I’m still in Leon, and we have 25000 evacuated people here. roofs blown off, etc.
I was actually here in my room, preparing the conference of a political party in Norway. The storm was pretty bad, but suddenly the lights went out, and about 10 mins later some of the other living here knocked on the door, advising me to get out an into the kitchen, as a giant Mango-tree looked like it might fall and smash my room.
So I stood in the kitchen for a while (a few hours). The kitchen is halfway outdoors, and so I secured the door leading out with a refrigerator. When the wind started dying down, I walked out and around town. That surely wasn’t very safe, but I needed food. Most trees on the way had fallen, and so had a lot of the electrical installation. In addition, the streets were flooded, and people were running everywhere quite frantically.
I recently went to Northern Ireland, to the city of Belfast. The Left has generally supported those pro-catholics, who are working for a united Ireland as a part of a national liberation struggle from London rule. I decided to interview representatives of progressive parties on either side on the issues that socialists should really care about — social issues — to see how different they really are in their day-to-day politics in these current times of peace. This is the last of three parts, in which I conclude after having interviewed Hugh Smyth from the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and Paul Maskey from the socialist Irish-republican Sinn Feinn party.
So there we go. I interviewed a representative of a progressive party on either side of the divide, and their answers were remarkably similar.
< %image(20080524-local_needs.jpg|1979|782|Local demands against profit rather than alliance with one EU-country or another can be seen in Belfast as well.)%>
Let us review their answers once more:
PM: Paul Maskey (Sinn Fein)
HS: Hugh Smyth (HS)
HS: not opposed to rich apartments, but percentage needs to be affordable
PM: not against private houses, but more social housing
I recently went to Northern Ireland, to the city of Belfast. The Left has generally supported those pro-catholics, who are working for a united Ireland as a part of a national liberation struggle from London rule. I decided to interview representatives of progressive parties on either side on the issues that socialists should really care about — social issues — to see how different they really are in their day-to-day politics in these current times of peace. This is the second of three parts, me interviewing Paul Maskey, member of the Northern Irish Assembly for Sinn Fein, in his office in Western Belfast. Part three with the conclusion will follow tomorrow.
< %image(20080522-Paul_Maskey.jpg|1154|1991|Paul Maskey (Sinn Fein) claims to represent progressive republicanism.)%>
- Ehm, yeah, the first thing is I noticed when walking around
there was quite a bit of graffiti against gentrification.
- ehm, there are apparently apartment buildings that eh… are
for the let’s say those who have more money.
- Ehm… whereas others complain about lack of public
I recently went to Northern Ireland, to the city of Belfast. The Left has generally supported those pro-catholics, who are working for a united Ireland as a part of a national liberation struggle from London rule. I decided to interview representatives of progressive parties on either side on the issues that socialists should really care about — social issues — to see how different they really are in their day-to-day politics in these current times of peace. This is the first of three parts, me interviewing Hugh Smyth, founder and former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and current member of the Belfast City Council, representing his small, but locally very present party, in his office in the Shankill Road in Western Belfast. Parts two and three will follow tomorrow and the day after
< %image(20080521-Hugh_Smyth.jpg|1704|2272|Hugh Smyth is standing outside his office in the Shankills Road.)%>
- Ok, here we go… ehm.. yeah…
Hugh Smyth (PUP)
- Who.. what are you enquiring?
Hugh Smyth (PUP)
- [door opens, interchange between office worker and HS]
- And I’m trying to look at what kind of policies you have.
That.. what you.. what kind of policies you support..
Hugh Smyth (PUP)
This post was written almost two years ago now, in August 2006. Although the person mentioned apparently isn’t dead yet (or he wasn’t when I checked a few weeks ago), I now feel comfortable publishing it for technical reasons.
I just left Douglas, heading south, not really knowing if or when I will ever return.
My last stay in Douglas, AZ, has been a rather odd experience. For one thing, some people have read the book and reacted at least partially negative on some of my points. Specifically the fact that it is written in a Marxist framework is hard to understand for most probably.
However, even more odd is, I believe the fact that so many people have not reacted very much at all and that generally it seems as if not much has changed since I left last time.
