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February 15, 2019


We Can Block the Wall! : A Call to Create a Real National Emergency for Trump

Trump has announced that he will declare a state of emergency to fund his border wall. The proposed wall and additional security measures will be devastating for migrants and border communities. During the last shutdown, federal employees and federal contractors were forced to work without pay or to scrape by on furlough, while people relying on government assistance were forced to seek out limited community alternatives and refugees were trapped in bureaucratic limbo. Make no mistake—a grassroots movement ended the shutdown. Trump gave in only when air traffic controllers and flight attendants stopped clocking in and airlines across the east coast began to close down.

We refuse to choose between Trump’s openly racist wall and the Democrats’ implicitly racist “smart border.” The differences between Trump’s border wall and a soft-power smart wall are minor variations on the same deadly theme. We will block the border wall. We choose another way: freedom of movement, solidarity, and mutual aid. We can combat Trump’s policies that greet asylum seeking families with tear gas at the southern border, that leave Haitian people to die in boats coming to the United States and 58,000 Haitians in legal limbo, and that criminalize whole communities. We will uplift the inspiring work by black and brown migrant support organizers like the UndocuBlack Network, Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, NorCal Resist, and more, who defend black and brown migrant communities most targeted by ICE harassment, deportation and the police. Together, we can defend refugees, migrants, and government workers. We can re-imagine community safety, and support federal workers and communities under attack. We can demonstrate through solidarity and mutual aid that we can build a world without borders or state violence.

On February 15, we call for a movement from below. It is time to act courageously—together. We need a bold, positive vision of the future in contrast to Trump’s white supremacist fantasy. We need to create a world in which people can move freely, where families can find refuge from danger, and communities are brave enough to welcome newcomers and create a shared sense of belonging. Where refugees now encounter hostile border guards, where black immigrants face the dual threats of deportation and incarceration, they should find communities coming together to welcome them with food and shelter. Where federal workers and contractors find themselves unable to pay their bills, they should find communities acting in solidarity to meet their immediate needs.

  1. We call for a “Block the Wall” mobilization on February 19 and 20 against the border wall and against the state of emergency. We can march, take over public space, and organize sick-outs in the nation’s capital. We can block every ICE detention center, field office, and ICE contractor around the country with the occupation of the public space around the facilities. Each of these offices are maintained by working class people in support staff, couriers, cleaning crews, tech services, and social workers. We invite all of these workers to call in sick and join the occupations on the sidewalks and streets.

  2. We call for the organization of mutual aid to support the federal workers and subcontractors who remain uncompensated for 34 days of unpaid labor, and to support those who rely on government assistance. We call for cooperation to pool and distribute resources immediately to ease the daily struggles of those most affected. We commit to taking care of one another as the state gambles with the lives of millions.

  3. We call for direct support for migrants and border struggles. There are multiple initiatives already demonstrating hospitality to migrants and physically defying the border that separates the United States from Mexico, from autonomous kitchens in Tijuana to indigenous-led anti-border camps in Texas. We will build the capacity to undermine the border, welcome refugees, and demonstrate that free movement can be beautiful, safe, and beneficial for all—so long as the police and la migra stay out of the way.

Share your marches, actions, and mutual aid initiatives with the hashtag #BlockTheWall, or tweet updates to @BlockTheWall on twitter or BlockTheWall123 on Instagram

In solidarity,

Resist This
202 Antifascists
Central Ohio Street Medic Collective
Haymaker Gym
The Breakaway Social Center
Black Queer & Intersectional Collective

Please endorse and circulate this statement! To add your endorsement, email us.

Click the image above to access the PDF

Organizing Resources:


Map of ICE Offices and Contractors

List of Border Wall Contractors

Migrant Solidarity Efforts

Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)

UndocuBlack Network

Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP)

No More Deaths

NorCal Resist

Somi Se’k Village Base Camp

Commotion dot World

Background Information

Haitian Workers Fight Racist Deportations

58,000 haitians in legal limbo

“Dozens of Haitians Drown After Boat Sinks off of Bahamas”

“Don’t replace wall with ‘invasive surveillance tech,’ say civil liberties groups.”

