter-regional and foreign travel will be allowed again as of June 3, except for Vatican City and San Marino, a measure aimed at restarting the tourism industry. The timing is also meant to prevent mass travel for the Republic Day holiday on June 2.

In Germany, EU citizens whose countries are part of the Schengen agreement travel zone and UK citizens will soon be free to enter the country if the pandemic remains under control, Deutsche Welle reported on May 15. In turn, German citizens will be able to visit neighbouring countries more easily as Germany prepares to open up its borders in the coming days and weeks, as it is "confident" it has been "successful in containing the pandemic," the Interior Ministry said on May 15. Previously, movement was restricted to only travel deemed essential and those entering or leaving Germany had to quarantine for 14 days; this will now only be advised for those coming from places with high rates of infection.

In France, the government has issued a colour-coded map of the country, splitting the country in half into green and red zones. The map combines infections over the past seven days, stress on intensive care beds in hospitals and testing capacity. On May 11, lockdown measures were relaxed more in the green areas than the red for the time being, the BBC reports. To begin with, primary schools and most businesses will be allowed to reopen in both zones. Cafes, restaurants, secondary schools, public parks and gardens will be able to reopen in June in the green zones, infection rates permitting. In Paris and the four adjoining regions -- Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Grand Est Bourgogne-Franche-Comte -- which comprise the red zone, public parks and gardens will stay shut. Masks must be worn on public transport, which will be disinfected at least once a day, and stores will have the right to ask shoppers to wear them. Social distancing rules will also stay in place. People everywhere (except the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte) can go back to work and leave home without downloading a permit. Video surveillance cameras will monitor how many people are wearing masks and that they are staying at least a metre apart.

In Spain, half of the country has "advanced to phase one of a four-phase plan to ease lockdown restrictions by July," the Guardian reports. "Hoteliers can open their properties -- though none of the common areas -- and bars and restaurants can open a limited amount of outdoor seating. However Madrid, Málaga, Granada, Barcelona and parts of Valencia are among the provinces and municipalities not yet cleared to advance.

"Tourism is Spain's third largest contributor to the economy, making up 12.3 per cent of its GDP, and there is pressure to get hotels to reopen, despite the fact that until July no one will be allowed to travel between provinces. And until borders reopen, airlines start flying and the 14-day quarantine is lifted, there will be no foreign tourists.

"In the meantime, to ensure health security and help restore confidence, government health-and-safety guidelines have been drawn up for every sector of the tourism industry. For hotels, this means vigorous cleaning and disinfection multiple times a day by staff wearing PPE, as well as changes to the guest experience, such as a ban on buffets."

In Eurasia on May 16, Russia tops the list of five countries with the highest cases in the region, with the figures reported above, followed by:

Turkey: 146,457 (36,269 active; 106,133 recovered; 4,055 deaths) and 1,739 cases per million; 48 deaths per million
- May 9: 135,569 (45,484 active; 86,396 recovered; 3,689 deaths) and 1,607 cases per million; 44 deaths per million

Kazakhstan: 5,850 ( 3,109 active; 2,707 recovered; 34 deaths) and 312 cases per million; 2 deaths per million
- May 9: 4,834 (3,172 active; 1,631 recovered; 31 deaths) and 257 cases per million; 2 deaths per million

Armenia: 4,283 (2,437 active; 1,791 recovered; 55 deaths) and 1,446 cases per million; 9 deaths per million
- May 9: 3,029 (1,768 active; 1,218 recovered; 43 deaths) and 1,022 cases per million; 15 deaths per million

Azerbaijan: 2,980 (1,058 active; 1,886 recovered; 36 deaths) and 294 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 9: 2,422 (771 active; 1,620 recovered; 31 deaths)

Since May 3, Russia has had about 10,000 or more new cases per day. The daily rate of deaths continues to increase, with an all-time high reached on May 15 of 113. Nonetheless, on May 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that measures taken thus far had created a situation where a gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown measures could begin on May 12, Reuters reported. President Putin "emphasized the lifting of restrictions would be gradual and that individual regions in the world's largest country would need to tailor their approach to varying local conditions. Moscow, for example, has said it will keep its own lockdown measures in place until May 31."

