Category Archives: El Salvador

San Salvador: 70,000 march against proposed privatization law on May Day

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May 3, 2012

Tens of thousands turnout in San Salvador to defend the rights of the working class on May 1, International Workers Day.

Over 70,000 workers, students, campesinos and campesinas, community organizations, and members of the left Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, FMLN, party took to the streets of San Salvador to march for International Workers Day, or May Day. Marching in blocks representing individual unions, campesino organizations and other sectors of the Salvadoran left, participants carried huge banners with messages like: “No More ARENA Privatizations in the Country, Not in Social Security, Not in the Geothermic Energy Company, and No Public Partnerships with Thieves!” This message echoed one of the primary demands of the labor movement – that the Legislative Assembly reject the proposed Public-Private Partnership law, introduced earlier this year by the Funes Administration.

The Public-Private Partnership Law would create the legal framework to concede public services and public works to national and transnational private corporations. According to economist Evelyn Julia Martínez who has been studying the proposed law, the US government – through its bilateral Partnership for Growth program with El Salvador – and the Salvadoran private business sector are pushing for the law’s approval.

As the masses of marchers arrived in downtown San Salvador, they rallied in the Civic Plaza as rock bands played new renditions of traditional revolutionary music and university groups performed street theater. Union leaders then led the crowd in one minute of applause to commemorate the Chicago martyrs who gave their lives in the struggle for an eight-hour workday in May 1886.

Following the applause Francisco García, Secretary General of the Public Pension Workers’ Union (SITINPEP), addressed the crowd on behalf of the organized workers. He called for unity within the social movement to push forward greater changes in the country and to stop the Public-Private Partnership Law. In addition to the “resounding no” to the proposed law, he announced the workers’ demands, including:

  • More progressive tax reforms and policies to fight tax evasion.
  • Raise the private sector minimum wage to match the $300/month public sector minimum wage.
  • No to mining and new hydroelectric dams.
  • Freedom to unionize.
  • Join and expand El Salvador’s participation in the alternative regional initiatives of the Americas, particularly the solidarity trade block, ALBA – the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
  • Maintain and expand government social programs in education, healthcare, and agriculture.
  • Reject the intervention of the US government in violation of the country’s sovereignty and self-determination.

García went on to say, “We have advanced in some changes but not far enough. We are constructing a process and I want to recognize the only political tool on the left that supports the people of this country, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, and call on them to accompany us in our struggle for structural changes.”

After García spoke, the FMLN Secretary General Medardo González addressed the crowd. He responded directly to many of the demands and issues that García had mentioned and publicly declared that the FMLN is in complete opposition to the Public-Private Partnership Law and will vote against it in the Legislature. González went on to say:

“I want to close ranks with Francisco and with the struggles of all workers to demand their rights. We must have the political clarity to bring people together and assure that at the next elections there is a popular victory for the FMLN so we can continue together advancing the changes in favor of our country’s workers.”

Click here to see more May Day photos.

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Behind the election results in El Salvador

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Struggle for social justice continues in Central American nation

By Frank Lara
April 20, 2012

Leftist crowds packing the streets of El Salvador in support of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).

The author was part of an observer delegation from the San Francisco Bay Area.

On the eve of El Salvador’s mayoral and national assembly elections of March 11, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, vice president of El Salvador and former general coordinator of the FMLN, spoke at a welcoming ceremony to a crowd of supporters: “We do not abandon our idea to construct a more just society where the excluded are allowed more opportunities. … We know that this is a very important election, not only for the FMLN, but for the country—the country of El Salvador.”

The FMLN leader made it clear that after having achieved an enormous electoral victory in 2009 that broke the back of more than two decades of right-wing rule by the ARENA (National Republican Alliance) Party, the elections of 2012 would be critical to the FMLN’s hopes of deepening the social achievements of the last three years since the FMLN-backed election of Mauricio Funes.

When the election results started to come in on the evening of March 11, it was clear that there had been a slippage in the people’s electoral turnout and support for the left party’s candidates. By the end of the last vote count, the FMLN was disappointed to lose a net number of assembly seats.

Among the factors that likely led to the FMLN’s losses are unresolved issues of deep poverty, unemployment and sky-high rates of violent crime and gangs. Although the cause of these problems overwhelmingly lies in 20 years of ARENA’s anti-worker rule, 11 years of bloody civil war between 1980 and 1991, and the capitalist crisis itself, the general population often views those persons currently in office as the ones responsible for their difficulties.

Background to the 2012 elections

From 1980 to 1991, El Salvador was immersed in a civil war in which the fascist leaders of the country unleashed death squads and a military that murdered over 75,000 civilians. The bloody repression was only possible with U.S. military backing of billions of dollars. In those years, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) heroically waged a guerrilla war to try to overthrow the Salvadoran oligarchy.

In 1992, the Chapultepec Peace Accords were signed to end the war. The FMLN became a political party uniting all five revolutionary forces and the Salvadoran army was restructured as part of the accords.

In 2009, the FMLN was able to achieve a much-needed electoral victory over the long, corrupt, and oppressive rule by the extreme right-wing ARENA Party. The victory was made possible by forming a coalition election ticket in which the journalist Funes, a bourgeois liberal, represented the FMLN for the presidency. At the time, the FMLN entered into an agreement in which the executive department, led by Funes, would be in charge of economic and security policies, and the FMLN, which had a majority representation in the legislative assembly, would direct social programs. The victory was seen as a hopeful opportunity for progressive change in a country that was experiencing a 43 percent poverty rate. But the task of changing El Salvador’s economic and social course is a difficult one .

In 2010, the industrial sector made up only 18 percent of GDP, 19 percent was represented by the commercial and service sector (only slightly above the 16 percent represented by remittances from immigrants abroad, mostly in the U.S. and Canada). The country’s largest exports, cotton and coffee beans, totaled a small 8 percent of GDP. Organized crime, mostly fueled by the drug trade, cost the Salvadoran economy 10.7 percent of GDP, and has also forced upon the population deepening violence and further extortion.

Due to the productive capacity constraints of the Salvadoran economy, and the capitalist stranglehold on the economy, Funes took a conservative approach to the issue of foreign investment, particularly investments and economic agreements with the U.S. He chose not to eliminate or reform CAFTA, the trade agreement signed in 2003 during the Bush administration, which eroded El Salvador’s national economy. In 2011, Funes welcomed President Obama for the latter’s final stop in a “tour of Latin America,” which aside from El Salvador only included Brazil and Chile, and concluded with a U.S. commitment for military and “security” assistance in Central America.

As recently as January of this year, Funes set a firestorm within the FMLN and amongst those who stood in defense of the historic peace accords by naming ex-General Francisco Salinas, as the head of the National Civic Police, as well as other military officers. Medardo González, secretary general of the FMLN and senator to the legislative assembly stated at that time, “We believe that public security runs the risk of once again taking the character of a politic of military security.”

