Category Archives: International

Hunger Impels Migration from Central America

Lack of food, not the incidence of crime and gang violence, is the biggest reason people are fleeing El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala for the southern border of the United States, and parts farther north.

According to a joint report by the World Food Program, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Organization of American States and the International Organization for Immigration, “food insecurity” in the area known as the Northern Triangle, in Central America, is the cause of mass emigration.

“The impact of climate change is very drastic in the Dry Corridor and particularly in El Salvador,” that country’s foreign minister, Hugo Martinez, said on August 23.  “In 2015 alone, we lost 470,000 tons of maize and about 6,000 tons of beans.”

The corporate media is full of stories alleging widespread malnutrition in Venezuela, where the right wing opponents of left-populist President Nicolas Maduro are guilty of hoarding, and even destruction of food and other basic supplies.  Yet there is little coverage of more desperate conditions in countries where Washington and Ottawa are not promoting regime change.

Photo: One of the areas most affected by extreme hazards, in particular natural hazards, is the Dry Corridor of Central America, with recurrent droughts, excessive rains and severe flooding affecting agricultural production. Photo: FAO

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

Canada Marches In Solidarity with Venezuela

Canada Marches In Solidarity with Venezuela
By Victoria Fleming

Dozens of people, equipped with signs, flags, their resonant voices, and plenty of determination, rallied in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto on Saturday, September 16, to protest imperialistic actions by the United States and Canada towards the democratically elected government in Venezuela.

With large, vibrantly-colored banners, and signs proclaiming “No to U.S. Backed Violence Against the Venezuelan people,” rally participants quickly took over the sidewalk forming an intimate circle, belting out songs, chants, and speeches in a beautiful blend of English and Spanish.

The chorus of protestors decried the history of western capitalist states intervening against democratically elected leftist Latin American governments.  They recited the list of U.S.-led coups and regime change in Chile, Bolivia, and Honduras as evidence for the West’s ulterior motives in Venezuela.

“We want people to demand that Ottawa and Washington keep their hands off Venezuela,” said Barry Weisleder, the Federal Secretary of Socialist Action.

“Venezuela has been under withering assault by Washington, Ottawa, and their allies who really want to get back control of the oil wealth in the country. Venezuela has suffered from the decline in the oil price, but the problems the Western media focuses on have been chiefly the work of big business groups inside and outside the country who have been attempting to overthrow the elected popular government of Venezuela,” he said.

The rally, organized by the Toronto Venezuela Solidarity Committee, as a part of an International Day of Action, comes as a response to Washington’s draconian economic sanctions and threats of military intervention in Venezuela.  These alarming actions by the United States occurred after the Venezuelan people democratically elected a new constituent assembly on July 30. The assembly has set out to rewrite the constitution in order to codify the rights of ordinary working people, women, and indigenous people, to restore peace to the country after months of ongoing protest, and to help solve the economic crisis, in large part prompted by dropping oil prices and acts of economic sabotage by business groups.

“We are asking the United States to really try and understand what their president is doing in their name. We are asking Prime Minister Trudeau not to follow the lead of this disreputable American president”, said Maria Paez Victor, one of the organizers of the rally and a member of the Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean Policy Center as well as the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle.

“We are asking that international law be respected, and if not, we are in terrible trouble. International law means we respect the sovereignty of countries, their right to self-determination, and that countries have the right to write their own laws without foreign interference,” she says.

Protestors have one message for the governments of Canada and the United States:  Keep your hands off Venezuela.

Socialist Action remarks at the Hands Off Venezuela rally at US Consulate on September 16, 2017

