Friday, 27 November 2009

The Caracas Commitment - Declaration from World Meeting of Left Parties, November 19-21 Caracas, Venezuela

November 25th 2009, by Declaration from World Meeting of Left Parties, November 19-21 Caracas, Venezuela


Political parties and organizations from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania commemorate and celebrate the unity and solidarity that brought us together in Caracas, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and from this libertarian city we would like to express our revolutionary rebelliousness. We are glad of and committed to the proud presence of the forces of change in a special moment of history. Likewise, we are proud to reaffirm our conviction to definitively sow, grow and win Socialism of the 21st century.

In this regard, we want to sign the Commitment of Caracas as a revolutionary guide for the challenges ahead of us. We have gathered with the aim of unifying criteria and giving concrete answers that allow us to defend our sovereignty, our social victories, and the freedom of our peoples in the face of the generalized crisis of the world capitalist system and the new threats spreading over our region and the whole world with the establishment and strengthening of military bases in the sister republics of Colombia, Panama, Aruba, Curacao, the Dutch Antilles, as well as the aggression against Ecuadorian territory, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

We consider that the world capitalist system is going through one of its most severe crises, which has shaken its very foundations and brought with it consequences that jeopardize the survival of humanity. Likewise, capitalism and the logic of capital, destroys the environment and biodiversity, bringing with it consequences of climate change, global warming and the destruction of life.

One of the epicentres of the capitalist crisis is in the economic domain; this highlights the limitations of unbridled free markets ruled by private monopolies. In this situation, some governments have been asked to intervene to prevent the collapse of vital economic sectors, for instance, through the implementation of bailouts to bank institutions that amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. Said governments have been asked to stimulate their economies by increasing public expenditure in order to mitigate the recession and the private sector decline, which evidences the end of the supposedly irrefutable “truth” of neo-liberalism that of non-intervention of the State in economic affairs.

In this regard, it is very timely to promote an in-depth discussion on the economic crisis, the role of the State and the construction of a new financial architecture.

In summary, the capitalist crisis cannot be reduced simply to a financial crisis; it is a structural crisis of capital which combines the economic crisis, with an ecological crisis, a food crisis, and an energy crisis, which together represents a mortal threat to humanity and mother earth. Faced with this crisis, left-wing movements and parties see the defence of nature and the construction of an ecologically sustainable society as a fundamental axis of our struggle for a better world.

In recent years, progressive and left-wing movements of the Latin American region have accumulated forces, and stimulated transformations, throwing up leaders that today hold important government spaces. This has represented an important blow to the empire because the peoples have rebelled against the domination that has been imposed on them, and have left behind their fear to express their values and principles, showing the empire that we will not allow any more interference in our internal affairs, and that we are willing to defend our sovereignty.

This meeting is held at a historic time, characterized by a new imperialistic offensive against the peoples and governments of the region and of the world, a pretension supported by the oligarchies and ultraconservative right-wing, with the objective of recovering spaces lost as a consequence of the advancement of revolutionary process of liberation developing in Latin America. These are expressed through the creation of regional organizations such as ALBA, UNASUR, PETROCARIBE, Banco del Sur, the Sao Paulo Forum, COPPPAL, among others; where the main principles inspiring these processes are those of solidarity, complementarity, social priority over economic advantage, respect for self-determination of the peoples in open opposition to the policies of imperial domination. For these reasons, the right-wing forces in partnership with the empire have launched an offensive to combat the advance and development of the peoples’ struggles, especially those against the overexploitation of human beings, racist discrimination, cultural oppression, in defence of natural resources, of the land and territory from the perspective of the left and progressive movements and of world transformation.

We reflect on the fact that these events have led the U.S administration to set strategies to undermine, torpedo and destabilize the advancement of these processes of change and recuperation of sovereignty. To this end, the US has implemented policies expressed through an ideological and media offensive that aim to discredit the revolutionary and progressive governments of the region, labelling them as totalitarian governments, violators of human rights, with links to drug-trafficking operations, and terrorism; and also questioning the legitimacy of their origin. This is the reason for the relentless fury with which all the empire’s means of propaganda and its agents inside our own countries continuously attack the experiences in Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Paraguay, as with its maintenance of the blockade against revolutionary and independent Cuba.

Part of the strategy activated by the U.S. Empire is evidenced by the coup in Honduras, as well as in other destabilizing initiatives in Central America, attempting to impose the oligarchic interests that have already left hundreds of victims, while a disgusting wave of cynicism tries to cover up the dictatorship imposed by the U.S. administration with a false veil of democracy. Along with this, it is developing a military offensive with the idea of maintaining political and military hegemony in the region, for which it is promoting new geopolitical allies, generating destabilization and disturbing peace in the region and globally through military intimidation, with the help of its allies in the internal oligarchies, who are shown to be complicit in the actions taken by the empire, giving away their sovereignty, and opening spaces for the empire’s actions.

We consider that this new offensive is specifically expressed through two important events that took place this year in the continent: The coup in Honduras, and the installation of military bases in Colombia and Panama, as well as the strengthening of the already existing ones in our region. The coup in Honduras is nothing but a display of hypocrisy by the empire, a way to intimidate the rest of the governments in the region. It is a test-laboratory that aims to set a precedent that can be applied as a new coup model and a way to encourage the right to plot against the transformational and independent processes.

We denounce the military agreement between the Colombian government and the United States administration strengthens the U.S.’s military strategy, whose contents are expressed in the so-called “White Book”. This confirms that the development of the agreement will guarantee a projection of continental and intercontinental military power, the strengthening of transportation capability and air mobility to guarantee the improvement of its action capability, in order to provide the right conditions to have access to energy sources. It also consolidates its political partnership with the regional oligarchy for the control of Colombian territory and its projection in the Andes and in the rest of South America. All this scaffolding and consolidation of military architecture entails a serious threat for peace in the region and the world.