The actions by the executive, led by Funes, are juxtaposed to the FMLN’s attempt to pass significant social programs and economic reforms in a legislature in which they do not have a clear majority. Often, the lack of a “super-majority” in the legislature has forced the FMLN to make concessions to the smaller ruling-class parties that are break-offs of the once-unified ARENA party.

FMLN and programs for social progress

In spite of these obstacles, on May 19, 2011, after years of development and coordination with the Venezuelan government and PDVSA (the Venezuelan state-run petroleum company), the FMLN helped El Salvador witness the opening of the massive gasoline storage facility “ALBA Petróleos El Salvador.” Following the ALBA principles of Latin American integration, national and regional development, eradication of poverty, mutual respect and national sovereignty, “ALBA Petroleos El Salvador” is an important material support for the social programs being fought for by the FMLN. Venezuela sells its gasoline at a subsidized priced with very low interest rates set over 20 years and then requires that a significant percentage of the return in capital be invested in local social development projects.

This past February, the FMLN with the collaboration of ALBA, launched “ALBA Alimentos.” The agricultural subsidy program is meant to help campesinos develop their capacity to cultivate their lands. Through educational programs, lending of money for projects at 4 percent interest, and the subsidizing of seeds, grains and hardware, ALBA Alimentos is meant to help the smallest and poorest farmers. In the same month, the “Ley de Medicamentos” (Drug Law) was approved by the legislative assembly. The law, sponsored by the FMLN, establishes a fixed price for medicines and generic drugs in a country that ranks second in the region for high drug prices.

But while the FMLN developed ties and projects with the ALBA countries, the Funes government made it clear that he did not intend for El Salvador to join the alliance.

The difficulty of trying to pass major social-economic reforms is reflected in the not-so-graceful balancing act between Funes and the FMLN. It was hoped that the historically revolutionary leadership of the FMLN, through its dedication and focus on the poor and most marginalized and the strengthening of ties with Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, could lead to another round of election victories.

International observers during the elections

The 2012 elections were unique in several respects. For the first time, the electoral ballots had an entirely different appearance. Due to a decision by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) in December 2011, the ballots had individual candidates listed under the flags of each political party. Traditionally, ballots had only the flags of individual parties which simplified the process. While the decision was being touted by the media as allowing individual voters to exercise their democratic right of electing people they really wanted and not individuals dictated to them by political parties, the divisive tactic was meant to target the FMLN, whose Marxist-Leninist internal organization focuses on the party and not individuals, where candidates are elected by the FMLN to run as representatives of the party.

In order to further the confusion amongst the public, the TSE announced that voters could vote four different ways! As an example of the potential level of confusion this created, the legislative assembly elections in the department of San Salvador (a department is similar to a county in the U.S.) had 216 faces of candidates on a single ballot (24 faces per party, 9 parties total). Add to this, the fact that a person could vote four different ways for 24 of those faces and one can foresee ample opportunity to incorrectly place a vote; not to mention ample opportunity to incorrectly count the vote.

Unlike U.S. elections, where there is little collective activity surrounding the day of voting, in El Salvador, groups of representatives from all parties were up as early as 3 a.m. lining up to enter the voting stations, which could be set up starting at 5 a.m. and opened to the public at 7 a.m.. The FMLN treated the elections as a mass mobilization campaign, with transportation, food and water being provided for all their members and sympathizers. The night prior to the elections, one of the Bay Area delegations witnessed an evening regional meeting of all the branch representatives of the FMLN in the city of Usulután. After ending at 9 p.m., some representatives informed the delegation that they still had to travel two hours (one hour by boat) in order to get home.

We observed a level of discipline and maturity of the citizens of El Salvador when it came to arguing and debating. Every coordinating body of local observers had a copy and memorized key sections of the TSE’s electoral law book. During arguments, they often quoted directly from the book to present their case. While the National Civic Police was present, civilians preferred to rely on representatives of the TSE or TSE-appointed civilian representatives to solve a dispute. In addition, they voted unperturbed by the heat that reached close to 100 degrees in some areas where little or no shade was available as they waited in long lines.

While there were incidents of fraud and physical violence nationwide, they were isolated to a small number of voting stations. As it turned out, the one case that the right wing tried to use to shut down a voting station involved a voter who they recognized as not living within the city limits of San Buenaventura. However she had registered her voting address with her father who did. With the new implementation of residential voting, this was acceptable, since her information was registered to the San Buenaventura voting station.

Driving back to the capital, San Salvador, election results were coming with news that the FMLN had lost key mayoral seats and its majority status in the legislative assembly.

The following day, headlines of the two major Salvadoran ruling-class newspapers, “La Prensa Grafica” and “El Diario de Hoy,” read, “FMLN Vote Collapses in San Salvador” and “Arena Recovers Weight in Assembly.” FMLN supporters calling into the FMLN’s Maya Vision Radio station, expressed frustration with the outcome of the elections. While some new important seats in traditionally right-wing cities had been won, several historical strongholds of the FMLN were lost. As stated by an official communication by the FMLN Political Committee, “… we will study with a cold mind the causes and lessons of this process in order to make the readjustments that are necessary and possible with the promise to work better towards the finding of solutions for the difficult problems of the country.”

As the FMLN continues its fight for the economic and social improvement of the Salvadoran masses, its political independence and advocacy for profound change will be more important than ever, especially in the wake of the March elections. Its deep anti-imperialist roots and solidarity with Cuba, Venezuela and all ALBA nations can only redound to the benefit of the Salvadoran people and all Central America.

For progressive activists in the US, we will look to the example of heroic Salvadoran men and women who gave everything for their chance of real freedom; we will use their example to focus our energy in ending the imperialist monster that knows no border when it comes to oppression and exploitation.

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US and Colombia Escalate Attacks on Liberation Church

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By Dan Kovalik
September 14, 2011

When I was 12 years old – at the time a devout Catholic and Reaganite – I saw something on television which had a profound effect on my life.   It was a 60 Minutes piece about El Salvador, and it focused on the murder of Archbishop Romero and the four Churchwomen, some of them American, brutally raped and murdered there.   What was striking to me about the piece was its suggestion that the forces behind these atrocities may well have been those being sponsored by the United States.   As we know now, this was indeed the case.   And, it was this realization — that the U.S. was behind the persecution of the Church in El Salvador, and as I came to know later, throughout Latin America — which changed how I viewed the world and the U.S.’s role in it.

