International Writers Magazine: Comment
the 1st of May, 1886 a group of trade union activists in the city
of Chicago in the United States called for a one day strike demanding
shorter working hours. The campaign continued over the next few
days, plagued by riots that ended in tragedy in an open market
place in Des Plaines Ave. During a protest meeting called to denounce
certain events that had taken place at one of the factories a
bomb was hurled at the police causing the instantaneous death
of one officer and that of seven others a few days later.
The aftermath was
even more gruesome. Julius Grinnel, a vindictive State Attorney ordered
a fierce roundup of possible suspects that concluded in the arrest,
conviction and ordered execution of seven supposed culprits
accused of inflammatory speeches and publications that had
incited the mob to rioting. Although four of the men died, three were
hung and one committed suicide, seven years later, on June 26, 1893,
Governor John Altgeld pardoned the remaining three prisoners. None of
the arrested was ever proven to have thrown the bomb in the first place.
However, these martyrs did not die in vain. They aroused the sympathy
of workers the world over. There isnt a left wing party, trade
union or blue collar worker in the world today that does not celebrate
the 1st of May as the International Labour Day. Ironically, it was never
adopted in the United States.
Things havent changed much. 120 years later, on this same day
in May, millions of supposed oppressed workers across the
globe take to the streets together with their union bosses and left-wing
political leaders to demand better wages, less working hours, more social
freebees and a myriad of other unidentifiable benefits in
order to improve their quality of life. In Paris, the chanting was aimed
at the recent success of student and other strike action that revoked
the French governments aim of introducing a law that tried to
curb unemployment. In Berlin, the main concern was aimed at chancellor
Merkels attempts to reduce social and other benefits eating into
the German economy. In Manila they even went as far as asking for the
resignation of the Philippine president. Back here in Spain there wasnt
much to bitch about because the Socialist government has more or less
given away the family silver. Recent legislation has included
among other goodies, equal womens rights, immigrant workers consolidation
and a plethora of social benefits aimed at keeping the populous happy.
But like all human beings, be they workers, trade unionists or politicians,
everyone wants more and more.
Many other interesting events have taken place apart from the Workers
Unite celebrations throughout the world. There were more killings
in Iraq, another earthquake occurred near Tonga in the Far East, Israels
new government has managed to consolidate a workable coalition with
Ehud Olmert as president and Charles Clark, the British Interior Minister
is accused of laxity in punishing thousands of delinquent immigrants
by setting them free without further trace. Yet the news that really
takes top of the honours list on the 1st of May is the massive strike
that occurred in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of illegal
immigrants taking to the streets to demand justice and equal rights
against their precarious conditions. Marches took place in cities as
far apart as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Large consumer goods
corporations likeTyson Foods and Gallo Wines had to close their doors
as most of the workers were low cost immigrants who virtually have said,
enough is enough. All this palaver has come about because
this collective of over 12 millions human workers are demanding that
their situation is legalised once and for all. Some have been working
under cover for over 5 years.
But this is not the only set back for George Bushs administration.
Our friend Evo Morales, the newly elected President of Bolivia has decided
to join the growing anti-American pact known as the Bolivar Alternative
for the Americas promoted by Cuba and Venezuela to upset and boycott
the original Latin American Free Trade Association, championed by the
USA that is the economic corner stone for the whole area. Bang goes
George Bushs hopes of influencing friends and people right on
his own door step. This new compromise, know as ALBA intends
to stop the USs so called imperialist threat in both political
and economic cooperation down South. How do these three neo-liberals
if quasi-communist countries intend to finance the deal? Pretty simple.
Venezuela has oil, Cuba has know how and poor Bolivia, well,
they have Soya beans and an illiterate population. The three countries
have decided to pool together and scratch each others backs. But
wait! Something has been left out. Bolivia also has oil and gas reserves.
Trouble is that they are in the hands of foreign investors such as Petrobras
from Brazil and Repsol-YPF, a joint venture between Spain and Argentina.
No problem, says Evo to Fidel and Hugo. Ill
nationalise! Bingo. Another 1st of May celebration. The Bolivian
government sends in the troops to protect all the oil installations,
nearly jails the Board of Directors (Spain and Argentine executives)
and sends another May celebration blast across the world.
The results of all this? To start with, Perus President, Alejandro
Toledo calls back his ambassador to Venezuela because Hugo Chavez has
started to meddle in Perus internal politics. Lula, the Brazilian
president is having a nervous fit. 14% of Bolivias oil production
is in Petrobras hands and that means millions of dollars! Spains
Prime Minister, Rodriguez Zapatero, having cooed and wooed all three
extreme left wing presidents in the past is having to bite his tongue
and goes back to the drawing board. His Spanish oil executives are not
And what about George Bush and the Republicans.
Well to start with, and apart from the anti-American rhetoric, for once
the US cannot be blamed for this entire shenanigan started by Evo Morales
and his two cronies. Gulf Oil pulled out of Bolivia years ago. Hugo
Chavez has been insulting America for some time now. And Fidel Castro?
Well, hes been around for decades and Washington has almost accepted
that one day hell fall by his own weight. The real danger is in
Ive recently finished a novel on Latin America (The GOA
file) that delves into the historical era between 1945 and 1982.
Dictatorships, military take-overs, democracies coming and going, you
name it, it all took place in most countries from the Rio Grande down
to Patagonia. What did emerge in my in depth research was that during
the 1970s and 80s the US administration were poking their
fingers in every Latin American pie, and both the CIA and Pentagon were
hell bent in curbing the surge of Communism. Marxist oriented terrorist
organisations were rampant throughout the region.
My question today is quite simple. Will history repeat itself?
© James Skinner. May 4th , 2006.
Goa File by James Skinner
Morales - Bolivia Presidente
James Skinner on Venezuelan politics
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