One person stroke it rich though. Bicycle Peter (in the first edition of the book called “Bicycle Victor”) managed to receive around 82000USD in disability compensation. Those who have read the book might recall that Bicycle Peter is 77 years old and had been in the Korean War. From there he was relocated to Japan after an incident, and he met a prostitute, whom he grew to love and wanted to marry. Although that marriage never actually happened, he has since almost only been dating prostitutes across the line in Mexico.
But Peter has spent the money already. Part of it went into a new car (though no money is left for gas), some debts were paid, and the two houses of his girlfriend’s family in Chihuahua were fixed. “They are both big enough to put a small airplane in them,” Peter explains.
< %image(20060818-Bicycle_Peter.jpg|2272|1704|Bicycle Peter with his new car -- gas he cannot afford)%>
Update: Today, Saturday May 17th, the strike has ended after 12 days. Transport workers will get subsidies of 1.30 USD/gallon, but cargo transport will be excluded from that offer as they are “not regulated”. Where the money for that suddenly comes from is unclear.
The Central American Republic of Nicaragua was in the 1980s portrayed as one of the greatest communist threats in the western hemisphere. Once the political right won presidential elections in 1990s, the ideological education so many had received for a decade suddenly didn’t seem to have mattered. That is until now, in May 2008 little more than a year after the Sandinistas regained the presidency with a promise of national reconciliation, when transport workers take to the streets, shut down all public transport built barricades on major highways and demand for the government to go back to politics of price control and subsidization. Now running on its 9th consecutive day with all talks between drivers and government not anywhere close to a positive the solution, the immediate future of Nicaragua is uncertain.
< %image(20080514-tronque.jpg|1920|1080|Transport workers in León at the exit to Managua, trying to stopp trafic at least semi-permanently)%>
The strike started on May 5th. The first day only busses between major cities stopped while city busses and taxis in Managua as well as busses between minor destinations continued to operate. Since then all transportation has been shut-down with the exception of occasional pirate taxis. In the city of León drivers have set up camp at the exit of the highway to Managua, and most afternoons they block each lane for ten minutes at a time to stop most traffic, although only past Tuesday did it end up with violent confrontations between police and demonstrators.
The demand brought forth by the transport cooperatives are frozen petrol prices at the equivalent of 2.88 USD/gallon or 0.49 Euro/L for public transport, as they claim is the case for those operating in Managua already. Currently prices run around 5.18 USD/gallon or 0.88 Euro/L. The money that is to be used on this is the money that the government allegedly has access to through an oil deal with Venezuela which lets the country buy oil at market price, but with only 50% having to be paid within 90 days and the remainder in 23 years with an extremely low 2% interest rate. The government on the other hand claims that there isn’t sufficient funding available for such heavy subsidization and that part of the available funds are to be used for other projects, such as anti-hunger measures, micro-credits for small shop owners and road infrastructure measures.
< %image(20080514-skader.jpeg|3680|2760|Workers presenting wounds inflicted upon them by the police)%>
Hey everybody. It’s not like I’m not experiencing anything. I’ve been studying in London, went to Belfast and interviewed representatives of opposing but leftist/socialist parties, I went all across the States from Portland, OR to Miami, FL, stopping by in Berkley/Oakland, CA, Douglas/Tucson, AZ and NOLA (all by land) while meeting tons of people. And I’ve started fieldwork here in Nicaragua where I meet and talk to everything from open source software students (explaining to them all about LAMP) to hardline Sandinistas involved in land occupations, backpackers of all types and intellectual elites.
<%image(20080503-Photo_18.jpg|640|480|Johannes -- thinking)%>
I started writing a number of texts, but I just can’t get myself to finish anything to be published. Maybe I’ll do sometime in the future, but don’t count on it. I don’t really think I’m obligated to tell anyone why, but it’s just how it happens to be. If nothing else, it was getting boring having a constant deadline waiting for me just around the corner.
If you really want to know what I’m doing, it’s probably best to send me an email or contact me on Facebook (email: j.wilm (a) gold.ac.uk), and I’m sure I’ll tell you something or other, depending on who you are.
PS: If you are from Denmark/Norway (or feel close to those countries), check out the national campaign websites for these countries to get their soldiers home from Afghanistan that I’ve created recently: Norway & Denmark.