A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 04, 19 – 25 JANUARY 2010
Haiti Needs Urgent Relief and Justice, Not Military Occupation
n January 13 Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake that is feared to have killed 2 lakh people, rendered over 3 lakh homeless and devastated the country. Aid has been late to arrive and has only now begun to trickle in. Despair, hunger, disease and desperate rioting stalk Haiti in the wake of the calamity.
The quake is a natural calamity; but centuries of colonial and imperialist loot are responsible for rendering Haiti so intensely vulnerable to such a tragedy. After the decimation of its indigenous people, Haiti had been populated by black slaves, who in 1804 achieved the world’s first slave revolution against colonial France. Haiti was punished for this remarkable achievement with ‘reparations’ paid to France and sanctions imposed by France as well as the US. Haiti was impoverished by these reparations as well as by the loans from French and US banks required to pay the reparations. From 1915 to 1934, Haiti suffered US occupation, and from 1957 to 1986, Haiti was ruled by brutal US-backed dictators ‘Papa Doc’ and ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier.
US neoliberal policies crippled Haiti’s food self-sufficiency to create a market for US products. Popularly elected leaders in Haiti were deposed in US-sponsored coups at the first sign of any pro-people policies. One such President – Jean-Bertrand Aristide – was deposed first in 1990, to usher in “market reforms”, whereby Haiti was forced to end its self-sufficiency in rice production and become a captive market for US rice. The devastated farmers became cheap fodder for sweatshops US industrialists. Aristide was reinstated in 1994 by Clinton on the promise of more neoliberal policies. He was again elected President in 2000 but deposed in a coup sponsored by the Bush regime in 2004.
It is the neoliberal policies that have forced Haitians to leave the countryside and work in sweatshops, living in packed slums in the city – which were the worst hit during the quake. Following the 2004 coup, the UN, “international community” and various NGOs have had a free run in Haiti, virtually acting as private service providers in place of the crippled public sector. Thus, when the quake hit, there was no Haitian infrastructure in place and the foreign players were focussed on getting their people out of the country.
Today, in the wake of the quake, Haiti is all set to witness a repeat of the history of callous exploitation that crippled it in the first place. Already, there are disturbing indications that the US, in the name of aid, is all set for a virtual military occupation of the country. Haiti’s airport is in US control and US troops are pouring into Haiti – offering a double-edged sword - both relief and ‘security’. The Obama government has appointed a bipartisan delegation led by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush towards recovery efforts in Haiti.
The conservative US think-tank Heritage Foundation has commented that “Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and America is the most generous.” In the light of Haiti’s history, and especially the recent role of Clinton and Bush in the impoverishment of Haiti, such posturing by the US is the height of hypocrisy. A remark by the Heritage Foundation the very next day after the quake is revealing of the real agenda behind the US military-driven relief plan: "In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region."
It seems that the Pentagon-led relief drive has an agenda similar to the right-wing military coup in the Honduras and the establishment of US military bases in Columbia – to step up US presence in a region which has seen the rise of several powerful challenges to US hegemony and “public image” in recent years. As in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US military will not confine itself to an agenda of humanitarian relief: it will also have a key repressive role, with an eye to possible long-term presence. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen in a Pentagon briefing communicated as much, when he said, “The initial intent is to strategically place some of our soldiers so that they can help with that relief distribution...And then obviously we’re all focused on the security piece, as well...We very much hope to stay ahead of that, but recognize that there are possibilities that we need to plan for.”
Meanwhile countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico have rushed humanitarian and medical aid, skilled medical volunteers and quake relief experts to Haiti, even as leaders like Castro, Chavez, Ortega and Morales have expressed apprehension about the heavy deployment of US troops in Haiti. France, which like the US is a former occupier of Haiti, has also accused the US of ‘occupation’ in the name of relief.
The process of justice and genuine relief for Haiti can only begin when it is recognised that the US, France and other erstwhile colonisers owe Haiti – not relief, but reparation; and when all attempts of imperialism and ‘disaster capitalism’ to capitalise on the quake and profit from Haiti’s plight are resisted. Even as we extend solidarity to the people of Haiti, we must demand that Haiti’s debts be written off and Haitians who are compelled to immigrate to the US in the wake of the quake be granted ‘Temporary Protected Status’ and not harassed, humiliated and hounded out.