The installation of military bases in the region and their interrelation with the different bases spread throughout the world is not only confined to the military sphere, but rather forms part of the establishment of a general policy of domination and expansion directed by the U.S. These bases constitute strategic points to dominate all the countries in Central and Latin America and the rest of the world.

The treaty for the installation of military bases in Colombia is preceded by Plan Colombia, which was already an example of U.S. interference in the affairs of Colombia and the region using the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism as an excuse. However, it has been shown that drug trafficking levels have increased in Colombia; therefore, the plan is no longer justified given that no favourable results have been obtained since its implementation, that would justify a new treaty with the U.S.

Today, the global strategy headed by the U.S. concerning drug trafficking is a complete failure. Its results are summarised by a rapid processes of accumulation of illegal capital, increased consumption of drugs and exacerbation of criminality, whose victims are the peoples of Latin America, especially the Colombian people. This strategy should be revisited and modified, and should be oriented towards a different logic that focuses on drug consumption as a public health issue. In Colombia, drug trafficking has assumed the form of paramilitarism, and turned into a political project the scope of which and persons responsible should be investigated so that the truth is known, so that justice prevails and the terror of the civilian population ceases.

We, the peoples of the world, declare that we will not give up the spaces we have managed to conquer after years of struggle and resistance; and we commit ourselves to regain those which have been taken from us. Therefore, we need to defend the processes of change and the unfolding revolutions since they are based on sovereign decisions made by the peoples.



1.1. To organize global protests against the U.S. military bases from December 12th to 17th, 2009. Various leftwing parties and social movements will promote forums, concerts, protest marches and any other creative activity within the context of this event.

1.2. To establish a global mobilization front for the political denouncement of the U.S. military bases. This group will be made up by social leaders, left-wing parties, lawmakers, artists, among others, who will visit different countries with the aim of raising awareness in forums, press conferences and news and above all in gatherings with each country’s peoples.

1.3. To organize students, young people, workers and women in order to establish a common agenda of vigilance and to denounce against the military bases throughout the world.

1.4. To organize a global legal forum to challenge the installation of the U.S. military bases. This forum is conceived as a space for the condemnation of illegalities committed against the sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples and the imposition of a hegemonic imperialist model.

1.5. To organise a global trial against paramilitarism in Colombia bringing testimonies and evidence to international bodies of justice.

1.6. To promote a global trial against George Bush for crimes against humanity, as the person principally responsible for the genocide against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan.

1.7. To promote a campaign for the creation of constitutional and legal provisions in all of our countries against the installation of military bases and deployment of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

1.8. To promote, from the different social organizations and movements of the countries present in this meeting, a political solution for the Colombian conflict.

1.9. To organise solidarity with the Colombian people against the imperial aggression that the military bases entail in Colombian territory.


2.1. To establish a space of articulation of progressive and left-wing organizations and parties that allows for coordinating policies against the aggression towards the peoples, the condemnation of the aggressions against governments elected democratically, the installation of military bases, the violation of sovereignty and against xenophobia, the defence of immigrants’ rights, peace, and the environment, and peasant, labour, indigenous and afro-descendent movements.

2.2. To set up a Temporary Executive Secretariat (TES) that allows for the coordination of a common working agenda, policy making, and follow-up on the agreements reached within the framework of this international encounter. Said Secretariat undertakes to inform about relevant events in the world, and to define specific action plans: statements, declarations, condemnations, mobilizations, observations and other issues that may be decided.

2.3. To set up an agenda of permanent ideological debate on the fundamental aspects of the process of construction of socialism.

2.4. To prepare common working agendas with participation from Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

2.5. To organize solidarity of the people’s of the world with the Bolivarian revolution and President Hugo Chávez, in response to the constant imperial attacks.

2.6. To commemorate the centenary of Clara Zetkin’s proposal to celebrate March 8th as the International Day of Women. The parties undertake to celebrate this day insofar as possible.

2.7. To summon a meeting to be held in Caracas in April 2010 in commemoration of the bicentenary of our Latin American and Caribbean independences.


3.1. To promote the establishment of peace bases, by peace supporters, who will coordinate actions and denouncements against interventionism and war sponsored by imperialism through activities such as: forums, cultural events, and debates to promote the ethical behaviour of anti-violence, full participation in social life, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, acknowledgement of the cultural identities of our peoples and strengthening the framework of integration. This space seeks to raise awareness among all citizens in rejection of all forms of domination, internal or external intervention, and to reinforce the culture of peace. To struggle relentlessly for a world with no nuclear weapons, no weapons of mass destruction, no military bases, no foreign interference, and no economic blockades, as our peoples need peace and are absolutely entitled to attain development. Promote the American continent as a territory of peace, home to the construction of a free and sovereign world.

3.2. To organize a Peace Parliament as a political space to exchange common endeavours among the world’s progressive and left-wing parliamentarians, and to know the historical, economic, legal, political and environmental aspects key for the defence of peace. Hereby we recommend holding the first meeting in February 2010.


4.1. To discuss a public communication policy at an inter-regional level that aims to improve the media battle, and to convey the values of socialism among the peoples.

4.2. To promote the creation and consolidation of alternative and community communication media to break the media siege, promote an International Alternative Left-wing Media Coordination Office that creates links to provide for improved information exchange among our countries, in which Telesur and Radiosur can be spearheads for this action.

4.3. To create a website of all of the progressive and left-wing parties and movements in the world as a means to ensure permanent exchange and the development of an emancipating and alternative communication.

4.4. To promote a movement of artists, writers and filmmakers to promote and develop festivals of small, short and full-length films that reflects the advancement and the struggle of peoples in revolution.