America’s Immigration Policy at the Border is Literally Killing People

Congress’s spending deal doesn’t include back pay for federal contractors

More Resources

More Videos

Refugees Welcome from Sub.Media.

Undoing Border Imperialism with Harsha Walia.


Click the image above to access the PDF. You can order these posters in bulk here.

Click the image above to access the PDF.

Click the image above to access the PDF.

Against Trump’s Dream of Race War.

Deport the Politicians.

Anti-Fascist Zone: Many Colors, One Working Class


Designed to Kill: Border Policy and How to Change It imposed PDF for printing

Syrian Underground Railroad: Open Border Activism in the Modern Landscape imposed PDF for printing

Rebellion and Possibility: Voices in the Anti-ICE Struggle, Volume I: online reading version, imposed PDF for printing

Rebellion and Possibility: Voices in the Anti-ICE Struggle, Volume II: online reading version, imposed PDF for printing


No Wall They Can Build: A Guide to Borders and Migration across North America— Drawing on a decade of solidarity work in the desert between Mexico and Arizona, this book uncovers the goals and costs of US border policy, and what it will take to change it. Order it here or click the image above to access the PDF.


Click the image above to access the PDF in English and Spanish. You can order these stickers in bulk here.

February 15, 2019 07:42 PM

Anarchy Bang: Introducing Episode Seven - Occupy

From Anarchy Bang

Anarchy Bang is a weekly call in talk show where we sit around the digital campfire and talk about our favorite topics. This week we will try to have an conversation about Occupy, The Occupy Movement, and what anarchists learned by participating in it. Beware before we begin that I edited a book at the very end of 2011 called Occupy Everything: Anarchists in the Occupy Movement so I may be biting my tongue more than usual. I do not think all the anarchist tools were deployed in an expression of People Power in 2011 but instead that there were amazing anarchistic things done in a very constrained environment and that the anarchist rhetoric was largely responsible for the particular burnout suffered by many of our anarchist friends. I'd like to believe that another occupy would bring a new generation of enthusiastic people out of their homes, off their screens, and into face to face collision but I'd also like to believe that a new event would be tactical rather than strategic, more universal in its attitudes against the police (against but also against cop logic more generally), and more fun!

Join us!

Sunday at noon (PST or -8 UTC) at
Email questions ahead if you like
The real time IRC is a chaotic mess (and pleasure). There are better ways to connect to IRC but it involves some reading
The call in number is (646) 787-8464
You can also send in a recorded message to our email (I'd recommend using

by anon at February 15, 2019 06:00 PM

Channel Zero

Kite Line- February 15, 2019: Turn Up the Heat- MDC Protests in New York

This post was originally published on this site

This week is an interview with Samantha Johnson, from No New Jails in Brooklyn, New York. As we reported recently, the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn recently was the target of large scale demonstrations, after prisoners expressed to their loved ones on the outside that they were being denied basic human needs such as heat, fresh food, and running water.

In the interview, Johnson describes being on the front lines of this protest and next steps. She also stresses the importance of working with families affected by incarceration, and how organizers have been able to join with these families to push an end to the inhumane treatment at MDC and other facilities around the United States.

by Channel Zero at February 15, 2019 05:18 PM

Artificial intelligence hybrid war – Preparations for elections in Ukraine

Artificial intelligence hybrid war – Preparations for elections in Ukraine   In an interview given by early senior executive at Facebook Chamath Palihapitiya, we learned that people are very easily confusing the truth with popularity. Read more » 

by Anonymous at February 15, 2019 04:11 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Dismantling Sexual Health Stigma in India

Natasha Chaudhary* is a trainer, coach and strategy consultant working to strengthen people-powered work. She is a Director at Haiyya, an Indian youth led feminist non-profit organization specializing in grassroots campaigning and consulting.

By Natasha Chaudhary
NEW DELHI, Feb 15 2019 (IPS)

Results from a survey with young and unmarried women suggest that as low as 1% of women have received information on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) from their mothers, doctors or government campaigns.

