Archive | June 19th, 2020

The Strength of the Sandinista ModelBy: Nicaraguan government

The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega
  • The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega | Photo: EFE

In the entire history of Nicaragua, it is only with the two governments of the Sandinista Front, that the popular interests of the great majority, that are poor, have been prioritized.

The strength of the Sandinista Model is based on characteristics and results. The characteristics are that the FSLN is patriotic, democratic, it promotes inclusion and participation under the concept that the Peoples are the President and the manifestation of Popular Power. The FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) defends popular interests, enjoys the confidence of the people, and has a social and political base with a high degree of commitment, which constitutes the basis of its great capacity to organize and mobilize the Nicaraguan society through volunteerism.

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At the current stage of the Sandinista Revolution, the People as Leaders, facilitated by a Good Government based on the values ​​and principles of the people themselves, have reaped significant social, environmental, economic and productive results, after so many years of sowing in struggle.

It is the characteristics and results previously described that largely constitute the strength of the Sandinista Model. Historically and currently, the groups opposed to the Sandinista Front form a political enclave mastered and guided by North American foreign policy.

The Sandinista Front is the patriotic backstop of the Nicaraguan political spectrum, heir to the struggle of Sandino and Zeledón and the entire history of defending self-determination, independence and sovereignty.

The Sandinista Front is the father of democracy in Nicaragua. Before the 1984 elections, there was nothing quite like a sovereign and free election. In 1990, the FSLN became the first political force to transfer power peacefully with the results of a free and sovereign election.

In the period 1990-2007, the FSLN made a loyal opposition and acted within the constraints of the Constitution, even when there were periods of governance crisis due to the weakness of the governments in power.

Of course, democracy is more than just elections and it is the Sandinista Front that has promoted the inclusion and massive participation of the Nicaraguan People under the concept of the People as President and the manifestation of Popular Power.

In the entire history of Nicaragua, it is only with the two governments of the Sandinista Front, that the popular interests of the great majority, that are poor, have been prioritized.

One of the strengths of the GRUN Model is the confidence that the people have in the Sandinista Front and in the wisdom of Commander Daniel Ortega to defend and promote the interests of the poor even in difficult circumstances; a trust that has a historical root that comes from the fight against Somocismo, the fight in the 1980´s against the Contra backed by the CIA and two North American administrations, the policy of Governing from below, defending the interests of the poor during the 16 years of neoliberal governments and in the current government in which the leading role of the people, facilitated by the government, has made significant progress for the poor, for women, for indigenous people and people of African descent, that is, a trust forged in historical practice.

Another strength of the model is the high level of commitment toward a solid social and political base, with proven loyalty and a willingness to sacrifice. This forms the basis for the extraordinary capacity to organize and mobilize the Nicaraguan people, through volunteerism, which includes a large percentage of the people themselves, especially youth and women.

The Sandinista Popular Revolution has had clear stages: In the first stage the objective was the national liberation from tyranny. In the second, revolutionary transformations were advanced for the people, but in the end the objective was to survive the brutal American aggression of a decade. In the third stage, the objective was to defend revolutionary advances from neoliberal attempts to reverse them. It is in the current fourth stage that the people, as leaders, facilitated by Good Government based on the values ​​and principles that the Nicaraguan people have reaped, after so many years of sowing in struggle; significant social, environmental, economic and productive results.

The people have recognized the progress with votes in the polls for the Commander: 38% in 2006, 62% in 2011 and 72% in 2016.

The growing strength of the FSLN and its successful model, as well as the weakness of a disjointed opposition, led a part of the opposition and the United States in 2018 to try to add Nicaragua to the list of coups d’état and attempts sponsored by imperialism in this century: Venezuela (2002), Honduras (2009), Ecuador (2010), Paraguay (2012), Brazil (2016), Bolivia (2019).

Armed roadblocks on highways and streets; the armed invasions of neighborhoods and houses; the burning of city halls and other buildings, vehicles and construction equipment; looting of stores and other businesses; the kidnapping, torture and murder of Sandinistas; 198 people died, including 24 policemen, while 401 policemen were wounded by bullets; all this in the midst of a false news campaign and massive psychological warfare based on the media and social networks. In the end, the coup collapsed and the people triumphed, showing the strength of the model.

SOCIAL STRENGTH

GRUN SOCIAL PROJECTS:

The GRUN has promoted a model of human development and participatory, representative democracy and social justice, which can be verified in:

The transformation of health, education and recreation, among others, to which the entire population can access without exclusion and without distinction. Everyone has the right to enjoy the benefits that may be granted to them.

The prioritization of public investment or state investment in areas of Human Development has been guaranteed every year in the GRUN budget that invests in free health and education, as well as to guarantee security, food, care and protection, as well as the right to have decent housing for the people of Nicaragua.

The expansion of the coverage and quality of drinking water and electricity services, as well as highways and roads. New roads have been built, and electricity has been brought to almost the entire country (97.57%) and drinking water to areas of the country that lacked these benefits.

The creation, expansion, and restoration of parks in all the municipalities of the country. New parks have been built and existing ones in need of repair, have been improved.

The massification of sports at the national level, among children, adolescents and youth has not only built new sports spaces, but it has also promoted and facilitated access for all the general population to these places for recreation.

The rescue, protection, safeguard, promotion and dissemination of the historical and cultural heritage, taking care of museums, as well as the implementation of programs so that the population can visit the historical sites of the country and learn about the culture of the peoples in general.

Regarding labor rights, the rights of workers have been defended and the culture of entrepreneurship has been implemented, which has promoted new sources of work and employment.

In the area of ​​Social Security, the affiliation of workers has increased, particularly by expanding in rural areas, cooperatives, unions, home help and self-employed workers.

On land ownership and planning, property titles have been delivered to people who live in different areas without possessing legal documents.

In relation to prevention and care in the family, we have been promoting not only laws, but education at all levels for the care and protection of families in general.

For people with different disabilities, we have been guaranteeing a culture of respect, ensuring that these people can have the right and access to jobs, education, regardless of their condition.

As for the elderly, laws have been promoted that benefit older adults, creating comprehensive care centers, discounts on payments for their basic services (electricity and water), as well as favorable prices for access to touristic sites.

Likewise, the GRUN has developed:

Maternal Homes in Nicaragua. Pregnant mothers are accommodated by providing pre-delivery care and the newborn is cared for.

Love for the little ones. Its objective is the early stimulation of boys and girls under the age of six, a process that begins from the prenatal period and promotes breastfeeding, surveillance, growth and development, as well as the vaccination process, ensuring health, nutrition and personal hygiene of minors.

Snack and School Packages: It consists of the preparation of food in the study centers by the parents with meals provided by the government, along with school supplies delivered to the boys and girls.

Literacy and Youth and Adult Education: It allows people who do not have studies, to complete them in a short time.

Zero Usury Program: It is a program aimed at women who are self-employed, providing them with improved credit terms and interests rates that are less than the ones offered by banks and “small loan institutions”.

All with A Voice Program: Personalized attention to people with disabilities through medical check-ups, delivery of medications, food packages, education, among other benefits.

Solidarity Roof Plan: Consists of the delivery of sheets of zinc for families in need to improve their living conditions.

Houses for the People: Construction and delivery of social housing for the population living in poverty.

Productive and Food Programs: Delivery of cows, poultry and fruit seeds, to reduce malnutrition and poverty in the short term.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK THAT STRENGTHENS THE GRUN’S CHRISTIAN, SOCIALIST AND SOLIDARITY MODEL.

The GRUN, since 2007 to date has promoted new laws and updated and modernized others, which have as a priority the strengthening and restitution of the rights of the Nicaraguan people. Among these we have:

Laws that guarantee Nicaraguan citizens a better quality of life: Law No. 693, the Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security Law; Law No. 721, Law on the social sale of medicines; and Law No. 842, Law for the protection of the rights of consumers and users.

Laws that protect and strengthen the family and its members: Law No. 870, Family Code; Law No. 677, Special Law for the promotion of housing construction and access to affordable housing; Law No. 688, Law for the promotion of the dairy sector and the glass of school milk; Law No. 718, Special Law for the Protection of Multiple Birth Families; and Law No. 720, Law for the Elderly.

Laws that protect the rights of people with some type of special needs: Law No. 675, Nicaraguan Sign Language Law; Law No. 650, Law for the Protection of the human rights of people with mental illnesses; and Law No. 763, Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Laws that promote equality, dignity and equity of rights to all Nicaraguans: Law No. 648, Law on Equal Rights and Opportunities; and Law No. 757, Law of dignified and equitable treatment of indigenous peoples and people of African descent.

Laws that promote a life free of violence: Law No. 779, Comprehensive Law against Violence against Women and reforms to Law No. 641 Penal Code.

INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF THE GRUN’S SOCIAL PROGRAMS.

International organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the World Food Program (WFP), have highlighted and recognized that the Nicaraguan government has made significant progress on issues of poverty reduction in general, the creation of economic opportunities in rural areas for families to produce their food, and the positive performance of the economy, maintaining growth levels that are higher than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean.

ENVIRONMENTAL STRENGTH

Since the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity assumed the destiny of the country, a policy of protection and defense of Our Mother Earth has been put into practice, which is manifested in the proposals of the National Program for Human Development.

The lines of action that are applied to carry out this policy are mainly environmental education; defense and protection of natural resources and forest development; the conservation, recovery, collection and harvesting of water; mitigation, adaptation and risk management in the face of climate change; sustainable land management; the regulation and control of environmental pollution for the conservation of ecosystems and human health; as well as preventing the environmental impact of economic activities that take place in the country.