4.5. To hold a meeting or international forum of alternative left-wing media.


5.1. To promote an international trial against the coup plotters in Honduras before the International Criminal Court for the abuses and crimes committed.

5.2. Refuse to recognize the illegal electoral process they aim to carry out in Honduras.

5.3. To carry out a world vigil on Election Day in Honduras in order to protest against the intention to legitimize the coup, coordinated by the permanent committee that emerges from this encounter.

5.4. To coordinate the actions of left-wing parties worldwide to curb the imperialist pretensions of using the coup in Honduras as a strategy against the Latin American and Caribbean progressive processes and governments.

5.5. To unite with the people of Honduras through a global solidarity movement for people’s resistance and for the pursuit of democratic and participatory paths that allow for the establishment of progressive governments committed to common welfare and social justice.

5.6. To undertake actions geared towards denouncing before multilateral bodies, and within the framework of international law, the abduction of José Manuel Zelaya, legitimate President of Honduras, that facilitated the rupture of constitutional order in Honduras. It is necessary to determine responsibility among those who participated directly in this crime, and even among those who allowed his aircraft to go in and out Costa Rica without trying to detain the kidnappers of the Honduran president.


6.1. The Left-wing Parties of the International Meeting of Caracas agree to demand the immediate liberation of the five Cuban heroes unfairly imprisoned in American jails. They are authentic anti-terrorist fighters that caused no harm to U.S. national security, whose work was oriented towards preventing the terrorist attacks prepared by the terrorist counterrevolution against Cuba. The Five Heroes were subject to a biased judicial process, condemned by broad sectors of humanity, and stigmatized by a conspiracy of silence by the mainstream media. Given the impossibility of winning justice via judicial means, we call upon all political left-wing parties of the world to increase actions for their immediate liberation. We call on President Obama to utilize his executive power and set these Five Heroes of Humanity free.

6.2. The International Meeting of Left-wing Parties resolutely demands the immediate and unconditional cessation of the criminal U.S. blockade that harmed the Cuban people so badly over the last fifty years. The blockade should come to an end right now in order to fulfil the will of the 187 countries that recently declared themselves against this act of genocide during the UN General Assembly.

6.3. To unite with the people of Haiti in the struggle for the return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide to his country.

6.4. We propose to study the possibility to grant a residence in Venezuela to Jean Bertrand Aristide, who was kidnapped and overthrown as Haiti’s president by U.S. imperialism.

6.5. We express the need to declare a permanent alert aimed at preventing any type of breach of the constitutional order that may hinder the process of democratic change underway in Paraguay.

6.6. We denounce the neoliberal privatizing advance in Mexico expressly in the case of the Electric Energy state-owned company, a heritage of the people, which aims through the massive firing of 45 000 workers to intimidate the union force, “Luz y Fuerza”, which constitutes another offensive of the Empire in Central and North America.

6.7. To declare our solidarity with the peoples of the world that have suffered and are still suffering imperial aggressions, especially, the 50 year-long genocidal blockade against Cuba; the threat against the people of Paraguay; the slaughter of the Palestinian people; the illegal occupation of part of the territory of the Republic of Western Sahara and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan which today is expanding into Pakistan; the illegal sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe and the constant threat against Iran, among others.

Caracas, November 21st, 2009


The Left-wing Parties of the International Meeting of Caracas agree to demand the immediate liberation of the five Cuban heroes unfairly imprisoned in U.S. prisons. They are authentic anti-terrorist fighters that caused no harm to US national security, whose work was oriented towards preventing the terrorist attacks prepared by the terrorist counterrevolution against Cuba. The Five Heroes were subject to a biased judicial process, condemned by broad sectors of humanity, and stigmatized by a conspiracy of silence by the mainstream media.

Given the impossibility of winning justice via judicial means, we call upon all political left-wing parties of the world to increase actions for their immediate liberation. We call on President Obama to utilize his executive power and set these Five Heroes of Humanity free.

The International Meeting of Left-wing Parties resolutely demands the immediate and unconditional cessation of the criminal U.S. blockade that harmed the Cuban people so badly over the last fifty years. The blockade should come to an end right now in order to fulfil the will of the 187 countries that recently declared themselves against this act of genocide during the UN General Assembly.

Caracas, November 21st, 2009


We, left-wing parties of Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania, present in the international encounter of left-wing parties, reject the coup d’état against the constitutional government of citizen’s power of the President of Honduas Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

Cognizant of the situation of repression, persecution and murder against the Honduran people and the permanent military harassment against president Manuel Zelaya Rosales, which represents a breach of the rule of law in the sister nation of Honduras:

We support the actions of the national resistance front in its struggle to restore democracy.

We demand and support the sovereign right of the Honduran people to call for a national constituent assembly to establish direct democracy and to ensure the broadest political participation of the people in public affairs.

We denounce the United States intervention and its national and international reactionary right-wing allies and their connection with the coup, which hinders the construction of democracy in Honduras and in the world.

We condemn and repudiate the permanent violation of political and social human rights as well as the violation freedom of speech, promoted and perpetrated by the de facto powers, the Supreme Court of Justice, the National Congress of the Republic, the Ministry of Defence and Security since June 28, 2009.

We reiterate our demand to international governments and bodies, not to recognize the results of the general elections to be held on November 29, 2009 in Honduras, due to the lack of constitutional guarantees and the legal conditions necessary for a fair, transparent and reliable electoral process, the lack of reliable observers that can vouch for the results of this electoral process, which has already been rejected by most international governments, bodies and international public opinion.

