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Updated: 32 min 48 sec ago

US Navy Seals Take Over Oil Tanker Off Libya

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 01:09

The U.S. imperialists attacked the North African state of Libya in order to seize the oil-rich country and establish a military beachhead inside the region. Thousands have died in the imperialist war., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

US navy Seals take over oil tanker seized by Libyan rebels

Pentagon says the Morning Glory, loaded with £12m cargo of crude oil, will be handed to Libyan government control

Chris Stephen in Tripoli
theguardian.com, Monday 17 March 2014 07.30 EDT

American navy Seals have seized a North Korea-flagged tanker that had been loaded with crude oil at a rebel-held port in eastern Libya, the Pentagon said on Monday.

The operation to take control of the Morning Glory took place a week after Libya failed to prevent the tanker from leaving the rebel-controlled eastern port of Es Sider loaded with an estimated $20m (£12m) cargo, in a crisis that has brought the country to the brink of civil war.

"The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government's national oil company," said John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman. "The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained from the Libyan port of Es Sider."

There were no casualties in the operation, which took place in international waters off the coast of Cyprus late on Sunday night.

The raid was authorised by the US president, Barack Obama, after receiving a request for assistance from Tripoli. The Seals boarded the 21,000-tonne tanker using helicopters and fast boats from a warship, the USS Roosevelt.

The Pentagon said a US navy crew was piloting the tanker towards an unnamed Libyan port where it will be handed to government control.

Cyprus Tanker

In Libya, US ambassador Deborah Jones, who described the rebel actions last week as "theft from the Libyan people", tweeted: "Yes we can" in reaction to the operation on Monday. "Glad we were able to respond positively to Libya's request for help in preventing illegal sale of its oil on stateless ship," she wrote.

Meanwhile, two Israelis and a Senegalese national were briefly detained in Cyprus on suspicion of negotiating to buy crude from the tanker, it was reported on Monday.

The three people were detained in the coastal city of Larnaca on Saturday, but a local court declined to issue arrest warrants as authorities in Cyprus had no evidence that the alleged offence was committed within its territorial waters.

Local media said the three flew to Larnaca on a private jet late on Friday, hired a boat from the marina and went out to the tanker to negotiate with the crew. Police monitored their movements and the boat was intercepted once they were back in Cypriot waters. The trio flew to Tel Aviv on Sunday night.

The US raid took place amid growing fears that Libya is headed towards breakup, with rebel forces in the eastern province of Cyrenaica declaring last week their intention to sell oil independently.

Rebel leaders have been blockading eastern oil ports since last summer, calling for autonomy for Cyrenaica and a greater share of Libya's oil wealth.

Last week, a Libyan gunboat failed to prevent the Morning Glory leaving Es Sider with at least 234,000 barrels of crude.

The ship was operated by an Egyptian-based company that was allowed temporarily to use the North Korean flag under a contract with Pyongyang, the North Korean state news agency, KCNA, reported on Wednesday.

Pyongyang had "cancelled and deleted" the ship's North Korean registry, as it violated its law "on the registry of ships and the contract that prohibited it from transporting contraband cargo".

"As such, the ship had nothing to do" with North Korea, which "has no responsibility whatsoever as regards the ship," according to KCNA.

The ship's escape prompted Libya's congress to fire its prime minister, Ali Zeidan, who fled to Germany last week claiming that his life was in danger.

Government militias ordered to take the oil ports by force clashed last week with a Libyan army unit near the coastal town of Sirte, and rebel forces have since taken up positions blocking approaches to the ports.

Washington's action is seen as a signal of US support for Libya's elected authorities, and comes after rebels declared their intention to load oil into a second tanker expected to dock at the blockaded port of Tobruk.

Three years after its Arab spring revolution, which overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, Libya suffers from militia violence and an ailing economy, with the government struggling to maintain control over much of the country.

On Monday morning, a car bomb ripped through a graduation parade at a military academy in Benghazi, capital of Cyrenaica, killing at least 14 people.

The bomb struck as the cadets paraded at the base before their families, pulverising the vehicle and scattering wreckage and body parts across the compound and nearby highway.

"There are body parts everywhere," said one witness. "The explosion happened at rush hour, there were lots of people passing by." Benghazi's joint operations room said city hospitals had received 14 dead and 12 wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing and it is unclear whether the attack was connected to the oil dispute, but it came amid daily killings of security officials in the city and periodic battles between the army and radical militias.

Libya Car Bomb Kills Eight Rebel Soldiers in Benghazi

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 00:40

Benghazi car bomb explosion, March 17, 2014, where eight rebel soldiers were killed., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

17 March 2014
Last updated at 18:31 ET

Libya car bomb: Benghazi army base hit by deadly attack

A car bomb at a military academy has left at least eight soldiers dead in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, medical sources say.

The attack targeted soldiers leaving a graduation ceremony. More than a dozen people were reported to be wounded.

A second car bomb later exploded elsewhere in Benghazi, killing one person.

Benghazi was the cradle of the 2011 counter-revolution leading to the massive Pentagon-NATO bombing campaign that toppled the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi.

But since then it has been a focal point for attacks on public institutions and officials.

The government called the academy bombing a "terrorist act" and declared three days of mourning.

No group has said it carried out the bombing but Libyan security forces have long been battling Islamist militants in the city.

Benghazi is the largest city in eastern Libya, where some groups want more autonomy and a greater share of the region's oil wealth.

In the past year none of the assassinations or bombings in Libya have been claimed by any group, and there has been no admission to Monday's attack.

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV 'The Debate': 'CAR Needs Political Solution Not Foreign Occupation'

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 03:08

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, speaking over Press TV world news on developments in Africa. Azikiwe is a frequent guest on satellite television., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.CAR needs political solution not foreign occupation: analyst

Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe
Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:4AM GMT

To watch this Press TV The Debate segment featuring Abayomi Azikiwe just click on the website below:
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/03/12/354339/car-needs-political-solution-not-occupation/

Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, the director of Pan-African News Wire from Detroit, about religious and ethnic cleansing in CAR despite the presence of international military forces in the country.

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: We know what created or triggered this violence, but the question everyone is asking is why the entire Muslim population is being targeted by this Christian militia. Why aren’t we seeing the peacekeepers and the French troops there stopping this genocide from happening?

Azikiwe: I believe that one of the central reasons behind these attacks on the minority Islamic population in the Central African Republic stems from the rule of the Seleka Coalition under the direction of Michel Djotodia who was the interim president there up until January when he was forced to resign at a regional meeting in Chad.

There were a lot of atrocities committed during the period of the Seleka unrest late 2012 and in the early months of 2013. They marched into the capital of Bangui in March 2013. That resulted in the death of people – civilians as well as members of the South African national defense forces - who were inside the Central African Republic ostensibly on a peacekeeping mission.

As a result of these atrocities committed by the Seleka Coalition there has been a response from these Christian militia groups – the anti-Balaka and others who have declared essentially all Muslims inside the country as being "persona non-grata."

They want to drive all of them out of the country. This is not a just response to the political repression that was carried out by the Seleka Coalition.

Unfortunately the deployment of nearly 2,000 French troops; 6,000 African peace keeping troops; and of course European Union troops and the prospects of another 12,000 United Nations peacekeeping forces is that they have not been able to stabilize the situation inside the country.

I don’t believe with the deployment of these additional United Nations peacekeeping forces, which have been authorized, will they either be able to resolve the conflict without some type of political solution inside the country.

Press TV: Do you agree that the French have, in the words of one writer, been overseeing this bloodshed rather than preventing it? And they also refer to the fact that just three days after the French troops came into the country the violence intensified against the Muslims.

And they’re also saying that initially they didn’t have that UN mandate after they came into the CAR. Then the UN Security Council gave them the mandate and they see that as a sign that France actually had its own ulterior objective or motive for its presence in the country.

What do you think about the objective behind the French troop presence?

Azikiwe: Well, there was definitely an escalation of violence inside the country with the intervention of more French troops, but I want to point out that France has had a long-time presence in the Central African Republic as a former French colony.

It’s interesting that they would want Francoise Bozize out in 2013 when in fact they were largely responsible for his installation in 2003. People can remember the Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was overthrown by the United States, France and Canada in late February 2004 some ten years ago - He was exiled to Bangui in the Central Africa Republic initially until he was given political asylum in South Africa.

But France clearly seized their former colonies as their domain of influence. The Central African Republic has gold, they have diamonds they have uranium deposits inside the country.

I believe France as well as the United States and other countries including Canada want to enhance and intensify the exploitation of these mineral resources.

Press TV: One writer described the situation and I’m quoting here, he says, “It’s the law of the jungle right now in the Central Africa Republic”.

What can be done with the central government unable to play any role – what should be done about this situation?

Azikiwe: I believe that if the French pull back from Bangui and other key areas inside the Central Africa Republic and that the African peacekeeping forces are given extra personnel as well as logistical support that they can at least attempt to normalize the situation inside the country.

But the problem is now, with French forces there – and the animosity against them is rising on a daily basis; and then of course the European Union forces and the potential of thousands more United Nations peacekeeping forces, it’s going to be tantamount to a large scale foreign occupation of the Central Africa Republic.

And this is not going to benefit the nation building process or the process of national reconciliation.

Muslims and Christians have lives in the Central Arica Republic together for decades. Many of the Muslims there were foreign nationals or descendants of foreign nationals for Chad, from Sudan and they of course have done business there, they have lived among the Christian population there for many years.

It is only with this large scale French and foreign intervention that we’ve seen these types of conflicts escalate.

Press TV: You said that if the troops leave you think that’s going to be helpful, but don’t you think we do need an international UN mission on this as the central government is not effective?

Azikiwe: I believe that the French troops are there contributing to the instability inside the country and there should be a reinforcement of the Africa union troops from various Central African States and possible other regions of the African continent.

There also needs to be a stronger political intervention on the part of the African Union to reach some type of political settlement because otherwise we’re not going to have peace inside the CAR for any time soon.

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Inside Story: 'Holy War in the Central African Republic?'

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 02:37

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, speaking on satellite television on the political and security crisis in the Central African Republic. The program aired during Feb. 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.Holy war in the Central African Republic?

We ask if the violence in the CAR is turning into a religious war.

Inside Story Last updated: 19 Feb 2014 18:56

To watch this interview featuring Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMtGRHH1gmw#t=167

Christian militias in Central African Republic have been accused of committing ethnic cleansing against Muslims. And Amnesty International blames international peacekeepers for not doing enough to prevent it.

Now, thousands of frightened Muslims are leaving their homes, hoping they will be safe in neighbouring countries.

The current cycle of violence began when Muslim Seleka rebels seized power a year ago. Since then Christian militias known as the anti-Balaka have waged a campaign against Muslims, in what they perceive as venegance for Seleka crimes.

These internal problems inside the CAR derive from the French colonial legacy and current international imperialist drive for the seizure of resources on the African continent. The formation the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) comes at a critical time in the decline of U.S. imperialist hegemonic control of the world's resources and trade routes.

On this edition of Inside Story, we ask: Is the situation spiralling out of control?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan

Guests: Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan African News Wire

Donatella Rovera, senior investigator on crisis response for Amnesty International and recently visited the CAR

Kenya Lecturers Launch Nationwide Strike

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 01:58

Kenya lecturers and non-academic staff went on strike March 14, 2014 over pay and working conditions. They defied a court order., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Kenya: Lecturers of Public Universities commence Strike

0 K. O. Peppeh
March 14, 2014

Public university lecturers and some non-teaching staffs in an estimated 30,000 institutions across Kenya have commenced a strike action over a rift with vice chancellors and other top administrative representatives.

The dispute, reportedly over an unpaid sum of Sh 3.9 million due to the lecturers as part of a salary agreement in 2012, could potentially lead to the postponement of semester examinations in many universities scheduled for early next month.

Earlier in the week, representatives of Kenya’s Union of Academic Staff Union (UASU) and Kenya’s University Staff Union (KUSU) announced the strike action after a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Jacob Kaimenyi, failed to carve a path out of the crisis.

However, on Tuesday, the Inter-Public University Consultative Forum (IPUCF) successfully secured an injunction against the strike.