And 53% of these women feel unsure if the sexual health problems they faced were severe enough to visit a gynaecologist. Within the Indian context and patriarchal system, any conversation around young women’s sexuality is limited and stigmatised.

Natasha Chaudhary

This massively impacts the way unmarried women view their sexual health. About 13 women in India die every day due to unsafe abortions.

Shame and stigma particularly impact unmarried women who end up delaying abortions and often resort to backdoor clinics putting their lives at risk. As low as 20% of the unmarried women my organization (Haiyya) surveyed, knew about the abortion law in India, and 95% had never visited a gynaecologist to take consultation on sex, pleasure or contraception.

As a demographic, unmarried women are completely invisible in the domain of SRHR in India. Due to societal biases and shame, they de-prioritize their sexual health needs and refrain from accessing services.

When they try to consult doctors, they are often denied services, misinformed or coerced into decisions. It is this stigma and narrative we are challenging through our initiative at Haiyya called Health Over Stigma.

It all started 2 years ago, when one of our colleagues had to undergo an abortion. It was a traumatic and harrowing experience she went through at the clinic, where her dignity was shamed and destroyed.

Following that event, we found ourselves sharing personal stories with each other that we had never shared before. One of us had been denied getting a pap smear test because the doctor felt she would only need it once married.

Someone else had elongated treatment of a vaginal infection because she was too scared to visit a gynaecologist. Someone else had been shamed by the doctor, who dared to ask if her parents knew she was sexually active.

We all had approached our sexual health from a place of fear. None of us felt we could hold service providers accountable. We felt as if we were alone and had no bargaining power as a community.

We began talking to more women and found that despite different experiences, we were bound by our stories of isolation and helplessness. This issue has persisted because power lies with age old institutions where women are disengaged from decision making processes that affect their very own lives.

We needed to flip this by organizing unmarried women as a collective and moving the onus and accountability on medical institutions.

After two years of work, we are challenging the status quo. As a recipient of the Goalkeepers Youth Accelerator Award, this year I will be able to lead Haiyya in the implementation of a campaign were women will mobilize and demand to be treated with dignity and their agency upheld and asking doctors to fulfil their duty as non-judgmental service providers.

Through storytelling and community building, we are aiming to achieve three key objectives in 2019:

Catalyzing public commitments from institutions such as hospitals, ministries and other relevant health actors to update their code of conduct. Creating an online platform that empowers women by providing them with resources on their rights, how to access services, and testimonials from individual experiences.

Building a community of women in India who drive an online conversation in key states on devising informed strategies that improve access to health services and combat stigma

Within the sexual reproductive health and rights spaces, unmarried women continue to be a marginalised group. As a young unmarried woman working with other such women, I want to change that narrative.

We will achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 5.6 (ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights) by making possible that all women, from diverse backgrounds, ages and choices, have the right and necessary information.

*Natasha Chaudhary holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from University of Sydney and was an undergraduate at Delhi University. She says she deeply cares about gender, health and caste issues with a focus intersectional leadership and designing-interventions that enable changemakers as decision- makers shifting away from service delivery models.

The post Dismantling Sexual Health Stigma in India appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Natasha Chaudhary* is a trainer, coach and strategy consultant working to strengthen people-powered work. She is a Director at Haiyya, an Indian youth led feminist non-profit organization specializing in grassroots campaigning and consulting.

The post Dismantling Sexual Health Stigma in India appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Natasha Chaudhary at February 15, 2019 02:17 PM

Adding Balance to the Meat Debate

Grass-fed cows

While few people yet realise it, we actually need to encourage increased production of grass-fed meat, since the most effective way to restore our degraded arable soils and wild pollinators is to re-introduce grass and grazing animals into cropland rotations.

by Richard Young at February 15, 2019 01:51 PM

Social and Environmental Justice

Bristol housing

But if climate action is a question of social justice, then those marginalised groups must be part of the movement.  They must set the agenda of that movement. 

