Updates

Articles

Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

A Critique of "Left wing" defense of the Russian backed Assadist genocidal violence on Aleppo

Letter to a “comrade” who insists on justifying the

 

unjustifiable

 

Tuesday 20 December 2016, by Julien Salingue




“Comrade”,

For several weeks now I’ve been saying to myself that I’m going to write to you, and the tragic events of Aleppo and your reaction to them, and sometimes your non-reaction, is what eventually persuaded me that the time had come to address you.

Not necessarily with the aim of convincing you; I believe that unfortunately it is already too late. But this way at least you would have been warned and you will not be able to claim that you did not know.

In the name of anti-imperialism?

The city of Aleppo has been victim of a massacre, of a real carnage, which one cannot help comparing with other martyred cities like Srebrenica, Grozny, Fallujah, as well as Warsaw and Guernica, or the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila.

The direct testimonies pouring from the city, coming from “ordinary” Syrians and not only from members of armed groups, are eloquent, a fortiori when they are accompanied by photographs or videos. Words and images that tell about the distress, the impotence, the horror.

But you, “comrade,” have done your utmost in these last few days — if this exercise can be considered as having anything to do with a virtue — to explain that we should not engage with the inhabitants of Aleppo and that there was no need to denounce the bombing of which they are victims, nor to denounce the abuses committed by the troops on the ground during the “liberation” of the city. In other words, you have come to explain us that we should not take a clear and determined position against the planed massacre perpetrated by the dictatorial regime of Bashar al-Assad and its allies, with Russia and Iran at the forefront.

If I address you, “comrade”, it is because in the past we have shared numerous battles, especially — but not only — the fight for the rights of the Palestinian people. Because I thought that, despite our differences, we had common principles. Indeed, I have nothing to say to the pro Putin and/or pro Assad right and far-right, who are unambiguous in their support of authoritarian regimes in the name of shared “values”, and who have never bothered to appear as wanting to build real solidarity with oppressed peoples.

But you, “comrade”, you arrogate to yourself “progressive”, “anti-imperialist”, “socialist”, “communist”, and even “revolutionary” virtues. And in the name of these virtues you attempt to convince us that for the time being we shouldn’t resolutely position on the side of the besieged and massacred people of Aleppo, and that tomorrow we shouldn’t position on the side of the rest of the already besieged and soon massacred Syrian cities.

Which is not, you will admit, the least of the paradoxes.

“The bad guys are not necessarily the ones we believe”

My understanding was that what constituted the common genetic heritage of the anti-imperialist left was to be on the side of the peoples crushed by the imperialist states and their allies. My understanding was that in this genetic heritage, that we seemed to share, we did not compromise with international solidarity. And I had hoped that, despite your sometimes more than ambiguous positions on the Syrian tragedy, the martyrdom of Aleppo would bring you back to reason, and home.

But no. You’re stubborn. You persist with trying to explain that one cannot take sides with the massacred population in Aleppo.

You persist with trying to explain that “things are not so simple”. You persist with trying to explain that in this “war” there is no “good guys on the one hand and bad guys on the other”, and that we need to keep a cool head and not succumb to the easy.

Because it’s pretty clear, “comrade”, you don’t succumb to the easy. Never. You propose us a complex, very elevated and nuanced analysis, which reads somewhat like this: “No, Assad is not a democrat, and the countries supporting him are no models either. But be careful: the self-proclaimed Syrian rebellion is mostly composed by forces coming from fundamentalist, even jihadist Islam which are remote-controlled and armed by reactionary regimes like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, even by the Western sponsors of the latter, particularly the US and France”

Conclusion: “Careful, the bad guys are not necessarily the ones we believe”

The Syrian people, you know?

The first problem of your analysis, “comrade”, is that it “forgets” an essential actor: the Syrian people. Indeed, you seem to “forget” that the point of departure of the “events” in Syria is not a Saudi, US, Qatari or Turkish intervention. Not even a Russian one. The point of departure of all this is that in March 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrian men and women rose up against a dictatorial and predatory regime, like they did in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Libya. And if Assad and his thugs had not decided to brutally repress the uprising, with more than 5.000 killed and tens of thousands of detentions during 2011, they too would have fallen under popular pressure.

And we are talking about 2011, year in which, remember “comrade”, you were excited about the other uprisings in the region. “The people want the fall of the regime”, do you remember? You may have even chanted it in the streets of a French city, you who are so fond of freedom, social justice and democracy. In Syria it was chanted too, along with the same economic, social and political demands as in the other countries of the region that were touched by the uprising, and Ryad, Doha, Paris or Washington had nothing to do with it. If you are so interested in the Syrian question, you must know that every time there has been a truce in recent years, the demonstrations resumed. That without the intervention of Iran, then of Russia, the regime would have fallen, under the pressure of the Syrian people, not a few thousand “foreign fighters” — who arrived, by the way, long after the regime killed thousands of unarmed Syrians, and brought tens or even hundreds of “jihadists” out of prison. Have you ever wondered why? — And, yes, the roots of the Syrian “crisis” are indeed the popular protest against a clan, and the response of the latter: destroy everything rather than lose its power and perks.

Unless you want to imply that from the beginning Syrians were “manipulated” by Western countries, that all this is basically a story about hydrocarbons, and that the Syrian uprising was remotely guided from outside by powers that need only to press a button for populations to rise. But I dare not even think so: you are not one of those who believe that Arabs are so foolish that they are not able to think for themselves and that when they begin to mobilize and claim “social justice”, even if they risk losing their lives, it is necessarily because they are manipulated by Westerners who think only of “hydrocarbons”.

Right, “comrade”?

Rocket launcher against aviation

The second problem with your analysis, “comrade”, is that you put on the same level, on one side the “support” provided by Russia and Iran to Assad and on the other the “support” brought by the United States, France, Turkey and the Gulf monarchies to the Syrian opposition forces. You try to make us believe that there wouldn’t be an overwhelming military superiority of the Assad regime and its allies and that, after all, to resume, barely altering it, a formula in vogue in a country bordering Syria, “Assad has the right to defend himself”.

But dare you really compare, on one side, the thousands of Iranian “military advisers” and armament, the thousands of Hezbollah fighters and, above all, the Russian air force (as well as the vehicles and heavy weapons supplied by Russia, the 2nd largest military power in the world) that support a state and a regular army, and, on the other, small arms, rocket launchers and anti-missile launches provided or financed by the Gulf monarchies or Turkey and small arms, rocket launchers, a few anti-tank weapons and communications systems and night vision devices provided, by the drip, by the United States and France?