The Industrial Court reportedly also summoned representatives of Kenya’s lecturers’ unions to appear in court on Wednesday.

However, the injunction has been ignored and the lecturers failed to turn up to the hearing. According to them, the notice of the strike suspension was not properly served.

Reports indicate that the Industrial court ruled for the notice to be served through national newspapers.

In a recent report by Standard Digital, Mr. K’Olale decried what he described as “the misuse of courts…to intimidate workers who are demanding what is lawful for them.”

He further called on the Chief Justice to “look into the Industrial Court, which has issued erroneous, unethical and immoral orders.”

“The court is supposed to respect workers’ rights, not to go against them” he added.

The lecturers’ unions have reportedly also uncovered up to Sh 3 billion unaccounted for by the university’s administration.

They have further accused Kenya’s public university administrators of fraud, abuse of office and incompetence.

The administrators are yet to respond to these accusations. However, reports indicate that the delay in the payment of the Sh 3.9 million is due to a budgetary deficit.

Local media sources have reported that students across Kenya’s public universities have been forced to attend to their other interests as libraries and other facilities remains closed.

A few confrontations between the striking lecturers and students were reported earlier in the week, but these only amounted to skirmishes.

This strike by public university lecturers comes after a similar industrial action by teachers and doctors last year.

According to some pundits, these overblown disagreements are an indication of several problems in the government’s relationship with public workers.


Dons’ strike enters second week

Kenya Daily Nation

The lecturers’ strike enters its second week today after the dons and vice-chancellors failed to find a solution at the weekend.

“As managers, we are trying to make sure that lecturers willing to teach, especially part-timers, are left to do so,” Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) vice-chancellor Josephat Mwatelah said on Sunday.

The lecturers’ strike enters its second week today after the dons and vice-chancellors failed to find a solution at the weekend.

This was despite concerted efforts by the government to push them to find a way out of the stalemate.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi has taken over the negotiations after his Education counterpart Jacob Kaimenyi failed to resolve the crisis last week.

Mr Kambi met with officials of the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu) on Saturday and yesterday in a bid to find a solution to the strike that started last Monday.

The union officials said day that they were yet to be convinced to end the boycott. They have also brushed aside a court order obtained by the VCs stopping the strike.

“We are soldiering on. We have not been given any solution yet, so the strike goes on. We have been meeting with the VCs, but they are yet to meet our demands,” Kusu secretary-general Charles Mukhwaya said on the phone. Uasu chairman Sammy Kubasu said they were still open for dialogue despite a solution proving elusive so far.

Elsewhere, university managers in Mombasa have organised game tournaments from today to keep idle students busy as their lecturers and other workers continue with their strike.

“As managers, we are trying to make sure that lecturers willing to teach, especially part-timers, are left to do so,” Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) vice-chancellor Josephat Mwatelah said on Sunday.

Keep the students busy

“We are going to organise a tournament for football, basketball and netball to keep the students busy,” he added.

Mr Mwatelah said that if the strike takes longer than they anticipate, they will send the students home until the dispute they have with the staff unions is resolved.

Uasu TUM chapter leader Joseph Ngare praised Prof Kaimenyi for acknowledging that the problem lay with university managers, and pushing for investigations into the matter.

At the same time, Masinde Muliro University has pushed forward examinations scheduled for today due to the ongoing strike.

The vice-chancellor, Prof Fred Otieno, said that the registration of students was interrupted. “Students will have at least one week to complete the registration and prepare for the examinations that were pushed to March 24,” he said.

The lecturers and support staff started boycotting work last week, demanding payment of Sh3.9 billion, which is part of Sh7.8 billion negotiated in 2010.

Reported by Jeremiah Kiplang’at, Rebecca Okwany and John Shilitsa

200 May Have Been Killed in Northern Nigerian Violence

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 00:49

Nigerian conflict in the northwest of the country leaves 200 dead. Struggles of land and cattle precipitated the incidents amid ongoing regional violence., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.Gunmen attack Nigeria's Kaduna villages,over 200 killed

TVC

More than 200 people have been reportedly killed following attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen in three villages across Kaduna state, in northwest Nigeria.

The gunmen were said to have first launched an attack on Friday night in one of the villages and left over 50 dead.

They yet launched another one around 4am local time, Saturday on two other villages and killed over 150 people.

TVC News gathered that the herdsmen shot sporadically into homes and women and children who scampered for their lives were gunned down.

Men remained indoors and the herdsmen razed down their buildings with fire, leaving several of them burnt to ashes.

Many also sustained wounds from bullets and machetes and scores of corpses are now said to be littering the bush in the villages.

Police authorities have confirmed the incident, saying however that they cannot categorically name the casualty figure as investigations are still ongoing.

They however make assurances that they will stop at nothing to bring the perpetrators to book.


100 killed in Nigeria’s religious clash

March 17, 2014

KANO. – At least 100 people were killed in the religiously divided centre of Nigeria this weekend, local officials said , as tensions between Muslim-dominated herdsmen and mostly Christian farmers again turned deadly.

About 40 assailants armed with guns and machetes stormed the villages of Angwan Gata, Chenshyi and Angwan Sankwai, attacking locals in their sleep and torching their homes, Yakubu Bitiyong, a lawmaker at the Kaduna state parliament told AFP.

“We have at least 100 dead bodies from the three villages attacked by the gunmen” overnight Friday-Saturday, he said, adding that scores of residents were also injured.

Some of the victims “were shot and burnt in their homes while others were hacked with machetes,” Bitiyong said.

According to a local government official who asked not to be named, around 2 000 people displaced by the attacks were now sheltering in a primary school in Gwandong village.

Kaduna state police spokesman Aminu Lawan confirmed the attacks but refused to give a casualty toll or say who was behind the violence.

Local residents, mostly Christians, blamed the bloodshed on Muslim Fulani herdsmen, who have been accused of similar raids in the past.

Chenshyi village was the worst affected with at least 50 people killed, said Adamu Marshall, a spokesman for the Southern Kaduna Peoples’ Union, a regional political and cultural body.

“Many people are still in the bush, afraid to return to their burnt homes,” he told AFP, confirming a total toll of at least 100 dead. The attackers looted food and set fire to the barns during the attacks,” he added.

Kaduna state governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero was to cut short a visit to the United States in response to the violence, his spokesman said.

Fulani leaders have for years complained about the loss of grazing land which is crucial to their livelihood, with resentment between the herdsmen and their agrarian neighbours rising over the past decade.

Most of the Fulani-linked violence has been concentrated in the religiously divided centre of the country, where rivalries between the herdsmen and farmers have helped fuel the unrest.

— AFP.


National conference : Nigerians divided over no go areas

TVC

As the kick-off of the national conference counts down, Nigerians are expressing divergent views on the mandate of the participants which does not include discussing the country's continued unity.

While some Nigerians welcome the directive, others believe discussing the conditions determining the staying together is paramount to solving its many challenges.

Agitations for a conference that will address Nigeria's numerous problems have been on for years.

Many Nigerians are particularly disgruntled about what they see as a worsening attitudes that question the co-existence of the country's many ethnic and religious groups.

Ethnic and religious clashes have over the years resulted in loss of lives and destruction of property.

Only recently, terrorism has taken the front seat among challenges confronting Nigeria.

Perhaps, desirous to overcome some of the problems, President Goodluck Jonathan finally succumbed to calls for a national conference.

Many of its advocates are optimistic it will redress some of the problems the country is battling with.

But while some people have declared support for the conference there are others who do not see it as the needed respite for the country.

Among critics of the conference are the Northern Elders Forum and Nigeria's main opposition party, the APC.

Both groups are particularly irked by the President's insistence that issues bordering on Nigeria's continued unity is persona non grata.

But there are those who see nothing wrong in the President's order. They say Nigeria will continue to exist as an indivisible entity

Critics are also quick to view the conference as a jamboree, describing it as a duplication of the National Assembly's functions

The confab, which opens on Monday in the nation's capital is expected to deliberate on issues bordering Nigeria and collate the citizen's views on the way forward.

Crimeans Vote to Join Russia After Fascist Ukrainian Coup

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 00:09

Crimean Prime Minister Segey Aksyonov at Lenin Square on March 16, 2014. The people of Crimea voted over 96 percent to join Russia., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

95.7% of Crimeans in referendum voted to join Russia - preliminary results

Published time: March 16, 2014 18:07
Rt.com

Over 95 percent of voters in the Crimean referendum have answered ‘yes’ to the autonomous republic joining Russia and less than 4 percent of the vote participants want the region to remain part of Ukraine, according to preliminary results.

With over 75 percent of the votes already counted, preliminary result show that 95.7 percent of voters said 'yes' to the reunion of the republic with Russia as a constituent unit of the Russian Federation. Only 3.2 percent of the ballots were cast for staying with Ukraine as an Autonomous Republic with broader rights. The remaining 1.1 percent of the ballots were declared invalid.

The overall voter turnout in the referendum on the status of Crimea is 81,37%, according to the head of the Crimean parliament’s commission on the referendum, Mikhail Malyshev.

The preliminary results of the popular vote were announced during a meeting in the center of Sevastopol, the city that hosts Russia's Black Sea fleet. The final results will be announced at a press conference at 7:00 GMT on Monday.

Over a half of the Tatars living in the port city took part in the referendum, with the majority of them voting in favor of joining Russia, reports Itar-Tass citing a representative of the Tatar community Lenur Usmanov. About 40% of Crimean Tatars went to polling stations on Sunday, the republic’s prime minister Sergey Aksyonov said.

In Simferopol, the capital of the republic, at least 15,000 have gathered to celebrate the referendum in central Lenin square and people reportedly keep arriving.

Demonstrators, waving Russian and Crimean flags, were watching a live concert while waiting for the announcement of preliminary results of the voting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the citizens of the peninsula have been given an opportunity to freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination.

International observers are planning to present their final declaration on the Crimean referendum on March 17, the head of the monitors’ commission, Polish MP Mateusz Piskorski told journalists. He added that the voting was held in line with international norms and standards.

Next week, Crimea will officially introduce the ruble as a second official currency along with Ukrainian hryvna, Aksyonov told Interfax. In his words, the dual currency will be in place for about six months.

Overall, the republic’s integration into Russia will take up to a year, the Prime Minister said, adding that it could be done faster. However, they want to maintain relations with “economic entities, including Ukraine,” rather than burn bridges.

Moscow is closely monitoring the vote count in Crimea, said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Karasin.

“The results of the referendum will be considered once they are drawn up,” he told Itar-Tass.

The decision to hold a referendum was made after the bloody uprising in Kiev which ousted President Vladimir Yanukovich from power. Crimea - which is home to an ethnic Russian majority population - refused to recognize the coup-appointed government as legitimate. Crimeans feared that the new leadership would not represent their interests and respect rights. Crimeans were particularly unhappy over parliament's decision to revoke the law allowing using minority languages – including Russian – as official along with the Ukrainian tongue. Crimeans staged mass anti-Maidan protests and asked Russia to protect them.


Putin: Crimeans expressed their will in full accordance with intl law, UN Charter

Published time: March 16, 2014 21:44
Rt.com

The referendum in Crimea was fully consistent with international law and UN Charter, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Barack Obama, after the overwhelming majority of Crimeans expressed their willingness to join Russia.

The citizens of the peninsula have been given an opportunity to freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination, the Russian president said in a phone conversation with his US counterpart, according to Kremlin’s press service.

With a record-breaking turnout of over 80 percent, according to preliminary results, over 95 percent of the Crimean population said 'yes' to the reunion of the republic with Russia. International observers have not reported any violations or anything resembling any kind of pressure during the vote.

However, Obama said the Unites States and the “international community” will "never recognize" the results of the referendum “administered under threats of violence and intimidation,” according to White House spokesman.

Obama “emphasized that Russia's actions were in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity” and that the US in coordination with its European partners is “prepared to impose additional costs on Russia,” the White House added.

Despite the existing differences in the assessment of the situation in Ukraine, the leaders of Russia and US have agreed that they must jointly seek to help stabilize the situation in the country, the Kremlin said.

“Putin drew attention to the inability and unwillingness of the current Kiev authorities to curb rampant ultra-nationalist and radical groups, destabilizing and terrorizing civilians, including Russian-speaking population, and our fellow citizens,” Kremlin statement reads.

