Peru: Genocidal Fujimori released

Alberto Fujimori

On 6 December 2023, Alberto ‘The Butcher’ Fujimori, Peru’s president from 1990 to 2000, was released from gaol after 16 years on ‘humanitarian’ grounds due to his failing health. This restores his repeatedly annulled pardon of 2017. After his 2000 impeachment he was extradited from Chile in 2007, to where he fled via Japan, and was sentenced by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to 25 years in prison for ordering the assassination of 25 people between 1991-1992. This is a drop in the ocean of the at least 5,000 estimated killings resulting from his presidency.

 

Read more ...

Guatemalans fight for democracy

On 28 August Bernardo Arevalo won the presidential election of Guatemala with nearly 61% of the votes, becoming Guatemala’s first centre-left president in 68 years. He is set to replace Alejandro Giammattei of the conservative right-wing Vamos Party. However, in Congress Vamos still obtained 39 seats compared to Arevalo’s recently formed ‘Seed Movement’s’ 23, and the populist right-wing National Unity of Hope’s 28, leaving Aravalo with huge challenges in his legislative programme.  Arevalo was subject to a smear campaign directed by the ruling class to try to block him from winning the election and which continues, to try to prevent him from taking office on 14 January, following his second-round presidential election landslide. At the mayoral level the Seed Party has virtually no representation, with the conservative parties completely dominant. US and European observers are thus entirely happy with the result.

 

Read more ...

'Our triumph isn’t far away': interview with Lourdes Huanca Atencio

Loudes Huanca Atencio (left) with FRFI's pamphlet Capitalism is extinction, socialism is survival

On 7 May 2023, FRFI interviewed Lourdes Huanca Atencio, a founder and the President of the National Federation of Peasant, Artisan, Indigenous, Native and Salaried Women of Peru (FENMUCARINAP) in London. Huanca is in forced exile for her role in resisting the December 2022 US-backed coup which removed Peru’s indigenous President Pedro Castillo and placed Dina Boluarte in power (see FRFI 292). Among other topics, we spoke of FENMUCARINAP’s long standing movement for indigenous life, dignity and democratic participation, the resistance to the coup in Peru, and the importance of education and literacy, following the example of socialist Cuba. She was invited to London by the 12th of October Platform.

 

Read more ...

Monroe Doctrine: 200 years of repression and resistance

Meeting at Bolivar Hall, London in February 2023

Below is the edited text of speech given by SAM McGILL at 'End sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela' public meeting at Bolivar Hall in London 17 February 2023

This year marks 200 years since the inception of the ‘Monroe Doctrine’, the warning given by US President James Monroe to the European powers to recognise the whole of the Americas as lying within the United States’ sphere of interest. Ever since it has been elevated to a universal law of imperialist order.

 

Read more ...

Peruvian masses defy coup

Protesters in Lima condemn the coup (photo: Mayimbú)

Peru is on fire. In December 2022 democratically-elected President Pedro Castillo was arrested and faces 18 months in prison awaiting trial. Sustained protests have been met with brutal state repression. As we go to press, at least 63 people have been killed, almost all of them protesters, some as young as 15. Police and army have swarmed the streets, raiding the offices of social and trade unions and arresting their leaders. The military has marched through impoverished Andean towns, firing live rounds, going door to door and ransacking homes. 16 protesters were massacred in just one day in Juliaca, prompting a day of mourning in the southeastern region of Puno. One policeman was also killed. 500 troops have been sent into Puno to enforce a strict curfew. Tens of thousands of indigenous and poor people have since descended from the Andes to march on the Peruvian capital Lima, bringing the resistance to the seat of power and forcing the deeply unpopular stand-in president, Dina Boluarte, to appeal in vain for ‘a national truce’. SAM McGILL reports.

 

Read more ...

Class struggle in Latin America

Ecuador protests in 2011

This is the edited text of a speech given by SAM McGILL on the eve of Brazil’s crucial run-off presidential election between the left-wing candidate Luis Ignacio da Silva (Lula) and the far-right Jair Bolsonaro.

What happens in Brazil impacts the whole region; this vast country is home to 215 million people. It is the B in BRICS, the third-largest economy in the Americas after the US and Canada, and a major exporter of steel, energy and beef. Yet extreme poverty means over half the population experience food insecurity; 19 million face daily hunger. Just six men hold the same wealth as the poorest 100 million. Brazil is rated by Standard & Poor’s as BB minus, two notches below investment grade, making loans more expensive, resulting in ballooning debt: in 2021 Brazil had a debt-to-GDP ratio of 93%. In the last decade, agribusiness has surged to 25% of GDP while industrial output shrank by one-fifth, reflecting its increasing need to service debt interest payments. 