Within the framework of this policy, year after year, a Great National Reforestation Crusade is promoted as part of a reforestation strategy in forest areas and in regions suffering from land degradation. In this sense, a community forestry model is applied, in which the indigenous and Afro-descendant communities of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua are actively involved, as well as farmers along the agricultural frontier. On the other hand, Nicaragua received the approval of the Forest Carbon Cooperative Fund, through which rural communities and indigenous peoples living in the forests of the Caribbean Coast, Bosawás and Indio Maíz, will reduce deforestation and forest degradation, reducing emissions of approximately 11 million tons of Carbon Dioxide and receiving in return positive incentives for 55 million dollars in five years. This goal only represents 50% of the potential of the Caribbean region in reducing emissions. This is done through the MARENA ENDE-REDD + program, with the assistance of the World Bank.

The technological and technical capacities of MARENA, INETER, INAFOR and Regional Governments of the Caribbean Coast have been strengthened, with the establishment and operation of a forest monitoring system, which will allow the monitoring, recording and verification of the reduction of carbon emissions and the greenhouse gas effect due to deforestation and forest degradation processes at the national level and direct actions for the restoration of forest landscapes.

In the search for the use of water resources, the construction of water harvesting works and reservoirs for productive uses and recovery of this vital liquid is promoted. All of this within a strategy that seeks to recover and preserve water, the potential of water in river basins, soil fertility and the conservation of the flora and fauna of our country, which constitutes between 7% and 8% of the world’s biodiversity.

At the international level, the GRUN has stood out in firm defense of Mother Earth and has raised its voice so that the whole of humanity mobilizes to reverse the consequences of climate change. Nicaragua has been a banner for developing countries in discussions in the different spaces of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, maintaining the principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, “historical responsibilities of developed countries”, “the principle of cooperation” and “the principle of respect for sovereignty” Nicaragua also stresses the need for developed countries to assume a moral commitment to finance developing countries in their efforts to mitigate, adapt, and address loses and damages caused by centuries of pollution from developed countries. Nicaragua has an active participation in the different decision-making instances of the Climate Change Convention such as the Green Climate Fund, the Permanent Finance Committee, the Subsidiary Bodies, among others.

Nicaragua signed the Paris Agreement in 2017, because in most countries of the world there was a consensus that the 2015 commitments in Paris are insufficient to prevent an increase in the global average temperature to 2ºC and much less to 1.5ºC, and also agree that the reduction goals for gases such as CO2 and methane in developed countries should be increased. Thus, Nicaragua’s solitary position in Paris in 2015, became a consensus position in 2017.

The State of Nicaragua has continued to collaborate with the international community in promoting collective action on climate change, maintaining a firm and coherent position in defense of the environment and making continued efforts to adapt and mitigate the consequences of climate deterioration.

Our government has met the goals, commitments and agreements of the Climate Change Convention and the goals for reducing emissions have been defined through the reports of the “National Determined Contributions”, which are currently in the process of being reviewed and improved to define our goals in terms of reducing gas emissions.

A national policy for mitigation and adaptation to climate change has been defined. This policy has a focus on sustainable development, compatible with disaster risk management, innovation and efficient use of resources, an ecosystem approach, gender equity, citizen participation, feasibility of measures, climate finance, recognition of indigenous peoples and indigenous communities,  and education on climate change.

ECONOMIC STRENGTH

The IMF projects that the world economy will suffer a sharp contraction of -3% in 2020, much worse than that registered during the financial crisis of 2008–09. ECLAC, for its part, forecasts -5.3% for the Latin American region in 2020. On the other hand, according to the estimates of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), measures like the ones currently in place could reduce the world economy by -2.0% per month, or an annualized rate of -24%, approaching the levels of the Great Depression of the 930s.

The COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting a huge and escalating human cost worldwide. The health crisis is also having a serious impact on economic activity. Preliminary data for the response to the pandemic for the first quarter of 2020 indicate that the US economy (Gross Domestic Product, GDP) fell -4.8%, the largest decline in the first three months of the year since 2008 during the global financial crisis, when the US economy contracted by -8.4%

According to the Central American Integration System (SICA), through the Central American Economic Integration Secretariat (SIECA) and together with the Executive Secretariat of the Central American Monetary Council (SECMCA), the updated scenario with the perspectives collected as of April 2020, estimates for 2020 a decrease in the economy of Central America of -6.9% and a rate of generalized and sustained increase in the prices of goods and services (inflation) of 0.6% for the region. By 2021, the decrease in the economy at the regional level would be -1.4% and the estimated inflation rate would be 1.9%.

Some estimates also indicate that 29 million people in Latin America could fall into poverty, reversing a decade of efforts to reduce income inequality.

Faced with such unfavorable scenarios at the regional level and the world in general, the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity (GRUN), has not closed the economy, nor declared an absolute quarantine, since in Nicaragua approximately 80% of employment is informal, working brothers and sisters who live from day to day, and while 41% of the population lives in the countryside and require activities outside the home every day. All of them would be seriously affected. Added to this, that since the crisis of April 2018, GDP has experienced a successive contraction of up to -4.0% in 2018 and -3.9% in 2019.

The government, in addition to attending and facing the pandemic, is having to defend itself from the media attack and appeals to “stay at home”, promoted by the leaders of the failed coup, with the aim of further destroying the economy, hindering productive and commercial activities, which would cause significant losses in household income and in the economic performance of companies, especially small and medium-sized ones. Government policy is protecting peasants, informal workers, small and medium-sized enterprises, the poor in general, and the national economy.

The strategy of balance of the GRUN and its Christian, Socialist and Solidarity Model, from the first day, has been to keep the economy afloat, reduce poverty and inequality levels, promote a monetary and financial policy of the government in harmony and in times of crises, like the one we are currently going through, avoiding a catastrophe in GDP by the end of 2020.

We have in our favor the flow of agricultural activities, productive transformation and provision of public services for families in the countryside and cities; the supply of basic consumer products has been maintained, while the price level of the products and services that the population demands daily remains stable. This contrasts with other countries where there has been panic buying and speculative price rises leading to shortages.

GOOD PERFORMANCE OF MONETARY POLICY

The policies implemented by the BCN and the good performance of the variables of the monetary sector led to the strengthening of the Gross International Reserves (RIB). Thus, the RIB closed 2019 at a higher level than in 2018 (2,397.4 million dollars). The exchange rate remained as expected, inflation was stable in one digit and the total amount of cash in the hands of the public (Monetary Base) stands at C$34,477.7 million, C$4,345 million more than in 2018.

GOOD PERFORMANCE OF GOVERNMENT FINANCE

Government finances showed good performance in 2019, the execution of the State budget and its components (public spending and taxes) were handled in a prudent manner. As a result of this, public debt has shown a tendency to decrease.

Likewise, the Christian, Socialist and Solidarity Model has been in charge of providing generous incentives to attract more investment to the country, especially for export-oriented sectors, including free zones, tourism, mining and forestry.

A PRO-INVESTMENT GOVERNMENT

The Government of Nicaragua recognizes the positive impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) in an economy like that of Nicaragua, so it actively and openly promotes it as a country committed to its employees, the community, and the environment.

The appointment of a Presidential Delegate for Investments to coordinate investment promotion efforts and ensure the successful development of these projects reaffirms the government’s positive stance towards foreign direct investment.

PRONicaragua, the official investment promotion agency, was highlighted with the best results among all investment promotion agencies in the world in the 2012 Global Comparative Study of Investment Promotion (GIPB), published by the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

WORLD ECONOMIC FREEDOM REPORT

Nicaragua’s economy is among the freest in the world, according to the recent World Economic Freedom (EFW) report, published by the Fraser Institute. In the 2018 edition of the report, the country ranked 54 out of 162, with a score of 7.27 out of 10.

This annual report measures economic freedom (levels of personal decision, ability to enter markets, security of private properties, the rule of law, etc.) by analyzing the policies and institutions of more than 160 countries and Hong Kong.

CONNECTIVITY AND MARKET ACCESS

Nicaragua’s geographical position and its connectivity with the rest of the world, in addition to the benefits related to the different preferential access agreements, increase its potential to export to non-traditional markets.

Preferential agreements have become an important component of trade liberalization in Nicaragua, therefore, the country continues to seek opportunities to ensure its successful insertion in international trade and the global economy.

Likewise, Nicaragua has signed Free Trade Agreements with the United States, Mexico, Panama, Taiwan, the Dominican Republic, Chile, South Korea, Ecuador and the European Union. It also belongs to the Central American Common Market, to the Bolivarian Alliance for Peoples Of Our America (ALBA) and a Generalized System of Preferences with Japan, Norway, Canada, Russia and Switzerland and has additional treaties under negotiation.

INVESTMENT PROMOTION LAWS

The relevant laws regarding Investment Promotion are: Law Nº. 344, Law for the Promotion of Foreign Investments; Law No. 822, Tax Agreement Law; Law No. 382, Law of Temporary Admission Regime for Active Improvement and Facilitation of Exports; Law No. 917, Free Export Zones Law; Law No. 532, Law for the Promotion of Electric Generation with Renewable Sources; Law No. 387, Special Law on Exploration and Exploitation of Mines; Law No. 306, Incentives Law for the Nicaraguan tourism industry; Law No. 694, Income Promotion Law for Retired and Retired Residents.

COMPETITIVE OPERATING COSTS

Nicaragua offers one of the most competitive cost structures in the region, which allows companies to increase their competitiveness and reduce their operating costs and provide greater added value to their products or services.

Before establishing operations in a country, every company must go through an important process of due diligence and evaluation, where operating costs play an influential role in the final result of the decision to invest.

MINIMUM WAGE

Minimum wage in the different economic sectors in Nicaragua range from US$0.92 to US$2.06 an hour, including social benefits.

Social benefits represent an additional 52.0 percent to the minimum wage, these include: social security, contributions to the National Technological Institute (INATEC), paid vacations and Christmas bonuses, among others.