by Rich Pancost at February 15, 2019 01:50 PM

Savor your Small Parcels, and Create More of Them

Main Street

After now working in the planning and urban design realm for more than a couple of decades, I’ve come to believe that those “substandard” parcels referenced in countless planning and market studies are actually the key to successful cities and neighborhoods. I believe we should savor them, embrace them, and seek to create more wherever we can. 

by Kevin Klinkenberg at February 15, 2019 01:50 PM

This week at Index: Philippines must end judicial harassment of Maria Ressa


Friday 8 February 2019

Philippines must release of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa

Index on Censorship condemns the arrest of journalist and Rappler chief executive Maria Ressa by Philippines authorities and welcomes the expression of concern by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which has promised to defend media freedom globally.

“The UK Foreign Office has made media freedom its flagship campaign for 2019. Jeremy Hunt must make good on his promises to champion media freedom worldwide by repeatedly showing that the actions of the Philippines authorities are unacceptable,” said Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship.

Articles from the Index magazine archive

Thirty years on: the Salman Rushdie fatwa revisited

On 14 February 1989 Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to execute author Salman Rushdie over the publication of The Satanic Verses, along with anyone else involved with the novel.

Published in the UK in 1988 by Viking Penguin, the book was met with widespread protest by those who accused Rushdie of blasphemy and unbelief. Death threats and a $6 million bounty on the author’s head saw him take on a 24-hour armed guard under the British government’s protection programme.

Thirty years on, Index on Censorship magazine highlights key articles from its archives from before, during and after the issue of the fatwa, including two from Rushdie himself.

The Iranian Revolution

Forty years ago, on 11 February 1979, the rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last shah of Iran, came to an end after millions of Iranians, from all backgrounds, took to the streets in protest at what they saw as an authoritarian, oppressive and lavish reign.

After decades of royal rule, and following 10 days of open revolt since the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to the country after 14 years of exile, Iran’s military stood down. With Pahlavi forced to leave the country, the Islamic Republic of Iran was declared in April 1979.

Here Index on Censorship magazine highlights key articles from its archives from before, during and after the revolution, an event that has since shaped the entire Middle East and has had a lasting impact to this day.


Democracy at risk: Threats and attacks against media freedom in Europe

Press freedom in Europe is more fragile now than at any time since the end of the Cold War. That is the alarming conclusion of a report launched by Index on Censorship and 11 partner organisations of the Council of Europe platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists.

The report, Democracy at Risk, analyses media freedom violations raised to the platform in 2018. It provides a stark picture of the worsening environment for the media across Europe, in which journalists increasingly face obstruction, hostility and violence as they investigate and report on behalf of the public. 


1-2 March: Index at the CIJ Well Told conference

Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship magazine at CIJ Well Told, the UK’s only longform and narrative festival. It’s a unique chance to learn storytelling skills from some of the best talents from both sides of the Atlantic. More than ever, staying solvent as a journalist requires getting the right skills, and this is a unique opportunity to meet the best in the business.

When: 1-2 March 2019. Full schedule
Where: Goldsmiths, University of London, 8 Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW
Tickets: From £45 via CIJ Well Told


8 March: Unspeakable: Banned books, difficult words, taboos

Essex Book Festival and Index on Censorship invite you to join them for Unspeakable, a day of challenging and illuminating conversations, performance, exhibitions and workshops hosted by the University of Essex, that explores historic and contemporary issues of censorship, no-platforming, freedom of speech, and taboos.

These events are part of the Essex Book Festival 1-31 March 2019

When: Friday 8 March 2019
Where: University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Tickets: Check the information with each of the sessions.


Banned Books: Exhibition and presentation

When: 12.00 – 1.00pm
Where: Special Collections Room, Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex, Wivehoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Tickets: Free. No booking required.
Some of the most controversial books in history are now recognised as classics. The Bible, works by Shakespeare, Ovid and James Joyce, to mention but a few. Banned Books delves into the University of Essex’s Archives to reveal a fascinating collection of banned books, pamphlets and texts, some dating back hundreds of years.

