EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

The Cooperative Way

The cooperative movement encourages and assists the formation of worker co-ops. Advocates and their organizations lobby for legislation to require companies to first offer their employees to buy their firms before they invite other interests to do it. Such legislation exists in some states such as the UK and some within the United States of America. Some employers prefer to do this, for they respect their workers and their work and do not want to cause them harm. They may believe that their businesses would be in better hands were the employees to take them over rather than strangers and people who are not so familiar with them. 


Where there are allowances for workers to take over the ownership of enterprises, rules and a lending system are in place. The government provides low interest loans and a framework and training for workers' collectives to be able to run companies themselves. In some cases, workers can make arrangements and find funds on their own. There are organizations within the cooperative movement who can educate and facilitate such takeovers.


The cooperative movement does not challenge or object to trade unions; there need not be a conflict. Some unions support workers' co-ops, for they see them as allies and the co-ops, if unions are friendly, see the unions as allies. Collective agreements can offer ideas for the terms of a cooperative arrangement that guarantees and protects the workers rights and safe and reasonable working conditions. However, a worker-owned business would not need a union. Worker's unions are established as a defense against exploitation by owners as all owners of private enterprises profit from the labour of their workers and they do so by keeping wages down and trimming overhead costs by withholding resources and measures that would make workplaces safer, healthier and more comfortable. Private owners certainly do not want to give over the decision-making to workers--no way! They have management to impose restrictions such as time limits and methods. Workers are always pushing back to improve their earnings and conditions.


A cooperative is far more democratic. Workers within it, whether it is a fast food enterprise or a factory, meet and have an equal say in how the work is done. This arrangement is far different from the typical employment where the owner and his representatives command the workers, dictating everything they do at work, from when and how long to use the toilets and take meals to procedures and reporting. Contemporary workplaces may adopt a friendlier management style that shows signs of more respect and appears to consult employees, but you know that the employees' say doesn't count for much; it is still dangerous for them to say anything as their words can be used against them in the end. While there can be all sorts of personalities and ideas present in a cooperative workplace, the relationship of the employees to it and their work is fundamentally different. People simply cannot be abused much since their is no owner exploiting them and everyone who works there has an equal status. True, there can be variations in salary levels considering varying education or training and experience levels, and a bonus system can be implemented as an incentive or reward. 


The cooperative workplace has potential to develop a communal environment wherein workers get to know each other, socialize and assist each other with the problems and demands of life even outside work. In fact, there is a societal vision and philosophy around the worker-owned-and-run cooperative enterprise. It is a vision of a cooperative and caring society with a profound democracy. It is a new kind of communism, a society empowering the people at the base without a government functioning as a centralized decision-making order overseeing and commanding the society. Government has a role in providing services and resources and setting regulations and laws. However, it is one with proper representation of the people, not business owners that dominate and drive and bribe the government to do their bidding to make life richer and more comfortable for them alone. No, it would be a government with proportional representation, perhaps with regional and national election candidates coming from councils filled with nominated and elected workers from the cooperatives and other mass organizations.


There is also a vision of new kind of international relations based on cooperation and aimed at avoiding and settling conflicts through negotiations that would not allow war to break out. the United Nations Organizations would have to be rebuilt and refitted to serve these aims.


An model of a cooperative world has been drawn up by the "All things Cooperative" division of "Democracy @ Work". Here is a link to a video about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-T0XOA5hI0





Life Without Community

Without the communal experiences that common people set up for themselves, life is harder and colder. Without the social and recreational organizations, ceremonial practices, neighbourhoods in action, nonprofit organizations and various associations in which relationships  and support networks, what is there? 


Workers do not have control over their workplaces, so communal experiences cannot be counted on there. Except for recognitions of birthdays, the Christmas party and occasional lunches together, if the they are lucky, employees must perform prescribed tasks on a given schedule and be subject to monitoring. Atmospheres and management styles can vary, but generally employees grab what chance they can to enjoy the coworker relationships but beat it home, happier to escape the confines of oversight and regime in an enterprise directed by others who reap the most rewards. 


School does not always provide relief, either. Private schools are generally business or religious settings run according to a corporate model with its quantifiable assessments and goals. In many countries, public school is an institution regulated and prescribed by government, and are often large. From upper elementary ("middle school" to some) through secondary school, the ambiance cools down and the focus on scores is sobering. After years of neoliberal austerity measures, too, there is nothing much in the budget to provide extra-curricular and cultural experiences. Even if there are student clubs and a student council, the object is career driven, with the ambitious eager to scratch notches on their resumes. Teachers and concerned observers complain how schools, reformed and relaxed somewhat in the 60s, have become like factories. 


At least any school is a place where friendships are made. The local elementary school might be the only locus of communal activity. The degree of communalism depends on the location of the schools. Some school boards that ascribe to a more humanist approach, especially as concerns the youngest of the student populations. Parents are involved. There could be exchanges and special days. Teachers can assess a student's wellbeing, family life and outlook and try to intervene with one sort of support or another. Volunteers from the community could be in the classrooms and hallways. Also, the school can be used for community meetings such as political campaigning and election polling. There may be continuing education classes run in the evenings and on weekends. 


Without much else in the way of community networks and activities, children and parents rely a lot on the school for social nourishment and growth. this could be why it is reported that many youngsters and teens suffered a lot during COVID lockdowns. Most people were cut off from communal experiences and community life. If both parents were absent from the home to earn their livelihoods or very preoccupied earning money from the home, even family life was inadequate. Families with more resources, of course, could manage better. It was the poorest who suffered most.


Without other communal offerings, people hang around shopping malls and parks. They may get to know others who work at or otherwise frequent those places. They may make and meet friends there. However, there is not much in the way program and structure. It's every person for her/himself. 


People who either start associations and get something going or pay membership dues and join some existing thing are much better off. Their lives are richer and more fulfilling. They should support people's associations and organize them to build society in a positive way.

Recreational Clubs

Recreational clubs are communal to one degree or another. I belong to several, as I like casual sports for fitness, culture, interest and social activity. They are all communal in that they are groups that share space to do things together using common resources. 

     For example, my ukulele club meets in a regular club house and plays together following a leading musician. We participants donate a few bucks at each session to support this leader. Members get to the session on his/her own means. We drink and chat together as well. There are no other meetings of this group other than practice/ play times. 

