Weekly News Review

13th September 2003



Remember September 11

 

On the 30th anniversary of the US-engineered coup against the Chile's elected progressive government, and the murder of President Salvador Allende, Spectre asks our readers to remember the thousands of other Chileans who suffered death, torture and arbitrary imprisonment as a result of the United States' actions, and the millions who grew up and lived under Pinochet's brutal dictatorship.  The Chilean people must have wondered, indeed, what they had done to make the US hate them so much. Was it envy of their freedom or their century-old democracy?  And where would Kissinger strike next?

 

Fernando Torres was a political prisoner in 1975-76 in the northern Chilean city of Antofagasta. After being abducted by the secret political police, Mr Torres was secretly transferred to the concentration camp of Tres Alamos in Santiago. He is now a freelance journalist and a longtime member of the staff at the La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, California. "Both Sept. 11s are connected by the many failures of U.S. foreign policy," Mr Torres said on the joint anniversary.  "After calling us 'irresponsible people' because we elected the socialist Salvador Allende, Henry Kissinger supported and financed the coup that killed thousands of people. He is our own Bin Laden."


David Potorti,  author of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows: Turning Our Grief into Action for Peace, said "With the worst kind  of cynicism, George W. Bush continues the hallucinatory link of Iraq to the deaths of our loved ones on Sept. 11.... Calling the invasion of Iraq 'one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history' is not just a lie, but a damned lie. Between 6,000 and 10,000 civilians have been killed -- two to three times the number who died on 9/11. To deny the reality of these deaths is not only dishonest to the innocent people of Iraq, but to the Americans in whose name we are waging the 'war on terror.'" Spectre also asks for remembrance of David's brother and all of the innocent people who died in that other September 11 atrocity, and all those who have died or suffered as a result of the Bush junta's exploitation of the misery and anger that followed it.

 

Read more about David Potorti's book at http://www.peacefultomorrows.org

 

The WTO's broken promise

 

"Trade negotiators promised that "development" of the world's poorer nations would be at the top of their agenda during negotiations over new trade rules that the World Trade Organization members launched two years ago. They planned to focus on agriculture, since the vast majority of people in poor countries still work the land as small landowning peasants or as rural laborers. But as both governments and concerned citizen groups prepared for the September 10 WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico, it seemed more likely that any new agreement would further enhance multinational corporations' control over global agriculture and not the economies of developing countries or, least of all, the well-being of the world's poorest people." Read the rest of David Moberg take on Cabcún at here Or go to here   to read Friends of the Earth Europe's special WTO preview issue.

Finally, read all about "The Cunning Bully - EU Bribery and Arm-twisting at the WTO" in a new report written by Fatoumata Jawara. Jawara documents the European Union's systematic use of inappropriate tactics to pursue its agenda inside the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Published on the eve of the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference (in Cancun, Mexico, 10th-14th

September), the 20-page report offers an in-depth analysis of the EU's deeply problematic "carrot and stick" negotiating behaviour. An eight-page summary and the full text of the report - jointly published by CEO and Transnational Institute (TNI) - are available at

here

 

The WTO has a webcam service which you can tun into at here

 

Spectre will carry more on Cancun next week.


Portuguese Communists host meeting of European Left Parties: “The Social issue, the left and the present European moment”

 

Last weekend a meeting of European Communist and other Left parties took place in Almada (Capuchos Convent), hosted by the Portuguese Communist Party, under the title “The Social issue, the Left and the present European moment”. Present at the meeting were Germany's Party of Democratic Socialism, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, AKEL – Progressive Party of the Working People, the Communist Party of Slovakia, Spain's United Left, the French Communist Party, the Communist Party of Greece, Italy's Communist Refoundation Party, the Party of Italian Communists, the Swiss Party of Labour and the Portuguese Communist Party.

 

A spokesperson for the Portuguese Communist Party said that "The exchange of information and experiences highlighted that, in the broader context of the neoliberal capitalist globalisation process, the European Union and other European countries are undergoing a vast anti-social offensive with the systematic dismantling of gains and rights obtained through decades of hard struggle. It also highlighted the large-scale resistance against that offensive as well as the trade union and popular struggles that have taken place in virtually every country of the continent, particularly general strikes, demonstrations, rallies and politically relevant large scale national mobilisations. New actions have already been announced. The trend is one of increasingly acute social conflicts.  Workers are the first victims of the unbridled economic war among the large multinational economic groups and big imperialist powers."