 

Read more ...

Imperialism in Puerto Rico

Since the 15th century, Puerto Rico has engaged in resistance against the brutality and the injustice of colonisation and exploitation that began when Christopher Columbus made his second trip to the ‘New World’. The Spanish looted and plundered Puerto Rico’s gold mines and developed the island to be reliant on first sugar and then coffee production. The indigenous Taino population was taken into slavery, fuelling resistance. To their number was added thousands of slaves from Africa, brought in to work the plantations. ‘Forced to mutually toil side by side in mines, farms, construction projects, and private homes, Tainos and Black people formed tightknit alliances throughout the first half of the sixteenth century’ (A. Ozuna). Slave revolts swept through the Caribbean. By the 1600s there had been four slave rebellions in Puerto Rico. On 23 September 1868, 1,000 revolutionaries led an uprising in the Lares province, demanding Puerto Rico be independent, holding banners which read, ‘Libertad ó Muerte; Vive Puerto Rico Libre 1868’ (Liberty or Death; Free Puerto Rico Lives 1868).

 

Read more ...

Latin America: the tide turns against imperialism

Across Latin America, the working class, indigenous peoples and the rural poor are rising up, forcing the pace of political change on the continent. Over the past two years we have seen: sustained mobilisations in Chile for a new constitution; the defeat of the coup government in Bolivia; strikes and uprisings in Colombia; the ousting of four presidents in five years in Peru; strikes in Ecuador and Panama; and mass anti-IMF protests in Argentina. This pressure for change has been reflected in the election of leftist presidents in countries including Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Peru, riding the wave of protest. How far these leaders are prepared to go in implementing the demands of the movements that brought them to power will now be the question. Will the masses be able to sustain enough momentum to force their new leaders to confront the imperialist behemoth on their doorstep? Or will they instead capitulate to it, using their new powers to contain, divert and repress the working class? SAM McGILL and CAT WIENER report.

 

Read more ...

Panama: in revolt against poverty and corruption

Protesters in Panama stand on a burned out police car

On 25 July, after five days of negotiations, Panama’s government finally agreed a 30% reduction in the price of 72 essential food items. This was a key demand by the social movements, unions and indigenous groups whose more than two weeks of protests had brought much of the economic life of the country to a halt. Negotiations over the movement’s other demands continue.

 

Read more ...

The class struggle in Peru

Pedro Castillo (photo: Braian Reyna Guerrero | CC BY 2.0)

On 19 July, Peru’s National Electoral Jury declared the progressive and indigenous Pedro Castillo Terrones, of the Peru Libre party, winner of the 6 June presidential runoff. On a 74.57% turnout the conservative Keiko Fujimori of Fuerza Popular took 8,791,521 votes (49.87%) and Castillo 8,835,579 (50.12%). Fujimori desperately tried to show fraud at different polling stations. Had she become president, charges pending against her for corruption would have been suspended and she might free her imprisoned ex-president father. Fujimori would have attacked the workers and poor in the interests of her US backers. Alvaro Michaels reports.

 

Read more ...

The class struggle in El Salvador

Nayib Bukele stands at a podium wearing a baseball cap

On 28 February 2021 El Salvador held legislative and municipal elections, and, for the first time in 30 years, elected a government with an absolute majority in Congress.  Nayib Bukele, elected president in 2019, led his New Ideas party to win 66.58% of the vote, giving it 56 of the 84 Congressional seats representing the country’s 14 multi-party constituencies. At the same time New Ideas won 179 of the El Salvador’s 262 mayoral seats. The turnout was 2.6 million of 5.4 million registered domestic voters (48.5%). President Bukele’s success was a result of his tough and effective control of the Covid-19 pandemic, widely accepted criticism of the previous governing parties, and a highly publicised and successful campaign against criminal violence in the country. What does his victory mean for the poor?  Alvaro Michaels reports.

 

Read more ...

Latin America 2021: Resistance and Revolution - Video

Latin America 2021: Resistance and revolution

On Wednesday 3 March, the Revolutionary Communist Group hosted an informative online meeting ‘Latin America 2021: Resistance and Revolution’. Over 150 participants from Britain and many countries around the world heard from a brilliant line-up of speakers who gave presentations before answering participant questions.

 

Read more ...

No interference in Ecuador!