     My hiking club is another example of a common group experience. It is a couple of degrees more communal than the uke club. We have to register, pay a nominal membership fee each year and follow designated hike leaders who plan each hike. There is a publicly accessible website that bears a calendar, information on each scheduled hike,  and reports on past hikes. Our annual fees pay for it and liability insurance, nothing else. There is a car pooling system for transportation to each location of hikes; passengers pay a set amount to the driver to cover fuel each time they are driven to a hike. The trip leader ensures that there are a few photos taken of the location and participants of each hike, which will be posted along with that leader's brief report on the hike. While hiking, we get to know one another. We bring our own lunches, though. There is only one social event each year: the annual barbecue at a favorite lakeside place. Someone lends a barbecue or two and everyone who goes is supposed to bring a little food to share. However, the picnickers bring their own items to barbecue. There is minimal cost to participants and no cost to the club for this event. The province regulates and oversees all organized sports in the province, so this club must follow the provincial regulations and the insurer's stipulations. The city carries information on the club and provides a few gifts to distribute to club members on the day of the annual social.

     The most communal of all the recreational and cultural clubs I belong to is the lawn bowling club. This is a traditional English sport that traditionally serves older people. A whole community thus revolves around the local lawn bowling club. Although the provincial government sets the standards, the city provides a subsidy and the property including the equipment shed and clubhouse. Therefore, city staff clean the washrooms inside the clubhouse and manage the flower beds inside compound regularly. However, members do everything else themselves; it is a member-run organization, with members paying an annual fee to cover insurance, maintenance, outdoor equipment and kitchen and game room supplies. Besides the annual membership fee, we each pay a couple of dollars each time we play a game so that we provide additional funds for snacks, the maintenance of the green and seasonal prizes. Members can drop in any time to present themselves for games on bowling game nights three times a week and one bowling morning session once a week. There are competitions against nearby clubs at least twice a bowling season. The club also runs a croquet evening. There is always social time after games, which volunteers from among the membership organize to set up tables, prepare and serve food and clean up. Volunteers take care of grounds and run the games. In fact, this club is a full-fledged nonprofit society with an executive body. There is one official coach to train members and apply the rules. We follow international rules and techniques established ages ago in England. Though the club keeps some spare equipment, members have to acquire their bowling kits each containing four uniquely marked bowls and paraphernalia. 

      As such a developed tradition, community lawn bowling clubs provide vital opportunities for socializing. Seniors benefit tremendously and enjoy it for the outdoor setting, the company, the mild activity and thrill of the game. Older people can play this despite some physical restrictions and weaknesses as they age. People join as of their late 40s; they typically are people who enjoy sports but who have had some kind of long term injury or ailment, or are just looking for another way to relax outdoors on spare evenings. Many are longtime members who play until they are no longer able at a very advanced age. In fact, club archives with photos are kept and memorial plaques for the most active members are displayed.

      The social schedule of the season offers a lot, from the monthly barbecues to the holiday bowling lunches and the season opening and closing banquets. Participants bring their own lunches to the holiday games and salads and such to share at barbecues, when individuals bring their own items to cook on the grill. The opening and closing events are ticketed meals, but surplus club wealth is used to provide gifts beyond the raffles tickets that are offered at each banquet. 

     The bowling season is only three-and-a-half months long, but the club remains open all year round. There is one card, one darts and one carpet bowling session each week so that members can stay active and engaged with this community. Surplus funds from the summer season provide small snacks. People can buy beverages at each season; a volunteer keeps it stocked up.

    The games organizers keep stats of everyone's performance in all the clubs games, from bowling to darts, so that the persons with the highest scores and most wins can be identified and rewarded a little monetarily from time to time. 

    You can see that the lawn bowling is a full communal experience. It grows a community who do many activities, physical and social, together regularly in a communal space. Lasting friendships form. The membership develops to a more intimate level than other types of recreational clubs. Things are planned to be fair and inclusive.


Humans Helping Humans

I am reflecting on the memorial banquet I just attended. Friends, family and extended family came to share memories and catch up. Now I'm thinking how much such an event is a communal experience. First I consider who and what makes up a family. Then I consider how people rally around someone in need.

In the case of this gathering, close friends and extended family were quite a mix and acquainted in a variety of interesting ways. Of course, there was immediate biological relatives and relatives by marriage. In addition, there were several cases of close friends and family established by volunteer child raising. Here is an example. One man had been in a relationship with a drug addict who continued to help to raise her child well after breaking up with the girlfriend. That child is now a young man who attended the honouring of his quasi-uncle with his wife. Another man brought his biological daughter and grandchildren, as well as a teen-age adopted daughter whom he and his late wife met as foster parents when she was an infant; they looked after that girl for a few years and opted to adopt her after the natural mother, another drug addicted, passed away.             There was a young child at the dinner; she was there under the informal guardianship of her mother's friends, the mother being absent and unable to take care of her. These are all examples of stretching the perimeters of family to

take care of people where there is no obligation by birth or law; people help because they care.

     After the meal and the planned proceedings, informal chat gave rise to a few exchanges about different types of services and individual preferences. One issue is notification of the passing. One person may have a larger or different sort of network than another. How and who to notify? What is the responsibility? I got to thinking that various people well acquainted with the deceased through work or other organized activities and by proximity. If any of them learn of the passing, chances are that someone among them will respond on their own initiative and hold some sort of event to acknowledge it. Take community and leftist social and grassroots political activists, for example. It is normal for fellow activists, perhaps organization leaders or volunteers, to arrange something apart from what the immediate family or close friends do; the activity could be a letter to the family, a public message, a small gathering or a larger service. Work or recreational/ social club mates might react similarly.

     Then I got to thinking that there are a lot of situations of people helping people. Disasters are obvious examples. People will open their doors, provide food and supplies, donate money, etc. On the other hand, there is a lot of talk about how the population will respond to severe economic conditions as stagflation strangles economic life and a deep recession unfolds in the USA and Canada. I hear many expressions of fear. The gun promoters and survivalist convey great fear about their neighbours who they surmise will run rampage thieving and killing to stay alive ,so stocking up on guns, ammo and necessities and preparing to defend themselves or perish is recommended. I, though, believe in human kindness and concern. I think that many able people will organize to take care of each other and try to repair the crisis.

     Think about it. Who runs shelters, kitchens, mobile street services, and outreach and counseling? Who sets up charities and nonprofit or self-help organizations? Average people step forward to work hard finding resources, making public appeals, researching and sharing information, obtaining qualifications, getting funds, and so forth, and they are often volunteers.

COMMUNAL LIVING


Sorry for the lengthy absence. I do not like this blog format and input process, for one thing. For another, I did not have another theme except peace; I cover peace at my Just Peace Committee page on Facebook and my justpeace.blog (Wordpress) as well as in an internal newsletter for the International League of Peoples Struggles (peoplesstruggles.org), which is the Commission 4 publication called "Peace 4 the People". I also write statements for ILPS Commission 4 and Just Peace Committee, internationally and locally, respectively.