Of course, Noam Chomsky, with his partner in crime, Edward Herman, has been analyzing the U.S. war on the Liberation Church in Latin America, and the media’s almost utter failure to cover it, for years.   Chomsky, whose lone poster in his MIT office is one with Archbishop Romero along with the four  Jesuits killed in El Salvador in 1989, has pointed out quite recently that the murder of these four Jesuits (as we know now with U.S. bullets) took place very shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  That is, the murders took place as the Cold War – the ostensible struggle between Capitalism and Communism – was ending, leading to the conclusion that the assault on the Church, and in particular Liberation Theology, had little or nothing to do with the U.S.’s proffered goal to eradicate Communism.  Rather, the goal was deeper and more sinister – to wipe out the seeds of social justice itself in Latin America by wiping out radical Christianity (that is, Christianity in a form closer to its early roots before it became the official, state religion of Rome).   In other words, while the U.S. tried to justify its war against Communism as a war against anti-Christian atheists, it was in fact the U.S. that posed more of a threat to true Christianity.

And, the U.S. has carried out this battle with the sword — while the Vatican, which strayed from the roots of Christianity long ago, has carried it out through ex-communications and censure — sponsoring forces which have carried out the murder of literally hundreds of religious (including priests, brothers and sisters) throughout Latin America.   (I will leave to a later day the discussion of the U.S. support for Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor which claimed the lives of between 500,000 and 1 million civilians, mostly Roman Catholic).  And, while one would not know it from the U.S. press, this struggle continues.

Thus, as Colombia’s paper of record, El Tiempo, explained yesterday, six (6) Catholic priests have been killed in Colombia so far this year.   AsEl Tiempo explained, between 1984 and September of 2011, two bishops, 79 priests, eight men and women religious, and three seminarians have been killed in Colombia alone.  And, for the most part, these victims have been advocates for the poor and have been killed by right-wing paramilitaries aligned with the Colombian state and military – the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the region by far.

The most recent priest killed in Colombia was Father Gualberto Arrieta Oviedo, pastor of Our Lady of Carmen Capurgana (Choco), who was killed with a machete to the head.  Father Arrieta Oviedo, as El Tiempo explains, “was known for his committed work with the poorest communities.”   The Colombian Bishops Conference reacted to this latest murder by decrying the murder of Catholic priests in Colombia, and stressing “the courageous commitment of our priests with the prophetic denunciation of injustice and the cause of the poorest in the country.”  Meanwhile, the Vatican remains silent about these killings.

Of course, it is the “prophetic denunciation of injustice and the cause of the poorest” of the poor which both the U.S. and Colombia would like to see wiped out.   And, it is this goal which is the real impetus for the U.S.’s support of the Colombian military to the tune of over $7 billion since 2000, and for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which President Obama is threatening to have passed this Fall.  Those dedicated to mission of justice must oppose both these policies with the fervor of those priests who risk their lives every day in the lion’s den which the U.S. and Colombia have created for them.

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FMLN to Defeat any Coup Attempt in El Salvador

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San Salvador, Oct 9 (Prensa Latina) The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) says it will confront and defeat any attempt to stage a coup d”etat in El Salvador.

FMNL general coordinator Medardo Gonzalez said in a speech on Friday night that he did not rule out that dark forces would try to disrupt democratic legality in the country.

Gonzalez, formerly known as Milton Mendez during the armed conflict (1980-1992), presided over a ceremony to honor internationalists who fought alongside the guerrilla movement in El Salvador.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, had been warned about the possibility of new coup attempts in the region, Gonzalez noted.

“Here in El Salvador, we are on the alert and will not allow any coup d’etat to take place,” he noted.

After winning the elections last year, the FMLN has a broad presence in 262 municipalities of the country, he noted.

Recently, forces from the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) invited former Honduran dictator Roberto Micheletti, who took power after the June 28, 2009 military coup, to visit El Salvador.

“We told him (Micheletti), “You are not welcome in our country. Go home immediately, we don’t accept coup leaders here,” Gonzalez said.

The ceremony on Friday night was part of FMLN activities to celebrate its 30th anniversary, which will include a mass rally on Saturday in the capital.

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Hundreds March for Affordable Medicines in El Salvador

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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

On Saturday, September 4, hundreds of people from community organizations, networks promoting public health, health care workers unions and the Ministry of Public Health wore white and took to the streets for a peaceful “white march” through San Salvador, calling on right-wing party legislative deputies to approve the Medication Law, under scrutiny in the Legislative Assembly. Medications in El Salvador are among of the most expensive in the world and public hospitals frequently experience serious shortages of essential medicines. Last week’s march harkened back to the massive white marches – of over 100,000 participants – that were part of the successful grassroots effort led by health care unions to defend El Salvador’s public health care system from privatization in 2003 by the right-wing administration of Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) president, Francisco Flores.

The Legislative Assembly’s Public Health Commission has been studying the Medication Law for six months, but only 4 of its 150 articles have been analyzed due to the frequent absence of the right-wing deputies.

According to Margarita Posada of the Citizen Alliance Against Privatizations, “The lack of medications is a fundamental problem and the hold up is the deputies.”

Anti-mining Movement Campaigns for National Metallic Mining Ban

As legislation to prohibit metallic mining makes its way through the Legislative Assembly, El Salvador’s National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining (the Mesa) is undertaking a vibrant campaign to secure support for the ban from right-wing legislative deputies. The campaign “We demand a law that prohibits metallic mining!” includes announcements on community radios, billboards and signs on buses, as well as demonstrations at the Legislative Assembly. The campaign outlines the four main reasons to approve new legislation: to stop the pollution and health risks mining will bring; to avoid more lawsuits like those of Pacific Rim and Commerce Group; to end the violence, murders and conflict associated with the presence of mining companies in communities; and for legal grounds to pressure Guatemala to close the Cerro Blanco mine near the Salvadoran border, which poses a severe threat to the Lempa River – the primary water source for the nation’s capital.

The left-wing Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN) party fraction has also defined the metallic mining ban as a legislative priority and its highest priority for the legislature’s Environment and Climate Change Commission. However, according to the Mesa, scrutiny of the new law has been held up because commission president, Ciro Cruz Zepeda of the right-wing National Conciliation Party (PCN), has delayed convening the commission. In 2007, the PCN presented a legislative proposal to facilitate the process of granting mining permits, allegedly written in coordination with Canadian gold mining company Pacific Rim.

Following marches and media campaigns organized by anti-mining organizations, as well as pressure from the FMLN legislative fraction, the Environment and Climate Change Commission is planning to receive representatives of the Mesa and begin studying the proposed metallic mining ban.

