International Notes: February 10

International Notes: February 10

Communist Party of Brazil selects new leader in the Chamber of Deputies

The Communist Party of Brazil (Partido Comunista do Brasil) has selected Alice Portugal, pictured above, a four term member of the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Brazilian Congress) to be the head of their caucus in that body.  The choice of Portugal took place on February 7, in the middle of a national struggle against right-wing policies Brazilian President Michel Temer, who replaced the elected president, Dilma Rousseff, in a parliamentary coup this past summer.   The Brazilian Congress, with a right-wing majority, has been supporting Temer’s program of drastic cuts to social welfare for the poor and labor rights for workers.

Alice Portugal has been a member of the Communist Party of Brazil for 39 years, and is a pharmacist by training.  Upon her selection to head the P.C. do B. bench in the Chamber, Portugal sketched the struggle that is ahead: “This year, we will be confronting the [practical] contents of the coup: The welfare and labor reforms. It is a moment of great responsibility, but I will have with me a fighting caucus….”  She sees the fight as continuing past fights for freedom of religion, against racism, and in defense of women’s rights, and against the neoliberal policies that Temer is imposing.


Malta: Communists criticize European agreement on migrants

The Communist Party of Malta has deplored an agreement reached by the European Union to close off sea migration routes from Libya to Europe.  The agreement took form at a meeting in Malta on February 2; it entails payments to the very shaky Libyan government to reinforce its coast guard and take other measures to keep migrants from North and West Africa.

The Maltese communists condemn this agreement, and their country’s two main political parties, the Labour Party and the National Party, for supporting it.  Along with the communists, many other organizations throughout Europe and beyond regard the agreement a dangerous avoidance of responsibility for the conditions in Africa and the Middle East that have caused the migration crisis.


Austria:  Communists make advances in local elections

Not for the first time, the Communist Party of Austria (Kommunistische Partei Österreichs) has registered electoral gains in the city of Graz, in the province of Styria (in German, Steiermark).  The Communists added another city council seat in the elections held on February 5, for a total of two in the seven person municipal council.  The rival Socialist Party lost its only seat to the communist candidate.  Party spokesperson Mirko Messner called the victory a cause for rejoicing:  “The stronger presence of the Communist Party in the city government has also brought with it the strengthening of the fight against privatization and austerity policies”.


Burkina Faso: The search for justice for Thomas Sankara Continues

The Justice for Thomas Sankara organization, based in France, continues to push for the lifting of secrecy of French records related to the murder of Burkinabe President Thomas Sankara in 1987.

Sankara, often called “the Che Guevara of Africa”, had been the head of a radical left wing government in this poor landlocked West African country. He had denounced imperialism and tried to develop policies that were independent of the West and did not rely on foreign corporate investments to lift his people out of poverty.  As a result, he was a hero to the poor majority of Burkinabe citizens but was murdered in an army coup and replaced by a right wing government that only ended in 2014.

Justice for Thomas Sankara supports a request last October by a Burkinabe judge, Francois Yaméogo, that the French government unseal any documents it might have regarding possible French involvement in the coup and murder of Sankara.  The organization is supporting demands in this regard from relatives and admirers of Sankara.



    Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Emile Schepers was born in South Africa and has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He has worked as a researcher and activist in urban, working-class communities in Chicago since 1966. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He now writes from Northern Virginia.


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