     In my activism for peace, we confront imperialism (domination, exploitation and plunder to make astronomical wealth for the few) that is the main source of various forms of violence and oppression. The long term goal is to build an alternative to monopoly capitalist imperialism, which concerned people involved generally call socialism. There are different types of socialism which are mainly state control of land and production and state laws and programs to provide social benefits and protection to the masses. Communist parties have been able to rule and institute vast state socialism through revolution and through electoral campaigns and reforms. We can think of Cuba and Venezuela as examples of one and the other. From the 1930s through the 1970s, US and Europe-based capitalism made compromises to socialize some industry, provide social programs, build infrastructure for working people, and so on. Capitalism's weaknesses, though, could not be avoided: wars, periodic slowdowns, debt and currency crises. The neoliberal approach of the 1980s to 2020 ruined that project by dismantling it and privatizing and deregulating everything. Politically aware intellectuals and working folk are talking about socialism again and decrying "the imperialist system" and all its violence and ills.

     Therefore, I have been thinking about socialism. Capitalism is not working out; it is in total crisis, at least US-based monopoly capitalism is. The crisis is economic (stagflation, approaching recession, debt), social (rising suicide, alienation, displacement, bigotry, disruptive and dysfunctional family life), education (rising illiteracy, lack of supports), health (insufficient public care for all, rising mortality and morbidity, mental health and opioids), unemployment or underemployment, housing (quality and affordability with rising homelessness). I don't have to tell you.

     If more people continue to get politically active and join protests, they can only be effective when they join forces, share info and materials and ideas, collaborate and make demands for change together. All the movements have to come together as one to confront imperialism. It has to have a grassroots, worker and poor people base.

     What alternative and how can we get there? Through collective action and discussion, forms of organization come into being: cooperative enterprises, committees, shelters and workspaces, bartering and sharing arrangements, social and recreational clubs, nonprofit enterprises and charities, popular non-corporate media, art projects, education and skills training programs, worker-owned factories and so on. Oh, you have heard of at least some of these? Yes! They already exist. You probably realise that they are each a product of local struggle. You probably know that they could not be accomplished by a single person, but rather had to be by a collective. When victorious, such endeavours result in people/ worker/ community-run, autonomous collectives that serve the people somehow. The struggle may have required and won state funding and legislation, so that many such collectives are state supported. It is this collective, popular action and organization that interests me, for I see it as the foundation for a whole new society that cares about and operates for and by the people. I envision a governance of representatives from among the communities and collectives that does not own and control projects and enterprises and programs but is designed to facilitate and support them.

     The socialism built in the Soviet Union and elsewhere has largely been systems of state ownership, control and direction of production and community life. I am not knocking what has been achieved. Clearly, the people fought and worked hard for it and benefited from it for a few decades. It is the top-heavy, top-down system that is vulnerable to corruption. Economic critics of capitalism have also reviewed former socialist states and come to accept that, to date, they adopted a capitalist production and distribution model, though wealth and production was not in private hands. State-owned enterprises used the monetary, price and wage system and accumulated wealth, which was to be redistributed into investments in infrastructure, homes, services, culture, and factories aimed at continuous expansion. In other words, they borrowed the capitalist model and changed some of the language. True, there were local committees and trade union and party locals from among whom representatives to the massive regional and state assemblies were regularly and properly elected. However, democracy was at risk and the state vulnerable to corruption as long as the economy and management were centralized. Too much power in too few hands.

     Today, new models of socialism are being discussed. Many prize communal life and governance. I want to think about this approach.

The next steps will be to look at examples of communal life around me. You probably have not held communism high, but that ideal is alive and well around the world as people continue to form and run various types of collectives. You likely belong to one or support one. I will discuss how much each case is "communal".

Communal living is my new thread to be discussed in the next few weeks, if not months. Stay tuned.

Blog

roots of oppression

Posted on June 4, 2020 at 9:33 PM Comments comments (407)
Don't wanna hear one more talk show host confess what they're just learning now about oppression against people of colour. They can be heard telling "us" (?ASSUMPTIONS!) that we have to pay more attention and be more sensitive. Making pledges to (finally) use "their platforms" (very rich and privileged) to listen to black and brown people and help making change happen. Really? They didn't know about the difficulties facing working people of colour and migrant workers before? Just had dinner and hope I can keep it down. 

Understanding racism in North America and Europe takes adopting a historical perspective to understand European colonialism. especially the master of racist doctrine, bureaucratic rule, force against "the other" and forced assimilation, British colonialism. Leaders must acknowledge this history if they are to make changes. Some have begun to here in Canada and a few other locations, such as New Zealand, but it is not enough.

I also object to racialized intepretations of events and behavior, from any angle. Racism is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is a tool of the oppressor to keep people divided and diverted. Relations are so extensively racialized in some loci such as the USA that it is hard to propose non-race explanations. Whatever one's colour, racism is often an excuse or a cited cause for things not working out. People generally have learned it from a variety of sources. It is deeply ingrained in the consciousness. On the other hand, not recognizing the history and not seeing that age-old oppression bearing down on certain sectors because of their place of origin, language, colour and class position is damaging. Race is not real but racialization is. Racist policy and discourse are real. Socially, race is relevant even though genetically it is not. The power relations, the history of one sector beating down others so as to raise themselves up, is true. It does not just happen in the West. Forms of chauvinism, whether religion or nation-based, is a reality of any imperial system, whether monarchical or corporate, colonial or neo-colonial. 

Racism should not and cannot be addressed as a separate problem from the problem of imperialism and oppression against gender and class. There are elements actually complicit in the oppression who may have a black or brown identity but are very happy to have achieved, by hook or by crook, high status and privilege. They want to talk about their oppression as people of colour or a family history originating in Africa. Feminism poses the same problem. True, violence and discrimination cut across class and unity among the sufferers can be achieved to make certain points. All the same, a social analysis that does not see class and admit to empire will fail. 

Why hasn't more legislation to reduce police brutality against people of colour and alleviate the oppression of the most oppressed in the rich countries been realized despite the decades of abuse? If it is a systemic problem, then it cannot be solved by tweaking the law. If it is a systemic problem then it is about democracy, attaining state power and taking the reins of power to reconfigure society and its teachings.

Why to the racial tensions linger, despite all the talk, changes in law, rise of role models, sharing of knowledge...? The answer is the same in the case of women and the poor: there is a lack of (1) political knowledge and orientation and (2) organization. The people need political education informed by experience on the ground, grass roots organization and mobilization in appropriate actions designed for the time and place and means. 

