Genoa: war against capitalism

FRFI 162 August / September 2001

On 19 July the leaders of the imperialist world sat down in Genoa for the summit of G8 nations. There to denounce the injustice and inhumanity of global capitalism were 300,000 protesters from all over the world. Within three days, repressive police tactics had brought forth a surge of anger from protesters, turning Genoa into a war zone. The indiscriminate brutality unleashed by Italian police against protesters left at least 500 injured, many in hospital, and one young Italian anarchist dead. At least $45 million worth of damage to property was caused in three days of pitched battles with police. RCG members who were there report.

By Wednesday 18 July borders around the Italian city of Genoa were restricted. 18,000 police were already posted throughout the city. The Ducal Palace zone where the G8 leaders were meeting was declared the ‘Red Zone’, open only to 2,000 government officials, 6,000 mainstream journalists and their police protectors. Steel barricades set in concrete were put up to keep the protesters out and imprison local residents for the duration of the meeting. £300 million of taxpayers money had been lavished on hosting the talks so that the ‘eight most powerful men in the world’, the leaders of the richest industrial nations could play ‘democracy’. As the proceedings got underway so did the action against them. Protesters were arriving in their thousands, determined to enter the city and demonstrate against the G8 summit.

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Batasuna banned

FRFI 169 October / November 2002

On 26 August the Spanish Parliament approved the banning of Batasuna, the party leading the Basque movement for self-determination. The outlawing of a democratic opposition party in this way is unprecedented in recent European history and its full consequences are not yet clear. Batasuna has 900 elected representatives on local councils and one member of the European Parliament.

The legal framework for the action is set out in a new ‘Law of Political Parties’, which was brought in on 27 June, and which is explicitly designed to render the Basque organisation illegal. Over the next few weeks the social democrats (PSOE) and neo-liberal conservatives (PP) submitted a petition to the Supreme Court targeting Batasuna for ‘not condemning acts of terrorism’ and for providing tacit support to an armed group (ETA). Batasuna appealed against the restrictive law, but Judge Baltasar Garzon upheld the government’s position, ordering the immediate closure of all party facilities and the end of all activities.

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Batasuna fights banning

FRFI 171 February / March 2003

Batasuna, the Basque nationalist coalition, faces a two-year ban, with the possibility of it being extended to August 2007. The ban proscribes all Batasuna activity and members face prosecution as ‘supporters of terrorism’.

The nationalist left-wing party was banned on August 2002 under the Law of Parties [new legislation on political parties] introduced by the conservative government of José Maria Aznar (as reported in FRFI 169). Since then Batasuna and the grassroots movement involved with it have organised civil protests and are taking legal steps to challenge the ban.

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Turmoil in Georgia - Shevardnadze overthrown

FRFI 176 December 2003 / January 2004

On 23 November the former darling of the West, President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia was forced to resign after three weeks of mass protests against his re-election in a rigged ballot. Tens of thousands of demonstrators had taken to the streets of Tbilisi and on 22 November stormed the parliament building, unopposed by the army or police. Parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze is now acting president and hopes to hold presidential and parliamentary elections within 45 days.

Shevardnadze became well known as the Soviet foreign minister who with Gorbachev led the USSR to collapse and counter-revolution. Following the break up of the Soviet Union he returned to his native Georgia to become president in 1992. However Georgia, like other former Soviet republics, was too weak to exist independently and became the plaything of foreign powers. Under Shevardnadze Georgia became dependent on US imperialism which provided the country with $1bn over the last ten years, second only to Israel in per capita aid. Despite this, Georgia fell into ruin as the economy collapsed, electricity supplies frequently failed and the country’s once famously fertile agriculture declined. Where socialism had promoted co-operation between the different nationalities within the country, capitalism promoted conflict. Civil war broke out in the early 1990s and Georgia disintegrated, as the national autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia effectively split from Tbilisi under warlords with the encouragement of Russian expansionism. The pro-Russian government of the Adjaria region responded by closing its borders with the rest of Georgia so cutting off rail links to the country’s main port Batumi. Following Washington’s declaration of the War on Terrorism, US military forces arrived in Georgia and set up base.

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European Social Forum – playground for opportunists

The concept of a European Social Forum grew out of the first Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2000, which aimed to bring together people interested in collectively voicing their opposition to the ideology represented by imperialists, neo-liberals and proponents of capitalism at the annual World Economic Forum. The third ESF took place in London in October this year.

The slogan of the ESF is ‘Another world is possible’ – of that there is no doubt. From a world without poverty, illiteracy, torture, racism, sexism, homophobia, war, environmental destruction, towards one with social justice, human rights, democracy and ecological responsibility. A world run in the interests of humans not profit – a socialist world.
Up to 20,000 people attended the London ESF, participating in a wide range of meetings and activities. The real lessons of the event, however, are not ones that will be learned from any of the speakers, but from studying the way in which the ‘left’ trade unions and the ubiquitous and iniquitous Socialist Workers Party (SWP) sabotaged support for real struggles and tried to cover up for collaborators with imperialist warmongering.

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