"Mass public events would still be banned," said Putin, "and Russians aged 65 or over are asked to stay home, even as certain sectors of the bruised economy such as construction and agriculture are allowed to restart work."

Deaths in Russia due to COVID-19 are relatively low, which Russian officials attribute to the high level of testing, 6,413,948 as of May 16, the highest number in the world and more than double the number carried out by Germany, 3,147,771, which has the next highest number.

In West Asia on May 16:

Iran: 118,392 (18,308 active; 93,147 recovered; 6,937 deaths) and 1,412 cases per million; 83 deaths per million
- May 9: 104,691 (14,313 active; 83,837 recovered; 6,541 deaths) and 1,246 cases per million; 78 deaths per million

Saudi Arabia: 52,016 (28,048 active; 23,666 recovered; 302 deaths) and 1,497 cases per million; 9 deaths per million
- May 9: 35,432 (26,083 active; 9,120 recovered; 229 deaths) and 1,018 cases per million; 7 deaths per million

Qatar: 30,972 (27,169 active; 3,788 recovered; 15 deaths) and 10,774 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
- May 9: 20,201 (17,819 active; 2,370 recovered; 12 deaths) and 7,012 cases per million; 4 deaths per million

UAE: 21,831 (14,293 active; 7,328 recovered; 210 deaths)
and 2,211 cases per million; 21 deaths per million
- May 9: 16,793 (12,782 active; 3,837 recovered; 174 deaths) and 1,698 cases per million; 18 deaths per million

Israel: 16,606 (3,519 active; 12,820 recovered; 267 deaths) and 1,922 cases per million; 31 deaths per million
- May 9: 16,436 (4,962 active; 11,229 recovered; 245 deaths) and 1,899 cases per million; 28 deaths per million

In Iran, after a steady decrease in the rate of daily new cases from more then 3,000 to less than 1,000 between March 30 and May 2, the number of new cases has been on the increase, back up to about 2,000 new cases per day. Lockdown restrictions -- the closing of educational institutions and a ban on cultural, religious, and sports gatherings -- have gradually been lifted since April 11, beginning with the lifting of "low-risk" businesses. This past week, Iran reopened all mosques across the country. while schools in "low-risk" regions are set to reopen on May 16, Anadolu Agency reported.

In Iraq, the destruction wrought by the U.S.-led imperialist intervention in 2003 has created a situation where "a massive 70 per cent of the country's health care infrastructure has been destroyed. As hospitals are besieged by victims of the pandemic, a state enfeebled by two decades of conflict is again at a breaking point," a May 11 article published on the website Jacobin reports. The article points out that "the current health crisis was declared just at the moment that Iraq was going through one of the gravest episodes since the beginning of the occupation." It notes that "At the same time, the Trump administration adopted a more aggressive strategy in Iraq, as relations between the United States and Iran grew ever more tense, with both American and Israeli attacks increasing against the Tehran-aligned Popular Mobilization Forces. The point of no return was reached on January 3 this year, when American bombs killed Qassim Soleimani, commander of the al-Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, the PMF's second-in-command, seen as the 'hero of the victory against Daesh [IS]' by many Iraqis.


"The killing of al-Mohandis in particular was viewed, by Iraqis from across the political spectrum, as a serious attack against the country's sovereignty. On January 5 the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for the end of foreign troops' presence in the country, as millions of people took to the streets to denounce the assassination of both Soleimani and al-Mohandis. Muqtada al-Sadr commanded his partisans to leave the anti-government protests and join the funeral processions and, for his part, demanded the retreat of American troops from Iraq. Threatened, President Trump said:

"'If they do ask us to leave, if we don't do it on a very friendly basis. We will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.'

"In mid-January, Washington went so far as to threaten to restrict Iraq's access to its own bank reserves, held in New York -- the ultimate symbol of Baghdad's subordination.

