At the end of April, I passed through Tegucigalpa, Honduras and spoke there with Kely Estefanie Nuñez and Erlin Guitierrez. Both are activists of the “Socialist Student Front” (FES), a group that emerged after the military coup in 2009 in the second public university, the National Pedagogical University Francisco Morazan (UPNFM). The FES has been one of the most active groups at the university since then.
I interviewed Kely and several of the other FES activists last year on their activities (in Spanish):
Now the two activists have been excluded from the university. The management accuses the two having started and led student protests. Specifically, they are accused of violating Article 114 of the Academic Rules of the UPNFM in the following points:
Intentional disobedience manifested towards UPNFM authorities on issues with institutional interest, with a tendency of insubordination,
Organizing events involving the name of the UPNFM or association of students for personal gain,
Suspend work in order to perform tasks or activities without prior approval of the rectory or leadership of the center
Encourage students to revolt against the authorities or against established rules that are to insure the efficient operation of the UPNFM,
perform acts that damage the public image of the institution,
publicly denigrate the institution internally or externally.
In other words, there is nothing of substance in the accusations – any young person going will break such ‘rules’ any day if the institution decides to interpret it that way.
And this is not the first time they are accused of this “crime”. The last time (last year), Kely was ordered to seek “psychological therapy” to get rid of their rebellious tendencies. Although both Kely and Erlin were quite active, on this particular day (the 7th of March, when there was a peaceful march against increments in gas prices which ended in an attack by the police), the two told me they were not even among the main organizers. Erlin was at home, and Kely was in class (organic chemistry).
After listening to a lot of debates lately on who should give more and who has given a lot to the earth quake effort in Haiti, I decided to do some number crunching myself. Arguments such as “Denmark only gives 10 million, but it should give 50 million Danish Kr.” make little sense if one has nothing to compare it to. This overview excludes all help that is not given in the form of money and or that does not come from a country. Also, in case aid has not been listed on Wikipedia yet, or in case aid that was promised and never materializes, it will skew the picture on this overview as well. I may try to update it a few times, but can not guarantee that it represents an accurate reflection on what is being listed on the corresponding Wikipedia page at all times.
If you want the Open Office spreadsheet file I used to create this image or want to send in corrections, please use the above email.
Status 25th of January 2010:
Brazil gives twice as much as the US in total amount of support
This is really just to try it out, but a lot more should be coming henceforth. I’m running around Nicaragua with this really nifty camera/microphone combination, and although I have some 13h of footage, the editing situation has been pretty crummy and I have had to put the various bits and pieces of software together myself to get a working toolchain.
However, this ended up being used in Nicaraguan national TV by two stations. It’s some footage I took the other day, when a political party, the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista and the students at the UNAN university clashed together here in Leon the other day. For the MRS, the militant Dora María Telléz had planned to speak at the university that day, and simultaneously the students decided to take over the university for the day in protest against the late payment of scholarships. The MRS recently lost its license to run in the upcoming local elections, and have therefore been calling the country a dictatorship. When students blocked the entrance on June 29th, they again expected for the president and his FSLN-party to be behind it all.
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?
I’m trying to look at…
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..
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)%> Continue reading →
A few months ago I took an Austrian girl on a tour of the old German Democratic Republic (GDR). Part of the point was to show that the view of East German history differed quite a bit depending on where one was. Now unfortunately we did not meet all that many people with a positive view of the previous regime, and so i, who usually count myself as quite opposed to Stalinism, had to step in and try to show some of the positive points of the GDR as well.
One of these is without question that Western Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), has media that is at least as false and brainwashing as that of the GDR, and by following both one could therefore escape most of the propaganda.
< %image(20071231-GDR_shirts.jpg|489|386|Buy a youthfil shirt to show you support the GDR -- well if it hadn't collapsed some 19 years ago.)%>
But now a report on some states in East and Western Germany by the research community “SUP-State” (the SUP was the Socialist Unity Party, the ruling party of East Germany) at the Free University of Berlin (FUB) shows that views amongst students in East Germany on the GDR are more positive than what they had expected. It appears that the selection of informants the Austrian girl and I had made was skewed.
< %image(20070612-roof.jpg|2272|1704|"This is what winners look like!" activists shouting and celebrating after 48h of blockades)%>
On the 6-8th of June 2007, Germany hosted the annual G8 meeting in Heiligendamm. For many of the academic-intellectual organizations that came into life with the advent of the globalization-from-below movement around Seattle 1999 or who are older but have redefined themselves as being part of the movement, this was planned to be just another meeting space. Almost all the Norwegians who came down (I was on a bus with around 50 and we arrived in Rostock, the closest bigger city, on the morning of the 2nd) were here for a big demonstration some days before the meeting started, and those few who stayed for the time of the actual summit were to participate in an “anti-summit” in Rostock during the summit. Now there have been loads such summits over the last few years, and they have a few things in common: all the main speakers speak within some post-Marxist framework, preferably the speakers argue for applying some kind of wonder tax which would magically transform this world back to the early eighties, and no-one ever has any real proposal on what to do to exert power. Even in times when countries go to war with over 90% of their population being against it, there is somehow this strange notion in these conferences that everything will be good if only one speaks and demonstrates. A perfect example thereof is Mr. Peter Wahl of the coordinating group of German Attac, who tried to convince everybody to just sit down in front of the first line of policemen.
However, in Germany things were somewhat different. 10,000 activists ended up blocking all entrance ways to the conference center physically for hours on end and made all transport in and out of the center at times impossible at other times very dangerous. The fence around the whole thing that cost around 15 million USD and security was supposed to be on top; 16400 police from all over the country and an unknown amount of the army had coordinated for months and months in order to keep demonstrators at least 200m away from the fence. Some politicians had even talked about using the special anti terror unit GSG9 and equip police with rubber bullets in order to keep them away from the fence.