On 2 June 2014, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative People’s Party announced that King Juan Carlos was to abdicate in favour of his son. Joey Simons reports from Barcelona.
At the 6th BRICS summit held on 15-16 July 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) announced the creation of a New Development Bank and multilateral reserve fund. This is a direct alternative to the dominance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank and represents a significant challenge to the US and EU. The new bank gives countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, which are explicitly building and working towards socialism, access to trade, credit and investment without having to accept the dictates of US and EU imperialism.
US forces will continue to occupy Afghanistan until at least the end of 2016. In June, President Obama announced that around 9,800 troops will remain after the end of this year when combat forces are supposed to be withdrawn. That number is intended to be halved by the end of 2015. In an agreement with the Afghan government, the US will retain without trial around 50 prisoners at Bagram air base and be able to incarcerate anyone else they regard as ‘enduring security threats’.
In Catalunya, as in Europe and across the world, the movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people is growing. Tens of thousands of people in Barcelona and cities and towns across the Autonomous Community have taken part in protests and actions since the latest slaughter in Gaza began. The strength of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is also increasing, demanding an immediate end to collaboration between the governments of both Catalunya and the Spanish state with the Zionist regime. However, the BDS movement is also exposing the role of the Zionist regime in repression within Europe itself. Solidarity with Palestine must be central to the social movements fighting austerity at home. JOEY SIMONS reports from Barcelona.
‘For Glasgow 2014 we will be using the appropriate mix of police officers, security guards, stewards, and military personnel as part of our planned operation, Police Scotland and the Organising Committee are confident that Glasgow 2014 will be a success in every sense, an event that will be remembered for years to come and one that athletes, spectators and the people of Glasgow and Scotland can fully enjoy.’ (Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Steve Allen, Security Director for the Commonwealth Games, November 2013)
For the Scottish ruling class the 2014 Games represent an opportunity, not only to further line their pockets, but to escalate the normalisation of militarised policing. From 23 July – 3 August two thousand British soldiers and thousands of police and private security guards are here in Glasgow with extensive use of surveillance CCTV cameras and helicopters. But what happens after the Games – will Police Scotland Constable Sir Stephen House, the man who recently authorised officers on routine duties to carry firearms (most notably Glock 17 semi-automatic pistols), take down the security fortress he has put so much effort into building? Think again!
On Saturday 5 July, supporters of FRFI joined the first march of the Focus E15 campaign. 150 people, including representatives from over 25 organisations, marched through the London borough of Newham, beginning and ending in East Ham Central Park. Passing Newham Town Hall twice, the marchers made their feelings known about Newham’s Labour Mayor, Robin Wales, with messages about the housing crisis being attached to the railings. The campaign’s message was heard loud and clear all along the route – social housing, not social cleansing!
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.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 239 June/July 2014
In May the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that Britain should take action over soaring house prices. On 18 May, Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney said: ‘… the biggest risk to financial stability, and therefore to the durability of the expansion [of the economy] – those risks centre in the housing market ...’ Their worry is that the government’s ‘Help to buy’ scheme may be fuelling a housing bubble. Despite all this anxiety, you would be hard-pushed to find any concern that the housing crisis is making the lives of working class people miserable. What upsets these mandarins is that ‘overheating’ in the property market will damage Britain’s economic recovery (that is, profit-making capabilities) and risk another banking crash. The capitalist class is only concerned about housing the working class insofar as it affects their profits.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 239 June/July 2014
The Immigration Bill became law on 14 May. It includes:
These measures are the latest stages in a process of using immigration controls to divide the working class into special categories of super-exploited labour. They are a particularly vicious and racist element of the wider attempt to make it increasingly difficult to survive without accepting whatever work is on offer, no matter how low the wages or how poor the conditions. Tom Vickers reports.