US policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean continued in a seamless transition from Trump to Biden, but the terrain over which it operated shifted left. The balance between the US drive to dominate its “backyard” and its counterpart, the Bolivarian cause of regional independence and integration, continued to tip portside in 2021 with major popular electoral victories in Chile, Honduras, and Peru. These follow the previous year’s reversal of the coup in Bolivia.
Central has been the struggle of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America) countries – particularly Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua – against the asphyxiating US blockade and other regime-change measures. Presidential candidate Biden pledged to review Trump’s policy of US sanctions against a third of humanity. The presumptive intention of the review was to ameliorate the human suffering caused by these unilateral coercive measures, considered illegal under international law. Following the review, Biden has instead tightened the screws, more effectively weaponizing the COVID crisis.
From the Great Resignation to ‘Striketober’ and ‘Strikesgiving,’ 2021 has been a pivotal year for workers and the labor movement, but there’s still a lot of work to do in 2022. We talk to three union organizers about the task ahead.
2021 was an energizing year for a labor movement that has had its back against the wall for a long time. From record numbers of American workers voluntarily quitting their jobs to publicly supported strikes and unionization drives in different sectors of the economy, more and more working people are taking action and standing up for themselves. But this is just the beginning—there’s still a lot of work to do, and 2022 will provide a crucial test for the labor movement and its supporters. In this special panel episode of Working People, originally published in November as a bonus episode for patrons, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez talks to three full-time union organizers—Puja Datta (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), Margaret McLaughlin (United University Professions), and Diana Hussein (UNITE HERE)—about what Striketober and 2021 in general have meant for the labor movement. They also discuss the day-to-day work of being a union organizer and what people around the country can do to build working-class power.
We spoke to Bruno Sommer, founder of El Ciudadano, one of Chile’s leading progressive media outlets. We discussed what Chile and the world can expect from Gabriel Boric and the broad movement that delivered Sunday’s landslide electoral victory.
I imagine there is still a sense of elation on the streets of Chile now!
Of course, the victory of Boric and his Frente Amplio group is not only a victory for their sector, but for all the social movements that came out to back him. This election was unique, it had the highest rate of participation since the ‘return to democracy’. Boric is the youngest President in history, 35 years old, and received more votes than any other president since the return of democracy. His 55.9% of the vote was 12 points higher than Kast, which gives the program of transformation a better chance at governability. There’s a sense of deep joy among the left, and serious anger among the right. Kast came out to concede defeat, but his supporters are, as we say in here; ‘con un aji en el trasero’ (with a chili pepper up their behind), that is to say, they are furious. This presents a number of opportunities for the future of our country.
Editorial note: Orinoco Tribune does not publish articles that are over two weeks old, but sometimes we make exceptions. The following note was originally published almost three years ago; however, with the victory of Gabriel Boric in the Chilean presidential race on Sunday, we consider it important to take another look at it. In the midst of the joyous celebrations in Chile for Boric’s win against pinochetista Kast, and perhaps as a response of memory to some who are exaggerating too much about the president-elect to compare him with Salvador Allende, with Pablo Neruda or with other icons of the international left, a text by doctor Pablo Sepúlveda Allende, grandson of Chile’s former President Salvador Allende who was overthrown and assassinated in 1973, has been circulating on social media as well as on some online publications. Said text was an “open letter” in response to statements made by the Frente Amplio deputy—now president-elect—Gabriel Boric, who has repeatedly called on the Chilean left to “condemn the human rights situation” in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, all of them Latin American countries with socialist projects. It is worth rereading it, in order to have all the information at hand and not just those which are being amplified by the logical enthusiasm generated by Kast’s defeat.
Doctor Sepúlveda Allende’s open letter to Boric is translated and reproduced below:
Deputy, I dare to respond to you because I see the danger that it represents for important leaders like you, young referents of the “new left” that has emerged in the Frente Amplio, to make simplistic, absurd and misinformed comparisons on issues as delicate as that of human rights.
It is very biased and rude that you equate—without the slightest argument—the supposed “weakening of the basic democratic conditions in Venezuela,” the “permanent restriction of freedoms in Cuba” and “the repression of the Ortega government in Nicaragua” with the proven atrocities of the military dictatorship in Chile, the evident criminal interventionism of the United States around the world, and the State of Israel’s terrorism against the people of Palestine.
The Cuban Revolution inspired and continues to inspire the workers-people’s struggles in all over the world, proving the vitality of the Marxist-Leninist worldview and the significance of proletarian internationalism. Figures such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, Vilma Espin, Fran Pais and others became eternal symbols of the revolutionary working class movement throughout the world.
Under the leadership of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz and with the decisive contribution of the Soviet Union and other socialist states, Cuba achieved a number of extraordinary – unprecedented in Latin America – achievements in sectors such as Health, Education, Womens’ Rights, Culture, Sports, etc.
Kim Philby, born on January 1st, 1912, is one of the best known double agents of the Cold War era. A man of affluent bourgeois background who decided to cut ties with his class and devote himself to the struggle of the working class by serving the Soviet Union secret services. In his homeland, Britain, he has been labeled as a “traitor”. But, in fact, just for “betraying” the interests of British imperialism, Philby should be regarded as a hero for the working class people.
“I have followed exactly the same line the whole of my adult life. The fight against fascism and the fight against imperialism were fundamentally the same fight”, Kim Philby was quoted as saying.
Philby, alongside some other progressive young people of his generation, understood the deeply reactionary character of capitalism. That is why they began searching for radical ideas, studied Marxism and, some of them, came closer to the communist ideology.
Recently on December 15 Eli Saslow wrote a very important feature in The Washington Post on the daily routine life of an elderly police constable Lennie who has been charged with the responsibility of evicting those families or persons from their homes who have not been able to pay their rent.
Essentially his daily duty during the last two decades has been to go from house to house, based on a list of those households who have lagged behind in rent payment, carrying a gun as well as handcuffs, and evict them. Astonishingly, this single police constable has evicted 20,000 Arizonans from their homes over a period of 2 decades, or 1000 per year, or about 3 per day.
‘Diet for a Large Planet’ – how Britain fed itself by plundering the world
Chris Otter DIET FOR A LARGE PLANET Industrial Britain, Food Systems, and World Ecology University of Chicago Press, 2020
Reviewed by Amy Leather
Tea workers in colonial India
Why do we eat what we do? This is the question Chris Otter seeks to answer in Diet for a Large Planet. It is very timely. In recent years there has been growing anger and horror at a food system that delivers both unhealthy and environmentally destructive diets. Food has become deeply politicized.
In 2019 the medical journal The Lancet published what it called a “planetary health diet.” Their conclusion was that “the world’s diets must change dramatically” to save the planet and ourselves. They argued that a Great Food Transformation is required — a move away from what is often called the Western Diet, high in red meat, refined grains, saturated fat and sugar, to a more plant based diet.