September 12, 2020 - No. 34

Appropriate Demand for Upcoming Speech from The Throne

Stop Paying the Rich;
Increase Investments in Social Programs!

What to Expect

Pay-the-Rich Schemes by Borrowing Money
from Private Sources

Increased Government Debt

Who Pays for Public Infrastructure

The Issue of Public Revenue

The Need for Modern Definitions


Discussion of the Pay-the-Rich Economy
and How to Overcome It

The Aim of the Working Class Movement

Objective Conditions of Paying the Rich

The Trend of a Falling Rate of Profit

A New Direction for the Economy


Anniversary of Attack on Twin Towers
and Coup d'État in Chile

Justice for the Chilean People!

- Dougal MacDonald -

Catastrophic Consequences of U.S. Imperialists'
Wars of Aggression

- Nick Lin -


United States

The Fight of U.S. Postal Workers to Oppose Privatization and Debunk Self-Serving Anti-Worker Myths in Lead-Up to U.S. Election

Government-Created Funding Crisis

Postal Service Is Committed to Public Service,
Not Commercial Profits

- National Association of Letter Carriers -

Postal Days of Action


Made in Cuba

Soberana -- Cuba's COVID-19 Vaccine

- Gerardo Szalkowicz -


Venezuela

Elections for National Assembly Underway


Colombia

People Take Action in Defence of Their Rights and
Against State Terror


Chile

National Plebiscite on New Constitution


Bolivia

October 18 General Election

Ecuador

Former President Correa Unjustly Blocked from
Candidacy for Vice President


SUPPLEMENT
Discussion on the Economy

• Modern Monetary Theory: Keynesianism Warmed Over

- K.C. Adams -



Appropriate Demand for Upcoming Speech from The Throne

Stop Paying the Rich;
Increase Investments in Social Programs!

A new Throne Speech will be delivered on September 23 as federal and provincial governments "reopen" the economy after strict COVID-19 shutdowns. They are guided by a "business as usual" pay-the-rich approach despite the fact that the large number of COVID-19 deaths and the damage done to the economy is the result of this "business as usual" approach. The more it goes, the more schemes are unfurled to step up paying the rich in the name of achieving prosperity. The approach denies the most important element required to activate the human factor/social consciousness which is to recognize the polity and take up social responsibilities and duties to it and its members.

The time is now to demand governments stop paying the rich and increase investments in public social programs and public services built and owned through public enterprise with the working people in control. This is the challenge the working people face at this time.

The modern economy of industrial mass production is more than capable of providing enough public revenue to meet the needs of society and its members. The dominant social force in control of the economy and state obstructs the new value workers produce from meeting the needs of the people and society. The way forward is opened to the extent the workers are able to put the social wealth they are producing under their control so that it serves the people.

The control of the financial oligarchy and their oligopolies over the state's decision-making power hands over the productive forces to the rich and diverts the social wealth into the hands of narrowest private interests. This drags the people into the adventures of the oligarchs for domination over all others, no matter where they be.

For workers to take control and provide a new direction for the economy is feasible and necessary. They have shown once again during the COVID-19 pandemic that they are the essential factor of production and of society maintaining itself at all times, including times of crisis. The situation reveals that through their deeds, thinking and concerns, this feature of being essential can lead to a new direction that looks after the well being of all and provides the rights of all with a guarantee by making sure decision-making is in their hands, not those who represent narrow private interests.

Haut de page


What to Expect

Pay-the-Rich Schemes by Borrowing Money
from Private Sources

Reports say another $100 billion will be added to the deficit in the Throne Speech, which is already approaching $400 billion. If this is the case, then the $500 billion deficit will be nearly 25 per cent of Canada's GDP. This amount is borrowed by the Government of Canada from private lenders of the financial oligarchy. It further concentrates wealth, power and control in fewer hands.

This is a feature of state imperialism, that the financial oligarchy, the state and its agencies, including governments, defend and extend into every cell of the economy and society, the power, wealth and control of the oligopolies.

The federal, Quebec, provincial and territorial governments collectively owed the global financial oligarchy around $1.3 trillion prior to the pandemic. This amount has risen dramatically with public borrowing from private lenders during the present crisis. The question has to be posed forcefully: Why do governments borrow from private lenders?

Much of the borrowed money is channeled back to the private lenders in interest and guaranteed payments as well as bailouts to their companies and in big government funded infrastructure projects, many of which are public-private partnerships, in almost every sector, such as the service sectors of education and health care, and the various levels of the police and military.

Public health care is nowadays inextricably linked to making sure the financial oligarchy profits from much of the sector through selling pharmaceuticals and supplying, at a hefty price, whatever material hospitals require to function, including the buildings.

The question should be posed: if the oligarchs have all this available cash to lend to governments, why do they need bailouts and why do they not invest the money they control directly into their own or other businesses and the economy?

Haut de page


Increased Government Debt

Government debt is mostly held by the private institutions of the financial oligarchy. In lending money to governments, the dominant oligarchs of the ruling elite benefit in several ways.

The rich can park their money in a safe haven for a short or long term and even receive interest for doing so. This is particularly important for the rich during crises such as the current COVID-19 pandemic when other investments are risky or they have pulled money out of the stock market and have excess cash on hand.

The government in turn provides bailouts and buys company paper securities that are not saleable at a particular time to private buyers because of the risk involved. The oligarchs have it numerous ways! This is the public-private partnership in action to serve the rich.

The government receives money from this private borrowing that it then uses in pay-the-rich schemes as handouts to the financial oligarchy and its businesses. Examples are the handouts to large corporations during the pandemic or the federal government's $4.5 billion buyout of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Alberta government's $7 billion injection of funds into the Keystone XL pipeline project. Neither of those projects could raise private investment funds. Government money is routinely used to finance large infrastructure projects in which the biggest private construction and management companies participate and gain guaranteed profits.

The existence of government debts is used for propaganda purposes to reduce spending in social programs that directly benefit the people. Governments and their mouthpieces in the media screamed that they needed $60 billion yearly to service the public debt held by the financial oligarchy, which constrains and even contracts spending in social programs. It is a self-serving farce for which the people are made to pay because the decision-making power is not in their hands.

The necessity to borrow from private interests is presented as the only alternative for governments to raise money as the financial oligarchy considers taxation of the value its workers produce within its private business interests as detrimental to the economy. A compliant media it controls do widespread propaganda for this regressive view.

The first demand for the workers to put forward is Stop Paying the Rich; Increase Funding for Social Programs!

Haut de page


Who Pays for Public Infrastructure

The financial oligarchy refuses to pay for the public infrastructure it uses that benefit its business activities, such as public highways, bridges, public education and health care and mass transit, amongst others including research and development. The building of the infrastructure makes huge profits for big business while much of the payment for these necessary investments in a modern economy falls to the public purse without revenue returning to the governments from the economic activity they engender and the value they produce.

The issue is never broached by the rulers or their media and education system that government debt to private interests is completely unnecessary, wasteful and harmful. The state could borrow from itself and repay the debt from the added-value workers create in an expanding and stable economy.

If the government used the money borrowed from itself to invest in public enterprise then the increased value and income from those enterprises would quickly repay the debt and more, making the increased value available for investments in social programs as well as providing stable employment for workers.

Governments usurped by the oligopolies use the public revenue they have collected to pay the rich to build, maintain and manage all manner of public infrastructure including public roads, bridges, mass transit, housing, hospitals, educational institutions etc.

Once public infrastructure is built and up and running, the private enterprises of the imperialist oligarchy refuse to realize (pay for) the full amount of the infrastructure they consume in the course of operating their businesses. A problem posed for the people to resolve is to ensure that when public or private enterprises consume public infrastructure during the course of their business as means of production, the amount consumed and transferred into the value of their production must be realized and accounted for in a transparent, complete and direct manner.

Public infrastructure must be seen in their true form as public means of production essential for all economic sectors and enterprises, and not as articles of consumption for which individuals must pay.

Private conglomerates nowadays operate as global cartels and coalitions which maraud with impunity to control the socialized economies and seize whatever benefits they deem fit in the moment. Those who control the cartels and coalitions have the aim to seize maximum profits under all conditions and circumstances. Anyone who claims they can be moderate or socially responsible is in denial for their own self-serving interests.