The Burning Question: Trevor Phillips and Professor Shohini Chaudhuri

When: 1.30 – 2.30pm
Where: Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Tickets£5 via Essex Book Festival / Mercury Theatre
Trevor Phillips, writer, broadcaster, former president of the NUS, former chairman of the Equality and the Human Rights Commission, and current chairman of Index on Censorship, will discuss the impact of historic and contemporary censorship across art, history and literature with Professor Shohini Chaudhuri from the University of Essex, a film activist as well as educator.

The Play’s the Thing: What happens when theatre gets censored

When: 3.30–4.30pm
Where: Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Tickets£7, £5 concessions (27 years and under) via Essex Books Festival / Mercury Theatre

Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship magazine, in discussion with actors from the world famous Globe theatre.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the end of an era, when all plays had to be signed off by the British Lord Chamberlin before performance, the panel will discuss why we should worry about censorship of what we see on stage, and how words and ideas are restricted today.

Dean Atta: Performance and audience Q&A

When: 7.00 – 8.00pm
Where: Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Tickets£5 via Essex Book Festival / Mercury Theatre

A performance and audience Q&A with poet Dean Atta, as part of Unspeakable at the University of Essex.

Spoken Word Poet Dean Atta’s powerful debut poetry collection I Am Nobody’s Nigger was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. Dean has performed across the UK and internationally, including performances at Hay Festival, Latitude and Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He has been commissioned to write poems for BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, Dazed & Confused, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Dean is currently working on his second poetry collection The Black Flamingo.

Essex Book Festival is one of the highlights of Essex’s cultural calendar. Each March it hosts over 100 events in over 45 venues across the county, including theatres, libraries, schools, universities, cafes and art galleries. More information is available here.

Index on Censorship defends people's freedom to express themselves without fear of harm or persecution. We publish censored writers and artists, monitor and campaign against censorship, and encourage debate.  

We rely on donations from readers and supporters. By donating to Index you help us to protect freedom of expression and to support those who are denied that right.
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The post This week at Index: Philippines must end judicial harassment of Maria Ressa appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at February 15, 2019 12:19 PM

School Climate Strikes: Why Adults no Longer Have the Right to Object to their Children Taking Radical Action

School climate strike

A worldwide wave of school climate strikes, begun by the remarkable Greta Thunberg, has reached the UK. Some critics claim these activist-pupils are simply playing truant, but I disagree. Speaking as both a climate campaigner and an academic philosopher, I believe school walkouts are morally and politically justifiable.

by Rupert Read at February 15, 2019 11:57 AM

Climate Change Is Scary—Not the Green New Deal

The Dark Ages

It’s very clear that conservatives have one plan for dealing with the popularity of the Green New Deal: scaring the hell out of people. And it’s very clear that they have one big problem: The hell they’re building through inaction is a lot scarier than “upgrading all existing buildings.”

by Bill McKibben at February 15, 2019 11:18 AM

InterPressService (global south)

Q&A: Suriname’s President Champions Preserving the World’s Forests

Suriname’s President, Desiré Delano Bouterse, who this week gathered the High Forest Cover and Low Deforestation nations in Paramaribo for a major conference to discuss the way forward. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
PARAMARIBO, Feb 15 2019 (IPS)

At the Bonn Climate Conference in 2017, Suriname announced its aspirations to maintain its forest coverage at 93 percent of the land area.

For Suriname and other High Forest Cover and Low Deforestation (HFLD) nations, maintaining forest coverage is their contribution to saving the planet from the effects of climate change, something they did not cause.

But HFLD nations have faced a challenge finding a development model that balances their national interests while continuing to deliver eco-services to the world. They say the valuable contribution of especially HFLD developing countries to the climate change challenge is not reflected in climate finance.

These countries – which also include, among others: Panama, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Belize, Gabon, Guyana, Bhutan, Zambia, and French Guiana – now have a champion at the forefront of their cause.

He is Suriname’s President, Desiré Delano Bouterse, who this week gathered the HFLD nations in Paramaribo for a major conference to discuss the way forward.