"It is in this context that the coronavirus epidemic was declared at the end of February. The minister of health demanded $5 billion immediately and a further $150 billion to buy testing and other medical equipment. But the government hasn't been able to fully respond, since a new budget has not yet been voted through by parliament.

"Confinement measures have worsened the economic crisis and Iraq's dependence on oil -- 85 per cent of the state budget comes from petrochemical revenues -- meaning that 'Iraq has lost half of its financial revenues' over the last period, as one government official has explained. 1,928 people in Iraq have been infected (as compared to 717 in Lebanon and 501 in Palestine; we don't have reliable statistics for Syria and Yemen). If this number seems small in comparison with the hecatomb of the West, the catastrophe may be no less severe, given the state of health services.


"The health sector gets only 2.5 per cent of the national budget. The successive wars have ruined what was, in the 1990s, one of the most developed health care systems in the region. According to a UNICEF report, 97 per cent of the urban and 71 per cent of the rural population had access to medical care in 1990, thanks to a well-established medical profession, and the fact that care itself was free of charge. But according to the UN, around 20,000 Iraqi doctors have left the country since 2003.

"As the second-biggest exporter of oil in the world, the state today is not able to enact general testing. In Mosul, the country's second-biggest city, nine of the thirteen hospitals on which the city depended were destroyed during the war against IS. The larger part of the city does not have access to water or basic services. According to Médecins Sans Frontières, there are not even 1,000 beds per 1.8 million people, with 70 per cent of all medical facilities destroyed. In Sadr City, there are just four hospitals for 3.5 million inhabitants and a chronic lack of medical staff.

"The country's economic crisis brought many thousands of protesters onto the streets through late 2019; the health crisis will only exacerbate the population's precarious living conditions.

"According to the UN, 4 million Iraqi survive thanks to international aid which, since the crisis is global, may itself plummet. There are still 1.4 million displaced people in the country, 200,000 of whom are living in camps.

"And, as the state plans to reduce the wages of state functionaries (that is, 30 per cent of the active population), a huge number of people due to confinement have already lost their income, with two-thirds of the active population working in the informal sector."

In South Asia on May 16:

India: 86,595 (53,049 active; 30,786 recovered; 2,760 deaths) and 63 cases per million; 2 deaths per million
- May 9: 59,693 (39,821 active; 17,887 recovered; 1,985 deaths) and 43 cases per million; 1 death per million

Pakistan: 38,799 (27,085 active; 10,880 recovered; 834 deaths) and 176 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 9: 26,435 (18,306 active; 7,530 recovered; 599 deaths) and 120 cases per million; 3 deaths per million

Bangladesh: 20,995 (16,564 active; 4,117 recovered; 314 deaths) and 128 cases per million; 2 deaths per million
- May 9: 13,134 (10,827 active; 2,101 recovered; 206 deaths) and 80 cases per million; 1 death per million

Afghanistan: 6,402 (5,489 active; 745 recovered; 168 deaths) and 165 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 9: 3,778 (3,197 active; 472 recovered; 109 deaths) and 97 cases per million; 3 cases per million

Sri Lanka: 936 (407 active; 520 recovered; 9 deaths) and 44 cases per million; 0.4 deaths per million
- May 9: 824 (575 active; 240 recovered; 9 deaths) and 38 cases per million; 0.4 deaths per million

In Southeast Asia on May 16:

Singapore: 27,356 (20,087 active; 7,248 recovered; 21 deaths) and 4,681 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 9: 21,707 (19,647 active; 2,040 recovered; 20 deaths) and 3,710 cases per million; 3 deaths per million

Indonesia: 17,025 (12,025 active; 3,911 recovered; 1,089 deaths) and 62 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 9: 13,112 (9,675 active; 2,494 recovered; 943 deaths) and 48 cases per million; 3 deaths per million

Philippines: 12,305 (8,927 active; 2,561 recovered; 817 deaths) and 112 cases per million; 7 deaths per million
- May 9: 10,463 (8,033 active; 1,734 recovered; 696 deaths) and 95 cases per million; 6 deaths per million