Below are the minimum wages by law for 2019:

Minimum Wage 2019 (Dollars

Sector

Monthly US$

Hourly US$

Construction, Financial Services and Insurance

428.79

2.06

Electricity and Water, Commerce, Restaurants and Hotels, Transportation, Storage and Communications

351.44

1.68

Mines and Quarries

344.11

1.65

Fisheries

291.34

1.4

Personal and Communal Community Services 

268.61

1.29

Manufacturing

257.63

1.24

Fiscal Regime Industries

271.19

1.3

Central and Municipal Government

238.94

1.15

Small and Micro Artisanal Industries and National Tourism

205.87

0.99

Agribusiness*

191.6

0.92

Fuente: Ministerio del Trabajo (MITRAB). Tasa de cambio promedio 2019: 33.13. Incluye beneficios sociales. *Salario mínimo más alimentación.

Regarding companies that are under the free zone regime, the minimum wage is the most competitive at the regional level, which makes Nicaragua an ideal country to establish labor-intensive operations, as can be seen in the following table:

       Nota: Incluye beneficios sociales, Nicaragua base 100
      Fuente: Ministerio de Trabajo de cada país 2019

TELECOMMUNICATIONS COSTS

In Nicaragua there are several telecommunications companies, including Claro and Tigo, which offer E1 telephone service, widely used by companies that handle a high level of calls in their operations. Additionally, advanced digital line plans are offered that include services such as call waiting, three-way conference, caller ID, voicemail, and text messages (SMS). In these types of plans, the cost per minute for international calls to the United States and Canada is approximately USD $ 0.20 / min.


INTERNET COSTS

The main providers of business connections in Nicaragua are Claro, Amnet, Navega, IBW, Ideay, among others. All of them offer various dedicated business data packages whose approximate average prices can range from $70 for a 256 K/s connection to $640 for a 3,072 K/s connection.

WATER SERVICE COSTS

The Nicaraguan Company of Aqueducts and Sanitary Sewers (ENACAL) is the entity in charge of providing the country’s water and sewerage service. This company is regulated and controlled by the Nicaraguan Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (INAA). In Nicaragua, an average company whose monthly consumption is greater than 50 m3 of water has an approximate rate of US$0.40 per m3. ENACAL also applies a charge per m3 of consumption to companies with private wells.

ENERGY COSTS

In Nicaragua, the energy distribution service is provided by the company DISNORTE-DISSUR and is regulated by the Nicaraguan Energy Institute (INE). Industrial companies have the option of opting for energy rates with or without time discrimination. For an industrial company with a monthly contracted load greater than 200 KW and under this category without discrimination, the cost per KWh consumed is around US$0.19.

Additionally, for companies with a minimum concentrated load requirement of one megawatt per month, there is the option of opting for the “Large Consumer” category and obtaining a preferential rate by purchasing directly from the generators.

In the same way, self-generation of renewable energy for self-consumption is allowed and even better, according to law 1011 to reform article 32 of Law 272 Law of the Electric Industry, the sale of surplus Electric Power delivered by the Generator to the distribution network and that is committed by means of an energy purchase and sale contract with the Distributing Companies, will be exempt from the application and / or withholding of all kinds of taxes, fees and special contributions, given that the Generator is not an Economic Agent.

PRODUCTIVE STRENGTH

The Production, Consumption and Trade System

The coordination between the policies, programs, projects and specific actions developed by the different levels of government, allows for greater effectiveness in the implementation of sectoral and national plans, as well as greater efficiency and transparency in the execution of the national budget and funds from external sources, all this based on the National Program for Human Development, the integrated work of State institutions and framed in the Model of Dialogue and Consensus of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity (GRUN).

The dialogue and consensus model

Under this model sectoral policies, as well as the programs and projects directed to the development of the productive sectors, are formulated and executed with the effective prominence of the local actors.

This allows for private actors to feeling not as “beneficiaries” of public policies, but as “protagonists”, actively participating in the processes, and also that these policies, programs or projects correspond effectively to the productive, environmental, economic and social realities of the territories in which they will be executed.

The focus on Family, Community, Cooperative and Associative Economy

Since its inception, the GRUN identified that more than 70% of employment and 40% of Nicaragua’s GDP were generated by the family, community and cooperative economy and that the actions that were being developed through the famous “Zero Hunger” programs and “Zero usury” in order to reduce the vulnerability of rural and urban families submerged in poverty by neoliberal governments, would have the potential to significantly increase these percentages of contribution to employment and national production, and would be a fundamental part of the successive National Human Development Plans and Programs. Since 2012, when the Ministry of Family, Community, Cooperative and Associative Economy (known as MEFCCA) was organized, this sector has been strengthened.

The new approach in the Creative Economy

Among the axes of the National Program for Human Development 2018-2021 is the implementation of an entrepreneurial culture, developing programs at all levels that stimulate teaching-learning, innovation, improved management, productivity and competitiveness of Undertakings in strategic alliances with and between private institutions, the central government, municipalities and social organizations.

The Creative Economy, from the strategic vision of the government and its institutions, allows for the achieving of higher levels of productivity, added value, professional qualification, quality work, competitiveness of SMEs and all companies, and the development of the country, by promoting the consolidation of national and local institutions, the development of infrastructures, the promotion of markets and businesses, the strengthening and stimulation of human talents, the production and use of knowledge and technologies, and the increase in creative production.

HOW DOES NICARAGUA ADVANCE DESPITE UNILATERALLY IMPOSED SANCTIONS

Despite the economic aggressions promoted and imposed by the United States Government, such as the “Nica Act”, Nicaragua is working together with missions abroad, with solidarity countries willing to contribute to the progress and economic development of the country in executing an active resource and investment management policy with the international community.

Regarding investment, despite coercive measures, we continue to be an important platform for investment and export to the international market; therefore, investment in Nicaragua has continued to develop. Nicaragua has friendship and cooperation agreements with friendly countries and foreign companies have bought national manufacturers; investment in sectors such as agribusiness, infrastructure, tourism, energy and Mining is being promoted; Entrepreneurs and companies continue to arrive eager to invest in opportunities in Nicaragua.

COVID-19 AND THE GREAT DEPRESSION 2020

Given the Great Depression (economic crisis), there will be few countries in the developing world that are stable and with open economies, that is, without capital or profit flow controls. Thus, they will be able to attract foreign investment with solid opportunities. That is the case of Nicaragua in terms of tourism, renewable energy, mining and forestry. 

Tourism

In Nicaragua, as in the whole world, one of the economic sectors that has been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic has been tourism, a sector that was already suffering the consequences of the failed coup of the year 2018. Upon exiting the Pandemic, all tourist countries will start from the same position of zero.

The recovery potential of the Nicaraguan tourism sector is great since several specialized media have been publishing, even in times of pandemic, articles highlighting important aspects of Nicaragua, such as the beauty of its colonial cities, extreme sports on the slopes of its volcanoes and the variety of its landscapes and ecosystems, as well as its high citizen security and low costs, which are some of its distinctive features. At the same time, the GRUN has been making significant investments in infrastructure that improve access and facilities in places of great tourist potential.

Renewable energy

Nicaragua is the country of lakes and volcanoes to which it is added that geographically it is located in the tropical region of the planet, affording our country a huge potential for the production of renewable energy from our natural resources, allowing the generation of photovoltaic, wind, geothermal and biomass energy. The National Electric Transmission Company (ENATREL) is executing new electric power projects in Nicaragua; at this time, they are working on the construction and expansion of 18 energy substations, this investment consists of 300 million dollars. 

This range of natural conditions that the country has to produce environmentally friendly electricity and foreign investment facilities has sparked the interest of investors to produce enough energy to export and sell it through the SIEPAC Network that connects all of Central America, from Guatemala to Panama. 

Mining 

Metal mining has been a traditional economic activity in Nicaragua, due to the recognized wealth of its gold and silver mines, but lately its potential in multimetal mines has also been recognized.

The installation of a metal refinery in the country would allow us to add national added value to mining exports, and even open the possibility of capturing ore from other countries in the area and processing it in Nicaragua.

Forestry 

It has been estimated that around 44% of the national territory (5.3 million hectares) is land with a pure forest vocation, while an additional 29% (3.5 million hectares) is land suitable for production under agroforestry or silvopastoral systems.

The Government of Reconciliation and National Unity has established a reforestation strategy, based on public efforts with different specific programs to recover protected areas, through forest plantations in degraded areas and on soils with a forest vocation.

Private forest plantations

In recent years, the private sector in Nicaragua has invested about $150 million dollars in the forestry sector, and several private companies continue to expand their investments in conditions that favor our country, given the situation of many precious wood species that were exploited in Southeast Asia, which is suffering from indiscriminate exploitation, since it is the lucrative business of the military leaders that govern various countries in that part of the world.

Currently the sector has a management area of ​​32,899 ha including its planted and conservation areas.

Sustainable agriculture and livestock

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the instability of industrial agricultural production. In contrast, agricultural activity in Nicaragua is fundamentally based on family production. According to data from the 2011 National Census of Agriculture (CENAGRO), 98% of producers and 90% of agricultural land can be characterized within family farming and contributes an estimated 60% of national agricultural GDP, mainly from the production of basic grains (corn, rice, beans and sorghum) and livestock. 

This is a strength inasmuch as, on the one hand, family systems do not require further hiring of labor outside the family unit, and, on the other, the marketing of their surpluses is easily carried out in local markets, and it does not depend on complex logistics.

On the other hand, it is possible to foresee that, once the COVID-19 pandemic has been overcome, consumer concern for food safety will increase significantly, and Nicaraguan agricultural production, except for some specific items that are produced in larger industrialized processes (for example, flood rice or sugar cane), are characterized by limited use of agro-toxic inputs.