72 Migrants Massacred in Mexico, 13 Identified as Salvadoran

On Tuesday, August 24, the bodies of 72 undocumented immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil and Ecuador were discovered in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, 112 miles from the US border. According to an Ecuadorian man who survived, the migrants were en route to the US when members of the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas kidnapped them, offered them jobs as gunmen for the cartel and upon their refusal began shooting. Just over half of the victims have been identified, as many lacked identification documents. Among the identified victims are 13 Salvadorans ranging in age from 15-25. Two children murdered in the massacre are also suspected to be from El Salvador.

El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes and Minister of Foreign Relations Hugo Martínez immediately expressed their horror and took measures to begin identifying the Salvadoran victims. The Ministry of Foreign Relations received families who suspected their relatives were among the victims and the administration sent an investigative team from El Salvador’s National Civil Police (PNC) to Mexico. President Funes also called for a meeting between Central American and Mexican governments to address the problem of migrant safety and the FMLN legislative fraction visited the Mexican embassy to facilitate coordination between the two countries’ legislatures to protect the lives and rights of migrants.

The massacre, which has received international condemnation, is a terrifying example of the dangers faced by Latin American migrants en route to the United States. In the past 20 years, neoliberal economic policies such as the US-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and privatizations of public services imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international lenders have devastated Latin American economies, greatly increasing the number of people making the dangerous journey to the United States and Canada in search of jobs. Studies show that 500-700 Salvadorans leave their country every day to pursue the “American Dream”. The massacre demonstrates the dangers these people face in search of jobs and economic opportunity. Anti-immigrant laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070, which mandates racial profiling, and Department of Homeland Security program 287g, which permits local police to act as immigration enforcement, further demonstrate the unwelcome environment Latin American immigrants enter after surviving the dangerous trek to the US.

FMLN Begins Internal Elections with Massive Participation

During the last two weekends of August, FMLN members elected new municipal boards and coordinators in El Salvador’s 262 municipalities as well as representatives to the National Convention, the party’s highest decision-making body. In accordance with party statutes, these leaders are directly elected by secret ballot of all party members who have been active in the party for at least six years and participate in a base committee. FMLN spokesperson Sigfrido Reyes noted that this year’s turnout was very high, with around 50,000 members participating. As the party statutes also outline, the nomination and voting procedures ensure that at least 35% of all elected positions are filled by women and at least 25% by young adults. Later in September, departmental boards will be elected in El Salvador’s 14 departments and in October the National Advisory Board, the Political Commission and National Coordinators will be elected. According to FMLN Legislative Deputy Norma Guevara, “The internal process that is in motion is evidence of the democratic and revolutionary nature of the FMLN.”

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Freedom Road looks at the international situation

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This piece was obtained through the blog of The Marxist-Leninist, and originally came from the International Section of the Main Political Report from the 6th Congress of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, which took place in May 2010. The other two sections of the MPR, the Economic section and Domestic report have both been previously published. Taken as a whole, the FRSO’s MPR gives a concrete, Marxist-Leninist analysis of the concrete situation facing us:

Introduction

The world has changed, and the pace of change is accelerating. From the mountains of Colombia to the jungles of the Philippines to the streets of the Middle East, and in the cities and town across the United States and Europe, something new has come into being. The camp of resistance is growing and monopoly capitalism is in decline. The principal contradiction in the world today is between the peoples of the Third World(1) and imperialism. The U.S. is the principal imperialist power in the world today and as such it is the main danger to the world’s peoples.

Three years ago, we stated that we are “entering a new phase in the overall decline of U.S. imperialism.” Reality has confirmed that analysis. The economic crisis, which has plunged tens of millions into deeper poverty and brought untold suffering o the world’s peoples, has weakened the power and prestige of the imperialist countries and the capitalist system itself.

The “war on terror” launched by the Bush administration was a dramatic attempt by the rulers of the United States to counteract the long running decline of Wall Street’s empire, by using military means. It ended in a series of defeat and stalemates, causing the phrase “war on terror” to be quietly dropped from the Pentagon’s lexicon The result is that on every continent, the U.S. finds itself struggling to find the methods and forms to maintain its domination, in the context of a declining ability to do so.

The political authority of the United States inside international institutions and on the diplomatic front is increasingly being disputed. Today, the US is forced to acknowledge the existence of other surfacing powers – such as China, India, Russia and an alliance of progressive regimes in Latin America.

Throughout the era of imperialism (monopoly capitalism), where the world has been divided up by the advanced capitalist countries, there are four basic contradictions at play: 1) between imperialism and the peoples of the oppressed nations, 2) between the imperialist powers, 3) between the working class and the capitalists and 4) between socialism and capitalism. While this is a general description of things as they have been and are, it’s important to see what is new and developing in this overall context.

For example, while it is a constant that the contradictions among the “great powers” sharpen throughout the era of imperialism, in the framework of retaining or expanding their respective spheres of influence, the imperialist powers at times collude with each other to weaken the socialist counties (e.g. U.S./Japan hostility towards Democratic Korea ), to oppose national liberation movements in the Third World (e.g. U.S./European efforts to criminalize Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army), and to weaken the power of the working class in general (e.g. an aspect of many trade agreements).

One can make the point there is always contention within the environment of imperialist collusion, but at times this is a secondary aspect, for example, in the debates going on in U.S. and European military circles over Afghanistan.

The bottom line here is that while understanding the general features and contradictions of imperialism is extremely helpful in making sense out of things, it is vital to grasp the particulars that make up this general picture. This is the only way that it is possible to arrive at a correct estimate of the balance of forces on a world scale, the overall motion of the basic contradictions, and an understanding of how the international situation is likely to impact on the situation here in the U.S.

A final point here is that we approach our evaluation of the international situation in a partisan way – from the standpoint of working class internationalism. Setbacks and defeats for imperialism help working and oppressed people in the United States, as they weaken our common enemy, bringing us closer to the day when we are free from the rule of the rich and powerful.

Change and continuity

Since the emergence of the United States as an imperialist power, the essence of American foreign policy has always had a remarkable degree of consistency – the basic aim was, and is, to build an empire extending across the globe. The underlying motive of empire is to systematically exploit the labor and the loot the land and natural resource of others in order to enrich the monopoly capitalists who rule the United States.

That said, the election of Barack Obama means that there will be elements of continuity with past U.S. foreign policy as well as some important changes. Both elements are shaped by key events in the recent past.

Iraq and Afghanistan

The two key events to grasp are the decisions by the Bush administration to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. In both cases, overthrowing those countries’ independent governments, attempting to install puppet regimes, and then failing to suppress popular insurgencies which aim for liberation from occupation. No doubt there are many other important focal points of struggle in the world, ranging from Cuba to Nepal, but Iraq and Afghanistan have special significance.

Iraq and Afghanistan represent something where quantity adds up to a qualitative change. The U.S. is intervening in many places, directly and indirectly. But in Iraq and Afghanistan, imperialism, following the lead of the U.S., is undertaking large scale armed confrontations against the forces of national liberation.

