International Notes: March 22

International Notes: March 22


Brazil: Massive labor demonstration

The Communist Party of Brazil (Partido do Comunista do Brasil), supported a labor demonstration held on Wednesday March 15.  The ultra right wing president, Michel Temer, whom the communists and left consider illegitimate because of the way he took power after the removal of left-center president Dilma Rousseff last summer, has been rushing through a whole series of measures that seriously hurt the country’s social safety net.  This time, the cross hairs are on retirees, and on the right of workers to social services.

Temer wants to raise the retirement age to 65 and that to get retirement benefits (similar to U.S. Social Security) workers must have paid into the system for at least 49 years. Under Temer’s proposal, there would be no differentiation in the treatment of men and women, and of urban and rural workers, in spite of the enormous differences of life situations that they face.  The bill in the lower house of the Brazilian Congress, PEC 287, is opposed by the left and even some parties which supported the overthrow of Rousseff.  The movement against this bill is being led on the streets by two mass fronts, People’s Brazil (Brasil Popular) and People Unafraid (Povo Sem Medo), both composed of unions and social justice organizations.

Iraq: Communist Party accesses war and political developments

Salem Ali, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iraq, in an interview in the Iranian Tudeh Party’s newspaper “Nameh Mardom”, has outlined his party’s views on developments in Iraq.

Salem Ali praised the progress in the retaking of the city of Mosul from Daesh (Islamic State) forces. He said the battle’s outcome is of “enormous importance” for Iraq, “as it will contribute to the shaping of the political landscape of post-Daesh Iraq.  If and when Mosul is captured, there will still be many challenges, including dealing with armed sleeper cells, the future of several para-military militias and various thorny questions about the unity of this ethnically and religiously diverse country. Good coordination among the Iraqi army, paramilitary formations and the Kurdish Peshmerga troops. Ali praised the fact that the government has rejected the idea of foreign troops and bases on its territory.

He warned, however, that Iraq is in danger of being the center of proxy wars among Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  He criticized the “sectarian-ethnic quota system” imposed on Iraq by the United States in the wake of the U.S. invasion of the country in 2003. This has opened the door to foreign interference as neighboring countries have moved to support Iraqi factions aligned with their interests.  The threat of U.S. President Donald Trump to escalate the U.S. tension with Iran is a complicating factor.

Salem Ali is in favor of a united Iraq with a federal system.  The Communist Party supports recent demonstrations against political corruption and abuses of power.


Workers Party of Belgium denounces Trump’s call for Europe buildup

The Belgian Workers’ Party, one of two communist parties in Belgium, has warned the country’s government not to support U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand that NATO member countries sharply increase their contributions to the military alliance so as to create a massive arms buildup.

Pointing out language in Trump’s State of the Union message which called for a $54 billion increase in the United States’ own military budget, the Workers’ Party warns of increasing militarism and threats to peace in Europe.  Furthermore, Trump’s demand that European NATO members increase their contributions to the alliance to 2 percent of each country’s Gross Domestic Product will be achieved, if the European governments agree to it, at the expense of the workers and the people.  In Belgium, this increase would amount to 5 billion Euros less for pensions, schools and health care.  The Workers’ Party reminds Prime Minister Charles Michel and the opposition of the need to change their thinking on what is real security, for the Belgian people do not want more military spending. On May 24, there will be a big demonstration in the capital, Brussels, to protest Trump’s planned visit to Europe.


South Sudan:  National dialogue too narrowly based

The Communist Party of South Sudan is criticizing as insufficient a proposal by President Salva Kiir for a new “National Dialogue” to end bloody civil war between Kiir’s supporters and those of Vice President Riek Machar.  Thousands have been killed and the country’s economy devastated since fighting between these two factions broke out in December 2013.   The probability of mass starvation of people displaced by the fighting now looms.  South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011.

At a press conference in the South Sudan’s capital, Juba, Communist Party Central Committee member Ismail Suleiman pointed out that a similar effort at a national dialogue in 2014 failed because it did not bring together all political parties in the country.

This time, said Suleiman, once again the preparatory committee for the National Dialogue is composed, so far, only of Kiir supporters.  Suleiman called for an inclusive process to include all parties which participated in a peace conference in Ethiopia, in 2015.

Photo: José Reinaldo Carvalho



    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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