Malaysia: 6,872 (1,247 active; 5,512 recovered; 113 deaths) and 213 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
- May 9: 6,535 (1,564 active; 4,864 recovered; 107 deaths) and 202 cases per million; 3 deaths per million

Thailand: 3,025 (114 active; 2,855 recovered; 56 deaths) and 43 cases per million; 0.8 deaths per million
- May 9: 3,000 (161 active; 2,784 recovered; 55 deaths) and 43 cases per million; 0.8 deaths per million

In East Asia on May 16:

China: 82,941 (89 active; 78,219 recovered; 4,633 deaths)
and 58 cases per million; 3 deaths per million
- May 9: 82,886 (260 active; 77,993 recovered; 4,633 deaths) and 58 cases per million; 3 deaths per million

Japan: 16,203 (5,152 active; 10,338 recovered; 713 deaths) and 128 cases per million; 6 deaths per million
- May 9: 15,575 (9,839 active; 5,146 recovered; 590 deaths) and 123 cases per million; 5 deaths per million

South Korea: 11,037 (924 active; 9,851 recovered; 262 deaths) and 215 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
- May 9: 10,822 (1,082 active; 9,484 recovered; 256 deaths) and 211 cases per million; 5 deaths per million

Taiwan: 440 (44 active; 389 recovered; 7 deaths) 18 cases per million; 0.3 deaths per million
- May 9: 440 (79 active; 355 recovered; 6 deaths) and 18 cases per million; 0.3 deaths per million

China and Korea have brought the pandemic under control, however the recent easing of pandemic restrictions in those countries has resulted in small resurgences of COVID-19 infections in both countries in the past week. However, the overall situation means that both countries can put full weight behind efforts to mop up such outbreaks. For example, in Wuhan, China, authorities announced this past week that a program to test all of the city's 11 million residents would be undertaken to block any further resurgences.

In North America on May 16:

USA: 1,484,287 (1,068,029 active; 327,751 recovered; 88,507 deaths) and 4,488 cases per million; 268 deaths per million
- May 9 1,318,686 (1,018,180 active; 222,008 recovered; 78,498 deaths) and 3,984 cases per million; 237 deaths per million

Canada: 74,613 (32,156 active; 36,895 recovered; 5,562 deaths) and 1,979 cases per million; 148 deaths per million
- May 9: 66,326 (31,811 active; 29,948 recovered; 4,567 deaths) and 1,757 cases per million; 121 deaths per million

Mexico: 45,032 (9,814 active; 30,451 recovered; 4,767 deaths) and 350 cases per million; 37 deaths per million
- May 9: 29,616 (8,874 active; 17,781 recovered; 2,961 deaths) and 230 cases per million; 23 deaths per million

The overall political crisis in the U.S. combined with pandemic continues to illustrate the need for profound political renewal, where working people can exercise control over the matters that concern them, including setting a new human-centred direction for the economy. Despite the overall situation across the U.S. not being under control, various states have begun to lift lockdown restrictions, resulting in new outbreaks of COVID-19.

This past week it came to light that in January, a U.S. domestic mask manufacturer in Texas, with the capacity to manufacture 1.7 million of N95 masks per week, ultimately had its offer to restart production lines turned down by the government. Not long after, shortages of masks became rampant and the federal government has been purchasing masks from abroad at greatly inflated prices, and procurement contracts have been handed out to unqualified suppliers. Domestic production of masks in the U.S. has still not restarted and masks are being imported, including from China, a country that the Trump administration is stepping up its attempts to demonize. Meanwhile, despite air travel being virtually stopped, the Transportation Safety Authority has been hoarding more than 1.3 million N95 masks, instead of donating them to hospitals, as directed by the Department of Homeland Security.

While the ruling circles in the U.S. have been enacting pay-the-rich bailout schemes for private corporations, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) a public institution that is especially crucial during the pandemic, has been denied the funding it requires during this time of crisis. The American Postal Workers Union (AWPU) has issued a campaign calling on the government to support the USPS, stating:

"Postal workers are keeping our country moving and U.S. economy working for us during this time of crisis -- getting prescriptions delivered to people sheltering in place, making e-commerce possible and keeping families connected. It is the emergency distribution system when our country is in crisis.