To propose and promote an international trial against coup plotters and their accomplices in Honduras before the International Criminal Court, for the illegal actions, abuses and crimes they committed, while developing actions aimed at denouncing to the relevant bodies and in the framework of the international law, the violation of the rights and the kidnapping of the legitimate president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya Rosales, because it is necessary to establish the responsibility of those who participated directly and internally in the perpetration of this crime.

We urge national and international human rights organizations to support these measures, to carry on the campaign of denunciation and vigilance with permanent observers in face of the renewed human rights violations, particularly the persecution and sanction through the loss of jobs for political reasons against the members and supporters of the resistance and president Manuel Zelaya.

We repudiate and condemn the attacks against the diplomatic corps of the embassies of the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Republic of Argentina, and the embassies of the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA); and express our solidarity with the heroic work of the staff of these diplomatic missions, who have been victims of harassment and hostility by the coup plotters.

We agree to establish coordination among left-wing parties of the world to exert pressure to oust the de facto government and for the restoration of the constitutional president and the right of the Honduran people to install a national constituent assembly that allows for deepening direct democracy.

We urge governments, international bodies and companies to maintain and intensify economic and commercial sanctions to business accomplices and supporters of the coup in Honduras, and to maintain an attitude of vigilance, to break all relations that recognize the coup plotters and the de facto government officers, as well as to take migration control measures that hinder the movement of people who have the purpose of voting in another country where elections are held with the aim of changing the results through the transfer of votes from one country to the other.

We agree not to recognize the international and national observers of the
electoral process who are aligned and conspire to attempt to give legitimacy to an
electoral process devoid of legality and legitimacy. We demand that rather than
observing an illegal and illegitimate process, the return of the state of democratic law and the constitutional government of citizen power Honduras President Manuel Zelaya Rosales is guaranteed.

Caracas, November 21st, 2009


The international encounter of Left-wing Political parties held in Caracas on November 19, 20 and 21, 2009, recieved the proposal made by Commander Hugo Chavez Frias to convoke the V Socialist International as a space for socialist-oriented parties, movements and currents in which we can harmonize a common strategy for the struggle against imperialism, the overthrow of capitalism by socialism and solidarity based economic integration of a new type. We assessed that proposition in terms of its historical dimension which calls for a new spirit of internationalism and agreed, for the purpose of achieving it in the short term, to create a WORKING GROUP comprised of those socialist parties, currents and social movements who endorse the initiative, to prepare an agenda which defines the objectives, contents and mechanisms of this global revolutionary body. We call for an initial constitutive event for April 2010 in the City of Caracas. Furthermore, those parties, socialist currents and social movements who have not expressed themselves on this matter can subject this proposal to the examination of their legitimate directive bodies.

Caracas, November 21st, 2009


This translation of the Commitment of Caracas has been edited for

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Rudd’s CPRS won't solve the problem: radical climate action needed now

from the Socialist Alliance website

Simon Butler
25 November 2009

Could the government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) get any worse? The unfortunate answer is yes. It can, it has already and it’s likely to get worse still before parliament ends for the year.

Radical action is needed to avert an irreversible climate change disaster. Australia has some of the best conditions in the world for wind and solar power. An emergency program to phase out fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy in a decade is needed.

Given the crisis, it’s hard to imagine a more useless response than an emissions trading scheme.

Carbon trading schemes now exist in 35 countries worldwide. Yet nowhere have they successfully driven down carbon emissions.

In their various forms, however, all have proved to be highly lucrative for a new breed of carbon speculators, who can profit from trading in a new commodity — our air.

Friends of the Earth said the European Union’s emissions trading scheme will be worth about US$3.1 trillion by 2020.

Such cap-and-trade schemes face increasing criticism as failures mount, but profits — and emissions — rise.

In July, the billionaire financier George Soros told a London School of Economics conference that carbon trading was the wrong response to climate change. “The system can be gamed; that’s why financial types like me like it — because there are financial opportunities.”

Australian climate activists and most environment groups have condemned the proposed CPRS as a woefully inadequate response to the global warming crisis. Its weak targets ignore the scientific evidence that rapid emission cuts are needed.

The federal climate change department’s own figures suggest that the scheme won’t lead to a significant drop in Australia’s emissions for at least 20 years. Climate scientists say that’s far too late to prevent runaway climate change.

The low targets are a ghastly joke in the face of a looming climate disaster. But even worse, they are not real targets at all.

The CPRS will allow business to meet the emissions cuts targets through buying carbon offsets from overseas — that is, they can pay projects in other countries to make 100% of the cuts on their behalf.

The scheme gives A$16.4 billion taxpayers’ money as “compensation” to polluting industries, diverting resources away from direct investment in solar thermal, and wind power, energy efficiency measures and public transport.

The proposed payouts have grown so large the federal treasury was forced to revise its revenue projections for the CPRS on November 2, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said. Treasury now expects it will be $2.5 billion in arrears by 2019-20.

Critics also point out the scheme’s subsidies will keep polluting industries in business, rather than phase them out.

In its first year, the CPRS carbon price will be capped at $10 a tonne — a rate so low it’s certain to price renewable energy alternatives out of the market.

So much for the supposed ecological benefits of a “free market” in pollution.

The only thing truly “free” in this scheme is the 95% of permits the government will hand to the dirtiest and richest companies at no charge.

The climate depravity of the two big parties is hard to overstate. Negotiations between the ALP and Coalition to get the scheme passed by the Senate are certain to add even more loopholes for the big polluters.

The ALP government has ruled out any negotiations with the Greens, who want far stiffer cuts in emissions.

Emissions from agriculture are the latest casualty of the political horse-trading. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on November 15 agriculture would be permanently excluded from the CPRS. It was a key demand of the climate denier-riddled opposition.

