The nineteenth edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from the UK, Venezuela, Cuba, Canada and elsewhere.
There is a special section devoted to the reactions of Communist and Workers’ parties to the collapse of the US and western imperialist adventure in Afghanistan and the triumph of the deeply reactionary and obscurantist Taliban.
Helicopters evacuate the US embassy in Kabul, August 16 — Image via twitter
Dear comrades of the Communist and Workers’ Parties,
During the 12th, 13th and 14th of November 2021 we will hold the II Congress of the PCTE,which we have called “Centenary Congress”,to coincide with its celebration with the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of Spain as the Spanish Section of the Communist International.
We commemorate this centenary by claiming the historical importance that the development of the Communist Party in our country had for our class. Today, 100 years after that event, the PCTE is striving to forge a revolutionary strategy that will help maintain the necessary red thread of the class struggle. The Communist Party is still, 100 years later, the tool that the working class needs to free itself from the shackles of capitalist exploitation.
CUPE cabin crew members working at WestJet Encore, WestJet’s regional carrier, have signed off on their first collective bargaining agreement. Members voted today to ratify the tentative collective agreement reached in July. The five-year agreement includes wage improvements, and momentum towards industry-standard scheduling and pay rules.
Councillor Samantha Cooper, 34, who represents the Woodhouse and Hainworth ward has joined the democratic socialist party, ‘Breakthrough’, as its first councillor.
The party says it aims to “fill the political space created by Labour’s lurch to the right under Keir Starmer’s leadership”.
Parks and Recreation workers at the Municipality of Port Hope voted almost unanimously on Friday to join the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“On Tuesday, the National Assembly unanimously approved the publication in the Official Gazette of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Venezuela and the opposition.
President Nicolas Maduro thanked the lawmakers for signing the text into law and thus supporting a peaceful solution to the country’s problems.”
The government of Nicolás Maduro authorized the shipment of 30,000 kilos of non-perishable food and medicines to be sent to the Haitian people, who suffered two earthquakes again last weekend, of 7.2 and 5.4 on the Richter scale. To date, the earthquakes have resulted in 1,410 dead and at least 6,000 injured, according to the AP news agency, in addition to billions of dollars in material and infrastructure losses.
Leeds East MP Richard Burgon and Jon Trickett, who represents Hemsworth, are among the signatories on an open letter from the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs.
The letter has been signed by 20 MPs including Mr Corbyn and former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, as well as five Labour peers.
Some 73 professionals represented by OPSEU/SEFPO at One Kids Place have delivered a convincing strike mandate to its bargaining team. In all, 97 per cent voted in favour of strike action, if needed.
The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI-Bolivia) has released its report on the human rights violations of 2019. The report found that the Bolivian coup regime was responsible for massacres, torture, summary executions, and that right-wing violence had a particularly racial and religious character.
The GIEI was formed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), the largest political party in Nepal, is heading for split on Wednesday as the faction led by senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal applied for the registration of a new party.
As many as 95 leaders from the party, including 58 from the existing Central Committee, applied to the Election Commission for the establishment of Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (Socialist) to be headed by Madhav Kumar Nepal, with former prime minister Jhala Nath Khanal in the second rank.
A new poll from Gallup shows the relatively new Socialist Party—who as yet do not have a seat in Parliament—polling as high as the Centre Party, which was founded in 2017. With elections coming up on September 25th, there are still a number of different ruling coalitions that could play out for Iceland’s next government.
Democratic Socialist Robin Wonsley Worlobah is challenging the Green Party incumbent, Cam Gordon. Two DFL candidates also are in the running.
The Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) will hold, from 15 to 17 October 2021, its 15th Congress, which will be held virtually, by videoconference. Unfortunately, we will not have international guests, but we would be very happy to receive greetings to the Congress through videos with a maximum duration of 4 minutes. These videos will be shown for our audience on the 15th Congress page and during the event itself. So that we can edit and subtitling (when applicable) we request the videos to be sent to us by 15/09, by e-mails: [email protected] or [email protected] Parties that, for some reason, are unable to produce the videos would also enchant us up by sending written greetings. Soon we will inform about more details on the 15th Congress.
After four months of negotiations and a national warning strike, IndustriALL affiliate Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) has reached the first industry-level agreement on industrial transformation in Korea with the Korean Metal Industry Employers’ Association.
On Thursday, the Chinese Government announced that it would donate 150 oxygen concentrators to Cuba to increase this Caribbean nation’s response capacity to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The new donation shows the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that exist between our governments and peoples. Thank you, China,” Cuba’s Foreign Trade Vice Minister Deborah Rivas said, adding that the oxygen concentrators will arrive in her country in the coming weeks.