"But at this unprecedented time, that work is under threat. The Coronavirus shutdown is plummeting postal revenues while increasing costs. The Postal Service could run out of money by the end of the Summer and the Trump administration is trying to leverage the crisis to sacrifice our public Postal Service at the altar of private profit.

"The loss of the USPS would shatter our response to the Coronavirus pandemic, hit already weakened businesses, and ravage communities. Our public Postal Service needs all American leaders -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- to provide urgent and ongoing financial support from the Federal Government during this public health and economic crisis."

Despite the huge value that the USPS creates, an April 14 article in New York Magazine explains that "the USPS is not funded by congressional appropriations. Rather, since the 1970s, Congress has required the Postal Service to simultaneously:

"- Finance its own operations, as though it were a business.

"- Provide mail service to every part of the country -- and charge Americans the same (affordable) postal rates no matter where they live, even if such Americans happen to reside in rural hinterlands that private carriers ignore because they cannot be profitably served.

"This dual mandate was always a challenge. But as the internet's growth reduced demand for snail mail, it became nigh impossible for the USPS to meet both of these requirements without cutting jobs and employee compensation. And, in 2006, a Republican Congress deliberately made the agency's predicament worse by (needlessly) forcing it to prepay all its employees' pension and retirement health costs decades in advance. All this rendered the Postal Service technically insolvent before COVID-19 made its presence felt in the U.S. Now that the crisis has also drastically reduced America's overall mail volume, the agency's revenue is in free fall. According to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, USPS will incur $22 billion in new losses over the next 18 months."

In Central America and the Caribbean on May 16:

Dominican Republic: 11,739 (7,758 active; 3,557 recovered; 424 deaths) and 1,084 cases per million; 39 deaths per million
- May 9: 9,376 (6,710 active; 2,286 recovered; 380 deaths) and 864 cases per million; 35 deaths per million

Panama: 9,268 (2,922 active; 6,080 recovered; 266 active) and 2,152 cases per million; 62 deaths per million
- May 9: 7,868 (6,757 active; 886 recovered; 225 deaths) and 1,824 cases per million; 52 deaths per million

Honduras: 2,460 (2,062 active; 264 recovered; 134 deaths) and 249 cases per million; 14 deaths per million
- May 9: 1,685 (1,426 active; 154 recovered; 105 deaths) and 170 cases per million; 11 deaths per million

Cuba: 1,840 (336 active; 1,425 recovered; 79 deaths) and 162 cases per million; 7 deaths per million
- May 9: 1,741 (589 active; 1,078 recovered; 74 deaths) and 154 cases per million; 7 deaths per million

Guatemala: 1,643 (1,478 active; 135 recovered; 30 deaths) and 92 cases per million; 2 deaths per million
- May 9: 832 (719 active; 90 recovered; 23 deaths) and 46 cases per million; 1 death per million

In South America on May 16:

Brazil: 220,291 (120,359 active; 84,970 recovered; 14,962 deaths) and 1,037 cases per million; 70 deaths per million
- May 9: 145,328 (80,081 active; 55,350 recovered; 9,897 deaths) and 684 cases per million; 47 deaths per million

Peru: 84,495 (54,956 active; 27,147 recovered; 2,392 deaths) and 2,567 cases per million; 73 deaths per million
- May 9: 61,847 (41,121 active; 19,012 recovered; 1,714 deaths) and 1,876 cases per million; 52 deaths per million

Chile: 39,542 (22,534 active; 16,614 recovered; 394 deaths) and 2,071 cases per million; 21 deaths per million
- May 9: 25,972 (13,518 active; 12,160 recovered; 294 deaths) and 1,359 cases per million; 15 deaths per million

Ecuador: 31,467 (25,440 active; 3,433 recovered; 2,594 deaths) and 1,787 cases per million; 147
- May 9: 30,298 (25,211 active; 3,433 recovered; 1,654 deaths) and 1,717 cases per million; 94 deaths per million