After stationary energy, agriculture is the next biggest contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan to cut emissions in this crucial area is now official: we have no plan. But in truth, this is only a marginal change from the Rudd government’s climate policy for other sectors. There we have a plan that is sure to fail.

Other Coalition amendment proposals include: triple compensation payments to electricity producers; lock in the weak targets for 10 years instead of five; and exempt mining companies from having to worry about the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from coalmines.

At least some of these proposals will become part of the final legislation if it is to pass into law.

A question arises as to whether the big environmental NGOs, who were suckered into backing the CPRS in May, will now finally distance themselves from the polluter-friendly scheme.

The ACF has said many times it would end its support of the CPRS if it was “substantially weakened”. Yet the exclusion of agriculture from the CPRS — amounting to about 16% of Australia’s emissions — still hasn’t led to a policy change.

As the circus surrounding the CPRS draws to its miserable finale, new evidence of the looming climate catastrophe has emerged. It is almost as if the warnings from climate scientists become more dire in inverse proportion to the worsening of Australia’s climate change policy.

On November 20, parts of New South Wales were placed on “catastrophic fire danger” alerts. South-eastern Australia braced for more days of searing heat and fierce winds.

Meanwhile, a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience by a group of climate scientists from the Global Carbon Project said average temperatures are highly likely to rise by 6°C by the end of the century.

The scientists assessed that such a rise was probable given current emissions. The study said world emissions rose 28% between 2000 and 2008. In the 18 years from 1990, the rise was 41%.

They also confirmed the rate of emissions is now higher than ever — at a time it should be coming down fast. In the 1990s, emissions rose by about 1% a year. Since the turn of the century, the yearly rise has been about 3%.

The November 18 London Independent pointed out that a 6°C rise “would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the Earth, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable and threatening the basis of human civilisation”.

Lead author of the study, Professor Corinne Le Quere, told the Independent December’s Copenhagen climate talks had to make a strong commitment to cut emissions.

“If the agreement is too weak, or the commitments not respected, it is not 2.5°C or 3°C we will get: it's 5°C or 6°C — that is the path we're on”, she said.

But any hopes that the Copenhagen conference will deliver the agreement the planet so desperately needs are misplaced.

US President Barack Obama announced on November 14 that no legally binding agreement would be made — exactly what the rich countries, including Australia, have pushed for over the past few months, against the wishes of the poor nations. The setting of binding targets will be delayed for at least a year.

In a display of outrageous hypocrisy, Rudd called on world leaders to show greater “political courage” at Copenhagen, said ABC Online on November 18.

Real political courage is exactly what is required. But it won’t be found in the pro-corporate political parties or the international gatherings of the so-called world leaders, who will lead us only to oblivion.

The political courage we need is the courage of the street, of the activists, of the people. The courage to fight for the measures we need and not give up. The courage to take decision-making power out of the hands of the elites who have so grievously abused it.

The courage to tell the truth about climate change. The courage to demand what science and justice dictate, not what is desperately inadequate but “politically acceptable”.

The courage to keep building a movement that can make governments fear the people, and fear the consequences of just pretending to act on climate change any longer.

That kind of political courage is all that stands between a safe climate future and climate chaos.

Venezuela’s Chavez Calls for International Organisation of Left Parties

President Chavez addresses Conference of Left Parties (ABN)

Caracas, November 23rd 2009 ( – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for the formation of a “Fifth International” of left parties and social movements to confront the challenge posed by the global crisis of capitalism.

The president made the announcement during an international conference of more than fifty left organisations from thirty-one countries held in Caracas over November 19-21.

“I assume responsibility before the world. I think it is time to convene the Fifth International, and I dare to make the call, which I think is a necessity. I dare to request that we create my proposal,” Chavez said.

The head of state insisted that the conference of left parties should not be “just one more meeting,” and he invited participating organizations to create a truly new project. “This socialist encounter should be of the genuine left, willing to fight against imperialism and capitalism,” he said.

During his speech, Chavez briefly outlined the experiences of previous “internationals,” including the First International founded in 1864 by Karl Marx; the Second International founded in 1889, which collapsed in 1916 as various left parties and trade unions sided with their respective capitalist classes in the inter-imperialist conflict of the First World War; the Third International founded by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, which Chavez said “degenerated” under Stalinism and “betrayed” struggles for socialism around the world; and the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938, which suffered numerous splits and no longer exists, although some small groups claim to represent its political continuity.

Chavez said that a new international would have to function “without impositions” and would have to respect diversity.

Representatives from a number of major parties in Latin America voiced their support for the proposal, including the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) of Bolivia, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) of Nicaragua, and Alianza Pais of Ecuador.

Smaller parties from Latin America and around the world also indicated their support for the idea, including the Proposal for an Alternative Society (PAS) of Chile, New Nation Alternative (ANN) of Guatemala, and Australia’s Socialist Alliance, among others.

Sandinista leader Miguel D´Escoto said, “Capitalism has brought the human species to the precipice of extinction… we have to take control of our own destiny.”

“There is no time to lose,” D’Escoto added as he conveyed his support for the proposal of forming a fifth international. “We have to overcome the tendency of defeatism. Many times I have noted a tendency of defeatism amongst comrades of the left in relation to the tasks we face,” he continued.

Salvador Sánchez, from the FMLN, said “We are going to be important actors in the Fifth International. We cannot continue waiting – all the forces of the left. The aspiration of the peoples is to walk down a different path. We must not hesitate in forming the Fifth International. The people have pronounced themselves in favour of change and the parties of the left must be there with them.”

Other organisations, including Portugal’s Left Block, Germany’s Die Linke, and France’s Partido Gauche expressed interest in the proposal but said they would consult with their various parties. A representative of the Cuban Communist Party described the proposal as “excellent,” but as yet the party has made no formal statement.