The striving of the cartels and coalitions is to control the productive forces. If they fail to control them, then they destroy them. The cut-throat competition over control clashes inexorably with the striving of the working people to mobilize the modern interconnected economy and all its parts to meet their needs and organize it to function seamlessly and collectively without crises.

The problem posed for the working class is to begin by declaring that there is an alternative to the present crisis-ridden and destructive policy which pays the rich. The alternative begins by insisting that governments must be duty-bound to provide Canada with a modern aim which serves the people and society. The economy can be organized so that each part supports each other and complements the whole under the control and direction of the actual producers.

Haut de page


The Issue of Public Revenue

A modern society requires enormous public revenue to meet the needs of itself and its members. Only one source of public revenue exists and that is the economic base of the society and the new value working people produce.

The modern economy of industrial mass production is more than capable of providing enough public revenue to meet the needs of society and its members. However, a dominant social force in control of the economy and state obstructs the new value workers produce from meeting the needs of the people and society. The ruling elite in control do this in the following ways amongst others.

A global imperialist oligarchy has seized control of the basic sectors of the economy and the social product workers produce depriving society and its members of this much needed value. The problems of needed investments can be sorted out once the people gain control of the basic sectors of the economy with public enterprise and bring the social product workers produce under the control of the society and its members within relations of production that are human-centred.

A modern society is more than capable of using the new value workers produce to meet the needs of the people and solve problems in ways the actual producers and others in society decide.

The state under the control of oligopolies uses much of the public revenue it amasses to pay the rich in various ways and defend the privilege, wealth and power of the oligarchs and serve their narrow private interests. Taxes on individuals and borrowing from the oligarchs are a major source of public revenue in the present. These methods of obtaining public revenue are counterproductive and abusive to the working people who produce all value.

A crucial demand at this time is for governments to stop using public revenue to pay the rich, stop taxing individuals, and stop borrowing from the global imperialist oligarchy.

Public revenue should come directly from the enterprises where workers produce new value and be used to increase investments in social programs to guarantee the well-being of the people and for extended reproduction of the economy.

How to bring this direction into being starts with the demand to stop paying the rich and increase investment in social programs. This is a worthy project for the people to take up at this time.

Haut de page


The Need for Modern Definitions

One of the major problems Canada has faced in the past 20 to 30 years is the issue of cutbacks to social spending which takes place because the rich use the political power to advance their own narrow private interests. It is clear that working people cannot make headway on this question unless they tackle the problem on the basis of modern definitions, guided by the aim of giving rise to a modern society. As long as the battle is waged within the narrow confines of the bourgeois notions of society in which everything must be subordinated to the profit-making aim of the economically powerful, the direction of the economy will not be turned around in a manner which favours the people.

It is not a matter that things went well in the past and are not doing so well in the present. The Canadian state has never provided health care or education or any other requirements of modern life by virtue of recognizing fundamental and inviolable human rights. In Canada, social spending has always been determined by the needs of the capitalist ruling circles. Providing for the needs of the people is really incidental to the needs of the capitalist economy. This is why the conception of rights can just as easily be extended as taken away.

To open the path for progress, health care and education, employment and a livelihood, must be recognized as human rights. It is by providing these rights with a guarantee that progress is made from one stage to the next to the next.

In the course of creating the conditions for its own emancipation, the working class -- as the most revolutionary and productive force -- fights for a society which recognizes that all individuals are born to society and as a consequence have rights which are inviolable. The working class also fights for legislation that will enable the people to exercise these rights. This is the orientation which can enable all those who are under attack to advance their aims.

Haut de page


Discussion of the Pay-the-Rich Economy and How to Overcome It

The Aim of the Working Class Movement

In the rush of governments to "reopen the economy" on behalf of the ruling elite, dictatorial measures are being imposed to stop workers from implementing the lessons learned during the fight against the pandemic. The ruling oligarchs demand a return to business as usual even though the status quo has proved unsustainable in practice. Working people have discovered that if a society fit for human existence is to be built then business as usual within the old status quo must be rejected. The experience of the people before and in particular during the pandemic leads inexorably to such a conclusion.

The defining moment we are passing through today is the collective recognition that economic, political and social affairs as constituted do not allow members of society to solve the problems they face and to build a new pro-social way of life that favours them. The militant and responsible stand of the workers and their organizations not only affirms the growing movement against the decades-old anti-social offensive, it poses the issue of what aim the movement should have. The working class has the social responsibility to define clearly its aim to create a society fit for human beings and to lead the entire people to achieve the aim as a nation-building project they embrace as their own. Such a society of necessity respects the rights of all by virtue of all being bona fide full and equal members of the polity and meets their needs at a level of existence achieved through the development of the modern productive forces and scientific technique.

The fulfilment of the aim of the movement to build the New requires working people themselves finding solutions to the problems life is posing:

- to defend themselves against the current attacks on their rights and their well-being and on society itself;

- to work out practical ways which mobilize the broad section of workers to hold governments and employers to account so as to attain control over the decisions that affect their lives;

- to hold forums where workers speak in their own name and establish reference points which serve to provide them with orientation;

- to ensure the state and governments fulfil their responsibilities to meet the needs of the people; and

- to put forward their own agenda to humanize the social and natural environment and ensure its realization.

The ruling oligarchy has descended into a clique of the global rich that runs roughshod not only over the working people of Canada but over those they dominate in alliance with the oligarchs from the United States of North American Monopolies. They dominate the world they control with an economy based on a mode of production to pay tribute to the rich and serve their political power and privilege. The current mode of production to pay the rich gives rise to recurring economic crises and war.

The aim of the economy to pay the rich renders it incapable of mobilizing its tremendous productive powers to solve the problems the people and Mother Earth face. The working people are charged with the task of bringing into being a new mode of production with a new aim to serve the people, to humanize the social and natural environment, and to solve national and international problems without violence and war. The initial and crucial step in building the New is to organize the people to stop paying the rich, to increase investments in social programs and to constitute themselves as an anti-war government.

Haut de page


Objective Conditions of Paying the Rich

The current mode of production holds within itself the objective conditions that drive those in control to pay the rich through an anti-social offensive and war. The mode of production came into being during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by developing the productive forces and depriving the ruling feudal aristocracy of their economic, political and social power. Those who rose to power in the economy and eventually in politics did so based on their control of private property in the form of money wealth, land and means of production. They out-produced the peasant farms and guilds of the feudal system of petty production and eventually rendered them extinct, leaving many without any means of subsistence, forcing them to move to the growing cities to find a means of living.

The owners of property mobilized their private wealth to buy workers' capacity to work for use in their factories of industrial mass production, providing working people a means of subsistence, however precarious and rudimentary. The owners of property rapidly increased their wealth by mobilizing their control of political power to march armies abroad to steal the wealth and lives of others through colonial occupation and plunder, war and the slave trade.

The Concentration of Wealth in Fewer Hands

The mode of production that displaced the rural petty production of the landed aristocracy holds within it the inevitable concentration of wealth and power in fewer hands. The early years of what became known as laissez-faire capitalism immediately began to concentrate production in larger and larger factories and integrated combines of production and banking. By the end of the nineteenth century, the merging of banks and industries into giant socialized cartels constantly expanding around the world became known as monopoly capitalism, creating the objective conditions ripe for change to socialism.

The concentration of wealth and power continues, as starkly evident during the pandemic when the private wealth of the twelve richest oligarchs in the United States has doubled to over one trillion dollars. Such massive wealth, power and privilege have developed into the control of governments at all levels to pay the rich and serve their private interests through the seizure of ever greater amounts of the value working people produce, war, and the despoiling of Mother Earth.

The working class, whose members are the actual producers, has emerged as the essential human factor with the ability and aim to change the mode of production of the transition period to serve the well-being and rights of all and build the New. Only workers, by activating the human factor/social consciousness to provide a new pro-social aim to mobilize the massive productive powers of modern industrial mass production, can save human beings from the ruling elite that have fallen into despotism and destructive practices worse than those of the ruling aristocracy they displaced.

