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31/03/2015: Apologist for neo-liberalism and autocracy

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Elections punish Valls and Hollande

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Alcedo Mora must be found alive!

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Harald Mahrer (1974-2015)

27/03/2015: An active, critical and inspiring comrade

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Demand release of arrested women activists

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The instability of domestic capitalism

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Central bank rates cut "panic measure"

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Twenty three killed in terrorist attack

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Belgium
No agreement reached between unions and government over austerity

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Ukraine
Conflict unresolved after ’Minsk-2’ agreement

18/03/2015: Only independent working-class mass movement can remove the region’s authoritarian rulers

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Public sector workers strike against austerity

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New strike wave against cuts

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 Brazil
Urgent solidarity protests needed

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Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) leaves Solidarity

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What lies behind UKIP?

14/03/2015: Its Tory-oriented anti-immigration, anti-EU rhetoric has been adapted to a right-wing populism aimed at winning voters fed up with the political establishment

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Massive public sector strike against austerity

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Marriage equality referendum set for May

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Stormont government crisis on eve of public sector strike

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Independent workers’ organizations statement about minimum wage

11/03/2015: Increasing demands for a living wage

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13 March public sector strike against austerity

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Greece
Syriza’s first months in power

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Wave of student protests

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50,000 march in Moscow after shooting of Boris Nemtsov

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Bolivia

As class tensions rise in Bolivia, so does the possibility of civil war

www.socialistworld.net, 20/08/2007
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Need for a revolutionary socialist party clearer than ever

Roberto Antezana, Alternativa Socialista Revolucionaria (CWI-Bolivia)

The level of the class struggle in Bolivia has sharply intensified in recent weeks. Conflicts around the Constituent Assembly, agrarian reform, and basic food prices have made the political situation very volatile. Evo Morales’ Movement towards Socialism (MAS) government is facing increasing pressure from both sides of the political spectrum.

Those in the social movements are becoming increasingly frustrated and angered by the shortcomings of the MAS government’s reform program while the right-wing wants to destroy the MAS government’s reform program because it is hurting them economically and for fear that the government will not be able to control the social movements and the reform movement could turn into a revolutionary movement.

The Constituent Assembly has been a key source of discontent amongst the social movements. The August 6th deadline for the Constituent Assembly has passed and, far from having approved a new constitution, there isn’t even a draft to be voted upon. Instead, the MAS government was forced to make a crucial concession to the right-wing opposition on the constitutional voting procedures in order to get Congress to extend the Constituent Assembly by four months.

Many in the MAS party’s political base are frustrated, disappointed, and/or angry at the MAS government’s failure to pass a new constitution and the compromise it made with the right-wing. Indigenous peasant organizations, who are demanding a new constitution which guarantees autonomy for indigenous communities, were particularly upset. Two powerful peasant unions, La Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente Boliviano (CIDOB) and Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Markas de Qullasuyu (Conamaq) have publicly rejected the compromise and declared the Constituent Assembly dead.

This has had the positive effect of forcing some in the MAS party to publicly acknowledge their reliance on the social movements in overcoming the right-wing opposition to make fundamental changes. Undoubtedly, however, many of the more radical and frustrated grass-roots activists in the MAS party as well as the some of the more radical supporting campesino federations and trade unions will see this as a wake up call to begin mobilizing the social movements around a radical platform which calls for a deepening of the social revolution which the MAS party asserts is already in process.

Severe increases on basic food prices are also bringing pressure upon the MAS government from its bases in the social movements. In recent weeks, the prices of bread, beef, chicken, dairy products, and most fruits and vegetables have all risen dramatically and the price of public transportation will also go up in the near future. This has sparked a rise in the general inflation rate which approached 7% in July, surpassing even pessimistic predictions. This wiped out the government-mandated 5% wage increase for all workers which took effect early August.

According to official statistics, 60% of the Bolivian population is poor and 33% are extremely poor. 60% of Bolivian homes officially don’t have enough money to meet their family’s basic nutritional requirements. The poor majority does not have extra money to offset the rise in prices; if they go up, the majority in Bolivia eats less. The MAS party’s poor working class, peasant and indigenous base are becoming increasingly frustrated at the economic difficulties which the MAS reforms have not been able to resolve.

Aggressive Attacks from Bolivia’s Right-Wing Opposition

The most intense pressure on the MAS government is coming from the right-wing opposition, which is made up of the business and large-landowning elite, with the support of U.S. imperialism. It scored an important victory over the MAS party by preventing the Constituent Assembly from completing its work by the August 6th deadline. In the compromise to extend the Constituent Assembly by four months, it forced the MAS-controlled Congress to concede that each new article be approved by a 2/3 majority, which has been the key dispute in the Constituent Assembly from the beginning.