Do you know that what the Syrian opposition forces have been asking for since the beginning are anti-aircraft missiles, in order to defend themselves against the planes of Putin and Assad’s death, and that it is the United States that have systematically vetoed the delivery of such weapons? Do you know that at the beginning of 2014, after the failure of the “Geneva 2” conference, the Saudis for the first time suggested to deliver missile launchers to the Syrian opposition forces, and that the United States opposed it and that they have not changed position since then? The United States, which did not want, and does not want, that these weapons fall “into the wrong hands”, and above all does not whish for the Syrian state apparatus to be destroyed because they have, contrary to others, drawn the balance sheets of their brilliant intervention in Iraq.

Ask yourself the following question: where are the terrible weapons of the opposition? Do you seriously think that Assad could have bombed entire neighborhoods from helicopters flying low if Syrian opponents had disposed of real armament?

And do you remember that last May the Russian embassy in Great Britain, which must be well informed and which, if it had proofs of the great armament of the opponents of Assad, would exhibit them, was limited to tweeting images extracted from a video game (!) to “prove” that the Syrian opposition forces were receiving chemical weapons?

So, please, let’s be serious!

Who is destroying Syria?

The third problem with your analysis, “comrade”, is that you simply forget a fundamental element: the facts. For you will always be able to tell me that what I have just written is impossible to prove, even if it is the main actors of this “non-support” and the “non-supported” who have testified to it, and who continue to do so. Because, perhaps, after all, they are fierce liars.

But if you absolutely want proof, just open your eyes and ask yourself this simple question: how could Syria have been destroyed? When you comment on the images of devastated cities saying that there is “violence on both sides,” you hide a detail: who possesses the weapons necessary to cause a destruction of such magnitude?

To put it another way: who can carry out bombings? Where are the planes of the Syrian opposition forces? Where are their tanks? Hidden underground, like the super-powerful army of Saddam Hussein that threatened the whole world? How many planes have been destroyed by the Syrian opposition forces? Are you aware that in 2013, when they knocked down two helicopters, it was such a rare event that they celebrated it with great pomp and spread images of their “feat” everywhere? Two helicopters! At that time, I could not stop thinking about the people of Gaza celebrating the accidental fall of an Israeli drone ….

The “coalition” led by the United States intervenes militarily, you object. But can you give me a list of the bombings carried out by this coalition against the armed forces of the Assad regime or against the armed forces that support it? No, do not waste your time searching, because I inform myself daily from reliable sources: according to the Damascus regime and the media that relay its communication, sources that can hardly be suspected of wanting to conceal this type of bombing, it has happened … twice. The first time was in December 2015 (4 dead), in the Deir ez-Zor region, the “coalition” denied having targeted the Syrian army and claimed that it had bombed Daech. The second time in September 2016 (between 50 and 80 deaths according to the sources), near the airport of Deir ez-Zor, this time the “coalition” recognized having bombarded the positions of the regime and presented official apologies to Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin.

In summary, and unless I’m somewhere mistaken (no one is infallible), the “coalition”, which claims about 5,000 “strikes” on Syria, has twice targeted the Assad regime since the beginning of its bombing campaign in 2014, and in one of those cases it has “apologized” for it. Therefore, please note down: “The real military operations carried out by the “coalition” targeted Daech and other “jihadist” groups, not Assad and his allies”.

Finally, some “preventive” remarks

There are many other problems with your analysis, “comrade”, I do not wish to take up any more of your time. Indeed, for having often had the opportunity to discuss verbally with you these “analysis problems” by confronting your “geopolitics” and your “anti-imperialism” with the facts and the actual chronology of events, I know you do not like them very much: the facts. They are really too stubborn.

For it is much easier to come to provoke or to stir up trouble via posts/comments on Facebook or discussion forums that to take the time to have a somewhat precise and reasoned exchange.

So in case you are still tempted to succumb to the easy and want to play this little game, I present to you a few “preventive” remarks:

- Before telling me that I defend the same positions as the United States, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, BHL or some other “cumbersome companions”, remember that if you reason in this way you defend on your side the same positions as Russia, Iran, Marshal Sissi, François Fillon or Marine Le Pen, and ask yourself if that’s a good argument.

- Before telling me that since 2011 Israel has bombed fifteen times positions of the Assad regime, and that those who are against Assad are therefore with Israel, remember that last June Putin declared, at the end of a meeting with Netanyahu with whom he had just signed several trade agreements, the following: “We have evoked the need for joint efforts in the fight against international terrorism. In this regard, we are allies. Both countries have significant experience in matters of fight against extremism. We will therefore strengthen our contacts with our Israeli partners in this area”. And ask yourself if that’s a good argument.

-Before telling me that the Syrian rebellion appealed to the Western countries to receive weapons and to benefit from a substantial, especially aerial, military support and that this necessarily hides something, remember that the Kurdish forces that you admire so much — rightly so — since they rejected Daech in Kobane have done exactly the same thing, and they have obtained this support, to the extent that they publicly thanked the United States for their support, and ask yourself if that’s a good argument.

- Before telling me that the Syrian rebellion, even though one might at first have been sympathetic to it, is now confiscated by reactionary forces stemming from political Islam, and that some of these forces do not hesitate to attack civilians or, a variation on the same theme, that it is really tragic to bomb civilians but that it’s because terrorists hide among them when they do not use them as human shields, remember that this is the speech of those who want to justify the campaigns of deadly bombing on Gaza, and ask yourself it that’s a good argument.

- Before telling me that the Syrian insurgents are “objective allies” of Daech, remember that Daech was driven out of Aleppo at the beginning of 2014 by those who are now being massacred by Assad, then think about the concept of “objective ally”, and ask yourself if that’s a good argument. You can also reconsider, if you are not convinced, what I mentioned above about the real targets of the coalition bombing, and ask yourself a second time if the blow of the “objective ally” is a good argument.

- Finally, before telling me that those who denounce Assad and Putin “forget” to denounce the massacres committed by the great Western powers and their allies, keep in mind that of those who mobilize for Aleppo, we are many who also mobilized for Gaza, against military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or elsewhere, and that we do not renounce, contrary to you who chose not to be on the street last night to denounce the current butchery [December 14 in Paris], to our political consistency, ideals and anti-imperialism. And ask yourself if that’s a good argument.

***

This is, “comrade”, what I wanted to tell you. The tone is not very pleasant, I agree, but it is not much compared to the indifference, sometimes even contempt, that you display towards the martyrdom of Aleppo.