Haut de page


The Trend of a Falling Rate of Profit

The current mode of production, based on private ownership of the means of production and the aim to seize for private gain the added-value workers produce, holds within it the trend of a falling rate of profit arising from the application of science to methods of work and production called productivity.

The ratio between the total investment and the number of workers necessary during production determines in broad measure the rate of profit. The rate of profit under the current mode of production is constantly depressed by ever-increasing amounts of invested value necessary to activate workers.

As the number of workers in production falls with the development of the productive forces, such as with the use of robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the rate of profit from the total investment declines. This growth in productivity is a double-edged sword for the oligarchs. It allows them to compete and possibly wipe out their competitors but it brings with it a falling rate of profit.

The rate of profit is expressed as a ratio in social product between the old value to new value or more specifically between the added-value the current workers produce and the sum of their reproduced-value (wages, benefits and social programs) and the transferred-value from fixed value (buildings and machinery etc) and circulating value (consumed energy and material etc). Profit is derived from the new value workers produce, specifically the added-value. Profit does not come from the fixed and circulating value transferred into production from already produced value.

Phenomenal amounts of investment are needed to set in motion the workers who produce the new value the oligarchs crave. The rich have long sought ways to overcome this trend of a falling rate of profit. Instead of investing in the productive economy, they have gone increasingly into the parasitism and decay of selling and reselling already produced value, into stock markets and commodity markets, and into Ponzi-type schemes to bilk small investors of the wealth they hold.

The other dominant way is to have governments pay the rich through public investments in their enterprises or through contracts for social product at inflated prices. No major investment in the economy of any type occurs without governments participating through handouts, tax exemptions, the use of public infrastructure for the big enterprises at preferred rates and other pay-the-rich schemes, such as public-private partnerships, buyouts similar to the Trudeau government purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline from the monopoly Kinder Morgan or other schemes.

The concentration of wealth and power in fewer hands and their control of governments, coupled with the trend of a falling rate of profit, have meant that the mode of production has become one of paying the rich. All major investments include payments to the rich from the collective wealth held by the state. No investment of any size proceeds without government guarantees of state payments to the rich. No decision in politics or economic affairs is made without the consideration of the rich oligarchs in control.

Objectively, this situation indicates that the rich oligarchs have become superfluous and have no reason to be involved in the economy. The economy is socialized. The actual producers, the working class, must become the owners and directors of the already socialized and interrelated economy so that the power of its productive forces can be organized and unleashed to build the nation and serve the people and society without interruption, crises and war.

The current mode of production based on private property has run its course and must give way to the New where the actual producers, the working class and its allies who produce the wealth, are in control and set their own aim for the economy and society in conformity with the already socialized economy and its needs and those of the people.

Haut de page


A New Direction for the Economy

If the issue of the method or means of subsistence is not understood, the workers' movement and its aim remain vague without sharpness and a confident direction. This final stage of the transition from petty to industrial mass production is not the same as before in the early period of the transition with what was called laissez-faire capitalism. Similarities exist but the situation has changed considerably. As long as this pay-the-rich means of creating a subsistence for people is not radically challenged, nothing can be solved and no forward progress for the workers' movement and society can be sustained.

Within this discussion, workers should think about what they would establish as the means of subsistence. The starting point is to stop paying the rich and increase investments in social programs to guarantee the rights of all, to have the collective will of the society expressed in the form of socialist planning and control by the working people over those affairs that affect their lives. Collectively, the society would march forward and in the way of the old proverb would learn warfare through warfare.

Within the situation, the workers put forward their own demands. The demands are to stop paying the rich, to stop all public borrowing from private lenders, to stop handouts to the rich and their enterprises, and to increase investments in social programs in education, health, welfare, culture and recreation in particular for the youth. With this start, a rupture with the Old can be made and a new direction embraced. The immense social product available from the modern means of production can be put to use to solve society's problems and guarantee the well-being and rights of the people and the extended reproduction of the economy. Without the starting point to stop paying the rich, no change in the direction of the economy can be sustained.

Whenever a crisis occurs, as is the case at the present time, it becomes clear that either the working people move towards creating a higher form of society, or they continue to face one disaster after another. Workers have to demand a radical rupture from the past and that rupture is presented in the slogan "Stop Paying the Rich!"

While all of this points to the necessity for the working class to establish its own political aim, the attempt is made, once again, to keep it chained to the political aim of this or that party with aims to serve private interests. This capitulation to the parties of the rich flies in the face of the experience of all Canadians, which is that whether a party's agenda is touted as right-wing or left-wing, it serves the corporate elite and old status quo.

The struggle today is between the forces of the New and the forces of the Old. The working class must resolutely take up its own political aim to end the situation whereby the rich marginalize it by diverting its struggle into electing this or that so-called representative and party of the rich oligarchs, no matter what they may call themselves.

As the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) steps up its work, its members and allies are firmly convinced that an alternative to the current direction of paying the rich can be found. Activists are confident that by consciously participating in building workers' forums to exchange views, analyze unfolding events and set their own orientation to defend the rights of all, the program to stop paying the rich and to increase investments in social programs will lead to the establishment of an alternative and open society's path to progress. 

Join the movement for the New!


Haut de page


Anniversary of Attack on Twin Towers and Coup d'État in Chile

Justice for the Chilean People!


March in Santiago, September 2017, commemorates 44th anniversary of the coup in Chile.

September 11 marks the 47th anniversary of the U.S. imperialist coup d'état organized in Chile in which the Pinochet regime murdered, tortured, and imprisoned thousands of people. On this occasion, let us remember the victims of the Pinochet regime and Operation Condor that extended these crimes to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. To this day, relatives of the victims are fighting to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.[1] 

Today, as the U.S. state cites adherence to "American values" as the criteria to decide who are enemies of the state, it is proper to recall that the crimes committed in Chile and throughout Latin America were against those identified as "enemies of western Christian civilization." Their "crime" was their political beliefs, affiliations or activism. With Santiago's stadium converted into a holding pen, people were rounded up and massacred. At the Moneda Presidential Palace the constitutional President Salvador Allende was murdered. These crimes continued throughout the years of Pinochet's rule and extended far beyond Chile's borders, even to Washington, DC itself. The military junta led by army general Augusto Pinochet, with the full support of the U.S., ran Chile officially and "unofficially" for the next 25 years.

Clearly exposing the U.S. role in the Chilean coup, an October 1970 cable to CIA operatives in Chile from Henry Kissinger's "Track Two" group states: "It is firm and continuing policy that [the democratically elected government of] Allende be overthrown by a coup.... We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource. It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [United States Government] and American hands be well hidden." In 2007, it was revealed that millions of dollars that Pinochet stole from the Chilean people had been held in a secret account in the Bush-connected Riggs Bank in Washington, DC since 1994, with full knowledge of U.S. banking officials. No U.S. President has apologized for U.S. backing of Pinochet's crimes and U.S. involvement in the 1973 coup.

Display in Santiago Museum memorializes the victims of the Pinochet coup in Chile.

Prior to the coup in Chile, the U.S. already had a long and bloody history of organizing and backing violent coups d'état in Latin America; for example, Guatemala, Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama to name only a few. With the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. served notice that it claimed Latin America for itself. Almost immediately, the U.S. grabbed one-third of Mexico through military force. Since the 1890s, when it achieved regional supremacy over Spain and Britain, the U.S. has forcibly intervened in Latin America over 50 times. A significant role in these interventions, including Operation Condor, has been played by the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation which was founded in 1972 by Guatemalan death squad leader Mario Sandoval Alarcón as the Latin American branch of the World Anti-Communist League, co-founded in Taiwan in 1966 by Nazi war criminals and other fascists.

Forty-seven years after the coup in Chile, the U.S. continues to organize and back violent coups d'état, as it did in Honduras in 2009. The U.S. continues to form aggressive alliances, build military bases in client states such as Colombia, treat surrounding bodies of water as if they were American lakes, and carry out subversive actions against those democratically elected governments of Latin American countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua that exercise the right to choose their own political system, free of U.S. interference. Two major channels for this subversion through which millions of dollars are supplied to U.S.-supported political groups in Latin American countries are USAID and the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy. The secret dirty wars that the U.S. previously conducted in the Southern Cone and Central America in collusion with local military forces have now become open.