We all need fundamental change to resolve many problems, racism being one, and others being exploitation of working people, inequality and poverty, plunder of indigenous lands, war and destruction of culture and heritage, etc. Systemic change takes political awareness and organization by the people for a new way.

Sacrifice

Posted on June 1, 2020 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (6)
Empires are always calling upon the people to make sacrifices of themselves for the empire. The demand is framed as a duty. It appeals to the altruistic tendencies of people and good people find themselves complying out of concern and to feel good.

I question the ideal of sacrifice of both old empires and new. An underlying assumption of it is that many people are dispensable, which is itself grounded in the premise of inequality. From this perspective, inequality is a necessity and even natural. In this world view, there is a desrving elite who merit privilege and subservience from the rest of the population. I say nuts to the whole vision!

Sacrifice is a key word in Armistice Day ceremonies, dubbed Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth, the network of former and lasting colonies conquered and run by the British Empire into the 20th century and longer. We are to remember and honour the sacrifice of soldiers and other military personnel who have done their duty for the state and a "way of life." Coloured in comforting hues of "democracy" and "freedom", "way of life" is the norms and rules of empire. They express shallow gratitude for sacrifices of the past and call for further sacrifices. 

Today empires are private holdings that seek exponential growth of wealth for a smaller and smaller strata that claim the right and ownership of the most enjoyment, materials, status and respect. They enslave others in one way or another: force, debt, starvation, threats, deals and favours, They protect themselves with armies, massive weaponry, technology, spin doctors, lies, murder and intimidation. Their systems are suffocating and confining webs that hold back social progress by greed and bullying and snuff out joy with pain. 

Austerity measures that cut and deny health, education and social welfare services are deemed economic necessities. The people must sacrifice their bodies, families, rights and pleasures for their economy, which they describe as the greater good. It is as if there is only one kind of economy, the kind wherein they rule and oppress others to maintain their rule. However, the labour, production, land, culture and reproduction of all is the whole economy; it is not just some dominating corporations that suck up investments from smaller contributors and state treasuries while workers and nature are plundered and exploited. There are other models, ones in which production is planned according to priorities of life, and surplus is distributed equitably, according to need and merit. 

The management of the coronavirus pandemic is done with the same approach. The people are to accept that health care systems are inadequate, that there is no disaster planning and under-stocked supplies and under-paid and insufficient staff to meet all the peoples' needs. Right away, authorities laid the bulk of responsibility on the people, demanding that we either lock ourselves down or face grave illness and death for the good of this society. It has been described as a moral imperative. Of course, without adequate health care materials and services, the safest thing has been to stay home. Those working in the designated essential services have been described as heroes because they are willing to sacrifice themselves. Is so much sacrifice necessary? No. Countries with well developed public services and emergency management plans have demonstrated that risk of infection and incidence of death as a result of this virus could be low everywhere, were such services and plans available everywhere. 


state of the world

Posted on May 27, 2020 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (5)
OPPOSE THE US IMPERIALIST STRATEGY OF REGIME CHANGE! 
 ORGANIZE TO STOP US IMPERIALISM AND BUILD A BETTER WORLD!

The global scenario: acute crisis and inter-imper contradictions. The COVID-19 pandemic has conflagrated it ILPS studies of state responses to the pandemic conffirm the disasters wrought by neo-liberal austerity and privatization policies which have crippled health care systems and put workers in even greater peril around the world.  The military-industrial complex, the engine of monopoly capitalism, including big pharma, seek to exploit the crisis, destroy progress and steal more resources from state, natural environment and labour to keep profits flowing. They demand that the workers sacrifice themselves for the well-being of a few, to give up their livelihoods or risk direct contamination on the job in conditions which have been underpaid and unsafe all along. As usual, the most oppressed, poor and vulnerable populations are suffering the most.  

Meanwhile, tensions among the imperialist states run high and the US keeps punishing states that do not comply with the US imperialist model and policies by maintaining cruel sanctions, depriving whole populations of medicine and food. Neither has the US and its allies relented its militarization, threats and active military engagements from Syria to Venezuela. It continues to support the most reactionary regimes such as those of the Philippines, Israel and India in order to attain their narrow and anti-social goals.  

The situation is driving working people to organize community systems to cope while they raise more questions, voice objections and act politically. The ILPS has called for a week of anti-imperialist activities as one step in uniting and building the anti-imperailst movement for a better way. This follows the development of its international and chapter-wide education programs to discuss and enhance understanding of the crisis informed by Leninist analysis and organization principles in this year of Lenin’s 150th birthday.

Commission 4 operates on the principle of just peace, which is peace with guarantees of social, economic and political justice. The peoples resist imperialism and reactionary, oppressive regimes, rightfully refusing to give up until their demands for land, political and social reforms are properly addressed. In fact, we urge that the people step up their education, organization and mobilization to stop imperialism and win just peace according to local conditions and in whatever ways are currently at their disposal. 

Though its own society is crumbling, its people rising in anger and its global influence waning, the US is still the biggest military force charged with defending the monopoly capitalist system. It is the center of the world arms trade. It has a nuclear warhead stockpile of over 6,000 and has produced some 70,000  since 1945. Its rivals, Russia and China, have likewise kept and produced thousands. The US has at least 700 military bases around the world and sharing or visiting agreements in more locations. It has proxies and satellites such as Australia, Canada, Turkey and Colombia provide resources and act on its behalf. With a 2020 military budget of some $800 million, robbing its people of guaranteed public services and decent living conditions, it demands other states give up funds and other resources and put their own people in harm’s way to supply its war machinery, for which inhumane domestic austerity programs have been intensified. 

The context of all-sided crisis of the global system and the major imperialist powers has inspired the US to adopt a  multi-faceted, aggressive strategy, often dubbed “hybrid war, ”often cloaking these destructive practices in terms such as 'counterinsurgency' or 'overseas contingencies operations.' That is the fierce and relentless repertoire of tactics including WMD, bio-weapons, xenophobia, economic coercive measures, cultural assault, media and psy-war, cyber warfare,  espionage, deals with crooks and murderers, and political interference and manipulation.  Politically, the US and company are leaning further to the Right, away from bourgeois democracy, social development, law and science.  In desperation, they are collaborating with reactionary, fascist and terrorist elements while they try to bend the law and the truth.