Do whatever you want with this letter, and of course you have the right to continue be complacent in your short-sighted “geopolitical” vision and your Pavlovian “anti-imperialism” while the Syrians crash under Putin’s and Assad’s bombs before your eyes.

We are not talking about an exercise of rhetoric on Facebook through interposed comments, but of thousands, tens of thousands of lives. We are not talking about a discrepancy between us about the appreciation of this or that event, but about your complicit silence or your miserable contortions in the face of one of the greatest tragedies of our time. We are not talking about a simple political disagreement, but a real rupture.

I don’t know when we will talk next time, “comrade”. But what I know is that if you persist, and unfortunately I think that is what you are going to do, there will not even be quotation marks anymore, for there will be no more comrade.

I leave you with Che, who has something to say to you:“Above all, try always to be able to feel deeply any injustice committed against anyone in any part of the world. It is the most beautiful quality of a revolutionary.”

15 Decmber 2016

PS: No, I did not put any footnotes. It is not my style not to mention references, but you will probably have understood that it is voluntary. Because you are very good at doing research on the internet (and elsewhere?), you and I know very well that you will be able to find all the sources used here.

First published on Julien Salingue’s blog Résister à l’air du temps.

Translated into Spanish by Faustino Eguberri for VIENTO SUR

Translated into English from Spanish and French by Rafaela Apel here.

From International Viewpoint


http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4804 

Call for international community – Aleppo civilians plead for help as airstrikes resume: ’Save us’ ’Tomorrow will be too late for many of us’

 

Wednesday 14 December 2016by KAREEM Bilal AbdulSHAHEEN Kareem

Call for international community to put a stop to fighting as evacuation of civilians from stricken city blocked by militias.

Desperate residents in the remaining pockets of rebel-held Aleppo reacted with mounting horror and anguish as shelling and airstrikes resumed in the Syrian city on Wednesday, hours after a ceasefire and evacuation deal offered them hope of escape.

Doctors and other civilians, who hours earlier had expressed cautious optimism that they would be able to leave east Aleppo, again implored the international community to put a stop to the fighting that had left their homes in ruins and allow them to seek a safe haven elsewhere.

Thousands of civilians are still trapped in a small enclave of east Aleppo, bereft of food, water and electricity and without any functioning hospitals.

A ceasefire agreed on Tuesday by Turkish intelligence and the Russian military was to have permitted evacuations to Idlib province to begin on Wednesday morning, but Turkish and rebel officials said the Iranian-backed militias who had spearheaded the Assad government’s assault on rebel-held Aleppo were not permitting civilians to leave. The Turkish Red Crescent said nearly 1,000 people were being held at a militia checkpoint.

Residents said shells had fallen on the road on which the evacuations were supposed to take place.

“Save us, people. Save us, people, world, anyone who has even a bit of humanity,” said one doctor in a voice message from a besieged district. “We beg you, we beg you, the dead and wounded are in the streets and people’s homes have collapsed on top of them. Save us. Save us.”

Another resident said: “We want to leave. We don’t want more massacres, let us leave. What is happening?”

Civilians left in rebel-held Aleppo have been posting farewell messages on social media as Iranian-backed militias and forces loyal to the regime of Bashar al-Assad rampage through newly reclaimed neighbourhoods in what the UN described as a “meltdown of humanity”.

Many civilians predicted they would either die once the regime’s forces reached their homes, or would be detained and tortured if they gave themselves up to them.

The UN reported that the Iranian-backed militias leading the assault, including the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujaba, had carried out at least 82 extrajudicial killings, including of women and children who were living in opposition-controlled areas. Reports of detentions and forced recruitment into the Syrian army have also proliferated in recent days as the regime advanced through Aleppo.

It was unclear on Wednesday when residents would be allowed to leave east Aleppo and whether the evacuation deal would hold. No residents have been evacuated so far.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said shuttle diplomacy with Russia and Iran was continuing to keep the deal on track. The agreement to allow civilians and opposition fighters to leave was confirmed by both Russia and the Assad regime on Tuesday evening, but Turkish and rebel officials said the Iranian-backed militias, who were not involved in the negotiations, had blocked the evacuations.

The Syrian president told Russia Today in an interview aired on Wednesday that western powers were seeking a ceasefire in Aleppo to stop the regime advance and save “the terrorists”.

The evacuation of rebel-held Aleppo would, however, mean the opposition would cede the city, the last major urban stronghold where it maintained an active presence.

Residents said the bombardment on Wednesday, with artillery and airstrikes as well as alleged use of cluster bombs, had resumed at a pace greater even than before the ceasefire deal.

“This is an urgent distress call,” said another doctor who on Tuesday night had told the Guardian he was saddened to leave Aleppo but happy that civilians would survive.

“Save the besieged districts of Aleppo. Since the early morning, the shelling has targeted all the besieged neighborhoods with all types of weaponry. The dead are in the street, and so are the wounded, and there are no ambulances. Save Aleppo. An urgent distress call to every free person in the world.”

Another nurse, whose father and brother were killed on the same day earlier in the regime’s offensive, pleaded that civilians be spared. “A lot of shells and bombs are falling on us, no one can walk in the streets,” he said in a voice message. “Hundreds of shells and rockets. Please let us stay alive. Please pressure the regime to keep us safe. Please, from Aleppo, the last call.”

He added: “The medical situation is so bad. No ambulances, no cars, it’s a very horrible situation in our neighbourhoods. Please let our scream arrive to the whole world.”

Weeks of immense suffering and violence in east Aleppo since the Syrian regime and allies began a final push into territory that had been in rebel hands since 2012 have left residents in total despair and increasingly angry at the international community for abandoning them to their fate.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told the security council late on Tuesday that the Syrian government, along with Russia and Iran, bore responsibility for the deaths of civilians in Aleppo. She accused the three states of putting a “noose” around civilians in the city, asking: “Are you incapable of shame? … Is there no execution of a child that gets under your skin? Is there literally nothing that shames you?”

Iranian leaders were congratulating themselves on Wednesday for the role they had played in the assault. The chief military adviser to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saidAleppo had been “liberated thanks to a coalition between Iran, Syria, Russia and Lebanon’s Hezbollah”.

Kareem Shaheen in Istanbul

* The Guardian. Wednesday 14 December 2016 15.22 GMT:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/14/aleppo-civilians-plea-as-airstrikes-resume-syria


Message from Aleppo: ’Tomorrow will be too late for us’

Journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem describes a “desperate situation” and calls for the creation of a humanitarian corridor.