The three-day conference ended with countries adopting the Krutu of Paramaribo Joint Declaration on HFLD Climate Finance Mobilisation.

“The declaration is one of significance,” Bouterse told IPS in an interview.

“What I want to communicate to the world community is that we should first and foremost note that our planet is in danger and that it calls for common action.”

Bouterse said HFLD developing countries have set themselves on a new path, and that Suriname takes its new assignment very seriously and pledges its dedication.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Mr. President, what was your vision when this conference was being conceptualised?

Desiré Delano Bouters (DDB): It’s more than 30 years that we are facing this issue, and what we have looked at is that countries that are facing the issue of high forestry have difficulties getting financial opportunities. So that is basically the main reason for the conference.

We have forest cover of approximately 94.6 percent. Our commitment to the world is that we will maintain a forest cover of 93 percent. That is a commitment we made.

What we know is that there is a contention between the interest and will to maintain the forest cover, on the one hand. On the other hand are the development challenges with scarce financial resources. Thirdly is the difficult to access financial opportunities. So, what has to happen is that the world community has to understand this commitment and seek a mechanism for easier accessibility to financial mechanisms so that we can therefore get training, we can get capacity building – access to finances in order to maintain this commitment. So, it’s crucial to get that access.

IPS: We have seen so many declarations made before, is there a reason to be optimistic about the Krutu of Paramaribo Joint Declaration on HFLD Climate Finance Mobilisation?

DDB: Yes, there have been declarations but here’s what I think is necessary coming out of this process. There is a need for precise scientific research which will allow us a truthful picture of what we can be given for the offer we make; so that there is a very precise calculation so to speak, so that we don’t estimate but rather know what the value is of the offer we have made.

IPS: What does this declaration mean in terms of financial resources and also benefits to the people of Suriname and other HFLD nations?

DDB: Firstly, the declaration is one of significance, such that we have gathered as like-minded countries to basically face the coming challenges together and therefore approach the world community with one voice in order to overcome the hurdle that we commonly face. And so you should see the declaration in that sense, that we have brought the many heads of countries with similarities together to get mileage out of what we offer.

IPS: You have been charged with championing this cause on behalf of the HFLD nations – You are speaking directly to the international community, what message are you sending right now?

DDB: What I want to communicate to the world community is that we should first and foremost note that our planet is in danger and that it calls for common action. If we neglect coming together to address this danger, we may face a very tragic situation which will then leave our planet worse than we have met it for our children and their children.

IPS: Now that you have adopted the Krutu of Paramaribo Joint Declaration, what is the next step?

DDB: Firstly, what we have to do or know is that the group of countries have identified Suriname as the leader to communicate what we have agreed upon in this conference and as such we have to use each international opportunity to let the world know what we have agreed upon and what we are expecting from them.

We have to, from a common position, reason. We have to reason from a common position and therefore we should approach our position, not from a point of view that the other developed countries should take the lead. No, we should look at it from our point of view.

You should see it as this, politically and economically, being in the Caribbean and South America, we should approach it from a common and joint position. Let me give an example. When you look at CARICOM, even if it’s the United States, CARICOM works together as one. It’s the same when it comes to China, Canada, India or even Europe. Why? Because we’re joined together. We have a common strategy. So, when you’re alone, it’s very difficult. But when you have your structure, they will take you more seriously. That’s why I give the example of CARICOM. There are different, small nations but the big countries – if it’s Russia or India – everybody wants to talk with the 14 CARICOM countries.

IPS: Is there a role for the youth in all of this?

DDB: Yes, we have in our portfolio in CARICOM, the inclusion of the youth, this is something we are proud of. What we have seen here today is that young people have stepped up to the plate and they have made their voices heard. However, I’m also of the belief that we should make the space and give them the opportunity to assume leadership so that they can learn and make errors, but at the same time don’t make the same mistake that we as leaders have made; because before you know it, it’s their turn to be leaders. It is therefore important to allow them that experience so that they can be part of the process.

The post Q&A: Suriname’s President Champions Preserving the World’s Forests appeared first on Inter Press Service.