Colombia: 14,216 (10,210 active; 3,460 recovered; 546 deaths) and 280 cases per million; 11 deaths per million
- May 9: 9,456 (6,749 active; 2,300 recovered; 407 deaths) and 186 cases per million; 8 deaths per million

Brazil's current rate of new daily cases reached more than 15,000 on May 16. If this continues unabated, the country will likely have the third highest number of cases worldwide by next week. Reuters reported on May 15 that "Brazil's health minister Nelson Teich handed in his resignation on Friday [May 15] after less than a month on the job, adding to turmoil in the government's handling of the novel coronavirus as the country becomes a global hot spot for the pandemic.

"Teich, who disagreed with right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, has submitted his resignation and will hold a news conference later Friday, his office said. Bolsonaro has been pushing in recent days for wider use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, which Teich resisted.

"They have also disagreed on the pace of reopening the economy. Last week, the minister said he was not consulted before Bolsonaro issued a decree allowing gyms, beauty parlours and hairdressers to open for business.

"Teich is the second health minister to resign amid the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil. In mid-April he replaced Nelson Mandetta, who also resisted broader use of hydroxychloroquine and disagreed with Bolsonaro's argument to do away with quarantines and other coronavirus restrictions."

"It is not clear who will be the next to step into the role."

In Africa on May 16:

South Africa: 13,524 (7,194 active; 6,083 recovered; 247 deaths) and 228 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 9: 8,895 (5,564 active; 3,153 recovered; 178 deaths) and 150 cases per million; 3 deaths per million

Egypt: 11,228 (7,837 active; 2,799 recovered; 592 deaths) and 110 cases per million; 6 deaths per million
- May 9: 8,476 (6,028 active; 1,945 recovered; 503 deaths) and 83 cases per million; 5 deaths per million

Morocco: 6,681 (3,014 active; 3,475 recovered; 192 deaths) and 181 cases per million; 5 deaths per million
- May 9: 5,711 (3,201 active; 2,324 recovered; 186 deaths) and 155 cases per million; 5 deaths per million

Algeria: 6,629 (2,822 active; 3,271 recovered; 536 deaths) and 152 cases per million; 12 deaths per million
- May 9: 5,369 (2,414 active; 2,467 recovered; 488 deaths) and 122 cases per million; 11 deaths per million

Ghana: 5,638 (4,150 active; 1,460 recovered; 28 deaths) and 182 cases per million; 0.9 deaths per million
- May 9: 4,012 (3,671 active; 323 recovered; 18 deaths) and 129 cases per million; 0.6 deaths per million

Overall, the total number of cases on the African continent on May 16 is 80,171, up from 58,528 on May 9.

The U.S. imperialists' wretched inhumanity continues to be on full display in Somalia, where "In the first four months of this year, U.S. Africa Command has conducted more airstrikes in Somalia than it did during all of Barack Obama's eight years in office," Nick Turse, writing for The Intercept, reported on April 22. The report continues:

"The massive escalation of America's undeclared war in Somalia comes as UN Secretary-General António Guterres has repeatedly appealed for a global ceasefire amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 'There should be only one fight in our world today, our shared battle against COVID-19,' he reiterated on April 3. 'We must mobilize every ounce of energy to defeat it.'

"That same day, AFRICOM [the U.S. military's Africa Command] conducted an 'airstrike targeting al-Shabaab terrorists in the vicinity of Bush Madina, Somalia,' according to a command press release. The U.S. claimed five members of al-Shabaab were killed in the strike.

"Since the beginning of the year, AFRICOM has announced 39 airstrikes in Somalia. The command announced a total of 36 such attacks from 2009 to 2017, under Obama, peaking in 2016 with 19 declared airstrikes. Last year, under President Donald Trump, the U.S. conducted 63 air attacks in Somalia, the most ever in a single year.