East Aleppo, Syria - We are all praying for rain. When it rains, the planes can’t fly and the bombardment stops for a short while.

We are hoping that it rains long enough for the powers of the world to do something to help the 150,000 civilians stuck in this small neighbourhood in Aleppo escape the carnage.

The situation here is desperate.

People seeking refuge are flooding into the area, cramming into about 10sq km. There are many babies and children here too.

People come with three or four children in tow, fleeing the government forces. They use their pushchairs to carry children, and whatever other belongings they can - some clothes, a few cooking utensils in plastic bags, essentials.

I chose to come to Aleppo several weeks ago. I thought I’d be here with my two-person crew for a few days. I didn’t intend to be here this long. But I knew that coming here at all could be risky.

Reporting from conflict zones is dangerous, but getting the truth to the world is important. Most of the other people here, however, had no choice. They are just caught up in this nightmare against their will.

It is extremely cold. The place where I am staying has no proper walls - I have hung plastic sheets and a blanket in the large holes made by a recent air strike.

The big-hearted Syrian people treat me - a journalist and the only black American in town - generously. They know I can communicate their stories to the world only when they allow me to charge my phone and laptop in one of the few remaining places with a generator and fuel.

The price of the little food that is left is not too high, as people don’t want to take advantage of each other, but there is not much to sell, and everyone is suffering.

In order to cook, people take broken bits of furniture, a brick and a few stones, place their pot on top of it and then light a fire.

The menu is limited: bread, dates, and bulgur wheat, referred to here as “poor man’s rice”. Some charities stockpiled the bulgur but there is not nearly enough. Most people have no access to fresh water.

Even the cooking needs to be done in hiding, out of fear of attracting government planes, or those who are hungry and have no food of their own.

The air strikes are relentless. They operate using a “double tap” method that is designed to kill any Good Samaritans who come to the aid of the injured. They strike once then wait a while; then, when people gather to try to remove those stuck under the rubble, they strike again.

At night, the streets are empty. Low-flying aircraft and their cannons hover around the town, targeting anything that moves. If you must go outside, you listen carefully and wait until they pass before running for your life from one block to another, crouching in the shadows.

It is hardest for the injured. All of the hospitals in eastern Aleppo have been heavily bombed and as of two weeks ago, there are no longer any functioning. All that exists now are pop-up clinics in underground locations.

Getting to these clinics is difficult. The courageous White Helmets are no longer functioning; their ambulances cannot run without fuel or fear of being targeted. Some people risk bringing the injured to clinics in cars or pick-up trucks, if they have a few drops of fuel left. I have even seen people use wheelbarrows to transport severely injured loved ones.

If you make it to one of these “clinics”, a new kind of nightmare awaits you there - they are crammed with people, lying on the floor in pools of blood. There is so much blood that the doctors and nurses wear boots as they slip from one patient to the next.

These clinics cannot offer anything beyond emergency medical treatment, suturing wounds and trying to carry out emergency operations. Their only aim is to stop the bleeding; they can do no more than that. And the moment the doctor is able to stop the bleeding, the victim must leave. The clinics are dangerous places. The more human beings there are assembled in one place, the more likely that place is to be targeted.

’ Tomorrow will be too late for many of us’

The Syrian government opened a corridor for people to turn themselves in. Perhaps 50,000 to 60,000 did hand themselves over. But people are still flooding into our remaining enclave as the government pushes forward. Local civilians prefer to face bombs and harsh conditions rather than disappearance.

The fact that the Syrian army has already killed half a million of their own people is a big deterrent.

But now we hear reports of hundreds of men disappearing in one place, and of men being lined up for summary execution in another. It only adds to the fear of turning yourself over.

It is desperate now. The rain will stop soon and the slaughter will begin again. There must be a humanitarian corridor now. Today. Tomorrow will be too late for many of us.

Bilal Abdul Kareem

Al Jazeera News:
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/12/message-aleppo-tomorrow-late-161213131759683.html

 

From ESSF  http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article39759 

German Fourth Internationalists form Unified Organisation

The Foundation of an International Socialist Organisation (ISO)  

Friday 9 December 2016

The International Socialist Left (ISL) and the Revolutionary Socialist League (RSB) have merged.

On the weekend of the 3/4 December 2016, in Frankfurt, the RSB and the ISL united to form The International Socialist Organisation (ISO) (website: www.intersoz.org). This constitutes the united section of the Fourth International in Germany. Prior to this saw a long period of separate functioning (from the foundation of the RSB in 1994 and of ISL in 2001) and an approximately three-year process of moves towards the agreement of a common programme, a profile and statute of the new organisation, and an analysis of the current political context and the most pressing tasks of international socialists and of a revolutionary Marxist organisation.

About 70 members and guests from home and abroad were present on the first day and took part in the debates. What became clear was the collective conviction, and indeed the will, of the members of both organisations to create a fresh start and to confront new questions. Some of the invited guests expressed a desire to join the new organisation at the conference itself.

During the years of separation, the primary differences were in respect of organisational culture and approaches to other left forces. Whilst these have not fully been eradicated, there has been, during the fusion process, a clear rapprochement and agreement towards a stable basis for unity. There is a desire in the ISO to respect and make productive any future differences of views and approaches.

Members of the new organisation will also continue to work in The Left Party (Die Linke). Additionally, as a result of this fusion, the ISO will support the publication of The Socialist News (Die Sozialistische Zeitung – SoZ) as an independent organ, and also the development of a website and an organisational magazine. As well as publicity, critical socialist educational work will be undertaken. The emphasis of our (certainly strengthened) activities will continue to be in practical work in industry, trades unions and movements.

At a time when the trades unions and the forces of the political and social left are on the defensive and the political right and extreme right are in the ascendency in many countries, the uniting of active socialist forces, however modest their strength, is a good sign and, hopefully, one which will provide an impetus to other forces on the left.

 

From International Viewpoint

From Democrat to Socialist Revolutionary: The Legacy Fidel leaves

 

From the late 1980s, the bureaucracy dominated states posing as socialist entered their terminal crisis. Tien an Men Square saw workers and students being murdered in China. Angry popular revolts brought down the regimes in East Europe. The USSR collapsed. And it was therefore being said everyday, that Castro’s days are numbered. The days turned into weeks, months and then years. But while China became a strong capitalist power with as utter a disregard for the environment and for workers’ rights as any US Rightwing politician could desire, while the collapse of the USSR was followed by a dramatic lowering of the quality of life in the ex-USSR, Cuba survived. And continued on its path. And if it was not the credit of one man alone, certainly leadership counted. That leadership was provided by Fidel Castro Ruz. The greatest evidence came from his enemies – with the CIA reportedly attempting 638 assassination attempts on him.