Many communist parties, including those from Greece and Brazil, expressed strong opposition to the proposal. The Venezuelan Communist Party said it was willing to discuss the proposal but expressed strong reservations.

The Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) from Colombia expressed its willingness to work with other left parties, but said it would “reserve” its decision to participate in an international organisation of left parties.

Valter Pomar, a representative from the Workers Party of Brazil (PT), said its priority is the Sao Paolo Forum – a forum of various Latin American left, socialist, communist, centre-left, labour, social democratic and nationalist parties launched by the PT in 1990.

A resolution was passed at the conference to form a preparatory committee to convoke a global conference of left parties in Caracas in April 2010, to discuss the formation of a new international. The resolution also allowed for other parties that remain undecided to discuss the proposal and incorporate themselves at a later date.

Chavez emphasised the importance of being inclusive and said the April conference had to go far beyond the parties and organisations that participated in last week’s conference. In particular, he said it was an error that there were no revolutionary organisations from the United States present.

The conference of left parties also passed a resolution titled the Caracas Commitment, “to reaffirm our conviction to definitively build and win Socialism of the 21st Century,” in the face of “the generalized crisis of the global capitalist system.”

“One of the epicentres of the global capitalist crisis is the economic sphere. This highlights the limitations of unbridled free markets dominated by monopolies of private property,” the resolution stated.

Also incorporated was a proposed amendment by the Australian delegation which read, “In synthesis, the crisis of capitalism cannot be reduced to a simple financial crisis, it is a structural crisis of capital that combines the economic crisis, with an ecological crisis, a food crisis and an energy crisis, which together represent a mortal threat to humanity and nature. In the face of this crisis, the movements and parties of the left see the defence of nature and the construction of an ecologically sustainable society as a fundamental axis of our struggle for a better world.”

The Caracas Commitment expressed “solidarity with the peoples of the world who have suffered and are suffering from imperialist aggression, especially the more than 50 years of the genocidal blockade against Cuba… the massacre of the Palestinian people, the illegal occupation of part of the territory of the Western Sahara, and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, which today is expanding into Pakistan.”

The conference of left parties also denounced the decision of the Mexican government to shut down the state-owned electricity company and fire 45,000 workers, as an attempt to “intimidate” the workers and as an “offensive of imperialism,” to advance neoliberal privatisation in Central America.

In the framework of the Caracas Commitment, the left parties present agreed, among other things, to:

  • Organise a global week of mobilisation from December 12-17 in repudiation of the installation of U.S. military bases in Colombia, Panama and around the world.

  • Campaign for an “international trial against George Bush for crimes against humanity, as the person principally responsible for the genocide against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • ”Commemorate 100 years since the proposal by Clara Zetkin to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, through forums, mobilizations and other activities in their respective countries.

  • Organise global solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution in the face of permanent imperialist attacks.

  • Organise global solidarity with the people of Honduras who are resisting a U.S.-backed military coup, to campaign for the restoration of the democratically elected president of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya and to organise a global vigil on the day of the elections in Honduras, “with which they aim to legitimise the coup d´etat.”

  • Demand an “immediate and unconditional end to the criminal Yankee blockade” of Cuba and for the “immediate liberation” of the Cuban Five, referring to the five anti-terrorist activists imprisoned in the United States.

  • Accompany the Haitian people in their struggle for the return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide “who was kidnapped and removed from his post as president of Haiti by North American imperialism.”

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

'Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement launched

Green Left Weekly editorial

November 25, 2009 -- For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and El Salvador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

The tide of rebellion and revolution now sweeping Latin America is posing a serious challenge to imperialism’s brutal global rule. For anyone who wants an end to war, exploitation and oppression, Latin America’s struggles to create alternatives are crucially important.

Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly is strongly committed to supporting the growing “people’s power” movement in Latin America. We are proud of the fact that GLW is the only Australian newspaper to have a permanent bureau in Latin America, based in Caracas, Venezuela. Through our weekly articles on developments in the region, GLW strives to counter the corporate media’s many lies about Latin America’s revolutions, and to give a voice in English to the people’s movements for change.

The continent-wide rebellion is weakening imperialism’s power. As a result, it is taking increasingly threatening steps to push back the power of the people. Our solidarity, to help the people of Latin America defend and extend their tremendous achievements, is vital.

Through providing facts and analysis, and publicising and organising Latin America solidarity activities in Australia, GLW has sought to promote greater understanding and solidarity between the people of Australia and Latin America.

We are therefore delighted to publish the first edition of Latin America Social Forum (Foro Social Latinamericano), a Spanish-language supplement to be produced regularly by the Latin America Social Forum in Sydney.

We hope the supplement will help build stronger links and solidarity between the Spanish-speaking communities in Australia and all those involved in the urgent struggles for the people and the planet. In the words of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez: “Time is short. If we don’t change the world now, there may be no 22nd century.”

GLW congratulates the Latin America Social Forum for launching this important publication, and looks forward to continuing to help build solidarity in Australia, and around the world, with Latin America’s movements for freedom, democracy, sustainability and justice.

* * *

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is proud to make Foro Social Latinamericano available to readers around the world. You can read the first edition (November 25, 2009) on screen below, or directly download it in PDF version by clicking HERE.


Monday, 23 November 2009

Video: Was the German Election a Turning Point?

LeftStreamed, November 13, 2009:

Finance, Class and Politics in the European Economic Crisis:
Was the German Election a Turning Point?

As a result of the recent German elections, Conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was leading a coalition government with the social democratic SPD (Social Democratic Party) since 2005, will also lead Germany's next government, this time with support from the liberal FDP (Free Democratic Party). Though the social democrats expected that their party, the SPD, would continue the downward trend that began with the 2002 elections and continued in 2005, the loss of 11.2% of the vote came as a shock. The 23.0% they received in this year's election was even lower than the 29.2% with which the SPD started their electoral performance in post-war (West) Germany.