Socialist Action remarks at the Hands Off Venezuela rally at US Consulate on September 16, 2017
Good afternoon.  My name is Elizabeth Byce and I am speaking to you on behalf of Socialist Action.  I am a retired member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and a past Secretary of the Toronto Labour Council.
Here’s a riddle:  How can you tell when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is lying?  Answer:  When you see his lips moving.
Trudeau promised electoral reform.  He lied!
Trudeau promised no pipelines without the consent of indigenous peoples.  He lied!
He promised action on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.  He lied!
He promised thousands of good, new jobs through massive investment in public works.  He lied!
Trudeau promised to reverse Stephen Harper’s pro-war policies.  He lied!
Trudeau said “Canada is back” on the world stage as a force for peace.  Well, that’s a double lie.
The Canadian state was never a force for peace.  Just ask the people of Congo, of Palestine, of the Syrian Golan Heights.  Just ask the people of Vietnam, of Afghanistan, of Libya, and Haiti.  Just ask the Acadians, the Quebecois, and the indigenous people of Turtle Island.  
Canada is a colonial-settler, racist, imperialist state.  Worldwide, it props up the capitalist system of plunder and oppression.  It promotes Canadian mining corporations, like HudBay Minerals, that poison the soil and water of farmers in Central and South America, in Africa and in East Asia.  Canadian imperialism exploits migrant workers, and it condones hazardous working conditions here.
In its first budget, the Trudeau Liberal government increased military spending by 70%.  Do you think that was a step for social justice?  Was it a feminist act?  Or was it mainly to line the pockets of the war industry?  The military is the biggest polluter on Earth.
Justin Trudeau is not just the continuation of Stephen Harper.  He is exceeding the Tories by putting more Canadian troops in Eastern Europe, by backing the reactionary regime in Kiev, by supporting the western war on Syria, by heating up the cold war against Russia, China and North Korea.  Finally, there is the naked imperialism of Washington, fully backed by Ottawa, towards the sovereign nation of Venezuela.
The lying Liberals in Ottawa have no business lecturing Venezuela on the subject of constitutional reform.  On July 30 over 8 million people voted in Venezuela to elect a National Constituent Assembly, despite a richly funded right wing campaign of boycott and sabotage. Now the new Assembly is moving to entrench the rights of workers, farmers, women and indigenous peoples. 
The violence and scarcities that exist in Venezuela are mainly the product of actions by the right wing business elite, and their backers on Wall Street and Bay Street.  Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland have to answer for their despicable alliance with Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson.
One more thing.  Equally disgusting is the position of the New Democratic Party.  Its Foreign Affairs Critic, Helen Laverdiere (LA VER DEE AIR), called the election in Venezuela “illegitimate”.  She urged Ottawa to weaken the Maduro government in the Organization of American States.  Clearly, she, and Thomas Mulcair who met with the wife of a Venezuelan terrorist leader, stand with the American Empire.  They betray the interests of millions of workers here and abroad.  We ask the candidates for NDP leader to condemn this policy, and to demand, as we do, the resignation of the NDP Foreign Affairs Critic!
The world has many problems:  capitalist greed, growing inequality, climate catastrophe.  Parts of Texas, Florida, and much of Caribbean were flooded and wrecked, not because of Venezuela, but because of the capitalist system that puts profit before people and nature.  The alternative to capitalism is socialism.  It will take a socialist revolution to get there.  To win we must defend the right of all peoples to self-determination.
Working class organizations in this country must say loud and clear:  We are all Venezuelans!  No to sanctions!  No Coup!  No invasion!  An injury to one is an injury to all!
Together, let’s go forward from this rally.  Let’s build a mass movement for social justice and against foreign intervention. Let’s take it to every work place, to the immigrant neighborhoods, to the busy streets of Toronto.  Solidarity forever!  Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela!

¡Heather Heyer, presente!

On Sunday August 13, Socialist Action members gathered in solemn solidarity with about 200 like-minded people outside of the United States Consulate to participate in a "Vigil for Charlottesville Anti-Fascists". The event was hosted by the Toronto International Workers of the World General Defence Committee. The group listened to a few short speeches and sang "The Red Flag" and "Solidarity Forever" before marching off to City Hall while angrily chanting "Whose Streets – Our Streets", "Refugees In, Fascist Out", and "Nazi Scum Off Our Streets".

The event was a memorial for Heather Heyer, the young woman who was murdered by an ultra-right terrorist, who drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters during an August 12 counter-demonstration against the “Unite the Right” rally. In addition to Heather being fatally run-down, more than 30 anti-racist protesters also sustained serious injuries during the course of the day. This attack was preceded by an August 11 torchlight march on the campus of the University of Virginia. The white supremacists and fascists chanted: “White Lives Matter,” “You Will Not Replace Us,” “Jews Will Not Replace Us,” and “Blood and Soil.” The fascists also attacked a smaller group of counter-protesters,using the torches, sticks, pipes, and brass knuckles, while police stood by and just watched.

This terrorist violence and murder is the latest in a series of violent acts from the far-right. In cities across North America, Nazis, white supremacists, and fascists have been going on a violent offensive to attack Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, queer and trans people, as well as left-wing militants. These attacks have been emboldened by the hateful rhetoric spewed by President Donald Trump. All the while our own Prime Minister Trudeau just watches quietly on the sidelines. Enough is enough!

We say:

  • Fascism is not to be debated – it is to be smashed!
  • Build a United Front to stop and defeat the fascists!
  • Solidarity with the brave fighters in Charlottesville and all the victims of fascism!
  • An injury to one is an injury to all.

Heather Hayer, rest in power!

Supplementary items:

Reading recommendation: Socialist Action USA article by Steve Xavier.

On August 14, Socialist Action members attended an anti-fascist rally of about 60 people on University Avenue, across from the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. Many carried signs or wore T-shirts with slogans; and they chanted:

  • Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.
  • Nazi scum off our streets.
  • Smash racism.
  • No Platform for Fascists.