LATIN AMERICA

In a recent webinar hosted by activists in the US, Carlos V. Ron Martinez, Vice-Chancellor of Venezuelan Foreign Affairs for North America, spoke about “why the US is obsessed with Venezuela.” He explained the two main reasons for the US’ desire for regime change in Bolivarian Venezuela: the nationalization of its oil industry and its independent foreign relations with states such as China, Russia and Cuba. Bolivarian policies rub against the geopolitical norms and policies that the US imperialists and its allies prefer. [Notes from a webinar entitled “An Inside View of Venezuelan Resistance to US Imperialism and How to Build International Solidarity” recorded on April 23, 2020 and uploaded to the Facebook page “Stop the Machine! Create a New World!”] 

The Bolivarian government uses the oil industry as the “motor of its economy” to help the people.  The late President Hugo Chavez revived OPEC discussions independently and began reversing  privatization  by renationalizing its oil industry in 2001. He renegotiated the terms of contracts with big private players such as EXXON in 2007. When world oil prices were dipping in 2013, President Nicolas Maduro reopened OPEC discussions. That is when US President Obama started imposing coercive economic measures against Bolivarian Venezuela by Executive Order. These sanctions have since intensified. Today some $5 billion are frozen in various banks out of allegations of corruption and $30 billions of revenues have been lost from the Venezuela state corporation’s sister company in the US, Citco, which the US overtook. Thus, the capacity of the renewed state to provide and build services for the people has been drastically reduced. The people cannot acquire daily necessities because of the sanctions. It makes coping with COVID-19 especially hard. [ibid.] 

Vice-Chancellor Martinez describes this “bizarre context” wherein the US is employing a “maximum pressure strategy” to force the Bolivarian government to change. It has tried to take advantage of the switch in government and COVID-19. It is backing the most reactionary elements lead by Juan Guaidó  who block discussions with all the opposition parties in the Venezuelan national assembly, while the US is threatening military intervention unless President Maduro accept its “transition plan” to have Maduro step down and a coalition government chosen by the US take over. It has even proposed this plan to  the UN . It also continues its provocations, such as the outrageous, baseless indictment against the Maduro government for supposedly trafficking narcotics. “This [strategy] is basically overthrowing a government,” says Martinez. The US will not rule out a full scale, all-out military intervention. He describes “the biggest military mobilization in 30 years” going on in the waters surrounding Venezuela, in addition to land border incursions by mercenaries. This scenario of “hybrid war” poses a “very dangerous situation” for the peoples in Venezuela and the whole region. His government is calling for the US to step aside and allow parliamentary discussions to proceed in order to smooth out internal conflict. [ibid.]



WEST ASIA

West Asia (aka Middle East) is rife with conflict because of the long and brutal history of British colonialism, which the US inherited. The US and its partners in crimes against humanity including local reactionary leaders want to ensure that (1) transnational corporations have access to the oil and other industries, and (2) national independence and social liberation are thwarted. They are hostile to nationalized industry and social reforms, not just socialism. The Turkish state enjoys the support of its NATO allies in its barbaric campaigns to subdue labour and crush Kurdish self-determination movements in Turkey and Syria. Iraq remains in turmoil with Islamic state and NATO forces actively present trying to frustrate Iraqi independence. The US is constantly challenging Iran for its independent policies. The US, Canada and European states support Saudia Arabia’s attacks on Yemen, which is destroying Yemeni society and causing famine. (Canada has made deals to supply the Saudi military.) Since at least 2011, the US supported by its allies and mercenaries, and Islamic state terrorists have been assaulting Syria. Today part of Syria is occupied by Turkey and Israel. Millions of displaced Syrians have fled and are languishing in refugee camps with little protection from COVID.

Despite the US’ hypocritic claims about democracy, human rights and international law, US imperialism and reaction oppose Syria’s struggle for sovereignty and independence. Speaking in a webinar hosted by Sanctions Kill on May 9, 2020, the Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, explained that the “punitive and unlawful,” “unilateral, coercive measures” (i.e. sanctions) impede the Syrian government’s functions to support the health care sectors and finance responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never endorsed by the UN Security Council, the illegal sanctions have been blocking bank transfers and freezing Syria funds abroad. Price inflation has resulted. Trade and humanitarian assistance is greatly restricted, except that the US has allowed aid to reach terrorist factions in the west and north. Also, the EU refused entry to a Syrian aircraft sent to retrieve Syrians in Europe on May 9. Ambassador Ja’afari sums up the multi-pronged strategy of US-led imperialism as being “health terrorism,” “financial terrorism,” “education terrorism,” and “media terrorism” in addition to military action. [Click on the Facebook or Youtube video link on https://sanctionskill.org/resources-2/]

“All Arab lands are under some form of colonialism today,” said Palestinian activist and writer Khaled Barakat during a webinar broadcast on May 16. The webinar was hoted by ILPS member Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network [https://www.facebook.com/SamidounPrisonerSolidarity/].   After invading and destroying Iraq society, the US wants Iraq, an intersection of various nations and conflicts, to also serve as a second control in the region. Barakat elaborated that Israel, far from having evolved as a nation-state historically, was manufactured by British colonialsm and maintained by US neo-colonialism (aka present-day imperialism) expressly to serve capitalism and Western imperialism.  It is a settler colonizer. US-led imperialism supplies Israel with the arms and technology for it to be the strongest power in the region capable of protecting capitalism and maintaining reactionary rule, said Barakat. “Israel is a deathtrap,” asserted Barakat, one that desires to perpetuate conflict. Israeli reactionary and US imperialist discourse fog up the reality that Israel occupied Palestine. Religion is not the source of the conflict, as three religions have always existed in the Palestinian population. The Israel state always gets in the way of dialogue and cooperation in the region. Peoples’ self-determination movements, such as those in Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, have really just begun recently, claimed Barakat, with the only measure of success so far being Tunisia. 

The region is a pivotal arena of international struggle.  It is important to work together to build the anti-imperialist struggle and aim to build socialist societies that do not oppress the peoples. This way, anti-imperialists can push national liberation movements, at their own pace and according to each set of circumstances, unite with sectoral struggles, and march forward towards freedom and peaceful co-existence with social justice. 


