International Labour Defense: “An Injury to One, is an Injury to All”

by Bob Lyons, ILD Coordinator

PepsiCo Argentina: PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest producers of snack food, including Lays potato chips as well as the iconic drink, has faced fierce opposition from the 691 workers it has tried to lay off at its north Buenos Aires facility. Arriving to work in June, the workers were met with a locked gate and a notice that read that the plant was being closed.

The workers responded on 20 June with a plant occupation. Led by the factory stewards’ committee, shop floor reps elected directly by the workers began to popularize their struggle across the country and internationally.

On July 27, the day after the workers were violently evicted from the plant by police, the Argentina labour tribumal ruled that the layoffs were illegal, and that PepsiCo Argentina had to immediately reopen the plant as there was no economic reason for its closure. PepsiCo has refused to abide by the court ruling, and the workers continue their mobilization, despite repeated roadblocks put in their way by the Macri government.
Nadia Shoufani: After a yearlong battle against the attacks of right-wing Zionist organizations like B’nai Bríth Canada, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center Canada, Nadia Shoufani, the Peel-Dufferin (just west of Toronto, Canada) Catholic School teacher accused of promoting violence and terrorism, and suspended for a month with pay by her employer, has been cleared of the charges leveled against her.

Posting on September 8 on Facebook, Shoufani said: “Ä victory for myself, for the Palestinian solidarity movement, for the freedom of expression”. The Zionist organizations have lost another battle to silence those who criticize the Israeli apartheid state and its genocidal policies towards the Palestinian people. Shoufani not only kept her job and defeated the attempts to silence her open support for the Palestinian liberation struggle and its political prisoners held by the Israeli state, her and her supporters, which included her Union, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association have scored an important victory against the Zionist lobby and its attempt to chill speech against criticism of the apartheid policies of the Israeli and international Zionist political movements.

Santiago Maldonado: The international campaign for the disclosure of the whereabouts of Mapuche indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado, kidnapped by the national police near Chubut in Patagonia, southern Argentina, has spread to Europe and the Middle East. Palestinian activists staged a group demo demanding to know his whereabout. In Madrid, Spain, hundreds of activists marched through the downtown in a militant display of international solidarity demanding to know: Where is Santiago Maldonado?

Maldonado is one of hundreds of Mapuche people organizing to defend their territory against imperialist encroachment on their traditional territories. The Mapuche people of Patagonia, have a traditional territorial connection which encompasses both Argentina and Chile. They have a history of unremitting resistance to colonialism and imperialism, and have suffered great repression for it.

The international dimension of the campaign around the kidnapping of Maldonado has created a political crisis for the Argentinian government, who first tried to dismiss the claims of kidnapping. Now, in its latest manoeuver, the government is trying to lay the blame for the disappearance of Santiago at the foot of five policemen. The policemen in their turn have said they were just following orders from their political bosses.

The immediate cause of the action, a blockade of the roadway leading to their lands, which precipitated the kidnapping, was an attempt by international clothing corporation Benneton to seize the Mapuche land with the connivance of the Argentine government. The colours of Benneton run red with the blood of Santiago Maldonado.

International Labour Defense believes that the campaign for the disclosure of Santiago Maldonado’s whereabouts represents a start to the building of the type of international united front campaigns in defending the prisoners and victims of the class war. Like its namesake, ILD believes that the motto of ‘An Injury to One is an Injury to All’ can serve as a basis of agreement of all of the non-sectarian left and progressive forces globally to act in a coordinated way. The lives we save, may be our own.

Photo: Thousands demonstrated in Santiago Maldonado’s name in Buenos Aires on 11 August. Source: EPa via BBC