 

Participants agreed that, in the name of “modernisation” and “competitiveness”, right-wing or social-democratic governments are trying to impose at all cost counter-reforms inherent to the Stability Pact and  guided by criteria of capitalist profitability, which always entail devaluing the labour force, weakening trade union rights, impoverishing democracy and benefiting capital's exploitation. The cost of economic stagnation and recession, militarism and war is systematically paid for by the workers, the farmers and small and medium size entrepreneurs, and by the weaker strata of society like immigrants, the elderly and young people. Women's rights are suffering a serious regression. Injustice, inequality and social discrimination are increasing. Environmental problems take on a worldwide dimension.

 

The anti-social offensive, systematically aimed at cutting down direct and indirect labour costs, is widespread, despite national variations: precarious employment; deregulation of the labour market; longer working hours and longer periods of pension deductions; a freeze and reduction of real wages; attack on social welfare and on pensions systems; counter-reform in the Public Administration; dismantling of the public health systems; attack on public education; tax policies that hit harder against labour and small and medium employers.

 

Privatisation, company delocations and the dismantling of the state's social functions, are strongly responsible for today's high unemployment figures. Full employment and the right to work are openly denied. Historic achievements in labour legislation are being systematically destroyed, collective bargaining is undermined and trade union rights are attacked with the aim of reinstating capital's arbitrary power in the organisation of industrial relations. The State is dispossessed of its services of general interest and anything that may look profitable is handed over to the private sector. There is a real threat that commercialism may take possession of all spheres of social life.

 

The need to find left-wing alternatives was underlined: alternatives linked to the workers' interests with a clear demarcation from a social-democracy that has surrendered to neoliberal dogmas; to fight for policies that courageously confront the prevailing capitalist logic of growing centralisation and concentration of capital and wealth, the unchallenged power of big economic groups as well as the IMF, WB, OECD and WTO policies and their disastrous social consequences for the whole world.

 

The question of the European Union, particularly the issues connected with the enlargement, the process of  Treaty reviews and the forthcoming Inter-Governmental Conference, were the subject of an extensive exchange of views. Particular reference was made to the importance of fighting for the review of the Stability Pact, and to counter  the EU's “Lisbon strategy”.  Also mentioned was the relevance of the forthcoming European Social Forum in Paris and Seine Saint-Denis and the desire to contribute to its success.

 

The importance was underlined of strengthening co-operation between the parties present, as well as with other left forces, in the struggle for a different Europe, a social Europe, of peace, progress and co-operation; their readiness to consider organising common or converging actions, namely on the more relevant labour and social issues - notably against unemployment, against the dismantling of the social protection systems -,  on the Inter-Governmental Conference and on the forthcoming European Parliament elections.

 

Positive references were made to the co-operation in the 1999 elections and to the activity developed by the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left in the EP and to the importance of continuing and strengthening that experience.

 

North Korea next on Bush junta's hit-list?

 

James Woolsey, a former CIA director and current senior advisor to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has revealed that the United States has developed a plan to invade North Korea, knock out the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and topple the regime of Kim Jong Il, whom "President" Bush recently called a "pig."  Read all about it at http://www.inthesetimes.com/firststone/


Circus performers plan trip to Iraq, need support

 

A group of activists and performers is planning to take a circus and funfair to Iraq in January 2004 to bring a little colour and playfulness to the children of Iraq who have been traumatised by the war and who are still without many basic amenities. To get the circus and performers to Iraq the group still needs to raise several thousand pounds. If you want to make a donation or help organise benefit gigs, cabarets, café nights, mass busks etc please go to www.circus2iraq.org


Green Left Weekly, Australia's socialist newspaper provides news, information, opinion and debate from an environmental and left perspective. Featured this week: US 'war on terror': Globalisation at gunpoint. In October 1999, Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under US presidents  Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, candidly remarked: "What is called `globalisation' is really another name for the dominant role of the United States." Since 9/11, Washington has the "war on terror" as cover to impose US-dominated "globalisation" at gunpoint. Read more at

http://www.greenleft.org.au

 

Bulletin of the Social Movements International Contact Group – Call of Porto Alegre/WSF The latest newsletter of the World Social Forum is available at    PRIVATE HREF="http://www.movsoc.org/" MACROBUTTON HtmlResAnchor www.movsoc.org