What will be necessary would be to promote more decisively the sustainable intensification of livestock production, which would allow the producer to increase the animal load, freeing up grazing areas that could be used for reforestation and / or for the diversification of the farm from of agroforestry production.

Fishery and aquaculture

This productive potential is insufficiently exploited, mainly due to the lack of a national flag industrial fishing fleet, so the development potential of the industry is still very great. Due to its coastal lagoons on the Caribbean Coast, Nicaragua also has potential for aquaculture production.

Nicaragua has more than 10 thousand km2 of inland waters, including the 8,264 km2 of Lake Cocibolca and 1,025 km2 of Xolotlán, as well as some 90 coastal lagoons on the Caribbean coast, so its potential for aquaculture production is also great. There is already a shrimp aquaculture industry in Puerto Morazán, on the Gulf of Fonseca, which produced US$40.7 million in exports in 2018.

Posted in NicaraguaComments Off on The Strength of the Sandinista ModelBy: Nicaraguan government

Sudan: Justice Yet to Be Delivered in Sudan One Year After Massacre

On June, 3, 2019, a massacre in Khartoum left more than 100 people dead.

Thousands chanted anti-military slogans Wednesday to demand justice, freedom, full civilian rule for Sudan and to call for the perpetrators of the mass killing to be held accountable. 

Sudanese protesters who helped bring down former president Omar al-Bashir returned to the streets to mark the first anniversary of a massacre in Khartoum that left more than 100 people dead.

RELATED: Female Genital Mutilation Finally Banned in Sudan

Thousands of demonstrators chanted anti-military slogans Wednesday to demand justice, freedom, full civilian rule for Sudan and to call for the perpetrators of the mass killing to be held accountable soon. 

Protesters said they held the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a militia headed by the current deputy chairman of the Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, responsible for the deaths. 

They also criticized the investigation committee formed by the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok last September to probe the circumstances of the massacre.

The brutal dispersal of a protest sit-in outside Khartoum’s army headquarters on June 3, 2019 led to protesters being gunned down, while others were rounded up. Tents were burned and an untold number of bodies were thrown into the Nile.

Many of the soldiers filmed themselves as they marched through the sit-in area, beating protesters with canes and demanding they chant in favor of the military. Within a few hours, there was nothing left of the sit-in that had lasted almost two months. 

Families of the victims hinted they might seek justice at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights if they are not satisfied with the results of the investigation.

Other marches have also been organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a member of the ruling political coalition of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), which led the protests against Bashir, and other resistance committees across the 17 states outside the capital Khartoum. 

Echoing the concerns of protesters, the United Nations has called for a credible investigation into the brutal attack against protesters on 3 June last year. 

In a press release on Wednesday, Gwi-Yeop Son, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, said that the body was fully committed to assisting the transition of Sudan towards democracy. 

Posted in SudanComments Off on Sudan: Justice Yet to Be Delivered in Sudan One Year After Massacre

Bolivia: COVID-19 Death Threat to Bolivian Amazon’s Indigenous Peoples

Members of an indigenous Amazonian people, May, 19, 2020.

The Bolivian state recognizes at least 36 Indigenous nations that are sparsely populated.

Bolivia’s Center for Legal Studies and Social Research (CEJIS) denounced that the COVID-19 pandemic can devastate the Bolivian Amazon’s Indigenous peoples close to the Santa Cruz and Beni regions.

RELATED: Bolivia: Añez Summoned To Declare On Ventilator’s Alleged Scam

“We are very short of witnessing a catastrophe,” the CEJIS director Miguel Vargas said to warn of a possible “ethnocide” in more vulnerable Indigenous populations.

He explained that 46 out of 58 indigenous territories are close to municipalities in which the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase exponentially.

This happens, for example, in Lomerio and Urubicha in the Department of Santa Cruz, where the Yuqui and Guarani indigenous peoples are settled.

As of Tuesday, in the Lomerio region, six COVID-19 deaths, 17 infected oil workers, and four infected Yuqui indigenous persons were reported.

Vargas explained that there is no precise information on the impact of the pandemic on indigenous Amazonian peoples because the Health Ministry did not include the variable of ethnic self-identification in the epidemiological records used to report on COVID-19 cases.​​​​​​​

Task Force on the Americas@TaskAmericas

IACHR Warns Ecuador on COVID-19 in Amazon’s Indigenous Nations – https://go.shr.lc/3eHUm06  via @shareaholicIACHR Warns Ecuador on COVID-19 in Amazon’s Indigenous NationsAt least 180 cases were confirmed among Amazon’s Indigenous peoples in Ecuador, while seven deaths were reported.telesurenglish.net6:55 PM – Jun 2, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee Task Force on the Americas’s other Tweets

“The situation is complex and dramatic because the Government could not respond to the needs of the indigenous territorial organizations,” the CEJIS director remarked and recalled that the Yuqui nation has a population that does not exceed 370 people.

The risk of genocide increases every time an indigenous person has to leave their territory to seek medical attention or to receive cash transfers, which the coup-born regime led by Jeanine Añez promised to send.

“There is no health system in the indigenous territories,” Vargas said and recalled that there is no possibility of accessing tests to detect the coronavirus.

The Interim government “has not taken into account” the recommendations on the vulnerability of indigenous peoples made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in April, he added.

The Bolivian state recognizes the existence of at least 36 indigenous nations that are sparsely populated and scattered in subtropical and Amazon regions of the country.​​​​​​​

Posted in BoliviaComments Off on Bolivia: COVID-19 Death Threat to Bolivian Amazon’s Indigenous Peoples

Colombia: Rights Org Denounces Murder of Community Leaders

Farmers dennounce illicit crops forced dismantling in Corinto's path, Cauca, Colombia. June 3, 2020.

According to the Ascobac communication, Montiel’s disappearance and assassination are similar to community leader John Restrepos’ killing on April 29.

Colombia’s many human rights organizations denounced Wednesday the assassination of two social leaders 

RELATED:  Colombia: Senators to Debate Cuban Role in Peace Agreement

Low Cauca Farmers’ Association (Asocbac) said that Juan Gabriel Atenio Montiel was last seen on Tuesday, heading to work at Napoles company. After a detailed search, other farmers found his corpse on Wednesday morning in La Cucana’s proximities. 

According to Ascobac communication, Montiel’s disappearance and assassination are similar to community leader John Restrepos’ demise on April 29. Restrepo has not been found so far and there are no leads on his possible abduction.

“As a social and farming organization in the lower Cauca, we have alerted in different scenarios and communications, the very serious crisis that continues to bleed our municipality. However, we have not found help in the Municipal Mayor’s Office, nor the government of Antioquia, nor the government of Ivan Duque to help us mitigate all the phenomena of violence that we complain about,” Ascobac expressed. 

AscamcatOficial@AscamcatOficia

Los operativos de #ErradicacionForzada y violenta de cultivos de uso ilícito en el #Catatumbo genera una grave violación DDHH y aumentan la grave crisis social y humanitaria de la región y genera el posible contagio de #Covid_19 a los campesinos por parte @Ejercito_Div2143:42 PM – Jun 4, 2020 · Sardinata, ColombiaTwitter Ads info and privacy16 people are talking about this“The forced and violent eradication of illicit crops in Catatumbo is a serious human rights violation and worsens the severe social and humanitarian crisis in the region.”

For its part, the Colombian Institute for Peace and Development Studies (Indepaz) said community leader and human rights defender Julio Humberto Moreno Arce’s was murdered on Wednesday morning. As the organization briefed, locals found the body between the village of La Balsa and the municipality of Santander de Quilichao, Cauca.

Colombia Ombudsman Office recently warned about human rights violations and international infractions on Cauca region, due to the presence of armed groups.

So far, in 2020, over 120 social leaders have been killed in Colombia, most of them in Cauca. Also, several social organizations report collateral victims as social leaders’ relatives and. 

Posted in ColombiaComments Off on Colombia: Rights Org Denounces Murder of Community Leaders

British Airways takes the money and runs

The Covid-19 crisis is highlighting the necessity for public ownership of all our vital services.

Proletarian writers

BA is one of many companies using the furlough scheme to avoid paying staff it intends to sack.

As the aviation industry continues to reel under the collapse of demand attendant upon the health emergency, British Airways is the latest airline to announce plans for sweeping job cuts, with as many as 12,000 of its staff affected.

Given the impact of Covid-19, it should have been fairly obvious that something like this was on the cards. Yet the announcement still came as a shock to employees. After all, as recently as 30 March, BA declared that it had successfully extended its US dollar-secured revolving credit facility up to June 2021, enabling it to access funds amounting to $1.38bn.

With its overdraft facility nailed down, the clear implication was that the company could ride out the storm unscathed, soothing staff worried about their future. This optimistic view seemed to be borne out by the fact that BA participated in the government’s job retention scheme, furloughing some of its staff.

These moves were perhaps intended to throw workers off the scent, lulling them into a false sense of security and minimising organised resistance.

It turns out, however, that BA was just cynically dipping into the public purse to buy time for manoeuvre, hoping to soften the financial blow whilst it tried to scale down its UK operations with the minimum hit to the company’s considerable financial resources.

All the while, BA staff were kept in the dark. The company’s decision to sack 12,000 workers was taken behind closed doors – like every other key decision concerning workers’ futures.

It is clear from the current chaos that air travel is far too important a service to remain in private hands.

Rather than the state doling out furlough subsidies to individual stricken airlines, the whole air travel sector needs to come into public ownership, and be run for need not profit.

Only thus will it be possible to make rational decisions about the future role of air travel as it adjusts to the new conditions post-Covid – decisions informed by social and environmental need.