Born on August 13, 1926, Fidel Castro was a radical student, then a young lawyer. In 1952, Fulgencio Batista, dictator of Cuba from 1933 to 1940, President from 1940 to 44 under a constitution of his making, again took power through a military coup. A comprador of the American mafia, which controlled the drug, gambling and sex-trade of Cuba, and of US multinationals who were awarded lucrative deals, Batista destroyed liberties, including the right to strike. As an activist lawyer Castro first went to courts with a petition against Batista. After his case was thrown out, he concluded that Batista could not be removed by using the legal structures, and planned an armed uprising, recruiting mainly among disgruntled workers of Havana. On 26 July 1953, Fidel and his brother Raul attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, but were defeated. Sixty-three were either killed in battle or executed subsequently. Put on trial, Fidel delivered the first of his long speeches, ending: Condemn me. I do not mind. History will absolve me.

Sentenced to jail for fifteen years, he and Raul were released in 1955 under international pressure demanding release of political prisoners. They left Cuba to join other revolutionaries in Mexico, where they also met the Argentine Ernesto “Che” Guevara. In 1956, they returned to Cuba in a yacht named Granma. Only 12 of them survived long enough to launch a guerrilla war in the remote Sierra Maestra mountains. Despite this, the group endured and attracted fresh recruits. By the summer of 1958, they had 200 members. Yet, in January 1959, they entered Havana.  It was the guerilla war, supported by peasants, radical intelligentsia, that initially shook Batista. But in the final stages, they were also joined by the workers, in a general strike that paralyzed Havana.

The US regarded Central America and the Caribbean as its ‘backyard’. Nominally independent states were run by US client regimes formed of assorted generals, landowners, industrialists, and gangsters. Assuming that this was no more than a middle class led “revolution” that simply removed one leadership for another, the US leaders were willing to cut a deal with Castro.

What happened was unexpected. Castro was, to use a term the Bolsheviks had used for themselves in 1907-1914, a consistent democrat. As such, trying to look after the interests of peasants and workers, he found that without making serious inroads into the rule of capital, nothing constructive could be done. A genuine but independent “bourgeois democratic revolution” was impossible.

Castro’s First Declaration of Havana made clear that the Cuban revolution was not one more typical Latin American military revolution. It declared total independence from the US. While Cuba with its sugar industry was a small fish economically, it had strategic importance to the US rulers as a gatekeeper to the Caribbean and to the southern continent as a whole. Washington reacted angrily and hastily, trying to cordon off the new regime from the rest of the continent. This led to a radical response by the Cuban leadership. It decided to nationalize US-owned industries without compensation. Three months later, on 13 October 1961, the United States severed diplomatic relations; subsequently, it armed Cuban exiles in Florida and launched an invasion of the island near the Bay of Pigs. US planes, painted to look like Cuban aircraft, flew into bomb airports, aiming to paralyse the Cuban airport. The attack was repulsed. When huge masses turned out to pay homage to the dead, Castro delivered a speech, in which he declared the goal of the revolution to be socialist.

Facing open US threats, the Cubans were compelled to seek soviet support. This resulted in missiles being placed in Cuba. Between mid to late October 1962, this led to a major crisis. What is most significant is, the Soviet Union concluded a deal with the USA, without even informing Castro, whereby Soviet missiles in Cuba were to be traded off against US missiles in Turkey. Castro was outraged, and warned that the Cubans would not tolerate US intrusion in Cuban airspace. The decision to place the missiles was Khruschev’s, a decision at least partly spurred by the Sino-Soviet split and his desire to appear anti-imperialist.

When Castro is accused (whether by pro-US commentators, or by those who would be perfect revolutionaries), of being “Moscow dependent” they need to remember that a revolution that was radicalising, 90 miles from the US, at the height of the Cold War, had limited options if it wanted to survive. When the Bay of Pigs invasion was defeated, Kennedy imposed a total economic blockade on Cuba. On 4 February 1962, the Second Declaration of Havana denounced the US presence in South America and called for the liberation of the entire continent. Fidel Castro realised that the survival of the Cuban revolution and its ability at achieving lasting social transformation called for an internationalisation of the revolution. Even specifically regarding the Missiles Crisis, he had objections and forty  years on in an interview, he said that Khruschev aggravated the stand-off by insisting to Kennedy that there were no nuclear weapons on Cuba and that all Soviet activity was defensive.

His actions thereafter can be seen under a few heads. A radical social transformation was planned in Cuba. Illiteracy, which stood at 23% in 1958, was abolished in one year, by mobilising volunteers. Free education at all levels was introduced, and in the early 21st Century, Cuba had more teachers per capita than any other country.

Major strides were taken in health care. In the early 21st century again (that is, around the time Castro stepped down due to ill health), the WHO estimated that Cuba had a life expectancy of 76 years for men and 80 for women. In 2008, infant mortality in Cuba was 5.9 per thousand against 7 per thousand in the US.

Advances were not made uniformly, nor at the same time, in all sectors. But Cuba fought seriously against racism and sexism. From March 1959, anti-racism was a public issue, and Castro spoke often on the subject. The fight for women’s equality was also a difficult one. But in terms of certain vital areas, changes were ensured. By 2002, women were a majority of university graduates, and a good many were studying non traditional areas like science and economics. 51% of scientists and 72% of the doctors are women.

From 1966, the Cuban leadership was becoming aware that homophobia was a major issue. By 1995, the May Day march was led by Cuba’s drag queens, a remarkable development not mirrored everywhere in the left. But this was not a very easy process. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Cuban government had clearly negative attitude to Gays and Lesbians. It would be in 1979 that same sex relations were legalised. But non-discrimination laws are still considered inadequate, and to that extent, sometimes threatening to the LGBT community.

Colonialism and dependent capitalism had left Cuba an environmental nightmare. This was attacked in many ways. The collapse of the USSR and Cuba’s determination not to switch to being a US client led them to turn seriously to organic farming. Even in urban areas, like Havana, this was practised, with Havana now producing much of its food from the urban gardens. Cuba is also leading in struggles against fossil fuel. Once again, the relationship between class issues and policy can be seen. Centralised power structures, dependence on fuels and equipment requiring Western support, would come at a price. Richard Levins writes of his experience, where in a Communist Party debate, it was argued that that far from ecology being "idealist," it was the height of idealism to suppose that the party or the government could pass resolutions and have nature obey.