CPI(ML) Condoles the Passing of Jyoti Basu
(Statement issued on January 17, 2010)
CPI(ML) Liberation condoles the passing of veteran communist leader Jyoti Basu. Jyoti Basu played a key role in the formation, rise and consolidation of the CPI(M) in West Bengal. His demise marks the passing of a generation, and also coincides with a crisis of the centrist tendency in the Indian communist movement that he personified.
CPI(ML) extends condolences to the CPI(M) party and followers in their hour of loss.
Central Committee, CPI(ML) Liberation
AICCTU’s Participation in pre-Budget Consultation Meeting
A pre-Budget consultation meeting with representatives of central trade unions was held by the Union Finance Minister on 14 January 2010 at North Block, New Delhi. The meeting was held in connection with the forthcoming Union Budget 2010-11 to be tabled in the Parliament in the last week of February 2010.
All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) participated in this pre-Budget consultation meeting for the first time. In this meeting a joint memorandum signed by 9 central trade unions was submitted to Finance Minister which consisted of their collective demands and views regarding the Budget.
On behalf of AICCTU, Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, General Secretary along with Rajiv Dimri, National Secretary participated in the meeting. Speaking in the meeting, Swapan Mukherjee highlighted specific demands relating to unorganized workers including rural workers, contract/casual and migrant workers. Expressing his support to the joint memorandum he said that while it is being claimed by the govt. that GDP is rising, this growth has proved to be a jobless growth, rather in actual sense the jobs are reducing, and also purchasing power of rural and urban poor is declining. While the recession hit sectors were given huge bailout packages and concessions, which resulted only to benefit the corporate houses, the workers of these sectors were retrenched and thrown out of their jobs. The prices of essential commodities are continually rising and there is no action taken against hoarders and speculators anywhere in the country. Neither, the govt. has come out with any measures to protect the vast majority of unorganized workers against sky-rocketing price rise. On the contrary the scope of PDS has been further reduced by the Govt. The Govt. has banned recruitment in govt. and public sectors but still recruitment is going on albeit in the form of contract and casual workers, who are even denied minimum wages and minimum social security. So, the Central Govt. and various state govts. themselves are encouraging in-formalization of workforce in their own departments and thus Govt. has ceased to act as a model employer. In this situation the Govt. must come out with a budget, which seriously considers following demands: (1 a) Make Massive public investment in agriculture and rural sector and guarantee the implementation of land reforms, (b) Housing for rural and urban poor by providing land puttas to them, (2 a) National fund for unorganized workers with allocation of 3% of GDP, ( b) Separate act for agricultural workers, (3) Bring Urban employment scheme in the lines of NREGA and provide employment under NREGA for a minimum period of 180 days, as recommended by ILO, (4) To curb Price rise and take protective measures against price rise- (a) Take stringent measures against hoarders and ban forward trading in food grains, (b) Universalize PDS, (c) Revise National level floor minimum wage in accordance with 6th pay commission i.e. fix Rs. 6500 per month and extend it to all unorganized workers. Provision of VDA must be built into the structure of minimum wages. (5) Lift ban on recruitment in govt. and public sector, (6) Stop disinvestment in CPSUs and provide budgetary support for revival of sick CPSUs, (7) The massive workforce engaged in ICDS- Anganwadi, Mid-day meal scheme, Vidya volunteers, Guest Teachers, Siksha Mitra etc. be regularized and the workers engaged in the Accredited Social Health Activities (ASHA) are brought under the coverage of statutory minimum wage and social security. Universalization of ICDS be done as per Supreme Court directions by making adequate budgetary allocations, (8) For protection of migrant workers bring legislation in line with SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
3rd State Conference of Bihar Rajya Nirman Mazdoor Union
AICCTU affiliated Bihar Rajya Nirman Mazdoor Union held its 3rd State Conference on 10 January 2010 at Bhagalpur. The venue and hall were respectively named as Com. Ibn-ul Hasan Basru and Com. Vasudev Sinha.
196 delegates from 19 districts participated in the Conference. The Conference began with flag hoisting by veteran trade union leader Yamuna Prasad Poddar and thereafter observing 2 minute silence in the memory of departed comrades. A sizeable rally of construction workers was also held in Bhagalpur before the Conference began.
S. Balasubramanian, the President of All India Construction Workers’ Federation (AICWF) and National Secretary of AICCTU inaugurated the open session of Conference. The open session was addressed by AICWF’s Vice President and National Secretary of AICCTU N.K. Natrajan, AICWF’s National Secretary, Eraniappan, National Councilor, Kishore Sarkar and other leaders.