In this context, the possibility of sending an OSCE monitoring mission to Ukraine was discussed, the press office reported. The Russian President believes such a mission should be extended to all Ukrainian regions.


Defensive blockade: Activists stop Kiev’s military trucks heading to Russian border

Published time: March 16, 2014 16:07
Rt.com

Activists in eastern Ukraine in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are blocking columns of heavy military equipment heading from Kiev to the border with Russia.

Late Thursday activists from the Donbass people's militia blocked the way of columns with about 20 trucks carrying heavy military equipment near Donetsk heading to the Russian border, a local activist and former officer of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry told RT.

“At about 5pm [1500 GMT], local activists called me,” said Sergey Rzhavsky. “They reported that a column [with military equipment] was situated near the town of Volovaha from the side of the Valeryanovka settlement. We, the Donbass People’s Self-Defense Units of Pavel Gubarev [the local governor, currently arrested in Kiev] promptly headed there. We saw about 20 heavy trucks there with some carrying airborne combat vehicles.”

According to Rzhavsky, the activists engaged in negotiations with the troops that lasted about an hour or two. During the negotiations, the activists found out that the trucks were heading to a polygon situated near the border with Russia for some military training, he said.

“Since we do not want fratricidal carnage, we suggested the military to refrain from using force. We were unmasked, without any means of self-defense. We asked them to turn around and leave, because the military equipment was really heavy and if the columns passed the city it would escalate tensions, [and evoke] shock and panic,” he said.

The activists and the troops, who called their superiors for guidance, came to a compromise, and the Kiev troops decided to turn around, Rzhavsky told RT.

“There were no conflicts. A lot of people gathered. They stopped and offered their help and moral support, they just wanted to express their views.”

Rzhavsky added that he knows of 58 airborne combat vehicles which are moving through the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and are heading for the eastern border.

Spontaneous protests erupted in Kharkov, Donetsk and Lugansk regions against the transportation of the military equipment toward the border with Russia. Residents of Lugansk also stopped a train, carrying heavy military equipment, which was headed for the border Thursday.

According to local residents the arrival of the train with airborne combat vehicles and tanks to the Lugansk railway station during twilight caused a stir among the people, Interfax reported. Locals from the nearby villages gathered at the spot and started to prevent the disembarkation of the equipment.

In response to questions about the purpose of the transportation, the Ukrainian troops said that they’ve arrived to Lugansk to fulfill a task which is only known to their commander, as cited by Interfax.

Having received no clear answer, the residents using a locomotive dragged part of the train to a standstill despite the troops’ protests, and barricaded the rails with scrap metal.

Most of the soldiers calmly reacted to the actions of local residents and did not initiate any conflict. Moreover, they stressed that they will not use any violence against civilians.

However, seven young people dressed in uniforms of the Ukrainian armed forces, but without shoulder straps, armed with Kalashnikov rifles with silencers, began to force the unit commander to “obey orders“ to disperse locals and dismantle the barricades.

Reportedly, a scuffle occurred as the unidentified men threatened the residents saying they "betrayed Ukraine." The troops’ commander who defended the civilians was injured in the fight.

Following the incident the residents set up a 24-hour patrol at the spot, guarding the military equipment preventing its further movement.

“Currently there is an escalation of different kind of extremist organizations in our region” he said, adding, “We don’t want the same developments as in Kiev.”

“All that is happening is a provocation of the extremist organizations that are attempting to undermine the situation in the region,” Rzhavsky said.

He added that the people in eastern Ukraine are not against the country’s army, but they are calling for the politicians to sit down at the negotiating table.

“We don’t want a fratricidal war,” Rzhavsky said, adding that many in eastern Ukraine support the currently ongoing Crimea referendum on either becoming an integral part of Russia or staying within Ukraine under the conditions of broad autonomy.


Right Sector leader: Kiev should be ready to sabotage Russian pipelines in Ukraine

Published time: March 16, 2014 12:33
Rt.com

The leader of ultranationalist group Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, has threatened to destroy Russian pipelines on Ukrainian territory if a diplomatic solution is not reached with Moscow.

In a fiery address loaded warmongering rhetoric, Yarosh told his followers they should be ready to resist the Russian “occupiers.”

The leader of the Right Sector made his address to the coup-appointed government in Kiev, as Crimeans made their way to ballots Sunday to vote to join with Russia or to remain within Ukraine.

“We cannot allow the enemy to carry out a blitzkrieg attack on Ukrainian territory. We mustn’t forget that Russia makes money sending its oil through our pipelines to the West. We will destroy these pipelines and deprive our enemy of its source of income,” Yarosh said.

Continuing the bellicose rhetoric, Yarosh appealed to his followers, urging them to take up arms against Russia, if a diplomatic solution cannot be reached.

Yarosh said that Crimea was too small to satisfy the appetite of the “Russian Empire,” and that the Kremlin would seek to take over the whole of Ukraine.

“Let the ground burn under the feet of the occupiers! Let them choke on their own blood when they attack our territory! Not one step back! We will not allow Moscow’s beserk, totalitarian regime to spark a Third World War!”

The phrase “Not one step back!” was used in a famous order by Joseph Stalin during WWII and became a popular slogan for the Soviet people’s resistance against the Nazis. Yarosh’s use of this particular rhetoric attracted attention from many observers, given that the members of his Right Sector group are known to use Nazi insignia.

Russia put Yarosh on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism after he urged Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov to launch attacks on Russia over the Ukrainian conflict.

Yarosh has declared his intentions of running for Ukrainian president in May.

The Right Sector movement, an amalgamation of several far-right groups, was formed in November 2013.

Members of the radical movement were very active in the violence which triggered the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich. The Right Sector refused to recognize the Feb. 21 agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition leaders, and declared that they would fight him until his ouster.

Right Sector’s fighters used clubs, petrol bombs and firearms against the Ukrainian police. Even after the coup, some members of the movement continued to use rifles and pistols.

Last week, a proposal was submitted to the Ukrainian parliament, suggesting that Right Sector be transformed into a regular unit of the armed forces.

Syrian Army Moves to Further Isolate Western-backed Rebels

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 23:46

Syrian armed forces have made progress in recent months against the assaults by U.S.-backed counter-revolutionary combatants. The imperialists are backing the rebels., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Army's General Command : Control over Yabroud tightens grip on remaining terrorists hotbeds in Damascus Countryside

Mar 16, 2014

Damascus, (SANA) General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces announced that “After a series of successful operations, units of the Syrian Army, in cooperation with the civil defense, restored stability and security to Yabroud City and its surroundings in the northern countryside of Damascus.”

“Big numbers of mercenary terrorists who have been fortified in the city and used it as a passage for transferring weapons and terrorists into the Syrian interior were killed…and the Armed Forces are hunting the defeated terrorist gangs in the area,” the General Command said in a statement on Sunday.

“This new achievement that led to the collapse of the armed terrorist groups comes as a continuation of victories accomplished by the Syrian Arab Army in al-Qalamoun area against terrorists' gatherings and dens, and it also constitutes an important link in securing the border areas with Lebanon, cutting off supply roads and tightening grip on the remaining hotbeds of the terrorists in Damascus Countryside, as it also contributes to boosting the security of the international road between the central and southern areas,” it added.

The statement concluded by saying "As the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces stresses that expelling terrorism from Yabroud area and its surroundings is a fatal blow to the terrorists, their supporters and funders, it reiterates its determination to hunt the remnants of the terrorists and eradicate their roots, save the homeland of their evil and restore stability and security to all over the homeland."

Hezbollah Condemns Israel's Assaults on Gaza Strip

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 23:33

Gaza area of Palestine under fire by the Israeli Air Force. Israel is bombing the strip which is known as the largest open-air prison in the world., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Hezbollah condemns Israel’s assaults on Gaza Strip

Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:30AM GMT
presstv.ir

Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah has condemned the Israeli regime’s recent aerial assaults on the besieged Gaza Strip amid the silence of the international community.

“What is taking place in the Gaza Strip is a clear Israeli aggression,” Hezbollah said in a statement issued on Thursday, adding that the Palestinian retaliation for the regime’s assaults is aimed at “reminding the enemy that it must keep committed to the truce obligations.”

The Lebanese resistance group further criticized the Arab states and the global community for remaining silent in the face of the Tel Aviv regime’s attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, saying, “It gives the Israeli murderer a chance to continue its crimes without any fear of punishment.”

Hezbollah’s statement comes amid mounting tensions in the Gaza Strip following rounds of tit-for-tat attacks by the Israeli military and Palestinian resistance fighters in the blockaded territory.

The escalation began on March 11 when an Israeli airstrike killed three members of the Palestinian resistance movement Islamic Jihad in Gaza’s southern city of Khan Yunis. The deadly incident triggered a series of retaliatory attacks between the two sides.

On March 12, Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman called for the full re-occupation of Gaza after the Islamic Jihad resistance fighters fired retaliatory rockets into southern Israel.

Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad Movement Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shalah said on March 13 that Palestinian resistance fighters would not lay down their arms until all occupied Palestinian territories are liberated.

The Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has also slammed the Tel Aviv regime over the escalation of tensions in the Israeli-blockaded coastal enclave.

Attacks against Palestinians in Gaza continue despite a 2012 Egypt-brokered truce that ended the Israeli onslaught against the territory. Over 160 Palestinians were killed and some 1,200 others were injured in the eight-day Israeli offensive.

Israeli Apartheid: Expansionist Colonialism of a Special Type

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 23:26

African National Congress (ANC) leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela in Algeria wearing a khafiya after his release from prison in May 1990., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Israel: Apartheid, expansionist colonialism of a special type

By Alex Mashilo
Young Communist League of South Africa

Today is the third day in 2014 of our annual international solidarity week with the people of Palestine, and in condemnation of Israeli apartheid which must come to an end with immediate effect. The situation facing the people of Palestine under Israeli oppression and exploitation bears many similarities with the situation that faced the Africans in particular and black people in general under colonialism and apartheid.

In 1928 following the 6th Congress of the Communist International the Executive Committee of the Communist International characterised South Africa as thus:

'South Africa is a British Dominion of the colonial type. The development of relations of capitalist production has led to British imperialism carrying out the economic exploitation of the country with the participation of the white bourgeoisie of South Africa (British and Boer). Of course, this does not alter the general colonial character of the economy of South Africa, since British capital continues to occupy the principal economic positions in the country (banks, mining and industry), and since the South African bourgeoisie is equally interested in the merciless exploitation of the' [of the African people].

In 1962 following the declaration of South Africa as a republic on 31 May 1961 but with national oppression, gender domination and class supper-exploitation maintained and reinforced by the apartheid regime the South African Communist Party (SACP) characterised South Africa as a colony of a special type. In this colony of a special type the colonisers and the colonised occupied the same territory but under conditions of segregated settlements and separate development for the colonisers based on the under-development of the colonised.

As other scholars have observed, every system breeds its own intellectuals. 'Colonialism of a Special Type' and apartheid in South Africa too gave rise to their own intellectuals whose function was to distort history and facts through a propaganda of falsehoods. A point inextricably linked with this, in its 1962 programme the 'Road to South African Freedom' the SACP noted as follows.

'The White ruling classes, and especially the leaders of the Nationalist Party have manufactured a version of the past and present of this country which they systematically attempt to impose everywhere, from the schoolroom to international opinion. According to this picture, the early White settlers penetrated peacefully into a virtually unoccupied country. The African population, who are depicted as savage barbarians without culture, achievements or history, are represented as relative newcomers who entered the country at about the same time as the Whites, and conducted aggressive wars and raids against them. The impression is given that African occupation was always more or less confined to the present Reserves - the "Bantu Homelands."

As the Party points out in the programme: 'This version of South Africa's past is entirely false'.

Drawing from the South African lesson, the key question in view of all of these as we proceed, is how we would today characterise Israel, its occupation of Palestinian territories and relationship to the Palestinian people. There is no doubt Israel is a Zionist apartheid state. But, as a matter of fact, Israel simultaneously advances 'Colonialism of a Special Type' on an expansionist basis based on continuous expropriation and occupation of but not exclusively Palestinian territories. This reminds us of the words of one of the outstanding revolutionaries, comrade Joe Slovo, who exposed the link between oppression and capitalist exploitation when he said:

'It's not difficult in South Africa for the ordinary person to see the link between capitalism and racist exploitation, and when one sees the link one immediately thinks in terms of a socialist alternative' (Interview by Gaye Davis, 11 February 1991).