The 11.9% for the Left Party (Die Linke) does not look too impressive numerically, but it does signify the establishment of the party as a constant factor in Germany's political system. Considering that the party was only founded as a merger of East Germany's Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and West-German SPD dissidents in 2007, this is a remarkable achievement that indicates the desire for a left voice in the parliamentary arena.

At this point, the Left Party is the only party in opposition to the restoration of neoliberalism. It would also be the key point of coalescing if any further rightwing turn in German politics occurs. From this angle, the significance of the electoral boost of the Left Party lies less in increased presence in parliament. It lies in the stabilization of a political force that began, however vaguely, to advocate alternatives to neoliberalism at a time when that doctrine still seemed to be the only way of economic and social development. Whether the Left Party is ready to live up to these openings is an entirely different question. It is also possible that the party gets torn apart between the temptation of occupying government positions and building the base for independent working class political action, or even a wider rebellion.

These issues served as the basis for a roundtable discussion of Die Linke and the coming period of struggle in Germany over exit strategies to the financial crisis.

Click here to view the video and other useful resources.

Monday, 16 November 2009

MEDIA RELEASE: Shooting leaves "Indonesian solution" in tatters, but pressure mounts on asylum seekers in Merak

“The Australian government did not pull the trigger, but it provided the bullets and loaded the guns that were turned on Afghan asylum seekers on the weekend,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“How ironic that in the same month there were celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Indonesian border guards have shot asylum seekers trying to get to Australia. But the stark reality is that the opportunity, the bullets, the guns, the patrol, boat and the training are provided by Australia. Asylum seekers are now fleeing persecution in Indonesia, sponsored by the Australian government.

“Kevin Rudd’s policy has made vulnerable people even more vulnerable. The demand for bribes is a common experience of asylum seekers in Indonesia.

“But the shooting of two Afghan asylum seekers has blown a gaping hole in Kevin Rudd’s Indonesia Solution and his claim for a humane asylum policy. No-one is going to accept that people fleeing the bullets of the Taliban should be shot in Indonesia by Australian-funded guards.

“Until there is adequate accommodation, reliable processing and a guarantee of re-settlement in Australia, there is no possibility of an Indonesian solution,” said Ian Rintoul.

Meanwhile, Indonesia authorities are steeping up pressure on the 250 asylum seekers in Merak. In what may the first steps to forcibly removing the asylum seekers, Indonesian authorities have restricted access to the port.

On the weekend, the Indonesia navy evacuated a woman who had fainted after the International Organsation for Migration (IOM) refused to call an ambulance and a doctor refused to board the boat to attend to the woman.

The IOM which has been providing assistance to the asylum seekers has now abandoned the group at Merak. There is now no direct medical support for the group.

“The IOM has been pressuring us to leave the boat since it arrived deserted us, and now they have left completely. We are urgently calling for the Red Cross to take responsibility for us,” said “Alex” the representative of the Merak asylum seekers.

On Saturday, a man claiming to be an Indonesian policeman called for “Alex”, to leave the boat, then threatened to shoot him.

“Australia should bring the asylum seekers at Merak and the Oceanic Viking to Australia. Rudd is prolonging the agony to save face, but he has already guaranteed that those with UNHCR refugee cards will come to Australia. One hundred and nine people on the boat at Merak also have UNHCR refugee cards.

“Reports that Indonesia may be considering deporting some of the Merak asylum seekers makes it more urgent that Kevin Rudd intervenes to ensure the safety of these people,” Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul 047 275 713

Friday, 13 November 2009

Taxing the super-rich is a no-brainer

By Kevin McVey
First published in The Morning Star, Thursday, 12 November, 2009

The German press reported the launch of a petition two weeks ago calling for extra taxes on the rich.

Nothing unusual about that. The idea of the rich paying their fair share of taxes has been one of the clarion calls of the left internationally for a generation.

But this petition wasn't launched by Die Linke, nor by the trade unions. The petition was launched by a group calling itself Vermoegende fur eine Vermoegensabgabe, which translates as "wealthy people in favour of a wealth tax."

According to the organisers, a 5 per cent wealth tax for two years on everyone in Germany with a personal fortune over 500,000 euros (£452,000) would raise more than 100 billion euros (£90bn).

The group says that the revenues should be earmarked for environmental protection, education, health care, welfare and other social services.

"The gap between the poor and the rich in Germany has widened during the past 15 years," explained one of the organisers.

The proposal bears a remarkable similarity to the proposal put forward by the Scottish Socialist Party during the recent European election campaign and in the Glasgow North East by-election.

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) has calculated that a one-off tax on every individual in the UK who holds liquid assets - ie wealth held in bank accounts, stocks, shares, bonds etc - worth over £1m would instantly generate up to £70bn.

This single measure would be enough to create and sustain 800,000 new jobs - a fiscal stimulus on a grand scale, which would rejuvenate local economies and generate billions of pounds in extra tax revenues.

Let's be clear. The crisis engulfing the world economy was caused by the greed, incompetence and recklessness of the private sector and the rich.

Yet with varying degrees of enthusiasm, all the mainstream parties are drawing plans for an onslaught against the public sector and the poor.

They have learned no lessons from the global economic meltdown, which has its roots in runaway economic inequality.

Higher taxes on the rich over the past 13 years of new Labour in power wouldn't have prevented an economic downswing. But it certainly would have curbed the wild excesses of casino capitalism.

For a decade and more, the rich amassed phenomenal wealth. This became the fuel powering the soaring speculative rocket, which has now fallen back to Earth like a burned-out stick.