Of growing concern is the pernicious role that the Trudeau government is playing in the name of promoting "prosperity and security" in the hemisphere. As the countries of the Americas work to defend their sovereignty and establish alternatives to an economic model which devastates them, the Trudeau government touts its role in the Organization of American States, infamous for perpetrating U.S. coups d'état and the dirty wars of the 1960s, '70s and '80s and for using its so-called Inter-American Democratic Charter as a tool for more of the same in the 21st century.

Trudeau's pronouncements about so-called democracy in Latin America cast aspersions on Venezuela and other countries which are defending their right to follow their own paths to development. This reveals the Trudeau government's agenda to carry on interfering in the internal affairs of the countries of Latin America and what "advances of democracy" it has in mind. 

Needless to say, the peoples of the Americas are not passive, waiting for the kind of democracy the Trudeau government advocates. Their struggle for freedom is written in their blood and nothing confirms this more than the struggle for justice for the crimes committed by the U.S.-installed Pinochet dictatorship and the dirty wars which still carry on in the name of free trade, democracy, the war on drugs, etc.

Families and friends continue to look for the disappeared and to demand justice for what happened to them. Incredibly, political prisoners continue to linger in jail while virtually none of those responsible for human rights violations have been prosecuted for their crimes. Pinochet himself, protected by the imperialists, eluded justice and died without being punished for his crimes.

On this occasion, we express our deepest sympathies to the heroic Chilean people and to the families and friends of all those killed and disappeared in the infamous coup and subsequent regime. We hail the resolute struggle of the Chilean people to achieve justice for the crimes committed by the Pinochet regime and its U.S. patrons. The September 11, 1973 U.S.-backed coup d'état in Chile, an act of state terrorism, exposed the true character of U.S. imperialism, which the people of the world will never forget.

Note

1. Operation Condor was a campaign of political assassination and repression officially created in 1975 in Santiago, Chile by the ruling circles of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil to eradicate socialist and communist influence and ideas and to eliminate opposition movements against the participating governments. The U.S. first proposed the plan for Operation Condor in 1968, calling for "the coordinated employment of internal security forces within and among Latin American countries." Condor was responsible for a minimum of 60,000 deaths, 30,000 "desaparecidos," and 400,000 incarcerated.

(Photos: elderchoalapz, Chilean Museum of Memory and Human Rights)

Haut de page


Catastrophic Consequences of U.S. Imperialists' Wars of Aggression

September 11 this year marks the 19th anniversary of the tragic terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania that gave the U.S. imperialists, along with appeasers of U.S. imperialism like Canada, the pretext for their brutal and unending worldwide "war on terror."

Claiming to be bringing justice to those who died, the U.S. government said that the government of Afghanistan was responsible for providing aid and training to those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, despite never providing any proof of such responsibility. Less than a month after the attacks, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, with the support of NATO countries including Canada. The Chrétien government announced "Operation Apollo" and committed air, sea and land support and 2,000 troops. Working people in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere immediately made it clear that this revenge-seeking was not carried out in their name.

In a study published September 8, titled "Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States' Post-9/11 Wars," Professor David Vine and his students at the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, attempt to quantify the catastrophic human costs in terms of those displaced by the past 19 years of the U.S. war on terror.


Toronto demonstration, March 30, 2003, against U.S. war in Iraq, part of large-scale opposition across Canada to U.S. wars of aggression.

In their introduction to the paper, the authors point out:

"Since the George W. Bush administration launched a 'global war on terror' following Al Qaeda's September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the U.S. military has waged war continuously for almost two decades. In that time, U.S. forces have fought in wars or participated in other combat operations in at least 24 countries. The destruction inflicted by warfare in these countries has been incalculable for civilians and combatants, for U.S. military personnel and their family members, and for entire societies. Deaths and injuries number in the millions."

Notwithstanding some mischaracterizations of the U.S. conflicts covered in their study, the authors indicate that this paper "calculates the total number of displaced people in the eight post-9/11 wars in which U.S. forces have been most significantly involved. We focus on wars where the U.S. government bears a clear responsibility for initiating armed combat (the overlapping Afghanistan/Pakistan war and the post-2003 war in Iraq); for escalating armed conflict (U.S. and European intervention in the Libyan uprising against Muammar Gaddafi and Libya's ongoing civil war and U.S. involvement in Syria); or for being a significant participant in combat through drone strikes, battlefield advising, logistical support, arms sales, and other means (U.S. forces' involvement in wars in Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines)."

The paper documents "several categories of people displaced by the post-9/11 wars: 1) refugees, 2) asylum seekers pursuing protection as refugees, and 3) internally displaced persons or people (IDPs)."

The study gives the following as its major findings:

"- The U.S. post-9/11 wars have forcibly displaced at least 37 million people in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria. This exceeds those displaced by every war since 1900, except World War II.

"- Millions more have been displaced by other post-9/11 conflicts involving U.S. troops in smaller combat operations, including in: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia.

"- 37 million is a very conservative estimate. The total displaced by the U.S. post-9/11 wars could be closer to 48-59 million.

"- 25.3 million people have returned after being displaced, although return does not erase the trauma of displacement or mean that those displaced have returned to their original homes or to a secure life.

"- Any number is limited in what it can convey about displacement's damage. The people behind the numbers can be difficult to see, and numbers cannot communicate how it might feel to lose one's home, belongings, community, and much more. Displacement has caused incalculable harm to individuals, families, towns, cities, regions, and entire countries physically, socially, emotionally, and economically."

Putting these figures in the broader global context, the authors state that "The United States' post-9/11 wars have contributed significantly to the dramatic increase in recent years in the number of people displaced by war and violent conflict worldwide: Between 2010 and 2019, the total number of refugees and IDPs globally has nearly doubled from 41 million to 79.5 million."[1]

It is worthwhile to note that the scope of the study does not include other forms of U.S. aggression during this time, such as sanctions against countries that the U.S. claims support terrorism against it and the resulting destruction of infrastructure and loss of life. The study also does not include countries where the U.S. has backed and fomented coups such as Haiti and Honduras, where the situation for the people has yet to stabilize and many have been forced to flee due to economic or security issues.

Canada is increasingly implicated in the last 19 years of the U.S. war on terror as an appeaser of U.S. imperialism, bearing part of the responsibility for the tens of millions of refugees created by U.S. wars of aggression in that period. Canada's role is particularly unconscionable in that it provides a human face and high ideals for U.S.-led aggression. It also presents itself as a condescending saviour for the victims of war that it has played a part in creating. All of it is unacceptable, an affront to the memory of those killed on 9/11, and anathema to working people in Canada who reject any Canadian involvement in U.S. wars of aggression and want Canada to be a zone of peace and a country that upholds the peaceful resolution of conflicts worldwide.

Note

1. To read the paper in full, click here

Haut de page


United States

The Fight of U.S. Postal Workers to Oppose Privatization and Debunk Self-Serving
Anti-Worker Myths in Lead-Up to U.S. Election

Postal workers in the United States have been consistently organizing to keep the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) a public service providing for the public good. This has included opposing efforts by the government to privatize USPS, to slow and disrupt mail delivery, and to undermine working conditions and collective bargaining rights of the workers. In addition, they have been opposing the anti-worker propaganda according to which the postal service cannot cope with mail-in ballots during the pandemic and would thus undermine results in the November presidential election.

The USPS has been in the news lately, mainly as it relates to mail-in voting. Postal workers have brought to the fore that they are capable of handling an increase in mail-in ballots, which is nothing compared to the mail delivered at Christmas time. A lack of money will not stop timely delivery. In the week before Christmas, for example, workers often process and deliver 2.5 billion pieces of first-class mail, or about 500 million cards and letters a day, not to mention packages. Even if every one of the country's more than 150 million registered voters mailed their ballot, the workers could handle the volume.