Arauz and Correa supporters march in the streets in Ecuador

Despite years of political persecution, a misinformation campaign aimed at undermining support for the leftist coalition Union of Hope (UoH) and barriers to electoral participation deployed by the Moreno administration in collaboration with the US, Andres Arauz of the UoH emerged victorious in the first round of Ecuador’s Presidential elections on 7 February. Arauz took 32.72% of the votes, 13% more than the second-place candidate Guillermo Lasso of the right CREO-PSC alliance. Arauz and Lasso go on to the second round of elections on 11 April. But the dirty misinformation campaign against Arauz has continued, with baseless accusations of electoral fraud. The push for a soft coup in Ecuador has recently escalated to calls for an outright military coup.

 

Read more ...

Anti-corruption protests erupt in Guatemala

Guatemala protests 2020

Ten thousand protesters took to the streets in Guatemala’s capital on Saturday 21 November, culminating in part of the Congress building in Guatemala City being set on fire by demonstrators. Demonstrations took place in 15 other cities across the country. The crowds, mostly young people, carried banners reading ‘they messed with the wrong generation’, decrying the Guatemalan state’s latest budget and demanding the resignation of members of the Executive, Congress and the Supreme Court.

 

Read more ...

Peru: youth challenge presidential figures

Protests in Lima, Peru

In November 2020, years of pent-up anger among young people against the political class reached boiling point. The expulsion of President Martin Vizcarra from office by Congressional members objecting to his mild reforms and his replacement by his deputy provoked mass demonstrations by Peruvian youth. These were violently attacked by the police. Worried and frustrated by the response to their machinations, Congress imposed a third President to try to calm the protests. ALVARO MICHAELS reports.

 

Read more ...

Guyana: a pawn for US imperialism

US military training the Guyana Defense Force, 2012

Guyana is mired in a swirling political crisis. Weeks have passed since the 2 March elections with no winner declared. Amidst accusations of vote rigging, corruption, and the funding of US lobbying firms, US oil giant ExxonMobil has begun producing oil in the Essequibo region – territory long under dispute with neighbouring Venezuela. Seizing the opportunity to grab oil and threaten the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, the US has designated Guyana as a country of strategic importance, stationing troops and ramping up military co-operation. Guyana is fast becoming the new front of the war against socialism in Latin America.

 

Read more ...

Latin America: reaction versus socialism – the struggle intensifies

Carlos Figueroa / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Massive protests across Latin America, in Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Haiti and the electoral victory in Argentina are clear working class responses to the continued vindictive assaults on them by imperialism.

The US has interfered with governments in Latin America since the 19th century and is as active today as ever. The most recent examples – in addition to the continuous and open economic warfare and political subversion directed at Venezuela for nearly 20 years, and against Cuba for 60 years – are its support for November’s expulsion of Morales in Bolivia, its satisfaction at the imprisonment and consequent removal of Lula from the October 2018 Brazilian elections, its failed attempt to violently remove Ortega in Nicaragua in April 2018, and the subordination of Moreno in Ecuador to its will following his appointment in April 2017.

 

Read more ...

Hurricane Dorian: Cuba sends brigades to rebuild

Destruction in the Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian

From 1-7 September, the Bahamas were devastated by Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful cyclone ever to hit the country and its worst ever natural disaster. At least 63 people are confirmed dead and 1,300 are missing. The death toll is expected to dramatically rise; the Bahamas Press reported that more than 3,000 may have perished on the Abaco Islands alone. Massive rainfall has led to flooding with water levels in some areas rising to 2 metres (6 feet); some areas are still underwater. The storm has taken 13,000 homes leaving 70,000 people homeless.

 

Read more ...

The revolutionary challenge of the Sendero Luminoso

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 109, Mid-September/Mid-November 1992

The Communist Party of Peru (PCP), widely known as the Sendero Luminoso or Shining Path, has been subjected to an international avalanche of condemnation and slander. The Peruvian Party of Mariateguist Unity, a component of the United Left (IU) coalition, for example, opposes the Sendero claiming that ‘through the use of terror’ it tries ‘to lead the country towards a Pol Pot type alternative’. In the USA, the left-wing weekly, The Guardian charges the Sendero with waging ‘war against the country’s popular movements’. Meanwhile, according to the British newspaper The Independent, the Sendero are ‘the most secretive, highly-organised and murderous of all contemporary terrorist groups’. EDDIE ABRAHAMS and TREVOR RAYNE begin an examination of Sendero Luminoso’s political programme.

 

Read more ...