"'The high tempo of U.S. air and ground operations in Somalia appears to be focused on supporting efforts by Somali government forces and its [African Union Mission in Somalia] allies to dislodge the terror group from its strongholds,' said Chris Woods, the director of Airwars, a UK-based airstrike monitoring group. 'There are also a significant number of strikes targeting leadership within the terror group.'

"The spike in U.S. airstrikes comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in Somalia is similarly rising. On April 8, there were 21 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Somalia. [As of May 16, there are 1,284 total cases (1,096 active; 135 recovered; 53 deaths) -- TML Ed. Note] Most of those infected have no history of travel abroad, indicating local transmission of the disease and worrying prospects for the future -- especially among the many internally displaced persons, or IDPs, who have lost their homes to the ongoing conflict between al-Shabaab and the Federal Government of Somalia, which is backed by the United States.

"'There is an increased risk that cases may go undetected or undiagnosed if community transmission begins and becomes widespread,' reads an April 20 report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 'The impact on the 2.6 million [internally displaced persons] living in more than 2,000 crowded settlements with limited access to health and water, sanitation and hygiene services would be catastrophic.'

"While reports have been circulating about potential U.S. military drawdowns and even base closures in Africa, the number of U.S. outposts in Somalia is significant and poised to expand. There are five U.S. bases in Somalia -- the second-most on the continent after Niger -- according to formerly secret 2019 AFRICOM planning documents revealed by The Intercept earlier this year."

In Oceania on May 16:

Australia: 7,036 (576 active; 6,362 recovered; 98 deaths) and 276 cases per million; 4 deaths per million
- May 9: 6,914 (738 active; 6,079 recovered; 97 deaths) and 271 cases per million; 4 deaths per million

New Zealand: 1,498 (49 active; 1,428 recovered; 21 deaths) and 311 cases per million; 4 deatths per million
- May 9: 1,490 (122 active; 1,347 recovered; 21 deaths) and 309 cases per million; 4 deaths per million

Guam: 149 (5 deaths)
- May 9: 142 (5 deaths)

French Polynesia: 60 (1 active; 59 recovered) and 214 cases per million
- May 9: 60 (4 active; 56 recovered) and 214 cases per million

New Caledonia: 18 (all recovered)
- May 9: 18 (1 active; 17 recovered)

(With files from news agencies, BBC, Euractive, Deutsche Welle, Guardian, The Intercept, Jacobin.)

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52nd Anniversary of the Reorganization of The Internationalists

A Decisive Event in the Political Life
of Canada -- May 7, 1968

May 7, 2020 marked the 52nd anniversary of the reorganization of The Internationalists into a Marxist-Leninist youth and student organization. The Internationalists, precursor organization to the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), was founded in Vancouver on March 13, 1963. The reorganization of The Internationalists, under the leadership of its founder, Comrade Hardial Bains, took place in Montreal from May 7 to May 25, 1968, a development of historic import to the political life of Canada. It marked a crucial step towards the creation of CPC(M-L) as the party of the Canadian working class, a revolutionary party capable of and dedicated to providing the struggles of the working class and people with the consciousness and organization they require to win victory.

Hardial Bains,
Founder and Leader of CPC(M-L)

The work of The Internationalists under the leadership of Comrade Bains sorted out the crucial issue of who decides as it pertains to the political organization of the working class and its leading role in the society and the indispensable role of consciousness and organization in the mobilization of the people to participate in finding solutions to the key problems facing the society. In an article entitled "Paying First-Rate Attention to the Need of the People for Consciousness and Organization," Comrade Bains points out the living legacy of The Internationalists:

"Besides other things, in dealing with the problems of consciousness and organization, The Internationalists adopted the principle of collective work and individual responsibility, that every member has the duty to not only implement the decisions agreed upon but to also participate in arriving at them. This insistence that they must participate in arriving at decisions was considered not just a right but a duty as well. It put the individual at the centre of all developments and the organization as a means of achieving them, thereby establishing a dialectical relationship between the individual and the collective, between form and content.