In their many protests, letters and petitions, workers and their unions say that the bigger problem now is the elimination of overtime, insufficient safety equipment, and the refusal to hire and train more workers to compensate for the estimated 40,000 workers dealing with COVID-19 infections or quarantines. The elimination of mail-sorting machines and mail collection boxes is a problem, one that new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said he will now stop -- with 95 per cent of the machines already removed. He said overtime will only be permitted "as needed," which means it continues to be limited in various ways. There is also a new policy not to treat all ballots as first-class mail, as is usually the case. All of these actions are aimed not so much at impacting mail-in voting, but rather at forcing tremendous speed-up of the COVID-decimated workforce, making it appear the USPS cannot deliver the mail in a timely fashion. This then is used to justify privatization and greater interference by the government, through the Treasury Department, in USPS policies and contracts with workers.

Postal workers, numbering about 630,000, deliver mail to more than 160 million households daily. They provide a crucial public service, especially in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prescriptions, social security and unemployment cheques, food, medical supplies and more are delivered to homes in cities and rural areas and everywhere in between.

All four postal unions are working together to demand USPS be operated as a public service and not sold off to private interests, and to secure safety equipment, hazard pay and better working conditions for postal workers.

In addition to the estimated 40,000 workers contending either with COVID infections or quarantine, more than 60 have died.

(Photo: American Postal Workers Union)

Haut de page


Government-Created Funding Crisis

Postal workers are contending with a funding crisis created by the government to justify privatizing the postal service. A law passed in 2006 requires that the United States Postal Service (USPS) prefund 75 years of future health care premiums for retired postal employees. As the National Association of Letter Carriers points out, "This prefunding mandate, which no other enterprise in the country faces, costs an average of $5.4 billion annually since 2007, accounting for nearly 90 per cent of the agency's losses. Between 2013 and 2018 it accounted for 100 per cent of the losses. On an operational basis, the Postal Service has been profitable for most of the past decade."

This requirement is part of the anti-social offensive to undermine the functioning of USPS so as to justify privatization and attacks on its workers.

Previous efforts at privatization include a Presidential Task Force chaired by the Treasury Department's Steven Mnuchin that in December 2018 proposed unprecedented service cuts to the Postal Service, cuts in postal worker pay and benefits, and increases in package prices. This followed a June 2018 Office of Management and Budget report that called for postal service privatization, something Mnuchin, a former hedge fund operator, continues to promote. The Treasury Department is involved as the USPS commonly draws on a $15 billion line of yearly credit from the Treasury, authorized by Congress 30 years ago.

Current government attacks also include a refusal to provide emergency funding. First-class and marketing mail, the service's top two funding sources, have slowed down significantly due to the pandemic while provision of needed safety equipment -- still insufficient -- has increased. Without the pandemic and without the 75-year benefit requirement, the USPS is self sustaining.

USPS is also largely independent of direct government interference. The appointment of Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General, along with interference by Mnuchin, are efforts to change that and make it easier to attack the workers and USPS as a public service.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said in May: "Fifty years ago, postal workers waged a heroic nationwide strike to win better pay, benefits and the right to collective bargaining. This strike also recreated the United States Postal Service as an independent agency, designed to be free from the political patronage and cronyism that had plagued the old Post Office Department. The APWU is deeply concerned with the appointment process to make Mr. Louis DeJoy, a multi-million-dollar major donor to President Trump, the next Postmaster General and whether the Administration has returned to the days of political interference and patronage. He can choose to be a Postmaster General who implements the destructive plans of this White House: raising postal rates, cutting services, undermining stable union and family-sustaining jobs and selling the public Postal Service to corporations for their private profit. And if that is his choice, Mr. DeJoy will be met with stiff resistance from postal workers and the people of this country."

The developments have shown that their concerns are legitimate and the broad resistance to privatization and destruction of the public service persists.

Mnuchin has also used the emergency funding required by USPS at this time to further interfere. A $10 billion loan from Treasury was included in the CARES Act passed in March. The CARES Act also included hundreds of billions of dollars, basically with no strings attached, for the giant monopolies. USPS was to get $10 billion, even though its Board of Directors have asked Congress for $75 billion in funding -- $25 billion in emergency appropriations, another $25 billion for "shovel-ready" projects to modernize the agency's aging vehicle fleet and facilities, and an added $25 billion line of credit.

Mnuchin has so far refused even the $10 billion. "We are going to put certain criteria for a postal reform program as part of the loan," Mnuchin said.

The unions point out that currently, the USPS Board of Governors has the exclusive authority to appoint or remove the Postmaster General or "direct and control the expenditures and review the practices and policies of the Postal Service." Mnuchin is trying to gain greater control so that many USPS management decisions, including the terms of major contracts and policies related to privatization and pricing of packages and first class mail would be decided by the U.S. Treasury Department, not the USPS Board of Governors.

The appointment of multimillionaire DeJoy as Postmaster General is itself part of this direction, as his attacks on workers and USPS as a public service indicate. DeJoy is the first Postmaster General in more than 20 years to lead the agency without prior experience working there. The USPS Board of Governors itself now consists of four members who have been on the job for less than two years. More experienced executives have resigned in protest of Mnuchin's interference, or have been removed by DeJoy.

The public has stood firm with postal workers and continues to join with them in demanding that USPS remain a public service for the public good. In actions, petitions and polls, a majority have called for full funding now and guaranteeing the health, safety and jobs of postal workers providing a vital public service.

(Photo: American Postal Workers Union)

Haut de page


Postal Service Is Committed to Public Service,
Not Commercial Profits

At a time when the heroic workers of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) are braving infection to serve the country during an unprecedented national crisis, it is imperative that representatives at all levels of the federal government have a fundamental understanding of the value of the postal service, the cause of and solutions to its current financial circumstances, and the dangers to the U.S. economy and rural health in the event of a USPS insolvency.

During an April 24 press event, President Trump was asked about a Washington Post report that the Treasury Department wants to take control of collective bargaining, set pricing policy, and decide senior executive appointments in return for the Postal Service's access to a $10 billion line of credit provided by the CARES Act. At an April 7 daily press briefing on the pandemic, President Trump was asked about his Administration's opposition to financial relief for the Postal Service in the recently enacted CARES Act, as reported by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) to a DC television station. Congressman Connolly warned that the Postal Service could run out of money if action is not taken. The President's responses warrant some clarification about the status of the Postal Service:

1) Nobody is blaming the President for the current crisis facing the Postal Service. However, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens its survival.

The shutdown of the American economy to fight the COVID-19 virus has resulted in plummeting postal revenues -- just as we have seen in the airline and hospitality industries, which have been given massive relief. The USPS needs the same kind of relief because it must still keep delivering. Every day it delivers tens of millions of prescription drugs, invoices, payments, newspapers, e-commerce deliveries, and soon it will be needed to deliver stimulus checks, home virus tests and other pandemic-related goods and information.

2) The President noted that the Postal Service has been losing money for years. That is true, but not due to the pricing of its package services. The real reason is Congress imposed a crushing mandate on the Postal Service back in 2006, requiring it to prefund decades of future health care premiums for retired postal employees in advance. This prefunding mandate, which no other enterprise in the country faces, costs an average of $5.4 billion annually since 2007, accounting for nearly 90 per cent of the agency's losses. Between 2013 and 2018 it accounted for 100 per cent of the losses. On an operational basis, the Postal Service has been profitable for most of the past decade.

Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has called the prefunding mandate a mistake. In February, the House passed the USPS Fairness Act (H.R. 2382) by an overwhelming vote of 309-106, including 87 Republicans voting in favour. President Trump should urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan Senate companion bill (S. 2965), introduced by Senator Steve Daines [which has not yet occurred] and sign it into law.

3) The President has been told by private shippers and others that the Postal Service underprices its delivery services for e-commerce packages from Amazon and other internet companies. This is not true. By law, each of the Postal Service's competitive products must earn "profits" to cover the cost of universal service. In 2019, the USPS surplus on package services was $8.3 billion, an amount verified by its regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The President is being fed bad information, often at the behest of private shipping companies with a commercial axe to grind against the Postal Service, which is committed to public service, not commercial profits.