A Zionist apartheid state, expansionist colonialism of special type and capitalist exploitation

While we focus on the human oppression by one people over another in Israel/Palestine, who profits from the occupation and the subjugation of another people? Indeed it must be capital that takes glory in seeing the undignified and miserable lives Palestinians live. It's this capital that along with victim complex allows Israeli politicians and general Israeli public to drown out almost universal condemnation of their human rights abuses.

US military industrial complex

Apartheid Israel is an extension of but not exclusively the US military industrial complex which profits from murder, enslavement and colonisation of indigenous people. In the same way as Britain played the role of a dominant imperialist force in South Africa, the US plays a similar but more intensified and direct interventionist role in Israel's relationship to the Palestinian people. US imperialism is a major beneficiary of Israel's oppression and racist exploitation against the Palestinian people. No wonder the US offers automatic support to Israel against the Palestinian people.

Israeli army and private security companies

Like the US, the Israeli army also outsources some of its security functions. The outsourcing serves to provide the colonial master with a front and cushioning. When inevitably mercenaries act with great cruelty towards people, the governments occupying the other countries are able to distance themselves from the human rights abuses and say an investigation will take place into the private company supplying security. Meanwhile, the private security companies used remain in place while giving kickbacks to politicians for lucrative government tenders.

Private security companies provide the infrastructure for Israeli apartheid wall which is illegal in international law. At 9 metres high, the wall encircles Palestinian villages and cuts through homes and fields destroying normal life for Palestinians. A DA and Agang SA funder Nathan Kirch owns Magal Security which supplies the apartheid wall with surveillance equipment. The SACP as well as other progressive organisations condemned the DA, Agang SA and their funder Nathan Kirch for their support and connection with human rights abuses.

In response to the state-private security oppressive and accumulation axis, there's an ongoing international campaign to boycott G4S - the largest private security company in the world which has extensive connections with the daily occupation and oppression of Palestinians. In February 2013, a Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jarakat died in a G4S administered prison. Israel claimed his ribs were cracked during resuscitation efforts but we are aware from our own history how political prisoners mysteriously die while incarcerated.

The face of global capitalism is brutal. The Mangaung prison in South Africa was taken away from G4S and placed under administration after prisoners complained and rioted against abuses by guards. This send a strong message against privatisation and outsourcing of state functions. In addition, G4S has also been accused of disregarding SA labour laws and of a racist behaviour.

Israeli financial sector

The Israeli financial sector is one of the major beneficiaries, and by that virtue also one of the driving forces of the occupation of the Palestinian land. Israeli banks give loans and mortgages to Israeli homeowners in the Occupied West Bank. These banks lend construction companies money to build in the Occupied West Bank - against international law. They also provide business and branch services to Israeli municipalities and businesses in the West Bank. Palestinians who are forced to use Israeli currency according to the 1993 Oslo Accords and Paris Protocols, are reliant on Israeli banks, even in their own areas. Israeli banks charge high commissions to Palestinians for these services, and impose limitations on the transfer of money. Actions by Israeli banks have also left the tiny strip of Gaza in the state of a financial crisis in the aftermath of disengagement.

Israel's wine industry

We are painfully reminded 101 years later of the aftereffects of the Land Act and subsequent dispossession of people in South Africa. While millions of Palestinians live in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria as refugees who are stateless, Israel colonises their land for growing their wine industry. The Israeli export institution redraws the map of the wine regions of Israeli wine in a way that deliberately blurs the distinctions between areas inside the State of Israel and occupied territories. Israeli manufacturers of wine conceal information concerning the exact location of the vineyards from which they receive the grapes, by among others using vague descriptions. Palestinian land is very fertile and serves as ideal conditions for plating grapes and vineyard. Israelis use the wine route on Palestinian land to attract tourists and further whitewash and normalise their land grabs.

Israeli Pharmaceutical companies

Palestinians are forced to buy medical drugs from Israel, instead of Arab neighbours. This privileges drugs registered in Israel which are mainly imported from the West, including the EU and North America, and from Australia in the South. This rule gives Western drug companies a captive market over Palestinians. Cheap generic drugs that are manufactured largely in India, China, and Russia are also banned by Israel. Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Bayer among other drug companies don't have to cross checkpoints and have easy access to the West Bank. They aren't subject to import and custom tariffs and even sell their drugs to an Arab speaking population without Arabic labels causing major problems for patients.

In conclusion

It's impossible to separate capitalism from Israeli apartheid. But where do we as activists, revolutionaries and internationalists go from here? International activists struck at the very heart of capital in the struggle for a free South Africa. Students withdrew their money from Barclays Bank and Kodak faced an international campaign. South Africa was left broke, in debt and isolated from the world. As consumers we need to twist capital for our needs. While we struggle against capitalism and for a just and peaceful world, we can use our power against capitalism in the struggle for a free Palestine.

Private security company G4S has promised to pull back on its operations in the Occupied West Bank due to public outcry and the fear of losing lucrative contracts in other countries.

We must add to the pressure on G4S which has contracts with major SA banks and some municipalities. In general we must wage a just war against companies profiting from Israeli apartheid. It's through these actions we show our solidarity as citizens of the world as well as our power to overcome capitalism. Particularly we must mobilise sustained mass action against Israeli apartheid and colonialism.

Let's deepen and intensify the struggle against capitalist exploitation and its highest form imperialism! The victory of this struggle is the victory of universal human emancipation and freedom!

Mashilo is YCLSA Deputy National Secretary and SACP Spokesperson, and writes as an activist in the revolutionary movement

References:
http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/apartheid-lawsuit-dismissal-a-blow-1.1567003#.UxodBfmSxf0
http://www.whoprofits.org/reports

Irvin Gymnastics: The Devious Art of Political Contortionism

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 23:13

Jeremy Cronin, 2nd deputy secretary general of the South African Communist Party (SACP)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Red Alert

Irvin Gymnastics - the devious art of political contortionism

By Cde Jeremy Cronin

The NUMSA leadership clique under Irvin Jim is increasingly ratcheting up its reckless game of brinkmanship, organisational dissidence and electoral boycotting. Despite the rhetoric, the project plays directly into the hands of the most reactionary, anti-worker forces in our society. No wonder an array of neo-liberal commentators are hailing it as the future political "game-changer", just as they once hailed Cope and, more recently if very briefly, Agang.

Because of its location within the working class movement, however, the capacity of the Jim project to cause damage should not be underestimated. It is a project brimming with destructive sectarian intent, and therefore devoid of any sustainable capacity to unify and advance working class power and struggle. Like COPE, it will end in tears, wrecked on its own inner competing ambitions. It is both narrowly sectarian AND an eclectic potjiekos brew of conflicting ideologies. It is simultaneously rigidly dogmatic AND erratically opportunistic. It is a project of political contortionism, riddled with contradictions:

It wants to transform a trade union, NUMSA, simultaneously into a broad general workers' union AND a tightly-knit, "Marxist-Leninist" "red union" that uses union resources to act as a pseudo-vanguard party. The Jim project likes to decorate its statements with quotes from Lenin, but nowhere does it quote what Lenin actually had to say about trade unions. The Jim clique chooses not to cite Lenin critiquing trade unionists seeking to substitute themselves for a political party. Nor do they mention how Lenin castigated with biting sarcasm the "imprudent Left Communists" who "stand by, crying out 'the masses, the masses!'…and invent a brand-new, immaculate…'Workers' Union', which is guiltless of bourgeois-democratic prejudices…a union which [at the same time] they claim will be (!) a broad organisation." (The exclamation mark is Lenin's.)

Some commentators (Carol Paton writing in the Business Day, and citing Alec Erwin, for instance) characterise the Jim project as a familiar return to the "workerism" of the 1980s. It is true that there are strong workerist features in the Jim project, particularly in the syndicalist tendency noted above - manipulating a union organisation as a vehicle for party (or personal) political ambitions. However, we should remember that there were always two different "workerist" tendencies in the 1980s, especially within NUMSA itself. The one was stridently anti-capitalist, advancing a platform of a war of class against class. The other was more firmly rooted in centrist, social democratic corporatist traditions.

So which of these characterises the Jim project when it dons workerist clothing? The answer is sometimes the one, sometimes the other, and neither consistently! We are all familiar with Jim's anti-capitalist rhetoric - the capitalist media loves to act as a megaphone for his radical posturing. But there is also another Jim, a corporatist Jim, whom we occasionally glimpse in the media. This is the Jim, for instance, who complained to a media briefing in September last year that the "employers were no longer treating the union as an 'insider' but rather an adversary." He told the Business Day that "this called into question the hard-fought right of collective bargaining."(Business Day, 30 September 2013)

Using an anti-ANC-SACP ticket, the Jim project wants to appeal, amongst other things, to NUMSA's own long-standing and relatively principled ultra-left minority tendency with roots in Trotskyism. But (borrowing from a trick learnt from the DA's "adopt a Madiba" tactic), the Jim clique also brands itself as the "true" upholders of the SACP's revolutionary legacy, in contrast to the supposed positions of the present-day SACP leadership. The clique quotes favourably from the SACP's 1989 "Path to Power" programme, the Party's characterisation of minority rule in SA as "colonialism of a special type", necessitating a national democratic struggle in alliance with the ANC, etc. But these are precisely the strategic perspectives on which the relatively principled ultra-left within NUMSA has always opposed the ANC-SACP alliance! (Without trusting Jim, they - the Trotskyist ultra-left in NUMSA - are happy to go along for the ride for the moment, seeing in Jim a useful battering ram to achieve their long dreamed of Alliance break-up).

As long as NUMSA understood itself to be a progressive trade union whose prime focus was to recruit and school the maximum number of workers in the metal and related sectors, regardless of the individual workers' political affiliations, the contest of different left tendencies within the union was not a problem (in fact, it was often a strength within NUMSA). But the Jim clique's attempt to transform NUMSA into a "vanguard" formation will lead (and already is leading) to the fragmentation rather than unity not just of COSATU, but NUMSA itself.

For instance, the clique constantly evokes the important NUMSA/COSATU traditions of shop-floor democracy, but quickly forgets these when NUMSA workers in Rosslyn invite the SACP to address them in a lunch-time meeting in February this year. The workers, many of whom are SACP members, were forbidden to proceed with the meeting. They were instructed top-down that NUMSA "no longer has any relationship with the SACP".

This bureaucratic enforcement of a sectarian line is paraded by the Jim clique as an example of "democratic centralism", of "revolutionary discipline" - but the very same clique is happy to undermine collective discipline and decision-making when it suits them. This is glaringly obvious in the case of the clique's decision that NUMSA should organise along so-called "value chains", rather than within an industrial sector. There may (or may not) be merit in this approach.

However, for the moment, it stands in blatant contradiction with the most important founding principle of COSATU - "one industry, one union". When confronted with this act of defiance by COSATU and asked to explain why their membership of the federation should not be suspended, the Jim clique responded that the "value chain" approach was "merely a proposal for further discussion in the federation". In practice, however, the clique has simply gone ahead, unilaterally implementing this and other sectarian "points for discussion".

The Jim project has cobbled together the leaderships of eight other unions in a factional bloc within COSATU on a "save Vavi" cult of the personality ticket. NUMSA has been paying the federation affiliation fees of some of these unions, while at the same time poaching (with "vanguard" arrogance) members of these unions from under the noses of these very same (hired) friends. Notice that, besides money, the only thing that holds this bloc together is a "save Vavi" sentiment - which, by the way, does cde Vavi no favours by linking him into a divisive, sectarian agenda. The vast majority of the worker memberships of these unions (and indeed of NUMSA itself) while they may feel sympathy for cde Vavi, do not support Jim's anti-ANC, anti-SACP views. Moreover, they are deeply concerned about Jim's adventurist brinkmanship, fearing rightly that if not checked it will lead to the implosion of COSATU with a ripple effect on every single union.