Some right-wing organizations and political parties are flatly rejecting the extension of the Constituent Assembly, calling it illegal and saying that the old constitution should be respected. A full page ad endorsed by many important right-wing organizations stated, "The current constitution is much better than any possible result from a Constituent Assembly illegally prolonged. Defend it!" saying later that they have "assumed the task of defending democracy, liberty, private property..." (Los Tiempos, 29 June 2007)

Jose "Tuto" Quiroga, head of the main right-wing party in Bolivia, Democratic Social Power (Podemos), has said that even a constitution approved by 2/3 of the Constituent Assembly should still have to be approved by a majority in each one of Bolivia’s nine states. If this does not occur, he says, "The people are going to call for and say: secession. We are separating. We are dividing." This is not just inflated rhetoric either. There is a very real possibility that a secession movement in Bolivia could emerge which could end in a civil war and/or dictatorship.

The opposition to the Constituent Assembly is just one aspect of a broader right-wing campaign to destabilize the MAS government and weaken the social movements which are putting the Bolivian ruling class’ economic interests at risk. There is a very powerful autonomy movement in the four eastern states of Bolivia known as the "Media Luna" (Half Moon). These states contain the vast majority of Bolivia’s oil reserves, they produce most of its agricultural goods, and they are more industrialized than Bolivia’s western states.

Although the MAS government enjoys a solid majority on a national level, the right-wing enjoys a considerable majority in the "Media Luna" states. This is especially true with regards to the autonomy issue which was rejected overwhelmingly in a national referendum in July 2006, 62% against and 38% in favor, but which was supported by the overwhelming majority in the Media Luna states, by 69.5% of the population.

If the Media Luna succeeds in their bid for autonomy, it would insulate much of Bolivia’s economic elite and large landowners from Morales’ economic reforms. But the chance for an outright victory for the autonomy movement is small owing to the MAS government’s solid majority on a national level. Nonetheless, the movement has been used to build a very organized and mobilized right-wing opposition in the Media Luna states which could ultimately be transformed into a secession movement.

Leading the autonomy movement is Santa Cruz governor, Rubén Costas, and the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee, which is funded by big business and large landowners but has widespread support in the middle and upper class as a whole. There is also an organized right-wing youth group, the Cruz Youth, which serves as the opposition’s fighting force at times causing demonstrations to turn violent. It recently put out a call to arms in response to Morales’ announcement that indigenous organizations would be taking part in the annual August 7th Military Parade saying that it was tantamount to a foreign invasion. The military parade occurred without incident, but the thought of an armed right-wing youth organization in Santa Cruz hangs heavy in the consciousness of those in the social movements.

Bolivia’s large landowners are another powerful force in the right-wing opposition. Recently, the MAS party began executing its agrarian reform program. In early August, it announced it was expropriating 600,000 hectares of unused land from the agro-industry (large landowners) and distributing them to indigenous communities. In response, the large landowners have announced the formation of "committees of resistance" and industry leaders have said they are prepared to use force to protect illegal expropriations of their property, "The quantity of force used will be proportional to the aggression we receive…we have the obligation and responsibility to protect ourselves" (La Prensa, 5 August 2007). Morales has responded by saying he will use the military to enforce the agrarian reform.

Lastly, the influence of U.S. imperialism plays an important role in right-wing opposition. U.S. ambassador, Philip Goldberg is coming to Bolivia fresh off a stint in the Kosovo where he oversaw the division Balkan states and the spiral of Yugoslavia into civil war. Decentralization and autonomy movements were the civil war’s predecessors. Within three months of his arrival, the Media Luna became noticeably more aggressive in its attacks on the MAS government.

Reformism: a Risky Business in Bolivia

Morales’ MAS government has put in motion a very radical reform program by today’s standards. Following the example of Hugo Chavez’ Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, it has carried out a very well publicized program of partial nationalizations and land reform. Morales has succeed in swelling the government coffers by aggressively renegotiating the contracts with the transnational oil contracts from the 18% they paid in 2003 and 50% they paid in 2005, to the 82% they now pay. Because of high oil prices and the higher taxes, hydrocarbon industry income in Bolivia has increased more than fives! In 2005, oil income was $300 million USD. In 2007 it was $1.6 billion USD.