The political system was more complicated. Cuba never went the Stalinist way. “There is no cult of personality around any living revolutionary,” Castro said on May Day 2003. “The leaders of this country are human beings, not gods.” But, facing a US threat and with a lot of Soviet advisers, Castro also did not go for a socialist multiparty system.  The fact that his comrades fused with the old Stalinist party also meant that local Stalinist influence also came in. But the “people’s power” structures that Castro and his comrades put in place gave a degree of rights to Cuban workers and peasants which compare favourably with not only the majority of so-called socialist experiences, but also most bourgeois democracies, since there the system is loaded against any attempt by toilers to organise or put in their own people at any level. Nonetheless, the fact also remains that Cuba is a one-party state, even if the party permits different viewpoints to exist within it (one can mention the late Celia Hart Santamaria, a Trotskyist member of the party). But when Cuba is accused of its prisons and its political prisoners, we also need to examine the rights of political dissenters in the US client states of South and Central America. When Castro is accused of rights violations by Indian media, we need to look at how they have consistently NOT reported the attacks on the Native Americans at Sanding Rock, at the Israeli violence on Palestinians in recent years. Without idolising or idealising Castro, we also need to say, that while we, revolutionaries, have our criticisms, we do not take our cures from those who defend capitalist violence in Kashmir, in Bastar, in Odisha and elsewhere. But as revolutionaries, we must also say that the lack of institutionalised workers’ democracy, through factory committees, socialist multiparty politics, the organization of forums for debates over various issues, has weakened and not strengthened the revolution. At the same time, it is the US imperialist threat that has led to such a response from the Cuban leaders.

In their international relations, Castro and his comrades had an internationalist perspective very unlike the others. The Tricontinental Congress in the early period of the revolution was an attempt to bypass the bureaucratic, electoralist, bourgeois ally-seeking communist parties and build alternative revolutionary forces. Even later, Casto and his comrades distinguished themselves. During the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, he was critical of the economic policies of the Czechoslovak government, which was one thing, but he described the Czech supporters of Dubcek as counter-revolutionaries, which they were not. But he also argued that what had happened was an invasion, and asked how it could be, that a country had a supposed communist revolution for twenty years but then had to be rescued by fraternal invasion? Interestingly, this was why, despite Castro’s clearly declared support for the invasion, which was politically completely wrong, the Soviet regime hardly circulated his full statement widely. 

Again, he had a nuanced political line over the Chilean regime of Salvadore Allende. He identified himself with the anti-imperialist measures of the Unidad Popular government, unlike those who simply condemned out of text books from the outside. But he consistently argued that it was simply a small step. He criticised the Chilean left for “the weakness of ideological battle, the weakness of mass struggle, the weaknesses displayed in the face of the enemy”. And a month before the US sponsored coup of Pinochet, he urged Allende to mobilize the working class.

If the Cuban revolution finally collapses, if US capitalism is able to return and bring Cuba under its control, it will not be because Castro was not a revolutionary. The principal reason will be the failure of revolutions and radical forces in the region. As Castro’s old comrade had urged, to save one revolution it was necessary to create two, three, many Vietnams.

 

When Castro died at the age of 90, the signboard of a Communist Party meant little in reality in Moscow, Beijing or Hanoi. That is meant something far more in Havana or Santiago, was certainly due in good measure to his leadership. And yet, as Machiavelli warned in his Discourses, it was not enough to have leaders with virtus. It was necessary to have good ordini, which in today’s terms means institutions of Socialist democracy. It is this failure that may haunt a post-Fidel Cuba.


Radical Socialist, 27 November 2016

A Report of Protest Demonstration at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, condemning the massacre in Malkangiri District, Odisha.

PRESS RELEASE
                                                                                       2nd November 2016
A Report of
Protest Demonstration at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, condemning the massacre in Malkangiri District, Odisha.
 
Condemning this brutal massacre conducted by the paramilitary forces, hundreds of intellectuals, cultural activists, democratic rights activists and individuals came together to register their protest on 2nd November at 11 am at Jantar Mantar. The protest meeting was conducted by Sourabh, a democratic rights activist in Delhi. D. Raja, Rajya Sabha MP from CPI, strongly opposed this assault on the people fighting for their right to land and life and reminded us that this is an attack not just against one political party but against any voice that dares to stand up against the fascist regime at the centre. He noted that any individual or organization that stands at the forefront of people’s resistance and raises their voice is brutally attacked by state forces. In these times, he found that we need to build a larger unity against fascism as every space for democratic dissent is under attack. Dr. GN Saibaba, Professor in Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi University and democratic rights activist revisited the facts made available through the media. The evidence of such a brutal massacre marks a preplanned operation meant to destroy and crush adivasi assertions across the country. He found that since our so called political independence, this is the largest such ‘encounter’ conducted by the state. In such a time, it becomes crucial to remember that this area and the people resisting the state were fighting against the acquisition of land for Bauxite mining worth lakhs of crores to the Central and state government.  Aparna, CPIML (New Democracy), reiterated the brutality of the attack where bodies appeared to have been mutilated and posed as encounters. These encounters, she found, have been staged and these people were brutally killed in cold blood. She demanded that those who are in police custody be produced in a court of law and treated as political prisoners. Rakesh Ranjan, professor in SRCC in Delhi University, reminded us of the history of attacks against the adivasi, dalit and poor peasants in this country. Earlier the policy of Operation Green Hunt was executed across Central India and the citizens of this country were attacked by its own paramilitary. He found that now the brutality of the paramilitary forces is visible on the bodies of the dead and reflects the policy of the state renamed ‘Mission 2016’. 
 
Mrigank from CPIML (New Democracy) stressed the need to unite at such a time and fight this fascist assault of the state on the people of this country. Girija from CPIML (Liberation) hailed the long history of people’s struggles, from Naxalbari to the fight against brahmanical-fascism today and the need to fight unitedly. Pankaj Tyagi, advocate from Haryana, asserted that this is not just a fight for individuals. He found that those who were killed fought for their right to jal-jangal-jameen and this is an attack on an ideology and those upholding their rights. He found that those sitting in the boardrooms of democracy were the true terrorists as they orchestrate and execute such brutalities in the name of ‘national interest’. The killing of 8 members of SIMI in Bhopal, the attack on the people of Kashmir, the repeated violence on dalits across the country and now this massacre in Malkangiri, all these are related and need to be fought together. Saroj Giri, professor of Political Science in Delhi University, reminded us that the form of violence changes over time and the only way to fight it is by sharpening our struggle. Members of student organizations like Democratic Students Union, All India Students Association, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, Bastar Solidarity Network, All India Students Federation and several such democratic voices spoke in solidarity condemning this fake encounter and raised their voice in unison to fight fascism in order to build a truly democratic society. 
 