S.K. Sharma, outgoing Vice-President of Union welcomed the delegates, guests and observers. The delegate session started with the address of State President of AICCTU and also the observer of the Conference, Shyamlal Prasad. Thereafter, R.N. Thakur, the General Secretary of the outgoing State Council of the union placed 3-year report of union’s activities before the House. After the deliberations on the report, the Conference unanimously elected a 37-member Council with Comrades S.K. Sharma as President and R.N. Thakur as General Secretary of Bihar Rajya Nirman Mazdoor Union. The Conference adopted 10 resolutions.
Meeting of All-India Construction Workers’ Federation
Maha Dharna in front of Parliament in the coming Budget session
A meeting of All India Construction Workers’ Federation- a federation of unions of construction workers affiliated to AICCTU- was held on 9 January 2010 at Bhagalpur, Bihar. Leaders from states including Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Delhi, W. Bengal participated in the meeting. The meeting decided to hold a Maha Dharna in front of the Parliament in the coming Union Budget session and also to call for a nationwide strike of construction workers later in the year.
The above programmes will raise a 10-point charter of demands including implementation of Construction Workers Act in all states, fixation of at least Rs. 200/day as minimum wage with provision of VDA at national level, provision of Inter-state Identity cards to workers and fixation of pension as half of the amount of monthly minimum wage.
RYA’s March in W. Bengal
One year ago, the 3rd West Bengal State conference of RYA was held at Dhubulia in Nadia district with the aim of rejuvenating youth movement in the State. To evaluate the successes and failures since then, the State committee met on 20th December and on 1st January a meeting of the State Council was held. The deliberations identified quite a few successes. The State Conference had resolved to rebuild the organisational structure. Subsequently, the organization has succeeded in gaining footholds in different areas of Nadia and Hooghly districts. In spite of sporadic spells of stagnation, RYA has made considerable headway in North 24 Parganas and Howrah districts. Darjeeling district has emerged as a new sphere of work for the youth organization. In order to consolidate the gains achieved, district conferences will be held in North 24 Parganas on 17th January, in Howrah on 21st February, in Nadia on 28th February and in Hooghly on 7th March. In the run-up to the district conferences membership drives and fund collection have started through conferences at the block level.
The response from the youth has been encouraging. 80 youth who had got disillusioned with the youth organisations of the official Left parties participated in the Conference at Shivdaspur in Naihati in North 24 Parganas district. Amrapur in Naihati is a new addition to the RYA's organizational geography. Here too, many youth from the CPI(M)'s youth wing have joined the RYA. In Nadia district, besides Dhubulia where the RYA has a strong organization, Nakashipara too has emerged as a vibrant area for the youth movement and will host the district conference. Preparations are on in order to successfully conduct group meetings/area level conferences at Dhubulia, Nakashipara, Nabadwip, Chapra and Krishnanagar.
Hooghly district is a significant sphere of work for the RYA. Besides Konnagar, the organization has witnessed progress at Bhadreshwar, Angas, Polba-Dadpur and Dhanekhali. Involvement of the rural working class youth and urban youth from the unorganized workforce is a notable feature of the organizational growth here. In Howrah district, RYA is active mostly in central Howrah. However, further strengthening of the organization is required. At Fakaibari in Darjeeling district it is necessary to translate the tremendous potential into organizational gains. Here, the main sphere of work is Rangapani at Fashideoa block. At Chandmoni, working class youth are involved with the organization. In Bardhaman district, some initiatives have been taken at the local level. South 24 Parganas has always been considered as an important area for the youth movement. However, here the organization is suffering from a spell of stagnation. For various reasons, it is necessary to build the youth organization in the State capital, Kolkata. At Behala, there are some sporadic mass activities by youth activists. The challenge before us in the coming days will be to consolidate the gains and develop the organization in newer areas.
RYA’s UP-State Workshop
With the resolve to conduct a State-level mass campaign against prise-rise, corruption and unemployment and to hold demonstrations in Lucknow and Varanasi on 1 February, Revolutionary Youth Association’s 2-day long workshop ended successfully at Lucknow on 10th January. The venue and its surroundings were decorated with large number of red flags.
