Brazil’s Corruption Scandals: No Winners, No End in Sight
The political elite has completely lost control of the situation, but the left is unable to take the reins, says blogger Alex Hochuli, who produces the Aufhebunga podcast
The Real News Network 13 September 2017
A People’s Forum on OBOR and BRICS meets in Hong Kong
Robin Lee 5 September 2017
Over the weekend (2nd-3rd September) more than 100 participants met in Hong Kong for a People’s Forum on One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and BRICS. As BRICS leaders begin to meet for their 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen this week and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council prepares to host its second Belt and Road summit in Hong Kong aiming to attract investors and others in the business community next weekend, civil society members from eight countries and local Hong Kong people came together to share their experiences, offering a counter narrative to the neoliberal agendas usually promoted by the official summits that largely exclude these critical voices. Discussion at the forum showed how globalisation from above, as imposed by BRICS and OBOR, is being carried out at the expense of people and the environment.
Mung Siu Tat, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (photo above), opened the forum speaking of the challenges and repression currently being faced by Hong Kong people in their struggles for democracy and against the government’s top down development projects. Asking whether democratic rights would really solve all the problems affecting people’s lives, he observed common problems faced by people around the world and how even in “democratic” countries, free trade agreements are often concluded through backdoor details without proper democratic consultation, and stressed the importance of international solidarity and the globalisation of struggle.
Clamour grows for Brazil’s President Temer to resign
Katy Watson (BBC) 30 May 2017
It was a miserable day on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. But the heavy fog smothering the normally sunny beaches did not put thousands of people off from heading down to Copacabana to join calls for President Michel Temer to step down.
It was a show of anger typical of Rio – lots of samba and singing mingled with loud calls for political change.
Brazil has got used to political surprises – from major corruption probes to last year’s impeachment of Dilma Rousseff – but the past few weeks here have been tumultuous.
After the leaking of audio recordings where Mr Temer appears to be encouraging bribes, the country’s leader is now under investigation. People are angry.
Well-known Brazilian artists and musicians including the singer-songwriter and political activist Caetano Veloso took part in the concert, joining the people on the streets to make their voices louder.
Brazil’s Spiraling Corruption Scandal Deepens with Temer at the Centre
A political earthquake hits Brazil again as the highly unpopular president Michel Temer is implicated in new corruption allegations and the calls for immediate elections grow stronger, reports Mike Fox from Brazil
The Real News Network 20 May 2017 therealnews.com/t2/story:19132:Brazil%27s-Spiraling-Corruption-Scandal-Deepens-with-Temer-at-the-Centre
China: Regime steps up repression in Xinjiang
Li Yiming (Chinaworker) 11 May 2017
Xinjiang is the vast Muslim-majority region in China’s far west where Turkic speaking Uighur Muslims are the largest ethnic group. Under Chinese rule it has been transformed into a 1.7 million square kilometre prison. Rich in mineral wealth and almost twice the size of Pakistan, Xinjiang has assumed even greater strategic importance for the Chinese ‘Communist’ Party (CCP) dictatorship, as president Xi Jinping’s grandiose ‘One Belt One Road’ rolls out.
This is the regime’s master plan to head off increasing anti-globalisation pressures in the world economy and industrial overcapacity in China by linking 60 countries with a combined 40 percent of the world’s GDP to China’s economy. Xinjiang, as the gateway to the ancient Silk Road through Central Asia to Europe, is a vital piece of this jigsaw puzzle.
Xinjiang is also experiencing an unprecedented escalation of state repression in which every aspect of Uighur culture, religion and sense of a homeland is under attack. In parts or all of Xinjiang, the authorities have banned long beards, Muslim headscarves, fasting during Ramadan, and recently even certain “overly religious” children’s names. The list of proscribed names includes Muhammad, which is the most common given name in the world. Parents that choose these names are warned their children will be ineligible for ID papers, to attend school, get a job or own property.
Service delivery protests explode across SA
Neo Goba‚ Taschica Pillay‚ And Shenaaz Jamal (Rand Daily Mail) 9 May 2017
Service delivery protests caused havoc in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng on Monday as residents demanded access to housing.In Durban mayor Zandile Gumede was forced to send a team to meet informal settlement residents who set fire to a school and blockaded roads.
Residents of Banana City‚ the informal settlement on Varsity Drive‚ in Reservoir Hills‚ were protesting after their requests for housing went unanswered.
They demanded that Gumede address them.
On Sunday night two classrooms at Hillview Primary School on Varsity Drive in Reservoir Hills were set alight‚ forcing the school to close.
On Monday morning several roads in the area were closed as informal dwellers burned rubbish and threw stones.
Hong Kong: Ruled by the 0.02 percent
Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) 3 May 2017
On 26 March the Chief Executive (CE) election charade completed its final act. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was chosen by a grand total of 777 votes. Less than 1,200 voters are eligible to cast ballots in the election, including the 70 members of the city’s legislature plus some district politicians, business groups, professional unions, pop stars, priests and professors.
In a city of 3.8 million registered voters the top political post has been chosen by 0.02 percent! Her main rival, the former finance secretary, John Tsang Chun-wah, got 365 votes mostly from the pan-democrats sitting on the elite Election Committee.
Socialist Action strongly criticised the pan-democratic parties not only for lending “legitimacy” to the sham election process but for supporting Tsang – a central establishment figure who, like Lam, stands for neo-liberal and anti-democratic policies.