Under a planned economy, if fewer staff and less production were needed in one field, such as air travel, those people and resources would simply be retrained and repurposed to fulfil some other area of human need.

Posted in Human Rights, UKComments Off on British Airways takes the money and runs

Venezuela’s Racist Opposition Wants to Import Trump’s Model

By: Juan Ramon Lugo Afro-Revolutionary Movement

New York police officers scuffle with protestors during a protest in response to the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died while in the custody of the Minneapolis police, in New York, USA, 28 May 2020.
  • New York police officers scuffle with protestors during a protest in response to the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died while in the custody of the Minneapolis police, in New York, USA, 28 May 2020. | Photo: EFE

The recent events in the city of Minneapolis (Minnesota) follows a chain of brutality and racial extermination that is becoming more acute each year.

The Juan Ramon Lugo Afro-Revolutionary Movement condemns the systematic racial extermination taking place against the African-American population in the United States. Donald Trump’s arrival to power is exacerbating this extermination.

RELATED: Trump Silent on George Floyd’s Killing, Biden Demands a Probe

The 19th Century racial extermination organization, the Klu Klux Klan, was reborn. Today, its most iconic figures are Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and Trump, who are leading interventionist policies in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
 
Police brutality is being reoriented under the broader spectrum of racial prejudice that includes African-Americans, Latinos, indigenous people, and others. This bestial brutality is crossing the limits of institutional legality. It is licensed to kill under the rubrics of racial prejudice.
 
The recent events in the city of Minneapolis (Minnesota) follows a chain of brutality and racial extermination that is becoming more acute each year. Let’s remember that last May 20, a white man and his son shot and killed young Afro Ahmaud Arbey in Georgia.
 
We cannot forget that the technique used, the police had practiced respiratory asphyxiation since 2014 when African-American Eric Garner was suffocated in New York City. “I cannot breathe….I can’t breathe” until he died hanged by the police. The police responsible for this were acquitted a few months later.
 
The city of Minneapolis’s racist police repeated the same action against African-American George Floyd, who cried out, “please, I can’t breathe…..I can’t breathe” in front of the passive gaze of other white police officers. Floyd was murdered cowardly last Monday. The Minneapolis Police Department immediately fired the four police officers.
 
Immediately outraged, people from the south, north, and center of Minneapolis took the streets to protest and demand that the police officers involved are arrest and prosecuted. This time they should not be released like they were in the case of Eric Garner’s case in New York. In the early hours of Thursday, another Afro man was shot in the middle of the Minneapolis riots.
 
Police brutality is a whole system, and when you add COVID 19 to the mix, these two are leading to ethnic cleansing in the United States under the TRUMP government.
 
This is the kind of police that aspires to be in Latin America and, more specifically, in Venezuela that the white racist opposition in our country Voluntad Popular is leading is desperately begging to intervene militarily in our country. These are the same people who in 2017 burned nineteen Afro-descendants. It is a system that is being reproduced in the fascist mints of the governments that Trump has under his rule in Latin America.
 
As an Afro-Revolutionary Movement, we demand that this case be brought to the United Nations. The racial extermination taking place in the United States, Colombia, Brazil, and Honduras has become more acute. This all contradicts the United Nations Decade for Afro-descendant peoples.
 
We condemn the silent complicity of OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.
 
We demand that the government of Donald Trump ceases its criminal blockade against the Venezuelan people.
 
We call on organizations at the continental level to speak out against police brutality not only in the United States but in Colombia, Brazil, and Honduras.
 
For the Juan Ramon Lugo Afro-Revolutionary Movement, the following organizations:
 
Afroaragueños, Afroamerica Foundation, AfroTV, Jose Leonardo Chirino Association,
Ibarra Cumbe (Puerto Cabello), La Vega Autochthonous, Panecillos Association, Cimarrones de Vargas, IETPA JUAN DE DIOS DIAZ (Sucre State), Grupo Elegua, Cimarrones de Yaracuy, Network of Afro-Venezuelan Organizations, Network of Afro-descendants of Venezuela

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela’s Racist Opposition Wants to Import Trump’s Model

BA threatens to sack its entire workforce

After rinsing the furlough scheme, the airline is now insisting that its staff should accept huge pay cuts or be sacked.

Proletarian writers

Whilst the overproduction crisis, brought to a head by the Covid lockdown, continues to put pressure on all competing airlines to slash labour costs, British Airways is taking a root and branch approach to ‘negotiating’ with the unions, threatening to sack its entire workforce (over 40,000 workers) with the intention of rehiring some on much worse terms and conditions.

This take-no-prisoners tactic serves notice on the unions that the days of polite negotiations, with some care being taken by bosses to throw an occasional scrap of a concession for negotiators to take back to the membership to help them look like they are earning their keep, are coming to an end.

BA claims that Unite and the GMB have refused to enter talks; but when the pilots’ union Balpa bent over backwards to keep negotiations going, they were met with complete contempt.

Balpa’s general secretary Brian Strutton complained: “Balpa reps have been in consultation with BA over its proposed 1,130 pilot job losses and we’ve been doing that constructively and in good faith.

“Then, on Wednesday evening, a letter from BA added another 125 job losses and also for the first time threatened all 4,300 BA pilots with dismissal and reengagement if we did not reach agreement on changes to terms and conditions.” (Coronavirus: BA undermining job talks by Saleha Riaz, Yahoo news, 7 June 2020)

In an earlier statement, Strutton urged state intervention to support the aviation industry as a whole, correctly noting that otherwise “it is blindingly obvious that individual airlines will plot a path out of this that only suits their shareholders”.

In reality, what is needed is a publicly owned aviation industry, organised on the basis of social need not private profit. Anything short of that simply means that taxpayers’ cash will continue to be siphoned off by the shareholders.

The government itself, fearing a bad press, has complained about airlines like BA milking the government’s furlough job retention scheme whilst simultaneously issuing redundancy notices.

Meanwhile, Heathrow airport has announced that it is offering voluntary redundancy to all its 7,000 in-house employees.

Unite the union is seeking to sugar the pill by boasting about the “generous” redundancy package it has negotiated, but this will be of small comfort to those whose careers have been abruptly stalled with doubtful prospect of workers being able to secure equivalent alternative employment.

Furthermore, just how ‘generous’ settlements will prove to be a little further down the line, when more cuts may be deemed necessary (they cannot be ruled out, says Heathrow), is far from certain.

What is certain however is that a history of unions retreating from challenging all redundancies, ‘voluntary’ or otherwise, has left workers demoralised and weakened for all the battles they now face.

Posted in Human Rights, UKComments Off on BA threatens to sack its entire workforce

RIP FlyBe

The only rational way to ensure that vital infrastructure exists and is run for the benefit of all is public ownership.

Proletarian writers

The sudden collapse in March of the airline company FlyBe, announced in the middle of the night with no warning to its more than 2,000 employees, brings to an abrupt end a protracted disintegration that has felt like watching a car crash in slow motion.

Slackening demand resulting from the coronavirus scare has been no more than a final straw. For a long time the company was visibly in difficulties, bleeding £20m a year in losses.

FlyBe operated nearly two out of five domestic flights in the UK, reaching parts of the country ill-served by other operators, and it was clear that the company’s demise would undermine efforts to improve regional connectivity, to the detriment of the national economy.

But rather than itself taking any responsibility for running this vital service, the government sat on its hands, leaving the company’s ‘rescue’ to the gentle mercies of a business consortium (led by Virgin and including Stobart and Cyrus Capital), which proceeded to drive the company further into the ground.

When crisis point was reached in January this year, there was talk of the government loaning the company £100m and deferring payment of £106m worth of air passenger duty (APD), the tax on passenger flights from UK airports. (Needless to say this ‘rescue’ plan was intended to prop up FlyBe rather than bring it into public ownership, the only rational solution.)

But in February, then chancellor Sajid Javid, who had favoured overhauling APD, fell foul of a palace coup at the court of Tsar Boris, and his replacement Rishi Sunak was against messing with the tax. Soon Whitehall was briefing that the mooted £100m loan was also for the chop, certain criteria not having been met.

Now, after two months of wrangling in secret behind closed doors in government departments and company boardrooms, with FlyBe’s employees kept in the dark about their future, their hopes alternately raised and dashed as rumour succeeded rumour, the news finally broke: the company is officially bankrupt.

The insanity of leaving transport in private ownership has never been more obvious than in the unfolding FlyBe saga.

The fact is that reliable, integrated and environmentally responsible air and rail transport is a basic necessity in any modern industrial economy, and if capitalism is incapable of delivering that it is clearly past its sell-by date and ready to be bundled into the dustbin of history.

Posted in UKComments Off on RIP FlyBe

Job cuts and factory closures; the car industry in Britain

As automation and overproduction combine to wipe out industrial jobs, what is the answer to this seemingly insoluble problem?

By: Lalkar

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 186,000 workers are directly engaged in manufacturing jobs in the British car industry, with 856,000 workers to be found in the wider industry, from sales executives to garage mechanics.

It’s an industry worth a whopping £82bn (turnover), but the global crisis of overproduction means that there are many more cars sitting on forecourts than can be sold, and fewer workers with the cash to buy them.

World market

A staggering number of vehicles for domestic and industrial purposes are now produced on a global scale. Britain sits outside the top ten countries for vehicle production, the peak of production in recent years having been around 1.7 million vehicles.

That number is dwarfed by those of local rivals Germany and Spain, which turn out 5.5 million and 2.8 million vehicles respectively. And those not inconsiderable numbers would be mere monthly returns in China, which turned out 29 million vehicles in 2017.

The only rival to China’s supremacy at the top of the leader board comes from the US, with 11 million.

China and the US, markets and tariffs

For every ten cars made in Britain, eight are exported abroad. The European Union (EU) takes the largest chunk (54 percent) followed by the US (16 percent) and China (7.5 percent).