1st day of the workshop dealt on ‘Current Political Situation and Role of Youth Organisation’ and 2nd day was dedicated to discussing ‘Fundamentals of Marxism’. CC member and Lok Yuddh’s editor Com. BB Panday was invited to conduct the discussion on Marxism.
RYA’s National President Mohammad Salim said inaugurating the Conference that the ruling class of the Country is making all efforts to create an atmosphere favouring Congress. It is putting-up Rahul Gandhi as the face of youth so that the youth of this Country can be easily enslaved by imperialists. RYA will have to rekindle and lead the spirit of 1857 and Bhagat Singh in the fight for a revolutionary transformation of our Country. Other RYA leaders identified potential of youth resurgence in the Country.
RYA’s State President Balmukumd Dhuria informed in his concluding address that the Organisation will conduct the campaign against prise-rise, corruption and unemployment from 15-31 January and demonstrations against Manmohan Singh’s Govt. and Ms. Mayawati’s Govt. will be held in Lucknow and Varanasi on 1st February. He lambasted the Mayawati Govt. for letting RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat roam freely in Lucknow fomenting his communal venom aimed at causing sectarian and communal tensions and demanded a ban on such organisations.
Delegates came from 22 districts of the State. In the end a 9-point resolution was passed by the Workshop.
Why is Mr. Chidambaram Silent on the Adivasi Ruchikas of Bastar?
Why is Sodi Sambho being stopped from meeting her lawyer and the public?
Sodi Sambho is one of 13 eyewitnesses who have petitioned the Supreme Court in the case of a massacre by police and security forces at Gompad, Bastar on October 1, 2009, in which 9 adivasis were killed; the breasts of an old woman cut off, fingers and tongue of a two-year-old baby cut off, and many, including Sodi herself, severely injured.
Initially the police at Dantewada tried to prevent her from coming to Delhi for treatment. Following a directive by the Supreme Court, she is now in a private room at AIIMS, but is a virtual prisoner, prevented from meeting anyone, including activists, the press and even her lawyer. Some of her fellow petitioners and eyewitnesses have been jailed in Bastar – she and they are all being intimidated to force them to withdraw/change their statements.
On January 18, at 6 in the evening, AIPWA, AISA and other organisations including Saheli, PUDR, JTSA, and many journalists, doctors and concerned citizens assembled at the gates of the AIIMS to hold a dharna and candle-light vigil to express solidarity with her, and to protest against the fact that she is being prevented by police and hospital security personnel from meeting her lawyer and friends. A large number of students from JNU, DU, Jamia Millia Islamia under the banner of AISA joined the dharna, raising slogans against the isolation and intimidation of Sodi and other adivasis who have testified against rape and massacre by SPOs, Salwa Judum and security forces in Bastar. Activists addressed a mass meeting at the dharna spot, and construction workers and other bystanders responded warmly to the protest and joined the vigil.
During the dharna a team of women, including Kalpana Mehta (Saheli), Indira Chakravarthi, Dr. Ajitha, Kaveri (PUDR), Tehelka reporter Tusha Mittal, Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA) and Arundhati Roy tried to meet Sodi, but were prevented from doing so by hospital security guards. It became apparent that the hospital authorities are colluding with police in illegally isolating the eyewitness to a police massacre.
In a statement issued at the dharna, AIPWA said, “We have witnessed how a middle class girl like Ruchika found herself helpless in the face of the power mobilised against her by a police officer. What, then, is the fate of women from socially and economically more vulnerable sections? Women like Sodi and her adivasi sisters, whose accusations against police and security forces in Bastar threaten not just the individual prestige of a Rathore, but the very legitimacy of an anti-insurgency war waged by none less than the Government of India?
We join other women’s groups, students, democratic rights groups and citizens in demanding that Sodi be allowed to meet her lawyer and friends freely; the lives, liberties and rights of eyewitnesses and complainants against Gompad massacre and rapes in Dantewada be protected; Police officers, SPOs, and security personnel guilty of rapes, brutalities and massacres in Bastar be punished; Operation ‘Greenhunt’ be called off immediately and adivasis of Bastar be allowed to return to their villages in peace.”
Month-Long Campaign on NREGA at HPHalli
A month-long campaign on implementation of NREGA and related issues culminated in a 2-day demonstration of hundreds of people in front of Harappanahalli taluk office on 15 and 16 January. The demonstration was preceded by campaign meetings and demonstrations in many panchayats. The campaign came to an end on 16 January but the rallyists fixed a deadline of 28 January to continue the struggle if the remaining demands are not fulfilled.