This money has allowed the MAS government to carry out many of its social programs which have benefited workers, peasants, indigenous, and poor people. Showing the perverted nature of the capitalist system, this influx of money has also contributed largely to the rise in the inflation rate. With so much new money flooding the Bolivian economy, the value of the money drops and the capitalist class pushes this loss onto the consumer. When we are dealing with basic foodstuffs and public transportation, this means the workers and peasants.

While pushing forward with its aggressive reform program, Morales and the MAS government have also done their best to assure the middle class and less hostile sectors of the capitalist class in Bolivia that they were not going to go too far with the reforms.

Vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera, who was imprisoned for some years during the dictatorships, is an important Bolivian theoretician of a reformist political philosophy which argues that the first task in Bolivia is to build Bolivian capitalism and then after about 30 years socialism will be possible.

As we are seeing now in the real life Bolivian struggle, this means that the Bolivian capitalist class will align itself with the needs of the international capitalist class and act as a domestic opposition force against all changes which benefit the working class, peasant, indigenous, and poor majority.

It also means that the social movements will mobilize to defend themselves against the right wing opposition and fight for their demands in the struggle on the streets. Now that the MAS party controls the government, the social movements are correctly demanding that the MAS party carry out their demands. However, being that most of the economy is still controlled by the capitalist opposition, and being that the capitalist class still sucks out a large portion of the profits created by the workers and campesinos, the MAS government is actually very limited in what it can concretely concede to the workers and peasants.

The social movements in Bolivia need a revolutionary socialist leadership

Trotsky said in The Transitional Program, "If capitalism is incapable of satisfying the demands inevitably arising from the calamities generated by itself, then let it perish. Realizability or unrealizability is…a question of the relationship of forces, which can be decided only by the struggle." Right now, relationship of forces is very beneficial to the Bolivian working class and peasantry. With a conscious, revolutionary socialist leadership to prepare and lead the masses into struggle, the workers and peasants of Bolivia could overthrow capitalism and create a socialist economy to address the basic needs of the poor majority.

The MAS government has not done anything to organize, raise the consciousness of, and lead the social movements towards the victory over the right wing opposition that they are clearly capable of winning. It has not assisted in organizing them into democratically run committees of struggle, much less begun the process of linking these committees democratically on a state, region, and national level as well.

This is in spite of the fact that their influence in the social movements is still very high. Last July 20th, the MAS government in La Paz, organized the largest demonstration in Bolivian history of 1.5-2 million (out of a population of under 10 million) to counter attempts by right-wing constituent assemblypersons to move the capital to Sucre (which is not in the "Media Luna" but the conflict has further served to derail the Constituent Assembly).

The demonstration actually took place in the neighboring city of El Alto where the MAS party has more than 80% support. These same El Alto residents were the dominating force in the Gas Wars which kicked out two neoliberal presidents. A revolutionary socialist party is needed to turn this militant, radical population into a revolutionary socialist population which would be the key force in overthrowing capitalism in Bolivia and creating a democratic socialist government and economy.

Instead of promoting the revolutionary development of the social movements, the limitations of the MAS government’s reformist program has forced it to have to actively work to demobilize the social movements. In some cases the government has even used the military to repress sectors which are making demands they are not able to fulfill or which do not fit within their long-term timeframe for change.

This puts both the social movements and the MAS government in a very dangerous position. By weakening the social movements, the MAS government is weakening the only force which is capable of protecting it from right-wing opposition. At the same time, the government needs to press forward with the reforms which are angering the opposition because they need to make the reforms to maintain even the least bit of support from their peasant and worker base.

The possibility of civil war in Bolivia in the upcoming months is very real. Being that a significant 20% indigenous minority (570,000 people) lives in the Media Luna, a civil war could bring with it a campaign of ethnic cleansing and forced relocations. The fact that the military is still controlled in large part by the same old guard and the possibility that the wealthy eastern states could convince a number of military officials to break with the national government makes the possibility of a military dictatorship in Bolivia very real as well.

The key task of the social movements in Bolivia right now is to begin the process of organizing themselves into democratically run defense committees and then link these committees up democratically on a state, regional, and national level. It must also democratize the military, giving soldiers and the Bolivian people the right to elect and immediately recall all military officials. These officials should also be paid the average salary of a rank and file soldier and their private finances strictly supervised by the public.

The beginning stages of carrying out this task will have to be done by small revolutionary socialist organizations with a correct socialist analysis of concrete events and a principled orientation to the masses.