World Economic Forum-Africa hosts a turf battle
Patrick Bond 3 May 2017
At a time US and South African presidents Donald Trump and Jacob Zuma personify controversies over crony capitalism, corruption, populist rhetoric and self-serving economic strategies, will big business calm down the politicians – or just egg them on?
Business elites are confused, even while mass opinion against rancid rulers consolidates: huge marches against Trump in Washington by scientists on April 22 and climate activists on April 29; and in the central South African city Mangaung, Zuma was forced to rapidly retreat from a May Day speech with his fellow trade union and Communist Party allies (who now demand that he resign) due to mass jeering by the majority of workers there. Collaboration with Zuma and his patronage machinery is now seen as fatal for political longevity.
To be sure, partial business sanctions against both the Zuma and Trump regimes are already well underway. So when global corporate leaders and African rulers visit Durban this week, they might end up tripping into the country’s and world’s political potholes.
South Africa: Mass protests
Patrick Bond 29 April 2017
On South Africa’s political left, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party dominated recent news by leading a mass march on President Jacob Zuma’s office in Pretoria, following a government power shift seen as amplifying corruption. The move also catalysed a ‘junk’ rating by two neoliberal credit ratings agencies. And an impeachment process on the immediate horizon represents the first real parliamentary threat to Zuma’s eight-year reign.
Brazil hit by first general strike in two decades
BBC News 28 April 2017
Brazilian cities went into partial shutdown on Friday as the country observed its first general strike in more than two decades.
Millions of workers, including public transport staff, bankers and teachers, have been urged to take part by trade unions and social groups.
Protesters are taking a stand against the president’s proposed pension reforms.
President Michel Temer says the changes are needed to overcome a recession.
“It is going to be the biggest strike in the history of Brazil,” said Paulo Pereira da Silva, the president of trade union group, Forca Sindical.
Demonstrations are taking place across the country, with organisers saying they would focus attention on disrupting cities rather than small towns and rural communities.
Brazil’s Corruption Investigation Expands to Almost Entire Political Class
The Real News 19 April 2017
The corruption investigation of Brazilian politicians expanded dramatically and is less biased against the center-left. However, the danger is that it will lead to de-politicization and opportunistic anti-politics explains Brazil analyst Alex Hochuli
#AntiZumaMarches hit streets
Johannesburg – Despite some confusion regarding anti-Zuma protests taking place across the cities of Joburg and Ekurhuleni, several pickets had been confirmed for Friday morning.
Residents will be marching, picketing and facilitating human chains in the inner city, Saxonwold, Sandton, Kensington, Wychwood, Park Meadows and Linksfield.
Joburg metro police spokesperson Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said on Thursday several streets would be closed off due to the DA’s March for Change taking place in the inner city on Friday morning.
The BRICS New Development Bank meets in Delhi to dash green-developmental hopes?
Patrick Bond (Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal) 30 March 2017
Will the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) bloc ever really challenge the world financial order? The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) leadership is meeting in New Delhi from 31 March to 2 April with a degree of fanfare unmatched by accomplishments. It is a good moment to assess progress since the BRICS Summit in 2013 when rumour had it that the then host city of Durban would also be the NDB’s home base. (It ended up in Shanghai, launched in 2015.)
BRICS leaders often state their vision of establishing alternatives to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Indeed the NDB leadership began with environmentally-oriented loans last year, and in 2017 wants to add $3 billion in new credits.
But looked at it from the South African vantage point, questions immediately arise about key personnel, as well as the willingness of the only local NDB borrower so far – the electricity parastatal Eskom – to support renewable energy, and perhaps most importantly whether the country and the continent can afford more expensive hard-currency loans.
SA bans import of meat from Brazil
Business Report 22 March 2017
Johannesburg – The South African government on Wednesday suspended imports of meat from establishments suspected to be involved in the Brazil meat scandal.
South Africa is joining a chorus of other countries after China, the European Union, South Korea and Chile on Monday announced restrictions of red meat imports from Brazil due to recent evidence showing that Brazilian meat-packers have been selling rotten and substandard produce for several years, especially to export markets.
Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said the government had suspended exports from 21 meat processing units.
In a statement, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said it has requested the Brazilian authority to provide official information and a list of establishments that have been identified in the meat scandal.
“DAFF has also advised the Brazilian authority to ban all exportation of meat from such establishments until the issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of the South African Veterinary Authority” the department said.
“It is not known how many consignments may have already left Brazil and are on their way to South Africa, however, DAFF is in the process of ensuring that the establishments implicated are suspended from exporting meat to South Africa until the Brazilian Veterinary Authority have fully investigated the matter and can give the necessary assurances for compliance to the South African requirements for importation of meat into South Africa.”
Brazil: National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten
André Ferrari LSR (CWI in Brazil)
15 March was a national day of struggle and paralysis throughout Brazil against anti-worker reforms applied by the illegitimate government of Michel Temer. This was the most important workers’ and popular mobilisation since Dilma Rousseff (PT) was removed from power.
These mobilisations were preceded and stimulated by very important women’s protests on 8 March. The day of struggle on 15 march was called in a united manner by the various trade union confederations and by the ‘People without fear’ front (which includes the MTST, homeless workers movement, which is its main promotor) and the ‘Brazil Popular Front’ (which is dominated by social movements which are closer to the PT and Lula).
In practically every state capital there were work stoppages, road blockades and mass demos. Education workers carried out a 24-hour strike and in some states even went on indefinite strike. Transport workers also went on strike in various cities, including metro and bus drivers in Sao Paolo, South America’s biggest city, which affected millions of people.
BRICS People’s Forum