The campaign also focused on demands like CBI enquiry into the mining business of Bellary brothers, solidarity with the struggling farmers in Davanagere, etc. Demonstrators also resolved to make the State level convention of AIALA to be held at Kottur, Bellary district on 4 February a success.
Comrade Ramappa, State Secretary of the party came down heavily on the State government for undue corruption and other irregularities in the implementation of NREGA. He demanded the government to order CBI enquiry into the illegal mining and other irregularities of Reddy brothers in Bellary and adjacent districts in Karnataka and Andhra. AIALA State Secretary D.Chowdappa, Jt Secretary Parasuram, Vice-President Kalappa, Lingaraju of AICCTU, Prasad of AISA also addressed the gathering.
1st Death Anniversary of Com. Madhukar Katre Observed at Ahmednagar
1st death anniversary of late Com. Madhukar Katre, the president of Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) and founder leader of cooperative sugar factories workers was very purposefully observed at ahmednagar on 17th January, 2010. On the occasion, the gate of the Shramik Bhavan was named after Com. Madhukar Katre at the hands of CPI(ML) Central Committee members Com. Rajaram Singh and Com. Arindam Sen. The meeting held on the occasion in the Shramik Bhavan Compound, was attended by over 700 people, who included Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) activists, sugar-mill workers and workers from various industries and services, as also friends and relatives of Com. Katre.
After felicitation of the guests Com. B. R. Bawke in his introductory remarks briefly touched on Com. Katre’s life long dedication right from his student days for the cause of working people, and his efforts to resolve their problems till his last breath. Com. Bhimrao Bhansod, Member of Central Committee of the Party traced the life long career of Com. Katre, who apart from being a high level Trade Union Leader was also a great political leader of the masses and also a nice human being, he stressed.
Com. Arindam Sen in his brief speech greeted the people on behalf of the CPI(ML) and said that both our parties have emerged out of internal struggle within the movement. On this occasion two books about Com. Katre, containing articles from various activists and friends and relatives were released by Com. DS Deshpande and Com. Rajaram Singh. Also Com. Baba Paygude a senior leader of the unorganized workers from Serva Shramik Sanghatana, Pune was felicitated praising his life long devotion. Other speakers included Com. Mukta Manohar, Com. Tatya Pandarkar, Com. Medhu Joshi, Com. Gulab Deshmukh and many others. The meeting ended with the resolve to carry forward the work for which Com. Madhukar Katre gave all his life.
Next day, Com. Rajaram Singh addressed a gathering of Lal Nishan Party (L.) activists on the present crisis in Indian agriculture. After a lot of questions and answers and exchange of views with the activists, some of the decisions taken in the meeting are – (1) to attend the All India Convention to create an All India Body focusing on the real problems and their causes for the crisis in agriculture leading to suicides of farmers, (2) the Maharashtra Rajya Kashtkari Shetkari Sangh would make all-out efforts to build a peasant movement in Maharashtra and beginning with a 15-days programme.
Updates from TN
Around 700 rural poor, majority women, took out a colourful procession and held a demonstration on 31st January as part of 18-31 State-wide campaign at Kattumannarkoil of Cuddalore dist. AIALA’s State President Janardhanan, CPI(ML) Puducherry State Secretary Balasundaram, Cuddalore Dist. Secretary Ammaiappan, and Pulavendran addressed the people.
Comrade Monimohan Das
Comrade Manimohan Das, a veteran Party cadre and former leader of defence employees' movement at Ichhapur Rifles Factory in West Bengal died of sudden cardiac arrest on 19 January mid-night. He was 72. In the wake of Naxalbari Comrade Monida, as he was popularly known among fellow workers and Party comrades, had left the CPI(M) to join the CPI(ML). At one stage he had left his job and started working as a full-time revolutionary worker. Following the setback in the early 1970s, he had returned to the factory only to be victimised during the Emergency. But after the Emergency was lifted he was reinstated in 1977. Soon he re-established contact with the then underground party organisation and resumed work as a Party organiser on the working class front, building and sustaining the Party's network among defence employees. His house became an important centre for a whole range of Party activities and meetings. He is survived by his son and two daughters. The Party Central Committee salutes his memory and shares the sorrow of his family members and close comrades. Red salute to Comrade Monimohan Das!
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22518248, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org