"[...] It was a historic moment of departure from the building of organizations on the basis of old definitions, to building them on the basis of the present and modern definitions. It became profoundly clear that The Internationalists as a political organization could only develop on the basis of political unity and political initiative, as manifested in concrete terms by their line of action with analysis and in defence of their immediate and strategic aims. Such aims were set according to the demands which arose from those conditions, for the harmonization of the general interests of society with those of the collective and individual, placing in the first place the role of the masses in ensuring that it happens. [...]

"[The Internationalists] provided a framework through which everyone's word and deed could shine, realizing the tasks set for that period. This meant that as a way of life, all those in whose interest it was to make the decisions in the course of realizing their aims were mobilized. A modern way of doing things was established, linking the organization with the content, words with deeds, the individual to the highest responsibility of ensuring that nothing passes by without his/her scrutiny. A truly revolutionary and Marxist-Leninist organization was created by the individuals who wished for nothing else but the victory of the working class in its historic march for emancipation. A qualitative change took place, in both the spheres of consciousness and organization. This change was consistent with the concrete conditions and deserving of those who prided themselves for being members of the vanguard organization of the working class.

"The Internationalists created another form consistent with the aim of providing the class with consciousness and organization. This was the form of mass democracy, today known as the method of mass political mobilization. It is the method of seeking the opinions of the masses in the course of work. Seeking the opinions of the masses was not an option but an obligation to the mass activism. It was the only reliable basis for the realization of any task set for the period. Bourgeois formalism, the method of spending millions of dollars by using the most modern techniques to confuse the people -- gossip, character assassination, etc. -- were replaced with involving the people in discussion. What was to be done, how and when, emerged as ongoing work under all conditions without exception. 

"For The Internationalists, work and mobilization constituted two categories of a single whole, interdependent on each other and on everything else. Action with analysis had the same relationship. The starting point for The Internationalists was always work, as demanded by the concrete conditions of the time.

"Besides the method of mass democracy, The Internationalists carried out the work of mobilization at various levels, ensuring that all problems inside or outside the organization were sorted out on the basis of advanced positions, through criticism and self-criticism and by always keeping the aim of unity in first place. Struggle was never separated from either the on-going task of strengthening unity or from the aim of realizing the immediate aims set for the period or at the cost of the strategic aim. The Internationalists placed struggle in first place. This meant putting the entire consciousness and organization in the service of the class struggle as the only basis of development in society. How should class struggle be waged and against whom and when were the most important questions which The Internationalists dealt with, on the basis of the keenness and seriousness they required. It is for this reason that everyone was called upon to participate in arriving at decisions not just as a right which belongs to them but also as a duty demanded from them by the organization. [...]

"Finally, The Internationalists provided forums to the people, both internal as well as external, private as well as public, for their mobilization. Basing the organization on the principles of democratic centralism required The Internationalists to have a leading line all the time, which is presented to the masses all the time, ensuring that their level of consciousness and organization are not lowered to that of the bourgeoisie.[...]

"After a period of less than two years of vigorous all-round political activity from May 1968 to March 1970, it was analyzed that all the material and technical conditions were ready to found the Communist Party. The required theoretical and political work and the organization as their integral part were ready for the founding of CPC(M-L), declared in a public meeting in Montreal on March 31, 1970.

"This entire work to involve everyone in the decision-making plan, which came to be known later on as the method of maximum political mobilization, meant that the entire work always had to be based on the people according to the concrete conditions of the period. If the working class is to lead everyone in fulfilling its historic mission to create a new society, people's right to make decisions must be recognized as must the demand that so doing must be considered a duty as well."

This is what is being revealed more than ever as a result of the conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. The neo-liberal anti-social offensive has created havoc for the people but the working class is a class with its own aims, political program, consciousness and organization. Under these conditions, the importance of the principles of building and consolidating organization elaborated by Comrade Bains and embodied in the work of CPC(M-L) cannot be overemphasized. Otherwise, working out and achieving the pro-social aims of the working class and people is not possible. By working out and then basing themselves on these principles, The Internationalists in their day provided themselves with the capability to meet the needs of the times and so too Party activists and the working class today must also meet the needs of the times.

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