Americas

Jose del Paso and Tom Trottier from Socialist Revolution (the IMT in the USA) interviewed former Amazon employee, Chris Smalls, who was fired following his attempt to organize a strike at one of the company’s Staten Island facilities over health concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. After terminating his job, Amazon attempted to use him as a scapegoat to tarnish organizing efforts by Amazon workers nationwide. Chris went on to found the Congress of Essential Workers, an alliance of workers who fight for higher wages and better working conditions for essential workers.

Today is the birthday of Julio Antonio Mella: a Cuban revolutionary and founder of the Cuban Communist Party, who was assassinated in 1929. We celebrate the legacy of this outstanding young Marxist, who embodied the best traditions of the communist movement, and gave his life in service of the working-class of Latin America and the whole world. The following text was first presented at the first International Seminar on the Life and Ideas of Leon Trotsky in Havana, Cuba, in May 2019.

On Tuesday, March 16, eight people, including six women of East Asian descent, were shot and killed at three separate spas in the Atlanta, Georgia area. The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, is a white man who had a history of frequenting Asian massage parlors, including the site of his first attack, to obtain sexual services. Although Georgia law enforcement and the FBI are reluctant to label this atrocity as a hate crime, these attacks highlight how racism, sexism, and all the ills of capitalism have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic is out of control in Brazil. According to official data, at the time of writing (21 March) there have already been more than 294,000 people killed by COVID-19. Approximately 2,000 new deaths are registered on average every day. When underreporting is taken into account, these figures are likely to be significantly higher.

On 11 March 2021, the Leon Trotsky House Museum held an online event to celebrate the 95th birthday of Esteban Volkov, Leon Trotsky’s grandson and lifelong defender of the historical truth of the life and work of the great revolutionary. Hundreds of people from around the world followed the event, which consisted of three separate panels of individuals associated with Esteban Volkov and the Trotsky museum.

Brazil is beating records for the number of daily deaths due to COVID-19, and at the time of writing, the country has exceeded 260,000 casualties. Added to this is the collapse of the country’s health system, with the occupation of beds exceeding 80 percent of capacity in 16 states and the Federal District, with nine states exceeding 90 percent capacity. Read the original in Portuguese, originally published 4 March.

Paraguay is witnessing a social explosion. Police repression of mass protests at the government mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis left one dead and 18 injured on Friday 5 March. Fearing the masses on the streets, President Mario Abdo forced the resignation of half a dozen ministers and offered dialogue. The masses have remained on the streets demanding that “they should all go” (“que se vayan todos”).

A universal basic income (UBI) is being seriously discussed across Canada, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the various federal benefit programs. UBI is an unconditional payment made to all citizens and is usually a guaranteed, cash-based payment that all citizens receive regardless of income or tax bracket. There are proposals for UBI coming from both the left and the right. Superficially at least, UBI proposals can look quite attractive for the left, but what position should socialists take? Note: this article was written in

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Last week, a devastating winter storm hammered Texas and wreaked havoc on 90% of the state’s energy infrastructure. The crisis caused a loss of heat, unreliable water utilities, and structural damage to homes. A projected four million people were without power at one point. Nearly 70 deaths have been attributed to this disaster, and magnitudes more are experiencing hardships and desperation.

The 2021 Montreal Marxist Winter School was truly an unprecedented event. More than 1,150 people registered to participate in the school, which had ten presentations over three days, making this by far the largest Canadian Marxist meeting in recent memory. With big class battles on the horizon, the forces of Marxism are growing in preparation. 

Yesterday, the Senate acquitted Donald Trump of inciting the Capitol riot on 6 Jan. Although seven Republicans joined the Democrats to vote 'guilty', this was short of the two-thirds majority required to find Trump guilty. Despite a furious speech attacking the ex-president, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also voted to acquit. As explained in this article (published last month by our US comrades), the GOP is divided from top to bottom between MAGA true believers, opportunists looking to ride Trump's coattails, and career politicians intimidated by his reactionary voter base. The future of a cornerstone of the bourgeois political system hangs in the balance.

The Ecuadorian election on 7 February produced a clear victory for the left-wing candidate Andrés Arauz, but not enough to prevent a second round. There is a very close tie for the second position between the capitalist oligarchy’s preferred candidate Guillermo Lasso and the “indigenous” candidate Yaku Perez. 

In the last few weeks, there has been an escalation in the verbal attacks from the Venezuelan government against the revolutionary left. These attacks, by president Maduro and National Assembly speaker Jorge Rodríguez, have been directed particularly at the APR: the Popular Revolutionary Alternative, a political platform that gathers several parties and organisations to the left of Maduro’s government. Very serious allegations have been made, including the charge that the left opposition to the government is acting in cahoots with US imperialism.

At the end of January 2021, we arranged an interview with comrade José Salas, a communist worker, who told us about the origins of the San Rafael neighbourhood in La Pintana, the fight against Pinochet's dictatorship, and the Hugo Manascero Soup Kitchen. In the Octubre group of the International Marxist Tendency in Chile, we consider it very important to give a voice to working-class activists, contributing their experience to historical memory.

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Santiago Rising, the new Alborada Films documentary by Nick MacWilliam, is a powerful portrayal of the insurrectionary uprising that shocked Chile at the end of 2019, Diego Catalán writes.

On 13 February, the Marxist Student Federation will host a screening of Santiago Rising followed by a Q&A session with the director, Nick MacWilliam, and Carlos Cerpa (from the IMT Chile-Octubre).

A strike by refuse workers in Brazil against job losses and state repression has ended after 15 days with an important, partial victory. We publish below a report by our Brazilian comrades of Esquerda Marxista from yesterday (available here in Portuguese), giving a balance sheet of the strike. Additionally, we publish an earlier report (Portuguese here) giving some further background on these events.