SOUTH ASIA

On August 5, 2019, India clearly unmasked its imperialist face to the world. The Modi government in India revoked Article 370 of its constitution that had allowed the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK) a certain amount of autonomy: their own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. From that day onwards, the IOK has been under siege of the Indian military. More than 700,000 Indian troops have been deployed to the region, with the people of IOK facing a fresh onslaught of brutal killings, harassment, and persecution. The region has been completely cut off from all types of communication including mobile, and internet services. 
Kashmiri activists believe that the fascist Indian government is now following Israeli Zionist strategies to subjugate Kashmiri freedom fighters, which is well proven by statements by Indian officials. A Muslim majority area, the IOK faces fresh waves of killings with the ultimate goal of bringing in Hindu Indian settlers to change the demography as is happening in Occupied Palestine. There have been blatant statements about purchasing land in Kashmir and diverting foreign investments to the region. As part of the multi-polar world where imperialist powers are vying to annex and occupy territories, the fresh onslaught on IOK is part of the open race for control of raw materials, labor and markets. Rich in its natural bounty, the Kashmir is a key target for many reasons including its geo-political positioning.
There is little doubt that India is simultaneously flexing its muscles towards China, which also claims territorial rights to parts of IOK. This is also part retaliation to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement between China and Pakistan, the starting point of the corridor being Gilgit, and is considered by India to be part of the disputed territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir that is supposed to be under Pakistani control. 
India’s imperialist policies in IOK cannot be viewed solely on their own merit and need to be understood in the light of the current strong ‘bonding’ between fascist regimes of United States of America and India. Trump’s trip to India was an open acknowledgment of their combined political and economic ambitions in the Asia region, referred to as the Asian Century, which is where the future growth lies. No doubt, it’s the US hegemonic agenda and military power which India is counting upon for its aggressive posture in South Asia. 
The struggle between capitalist and people movements not only in Kashmir but across South Asia is rising where the various states, through nation-state lenses, are trying to divide the people’s movements and nullify their aspirations of national liberation. The test of time is not to fall sway to the slogans created by fascist regimes that foster religious and national divides, but to come together on the basis of collective peoples’ solidarity demanding social justice and long-lasting peace. This is no doubt only possible by engaging in resistance against monopoly capital.

CALLS TO ACTION

The imperialist system is the root of most of the major problems facing the people. It is imperative that the people rise together against it with a vision to constructing a new way, according to the people’s will and present regional conditions.

Organize, unite and mobilize to stop imperialism!               Deactivate all WMD!  Oppose the arms trade!
End all general economic coercive measures!                                End the occupations now!
Down with fascism and militarization!                                            Just peace!              

mercenaries

Posted on May 6, 2020 at 4:07 PM Comments comments (3)
Statement of the VenezuelaPeaceandSolidarityCommittee of Vancouver


DEFEND VENEZUELA AGAINST MERCENARIES ATTACKS!

The Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver (VPSC) steadfastly defends the Venezuelan Bolivarian government's swift action to put down a contingent of armed mercenaries on May 3. It has the right to defend its borders and territories, and act against attacks on its people and space. 

The foreign affairs ministry of Venezuela reports: "In the early hours of May 3, 2020, the Venezuelan Armed Force and the National Bolivarian Police repelled the incursion of a group of armed mercenaries into the coastal state of La Guaira. The mercenaries travelled from Colombia in speedboats and were planning, together with local accomplices, to initiate terrorist operations aimed at government institutions and state officials, according to testimony given by those captured." It states that eight of the mercenaries were killed and two captured in a battle. Venezuelan forces remain on high alert.

The Foreign Affairs desk further reports that the renegade retired Venezuelan, General Cliver Alcalá, is probably connected to this mercenary action as its intelligence has been learning that Alcala has been commanding the training of mercenary groups for months with the explicit aim to launch terrorist attacks including assassination attempts inside Venezuela. He is tied to Juan Guaido's and Leopoldo Lopez' coup attempt on April 30, 2019 and other conspiracies.

It is well known and accepted that the US government supports Guaido and other reactionaries and encourages destabilization efforts and coups. Colombia is a NATO ally. A repressive regime that is often responsible for extrajudicial killings of civilians, Colombia is viciously intent upon snuffing out labour organizing while it engages in war with guerrilla revolutionaries within its borders. It also plays a role as a platform for US militarization and interference in the region, in it shared interest in destroying socialist formations and advances in Latin America. 

VPSC thoroughly denounces US interference and demands it demilitarize and leave the region. VPSC also condemns the cruel regime of Colombia for its murders of labour and other peoples' organizers, its complicity in narcotics production and trafficking and mobilization of paramilitary and military forces against its own people while it blatantly supports transnational corporations that rob the resources. It is suspected that drug money is funding mercenary operations and coup attempts against Venezuela.

VPSC supports the Bolivarian movement and the social advances that help and protect the majority of the people in Venezuela. We join in calling for an end to the unlawful and devastating economic measures that are blocking trade and freezing Venezuela state assets. These measures cause suffering and death to Venezuelans and are especially despicable in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Long live the Bolivarian movement for social progress and human rights for Venezuelans! Down with US imperialism! US troops, go home! Down with the repressive and reactionary regime of Colombia!

Wild Animal Markets

Posted on April 22, 2020 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (56)
Given that the source of the COVID-19 pandemic could well be live animal markets in China, especially those selling wild animals, I have been playing a small part in discouraging wild animal markets.

There are many good reasons to close them down. First of all, numerous zoonotic diseases can easily sprout from them. In conditions of such markets are on the whole deplorable, with multiple, acutely stressed animals stacked into small cages without proper cleaning, that probability is heightened. Just do a simple "Google" to check and see images of these horrid sights yourself. 

Another thing is there typical location in the center of crowded cities where foot traffic is heavy, and passersby may frequently touch the animals and the cages, accelerating the passage of viruses from animals to humans. The vendor on duty may be holding a creature to lure customers.

In addition, the wild animals languishing in these terrible markets have probably been poached and imported clandestinely. The collectors and shippers are no doubt criminals robbing innocent creatures, even endangered ones, from prohibited areas. They steal from nature carelessly and treat the terrified beings roughly, packing them into vehicles, containers and ships or rail cars to haul them long distances. They thus enter foreign countries illegally and, of course, without proper shots and quarantine. Anything could happen in this scenario. It is to invite catastrophe as much as it is inhumane.

Finally, it is about time that human societies change their relationships with nature, both plants and animals. We need to treat them better, in an informed and kind way. People need to to conserve nature and protect life and biodiversity.

For all the above reasons, I have been commenting here and there on this topic, mostly on social media and in private conversations, to advocate against the poaching, trafficking and trading of wild animals. I have also made a Facebook page, after being shocked that no-one had done it before. 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/502759593748663/ 

I am also concerned for livestock on display in traditional street markets. The conditions and treatment of fowl, swine, etc. at these types of places need to be vastly improved in many of them. There should be more space, hygiene, care, respect and sense. They are also sources of viruses transferred from critters to people. 

US Foreign Policy

Posted on April 16, 2020 at 10:53 PM Comments comments (111)
THE MONROE DOCTRINE REMAINS A THREAT TO THE WORLD
-still the basis for US foreign policy regarding Europe and the Americas

Established by the US Congress over 196 years ago, the Montroe Doctrine still justifies the US' self-assigned right to dominate the Americas. It was mainly implemented to threaten European states with war should any of them attempt anew to expand their power over the Americas. However, it has great implications for all peoples of the Americas, mainly that the US assumed it ought to dominate and run the Americas.