In Iraq, the independent, nationalist government of Saddam Hussein presented a direct challenge to the dominance of imperialist countries over the oil-rich Middle East. In Afghanistan, the US’s interest stems from the desire to occupy a strategic base in Central Asia, where there are large deposits of oil and gas, and to contain the rising influence of Russia, Iran and China.

The reason that there are still more than 100,000 troops in Iraq is because the puppet government put in place by the United States can not remain in power without them. The Bush administration said that the occupation of Iraq would be some sort of cake walk. Instead they found that the Iraqi people had the courage and capacity to wage an heroic struggle for national liberation. Time and time again the Bush administration’s agenda, domestic and international, floundered on setbacks in Iraq. While the people of Iraq have not yet achieved victory, time is not on the side of the U.S. occupation. (2)

In Afghanistan the story is the same. Using the events of September 11, 2001 as a pretext, the government of Afghanistan was overthrown in a military crusade. A puppet government was established in Kabul. And a popular insurgency took root to end the occupation.

Afghanistan and Iraq are critical because they both represent major set backs for U.S. imperialism. (3)

The large scale resistance that is being waged by the people of Afghanistan has increasingly confined foreign occupiers to the big population centers and has created an unending crisis in the occupation regime. It has left U.S. foreign policymakers and the Pentagon in a difficult situation, with no easy solutions.

The days of Bush, when U.S. policymakers could seriously debate invading Syria, or having Israel do it for them, are over, at least for now. The U.S. is not in a position to fight another major war. So Washington finds itself in a bind. Victory is impossible and defeat is unthinkable. The imperialists have picked up a rock only to drop it on their own feet.

While the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq do not, in and of themselves, settle the issue of the balance of forces on a world scale, they serve as indicators of the place of U.S. imperialism for the immediate period ahead.

Capitalist Crisis

There is a consensus among U.S. policymakers and in ruling-class think tanks that the crisis that has engulfed the capitalist world is of real importance and will weaken the power of imperialism.(4) Of course they do not put it in quite those terms, but when they speak of a decline of western “influence” and economic “threats,” that is exactly what they mean. On every level, from the military to the ideological, the capitalist crisis serves to limit their options.

On the ideological and political level, the model of privatization, free markets and no state intervention is basically dead. Governments that are propped up by one or another imperialist power find themselves under pressure from within and without. And in a practical sense, the centers of imperialism do not have endless resources and the capitalist crisis means they have less to work with – so when they pick and choose their fights, they do so from a weakened position. And, no foreseeable changes on the economic front will make for a qualitative change in this situation over the next few years.

Current Situation

McCain was defeated, and Barack Obama was elected in part because people rightfully wanted change, here at home and everywhere else. However, the place where the least change will be seen is in the sphere of how the United States relates to the rest of the world, especially the Third World. This is not because the corporate elite or the U.S. government is running on auto pilot, unable to consider any meaningful alternatives. The problem is much more fundamental. We live a capitalist county where the largest of corporations and a class that has the most wealth has the most power. So the framework which is used to analyze investment patterns, how issues of war and peace are decided and foreign policy serves those wealthy and corporate interests. There is never a real debate about ending U.S. domination abroad. The false idea projected by the ruling class is that everything from U.S. corporate investment to U.S. military bases abroad somehow benefits those who are dominated.

Because there is a consensus in the ruling class, for now, that Afghanistan cannot be “lost,” President Obama will continue to escalate the war there. Not only does Afghanistan have a strategic importance for the imperialist powers, the political impact of a defeat would be immense. And the strategic importance transcends the relative importance South Asia – i.e. there is a general view among the elite that the war in Afghanistan cannot end in defeat without endangering the U.S. position in the world.

Likewise the occupation of Iraq will continue. And the stakes are much higher than Afghanistan. The rulers of the United States cannot cede Iraq to Iraqi patriots or to some other power without endangering the U.S. domination of the Middle East as a whole – and its position as the leading imperial power.

There will be no significant change in the US occupation, although the rhetoric might be different from the Bush administration. Instead the US will continue to have its own military bases in Iraq and will use the puppet government army to oppress the Iraqi people. ”End the US Occupation of Iraq” needs to continue to be an important demand of the anti-war movement in this period, regardless of the focus on Afghanistan and the President’s claim that he is starting to end the war.

Stepping back and looking at the U.S. relationship with the Third World, in general there is a striking continuity with the policies of the Bush administration, with some important nuances. On way to put this is that there will be more carrots, and less sticks, but sticks in general will be the main thing. For example the U.S. is on a collision course with Iran, and “talks” or diplomacy will not change this. It is a question of balance of forces in the Middle East and what needs to be done strategically to maintain U.S. domination. Another examples is Colombia, where the Pentagon is expanding its presence.

Of course the U.S. or its surrogates don’t have an unending supply of sticks with which to beat others, meaning that given the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, it would be very hard to launch and handle a war of a similar or greater scale.

Many welcome the emphasis that the administration has placed on diplomacy and “talking things out.” Diplomacy is simply another method to obtain things, and it is self-evident that in places such as Afghanistan or Somalia, the U.S relies on force and will continue to do so. Force can be used to compel and money can purchase ‘friends.’ For the United States, the goal of diplomacy is to maintain an empire. The Bush administration played with the idea of overthrowing the anti-imperialist government of Syria. The current administration’s talks with Syria have the goal of splitting that country off from the other progressive and anti-imperialist forces in the region. The goal of maintaining U.S. influence over the region is the same as Bush’s or Clinton’s, or depending how far on wants to go back, Eisenhower’s or Truman’s.

U.S. military strategy is being reshaped. Gone is the cornerstone of fighting two conventional wars at the same time. The main stress is now on counter-insurgency. The formulation being used in the Pentagon is that we deal with the current situation while preparing for the future. And the future includes maintaining a big navy, for purposes of “force projection” and maintaining access to shipping lanes.

“Multilateralism” is in vogue and it is simply a way of describing collusion between the imperialist powers. The U.S. has had long periods of going it alone and long periods of acting in concert with other imperial powers – depending on time place and conditions. Contention is absolute and collusion is relative.

It is not helpful to describe agreements that provide for U.S domination of Third World as “multilateralism.” For example the Pentagon’s Proliferation Security Initiative, which allows for the boarding ships to hunt for “weapons of mass destruction,” is in the main a mechanism to project U.S. power. It is also used to interfere with the ships of, or leased by, Democratic Korea.

Concerning the Obama administration’s policy towards the socialist countries, it seems likely that there will be a return towards the policy of “peaceful evolution” which means relying on economic ties, along with political and cultural relations to help create a climate for the destabilization, and eventual overthrow of socialist governments. The exceptions being the contradiction with Democratic Korea, which has its own dynamics and China, where the U.S. hopes for and promotes “peaceful evolution” while actively preparing for a military confrontation in the decades to come.