The Bolivian revolution has been at a crossroads for some time now, balancing the left wing forces of the social movements with the right-wing capitalist opposition. Pre-revolutionary situations never last for very long, especially when the political and economic conditions are as volatile as they are in Bolivia. In the next period, there is a very good possibility that we will see the balancing act crumble and a new, more revolutionary, movement emerge or a period of intense conflict and the possible emergence of a civil war and/or a right-wing dictatorship. In order to defeat the threat of counter revolution and take the struggle forward to victory it is necessary to struggle not only to defend the reforms of the Morales government but to link this with a fight for a workers’ and peasants’ government with a revolutionary socialist programme to overthrow capitalism.

The CWI members in Bolivia, Revolutionary Socialist Alternative (CWI-Bolivia) has laid a small part of this foundation through its work in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

When people linked to the right wing prefect hired thugs to attack and intimidate activists in city’s central plaza, the Revolutionary Socialist Alternative was the key force in building the People’s Plaza Defense Committee. Our small size prevented us from making full use of the opportunities at hand, but we succeed in organizing four predominantly youth revolutionary organizations into a temporary defense committee which successfully organized a small demonstration to "retake the plaza" and brought national attention to the right-wing attacks in the plaza. The prefect himself, Manfred Reyes Villa (who was chief of police during the Banzer dictatorship when massacres occurred) called the People’s Plaza Defense Committee and the CWI-Bolivia two of the city’s most dangerous organizations.

We are also working to spread revolutionary socialist ideas by putting out the information panel in Cochabamba’s central plaza. On a daily basis, hundreds of people stop to the daily news for free along with a detailed revolutionary socialist analysis of events.

We are young, mostly student/worker activists with very little economic means. We will need to count on the international solidarity of socialists throughout the world, especially in European countries and the U.S., to provide financial support so we can turn the revolutionary socialist potential of the movements in Latin America into a revolutionary socialist movement.

Keep your eyes open for an International Solidarity Appeal to those who want to support the very inspiring socialist movements in Latin America.



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NEWS

Singapore: Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dies
31/03/2015, Ravichandren, CWI Malaysia:
Apologist for neo-liberalism and autocracy

France: Elections punish Valls and Hollande
31/03/2015, Leila Messaoudi, from Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI France) website (updated 30 March):
Department results show need for fightback against austerity and racism

Venezuela: Alcedo Mora must be found alive!
30/03/2015, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela) reporters:
Urgent need for international solidarity

Netherlands: Election setback for Labour Party
30/03/2015, Pieter Brans, Amsterdam:
Main parties guarantee austerity - A mass party of the Left with a socialist programme needed

Germany: 20,000 people give ECB “the finger”
28/03/2015, by Michael Koschitzki, SAV – Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Big demo and blockade against the reopening of the Central Bank

Video: Interview with a Greek socialist
28/03/2015, Nicos Anastasiades of Xekinima (CWI Greece):
The Syriza government and the Troika and building the Greek Left

South Africa: NUMSA & WASP discuss international experiences of new workers’ parties
27/03/2015, socialistworld.net:
South Africa’s metalworkers union in discussion with WASP and CWI

Obituary: Harald Mahrer (1974-2015)
27/03/2015, Sozialistische LinksPartei (CWI Austria) Reporters:
An active, critical and inspiring comrade

Video: Dave Nellist on Russia Today TV
26/03/2015, socialistworld.net:
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) standing throughout Britain in May elections

Norway: Lessons of the pilots’ strike
25/03/2015, Elin Gauffin, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
A struggle against outsourcing

China: Demand release of arrested women activists
24/03/2015, Sally Tang Mei-Ching, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
Has the commemoration of International Women’s Day also now been outlawed in China?

Sweden: Central bank rates cut "panic measure"
23/03/2015, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
Eurozone’s QE intensifies currency wars

Tunisia: Twenty three killed in terrorist attack
20/03/2015, Statement by CWI-Tunisia:
Down with terror! Down with capitalism!

Ireland North: Public sector workers strike against austerity
18/03/2015, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
For a second day of strike action in the run-up to the May general election!

North Cyprus: New strike wave against cuts
17/03/2015, Özgür İnsanoğlu and Bahtiyar Girne, North Cyprus:
Workers determined to stop austerity

Brazil: Urgent solidarity protests needed
17/03/2015, Translation of a solidarity appeal from the LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Faced with lack of water for the people, Sao Paulo water company SABESP cuts costs, sacks more than 500 workers and victimises trade union activists

Scotland: Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) leaves Solidarity
16/03/2015, Statement from Socialist Party Scotland Executive Committee:
Tommy Sheridan departs from principled socialist position with call for “lending vote" to cuts-making SNP

Britain: What lies behind UKIP?
14/03/2015, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Its Tory-oriented anti-immigration, anti-EU rhetoric has been adapted to a right-wing populism aimed at winning voters fed up with the political establishment