Progressive political groups in Denmark have called on the coalition government in the country to make genuine efforts to resolve the grievances of the nurses to end their ongoing strike. Representatives from Enhedslisten (Red-Green Alliance) and the Socialist People’s Party (SF) in the Board of Danish Regions have urged the board and the regions to demand the government’s help in resolving the nurses’ issues. Over 5,000 nurses have been protesting in the country under the leadership of the Danish Nurses’ Council (DSR) since June 19. They are demanding a pay rise and end of the sector’s pay gap. On August 14, the striking nurses and their supporters organized a massive demonstration at the Christiansborg Castle Square in Copenhagen, reiterating their demands and expressing their resolve to fight. The strike entered its 62nd day on August 19, making it the longest nurses’ strike in Denmark.
A vote by workers at a General Motors plant in Mexico this week, rejecting an imposed and undemocratic union contract, is a great step forward for them and for workers across North America, Unifor National President Jerry Dias says.
“We have grown by more than 50 per cent in the past year,” Communist Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth Rowley told CBC Hamilton, while declining to give total numbers. “We are deluged with interest and [membership] applications. What more could a party want?
“We think it’s a reflection of the times we’re living in. Capitalism isn’t working for a lot of working people.”
Dozens of Teamsters from all over New England showed up early Tuesday morning to stand in solidarity with their seven striking brothers at Johnson Brothers of RI, the state’s exclusive distributor of Gallo Wine products. Afterwards, they made their way to Haxton’s Tollgate Liquors in Warwick where they spent several hours hand-billing customers, holding banners and cheering each time the Teamster tractor trailer sounded its air horn as it drove by.
“It’s been 83 days since the strike began over unfair labor practices committed by the company along with unresolved wage, benefit and working condition issues,” said Teamsters Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer Matt Taibi. “This small group of drivers has stood up to Goliath and continues to stand strong to show the company they will not end their strike until they get a fair first contract.”
According to the Foreign Minister, the U.S. government lacks moral authority for these penalties, announced the day before. “I reject persistent U.S. eagerness to attack Cuba and Cubans, and to reinforce the economic blockade,” he added in a message posted on his Twitter account.
Workers for GPS Impact will now be represented by the Teamsters Union, after Local 696 in Topeka, Kan., secured voluntary card-check recognition. The 28 newest members of Local 696 work in a wide-range of communications, digital and media roles for the political media firm.
Workers overwhelmingly signed up to become Teamster members, according to Claire Cook-Callen, a senior strategist at GPS Impact for over seven years.
The decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan was correct. They had no business there in the first place. The manner of leaving is a tragedy. U.S. imperialist foreign and military policy is in deep crisis, and the lessons must be drawn — the most important of which is that war was never a viable option or solution.
Comparisons have been made to Vietnam. This by far will be worse: in both the human toll and its political consequences. Remember there was no internet when Saigon fell to Vietnam’s heroic fighters who liberated and then rebuilt a war-devastated country. But the Taliban is no NLF. What will play out in the next days, weeks, and months will likely have a far more devastating impact in almost every way possible.
With the fall of Kabul and the video of people desperately trying to leave the country, there is much hand-wringing and recriminations in the capitalist press over how Afghanistan was “lost.” Losing a war is equated with “losing” a country. This mindset is the problem — Afghanistan is not “ours” to lose. But the U.S. is an imperialist nation, and this thinking, repeated by politicians and the media, accurately reflects the problem.
Twenty years of war and military occupation in Afghanistan end for the United States with a strategic disaster and a painful withdrawal that illustrates the US government’s disregard for the lives of thousands of people. The vision of columns of smoke rising from the US embassy because of the hurried burning of documents, the flights of helicopters to the Kabul airport to evacuate its officials and the cry of children, lost among the runways within the confusion of the chaotic evacuation, concluded with tragic scenes of US military forces shooting at the crowd trying to flee from the Taliban in the last planes. Those corpses on the road of the airport represent the last episode of the shame and infamy that the United States leaves in a badly wounded country.
The Afghan cities have fallen in the hands of the Taliban in a rapid sequence, with the final chapter of the shameful escape of the puppet government leaving behind modern weapons, helicopters and ammunition and abandoning its own officials. Although Biden announced an orderly withdrawal which was supposed to finish on 31 August, the US president has received a severe denial from his own officials at the embassy in Kabul destroying their archives in these frenzied days of uncertainty and fear. In this journey, the Pentagon leaves hundreds of thousands of deaths as well as millions of refugees showing to the world the barbarism of US imperialism.
The recent developments in Afghanistan, including the entry of the Taliban in Kabul, regardless of their future evolution, constitute a clear and humiliating defeat for the US, NATO and all those who participated and colluded in their strategy of war and occupation, including successive Portuguese governments – war and occupation that the PCP opportunely denounced and condemned.