The Jim project preaches anti-corruption, while seeking by every trick in the book to prevent cde Zwelinzima Vavi from having to answer to serious charges within the federation. It correctly castigates corruption that is inherent in a capitalist dominated society, while at the same time secretly flirting with the EFF, led by the most corrupt representatives of tenderpreneuring and capitalist compradorism. Notice also how Jim and his clique have failed to clarify the detailed concerns raised by the SACP in regard to NUMSA's investment companies. When we suggested that it might reassure NUMSA members if Jim and his deputy general secretary (and business partner) Karl Cloete undertook life-style audits, we were told that they would do so if SACP general secretary, cde Blade Nzimande did likewise. They had forgotten that cde Nzimande has precisely undertaken such an audit! Since then we have heard absolutely nothing except deafening silence on this score from the Jim clique.

The Jim clique portrays the current ANC-led state as nothing but the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie", yet the same clique doesn't hesitate to take its own federation COSATU to court, placing decisions on internal COSATU organisational procedures in the hands of the (arguably) more conservative wing of this supposed "bourgeois dictatorship" - the judiciary.

The clique tells us that for 20-years the ANC-led government has done "nothing for the workers and the poor", and yet NUMSA is the industrial union that has benefited most from government programmes. Over the past five years, in the context of the global capitalist crisis and weaknesses in the auto export market, the ANC-led government has invested R22bn in 183 auto sector projects, preserving 46,000 jobs and adding 9,850 more jobs. Government (with the support of NUMSA) is also using the leverage of public procurement to re-industrialise and expand jobs, including in the metal sector. For instance, at least 80% of bus bodies, 65% of rail rolling stock, 100% of power pylons, 90% of telecom cables procured by the state and SOEs must be locally manufactured. Already these procurement requirements are resulting in a switch from imports to local manufacturing and local jobs.

The Jim clique was among the first of many to jump opportunistically onto the band-wagon of the terrible Marikana tragedy - but they did so with entirely ignoble sectarian intentions. In the name of the NUMSA CC they condemned the "savage, cowardly actions and excessive force used by the police, which invariably ["inevitably"?] led to the deaths of 44 workers…" As the proceedings at the Farlam commission underline, the police, and particularly their command structures, have a great deal to answer for, and not just in regard to Marikana. But the NUMSA statement on the Marikana death-toll deliberately obscured the fact that the first ten of the 44 deaths at Marikana in the tragic week of mid-August 2012 were not at the hands of the police, but included two policemen, two security guards protecting the National Union of Mineworkers' offices, and six NUM members - all killed by anti-NUM vigilantes seeking to violently displace NUMSA's fellow COSATU affiliate from the platinum mines around Rustenburg. In the months and years before and in the year and a half since, there have been many more deaths of NUM members at the hands of these vigilante forces. We have yet to hear a single word of working class sympathy or concern from the Jim clique.

The same statement in the name of the NUMSA CC did another classical piece of Jim gymnastics when it told us, on the one hand that the Marikana tragedy was proof that the police were simply an instrument of bourgeois rule and "will do anything to defend the property rights and profits of this class, including slaughtering the working class". And then, a few sentences later, pleaded that these "organs of class rule, particularly the police, should not be used recklessly and violently to intervene in industrial disputes involving workers and bosses." Leaving aside the presumption that what was at play in Marikana was a simple "industrial dispute between workers and bosses", what does this sentimental pleading mean - that the organs of supposed "bourgeois class dictatorship" shouldn't be unduly reckless or violent as they go about their inevitable slaughtering work?

The confusion thickens when, later in the same statement, economic policy matters are discussed. The statement calls for "strengthening of the state sector in mining in particular…" But we have just been told that the post-1994 state and government's "strategic task and real reason for existence is the defence" of the capitalist "Minerals/Energy/Finance Complex"! If there is any logical consistency in all of this, then the Jim clique must be calling for the mines to be taken over by a state that operates in the interests of mining capitalists!

And finally, on a related note, observe how the Jim clique constantly calls for the nationalisation of the mines, the banks, SASOL, and of "white monopoly capital" in general - but no mention is ever made of nationalising a highly oligopolistic auto sector! But, then, that is the sector in which much of its membership is located.

There is only one word for all of these ideological contortions, this virtuoso display of political gymnastics - that word is: OPPORTUNISM.

[This is the first of a two part intervention on "Irvin Gymnastics". In the second instalment we will locate the historical origins of this sectarian agenda and locate it within the context of the changing trade union terrain in SA.]

Cde Jeremy Cronin is SACP 2nd Deputy General Secretary

- See more at: http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=4243#sthash.oTd9SxhV.dpuf

South African Communist Party 8th Congress PEC, PWC Plenary Session Statement, March 11, 2014

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 22:52

South African Communist Party Central Committee Meeting Feb.-March 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

8th Congress PEC, 8th PWC Plenary Session statement

11 March 2014

The 8th Congress Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in Mpumalanga Province convened the 8th Plenary Session of its Provincial Working Committee (PWC) on Sunday, 09 March 2014. The meeting was held in Mbombela, to look the current political developments and prepare for the next PEC Plenary Session scheduled for the 16 March 2014. The PWC received and considered the Political Report, which was presented by the Provincial Secretary, and further dealt with preparations for Provincial Council.

The meeting took place after a successful National Election Workshop which was held in Johannesburg from the 21 – 23 February and Central Committee Plenary Session 28 February – 2 March. The workshop equipped comrades for the second phase of our campaign and the Central Committee a correct political guidance in the national democratic revolution and the struggle for socialism.

The meeting further noted the official opening of the new airport in Swaziland which the celebrity want-to-be king decided to name after himself.

Plot to assassinate SACP Leaders

We are extremely disturbed by the continued hatred for communists in Mpumalanga Province. We will continue to represent the working class and raise critical issues which negatively affect society, without fear or favor.

We call on the Minister of Police to act swiftly and release the report on political killings in the province. The SACP will not be intimidated by criminals. We reiterate our call to the minister to arrest criminals who are operating and masquerading as if they are law abiding citizens. We further call on the report to be made public. Criminals and murderers must never be hidden; actually they must be exposed so that they can go to their home which is prison.

We noted that there are criminal plots to assassinate SACP leaders in the province. The biggest crime in this province is to be a member or leader of SACP and to expose corruption. The situation in the province reminds us of the times of Hitler, where communists were targeted and by any means were dealt with brutally if not to disappearance.

Implementing the Action Plan

The SACP in the province continues to show its commitment towards a landslide victory for the ANC in the forthcoming elections. We have launched and are on the ground through our Chris Hani Red Brigades. Ephraim Mogale and Harold Molobela Districts had successful launch over the weekend and this coming weekend Phillip Radebe and Gert Sibande will launch their brigades while work is underway to secure decisive ANC victory.

The province will hold a Provincial Council in order to review the mandate given to the 8th Congress PEC by the branches. All our programs will be intertwined with election work. The Financial Sector Campaign Coalition will meet stakeholders in Bohlabela in the quest of advancing our Central Committee`s call to focus on this campaign for the year 2014. The meeting is aimed at consolidating unity amongst stakeholders as we transform the financial sector to serve the people.

Xenophobic Attacks

We condemn the xenophobic tendencies which seem to be creeping from one point to the other within the province and Ehlanzeni in particular. South Africa relied on international support during apartheid times and we believe the spirit of Ubuntu must always guide us to respect any human being regardless of tribe, religion or nationality.

The purported outcry that foreigners are taking all employment opportunities need to be dismissed. Through the FSCC, we continue to forge good relations between the local and foreign business operators. We need to engage correctly than to resort to anarchy and expect good results at the end. The anger portrayed by the masses is as a result of the wounds of apartheid, however no problem can be solved with anger as the propeller.

We are appealing to the police to speedily arrest criminals who sparked the xenophobic violence at Pienaar.

Forward to a decisive ANC Electoral Victory

The SACP will channel its energy through all its structures, members, volunteers and the Red Brigades working closely with the revolutionary alliance to strengthen the already done ground work in ensuring a decisive ANC victory. A decisive ANC victory is a decisive victory for our entire alliance.

Of all political parties contesting elections in South Africa the ANC remains the only reliable and progressive organization that has the organizational capacity to lead the delivery of a successful completion of the national democratic revolution, encompassing complete political liberation and socio-economic emancipation. All other political parties have absolutely no capacity or are fundamentally opposed to our shared revolutionary alliance strategy of a national democratic revolution. As the SACP we believe that the successful completion of the national democratic revolution will lay an indispensable basis for uninterrupted advance to socialism.

We have also directed our structures to go all out in assisting COSATU structures to host successful May Day rallies.

We will channel our energy in Bohlabela Region as it seems to be a hotspot and a battlefield for all political parties. The challenges within the organizational leader of the alliance in that region need serious attention. The unity of organizational structures is of paramount importance in keeping hegemony of the ANC than individuals.

Issued by SACP Mpumalanga

Enquiries:

Bonakele Majuba - Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 082 968 4877

Lesetja Dikgale - Provincial Spokesperson
Mobile: 076 869 4360

Tinyiko Gift Ntini - Provincial Media Liaison
Mobile: 073 811 2020

COSATU Mpumalanga Provincial Executive Committee Statement

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 22:43

COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini has delivered a major address to the leadership body of South Africa's largest trade union federation. A rift has developed over the status of the suspended general secretary Vavi., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

COSATU Mpumalanga Provincial Executive Committee statement

10 March 2014

The Congress of South African Trade Union in Mpumalanga held a Provincial Executive Committee meeting on 06-07 March 2014 at the Department of Labour in the Emalahleni Municipality.

The meeting was addressed amongst others by Comrade Sdumo Dlamini - the COSATU President, Comrade Mlungisi Makhanya the Secretary General of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and comrade Lesetja Dikgale the PEC spokesperson of the SACP in Mpumalanga.

The meeting received reports and engaged on robust discussion of both the political and socio - economic challenges confronting our province (Mpumalanga) and the country as a whole.

ON THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

COSATU in Mpumalanga believes that the ANC led Alliance is still on track in pursuing the struggle for the success of the National Democratic Revolution whose objective is the resolution of the three basic and inter-related antagonistic contradictions of race, class and gender oppression.

The meeting further reaffirmed its commitments to ensure that the working class emerges as the politically dominant and leading social class in the consolidation, advancement and defence of the gains of the National Democratic Revolution.

ON THE 2014 NATIONAL AND PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS

COSATU in Mpumalanga reaffirms its commitment to strive for a 90% ANC victory in the province. We shall do these by contributing with both human and financial resources towards an overwhelming ANC victory.

Against this background, the PEC resolved that on 15-16 March 2014, All COSATU local structures in the province will embark on election work led by all PEC members.

The election work will include amongst others, door to door campaign, blitzes at taxis and bus ranks, work place meetings, visits to churches etc.

ON THE DISTRUCTIVE AND VIOLENT PROTEST ACTIONS IN BUSHBUCKRIDGE AND MBOMBELA MUNICIPALITY

The PEC noted with regret the continued violent protest actions engulfing the Bushbuckridge Municipality. The PEC has committed to work closely with the African National Congress and other Progressive structures in the province to investigate the real course of these protest action.

The PEC condemns in the strongest possible terms any act of violence, looting, xenophobic attacks and destruction of private and public property during these protest actions.

COSATU in Mpumalanga shall as a matter of extreme urgency, engage its alliance partners to jointly develop a strategy of engaging the affected communities and address the challenges that they have identified.

The PEC meeting further commended our affiliate union NEHAWU for being the first union to launch their election campaign in the trouble-torn Bushbuckridge Municipality.

ON THE STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS

COSATU welcomed the broad thrust of the 2014 State of the Province Address.

We welcome the gains that the province has achieved over the past five years like

Implementation of the Rural Development Programme which contributes to job creation and poverty alleviation.

Establishment of cooperatives which empowers the working class and the poor.

Increase on the number of no fee schools in the province to 1646 public schools.

The building of 25 new schools in the past five years

The achievement of a 77, 6% pass rate by the 2013 matric class.

The achievement of a 23% reduction in contact crime.

Despite the above gains and achievement, there are still enormous challenges confronting our ANC led government i.e.

The poor state of local government in the province.