The Postal Service's shipping services are affordable because it has the best and most efficient last-mile delivery network in the country, linking 160 million households and businesses every day of the week. The President is right that the Postal Service has routes established in every nook and cranny in America, and because it is delivering letters, flyers, newspapers and prescriptions to every door every day, it can deliver packages very cost effectively. That benefits every American, but it also benefits the private companies (UPS, FedEx and Amazon) who rely on the Postal Service for last mile delivery.

4) The President has said that the Postal Service should raise its prices on Package Delivery, suggesting the rates should quadruple. While his revenue-raising intentions might be well placed, the result of such a policy would more likely lead to the loss of competitive volume and higher prices for average Americans. Such a scenario would harm all American consumers and millions of small businesses who rely on the Post Office, especially those living and operating in rural states and inner cities that are not well served by private shipping companies, such as Amazon.

Ironically, allowing the Postal Service to fail would essentially divert business to Amazon and other higher-priced private companies, none of which can replicate the Postal Service's universal first- and last-mile delivery network. Unlike private companies, the Postal Service delivers to every home and business at affordable prices.

It is also important to note that the Postal Service's actual and projected losses in volume and revenue have nothing to do with packages, rather the losses are from letter mail drying up due to the economy shutting down. Further, the American people, who themselves are facing financial insecurity, need affordable package delivery, especially right now. This is not a time -- during a pandemic -- to significantly raise package rates.

The pandemic is threatening the Postal Service at a time when its affordable, universal reach is needed more than ever. Last week, USPS delivered President Trump's guidelines for social distancing to every American household. Even as letter volume has plummeted in recent weeks, package deliveries have spiked as millions of Americans, sheltering in place to stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus, order goods online. The Postal Service must also be there for us when self-administered tests and therapeutic drugs are developed to combat the virus.

The Postal Service, the heart of the $1.6 trillion mailing industry that employs 7 million Americans, will also be crucial for economic recovery. It will deliver stimulus checks to the tens of millions who do not have bank accounts or who have not given bank information to the IRS. Once the crisis is over, the country and its businesses will need the Postal Service to restore the economy. Indeed, in normal times, the USPS delivers 4 million prescriptions to American households. A third of all household bills are still paid through the mail, and millions of small businesses and household-based merchants rely on the Postal Service for package delivery, invoicing and payments.

The Postal Service is not a partisan institution; it operates in every corner of this country and it has hundreds of thousands of workers -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- who are committed to serving all the American people and their businesses. It is the largest employer in many states and a deeply embedded part of virtually every American community.

The Postal Service is by far the most trusted and most loved federal agency. It has a 90 per cent favourability rating, according to a recent Pew Trust survey. Congress and the President should take action to preserve this national treasure.

Although the Postal Service has not required any taxpayer subsidies since the early 1980s, it does need taxpayer help right now. Congress should provide an immediate injection of cash and commit to cover the Postal Service's losses over the next fiscal year, appropriating the difference between revenues and costs until the crisis passes. For most of its history (from 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was Postmaster General, all the way up to 1970), the Postal Service was funded by taxpayers and postage. A temporary return to this dual-funding structure is vitally needed right now. It would be a tragedy to let this pandemic kill such an important and essential American institution.

It would also be an insult to the 600 postal employees who have already contracted the virus while performing their essential duties -- and to the 6,000 who are currently quarantined and those who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus. We urge President Trump and the entire Congress to work together on commonsense policies to ensure the continued operations of the U.S. Postal Service through this crisis.

(April 25, 2020. Photos: American Postal Workers Union)

Haut de page


Postal Days of Action

August 21-25


Austin, Texas, August 25, 2020

On August 21-22, more than 800 demonstrations involving tens of thousands took place. Workers in every state participated. From Hawaii to Oregon, Montana, Michigan and Maine, from California to New Hampshire, Kansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida, the demand that the Post Office is Not For Sale, that it must remain a Public Service and the rights of the workers and public respected was evident.

More than 100 organizations joined postal workers in organizing the demonstrations, including teachers, veterans, healthcare workers, rural organizers and more. The workers have continued to inform and mobilize various unions and the public in general to stand with them, gaining widespread support. On August 25 another 300 actions took place, organized by unions together with civil and human rights activists. All made clear that the USPS is a public service that should be fully funded and its workers fully protected.

Expressing the support of many unions, the Flight Attendants union said the postal service is a "vital part of the public health response," adding that millions of people get their "life-saving and life-supporting medicines, supplies, food, and other essential goods" through the mail.

The August actions took place after the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, an anti-worker, anti-union fundraiser for Republicans, imposed changes meant to sabotage postal delivery and set the USPS up as unreliable and thus in need of privatization. This included removing an estimated 600 mail processing machines, especially at facilities near airports, and hundreds of blue mail boxes from street corners across the country. DeJoy announced July 10 that the USPS would no longer commit to moving the mail if it required overtime to do so. This meant leaving mail unsorted and undelivered for days -- something workers say is "simply not in their DNA."

When these attacks took place, workers reported getting hundreds of calls, especially from the elderly in need of their medicine. In many places the workers organized to refuse to leave unsorted mail behind. Overtime was mainly eliminated for the initial work done by letter carriers, known as casing, where mail and packages not sorted by machines have to be sorted by the workers before they leave for their delivery routes. Many workers simply refused to agree to the 30 minute time limit imposed and did not begin their routes until that day's mail was sorted. In Milwaukee, for example, "Fightback Friday's" were instituted, where workers gather before starting work to discuss their concerns and how best to oppose the attacks.

The strength of the workers' resistance as well as the public outcry about delays forced DeJoy to temporarily back off. He said retail hours will not change, mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are, no mail processing facilities will be closed, and overtime will continue to be approved as needed. However none of the mail boxes and sorting machines already removed will be returned. As well, people in many cities report that while mail boxes are not being removed, they are being locked so they cannot be used.

Honolulu, Hawaii


Seattle, Washington


Phoenix, Arizona


Flagstaff, Arizona


Lincoln, Nebraska


Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Dallas, Texas


Chicago; Bolingbrook, Illinois


Orlando; Jacksonville, Florida

Greensboro, North Carolina


Cary, North Carolina


Manchester, New Hampshire


New York City, New York


Boston, Massachusetts


Hartford, Connecticut

June 23 Actions

On June 23 in two dozen cities, postal workers, supported by the public, organized to defend the USPS as a public service. This included demanding funding from Congress and no further attacks on the workers. In Washington, DC a caravan of 75 cars delivered to the Senate a petition with 2 million signatures, demanding that they vote emergency funding for the postal service in the upcoming HEROES Act [still not done.] Around 200,000 people also tuned-in to a video livestream with union representatives.

In New York City there were demonstrations at 16 post offices around Manhattan and the Bronx. Participants handed out leaflets to alert passersby that the Postal Service is in danger of being shut down, asking them to join in and to call or write their senators.

In Philadelphia people rallied in front of various post offices or circled in cars, honking their horns. Workers from other unions and community groups participated, as well as a former prisoner who emphasized how important the mail is to people in prison -- describing "tears falling on letters."

The car caravan in Raleigh, North Carolina, stopped by several local post offices on its way to the Capitol Post Office. The local chapter of the Raging Grannies sang a tribute to postal workers, to the tune of "Solidarity Forever."

In Detroit, a union representative spoke on the importance of the postal service for mail-in voting in November. In Kalamazoo, people waved signs and invited passing pedestrians to write and mail postcards to Michigan's senators. Dozens did. Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti also had actions.

A caravan of 40 cars drove through the heart of downtown Des Moines, Iowa. In Portland, Oregon, demonstrators decked out in "Save Our Postal Service" face masks danced to "Please Mr. Postman." Speakers included veterans and retirees. Seattle held a caravan of cars and bicycles from a post office to the federal building. One homemade sign read: "SAVE the Only Way to Reach Everyone!"

Actions also took place in San Francisco, Sacramento and Roseville, California; Denver, Colorado; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Mankato and St. Paul, Minnesota; Merrillville, Indiana; St. Charles, Missouri; Cleveland and Toledo Ohio; Portland, Maine; Cornwall, Connecticut; Clarksburg, West Virginia; and Miami, Florida.

