15 years of incarceration and injustice!
Coordinadora de Cubanos Residentes en Francia
Colectivo entre Amigos (Francia)
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 237 February/March 2014
The revelation that possibly 15% of all tenants forced to pay the bedroom tax are in fact exempt because of a legal error must give hope to those fighting this vicious attack on the working class.
Described in the media as a ‘loophole’, it is in fact down to the criminal incompetence of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) who ignored clauses in housing benefit regulations set out in 2006. This error means that any tenant who has been on housing benefit since before 1 January 1996 and who has been occupying the same house over that period is exempt from paying the bedroom tax.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 237 February/March 2014
On 13 January 2014, Spanish President Mariano Rajoy visited the US White House for the first time. The Spanish delegation brought entrepreneurs from major companies to meet their US counterparts, in the hope of persuading them to invest in Spain. Rajoy tried to enhance the figures, which show a slight economic growth of 0.3%. Obama praised the effort but pointed out the challenge of reducing unemployment. The most recent official figures show an employment rate of only 44%, with many of these underemployed. Overtime is unpaid and there is a worrying growth of one-day contracts. The arrogance and corruption of the political class, in conjunction with the appalling conditions in some working class areas are fuelling popular unrest. JUANJO RIVAS reports.
On 12 February, fascists attacked the presidential Miraflores Palace in Caracas and the Attorney General's office. Exploiting the 12 February Day of Youth celebrations, when annual processions commemorate the role of youth in the independence battle in La Victoria in 1814, violent groups of masked thugs took to the streets in several cities across Venezuela. During clashes with revolutionary forces in Caracas and Merida, student Basil de Costa and community activist Juan Montoya were killed, and 23 were injured.
FRFI supporters in Manchester have been following the emerging campaigns against fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in North West England, which recently have centred on Barton Moss, near Salford. Fracking is a threat to the health and welfare of the local community at a time of savage cuts to social spending, as well as high local rates of poverty. And yet the local Labour council has given the go-ahead for the Igas company to carry out 'exploratory' drilling at a depth of up to 3,000m. We have attended three demonstrations and witnessed the mounting police violence. Martin Harrison reports.
Among Prime Minister David Cameron’s most crass utterances must be his December declaration that the British campaign in Afghanistan was ‘mission accomplished’ – the same ill-fated phrase used by President Bush after the invasion of Iraq! Even the most deluded apologist for imperialism would concede that the Taliban are poised to re-take large parts of the country; that Al Qaeda (never a significant presence in Afghanistan) is now expanding exponentially in parts of the Middle East and Africa and that Afghanistan is governed by a non-democratic bunch of gangsters. Labour Defence Secretary John Reid launched Britain’s present phase of the invasion, hoping ‘not a shot would be fired in anger’. Some 26 million rounds of ammunition later 447 British service personnel have been killed, together with over 3,000 from other occupying forces and tens of thousands of the Afghan people. Almost three-quarters of the Afghan people have no access to safe water, half of them do not have enough to eat and, of those children that survive to the age of five, 60% suffer from malnourishment. Meanwhile, according to one estimate, 90% of development aid is siphoned off by the rich elite, putting Afghanistan equal top of Transparency International’s league of corruption. As for Britain’s campaign to eradicate opium production, poppy harvests have reached record levels.
The coalition government of Greece does not lose an opportunity to point out that its austerity programme is working, having achieved a surplus in its current account of almost one billion euros for 2013, the first such surplus in 12 years. But at what human cost? The result of the savage cuts imposed on Greece by the Troika of the European Union, IMF and European Central Banks is a bleak spiral of deteriorating conditions for the Greek people. Access to the basics of life: food, housing, heating and health care, is constantly cut back and restricted. These are deliberate economic policies designed to reduce costs, restore profitability and so shift wealth from the working class to the ruling class.
Over recent months Ireland has been elevated to ‘model pupil’ status by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) for its obedience in implementing devastating austerity measures. In December 2013 Ireland became the first Eurozone country to formally exit a bailout programme. In 2008 it became the first country in Europe to enter recession and in November 2010 it accepted a joint EU/IMF bank bailout package worth over €85bn (£72bn) in order to stabilise the unravelling economy. Part of the deal forced the Dublin government to introduce more than 200 austerity programmes, implementing structural reforms such as a property tax as well as severe slashing of public spending. The Fine Gael/Labour coalition elected in 2011 has claimed to be aiming at regaining ‘Ireland’s economic sovereignty’. Despite the optimistic headlines, the fundamental causes of the crisis remain. The Irish people continue to face the devastating social consequences.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 236 December 2013/January 2014
The ConDem coalition’s attack on state welfare is not working. Despite savage benefit cuts, the overall cost of state welfare has not fallen. However, the government’s response – a mixture of lies and threats to slash eligibility and benefit levels even further, especially those for disabled people – shows that austerity is not about economics, but politics. The coalition is determined to shift the balance of class forces decisively against the working class, and the absence of significant resistance only encourages it to intensify the onslaught. But where people do come together and challenge the cuts, victories can be won – collective, community-based organisation is the key to resistance. ROBERT CLOUGH reports.