The slump in sales to China is worrying many of the biggest car manufacturers. China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers has recorded that January sales (2019) are down 18 percent on last year, extremely bad news for General Motors (Chinese sales down by 10 percent), VW (down 3 percent in January alone) and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

A general slump in the Chinese market has been ongoing for the past several months. The China slowdown is exacerbating the general worldwide crisis of overproduction, and the fear of tariffs from the US (the second biggest destination for cars exported from Britain) cuts off another market in which to shift the millions of shiny new cars.

US president Donald Trump’s electoral success was based upon promises he made to the US working class that he would protect key US industries and jobs, not least in the US car industry. The crisis of overproduction is forcing the United States to take measures to protect artificially the uncompetitive US production from its rivals.

This process has political repercussions, and accusations that German car production poses a ‘national security threat’ to the United States is no mere rhetoric from an out-of-control US president – rather, it is the sober assessment of the social strife that could accompany a complete collapse in the ability of the US to shift those 11 million vehicles a year.

The Los Angeles Times recently described the abyss into which chaotic capitalist production is pulling the world: “President Trump received the findings of a probe into whether imported vehicles pose a national security threat, as the European Union threatened retaliation for any tariffs the Trump administration might impose.

“Trump has 90 days to decide whether to act on the findings, which were delivered by commerce secretary Wilbur Ross on Sunday with no hint of the findings. Commerce started the investigation in May under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act — the same provision the administration used last year to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum.

“Trump has threatened levies of as much as 25 percent on foreign-made vehicles. American and foreign-based auto manufacturers and dealers have lobbied against it. Companies and governments from Europe to Asia have warned Trump that tariffs on car imports would hurt the US economy and disrupt the global auto industry, which is already mired in a slump.

“An auto trade war would deal a blow to carmakers including General Motors Co and Toyota Motor Corp, which have built their supply chains to take advantage of countries with low duties …

“If European exports are hit by US actions, the EU will ‘react in a swift and adequate manner’, Margaritis Schinas, a spokesman for the European Commission, told reporters in Brussels on Monday. The EU has prepared tariffs on a total of $23bn in US goods should Trump follow through on his threat, which would chiefly hit Germany.” (Trump will decide if auto imports are a national security threat, as EU retaliation looms by Andrew Mayeda, Jenny Leonard and Richard Bravo, 18 February 2019)

Brexit

British based manufacturers and their woes appear like small fry compared to the global trade war described above. But the production of around 1.5 million vehicles every year in Britain is a part of that same competition, and it keeps thousands of productive workers with a roof over their heads.

The recent announcements of job losses and commercial cutbacks have been made by the biggest of the British producers. In 2017, JPR, Nissan and Honda were all in the SMMT Top 5 in terms of production, with JLR alone producing more than half a million vehicles a year.

There are also the problems associated with Brexit, and a no-deal Brexit in particular, for an industry heavily reliant on a continent-wide component supplier base.

At least 10 percent of those employed in the British automotive sector are from elsewhere in the EU, and the extensive supplier base and the system of ‘just in time’ component delivery are possible only with the fiercest competition from across the European Union.

The ‘just in time’ system brings in £35m-worth of parts each day to the assembly lines of British car manufacturers. These components have come from across the EU – a screw from here and a bolt from there, a zinc-coated nut from Spain and a plastic plug from Poland.

An intricate and polluting convoy of 1,100 trucks rolls into Britain each day so that Tom Smith on his fork truck at Jaguar in Castle Brom can drop a pallet of washers to Felix Jezniak, just as he tips his last washer from its oily box and affixes it to his 20th vehicle of the day.

The vast, intricate and integrated system of supply is a wonder to behold, and if man could only apply himself to producing with such efficiency the things he needs for a healthy and enjoyable life rather than for the enrichment of a handful of shareholders, then the world would be veritable Garden of Eden.

An industry in decline

In 2006, when the CPGB-ML marched with Peugeot workers through Coventry, it seemed as though the writing was on the wall for the future of car manufacturing in Britain.

At that time, Coventry was losing its last major car manufacturing facility, having once been the centre of the British automotive industry, recognition of which saw it twinned with Detroit and Stalingrad after the second world war.

As Peugeot shut down and thousands lost their jobs, it looked as though what was left of British car manufacturing would follow suit. The surprising aspect of the terminal decline of the British car factory has been that it has taken so long.

In part, it has benefited from access to the Chinese market and the ability to exploit labour from across the EU – such exploitation being often referred to as ‘frictionless’. Despite this, there really is no cure for a terminally-ill patient.

December 2018 saw the leaked news from JLR that 4,500 jobs were to be lost, and it was not long before Nissan announced it was cancelling plans to make its new X-Trail model in Sunderland.

As the dust settled from these announcements, Honda dropped the bombshell that it was packing its bags and taking a one-way ticket back to Japan, dropping 3,500 workers onto the dole, with thousands more from the supply chain getting ready to join them.

The smaller, niche-end of the industry; the Aston Martins and Bentleys of the industry, are also making ominous noises.

Blaming Brexit

With a no-deal Brexit looming, the car makers and sections of the ruling class are lining up to blame Brexit for job losses, with 2019 looking like the best year to bury bad news. Even when the manufacturers insist it has nothing to do with Brexit, the impartial press is ready to rewrite the headlines,

“Whatever Honda’s reasons for deciding to close Swindon, the UK car industry clearly feels threatened by a possible no-deal Brexit,” wrote Jasper Jolly for the Guardian recently. (Honda’s Swindon factory closure threatens 7,000 jobs – as it happened, 19 February 2019)

Despite all the propaganda from the manufacturers and corporate media, it appears that the desire for Brexit amongst British workers shows little sign of waning. Leaflets addressing workers at JLR and Bentley have been distributed by CPGB-ML activists at these factories, and workers have responded with near unanimous approval for our slogan ‘Don’t blame Brexit’.

Several thousand copies of the Birmingham Worker addressed assembly-line workers in these terms: “JLR, Bentley, Aston Martin and many other big players in the car industry are fighting an anti-Brexit propaganda war, blaming everything on Brexit. If you listened to these powerful giants, whose businesses are worth billions, you would be led to believe that before the British people voted to leave there had never been any problems in the car industry!

“The facts are different. The facts are that there is a huge crisis in the car industry, not because of Brexit, but because of two main factors. Firstly, the manufacturers have made more cars than they can shift.

“Whilst the overproduction crisis preceded Brexit and will get worse with or without Brexit, Bentley are not lying when they warn about possible disruption of supply lines – eg, engines imported from Germany. However, disruptions or no disruptions, there are too many Bentleys and not enough millionaires to buy them.

“Secondly, the large, powerful car producers are constantly looking for excuses and opportunities to outsource jobs and export their capital to foreign countries where labour and costs are cheaper. The manufacturers and their shareholders are motivated by making bigger profits.

“Just now, having made more cars than they can sell, the manufacturers see their opportunity to jump ship and blame it all on Brexit!

“In recent years JLR, Aston Martin, Bentley and other manufacturers have made billions of pounds in profit. These companies must not be allowed to throw hundreds of workers who’ve generated these huge profits straight onto the dole.

“Workers must be kept on full pay and manufacturing jobs protected. Companies that have made huge profits must not be allowed to undermine the democratic will of the British people to Leave the EU.”

“Defend manufacturing jobs. Defend Brexit!”

Adding to the woes of the British car industry is the slowdown in the sale of diesel cars after widespread negative press and pie-in-the-sky promises of an all-electric future by the government, which at the present moment is struggling to build a single functioning power plant at Hinckley Point, let alone the dozens of new plants that will be needed if Britain’s cars are all to run on electricity.

Cultural changes in cities across Britain are also having an impact, as many are finding it more affordable to install Uber on their phones than to take out huge finance on cars they cannot truly afford.

But of all the factors placing pressure upon the car industry in general and the employment of men and women in particular, the ongoing drive to automation, the use of robots and machines, is the mechanism by which labour is so profitably replaced.

Automation

In a research paper entitled the ‘Digitalisation of the automotive industry’ in 2016, mega-accounting firm KPMG and the SMMT outlined: “By fully embracing digitalisation, the automotive sector stands to gain £6.9bn every year by 2035. The cumulative total benefit to the economy could be £74bn by 2035. This is a significant prize …”

The KPMG paper outlined the moves taken by governments (principally in the imperialist states: the US, German, British and Japanese) to push for extensive digitalisation of the production process in collaboration with their respective academic institutions and industry.

The report envisaged a world where robots and automated production processes would be effectively planned and regulated by “predictive analytics, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence powered by algorithms that have become sufficiently sophisticated and validated through real-world examples … now able to make decisions and predictions based on this real time data.

“In the future, the advent of deep learning – a high performance, dynamic way of computerised decision-making that can learn patterns automatically and more accurately with the more data you give it – will enable further augmented decision-making.”

This future world has a sensor on every box to inform another sensor (hundreds of miles away) that it needs to start 3D printing a few more plastic plugs. Other sensors will note when the new plugs are ready and a photo-electric sensor somewhere in Slovakia will then despatch a robot-controlled Google-driven lorry to bring those parts ‘just in time’.

Sensors on robots, and no doubt sensors on people, will be able to ensure that profits are maximised, and with all these sensors organising production and many robots actually undertaking the production process itself, there won’t be much room left for working men and women.

With more workers forced out of work, there will be less money coming in to buy the things the sensors are churning out. The prisons will be bursting and, in the words of Lord Byron, workers will be “nefariously guilty of lawfully begetting children whom, thanks to the times, they are unable to maintain”. (Speech to parliament in defence of the frame-breakers, 27 February 1812)

Time to face it, capitalism must go

The drive for profit is leading to the wholesale impoverishment of the human race. In its drive for maximum profits, mankind is overproducing all the things it does not need.