San Francisco, California

St. Paul, Minnesota

Des Moines, Iowa
Joplin, Missouri


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


New York City, New York


Washington, DC

(Photo: American Postal Workers Union, B. Bernard, P.M. Albert)

Haut de page


Made in Cuba

Soberana -- Cuba's COVID-19 Vaccine

If not for the unwritten premise of the imperialist media that anything good about Cuba is not to be reported, it would be striking that this piece of news has gone practically unnoticed: that in recent days the vaccine "Soberana 01" ["Sovereign" in English -- TML Ed. Note] began clinical trials in humans and became the first in Latin America -- and in the entire so-called underdeveloped world -- to advance to this second phase.

So far there are 167 potential vaccines registered for COVID-19. The Cuban one joined 29 others that the WHO has already approved for clinical studies, six of which are in phase 3 that involves large-scale human testing. In Latin America there are another dozen national vaccines in development but, except for the Cuban one, all are in the preclinical phase.

The candidate vaccine that the island is producing is advancing steadily. Since clinical trials began on August 24, "it has reported zero serious adverse events after the injection of the first 20 volunteers," tweeted Dagmar García Rivera, director of research at the Finlay Institute, the Cuban state scientific centre that is directing the project. The sample will include 676 people between the ages of 19 and 80 with the results expected on February 1. In the event there is a happy ending, Cuba will have its own vaccine available to the population in the first quarter of 2021.

Things are moving at a steady and accelerated pace. "What normally takes years has been achieved in just under three months," says Finlay's Director Vicente Vérez Bencomo. In the phase of pharmaceutical development and preclinical studies in animals it presented low risks, few uncertainties and encouraging results." Based on these initial indicators, on July 28 the vaccine was tested on three of its researchers, who also presented a high immune response.

That Cuba is marching, once again, at the forefront in the scientific-health field is the result of long accumulated experience in preventive medicine, mass immunization and the development of a biotechnology industry of undeniable international prestige. Since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, professional training was promoted by the universities and a Scientific Hub was created with the aim of combining research with production.

The development of vaccines is one of its most significant achievements: Cuba produces eight of the 11 vaccines used in its national immunization program, which has over 98 per cent coverage and, of course, is free and universal. The first vaccination campaign was carried out in 1962, resulting in Cuba becoming the first country to eradicate polio. Another of its milestones was to achieve, in 1990, its own vaccine against Hepatitis-B which led to the practical disappearance of the disease. A noteworthy fact is that the Cuban medical research platform, consisting of 32 state companies with more than 10,000 workers dedicated to the production of medicines and vaccines, is made up of mostly women.

Sovereignty, the Byword

Achieving a 100 per cent national vaccine in a country with great economic limitations -- mainly due to the United States blockade -- is of vital importance. President Miguel Díaz-Canel highlighted the concept that distinguishes "Soberana 01" and for which it is named:

"The name of the vaccine reflects the feeling of patriotism and the revolutionary and humanist commitment with which the work embodied in it was carried out. Exploits like these reaffirm our pride in being Cubans."

The policy of producing and applying vaccines is only one leg of a comprehensive health system that is an example for the world. In 1959 Cuba had just 6,000 doctors and today it has more than 100,000, the highest number per inhabitant in Latin America and one of the highest globally. It is also the only country in the region that has eliminated severe child malnutrition: none of the 146 million underweight children living in the world today are Cuban.

The emphasis on preventive medicine has also been key to controlling the coronavirus. After almost six months of a pandemic, Cuba registers just over 4,000 infections and 100 deaths -- one of the lowest mortality rates in the world, with eight deaths per million inhabitants (the highest is Peru with 871).

The island's health education has as its universal bastion the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), which has graduated 7,248 doctors from 45 countries in 20 years, including about 200 from the United States.

That internationalist solidarity is perhaps the main hallmark of the Cuban model. The medical brigades, which have been deployed around the world for six decades, have put heart and soul into all the natural disasters and epidemics (from the 1960 earthquake in Chile to Ebola in Africa). Before the pandemic, there were about 30 thousand health workers providing services in 61 countries. They were joined by 46 brigades that left this year to collaborate in the fight against COVID-19. So the proposal that has been gaining momentum, to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the "army of white coats" -- as Fidel Castro called them -- does not sound off-base at all.

(Cubadebate, September 3, 2020. Translated from the original Spanish by TML.)

Haut de page


Venezuela

Elections for National Assembly Underway


President Nicolás Maduro on September 8, 2020, speaks about the Great Patriotic Pole's participation in the December 2020 elections.

Parliamentary elections in Venezuela for a new National Assembly are to be held on December 6. Voters will elect 277 deputies for the 2021-2026 period -- 110 more members than the National Assembly currently has. Registration of parties and candidates that will contest the election concluded on September 4, with 107 political organizations participating, some as part of alliances. Just over half the seats will be filled by proportional representation and the remainder by first-past-the-post. A total of 14,400 candidate nominations were received.

The governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela will be joined by a number of smaller parties in the Great Patriotic Pole. Five opposition parties will put forward their candidates as part of the Democratic Alliance, rejecting the call of the U.S.-financed fake "president" Juan Guaidó and a number of other opposition factions to boycott yet another election in favour of holding out for "a violent shortcut" to power, as a rival opposition leader put it. This reveals an opposition in disarray.

Another point of contention dividing the U.S.-financed opposition can be seen in the sharp differences in their reactions and mutual accusations in response to President Nicolás Maduro's decision to grant a pardon to 110 opposition politicians and other individuals facing criminal charges, to foster dialogue and reconciliation in the country. Twenty of those pardoned were members of the National Assembly which since 2016 has been in contempt of laws it is duty-bound to uphold. Those individuals are now free to stand for re-election.

Along with releasing the results of the automated candidate registration process, the National Electoral Council issued a statement rejecting the interference of the United States government which has imposed illegal sanctions against its president, Indira Maira Alfonzo, and one of its directors. The statement made clear that the electoral body rejected any attempt of any foreign government to issue orders to, impose conditions on, or coerce its senior officials in the performance of their duties.

Advances towards holding successful parliamentary elections are taking place at a time there is heightened concern over the possibility of a direct U.S. military intervention, or one launched by proxy forces, with those from Colombia and Brazil most often mentioned. Indications of this include the constant sabre-rattling towards Venezuela by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and assorted U.S. Southcom generals and the increasingly brutal U.S. blockade aimed at completely suffocating Venezuela economically. Concern is also heightened by the state of disarray in which the opposition finds itself, the continuing presence of the U.S. Navy near the Venezuelan coast supposedly engaging in routine "anti-narcotics" patrols and exercises, and the illegal presence of U.S. troops inside Colombia, in open violation of the country's constitution, allegedly to advise and train Colombia's military in counter-narcotics operations.

(Photos: PSUV, Venezuelan President's official twitter page)

Haut de page


Colombia

People Take Action in Defence of Their Rights
and Against State Terror


Youth on the streets of Bogotá protesting state terror and impunity, September 11, 2020.

On September 7, after a hiatus of several months and with the COVID-19 pandemic still a very real threat -- Colombia has the sixth highest number of cases worldwide -- members of unions and other social movements drove through the streets of Bogotá in a caravan for life. The caravan protested the Duque government's anti-worker labour and pension reforms and other punishing austerity measures. Millions of workers have been left destitute and abandoned, without protection from the effects of the pandemic and its attendant economic crisis.

Other demands of the caravan were that the state take action to stop what have become almost daily massacres of social leaders and former guerrilla members by paramilitary death squads, and in some cases by known or suspected government security forces, and that the government implement the peace accords instead of sabotaging them. As of September 9, it is reported that 218 persons were killed in 55 massacres since the beginning of this year. The gruesome record since the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian state in 2016 is 240 unarmed former guerrillas and 1,000 social leaders killed in targeted assassinations.