The ambitions of the ruling elites in the US intensified throughout the 19th century into the 20th. They were keen on expanding and in direct competition with Western European powers to do so. Wrote M. Waxman about the MD in 2018, "This was drawing a red line—with an implicit war threat—even though the United States at the time lacked the military power to back it up. The United States was counting on Britain, which too wanted to keep continental European powers out of Latin America, to also intervene if necessary."(1)
Although the John Kerry, Secretary of State for the Obama administration, declared it defunct in 2013, President Trump has restored the Montroe Doctrine (MD) as a guide to ruling the Americas today. Max Friedman of American University (2017) wrote that Trump was especially keen on implementing it to keep China and the Russian Federation at bay. He is also interested on intervening in the Americas as deemed required.

While the US maintained a stance of isolationism with regards to Europe, it left a long legacy of interventionism in South and Central America and the Caribbean region. Explains Friedman, "Even in the 'isolationist' period in the early 20th century, the United States was vigorously engaged in military intervention and outright occupation of several countries in Latin America. The Marines were in Nicaragua (1912-33), Haiti (1915-34), and the Dominican Republic (1916-24)." (2)

Reuters recently reported on Trump's intention to enforce the MD (March 2, 2020). " 'Here in the Western Hemisphere we are committed to maintaining our independence from the intrusion of expansionist foreign powers,' Trump stated at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2018. 'It has been the formal policy of our country, since President James Monroe, that we reject interference by foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs,' he added cynically." (3) This statement reflects the high tensions between Europe and the US. It also implies its aggressive attitude toward all the Americas.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is busy making deals with right-wing and corporate factions in Latin America and the Caribbean in order to clear a path for US-based corporations and monopoly capitalism in general by weeding out communist and socialist-leaning elements there. It has repeatedly attempted to stage coups in Nicaragua and Venezuela. It was successful in accomplishing a military coup despite the results of democratic elections against Evo Morales in Bolivia. It has operated to help orchestrate putting the Right in power in Brazil and Ecuador, while it supports right-wing terrorist governments of Colombia, El Salvador and Honduras. Canada, the junior imperialist and lackey of the US, has functioned to manage the rogue group of right-wing state leaders known as the Lima Group, because the US and its pals cannot get its way with the legitimate Organization of the American States. 

However, the peoples of the Americas including the people in the US are organizing and demanding just peace. They are resisting war and the right-wing wave, despite some setbacks. In fact, several anti-imperialist and human rights conferences have been taking place. Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela offer just peace, model leadership and hope. 

(1)https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/Latin-America-Monitor/2017/0205/Is-Trump-resurrecting-the-Monroe-Doctrine 
(2)https://www.lawfareblog.com/anniversary-monroe-doctrine
(3)Reprinted in the March 2020 Newsletter of the Canadian Cuban Friendship Association ("From Monroe to Trump" page 7.

(Draft article prepared for the next ILPS Commission 4 Newsletter)

ceasefire

Posted on March 31, 2020 at 8:24 PM Comments comments (97)
STATEMENT OF ILPS COMMISSION 4 ON THE QUESTION OF CEASING HOSTILITIES DURING THE PANDEMIC
PEACE WITH SOCIAL JUSTICE! END IMPERIALIST OCCUPATION AND AGGRESSION!
SUPPORT THE JUST STRUGGLES OF THE PEOPLES FOR SOCIAL AND NATIONAL LIBERATION!
 
Commission 4 of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), an anti-imperialist alliance of organizations engaged in mass struggles, is concerned with wars of aggression and counter-revolution and nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction.
 
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, called for a global ceasefire in a statement issued on March 23, 2020. (https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sgsm20018.doc.htm) He wrote, “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.  It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
 
We agree with the spirit of this call. However, we wish to defend and protect the peoples currently in struggle for their survival, basic rights, basic services including health care, lands and sovereignty. They fight in self-defence against deprivation and hostile governments. Ultimately, we aspire to realize demilitarization and a halt to aggression and occupation, state terror and human rights violations. With this objective in mind, we cannot advise the peoples, armed or not, to give up their life and death struggles.
 
We act according to the principles of just peace, that is peace through negotiations for a resolution to the issues that cause peoples’ revolutions and resistance. Only if and when social justice—land, political and social reforms—are seriously addressed and settled should the people cease their struggles.
 
Consider the views of V. I. Lenin, as interpreted and explained by S. Gnosh in 1960: “https://www.marxists.org/archive/shibdas-ghosh/1959/07/x01.htm, undated) “It would be possible to effectively preserve lasting peace if the significance of the principal characteristic features of the present-day changed international situation is properly understood and the task of conducting peace movement is grounded solidly in intensifying the national liberation movements in colonies and semi-colonies and the struggles for socialism in capitalist countries.”
 
Therefore, we issue the following set of calls. We make these recommendations in the light of the global pandemic and the sound emergency measures to (1) minimize travel and (2) adjust state priorities to address health, food and housing first, ahead of non-productive sectors such as the military. It is an opportune moment to act in the interest of the welfare of all the peoples of the world.
 
Ø  cancel NATO missions, close NATO bases and send all NATO troops home
Ø  send all foreign troops to their home countries, including US troops
Ø  cancel all military exercises
Ø  end all general economic sanctions
Ø  free all political prisoners
Ø  cancel all arms trade and call for arms and military contract related production to be converted to the production of human necessities related to health care, food and housing
Ø  initiate a UN campaign to get states to reduce military spending and reprioritize their state responsibilities according to the UN Declaration on Human Rights, that on Indigenous peoples’ rights, and all universal standards set by the UN and other credible international bodies concerned with the rights and welfare of all

Ø  restrain states with penalties for continuing occupations, aggressions, economic sanctions and interference including regime change and elections rigging

War Measures

Posted on March 22, 2020 at 1:26 PM Comments comments (26)
NO WAR MEASURES ACT! Media in Canada seems to be pushing for it, but think about what it means. Army in the streets, police making random checks, raiding homes. Stop congratulating China, which can be blamed for allowing conditions where the virus thrived in the first place. Second, the official word of China cannot be trusted; it is notorious for misrepresenting the truth. It is evident China authorities suppressed doctors' warnings of the new virus in the beginning, punishing them for saying anything about it. Finally, let's look at China's enforcement: random body temperature checks done and anyone just with a high temperature hauled away by the police. (They can be many explanations for a fever.) Police welding doors to residences shut. People with other serious medical conditions not able to exit homes.

on economic sanctions

Posted on March 4, 2020 at 11:01 PM Comments comments (6)
END GENERAL ECONOMIC SANCTIONS NOW!
Statement for Global Days against Sanctions that Harm the People

Some solidarity and social justice organizations called for a global weekend of actions from March 13 to 15. The Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver (VPSC) joins in the actions against the blanket sanctions imposed by US imperialism and its allies that mostly aim to weaken states and movements of the people that stand up to imperialist interference, plunder and exploitation. Far from securing peace, human rights and economic development, they cause shortages of daily necessities and hardship to the working people. Also, they often rob a targeted state such as Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua and Venezuela of huge state revenues from international activities that could be employed to serve their people more.