Rather than plan production in a rational way so as to ensure a constantly rising standard of material and cultural existence, the chaos of private production threatens the survival of our species and the planet.

The struggle against capitalism is a struggle between the working classes and the capitalist class. This struggle has now raged for more than two hundred years.

In the 18th century British workers were faced with a similar threat from technology. Our recent ancestors were thrown out of work, out of factories and mills, with the introduction of new technology, and their response was to attack this technology, to smash it up and destroy it.

These workers were known as Luddites, and they led a fierce and heroic battle with the police, army, manufacturers and government. In Nottinghamshire, weavers who made frames for the manufacture of trousers (stockings) faced death for struggling to protect their livelihoods.

The struggle led the great poet Byron to write:

Men are more easily made than machinery –
Stockings fetch better prices than lives –
Gibbets on Sherwood will heighten the scenery,
Showing how Commerce, how Liberty thrives!

Some folks for certain have thought it was shocking,
When Famine appeals and when Poverty groans,
That Life should be valued at less than a stocking,
And breaking of frames lead to breaking of bones.
If it should prove so, I trust, by this token,
(And who will refuse to partake in the hope?)
That the frames of the fools may be first to be broken,
Who, when asked for a remedy, send down a rope.

— An Ode to the Framers of the Frame Bill, March 1812

For all the heroism of our ancestors, they were ultimately unsuccessful in that struggle. History teaches us that to protect jobs and for dignity of labour we must direct our blows towards the capitalist class and not just its property.

This class of parasites does not work but collects through dividends, shares and taxes the wealth produced by the working class.

Our working class should draw inspiration from the workers of France, who have so militantly expressed their outrage these last few months with the protests of the yellow vests.

Occupations, strikes, blockades … disruption of the capitalist system of profit-making is the only way to extract concessions from the ruling class.

In tandem with this rebellion must be the building up of the forces of the communists, the advanced section of the workers, which understands that it is necessary to turn the economic crisis into an all-out political rebellion.

The aim of the communists must be the armed insurrection of the working people, for the seizure of state power. Britain today is sleepy, and the British working class is idle and silent in the face of the abuses it is suffering; but if Donald Trump can appreciate that the fierce competition between the capitalists themselves creates the conditions for the national security of the US imperialists to be threatened, then we can take some consolation from their discomfort while working to bring their worst fears to fruition.

Posted in Campaigns, Human Rights, UKComments Off on Job cuts and factory closures; the car industry in Britain

Julian Assange: The truth will set him free

Many questions remain to be answered about the conduct of Julian’s defence.

Communist Initiative

Interview by Communist Initiative with Aymeric Monville, author of Julian Assange in Mortal Danger.

Read the original article in French.

*****

CI: Julian Assange was unable to appear at the latest three hearings of his case [for extradition to the USA], while the British are experiencing a massive spread of Covid-19 in their prisons. What more do we know? Dare we hope for his early release?

AM: The extradition hearing is now scheduled for 7 September and the court has asked for a psychiatric report to be completed before 31 July. Expert opinion on such things has no relevance to an extradition hearing, but this is not the first unusual aspect of the Assange case.

On 26 and 27 February, at the last hearing where Assange appeared, those present saw him in open rebellion. Personally, I interpret his present refusal to attend as a continuation of this rebellion. I cannot believe what some relatives and even lawyers have been saying about there being a risk of his committing suicide. It seems to me to be dangerous to give credence to this hypothesis. No opportunity should be given to the authorities to arrange for such a prediction to be fulfilled.

It is rather time for the boot to be put on the other foot; for the torturers of Assange, the deniers of his liberty and freedom of expression – and ours – to be made accountable. It seems obvious to me that this campaign of support should be internationalised as much as possible; I think this would tip the scales in favour of this Australian journalist .

For example, I do not understand why the British defence is not making greater use of the United Nations report on Assange’s torture, nor even the fact that the UN believes that Assange should not be extradited, is innocent of any crime and ought to be released immediately. His team should have filed a complaint against British justice.

CI: Recently, in a live interview on RT international with former British MP George Galloway, there was talk of a fake photo having been published in the British press. Can you tell us more?

AM: This is the photograph published by the Daily Mail on 12 April alongside a story about Assange’s partner, Stella Morris, and her two children, who are presumed to have been conceived at the embassy.

The Daily Mail, to illustrate its revelations, printed a photo of the couple standing together in the streets of a city with a backdrop of buildings, blue sky and trees. But Ms Morris has said that she met Mr Assange in 2015 while he was confined in the embassy. This photo therefore is questionable, and I did not hesitate to address the subject.

George Galloway, being a former Labour MP who was expelled from the party owing to his courageous opposition to the Iraq war, obviously does not like this very conservative tabloid. Perhaps he was also relying on a knowledge of the British press acquired over many years when he concluded: “It’s a fake.”

For my part, before jumping to conclusions, I reminded him that credit for the photo is given to Joseph Farrell, who is described as a Wikileaks ‘ambassador’, not by Ms Morris. Perhaps Mr Farrell or the Daily Mail are in a position to supply a rational explanation ?

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Edward Snowden’s lawyer, Jesselyn Radack, has expressed doubts as to whether Stella Morris really is a lawyer – ie, in English terms, a practising barrister or solicitor.

After the affair of Mr Juan Branco, who recently described himself as Assange’s lawyer although he had not yet been admitted to the bar, you understand that in the absence of declarations by Assange himself, we are obliged to verify the information.

CI: And what do you conclude from this?

AM: I do not conclude anything, but I would like an explanation.

Certainly, Mrs Morris is supposed to have met Assange in 2011, about a year before entering the Ecuadorian embassy, but their intimate relationship did not begin until 2015.

Shot shortly before Assange entered the embassy, the film Risk by Laura Poitras shows that he was at that time in a relationship with Sarah Harrison. I apologise for dwelling on these intimate subjects, but, knowing that Mrs Harrison is the person who helped Edward Snowden to find refuge in Russia, and that she has subsequently disappeared completely, the question of Assange’s partners is of the utmost importance.

We could therefore accept that the only photo found to establish an intimate relationship between Morris and Assange is bound to date from before their relationship began, and can only show a kind of fraternal embrace. It’s strange, all the same.

To add to the strangeness, Ms Morris’s size on this photo does not correspond with reality. This was pointed out by Franco-Polish activist Monika Karbowska, who was present at all the hearings until her imprisonment, and confirmed having seen Stella Morris appearing at the hearings from 19 December onwards. This difference can be confirmed by comparing photos of Morris alongside Judge Garzon with a photo of Judge Garzon alongside Assange.

It is therefore possible that the Daily Mail has simply faked the photo, as media of this kind often do, eg, by removing, to take a famous example, Sarkozy’s tummy bulges. Except that in the present context, we cannot afford such compromises with the truth, which fuel rumour, fears and conspiracy theories.

CI: In fact, are you not afraid of being accused of conspiracy?

AM: To take a simple and well-known example, it seems to me that calling into question the single bullet theory in the assassination of President Kennedy, dubbed by its detractors the ‘magic bullet’ theory, support for which was confidently argued by the Warren commission, doesn’t make you a conspirator, but forms part of the investigation process.

The conspiracy theorist does not ask for the restoration, as I do, of logical coherence, but rather is someone who, saying to himself that there were two bullets, then allows himself to assert without proof that the second bullet was fired by this or that person.

I remind you that investigation (in Greek ‘Ἱστορία’) has been at the root of rational thought since Herodotus.

Another example would be to ask whether it is allowed to question why, if we want to support Wikileaks, we are asked to make a donation to the Courage Foundation and to send our cheques to its centre in Varick Street, New York? Do we have the right to wonder why we should send our money directly to a country where most of the leaders have sworn to kill Assange? Is his defence compromised?

CI: With his imprisonment, supervision of his situation has undoubtedly been made difficult?

AM: Since his imprisonment, extended by the British government by a further fortnight from 8 June, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain evidence of his state of health at the hearings. French doctors linked to the Wikijustice committee have published reports, even though they cannot have real access to Assange because of the bulletproof glass cage in which he is locked whenever he appears.

CI: What opinion can one have of Assange’s defence now that more than a year has passed since his kidnapping at the Ecuadorian embassy?

AM: I must admit that I have hyperbolic doubts, as Descartes would say, as to the effectiveness of the defence. And, for Julian Assange’s sake, we should look into all of this.

Judge Arbuthnot has a conflict of interest because her husband worked for the British secret services. The barristers’ chambers involved in the defences also have a conflict of interest, as revealed by American journalist Lucy Komisar. Out of the hundred barristers’ chambers in London, two have been chosen that are regularly involved in extradition cases. That would be understandable, except that their involvement is invariably on behalf of the United States! One of them even specialises in the application of the Browder-Magnitsky extraterritorial law.

If we accept that Assange’s advisers had no choice but to compromise, and have deliberately chosen two firms that work hand in glove with the United States, ok. But even in such a case, when you negotiate, you must insist on what is essential – namely, the physical and mental safety of the client. But this is not happening. The UN says he is being tortured. Craig Murray, former British ambassador, says he is being tortured. And everyone present at the hearing saw that he barely remembers his own name.

CI: From a political point of view, do you not find it necessary, on the contrary, to support the defence team?

AM: Of course, I don’t want to bark up the wrong tree, as they say across the Channel. I know that the attacks are terrible, that the defence may have to defend itself, and that in any case Assange’s team does not have much room for manoeuvre.

They are dealing with people like [US secretary of state] Mike Pompeo, who has learned, as he has admitted, “to lie, to cheat, to steal”, including perhaps stealing nappies to establish the DNA of Assange’s son, as Ms Morris claims – although we do not understand what interest there would be in doing this when the entire building, including the ladies’ lavatory, was covered by spy cameras installed by UC Global working on behalf of the CIA.