The demand for the government to stop the massacres took on a whole new dimension two days after the caravan. Early on September 9, Javier Ordóñez, a 46-year-old engineer who was finishing a law degree and drove taxi to support his family, was for unknown reasons tasered multiple times and forcefully pinned down in the street by police as he pleaded, "Please, no more!" All of it was captured on video. Mr. Ordóñez was then taken to a police station where he was further tortured and beaten to death. Many have likened his brutal killing to that of George Floyd in the U.S. The reaction to his death was similar as well. Large numbers of outraged youth took to the streets, demanding an end to police brutality and for Javier Ordóñez's killers to be brought to justice. Demonstrations have been taking place in Bogotá as well as Medellín, Cali, Manizales, Armenia, Pereira and other cities. A number of buses and several police stations known as Centres for Immediate Attention were burned in Bogotá.

In less than two days of protests 13 more people were killed, the vast majority in their teens and twenties, shot by police in Bogotá and the nearby municipality of Soacha. Over 200 have been reported injured, with some estimates as high as 400, many with gunshot wounds. More than 100 have been detained. People's social media accounts quickly filled with videos of police shooting demonstrators as well as random people as they fired indiscriminately into the crowd. At times men in civilian clothes, some wearing hoods, can be seen shooting alongside the police and generally terrorizing neighbourhoods. While some protesters threw rocks at police, police were seen throwing rocks to smash the windows of people's apartments in targeted neighbourhoods.

In light of the most recent events, as well as the ongoing serious crisis gripping the country, there are calls for mass mobilizations. There is every indication that in spite of the difficult conditions -- COVID-19 still far from controlled, a severe economic crisis, and a long history of the use of state terror to drown in blood the striving of the people for freedom, democracy and peace -- the Colombian people will rise to the occasion. Family members and friends of those killed and injured, political personalities and organizations and many others are speaking out, denouncing the police and the government, demanding to know who gave the orders to shoot, and that those responsible at the highest levels be held to account. The youth in particular have shown they are in no mood to submit and continue to courageously demonstrate, knowing they do so at the risk of their lives.

On September 11 a large group of young people took over and transformed the space around a burned-out police station in one neighbourhood into a space for art and culture. In the ruins of a station that for some had served as a torture centre, they engaged in performances of different types and set up an outdoor "public library" full of books. They said they did so to pay homage to those whose lives were taken in the previous two days of police terror and as a way to show what it is the youth, who the president of Colombia, his Defence Minister and others of their ilk call "vandals," are fighting for.


Youth turn space around a burned-out police station into a place of culture and art.

(El Tiempo, teleSUR. Photos: Colectivo De Abrrogados, H.S. Barreto)

Haut de page


Chile

National Plebiscite on New Constitution

In Chile the youth and working people courageously faced the militarized carabinero police force day after day in mass actions from October last year through to January 2020. Despite many being killed and hundreds injured, these massive and continuous mobilizations resulted in an important partial victory. Faced with the very real possibility that his unpopular government could be brought down, President Sebastián Piñera agreed to hold a national referendum on the people's longstanding demand for a new constitution. The current constitution was written during the Pinochet dictatorship and enshrines a host of neo-liberal reforms imposed on the people without their consent.

A national plebiscite asking the people if they want a new constitution, Yes or No? will therefore take place on November 25. Most of those who have been fighting for the establishment of a constituent assembly with citizens empowered to draft their own new constitution have taken up the campaign for a Yes victory. They are also urging electors to answer the second question by opting for the first option, the creation of a "Constitutional Convention" made up entirely of citizens elected directly to participate in drafting a new constitution, instead of the government's second option of a "Mixed Constitutional Convention," only half of whose members would be directly-elected citizens, the other half being currently-sitting members of Parliament.

What many regard as a "trap" in the process is that the government has stipulated that in order for a new draft constitution to be adopted it must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the national legislature. That is an obstacle the people are going all out to overcome even as the pandemic, which has hit Chile very hard, has made campaigning more difficult than usual. Chile has the 11th highest number of total cases in the world and a higher number of deaths per 100,000 population than the U.S.

Serving as a poignant reminder of the need to do away with the vestiges of the cruel Pinochet era that remain in the country's constitution, a procession on September 11 marked the 47th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup d'état of 1973. Relatives and friends of the disappeared were joined by many others in a march through the streets of Santiago to honour the late President Salvador Allende and all those killed during and after the coup and to demand justice for the many victims whose whereabouts are still unknown.

Haut de page


Bolivia

October 18 General Election


Mass demonstration in La Paz, July 14, 2020, against the Áñez government. (TeleSUR)

The campaign is finally on for the long overdue Bolivian general election originally set for May 3, then postponed three times by the coup government of "interim president" Jeanine Áñez on the basis that the conditions did not permit it going forward during the pandemic. Finally, in the face of massive street protests by the organized people furious that their right to elect a president and government of their choosing continued to be blocked, Áñez agreed to the demand of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly that October 18 be guaranteed as the date for the election with no further postponements. Both chambers of the Assembly are controlled by the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), whose leader Evo Morales was prevented from assuming the presidency after being democratically re-elected last October, by the U.S.-orchestrated military coup that installed Áñez in his place.

On September 6, under the banner "Vamos a salir adelante" ("We will overcome"), MAS launched its campaign with a large vehicle rally in the city of Santa Cruz led by its presidential candidate Luis Arce, former Minister of the Economy under Evo Morales. "We are beginning the campaign to restore democracy and give the Bolivian people economic, political and social stability," Arce said. "This caravan is endless. The people of Bolivia are fed up with the right-wing parties and want to once again have a peaceful country for all Bolivians, inclusive, with economic stability, which only we guarantee." Vice presidential candidate and former Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, kicked off the campaign in the combative working class city El Alto with an ancestral Aymara ceremony. He said re-electing the MAS would allow a new stage in the transformation of Bolivia to go forward, in which mistakes made in the first stage will be corrected and new leaders promoted.

The U.S.-linked coup forces, themselves far from united, have several candidates in the running for president and are scrambling to find the way to prolong their illegitimate, dictatorial rule. They have persecuted, jailed and laid trumped-up charges against as many MAS leaders and activists who remain in the country as possible, and opened judicial processes for invented crimes against others, including Luis Arce. They wasted no time after usurping power in spuriously accusing Evo Morales of "terrorism" to prevent him from returning to Bolivia from Argentina where he has been living as a refugee. On September 7, one day after the election campaign opened in Bolivia, he was disqualified from running as a candidate to the Senate for the Department of Cochabamba by a constitutional court in La Paz. Evo's response came in a tweet, "History shows that they will be able to disqualify Evo, but they will not be able to outlaw the people."

Haut de page


Ecuador

Former President Correa Unjustly Blocked
from Candidacy for Vice President

On September 6, a Court of Cassation of the National Court of Justice of Ecuador issued a ruling prohibiting former President Rafael Correa being a candidate of the Citizen's Revolution movement for Vice President. He had previously been convicted in absentia, and without evidence, of accepting bribes during his time in office, and sentenced to an eight-year prison term, effectively barring his return to Ecuador from Belgium where he currently resides. Other former members of his government, including Vice President Jorge Glas who won re-election alongside the current president, Lenín Moreno in 2017, were imprisoned and sentenced on dubious grounds for "corruption" after Moreno abandoned the program both were elected on and hitched Ecuador firmly to the U.S./IMF chariot. One day after the ruling came down against Rafael Correa, Paola Pabón, prefect for the Province of Pichincha and also a member of the Citizen's Revolution, had to appear in court for a review of the conditions of her house arrest. She is charged with "rebellion" for her political stands and was held in preventive detention before winning release to house arrest.

It can be seen that lawfare is alive and well and being applied with a vengeance in Latin America. It was wielded in the most corrupt and spectacular manner against former President Lula da Silva to prevent him from running and surely winning the presidency of Brazil in 2018. It continues to be used against many others whom the U.S. imperialists have given themselves the right to remove or prevent from holding high political office in countries it considers its "back yard." Today, several of the many "cases" used to condemn Lula, without evidence, are unravelling and the foreign-tutored judges and prosecutors who conspired together against him are falling into disgrace. The same is bound to happen with others subjected to this type of warfare as the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean step up the battle for their democratic rights, against the forces of the Old, and for the new arrangements they require to provide a future for themselves without poverty, racism, colonialism or war.

Haut de page


(To access articles individually click on the black headline.)

PDF

PREVIOUS ISSUES | HOME

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