cwi: international conference – Anti-war and anti-capitalism in Canada and Chile

Building the cwi in Canada and Chile in 2003

cwi international conference.

Niall Mulholland gives highlights of the campaigns of cwi sections during 2003. cwi online. The report is taken from written contributions from cwi sections that were presented to the 21-26 November meeting of the International Executive Committee (IEC) of the cwi, held in Belgium. cwi online

Niall Mulholland gives highlights of the campaigns of cwi sections during 2003. cwi online. The report is taken from written contributions from cwi sections that were presented to the 21-26 November meeting of the International Executive Committee (IEC) of the cwi, held in Belgium. cwi online

Anti-war and anti-capitalism


We had a very active first part of the year intervening in a number of large anti-war demos in Toronto and selling, on average, 100 papers every month. But sales and activity dropped off since the fall of Baghdad.

During the war we hosted a very successful speaking tour by New York comrades. They spoke at three well-attended meetings in various parts of Toronto.

This fall we have started a joint study group with a youth group called Young Left. This group runs a series of monthly coffee house events called "Cafe Che" which draw up to 50 people. The group also formed a national group called the "Rebel Youth Network" made up of clusters of left wing youths in various cities. Members of the Toronto group will have joint study groups with us.

We are in the process of rebuilding our website and have launched a French language site under the name Alternative Socialiste.


The situation in Chile is marked by a more favourable objective situation which has also been reflected in the work of the CWI section.

Since November we have produced 3 issues of the paper but also far more pamphlets and other material which have included short agitational leaflets and also lengthier leaflets/broadsheets which have given more explanation. These have been on both national and international questions.

At the beginning of the year we launched a campaign against the US invasion of Iraq. We produced 3,000 pamphlets, “No to the war”. Our slogan and anti-war symbol had a big impact on the anti-war demonstration and stood out against all of the other groups’ material. Many workers and youth took our leaflets and used them as posters on the anti-war demonstrations and put them up in their windows, in their cars and some trade unions also put them up in the union offices.

On 1 May we produced a special edition of the paper which mainly concentrated on the question of the general strike. The headline was “A 24 hour general strike is necessary”. We put this slogan forward just at the right time. The May Day demonstration was big by recent standards – 20,000. On the same demonstration the President of the union federation, the CUT, made a call for a one day strike of all workers for 13 August. This opened the door for us to organise a broad intervention aimed at the workers and the youth. We were the first organisation to produce a leaflet explaining what to do to ensure the strike was a success. We produced more material under the slogan “Unify all the struggles into a massive national strike of the workers”

In this campaign we formed the first pro-strike committees in Santiago, which were then copied by other groups of workers. We did this before the CUT had done anything at all for the strike. It was as a result of our initiative and pressure that the leadership of the CUT, especially some sectors led by the Communist Party, were forced to follow our initiative and form pro-strike committees and produce leaflets defending the strike call and explaining to workers what to do.

This campaign gave us the possibility to get into contact with workers in a city near Santiago, called Rancagua. We went to the El Teniente coal mines which employ 8,000 workers. We spoke to the workers and the union leaders took and distributed our leaflets. In addition to this we visited unions in Valparíso and Concepción.

In Santiago this campaign allowed us to establish good links with a national trade union.

In Recoleta, a workers district in Northern Santiago, we formed a pro-strike committee which allowed us to intervene in the regional committee of the CUT. This body adopted all of our proposals for the preparation of the strike. This development is very important for us and will open many possibilities as they have now decided to try and organise the workers along the lines of the old ‘cordones industriales’. We produced 2,000 agitational leaflets and 2,000 explanatory leaflets.

Following the general strike of 13 August we prepared to commemorate 30 years since the coup led by Pinochet on 11 the September 1973. We produced another issue of the paper with the headline, “Popular Unity – why did we end up with dictatorship and not socialism”. This had a major impact, especially amongst the youth. We sold this in all the marches, concerts and forums organised around this date. We organised our own public forum.

The government organised its annual cultural festival – “Fiesta de la Cultura”. At these events street theatre, music, political forums, social forums etc take place related to cultural questions. The good thing about these events is that they are packed with people. This year about 500,000 participated. We put up a large stall, which included international papers from the different CWI sections. This was a big success and loads of youth were attracted to us.

We have seen during the last year an important change. The calling of protests and demonstrations has mobilised people onto the streets, which has allowed us to reach new layers. Previously only committed activists from the various parties etc turned up.

We have now launched a campaign against Labour Flexibility laws – a proposal by the government, which amongst other things will remove all labour protection rights for young workers between the age of 18 and 24.

We have produced material on this demanding a campaign mobilisation against this law. We are the only group to take an initiative of this type – we are raising the need for the workers and unions to mainly orientate themselves to the young workers. An indication of the response to our leaflet is that one group of workers got our leaflet and thought that the CUT had produced it. They went to the offices of the CUT and asked for more copies. The CUT leaders then gave these workers our phone number to call to get the leaflet. This campaign was only launched one week ago and it is already having a certain, if limited, effect.

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January 2004