In these circumstances, the nature of the relationship between Mr Assange and Ms Morris could hardly have been unknown. This is a contradiction which remains to be resolved.

CI: Do you see any difference between the Democratic camp and the Republican camp in the USA in terms of their attitude to Julian Assange?

AM: No difference. Pompeo is on the Republican side, but remember that President Clinton, too, endorsed the idea that the United States has a ‘manifest destiny’, which supposedly gives it the right to track down all those who speak out against its war crimes. It has thus given itself the right since 1959 to maintain an embargo against Cuba when almost the entire international community annually votes against it. The USA is like the Third Reich; it believes itself to be above all the rules of humanity.

But, going back to the defence, I deeply regret having to say that it is simply inaudible. Again, I do not reach any conclusion, I do not probe the nuts and bolts, I do not raise any doubt as to its good intentions. I simply note its poor results and the fact that it appears to be paralysed.

CI: Did hope come from Switzerland this year?

AM: Yes, the parliament of the large canton of Geneva voted for Switzerland to grant him a humanitarian visa. All the parties voted in favour except one, meaning that the highest institutions of the most important city of French-speaking Switzerland are involved. This therefore concerns not merely a single party, but an entire region, and soon therefore a state. We look forward to this decision being finally made at the federal level as had been planned before the pandemic broke out.

It is a big step forward. And it is also proof that the Swiss political class is much more independent of the United States than our political class in France or Great Britain.

This is why talking about the fact that Assange has, as we are now told, two British-born infants, could also distract attention from the real issues. I hope that the British ‘justice’ will not use this argument, when Switzerland would offer the only honourable exit from the crisis for so-called British democracy. The best thing for the whole family would be to leave Britain as soon as possible.

Of course, Julian needs to be protected because there have been too many suspicious deaths in connections to Wikileaks. And for his security, I prefer to trust a state rather than a group, NGO or individual.

In the sterile debate on whether conspiracies exist or not, I advance the essential criterion, which is the quantitative factor. History is full of conspiracies, of course, but a conspiracy, by definition, involves a small number of people. As more and more people are involved, there is a shift from quantity to quality. I therefore have a priori confidence in the Swiss solution because it involves far too many people who can exercise control over each other to imagine any malignancy. However, these people, whose good will I do not doubt, must not forget that Assange’s life will be threatened as much outside prison as inside it. Guarantees as to its security must be given by the Swiss confederation.

It should be understood that the Geneva proposal, aimed at temporarily hosting Assange at the Geneva university hospitals, represents to date the only possibility for allowing him out of prison in order to receive treatment. It is therefore very important that these democratic and coordinated measures, proposed by the MP Jean Rossiaud, should succeed.

I must admit that I am amazed to see how the Geneva proposal is currently being subjected to serious attempts at obstruction, including by people who are supposed to wish Assange well, as has been noted by Swiss trade union Adetra, which is very involved in the Assange’s defence. We should read in this regard Adetra’s very interesting press release dated 4-5 June.

What I understand from this statement is that there is a glaring contradiction between, on the one hand, a highly questionable strategy of certain lawyers, who aspire to be hegemonic, on the other hand the will of the representatives of a sovereign people. I have no doubt that in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s country, it is the political that will prevail.

CI: Other solutions?

AM: The other solution, which inexplicably was raised not by the British but by the French defence team, acting as though they had discovered a new continent, is to bring this case before the European court of human rights, especially given that the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has already voted to help Julian Assange.

And I would like to make the following point to readers: the European court of human rights has nothing to do with the European Union, but with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states, including Russia, and of which Great Britain is still a member.

I think we should welcome the fact that the British people have regained their sovereignty from the European Union, but this victory would be ruined if this sovereignty were abandoned in favour of subjection to the United States, at the cost of Britain being banished from the system of international law.

CI: Is there much talk in France of the influence of George Soros on the European court of human rights?

AM: Yes, currently a conflict of interest scandal has erupted over the shocking involvement of NGOs such as George Soros’ Open Society Foundation in the decision-making of judges. This resulted in the ‘seizure’ of the committee of ministers by several members of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe [a process compelling an investigation into the matter in question] in an attempt to restore the credibility of the institution.

I think it is important to emphasise the fact that Julian Assange was able, among other things, to expose collusion between Soros and the Clinton clan during the 2016 presidential campaign. It is therefore obvious that of the 100 or so judges, the 22 linked to Soros will have to step down if the court wishes to rule on the Assange case. This is why I have some reservations about the support provided by NGOs linked to Soros and by certain people who remain ‘friends’ and ‘advisers’ of Julian Assange, but who at the same time have a vested interest in defending George Soros.

The Australian journalist certainly became an embarrassment from the moment it was understood that he was denouncing both the right hand and the left hand of imperialism. And Mr Soros, who claimed responsibility for the regime change in Ukraine in 2014, is a living embodiment of this ‘left’ hand of imperialism.

CI: Who do you think of when you talk about people related to Soros?

AM: I always think of Joseph Farrell, the ‘Wikileaks ambassador’ of whom we have already spoken, and who is a member of the board of the Centre for Investigative Journalism. A document photographed by Monika Karbowska shows that some of the centre’s activities are funded directly by Soros’s Open Society. We can see it in photos of one of their brochures for a seminar in October 2018, bearing the words “supported by Open Society Foundations”.

The CIJ thinks it can reject any possible objections by publishing a quote from the representative of the fundraising arm, Maria Teresa Ronderos, who claims that George Soros is so uninvolved that he no longer even remembered that the ‘independent journalism programme’ branch, for which she is responsible, was also part of the Open Society. But that is a hard to believe …

However, it is only two years since Julian Assange launched his astounding revelations regarding emails between George Soros and Hillary Clinton’s advisor John Podesta – emails that relate in particular to the funding of the organisation MoveOn.org, which has been mobilising for anti-Trump demonstrations since the latter’s election.

Note also that the emails included one from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook, addressed to her friend Huma Abedin, which is particularly telling. It mentions concern that Mr Soros, who at the time was financing the Democrats to the tune of up to $13m, should be “happy”. It seems that this time, Soros was concerned about the return on his investment!

Putting one’s faith in the Soros clan a mere two years after these revelations amounts to a humiliating retreat. And fully to understand its symbolic importance, let us take note of the fact that the CIJ board includes not only the aforesaid Wikileaks ‘ambassador’, but also Andy Müller-Maguhn, member of the Chaos Computer Club and of the Wau Holland Foundation – two organisations involved in the creation of Wikileaks.

When I also see Mrs Renata Avila, close collaborator of Judge Garzon, omnipresent in the Assange defence team (she recently chaired a meeting in the Bundestag on this subject) and also as executive director of the ‘Smart Citizenship’ foundation, which is openly funded by the Open Society and the National Endowment for Democracy, themselves founded by Ronald Reagan, I find that pretty intolerable.

There may also be a problem with Yannis Varoufakis’s Diem 25 (Movement for Democracy in Europe), arising from the simple fact that Ms Avila is a member of this party, notwithstanding the fact that Varoufakis, in order to deny certain rumours during the Greek crisis, described Soros as being hostile to him.

Of course, Ms Avila’s political choices are her own business, but I can’t see why we can’t point out the contradiction between her various commitments. A priori, Wikileaks favours transparency.

I would also like the Wau Holland Association, whose project Wikileaks in fact is, not to leave Assange alone to answer for decisions that have, in large part, had to have been taken collectively. Who pays these strange lawyers? Who chose this weak profile defence? Is Assange still able to make decisions? What sources of income does he have?

Recruitment of brilliant hackers takes place when they are very young, but no one can persuade me that these very young people, brilliant as they are, are the ones who determine political strategy. What was Wikileaks’ original intention? Especially bearing in mind the above?

CI: Do you nevertheless have some idea?

AM: I simply observe that there is a contradiction between a certain number of classic operations aimed, for example, at denouncing breaches of democracy that please the Democratic camp (ie, any perpetrated by Russia or by the Republican party) and Assange’s attitude, which consisted, over time, in publishing all information without discrimination. I have no idea whether Assange consciously violated this limit, or even whether Wikileaks consciously set a limit at the start. I just observe that Assange has left a lot of ‘soft left’ people far behind.

Obviously, when Assange demonstrated, with supporting evidence, that Saudi Arabia had funded the Clinton clan as much as it had Daesh, and that Hillary Clinton was aware of that, it threw a chill on the US presidential campaign. He burned all his boats. The only people who can with sincerity support him now are the anti-imperialists. Or people smart enough to understand that, whatever they may think of Assange, it is their democratic freedoms too that are threatened by the precedents being set by his case.

“The truth is always revolutionary,” said Lenin. And here is Assange denouncing wars, wherever they are, pointing the finger at the whole imperialist camp – the wars of the Republican camp (IraqAfghanistan) and the wars of the Democrat camp (LibyaSyriaUkraine) alike.

This is why we need an international perspective. To protect Assange from his enemies, of course, but also, if necessary, from his ‘friends’ in the false imperial left, who pose as ‘defenders of freedom of expression’ even as they accept funding from sources that undermine democratic life. Their Karl Popper-style ‘open society’, on which Soros’s model is based, is not new: it is a return to Roman clientelism!

CI: Two words to conclude?

AM: We do not want to follow unthinkingly a campaign based solely on the defence of great principles such as ‘freedom of expression’ by always repeating the same linguistic formulas. It’s not enough. Julian once said: “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by the truth.” That is why, in order to free him, we want to be able to differentiate between what works and what doesn’t.

We need the truth; we want the truth.

Posted in Human Rights, UKComments Off on Julian Assange: The truth will set him free

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