On the 24th of October 2016, in the district of Malkangiri in Odisha, adivasis, cadres and leaders of CPI (Maoist) were massacred by security agencies in an unprecedented covert operation. So far in this brutal massacre, about 39 people were killed according to the leaders of adivasi organisations in the region. The brutality and the secrecy of this joint operation of the police forces of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Central government’s paramilitary forces reveal that it was a well planned cold blooded massacre. The police announced that 15 people were killed. But over the next few days it became clear that many more had been brutally killed by the paramilitary forces in a combing operation. The bodies of those killed revealed brutal marks of torture, heads were cut off, women’s breasts were chopped off and most of the bodies were mutilated to the point where they were unidentifiable. The names announced by the police did not match the bodies that could be recognized and on the 30th of October, the police buried the remaining bodies by saying that no one came to claim the bodies. Among the dead, women outnumbered the men. Moreover, the police took 10 adivasis and RK, CPI (Maoist) Central Committee leader, into police custody and have not produced them in court.
 
All the participants in the protest demonstration united agreed to raising the following demands: 
 
 
1.    Order Judicial Enquiry into Malkangiri Massacre by a Supreme Court judge to establish the facts
2.    Akkiraju Haragopal (Ramakrishna, RK) and 10 others under the custody of Andhra Pradesh government should be immediately produced in a court of law
3.    Stop Devastating Adivasi Villages in the name of Combing Operations and stop harassment of adivasis
4.    All those responsible for this massacre, including police and paramilitary personnel, should be charged with murder.
 
ABSF, AIPWA, AISA, AISF, BASO, Bastar Solidarity Network – Delhi Chapter, BSCEM, CAFAU, CFI, CPI, CPI (ML) New Democracy, CPI (ML) Liberation, CRPP, DSU, IMK, KNS, Matidari, NCHRO, NFIW, Nowroz, PUCL, PUDR, WSS, PFI and others.

Standing Against Barbarism

 

Tuesday 1 November 2016, by Gilbert Achcar

Both the Syrian regime and the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen aim to bury the aspirations of the Arab Spring.

The Arab political opinion falls into two main categories: those who condemn the murderous and destructive bombing of Syrian cities and rural areas by the Syrian regime and its Russian master and keep silent about the murderous and destructive bombing of Yemeni cities and rural areas by the Saudi-led coalition, when they don’t support the latter; and those who condemn the murderous and destructive bombing of Yemeni cities and rural areas by the Saudi-led coalition and keep silent about the murderous and destructive bombing of Syrian cities and rural areas by the Syrian regime and its Russian master, when they don’t support the latter.

We hardly hear the voice of the third category, those who condemn both bombings and regard them as equally criminal (even though there is no denying that the bombing by the Syrian regime and its Russian master has caused much more killing and much greater destruction than the other). And yet this third category exists and it is certainly larger and more widespread than what its silence would lead one to believe.

It is the category of those who put the interests and safety of populations above all political considerations and reject the deplorable logic according to which “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” regardless of the nature of this “friend,” the values that he represents and the goals that he pursues. The truth is, indeed, that the counterrevolutionary forces that mobilized against the great Arab uprising of 2011, known as the Arab Spring, are of various sorts and forms.

Both the Syrian regime and the Saudi one are key pillars of the old rotten Arab regime against which the uprising stood up, with the dream of being able to sweep it away and replace it with an order that would provide “bread, freedom, social justice, and national dignity” — the slogan that was chanted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and numerous other squares providing the best summary of the aspirations of the Arab Spring. The purpose of both bombings — that perpetrated by the Syrian regime and its Russian master and that perpetrated by the Saudi regime and its allies — is one in essence: they both aim at burying the revolutionary process ignited in Tunisia on December 17, six years ago.

The role of the Syrian regime and its Iranian (with auxiliaries) and Russian allies in confronting the Syrian revolution and repressing it with the ugliest and vilest means at the cost of untold massacre and destruction, is as clear as could be — except in the eyes of those who don’t want to see and persist in denying the reality or strive to justify it in presenting the uprising as a foreign conspiracy, thus repeating the worn-out argument of all reactionary regimes confronted with uprisings and revolutions.

As for the role of the Saudi regime in heading the Arab reaction, it is attested by the kingdom’s entire history, especially since the winds of liberation from colonialism and imperialism started blowing over the Arab region. Since 2011, this role took different forms from direct repressive intervention as occurred in Bahrain to support to the old regime by various means as occurred in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as provision of assistance and funding to Salafist groups in Syria in order to drown the uprising in a religious sectarian ideology that suits the kingdom and thus to ward off the democratic threat that the Syrian revolution represented for Arab despotism in all its variants, and not for the Syrian Baathist regime alone.

In Yemen, the neighboring country where events are the object of its greatest concern, the Saudi kingdom intervened to foster a compromise between the very reactionary Ali Abdallah Saleh and an opposition dominated by reactionary forces. This shoddy agreement was doomed to be short-lived: it collapsed and with it collapsed the Yemeni state, leading the country in its turn into the inferno of war.

The Yemeni war is not one between a revolutionary camp and a counterrevolutionary one, but one between two camps antithetic to the fundamental aspirations for which Yemen’s youth rose up in 2011. The Saudi-led intervention is supporting one side in a war between two reactionary camps and for considerations that are exclusively related to the kingdom’s security. Its main tool fits well its reactionary nature: the aerial bombing of populated areas with indifference for the murder of civilians, identical in that respect to the Russian bombing in Syria, not to mention the Syrian regime’s deliberate murder of civilians.

That is why it is indispensable that all those who are loyal to the hopes created by the Arab uprising and keen on reviving the revolutionary process that it unleashed and that was faced with severe reactionary relapse two years after it started, it is indispensable that all of them stick to a consistent attitude in condemning the reactionary onslaught that is falling from the sky, whichever its source is.

This is one aspect of what it takes to build in the Arab region a progressive pole independent of all the poles and axes of the old Arab regime and its reactionary contenders — the indispensable condition if the Arab revolution is to arise again and resume the march that it began six years ago, short of which there is no hope of overcoming the catastrophic situation into which the region has degenerated.