The Salvadoran Election: backward steps

Nayib Bukele

On 3 February 2019 Nayib Bukele, an ex-member of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), was elected president of El Salvador. The 37-year-old opportunist, formerly mayor of the capital San Salvador, stood as leader of the Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) which was founded in 2010. He left the FMLN in 2017after an ethics committee in San Salvador voted to expel him. He formed his own party, ‘New Ideas’, and united this with GANA. Bukele will now replace the incumbent, the FMLN’s Salvador Sánchez Cerén. Bukele, a millionaire, outspent his opponents with a campaign costing around $9.4m, hiring four campaign managers with close ties to the Venezuelan right-wing opposition to run his presidential campaign. ALVARO MICHAELS reports.

 

Read more ...

Repression in Guatemala: eyewitness account

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 16, February 1982

This eyewitness account of repression and revolution in Guatemala was given exclusively to FRFI by a journalist recently in Guatemala.

We flew into Guatemala City from San Salvador and our first impression of Guatemala City was very pleasant. Unlike San Salvador there's no curfew so you could wander freely at night. The restaurants are full, the bars are full, lots of traffic in the streets and an apparent surface air of complete normality. So we were very relieved. We thought we might be able to relax a bit.

 

Read more ...

‘TROIKA OF TYRANNY’: War on the struggle for socialism in Latin America

Venezuelans protest against US interference

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 267 December 2018/January 2019

On 1 November 2018, US National Security Adviser John Bolton declared that Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba constituted a ‘troika of tyranny’. He spoke of a ‘triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua’, threatening ‘direct actions…. to defend the rule of law, freedom, minimum human decency in our region’.

Never mind that President Donald Trump has deployed 9,000 troops at the Mexican border to attack the migrant caravan fleeing the poverty and violence of US free trade agreements, the ‘war on drugs’ and support for military coups. Nor that in Brazil the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro – who believes the mistake of previous military dictatorships was ‘to torture but not kill’ – has just been elected president. Nor that since the 2009 coup in Honduras at least 60 journalists and hundreds of activists have been killed. Meanwhile, in Mexico, 36,000 people have ‘disappeared’ in the last 12 years; in Colombia, paramilitaries and drug cartels have strengthened since the crumbling peace agreement of 2016. SAM McGILL reports.

 

Read more ...

Central America - Oppressed fight back against imperialism

Central America

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 9, March/April 1981

The wave of revolution engulfing Central America is an uprising against imperialism. It is yet another front in the glorious international anti-imperialist war being waged in Iran and Palestine, Ireland, South Africa and elsewhere.

US imperialism has been the main oppressor and exploiter of the peoples of Central (and Latin) America. But its ruthless oppression and exploitation has always been supported by British imperialism. Since 1945 all the major imperialist powers have joined in an alliance to defeat all revolutionary movements of the oppressed. In February, Thatcher told President Reagan:

‘The responsibility for freedom [to plunder and murder!] is ours to share. In Britain you will find an ally, valiant, staunch and true.'

 

Read more ...

Sandinistas strike as UNO splits

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 95 June/July 1990

In the few weeks since assuming power on 25 April, the UNO coalition is already showing signs of deep divisions, and the new government has had to make a number of concessions to the FSLN and pro-Sandinista unions.

On 10 May, 50,000 workers in government offices, banks, public transport and telecommunications went on strike for a 200 per cent pay rise and against sackings. This is in response to the new Government’s devaluing of the córdoba by half and repealing the civil service law that guaranteed job security. After first threatening to sack them all, President Violeta Chamorro backed down after six days, and agreed to the job security law, a 100 per cent pay rise and the replacement of the Labour Minister.

UNO WHO?

 

Read more ...

Cocaine capitalism: part two

(For part one click here)

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 95, June/July 1990

BEHIND ‘THE WAR ON DRUGS’

‘It is a sad commentary on the state of mankind at the end of the twentieth century that the bulk of our vast productive energies is devoted to our own destruction’. So lamented UN Secretary-General Pérez de Cuéllar during April’s World Ministerial Summit on Drugs in London. Illegal narcotics now exceed oil and automobiles and are second only to weapons as the world’s most valuable trade. Each year they pump an additional $300 billion through the capitalist banking system. Drugs house soldiers in palaces, furnish police and customs officials with luxury, buy guns and missiles for Afghan and Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries, prop up entire Latin American economies and fend off a multi-national banking collapse triggered by the unpayable trillion-dollar Third World debt. TREVOR RAYNE continues his examination of the drugs trade.