The economic crisis has also increased economic tensions between the United States and China. The United States has stepped up its scape-goating of China, in an attempt to blame China for the high unemployment in the United States.

Europe and Japan, competing centers of Imperialism

Bush’s post 9-11 offensive was mainly aimed at the Third World but also included radically stepping up contention with Europe. As the offensive ended with defeat and exhaustion, the U.S. has returned to a more multilateral model.(5)

The other side of the issue is developments in Europe and Japan. Here the center of gravity is also opting for a multilateral approach. For example, European complicity in the occupation of Afghanistan will not stop anytime soon.

European economic integration is facing new challenges created by the economic crisis. There are growing tensions within the Euro-zone. Those countries hardest hit by economic crisis, such as Spain, are running large government budget deficits and need lower interest rates and a cheaper Euro to help stimulate their economy. At the same time Germany and others less affected by the crisis want smaller government budget deficits, higher interest rates and a strong Euro.

Many of the new members of the European Union in Eastern Europe are being hit hard from a fall in their exports to western Europe, falling remittances from workers who moved to western Europe, and tighter credit from western European banks. The IMF and western European countries are forcing harsh austerity measures on eastern European countries, in contrast to the deficit spending in the west. This is leading to growing protests and opposition to capitalism among the people.

It is not likely that the Euro can seriously compete with the dollar on a world scale in the period ahead. The issue is not the valuation of respective currencies, but rather that the U.S. is able to sell its debt with Treasury Bonds. Europe as a whole cannot. Instead this falls to all the respective individual central European banks, which have widely different polices, rates of maturing and uneven liquidity. This means that the Euro will not replace the dollar as the world currency any time soon and the prospect of an integrated, unitary European economy now appears to be a more distant goal than it seemed three years ago.

European unity is following the lead of Germany, the largest economy on the continent. Popular resistance to European integration, for example, votes to reject joining the European Union, are a good thing for both the peoples of Europe and the peoples of the Third World, as such resistance tends to weaken imperialism.

Britain is somewhat different, insofar as it is historically and at the present time much more attached to U.S.

There are some other trends in Europe worth noting. One is that the class struggle continues at a high level; for workers in the United States it is something we can learn from. Another is that racism and national oppression directed at national minorities from former colonial positions is on the rise (for example, the oppression of the Algerian national minority in France).

In Asia, Japan has attached itself to U.S. imperialism, playing a similar role to Britain. It shared strategic objectives with the United States to contain China and destroy socialist Korea. In the 1980s Japan’s rise as an economic power fueled an ambition to create an Asian capitalist bloc and have the Japanese yen be a major international currency like the U.S. dollar.

However the aftermath of the stock and real estate boom created an economic crisis in Japan in the 1990s with similarities to the crisis in the United States today. Japan spent more than ten years in economic stagnation, followed by a weak recovery based on exports. Japan’s economic weakness and China’s growing economy is affecting both Japan’s and the U.S. desires to dominate the rest of Asia.

Former Socialist countries, the USSR and in Eastern Europe

For the people of the former Soviet Union, the collapse of socialism has been a disaster. Gorbachev opened the door not to “reformed socialism,” but to plunder by native gangsters and their foreign sponsors. The collective wealth produced by the Soviet people was stolen in the largest privatization in history. The result: Nothing but misery for workers and farmers. Millions of workers went unpaid, lost their pensions and have been robbed of their life savings. Throughout the former Soviet Union, life expectancy is declining.

The destruction of the USSR paved the way for a great scramble among the imperialists to loot the land, labor and resources of one-sixth of the globe. Of particular importance are moves to seize energy resources in the Caspian basin and central Asia. The intervention in Afghanistan and the conflict with Iran are key elements of this strategy.

The results of the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union, as well as the socialist counties of Eastern Europe, such as Albania, Poland and Yugoslavia, are vivid examples of a simple truth – capitalism is a failed system that cannot meet the political, economic or social aspirations of the vast majority of people.

From the standpoint of understanding the international situation there are some important developments that need to be noted, especially in some of the more developed former socialist countries like Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

In the case of Russia, the continuing political rise of Vladimir Putin is the reflection of changes in Russia’s economic base. In Russia today, there is a rising capitalist class that has both comprador and national aspects. This means that Russia has some capacity to act independently of the main imperialist centers.

As for Poland and the Czech Republic, their rulers have shown some capacity to utilize contradictions among the respective imperialist powers.

In all the former socialist counties, construction of a Marxist-Leninist movement and new Communist Parties that fight for the re-establishment of socialism is an extremely positive development. In the face of serious difficulties and, at times, heavy repression, they are standing firm. We owe them our support and solidarity.

Third World

Imperialism means national oppression. Third world countries face famine, poverty, war, epidemics, environmental destruction, restructuring and dismantlement. On a world scale, the main form of national oppression today is neocolonialism. Recognizing this fact, it should be stated that one of the particular features of U.S. imperialism has been the reversion to what resembles the earlier form of direct colonial rule, as with the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Objectively, the countries of the Third World are at the center of the revolutionary process and the gains made over the past period are remarkable.

Middle East

The peoples of the Middle East are standing up to imperialism, Zionism and reaction of all kinds. Because of the region’s strategic importance to western imperialism, developments here can lead to a shift in the balance of forces on a world scale.

The powerful and determined struggle of the Palestinian people has swept away repeated attempts to impose solutions that come up short of complete liberation. We support the Palestinian people in their fight to regain their homeland, including the right of return, and to create a democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.

We expect there will be some differences between the current administration and the former on the issue of Palestine. A “two state solution” will now have a lot more emphasis, as there is a consensus among U.S. policymakers that if this does not happen sooner, it will be impossible later. This means there will be more contradictions between the administration and the forces that dream of a “greater Israel.”

We call for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel. Israel is a creation of U.S. and British imperialism – it is a dagger that the U.S. wields against the Arab peoples. The 2006 defeat of Israel by the Lebanese resistance demonstrated the underlying weakness of the Zionist state and the power of the Arab peoples. It also showed that the patriotic and progressive forces of Lebanon are an extremely important factor in the in building the camp of resistance to imperialism and Zionism.

Whatever weakens Israel or U.S. support for Israel strengthens the hand of the people of Palestine, the Arab peoples and ultimately the world’s peoples.

Over the past decade, there has been a steady radicalization of the masses of Arab peoples. With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of governments in the Middle East are western-dominated and hated by the people they rule. The protracted struggle in Palestine will further destabilize the puppet governments which are unable and unwilling to confront Israel.