In the past, even the most modest proposals for wealth redistribution provoked derision and hysteria from new Labour politicians.

To take a local example, when the SSP proposed replacing the council tax with a more equitable service tax based on income, the Scottish Labour Party issued a briefing paper saying that the policy would "lead to a haemorrhaging of wealth."

Haemorrhage? It sounds like a cruel joke now.

We only wanted the rich to donate a pint of blood. Instead they decided to slash their own arteries.

Incredibly, even after the greatest financial crash since 1929, the richest 1,000 people in Britain are still three times richer than they were on the day new Labour came to power. That's the state of play in Britain now according to the latest Sunday Times rich list.

Every one of these 1,000 people could go on another spending binge, each splashing out £1m every week for the next five years, and they would still have billions left to spare.

Slap some extra taxes on these people and they wouldn't even notice the difference. They might scream and squeal for a bit, but they won't be cutting back on spending at their local restaurant or corner shop.

Transfer that money to the millions who live on or near the breadline and they'll spend it.

It's simple economics - and in Germany even some millionaires have begun to work out that particular equation.

Kevin McVey was the SSP candidate in the Glasgow North East by-election.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The war on refugees: Is Rudd becoming Howard?

A Socialist Alliance Forum on Refugees, Racism & War

Sat Nov 21, 2pm
Resistance Centre
23 Abercrombie St

The Sri Lankan government's genocide of the Tamil people and its detention of 300,000 people in concentration camps has provoked a mass refugee flight.

At least 3,700 Tamil refugees have fled from Sri Lanka to India this year (23,000 in last three years). Only a few hundred have braved the dangerous sea voyage to Australian territory but the Rudd Labor government is seeking to have them intercepted and taken to detention camps in Indonesia. The "Indonesian solution" is Rudd's alternative to Howard's failed "Pacific solution". And worse, Rudd Labor government has offered millions of dollars to run the concentration camps in Sri Lanka and promised to assist the Sri Lankan government hunt down Tamil freedom fighters allegedly helping the refugees flee.

But people of conscience, including John Pilger, the ACTU and several trade union leaders have spoken out and the refugee rights movement is organising mass protests (Sydney march for refugees: Sun Nov 29, 2pm, Sydney Town Hall).

Guest speakers include a representative from the Tamil community in Australia, Susan Price, UNSW president NTEU, and a live hookup with Ignatius Mahendra, an Indonesian comrade who recently visited the 255 Tamil refugees who are refusing to leave their boat in Merak, Indonesia.

Read regional left groups' statement on the refugee crisis here. Socialist Alliance initiated this statement and coordinated solidarity action is being organised with Indonesian and Malaysian comrades.

More information: Peter 9690 1977 or 0401 760 577

Friday, 6 November 2009

Socialist Alliance 7th National Conference, 2-5 January 2010

Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century:

Towards Sustainability, Justice and People’s Power

Socialist Alliance 7th National Conference

Sydney, January 2-5, 2010

Women’s College, University of Sydney



7.30pm Their Crises, Our Solutions. Public meeting to launch the conference


9am Welcome to country

9.15am The Socialist Alliance’s perspectives for struggle in 2010 (panel of speakers and discussion)

10.30am Socialist election strategy and tactics: preparing for the next federal election (panel of speakers and discussion)

12.15pm Building the climate action movement (panel of speakers and discussion)

2.45pm The struggle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights (panel of speakers and discussion)

4pm Multiple workshops to plan campaigning on: climate change, Aboriginal rights, same-sex marriage rights, anti-war and Latin America solidarity

7.30pm Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund rally. An evening of speakers, music and multi-media presentations to launch the 2010 fighting fund for Australia’s # 1 alternative newspaper.


9am Rebuilding the trade unions for the fights ahead (panel of speakers and discussion)

10.15am Building the socialist movement among young people (panel of speakers and discussion)

11.30am Refugee rights and internationalism (panel of speakers and discussion)

12.15pm The Latin American revolutions and solidarity (panel of speakers and discussion)

2pm Campaigning for environmental sustainability (panel of speakers and discussion)

2-4pm Challenges of building a radical alternative to Labor 1 (concurrent educational workshop)

3pm Getting Australia out of Afghanistan and Iraq (panel of speakers and discussion)

4pm Multiple workshops on building the Socialist Alliance and strengthening left unity, covering Green Left Weekly, election campaigning, internet activism, etc.

4-6pm Understanding the financial and economic crisis (concurrent educational workshop)

7.30pm International Cultural Night: Performances from many lands and peoples


9am Campaigning for women’s and queer rights today (panel of speakers and discussion)

9.45am Socialist Alliance policy session 1 (discussion and voting on a range of policy proposals from members)

11.30am Taking action in 2010: discussion and voting on Socialist Alliance building resolutions

11.30am-1pm Ecology, socialism and human survival (concurrent educational workshop)

2pm Taking action in 2010: discussion and voting on Socialist Alliance resolutions on the climate movement, Latin America solidarity, anti-war, women's rights and LGBTI rights

2-3.30pm Building the Left-Indigenous alliance (concurrent educational workshop)

3pm Socialist Alliance policy session 2 (discussion and voting on a range of policy proposals from members)

3-5pm Challenges of building a radical alternative to Labor 2 (concurrent educational workshop)

4pm Socialist Alliance elections

All welcome

Whole conference: $60 solidarity / $50 waged / $30 unwaged

Two days: $40 solidarity / $30 waged / $15 unwaged

One day/session: $20 solidarity / $15 waged / $5 unwaged

Childcare will be available for a small fee if booked by November 30, 2009

* For more information, the latest agenda, or to register for the conference:

Visit: or


Phone: (02) 9690 2508

Or contact your local branch of the Socialist Alliance.