The lack of qualified personnel in the Health Department

The increasing number of people affected with HIV/AIDS in the province.

The lack of personnel and infrastructure to implement the National Health Insurance.

COSATU commits to engage with government in trying to find solutions to the above challenges and more.

ON DEFENDING THE RIGTHS OF FARM WORKERS IN THE PROVINCE

The conditions under which farm workers live and work in the province are regrettable and appalling. Farm workers are the most vulnerable in our society. The Majority of farm workers in the province work for very low wages and under conditions which are below the acceptable labour standards.

The majority of farm workers are denied their constitutional right to exercise their freedom of choice and association by joining unions of their choice.Farm workers are subjected to very bad conditions and get evicted from the farms on daily basis.

It is against this background that the meeting had decided to launch a Provincial Campaign to defend farm workers on the 26 April 2014.

COSATU in the province will mobilise all stakeholder i.e. CCMA, Department of Labour, NGO`s and government to participate and collaborate in the campaign to defend farm workers in the province.

ON MAY DAY CELEBRATIONS

COSATU in Mpumalanga will host two May Day celebrations.

The Province will hold two May Day rallies in the Mbombela Municipality at Matsulu Stadium and in the Msukaligwa Municipality at the Sport Inn Town Hall.

The two May Day celebrations in the province and all mobilisation activities leading towards May Day, will be integrated into the ANC elections campaign as part of the contribution by COSATU ensure the ANC overwhelming victory.

The PEC endorsed the May Day theme as follows "United Action for Service to Defend and Safeguard Workers Unity and Rights."

ON SWAZILAND

The PEC meeting congratulated the Peoples United Democratic Movement for their very successful National Congress which was held on the 21 - 23 February 2014 in South Africa. The meeting further congratulated the leadership elected from that Congress who has a momentous task of liberating the people of Swaziland from the dictatorship of the monarchy and suppression.

On the 12 April 2014, COSATU in the province will lead a protest march to the Oshoek Swaziland border gate to demand amongst others:-

The unbanning of all political parties in Swaziland.

The release of all political prisoners unconditionally including Amos Mbedzi and Zonke Dlamini.

The unconditional return of all those who are exiled by the regime.

COSATU vows to mobilise all progressive forces in the province to participate in the protest march.

For more information please contact the Provincial Secretary Fidel Mlombo @ 0827195699 or 0795110947

Prolonged Strike a Burden to the South African Mine Workers

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 22:39

Frans Baleni, secretary general of the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa. He believes independent worker actions cannot win in the longterm., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

COSATU Press Statements

Protracted prolonged strike a burden to the workers

11 March 2014

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the North West is inundated with calls from workers in the platinum mines who have been on strike for the past seven weeks.

The workers, in particular those who are in the Impala area, are indicating that they want to go back to work but they fear for their safety, as there is a lot of violence in the area.

COSATU has noted that the strike is putting serous economic pressure on the workers and the surrounding towns and villages. COSATU believes therefore that it is time to break the strike or this will give rise to criminal activities in the area and in the province at large.

COSATU calls on the employers and the South African Police Service to devise some safe way for the workers in the platinum mines to go back to work and start earning salaries for themselves and their families.

As the federation we believe that the action taken by Impala management of putting all workers on special leave without payment is putting workers under economic challenges which they are facing today.

We call on those workers to approach their employer and demand their work back as we prepare to engage the mine management on their request.

We are also calling for all the negotiating teams, both management and trade union leaders, to resolve the strike before it gets worse. They must think about the future of those learners who are chased away or are not able to go to school due their parents not being able to pay for transport.

The mine workers are also called to unite against the employer for destroying their future.

A protected, prolonged strike is a burden to the mine workers and their families.

For more information contact Solly Phetoe the Provincial Secretary of COSATU North West at 082 304 4055

- See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=8523#sthash.MGEOHhH8.dpuf


Press Statements

Hungry mineworkers face a bleak future at Blyvooruitzicht mine in Carletonville

12 March 2014

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) notes with serious concern that the situation at Blyvooruitzicht Mine in Carletonville has taken another turn in that the workers of this company and the surrounding communities are facing a bleak future.

A plethora of woes continue to haunt the operations such as the non-payment of the workforce since September 2013 until today

The current situation can be narrated as follows:

The new owners of Blyvooruitzicht mine under the new name called Goldrich failed to fulfill the promise to take under their employment 400 people for the commencement of the operations.

The promise of medical examination for 132 workers has grind to a halt.

What has come out lately is that there is a fight between the liquidators and the Goldrich owners through the court of law.

The liquidators are now nowhere to be found and are untraceable.

The pumping of water by AGA has been stopped due to failure by Goldrich to pay R5 million per month as they committed to do for the services of the water pumping.

This has led to the flooding of 9 and 35 levels at Blyvoor number five shaft. If this is not stopped it poses a danger to flood the whole shaft and possibility of spreading to other nearby mines.

Workers doing essential services work are not being paid as promised and are taken from pillar to post.

An HR personnel who is doing the HR work for the liquidators discovered an amount R162, 000.00 in cash in the office of the Engineering Manager Mr Ettieen Erasmus on the 07 March 2014. This money was used to pay those workers who complained about non - payment and each was given R2000 Mr Erasmus is currently in custody in connection with charges of theft, illegal possetion of gold nuggets, fraud and defeating the ends of justice.

The promise by the liquidators that workers will be paid their services money in March 2014 is a doubtful fact.

On the 10 March 2014 the security companies known as Lwazi and Masakhane which are giving service to Goldrich embarked on a protest demanding their salaries. This matter was temporary resolved by the newly appointed Business Rescue Practitioner who promised to take up their complaint as he claimed to be in charged.

The company which has taken over Blyvoor village has also threatened to talk to Eskom to stop power supply if residents are not able to pay R3, 500 per household on monthly basis for electricity. It must be remembered that residents of Blyvoor Villages have been without jobs and salaries since September 2013.

We are now told that Goldrich management has appointed business rescue practitioner and the liquidators are opposing this in court. The people of Blyvoor are living in fear as zama zamas knock in their doors during the night demanding money and if this is not given they resort into raping, and threaten to kill the occupants. This matter requires serious attention of the law enforcement agencies.

We call on the liquidators to take decisive action on the Blyvoor situation and to bear in mind that thousands of the workforce currently live in a dire situation. The NUM is extremely saddened of this calamity facing our members.

The Blyvoor workers are still waiting for Godot to come with their hard earned cash to no avail. Instead, it has been one empty promise after another.

For more information, Please contact:

Livhuwani Mammburu: 083 809 3257 (Acting NUM National Spokesperson)
Frans Baleni: 082 375 6443 (NUM General Secretary)
Richard Xati: 072 757 9222(NUM Carletonville Deputy Secretary for Education)

National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street
Corner Frederick
Johannesburg
Tel: 011 377 2111
Cell: 083 809 3257

- See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=8524#sthash.p4wT9mp8.dpuf


Flood leaves North West communities devastated

11 March 2014

The past two weeks have been rainy throughout the North West province and this has caused areas to flood, leaving community members devastated. The Congress of South African Trade Unions wants to send a word of caution to those who are in low lying areas and those near river banks and dams to take caution of the situation they are in; if there is a need they must relocate as soon as possible to avoid further disasters.

COSATU would also like to plead to those who are able to assist those who are affected by the floods to do so, and for government to intervene speedily in particular in those areas where there is infrastructure damage.

As the federation we want to applaud the municipalities that have acted by assisting poor affected communities with food and blankets and relocating the affected families to places of safety.

COSATU has also noted that some children cannot go to school due to the damage to the infrastructure and their scholar transport not being able to reach them. COSATU therefore pleads with the educators to develop some means to assist those scholars with a catch-up plan as soon as they will be able to be at school and also the parents to be part of their children`s education program in dealing with those challenges.

We call on all our members and other stakeholders to join all our affected municipalities and government to help with all they can for our poor communities.

Our message of condolences go to the families of those who lost their lives due to the heavy rain

For more information feel free to call COSATU NW Provincial Secretary, Solly Phetoe, on [0832044055]

COSATU in Northwest Province Takes Up the Fight Against Gender Based Violence

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 22:28

South African public sector workers during the strike in 2007. The COSATU trade union federation demonstrated again on July 16 and July 23, 2008 over the energy crisis in the country., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

COSATU NW takes up the fight against gender based violence

13 March 2014

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the North West province is highly disturbed by the increase in rape, killings and all forms of gender-based violence that is terrorising our community.

COSATU has noted that it has now become a daily activity that a person is raped, killed or both in this country and our province seems to be taking a lead in these kinds of crimes and social ills.

COSATU believes that this is a matter for society as a whole and cannot be left unchallenged, as it will continue to doom the future of our children and ruin the reputation of our country. It is high time that society as a whole must stand up and fight against this monster that is terrorising our country.

On another matter COSATU has noted the eruption of racism and racially discriminatory activities in the province, as illustrated by the recent activities in the North West University Potchefstroom Campus where there were Nazi greetings earlier this year during the orientation of new students.

This is not the beginning but a continuation and it will be very rife as we approach the elections. COSATU knows for a fact that farmers who are DA and AWB members are going to evict farm workers and farm dwellers just because they do not want them to vote.

The North West University continues to host of all sorts of racial activities and racism continues to thrive at this university.

As a start to the fight against this monster, COSATU has come up with a campaign that will draw the attention of society as a whole to act in defence of our children and our country, including our women and the workers, as they are affected on a daily basis.

The campaign will be in a form of a march in Potchefstroom and COSATU, together with all federations which are affiliated to ITUC, its alliance partners and the civil society organisations will hand over a memorandum to government, HRC, NPA, DOL and the University of North West and the National Prosecuting Authority to highlight our concern.

We support the call of dissolution of the council and the appointment of a new team that will take the transformation program of our government forward.

It is disappointing that someone who has been there watching all these racial activities and enjoying them now wants to leave; they must all go.

The march will be on 21st March 2014 at 10h00 and will start from Potchefstroom taxi rank and go to the office of the university of North West Potchefstroom campus where the memorandum will be delivered.

We are taking this action on the Human Rights Day to defend our constitutional rights.

COSATU calls on all members of the community to come in numbers to support this action as it affects the society as a whole.

For more information contact Solly Phetoe, COSATU North West Provincial Secretary, at 082 304 4055

ANC Statement on the Death of Martha Mahlangu

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 22:23

Martha Mahlangu, mother of ANC military wing operative, Solomon Mahlangu, has passed in South Africa. Her son was executed by the apartheid state in 1979., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Author : Jackson Mthembu

Statement on the death of Martha Mahlangu

12 March 2014

The African National Congress has learnt with deep sadness of the passing away of Mama Martha Mahlangu, the mother of the late Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu today, Wednesday 12 March 2014 at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria. This happens after President Zuma had gone to visit her at the hospital on Monday.

A freedom fighter in her own right, who earned her stripes in the struggle for liberation, mama Martha Mahlangu experienced extreme humiliation at the brutal hands of the apartheid regime, was constantly harassed by the police and security agents throughout the long periods before and after the execution of her son, Solomon at the gallows in April 1979.

A patron of Zakheni Women Organisation, an affiliate of FEDTRAW and United Democratic Front, Mama Mahlangu played a major role in supporting families of those who were facing execution at the gallows and was a tremendous pillar of strength to the community, as someone who has also experienced the trauma of losing a son at the brutal hands of the apartheid regime.

It was therefore indeed befitting that President Jacob Zuma invited Mama Martha Mahlangu as his guest of honour to the recent State of the Nation address in February 2014 and paid tribute to a gallant fighter who not only gave her son to the struggle, but was in her own right an activist who fought for social change so that we may today enjoy the fruits of Freedom.

The ANC dips its revolutionary banner to this great patriot, heroine and titan of our struggle and extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of mama Martha Mahlangu, her surviving sons, Steve and Lucas as well as her grand children.

We, who are the offsprings of Ma-Mahlangu will continue to drink from her deep well of wisdom and in honour of her in the fight for peace, freedom and democracy. Indeed we will in her honour ensure we deliver a decisive ANC victory during the May 7 elections. Her revolutionary spirit will continue to inspire our efforts to ensure that the poor and the working class truly benefit from the tree of freedom that the blood of his son and other heroes and heroines of our struggle continue to nourish. Together we will move South Africa forward to ensure that the ideas mama Martha Mahlangu, cherished, fought, lived and died for, will never die.