Sanctions are causing suffering to Iranian, Venezuelan, North Korean, Nicaraguan, Cuban and other peoples. Today economic sanctions are a standardized form of economic warfare implemented by US imperialism against targeted states that stand in the way its exploitation and profits. They are part of its arsenal and are aggressive. Such sanctions are carried out despite widespread condemnation, as in the case of Cuba, for UN votes on the Cuban blockade have shown a vast majority of UN member states wish an end to the blockade. General economic sanctions punish entire populations. US sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua are illegal. Economic sanctions against North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran are cutting off basic supplies, blocking local commerce and trade and depriving the people, which has resulted in a lowered standard and held back development.

Although some political sanctions properly decided by international bodies and appropriately implemented might justifiably curb truly repressive regimes and reduce oppression, general economic sanctions destroy societies, intended to force them into submission by foreign powers.

When are sanctions justifiable? Take Israel, for example. It is a highly militarized state illegally occupying and colonizing Palestine. It inflicts terror and horror against civilian Palestine on a regular basis with the blessings of the US and its allies including Canada, France and Britain. However, Israel clearly commits crimes against humanity on a massive scale, with impunity. 
Concerned and justice-minded people around the world, however, participate in boycotts and divestment in solidarity with the Palestinian people. This campaign targets major corporations that sell arms and supplies to the Israeli war machine. Part of this campaign is the arms embargo, which advocates a stop to sales of arms and military contracts to Israel. It has had some success. Such is a worthwhile kind of sanction. The UN could do more; it could suspend membership. Other states could maintain diplomatic distance.

There are situations crying out for action against viciously repressive regimes, such as the Duterte regime of the Philippines that has continued an all-out war on the people. It regularly unleashes terror on communities who are struggling to survive acute poverty and defending the right to life and livelihood with peace and social justice. In the pretext of fighting communism, the state national police and armed forces, with the aid of the US, carry out extrajudicial killings of civilian community leaders, labour organizers, protesters, human rights defenders and journalists. Crimes against humanity are the norm in the Philippines. Still, countries including Canada carry on business as usual, awarding aid and trading with the corrupt and bloody-minded bureaucratic-capitalist and land-owning elite. Other states could stop such business dealings and refuse to sell arms. The US could pull its troops out of the region and stop training and supplying the regime. Such would be sanctions that would help the people of the Philippines. Also, other states could cooperate by maintaining diplomatic distance, in such a way as not to harm migrant Filipino workers. Again, here is a context in which a UN measure to suspend membership would be just. It is also a context in which support for the peace talks and the peoples’ demands for land, social and political reforms should be strongly insisted.

In Venezuela, food and household supplies are plentiful in the upscale urban districts. Perhaps to take advantage of the effects of the blockade and the expectation of shortages, prices have been jacked up astronomically. Medium and small-sized businesses have not been able to access some materials for production and sale, owing to high pricing or unavailability. There may be some withholding and hoarding of goods. In poorer areas, restaurants and shops have little to offer customers. Some Venezuelans have chosen to leave the country. Regional tourism is at a standstill. Fortunately, the pro-people government, with the assistance of benefactors and genuine humanitarian agencies such as the Red Cross, has a food program to deliver rations to those in real need. As well, it is assisting communities to spearhead local, micro-farming initiatives to create self-sustaining food sources. There are strategies of sharing and self-reliance in the communes. Where necessary, charities and churches dispense hot meals to school children and families. They solicit funds from foreigners so that they can pay for food and distribute it. It is amazing that the Bolivarian government under Chavez and subsequently by Maduro has been able to proceed with providing free transportation, education and healthcare as well as constructing houses under these conditions. It has worked hard to build understanding and make special deals with friendly states, so as to restore some trade. It could do so much more for the people if the billions of dollars of funds held abroad were released, and if billions of dollars in revenues from trade were flowing normally.

The VPSC demands an end to the illegal and cruel economic measures against the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan people imposed by the US aided by its friends such as Canada. Unfreeze the Venezuela state funds withheld abroad and return them to the government of Venezuela. End the blockades against Cuba and North Korea. End the general economic sanctions against Iran. Diplomatic and select trade sanctions against real oppressors who violate the rights of the people and pose real threats. Take a stand against imperialist aggression and domination in all its forms, military or economic or otherwise. Opt for negotiations as much as possible; no military invasions or coups. Canada, stop meddling!

Bolivia solidarity

Posted on February 22, 2020 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (32)
Solidarity for the people of Bolivia!

At the international, anti-imperialist conference held in Caracas on Jan. 24, Pres. Maduro announced a call for a global day of solidarity with the Bolivian people, citing February 25.

The Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver joins in expressing strong solidarity with the people of Bolivia. We deplore the recent coup that destroyed the advancement of Bolivian people's quality of life, independence and rights. We support the people's movement, especially that of the indigenous people, lead by the champion of workers', farmers' and indigenous peoples' rights, the unjustly ousted President Evo Morales. Desiring a return to the exploitation and plunder of Bolivian resources and people, US imperialism and its friends in the military and elite of Bolivia schemed against the people and their leader, Evo Morales. At the last national elections, they propagated rumours of election fraud in the countryside and spread doubt about the election results which showed Morales and his party as the victors. Their claims being hollow, it took the mobilization of reactionary and Right wing forces within the military to force President Morales out of the country and seize the rule from the people for the benefit of the upper classes and imperialism. We denounce this coup. We support efforts to counter this coup, bring the truth to light and restore the Bolivian people's independent democracy with Evo Morales back in the seat of state power.

Furthermore, we condemn the renegade group of right-wing states known as the Lima Group. We deplore their austerity measures, repression and terror against their peoples and selfish rule for personal profit. We especially denounce the Canadian state's role in facilitating counter-revolutionary strategy and supporting anti-people governments and policies throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Trudeau and company should stop assisting the Lima Group and refrain from meddling in and misrepresenting the facts about those regions.