The ongoing efforts of the Iraqi national liberation movement to win freedom from the U.S.-led occupation are of vital importance for the Iraqi people, the people of the Middle East and the world’s people.

In evaluating the situation in the Middle East, Iran is of real importance. U.S. threats of war against Iran must be taken seriously, even as the U.S. military is stretched to its limits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Increasing political, economic and military strength, especially compared to its besieged neighbors, allows Iran to be relatively independent of U.S. domination. We uphold Iran’s right to develop its nuclear capacity, and oppose the U.S-Israeli nuclear monopoly in the Middle East. Moreover, while the role of Iran in Iraq is complicated, and we cannot support any policies that undermine the unity of the patriotic Iraqi national resistance, nonetheless Iran makes it objectively more difficult for the U.S. to unilaterally control the situation in Iraq and stabilize its illegal occupation.

Should the U.S. or Israel widen their war on the people of the Middle East, whether by attacking Iran or any other enemies of imperialism, the U.S. anti-war movement will need to orient itself towards whatever the principal contradiction is at that time, focusing on the battlefront that most strongly serves to weaken U.S. imperialism.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean have long suffered under the yoke of U.S. imperialism. Since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, U.S. rulers have viewed this region as their own backyard. Neocolonialism is the main form of national oppression in Latin America today, and the U.S. does not hesitate to use political and military means to dominate the peoples of Latin America.

The exploitation and expropriation of wealth is the fundamental objective of imperialism. Economic instruments of imperialism include neocolonial structural adjustment projects, privatization and the massive debt foisted upon most developing nations and administered by U.S.-dominated multi-lateral financial institutions, like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In Latin America, the policies of looting and theft are codified in international, bilateral and trilateral free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, AFTA and others. Agriculture, public health, social services, public education, workers’ rights and the environment all come under heavy fire from these agreements. In the end, thousands are left impoverished and unemployed, while U.S. companies laugh all the way to the bank – tax-free. Imperialist domination further impoverishes the peasantry and pushes small farmers off the land.

The U.S. has dominated Haiti through both military and economic policies for almost a century. The 2010 earthquake merely provided the U.S. with an excuse to increase it’s foothold in the poorest part of Latin America. The U.S. efforts are focused on maintaining its control over Haiti and propping up its puppet government rather than on offering meaningful humanitarian relief.

The contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations is intensifying across Latin America, where the great masses of people are unable to live in the old way and the rulers are unable to rule in the old way. Colombia is at the leading edge of this process, where armed revolution is meeting armed counter-revolution on the battlefield. The war in Colombia is of vital importance to the imperialists – around 1,000 U.S current and former military personnel are engaged in combat there and the U.S. is now talking about setting up more military bases. A victory for Colombia’s national liberation movement will be an incredible blow to U.S. imperialism.

Moreover, a profound revolutionary process is taking place in the northern part of South America. This includes the progressive and patriotic governments of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and that of Evo Morales in Bolivia. The elections of social democratic or left-leaning governments of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the FMLN of El Salvador amount to a rejection of the U.S. and reflect the dissatisfaction of the masses of people. The spread of this process to Central America pulled Honduran President Mel Zelaya to the left, until he was overthrown in a right wing coup in June 2009.

With a U.S. military base in Honduras, the U.S. government was no bystander to the coup. Although the U.S. has not intervened with its military, it has given support to right wing forces. The U.S. government has clearly stood with the Honduran oligarchy and used the coup in Honduras to send a chilling message to leftist governments throughout the region.

Progressive forces in the U.S. have a special responsibility to support the progressive and revolutionary forces in Mexico. The southwest part of the United States – Aztlan – was formerly Northern Mexico. A distinct Chicano nation has developed in this region and there is a relationship between what takes place in Mexico and the developments in the Southwest. One indication of this is the inspiration many Chicano youth took from the uprising in Chiapas. Revolutionary struggle in Mexico weakens U.S imperialism, and will contribute to shaping the Chicano national movement (and other movements as well).

Finally, note must be made of socialist Cuba – which is a beacon of liberation to people through out the hemisphere. Socialist Cuba has built a health care system that is the envy of nations across the globe; thousands of Cuban doctors travel to Africa, Asia, and Latin America to provide free services to the poor and needy. Cuba has eliminated unemployment and created a superb educational system that eradicated illiteracy. Today Cuba is leading the charge in sustainable development and agriculture. All of this was done while under the most intense pressure of the U.S. blockade.

Africa

Africa is the poorest continent. It was conquered, divided and stripped of great amounts of its natural resources by imperialism. Now Africa faces an AIDS crisis affecting tens of millions, while Western drug corporations plot how to make more profits. In past decades, Africans waged many victorious national liberation struggles. Unfortunately, comprador forces allied with neocolonialism seized power in a number of countries, thus reaping the fruit of many of these heroic struggles.

With the aim of grabbing the resources, land and labor of the African peoples, the United States is utilizing domestic proxies, direct intervention, regional “security” agreements and military assistance programs. About 15% of the oil coming to the U.S. is from sub-Saharan Africa. This amount could well go up another 10% over the next decade, particularly as more fields producing low-sulfur oil are opened up. Africa has huge mineral reserves, including copper, bauxite and uranium. The U.S. is moving to strengthen its control of key shipping and communications lines – for example those that pass by the Horn of Africa.

In 2007, the United Stated formed a military command to focus on Africa (AFRICOM). Teaming up with its proxy, Ethiopia, the U.S. is waging a war on the people of Somalia. We support the patriotic people of Somalia who are fighting to free their country from foreign domination.

Sudan is another target of U.S. intervention, where Washington is interfering in the internal affairs of that country, and cynically using the turbulence in the Darfur region to weaken a government it opposes. We opposes sanctions on the Sudan.

In Zimbabwe there has been an ongoing attempt by the west, headed up by the U.S. and Britain, to bring down that country’s progressive government, and end the national democratic process that is taking place there. We are against any sanctions on Zimbabwe and support the revolutionary measures adopted by its government, such as land reform.

Nearly every region of the continent has been ravaged by war. In general, the basis for these conflicts can be found in the legacy of colonialism and the ongoing maneuvers of the western powers, especially the U.S., France and Britain. We are opposed to western military intervention under any guise, including that of “peace keeping.”

Asia

Asia is a focal point of the four major contradictions in the world. Thus, of anywhere in the world, Marxism is the most alive in Asia today. There are more communists here than in the rest of the world combined. There are huge mass movements of communists in India and Bangladesh numbering in the tens of millions. There is also a growing armed struggle led by communists in India. The outcome of great struggle taking place in Nepal, where communists led an overthrow of a reactionary monarchy and continued to struggle for a national democratic revolution, has implications for Asia and the world as a whole.