Ireland North: Massive public sector strike against austerity
13/03/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist MPs in Southern Ireland Parliament send message of support to strikers

Ireland South: Marriage equality referendum set for May
12/03/2015, Helen Redwood, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
Poisonous bigotry must be challenged

Ireland North: Stormont government crisis on eve of public sector strike
11/03/2015, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
Struggle can force politicians back from austerity measures

Iran: Independent workers’ organizations statement about minimum wage
11/03/2015, Statement by six Iranian workers’ organizations:
Increasing demands for a living wage

Ireland North: 13 March public sector strike against austerity
10/03/2015, Text of Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) leaflet, Belfast:
Dead-end of rightwing, sectarian politics - new anti-sectarian party which fights for working class needed

Video: Dublin ROSA demonstration on International Women’s Day
10/03/2015, socialistworld.net:
Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD (MP) speaks along with other activists

International Women’s Day 2015
09/03/2015, socialistworld.net:
Articles from CWI sections celebrating IWD

Netherlands: Wave of student protests
05/03/2015, Bas de Ruiter, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands):
For democratic reforms and end to budget cuts

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Israel: Netanyahu mobilises far right to win election
25/03/2015, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement, Israel-Palestine:
New coalition will face unresolved crises and bitter struggles

Italy: The instability of domestic capitalism
24/03/2015, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrente (CWI Italy):
Political vacuum pushes FIOM to take initiative

Greece: Varoufakis’ “erratic Marxism” is not the answer
23/03/2015, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Necessary to clarify ideas upon which successful struggles of European working class will be conducted

Belgium: No agreement reached between unions and government over austerity
20/03/2015, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
New action plan against right wing government takes off

Ukraine: Conflict unresolved after ’Minsk-2’ agreement
18/03/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Only independent working-class mass movement can remove the region’s authoritarian rulers

Greece: Syriza’s first months in power
07/03/2015, Andreas Payiatsos, from Xekinima (newspaper of the CWI Greece):
The working class and social movements must enter the struggle for their rights

Quebec: Towards a hot spring
02/03/2015, Deirdre and Bruno, Socialist Alternative (CWI Quebec):
Disrupt them like they disrupt us!

Greece showdown
26/02/2015, Article to be published in the March issue of Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales):
Niall Mulholland interviewed NICOS ANASTASIADES, of Xekinima (CWI Greece), just as Syriza leaders agreed a four-month bail-out extension with the EU.

Libya: War-torn country becoming new hub for IS activities
25/02/2015, Serge Jordan (CWI):
Libyan people bearing the brunt of NATO’s fiasco

Europe: Eurozone time-bomb
25/02/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party of England and Wales):
Mired in recession, the eurozone is haunted by the spectre of stagnation

Greece: Syriza retreats under Troika threats
24/02/2015, Nicos Anastasiades, Xekinima (CWI Greece), Thessaloniki:
Popular mood shows anti-austerity, socialist policies would win huge support

History: The political legacy of Malcolm X
21/02/2015, Eljeer Hawkins, Socialist Alternative:
50 years after his assassination

Spain: Is ‘Podemos’ the Spanish Syriza?
16/02/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Dangers of “moderation” and domestication

Egypt: Regime brutality on fourth anniversary of revolution
10/02/2015, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Masses will regain confidence and willingness to fight

Greece: Not a single step back!
08/02/2015, Statement by the Editorial Board of Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Conflict between SYRIZA government and EU escalates

Kurdistan: ‘Islamic State’ driven out of Kobanê
02/02/2015, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Will the end of Kobanê’s siege turn the tide against IS?

Greece: Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?
29/01/2015, Article from Xekhinima (CWI Greece) website [dated 26 January 2015] translated and slightly edited:
For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

Greece: Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse
27/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, socialistworld.net, interviews Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Left parties fail to form government - Syriza goes into coalition with populist right Independent Greeks

Cuba: Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased
24/01/2015, Tony Saunois, CWI:
Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates

Russia/Ukraine: Facing a turbulent 2015
21/01/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall

Greece: Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes
20/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
Mass intervention of working class to struggle for socialist policies is vital

Nigeria: The Massacre in Baga
19/01/2015, H.T Soweto, DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Socialism or Barbarism

Germany: What is behind the ‘PEGIDA’ anti-immigrant demonstrations?
13/01/2015, Wolfram Klein, Socialist Alternative (SAV- CWI Germany):
Unions and Left must organise against racism and for jobs and decent living standards for all

Greece: Towards a Syriza government?
08/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
General elections on 25 January