20 October 2016

Jacobin

Colombia: The Plebiscite, Peace and Defeat

 

  
Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

04 October 2016

Without a doubt, the victory of the No side in the plebiscite on the 2nd of October came as a surprise to many, including the No campaign.  It represents a multiple defeat, on the one hand Santos was defeated at the ballot box, the Final Accord was defeated as were the FARC.  The defeat is not the same in each case.

Santos lost in his attempt to link the fate of the plebiscite to the future of his presidential candidate Humberto de La Calle.  The Accord was defeated without even forming part of the real debate and of course the FARC were defeated, part of the No vote was a clear rejection of the organisation.  There was also another defeat, the desire of Colombians to live in peace.  Although it is true to say that the last one could be predicted in any case as the Accord proposes bringing an end to the shooting match with the FARC and not so much about achieving Peace.

How did we get to this point?

The No vote is the result of a series of actions, agreements and connivances between the government, the FARC, the legal Left and the NGOs.

The first of these was the adoption of the Irish model of a process behind closed doors, whose content and discussions were secret and the people had neither a voice nor a vote, they had no right to know or opine.  The so-called experts thought that this was good, Vincenç Fisas from the School of Peace Culture in Barcelona said “It would be terrible that they had to emit a daily communiqué, like in El Caguán or Cuba with the ELN between 2005 and 2007.  The media have to be asked to be patient.”  He exaggerates in the aforementioned cases, they did not issue daily communiqués and in this process neither have they remained silent, but the basic idea was: lets do this behind people’s backs.  He demanded patience from the people not the press.

The people did not participate, despite some forums (where they attended and listened more than anything) and sending thousands of proposals to Havana.  Nobody knows what happened to the proposals that were sent.  The organisations that went to Cuba, expressed their opinion but nobody knows what happened to their opinions, the debate was between two parts, the state and the FARC.  After four years of telling people that they have no right to participate but just to appear, although it was unexpected, what happened in the plebiscite is not unusual.

In the debate, the campaign by ex paramilitaries, paramilitaries, drug traffickers, landlords, large companies represented by Centro Democrático de Colombia (Democratic Centre of Colombia) lied over and again.  But the truth be told, the Yes side also lied.  The left talked of agrarian reform when the Accord rules it out and the document of the FARC put to their 10th Conference acknowledges this.(2)  There will be impunity for the military and the businessmen who are equated to the rebels of the FARC (which in itself is an insult, a rebel is an altruistic dissident, the military are state criminals and the businessmen are criminals out for their own gains).  These and many more issues did not form part of the debate due to a simple reason.

The Colombian left made an alliance with the government of Juan Manual Santos in the name of peace, not just when they asked people to vote for him in the second round of elections in 2014, but also in the framework of discussions on peace.  It accepted that the people would not have a voice or a vote and when the draft agreements began to be published they said nothing about the disgraceful content.  They remained silent in the name of peace.  The legal Left of the Polo and the NGOs, with some exceptions, is not a world populated by idiots, but rather there are many people who are intelligent, capable, analytical and some even have a conscience.  However, they said nothing about the voids in the agreements.  They never opened up that debate.  The Left accepted that it was better to not discuss it and trusted that war weariness would win the plebiscite.

Who Voted No?

The minute the result came out, they began to claim that the cities voted No and the countryside Yes, the victims Yes and the non-victims No.  However, the situation is more complex than that and it cannot be reduced to crude arguments such as those.  It is true that Antioquia is the department that had the greatest impact in favour of the No.  But when you look at rural areas such as Segovia, the setting of the 1988 massacre when the Liberal Party (of which Uribe was a militant back then) gave the order to the paramilitaries and the military to massacre 43 people for having voted for the UP and against the liberals, we see a different reality.  In 1996, Captain Cañas led a paramilitary group that massacred 13 people in two neighbourhoods of the town.  In 1997 the paramilitaries and the military murdered 250 people, many of them human rights defenders.  In 1998, the ELN attacked the oil pipeline and the unintentional ensuing fire burnt 84 people to death in Machuca, Segovia.  Later in 2001 the paramilitaries killed seven people in the same place, just to mention a few incidents.  There can be no doubt, the municipality has its victims, it has suffered the war like no other, but it clearly voted No.  However, only 19% of the people voted.

In Bojayá where more than 100 people were killed in an attack by the FARC on paramilitaries entrenched in the town, 96% voted Yes.  It would seem resounding and it was used as proof of that rural/urban, victim/non-victim division.  But barely 30.37% of those registered to vote turned out in that municipality.  Segovia and Bojayá are proof of something that the media, the Left, the state and the NGOs do not want to acknowledge: the reasons for the No vote are more complex and the abstentions defeated them all, none of them could motivate the people to vote.  Almost 63% of the population did not turn out to vote and in the municipalities most affected by the violence the abstention rate rose to figures oscillating between 70% and 80%.(3)

This is the result of a process behind people’s backs.  That Uribe took advantage of the ignorance of the people, introduced fear, appealing to a reactionary Catholicism managing to even bring in the rights of the LGBT community in the debate, well yes, he did.  But he did so in the face of a Left which in alliance with the state decided it was better to ask the ignorant to vote than educate, debate and discuss.  The vacuum of ignorance is a creation of the very process; it is a requirement of the process.  Neither did those that voted Yes do so thinking of the content.  Some thought that there would be an agrarian reform, justice, truth etc.  But really, they voted because they were tired of the war.  And now that Uribe has come in to negotiate “changes”, they will vote yes again, regardless of the content of the changes.

Constituent Assembly

From early on in the process the FARC asked for a Constituent Assembly but accepted the state’s negative response.  The Left and the NGOs accepted it also, the latter like vultures go where the money is and there is no money in fighting for a Constituent Assembly.  However, now is the time to revive the idea.  A Constituent Assembly cannot be rushed, but it is the only chance to live in peace and at the same time build a scenario to struggle against impunity, the mining companies and the laws of plunder, amongst other things.  But in order to do that the Polo has to break its alliance with the state, the Right has said it is not willing to accept peace at any cost, so the left should also say “peace yes, but not at any cost”, i.e. the complete opposite of the four years they have spent on their knees with the self-deceit that a peace process would solve everything.  When you ask for little it is certain that you will be given less. 
 

Notes:

(1) El Tiempo (29/09/2012) Entrevista con Vincenç Fisas www.eltiempo.com

(2) See www.las2orillas.co Que discutieron las FARC en sesión cerrada durante los 7 días de la X Conferencia

(3) Statistics on voting can be obtained from www.registraduria.gov.co 

Subcategories