In the Philippines, the Communist Party of the Philippines holds substantial liberated areas and is leading the masses of people in a national democratic revolution with a socialist orientation. Locked in a direct confrontation with the U.S. and its puppets, advances in the revolutionary process here are of real importance for Asia as a whole. The Philippines were the first big base of operations for the U.S. empire in Asia, the point from where the U.S. projected its power. Victories won by the revolutionary movement in the Philippines affect the balance of forces in the region, and set back U.S. imperialism’s plans to build an anti-China alliance.

There are also more socialist countries in Asia than anywhere else. China, Laos, Vietnam, Korea all espouse Marxism-Leninism and see themselves on the road to communism. Taken as whole, Asia is a weak link in the chain of imperialism.

Note should be made of U.S. efforts to provoke a second Korean war. While the strength of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and the patriotic movements in the south of the peninsula constrain the U.S., ongoing provocations, such as the fabrication of a “nuclear crisis” and war preparations (troop redeployments, deployment of advanced weapons, agreements with other countries to seize north Korean shipping vessels) constitute serious danger to peace on the Korean Peninsula.

In a similar vein, we understand that when the Pentagon speaks of a “regional competitor” in Asia, it means the People’s Republic of China. We support the efforts of the Chinese people to achieve reunification with the Taiwan province and oppose U.S. efforts to threaten China with “missile defense,” a system of military bases aimed at encirclement and subversion.

The growing international influence of China is also posing a challenge to U.S. imperialism. China has growing economic and political relationships with many countries of the Third World in Asia, Africa and Latin America. China has been able to unite with other Third World countries in international forums on trade and the environment to challenge the hegemony of U.S. and other other imperialist powers. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is a military alliance that includes Russia, China, and other Central Asian countries presents a direct challenge to the expansion of NATO in Central Asia.

Finally, the growing struggle of Afghani people to win national independence and liberate their country from U.S. and NATO control has made real strides forward. The U.S. is expanding its military attacks to Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan. There is growing opposition by the Pakistani people to their government’s cooperation with U.S. imperialism.

Socialist Countries

China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Korea are countries where the proletariat has established power. These countries are an important factor in the world revolutionary process. Whatever strengths or weakness the respective socialist countries have, we count ourselves in the ranks of those who hold that actual existing socialism is a good thing.

A quick compare and contrast demonstrates that socialism has been extremely positive for the Third World. Those countries that overthrew imperialism and its local servants, established New Democracy, and transitioned to socialism under the leadership of the working class and its Party have improved the lives of their own people and inspired millions more.

For example, Cuba’s infant mortality rate ranks far above that of Mexico or El Salvador, and many major U.S. cities. On issues of equality, heath care, education, culture, housing, and food the people of the socialist countries fare better.

In the cases of Korea and Vietnam, the mass destruction of U.S. wars attempted to send those nations “back to the Stone Age.” However, due to the victories against U.S. imperialism, they have fared well compared with similar Asian nations.

However, socialist countries also face major contradictions, from external and internal sources, including those stemming from market reforms and the opening of the economies to the world market. In spite of this, the socialist countries have demonstrated in practice the bright future in store for humanity.

Notes

(1) Third World is a reference to the developing countries that are oppressed by imperialism.

(2) From 2003 to 2008, a powerful national resistance movement emerged in Iraq and that seemed to be relatively close to victory. The U.S. responded by instigating sectarian warfare, both openly and covertly. The divide-and-rule tactics of the U.S. and Al Qaeda’s sectarian actions served the same purpose: to fracture the resistance and create an opening for the occupation. The result was the creation of large pro-puppet militias like the ‘Sons of Iraq’ in areas where the resistance was the strongest. Nonetheless, the Iraqi resistance was never defeated and continues to wage armed struggle against the occupation.

(3) Defense Secretary Gates acknowledged as much, stating “We are unlikely to repeat another Iraq or Afghanistan anytime soon – that is, forced regime change followed by nation-building under fire,” in a speech at National Defense University, September 2008.”Nation building” is a code word for creating a stable puppet government.

(4) According to USA TODAY, February 25 2009: Leon Panetta told reporters that his agency was producing, at the request of the Obama administration, a new “economic intelligence brief” and distributing it to key policymakers. Reflecting the comments of the director of national intelligence, who called the economic crisis a serious national security threat, the new brief will focus on global economic issues, Panetta says. “It will cover overseas developments, economic, political, leadership developments,” he says. “Obviously, the implications in terms of the U.S. economy will be analyzed as well.” The first EIB was sent out today to “key players” in the administration.

(5) As we noted in our 2004 Main Political Report, while the contradiction between the U.S. and Europe has its own dynamics, at its core is a struggle of rivals to re-divide the world for their respective benefit. Given the setbacks the U.S. has met with in the Middle East and elsewhere, we can expect that those in the U.S. ruling class who favor a more “multilateral” approach of “let’s get together and share the spoils” will make their voices heard.

Mining company sues El Salvador

Standard

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
By: Sarah Carlson

Pres. Funes stands strong

Shareholders and the board of directors for a Canadian company, Pacific Rim Mining, convened their annual meeting in Vancouver, B.C., at the end of August. One of the points of order, no doubt, was Pacific Rim’s lawsuit against the government of El Salvador.

Public opposition to mining

What could the Salvadoran government possibly have done to this corporation?

After the election of Mauricio Funes in 2009, the government was finally held accountable to the demands of the people—one of which was strong public opposition to the exploitive gold-mining industry, which has flourished under the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Funes has welcomed the opportunity to pass a national ban on metallic mining—a process started by the Legislative Assembly.

Pacific Rim’s response to these policy changes was to open a storefront in Nevada and to use CAFTA to file a lawsuit against the Salvadoran government for hundreds of millions of dollars in “lost profits.” On Aug. 9, the World Bank approved the suit after the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes rejected the Salvadoran government’s preliminary objections to it on Aug. 3.

Funes stood firm, saying, “I will not authorize any mining exploration or exploitation project.” The people of El Salvador stand strong as well in the face of violent attacks on rural communities voicing opposition to the mines. Under CAFTA, the economy of these communities has been destroyed by the environmental destruction of the mining industry and by agro-business flooding markets and driving down prices.

The language of CAFTA, like NAFTA, ensures that the rights of private corporations to exploit and destroy are protected to the fullest, while the right to national sovereignty is swept aside. Indeed, “free trade” has been very expensive for the vast majority of the Latin American people.

Pacific Rim Mining does not own El Salvador. Corporations do not own people’s lives. The exploitation of underdeveloped countries all over the world is a symptom of imperialism. “Globalization” is just another form of neo-colonialism, which can only end with the overthrow of the capitalist system and the creation of an economy based on meeting the needs of the people.

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