Like all capitalist wealth, drug profits are wrung out of the misery and squalor of the oppressed: the 130 million Latin Americans in hunger and poverty who provide the child assassins for the drug barons’ armies; the peasant coca farmers who receive 0.5 per cent of cocaine’s final retail price; the 45 per cent of black and 39 per cent of Hispanic children born in the USA who exist below the poverty line; the street corner lookouts earning $35 for a twelve hour shift with an expectancy of three to six months ‘work’ before arrest and imprisonment. 23 per cent of US black men aged 20-29 are in gaol, on parole or probation. For every two young black US males who gain entry into higher education, three are held in some form of custody. This is cocaine capitalism, the face behind the dazzle from the designer sunglasses of Miami Vice.

 

Read more ...

Cocaine capitalism: part one

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 92, January 1990

'Cocaine capitalism' examines the cocaine trade in two parts. In part one TREVOR RAYNE examines the economic conditions that have generated the most profitable industry in Latin America. Part two looks at its political consequences, links with counter-revolution and impacts on US cities and the banks.

President Bush redeclared ‘War on Drugs’. The British government dispatched a frigate and 50 military and police officers to Colombia. Police are raiding downtown Los Angeles and Tottenham. It is captivating headline stuff – for a fortnight. Three months after Bush signalled his intent to crush the drug trade, his ‘drug czar’ William Bennett is denying rumours that he is threatening to resign because of the lack of progress made.

The world’s illegal drug trade is valued at $500bn. Cocaine is the world’s most profitable item of trade. Its worth, at wholesale prices, varies between five and seven times its weight in gold. Annual cocaine production generates approximately twice the revenue of the world’s output of gold. Colombia alone produces sufficient for five billion dosages a year which would retail at between $20bn and $100bn, depending on the degree of purity and markets used. Los Angeles’ Federal Reserve Bank reported a $3.8bn cash surplus earlier this year as money laundering diversifies out of Florida. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee issued a report describing Britain as an ‘off-shore banking centre’ for drug traffickers, who are circulating an estimated £1.8bn through the British financial system.

 

Read more ...

Sound the alarm! – US invasion of Panama

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 93 February/March 1990

panama US invasion 1

‘A growing challenge to US interests and national security strategy is so-called low-intensity conflict… The nature of US interests around the world will require that US forces be globally deployable, often with little or no warning.’ – US Army Chief of Staff, General Carl Vuono in ‘Panama: training ground for future conflict’, Jane’s Defence Weekly, 13 January 1990

The 20 December invasion of Panama is the largest US military operation since the Vietnam War. It included the biggest US paratroop assault since the Allied airdrop on Arnhem in September 1944. Coming within a month of US Airforce intervention in the Philippines it demonstrated US imperialism testing its armed forces, its political will, international and domestic reaction in the context of the break-up of the socialist bloc. Fidel Castro described it as ‘a humiliating slap in the face to the Soviet peace policy’. Ominously, polls showed 80 per cent of US people supporting the assault. TREVOR RAYNE and KEN HUGHES report.

 

Read more ...

Trump, Puerto Rico and colonialism

trump puerto rico

After days of dragging his feet, US President Trump finally authorised a temporary waiver of a century-old shipping law on 28 September to allow aid to be sent to the US colony Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The Category 4 storm destroyed the island’s power grid and 80% of its agriculture. About 50% of the island is without clean water, food supplies are running low and hospital generators are failing. Infrastructure is severely damaged and the Guajataca Dam in the northwest of the island is at risk of failing.

 

Read more ...

US interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1945

Less than two weeks after the Venezuelan Constituent Assembly election on 30 July, US President Trump threatened the country with direct military action. This was the latest example of US imperialism’s history of intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean since the end of the Second World War. Such intervention has consisted mostly of undermining any government that threatens its interests through the use of economic warfare, and by funnelling money, arms and intelligence into right-wing opposition groups. However, in a few instances, it has involved direct military intervention (Dominican Republic, Grenada and Panama).

 

Read more ...

Zika: reproductive rights, racism and resistance

Cuban soldiers on a fumigation drive to combat Zika

The Zika virus has spread rapidly across central and South America and to some neighbouring countries, leading to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of an international public health emergency. The toxic combination of factors behind the epidemic is distinctly social: poor, cramped living conditions, insufficient sanitation and environmental problems. The virus’s possible effect on pregnant women has forced health organisations and the media to acknowledge the region’s desperate lack of reproductive rights. What is being largely ignored however is that social solutions are needed for social problems – socialist Cuba’s vital, organised response shows that another approach is necessary if the health of people is to be cared for. Rachel Francis reports.

 

Read more ...

Further steps in Latin America integration

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), composed of every country in the Americas except the US and Canada, met on 24 June for a three-day conference in Caracas, Venezuela. Drawing up a common plan to tackle social and developmental problems in the region, CELAC aims to eliminate poverty and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2024.

 

Read more ...