Issued by
Jackson Mthembu
National Spokesperson
African National Congress

Enquiries:
Keith Khoza: 082 823 9672
Khusela Sangoni-Khawe : 079 510 5408

ANC Statement in Response to Distortions Published in the Mail and Guardian of South Africa

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 21:58

Gwede Mantashe, the Secretary-General of the African National Congress. The ruling party official says that it may take decades to reverse the apartheid legacy in the field of education., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Author : Jackson Mthembu

ANC statement on M&G article "Mantashe questions minorities on ANC List"

13 March 2014

The African National Congress has noted with grave concern the unfounded and malicious online article by the Mail & Guardian yesterday headlined "Mantashe questions minorities on ANC list". The story seeks to insinuate that the Secretary-General of the ANC has no confidence in the ANC Candidate Lists nor in certain comrades who have been nominated through this country`s only internally democratic and robust process of all political parties contesting the 2014 General Elections.

Had the Mail & Guardian sought to correctly report on the Secretary-General`s comments during the Pre-Election Debate held at Regenesys Business School on the 11th March 2014, they would have reported that the Secretary-General of the African National Congress spoke about the good story that is the inroads that the African National Congress has been making steadily within the so-called minority areas. They would have reported that the Secretary-General`s starting point was to differ with the notion of the term "minority communities" being attached to Coloured and Indian people in our country, making the fundamental point that these communities are and have always been and remain an inextricable part, together with Africans, of the oppressed black majority in South Africa.

The Secretary-General further made the point that all comrades who form part of the ANC Candidate List do so on the basis of the confidence that members of the ANC have shown in them. This is as a result of the activism and visibiity in their communities and constitutencies dealing with the challenges facing our people on a daily basis. Thus no one should ever construe the emergence of Coloured and Indian communities on the ANC list as the meeting of quotas; the ANC`s entrenched principles of democracy themselves would be resistant to such an approach. Every comrade who is to form part of our sevant corp of public representatives to move South Africa forward must have proven themselves as organisers and leaders in their areas of endeavour. No one is rewarded with being on the list if they don`t do work in their communities but seek favour because they are meant to form part of a "minority community"

The statement that Comrade Gwede Mantashe said "Some of the ANC`s National Assembly nominees did not deserve to be on the list" is not true and based on amateur journalism by the Mail & Guardian that we have consistenly complained of but the paper ontinues to offer the nation. The ANC`s list process is a democratic one, and involves members and branches of the ANC electing their preferred candidates. The candidates on our list have been carefully vetted, and every nominee had a right to accept or decline the nomination. The candidates on the ANC`s list be it to Parliament or the Provincial Legislatures are the peoples candidates.

The African National Congress awaits a retraction of the story by the Mail and Guardian and reserves its right to further challenge this infactual, inaccurate and malicious reporting. We are convinced that this story is not only mischievious but intentionally politically motivated and designed to isolate the African National Congress from sections of our society at this time. The response from the Secretary-General to this matter follows in a separate email.

Issued by:
Jackson Mthembu
National Spokesperson
African National Congress

Enquiries:
Keith Khoza - 082 823 9672
Khuseka Sangoni - 072 854 5707


Author : Gwede Mantashe

Response to the distortions by Mail & Guardian

13 March 2012

I led a team of the African National Congress to a Pre-Election Debate at Regenesys Business School on the 12th March 2014. In the course of discussions a question was raised as to why is the ANC losing support among white, Indian and coloured communities. The question was whether the ANC has enough minorities in its list of candidates. Because the same person who asked the question did not like the answer perhaps, silently the answer that was given is distorted publicly. It our duty to correct such a distortion as it not only unfortunate but malicious and devoid of truth.

It was clarified that the ANC not losing any support among coloured communities in general. If that was the case we could not have secured the majority in the Northern Cape, in the rural Western Cape where the ANC is doing relatively well, and in the Western part of the Eastern Cape. In those areas coloured people constitute a majority and are running structures of the ANC. There may be truth that we have lost a lot of ground in metropolitan areas.

It was further explained that where we are losing ground there are very weak structures of the ANC. Even comrades who appear on the lists form these areas do very little organisational work in these areas. Hence the trend is that it is the old activists who remain in the structures and sometimes do gate-keeping. This is evidenced by little or no emergence of young activists in many of these metropolitan areas. The appeal that was made in good faith was that we must build strong structures of the ANC in the so-called minority areas. It was further explained that the concept of minority is actually self deprivation because communities that were part of the majority when we struggled for freedom cannot be relegated into a minority now. It is actually a terrible choice.

We must emphasise as a matter of fact that where structures are weak the support of the party will reflect that. It is serious that strong structures must be built in all communities. If diagnosing failure to build structures as the basis of the weak performance in these areas is equal to laziness; I will plead guilty as charged. But if we are serious about our organisation we will invest time and energy in build strong structures in every suburban area and township, in every dorpie and village. This is not an insult to anybody but an appeal that cadres of our movement must take time to build the organisation and not have a debate about being put on the list.

In trying to explain that people get elected with any need to put them on the list there are comrades from these so-called minorities who make it to the top 25% without any intervention because structures know them. In those instances members of our movement don`t see minorities but activists and leaders of the organisation. The appeal that we must make is comrades must not assume the title of being victims in their organisation. They have the same rights and duties as any other member of the ANC. But we must not evade the reality of weak structures in many areas where our performance is weak. The criticism is not directed to minorities but activists, members and leaders of the ANC, anywhere and everywhere.

The ANC cannot categorise its members and leaders into minorities and majorities. That categorisation will introduce a culture of being cautious when dealing with some members. The consequence of that is that the other section that is not regarded as sensitive will be looked down upon and be taken for granted. The temptation of putting ourselves in these boxes must be resisted and deal with all the members honestly and candidly.

If there are problems in the suburban area in Freeway Park, Boksburg, where I reside I cannot expect "leadership" from outside the area to come and do basic organisational work in my residential area. Any leadership that comes to the area should be reinforcing work being done by the activists in the area.

That criticism is not reserved for the so-called minorities but will apply equally to senior leaders who reside in suburbs but do no organisational work in those areas. They then start believing that it is impossible to organise such areas. This is the harsh reality that must be confronted head-on.

Gwede Mantashe
Per email
Secretary General
African National Congress

A Hero Comes Home to Cuba After Unjust Imprisonment in the United States

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 21:51

Former political prisoners of the United States from Cuba, Fernando Gonzales Llort, has been released and returned home to the socialist island-nation. He was the second Cuban Five member to go free., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Havana. March 4, 2014

A hero comes home

• Decorated Hero of the Republic Fernando González arrived
in the country, and into the arms of his family, February 28,
after completing his full, unjust 15-year prison sentence in the United States

Nuria Barbosa León

THE Cuban people closely followed the midday arrival and reception of Fernando Gonzáles Llort, on Friday, February 28, enjoying the smile and furrowed brow of the man who spent 15 years, five months and five days in prison for defending his country from terrorist attacks, orchestrated by anti-Cuban groups based in Florida.

An embrace from Cuban President Raúl Castro, kisses from his mother Magaly and wife Rosa Aurora Freijanes were great joys. He said, “This is happiness which is difficult to describe, being here in Cuba, being here with my family, it is an immense happiness, yet at the same time, a piece is missing, the piece which is reserved for the moment when Ramón, Gerardo and Tony are in this same place. Then the happiness will be complete.”

Fernando was arrested by U.S. authorities September 12, 1998, along with his brothers in struggle René González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. This February 27, he completed his sentence imposed by the South Florida District Federal Court, which found him guilty of charges which were never proven during the lengthy prosecution of the Cuban Five, who were in fact working to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba being planned.

President Obama has the authority to immediately release the Five, for not only humanitarian reasons, but as an act of justice, given the many documented irregularities which took place during the trial, involving constitutional and human rights violations.

“It is an honor for me to be received by the President of Cuba, Raúl Castro,” Fernando said upon his arrival, “A gesture which strengthens my commitment to the struggle for my brothers’ return. It is a gesture which feels one with humility and gratitude.”

Demanding freedom for the five Cuban anti-terrorists, thousands of students gathered for a moving concert on the University of Havana grand stairway March 1. Bearing the message, “We want them home now,” singer-songwriters

Gerardo Alfonso, Eduardo Sosa, Tony Ávila and Vicente Feliú, repentistas Hectico and Aramís, as well as the popular groups Los Van Van, Havana D'Primera and Yoruba Andabo welcomed Fernando and René - the first of the Cuban Five to complete his full prison sentence.

Prior to the concert, in a few, perhaps hastily written words, Fernando said he was excited to be back and thanked the Cuban people for their support over the many years of his imprisonment.

“Many thanks to the Union of Young Communists for organizing this concert, the youth of today are the inheritors of our tradition of struggle,” he commented, and added, “Not even my most creative imaginings could have prepared me for what I have experienced since I descended the stairs of the airplane which returned me to the homeland.”

A variety of activities including talks, panel discussions, poetry readings and concerts are taking place across the country in schools and workplaces, to express the Cuban people’s commitment to continuing the struggle to free the Five.

March 7-8 in London, an important gathering entitled Voices for the Five, is being held with many renowned figures participating. The main event is an International Tribunal which will hear evidence about anti-Cuban terrorism and the rigged trial to which the Five were subjected.

The Tribunal’s findings will be submitted to U.S. authorities and directly to President Barack Obama, during another event set to take place in Washington in June.


Raúl receives Fernando González Llort

Today, Friday February 28, at midday on the tarmac of Havana’s José Martí International Airport, Cuban President Army General Raúl Castro Ruz received Fernando González Llort - one of the five Cuban heroes unjustly condemned to long prison terms in the United States for defending their homeland. Fernando was released from the Safford Federal Correctional Institute in Arizona, having completed his full sentence.

On the airport tarmac, in the company of Raúl, Fernando was taken into the arms of his mother Magalys and his great love Rosa Aurora.

He is the second of The Five to be released from prison, following René González.

Gerardo, Antonio and Ramón continue to he held as prisoners in U.S. penitentiaries and a broad international campaign continues demanding their immediate freedom.

Corporate Media Attacks Venezuela

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 21:44

Bolivarian President of Venezuela Nicolas Madur attacks corporate media. The capitalist media has slandered the socialist revolution., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Havana. February 26, 2014

Corporate media attack Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, emphasized, in an interview with the regional network TeleSur, that imperialist powers are unleashing a media attack on the Bolivarian Revolution.

President Nicolás Maduro denounces corporate media attacks on the Bolivarian Revolution, during an interview with the regional broadcasting network Telesur.

The campaign against the elected government, he said, is part of a strategy intended to put an end to the process of change underway in Venezuela.

Referring to vandalism and aggression by right-wing groups, the President reported that only 5% of the country’s municipalities have experienced disturbances, yet the media – the same ones which justified the invasion of Iraq – present the events as evidence of a civil war.

The U.S. network CNN, is leading the way, promoting negative public opinion about the current situation in Venezuela.

Maduro took the opportunity to comment on Telesur’s plans to begin programming in English later this year, to share the country’s reality, without manipulation, with other countries of the world.

During the interview, Maduro revealed that security forces had detained three persons who were making death threats against him and the daughter of Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly.

Grandmothers and grandfathers took to the street in Caracas, February 23, to support the process of change underway in the country and oppose violence.

He criticized the actions of these youth, who will be held responsible, but reiterated that this type of behavior comes as a result of the corporate media’s hate campaign.

He denounced promoters of the media campaign who have resorted to lies and outright fabrications, even presenting photographs from other regions of the world as Venezuelan.

Support for the Bolivarian Revolution and its government was evident in the patriotism of elderly Venezuelans who demonstrated February 23 in Caracas, in a march for peace and against violence.

The march, like others held in the country’s 23 states, came as a response to an appeal by President Maduro addressing a demonstration of women in the capital.