It is worth remembering that more than 40 years of interference and aggression by the US and its allies in Afghanistan, 20 years of which were of invasion and occupation, are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, destruction, millions of displaced people and refugees, for the establishment of a regime without legitimacy and undermined by corruption, the transformation of Afghanistan into the world’s largest centre of opium production – aspects that are inseparable from the swift outcome of recent days.
Given the false and cynical concerns about the respect of rights, we should recall that it was the US and its allies that promoted and supported the most backward and obscurantist forces and their violent action against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, established with the People’s Revolution of April 28, 1978, and the Afghan progressive forces.
The Communist Party holds Britain, the US and other Western powers chiefly responsible for the latest tragedy in Afghanistan as Taliban Islamist forces secure their take-over of the country.
‘These events expose the so-called humanitarian case for imperialist intervention as a travesty and vindicate the stance of the anti-war movement in Britain and internationally’, Steve Johnson told the party’s political committee on Wednesday evening.
He declared that Western imperialism and NATO have long been the problem, not any part of the solution.
‘Not just for the last 20 years’, Mr Johnson explained, ‘but from the late 1970s and 1980s, when the Western powers and their reactionary allies in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan financed, armed and trained jihadi insurgents in order to bring down the progressive People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan regime and its Soviet backers’.
As a consequence of US, British and French military intervention, he pointed out, countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria had been plunged into catastrophic chaos and slaughter, while sectarian religious fundamentalism had grown massively in strength.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India have issued the following joint statement:
On Afghanistan Situation
The United States has suffered a humiliating defeat in Afghanistan. Twenty years after the toppling of the then Taliban regime, the Taliban are back in power. The collapse of the Ashraf Ghani led government and the National Army shows the hollowness of the nature of the State set up by the US and it’s NATO allies.
The Afghan policy of the Indian government had been blindly following the Americans and this had resulted in its isolation in the region and is hence left with few options.
The earlier Taliban government of the 1990s was marked by an extreme fundamentalist approach, which was disastrous for women, girl children and suppressed ethnic minorities.
It is imperative that the new set-up controlled by the Taliban give due regard to the rights of women and acknowledge the rights of ethnic minorities.
The international community’s concern that Afghanistan should not become a haven for terrorist groups like the Islamic State and the Al Qaeda was collectively expressed by the United Nations Security Council in its emergency meeting on Afghanistan on August 16.
India must work closely with major regional powers to see that the Afghan people are able to live in a peaceful and stable environment. Indian government should immediately work towards safe evacuation of all stranded Indian citizens in Afghanistan.
The Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) has expressed deep concern over the ‘dramatic’ and dangerous incident of the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. In a primary statement on the latest developments in Afghanistan issued on 17th August 2021, the CPB President Mujahidul Islam Selim and General Secretary Mohammad Shah Alam said that power had been handed over to the Taliban on the eve of the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of their aggressive war in Afghanistan. After a long dark period of American occupation in this ‘blue-print game’ of imperialism, the Afghan people are now facing the darkness of medieval barbarism of the violent fanatical militant Taliban regime. While the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is long desired to the people of that country and to the whole world, the Taliban regime is by no means an alternative. Afghanistan today has been thrown from a boiling pot into a burning furnace. There is a deep conspiracy behind the resurgence of the Taliban. It is also linked to billions of dollars in drug trafficking and illegal arms trade.
In the statement, CPB leaders called the resurgence of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan a serious threat to the security of the whole of South Asia. CPB leaders have called for vigilance against the use of Taliban power in Afghanistan to create tension in South Asia and to “export” Taliban influence to various countries, including Bangladesh.
The rapid developments in Afghanistan following the collapse of the puppet government, which had emerged in the country after the imperialist intervention of the US, NATO, and their allies, and the rise to power of the Taliban obscurantist movement, which had multifarious support initially by the USA and other capitalist powers, show that the suffering of the Afghan people is endless.
It is clearly demonstrated that the US intervention in 2001, which was carried out under the pretext of “combating terrorism” and the attack on the Twin Towers, in reality had other aims and particularly the control of the “soft underbelly” of Russia and China, in the context of the competition of these powers with the USA.
The Biden administration is still lying, presenting “the saving on people’s economic resources” as the reason for the withdrawal of US military forces. Its goals are different, such as shifting US attention to other “fronts” such as the Pacific region, and seeking to create a “climate of instability” in Central Asia that will be convenient for it by “instrumentalizing” developments in Afghanistan. It is through these inter-imperialist competition that the Taliban seem to be favoured today.
This victory of the Taliban will give courage to their followers and thinkers in Pakistan and they will try to do the same in Pakistan. For this reason, the state of Pakistan should adopt a serious defence strategy. At the same time, the democratic and progressive forces must reorganise their strategies in view of this situation.