As the marchers arrived at Miraflores government palace, the President greeted the enthusiastic elderly citizens who also enjoyed a concert featuring some of Venezuela’s premiere artists. The event additionally served as a tribute to singer-songwriter Simón Díaz, recently deceased at the age of 85.

The government has called for all Venezuelans to come together in support of dialogue and unity, based on the 10-point Peace and Reconciliation Plan, which now includes the convocation of a National Peace Conference.

The daily lives of citizens were again disrupted this week by the violent actions of opposition groups, which since February 12 are attempting to destabilize the country, leaving eight dead and 137 injured, in addition to significant material damage, according to the General Attorney’s Office.

(Granma International news staff)

Cuban President Raul Castro Address Workers' Congress

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 21:37

Cuban Raul Castro at CTC Conference Feb. 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Havana. February 25, 2014

"We have held a magnificent workers’ Congress, which has established the direction for the future of the Cuban trade union movement."

• Speech given by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, during the closing session of the 20th Congress of the Cuban Workers’ Federation (CTC), February 22, 2014, Year 56 of the Revolution

(Council of State transcript)

Compañeras and compañeros:

It is my responsibility to make the closing remarks for this important Cuban Workers’ Federation Congress, which is certainly not limited to these three days of work by delegates in the capital; it is a process which began 15 months ago with trade union debate across the length and breadth of the country, including the broad, democratic discussion of the proposed Labor Code, approved by the National Assembly this past month of December.

Also part of the workers’ Congress was the profound analysis of the principal document which took place in workplaces, municipal and provincial bodies, in almost 66,000 member assemblies, with the participation of more than 2,850,000 workers focused on the improvement of the work done by trade union organizations.

Within the framework of the tasks undertaken prior to the Congress, we commemorated, this past January 28, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the CTC, which emerged as the first unified organization of Cuban workers, under the difficult conditions of the bourgeois, neocolonial republic, facing, for years, the repression and assassination of several of its most revolutionary leaders, the majority communists, among them the valiant sugar union leader and Communist Jesús Menéndez, founder, along with the unforgettable Lázaro Peña, of this organization.

Present and future generations of trade union leaders must assimilate the valuable legacy contained in the life of the Captain of the working class, the well deserved title Lázaro Peña was able to gain among Cuban workers, as a founder and fervent defender of the unity of revolutionary forces before the Revolution and, after the triumph, the person who taking as his own the line established by Fidel, established himself in the organization and provided brilliant leadership during the historic 8th CTC Congress, in 1973.

Unlike previous congresses which concentrated on analysis and discussion of specific issues and generated proposals for modifications to existent labor related legislation, this 20th Congress had the advantage of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines, approved by the 6th Party Congress, as well as the work objectives agreed upon during the First National [Party] Conference.

Preparatory events leading to the Congress made clear that the working class, in its majority, supports the path being followed to update our economic model, while at the same time, clearly expressed was dissatisfaction given the slow pace with which some government approved decisions are implemented - on occasions without the creation of adequate conditions, the provision of reasoning and appropriate information, or necessary supervision of the implementation process.

No matter how delicate or complex the question of the wage system currently in place in the state economy may be, I cannot neglect to address it, although I have referred to the issue at other times.

I fully agree with you that the current wage system is not consistent with the socialist principle of distribution, "from all according to their ability, to all according to their work," or what is the same thing, it does not guarantee that a worker is compensated in accordance with the contribution made to society.

It is also true that salaries do not meet the needs of workers or their families, generating a lack of motivation and apathy toward work, negatively affecting discipline, and encouraging the exodus of personnel toward better compensated activities, regardless of the professional qualifications required. At the same time, it has a negative effect on the promotion to leadership positions of the most capable and self-sacrificing, given the damaging phenomenon of the ‘inverted pyramid,’ which translates as, generally: greater responsibility - less personal income.

At the same time, we have lacked a comprehensive perspective in the implementation of our wage policy and performance bonuses, leading to the isolated approval over the years of dissimilar systems of supplementary non-salary compensation in sectors and activities, not always linked to work results or increased productivity.

Nor can we forget the almost 1.7 million citizens who devoted years to work and today enjoy the right to a well-deserved retirement, whose pensions are low and insufficient to meet the cost of basic goods and services.

While reaffirming this crude reality, a comprehensive solution to which we continue to work on intensely, we cannot foster false hopes within the population as to a short term resolution. It would be irresponsible, and have a counterproductive effect, to implement a generalized increase in salaries in the state sector, given that this would only serve to initiate an inflationary spiral in prices, since it would not be adequately backed by a sufficient increase in the supply of goods and services.

Doing this might seen easy, it is done in many places around the world, even in rich Europe, in some of the countries in crisis; it is the neoliberal formula implemented in various regions of the world to protect and expand the fortunes of the rich and condemn million of inhabitants of the planet to poverty.

Although I have expressed it on other occasions, it is not unimportant, especially before a workers' congress, to reiterate that in revolutionary Cuba, no one will be left unprotected and there is no place for shock therapies for the people. None of the changes we implement will ever undermine the social conquests achieved by the Revolution.

If the average salary increases more rapidly than the production of goods and services, the effect on the economy and the people would be fatal, equivalent to "eating up" our future, irrationally augmenting the foreign debt and, definitely engendering instability within Cuban society as a result of galloping inflation, which would destroy the buying power of salaries and pensions.

Let us keep in mind the essential principle of the distribution of wealth: first it must be created and, in order to do so, we must consistently increase efficiency and productivity.

On this issue, I set apart medical services, for which, yes, salaries will be increased shortly, given that the country's fundamental income at this time is a result of the work of thousands of doctors offering their services abroad.

As we advance toward this end, the conditions will be developed for better salaries and pensions.

Precisely for this purpose, decisions already adopted by the government are underway and many others are being studied, to gradually eliminate various obstacles which remain in the management of the enterprise system, about which you have received ample information.

This is also the fundamental objective of the process of elimination of the dual currency and exchange rate, the initial stage of which is underway to prepare the necessary conditions, and the roll-out of a flexible compensation system is being planned, one consistent with the aforementioned socialist principle of distribution.

Given these circumstances, and in accordance with the agreements of the 6th Party Congress, growth has been promoted in our economy of non-state management models, in which workers receive salaries significantly higher than those in the state sector, be that in budgeted entities or in enterprises. This reality, which surprised no one, cannot lead to stigmatizing self-employed workers or members of cooperatives, who in their majority have joined the trade union movement, abide by what has been established, and fulfill their tax obligations.

Well and good. We are not unaware that this objective factor adds urgency to the aspirations of workers in the state sector, contained for years, to see increases in their income as soon as possible.

We must never forget that the economic system which will predominate in socialist, independent and sovereign Cuba will continue to be based on the ownership, by all of the people, of the fundamental means of production, and that the state enterprise is, and will be, the principal actor in the national economy. The construction of our prosperous and sustainable socialism depends upon its performance.

Thus, the process of updating our economic and social model is directed toward creating the conditions which will allow for a sustained and justified increase in the income of state sector workers, while at the same time protecting the social conquests of the Revolution.

In these circumstances, the role of the Cuban trade union movement expands, in addition to the important missions which are its responsibility: on the one hand, organize, integrate and mobilize workers in the interest of developing work, patriotic and moral values; and on the other hand, representing workers and defending their rights before the administration, in a climate of reciprocal high expectations.

To reach this objective, formalisms and the old mentality which emerged over years of paternalism, egalitarianism, excessive gratuities and inappropriate subsidies, must be eliminated from trade union work. We know that there are magnificent comrades who are still nostalgic about the past, when in the most difficult moments during the beginning of the special period, we found ourselves obliged to implement emergency solutions; nevertheless, we must eliminate old habits, and the psychological barrier associated with them, to understand that we will never return to that trade union role as a distributor of incentives of various kinds.

The CTC and its unions must concentrate on that which is essential, carrying out activities in the interest of successfully implementing the Guidelines and developing broad, differentiated political-ideological work defending the unity of Cubans, taking into account that this work is complicated under conditions in which the non-state sector of the economy is growing, in which the methods and work style traditionally used in the state sector, are not applicable - those which must also be perfected.

In this context, we must take into account the urgent necessity of promoting and attracting foreign investment, in the interest of accelerating the economic and social development of the country, an objective toward which we are advancing with the creation of the Mariel Special Development Zone and the drafting of a proposed law addressing foreign investment, which we will submit to the National Assembly this coming month of March.

Trade union work in joint venture companies, and in those based on foreign capital, will logically be differentiated, not in its essence, but yes in the manner in which it has been carried out to date, and preparations must be made now for that eventuality.

In particular, it becomes imperative to strengthen the permanent ties between trade union cadres and locals, their participation in members’ assemblies and the attention given youth beginning their working lives – which requires that prior preparation and knowledge of the concrete situation in every workplace is assured, in the interest of having an effect on political-ideological and productive work with the workers.

It is also essential to ensure ongoing training and development of trade union cadres in relation to the content and scope of policies and measures being adopted within the framework of the implementation process of the Guidelines, to fully understand new legislation so that they have the information required to clarify doubts, supervise implementation, call attention to any deviation in a timely fashion and involve the workforce in practical application.

This line of work takes on greater relevance when we consider the extent to which the executive leadership of union locals has been renovated, by almost 44%, while 35% of general secretaries in trade union sections and bureaus are new, and 17% of these are under 30 years of age.

Likewise, since the previous congress, a significant renovation of the CTC and various unions’ principal leadership has taken place. Today joining us is the previous Secretary General, compañero Salvador Valdés Mesa (applause), who as a result of his important work was promoted to a vice presidency of the Council of State, and, as a member of the Party’s Political Bureau, has remained well-informed about the development of this event.

At the same time, I believe it is only right to recognize the energetic work undertaken over the last eight months, at the forefront of the Organizing Committee, by compañero Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento (applause), who you have elected today as the CTC’s new Secretary General.

Before closing, I must address the events which are taking place in the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We have strongly condemned the violent incidents unleashed by fascist groups, which have led to deaths, tens of injuries, attacks on public institutions and destruction. We know, from our own experience, who is behind them, who finances them and supports these brutal efforts to overthrow the constitutional Venezuelan government.

These events confirm that wherever there might be a government which is not convenient to the interests of ruling circles in the United States, or among some of its European allies, it becomes the target of subversive campaigns. They now use new subtle, occult methods to undermine, without renouncing violence, to disturb the peace and internal order, and prevent governments from concentrating on the struggle for economic and social development, if they are not able to overthrow them.

More than a few examples can be found in non-conventional war manuals, which were implemented in various countries of our Latin American and Caribbean region, as is occurring in Venezuela today, and some with similar features have been in evidence on other continents, first in Libya and currently in Syria and Ukraine. Any one who has doubts about this, I would invite to leaf through the U.S. Army Special Forces Unconventional Warfare Training Manual 18-01, published in November 2010, entitled Non-conventional War.

Right now in Ukraine alarming events are taking place. The interference of Western powers must end, to allow the Ukrainian people to legitimately exercise their right to self-determination. It must not be overlooked that these events could have very serious consequences for international peace and security.

We have expressed and confirmed here today our full support for the Bolivarian, Chavista Revolution, and for compañero Nicolás Maduro (applause), who with intelligence and firmness has managed this complex crisis.

We are convinced that the Venezuelan people will be able to defend their irreversible conquests, the legacy of President Hugo Chávez and the government they freely and sovereignly elected, as our statement indicated this past February 12.

Compañeras and compañeros:

I believe we have held a magnificent workers’ Congress, which has established the direction for the future of the Cuban trade union movement, since the questions analyzed directly address the role of the CTC and its unions in the ideological, political and economic work of the Revolution. For that reason, in the name of the Communist Party and the revolutionary government, I congratulate our working class and all men and women who have participated directly in this 20th Congress. (Applause)

In this context, I think it is appropriate to recall an excerpt from Fidel’s speech concluding the historic 8th Congress more than 40 years ago, when he said, I quote, "A point of view is not be imposed, it is discussed with the workers. Measures are not implemented by decree, no matter how just or correct they might be… the fundamental decisions which affect the lives of our people, must be discussed with the people, fundamentally with the workers." End of quote.

Thus, as Fidel taught us, we will continue.

Long live the working class! (Shouts of "Viva!")

Thank you very much (Applause)



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