IPS Correspondent Desmond Brown interviews DESIRE DELANO BOUTERSE, president of Suriname.

The post Q&A: Suriname’s President Champions Preserving the World’s Forests appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Desmond Brown at February 15, 2019 11:02 AM

The Meaning of the Green New Deal

Green New Deal

Before discussing the content of the Green New Deal, and in particular the environmental measures it proposes, it is important to understand the aims of the document, which is primarily a political manifesto.

by Philippe Gauthier at February 15, 2019 10:49 AM

Channel Zero

This Is America #59: When Worlds Collide

This post was originally published on this site

The post This Is America #59: When Worlds Collide appeared first on It’s Going Down.

Welcome, to This Is America, February 15th, 2019.

We have a jam packed show today. First, we talk with several people who report on the struggle at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, where over the past two weeks, people have fought to get electricity and heat turned back on for prisoners.

At the start of the struggle, people began camping out and holding ongoing noise demos. One group was pepper sprayed heavily when they attempted to enter the building in order to talk to prisoners inside. Guards have also taken to beating and attacking prisoners accused of attempting to communicate with the outside.

Our guests include a member of the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council of NYC or MACC, who was briefly imprisoned at MDC, along with two organizers involved with prison abolitionist organizing out of CUNY Law School. For more info on the ongoing struggle, check out No New Jails NYC as well as MACC.

During our discussion segment, we touch on ongoing revolts, insurrections, and strikes happening in Haiti, France, and in Matamoros, Mexico. Broadly speaking, we discuss the insurrections in Haiti and France, as a response to both austerity measures and the looting of the country by elites, and compare it to the current situation in the United States.

We also discuss the success of the strike growing in Matamoros among maquiladoras workers, a strike which has rejected union leadership and is pushing for an international response from workers in the US and Canada.

Lastly, we touch on just want the hell has been agreed upon by the Democrats and Republicans, and what this means for the possibilities for a State of emergency, another shutdown, and Wall construction – as Trump has announced on Friday he will use emergency measures to push for another 8 billion in border wall funding.

All this and more, but first, let’s get to the news!

Living and Fighting:

  • At the Unist’ot’en camp, people are protesting the continued presence of RCMP and gas pipeline workers. Recently, the gas company constructing the pipeline has begun to build a “man camp,” or housing area for almost exclusively male workers. Historically, such concentrations of male workers on Native land, or close to it, has led to an increase in missing and murdered indigenous women.

No Man Camps on Unist’ot’en Yin’tah!

SHARE WIDELY – On February 15, the day after vigils and marches for missing and murdered Indigenous women across the country, Coastal GasLink intends to transport a number of trailers to Unist’ot’en yintah. The trailers are the first infrastructure in their proposed man camp—a space defined as a “multi-use site” in the affidavits for their court injunction. The proposed man camp directly threatens the well-being of Indigenous people who have returned to the land to heal. It directly threatens the work of the Unist’ot’en Healing Center. We cannot have a man camp lurking behind us in the yintah; we cannot have a space of violent settler masculinity festering in the heart of this territory. It threatens everything we are trying to rebuild. It threatens our survival as Indigenous peoples. It is an extension of state violence. It is a continuation of colonial trauma. We cannot heal in an atmosphere of colonial violence. We will not consent to the invasion of our lands and bodies.As clearing for the man camp has been underway, RCMP have begun daily “patrols” through the territory. Citing “safety concerns,” and security, they intimidate and harass Healing Center residents. The officers who commanded militarized RCMP to point sniper and assault rifles at our unarmed women have strolled through our territory like they own it. They are a constant reminder of the violent potential of the state. We have been threatened with arrest for checking our traplines, for participating in our ceremonies. They are not here for our safety. They are a private security detachment for Coastal GasLink. They are here to expedite construction of the pipeline, nothing more. We reject their false narratives of safety. Police forces and industry have always tried to legitimize their illegal occupation of unceded and unsurrendered Indigenous territories by insisting they have our “best interests” at heart. But their projects have been extractive, destructive, and exploitative since the beginning. The entire history of colonization teaches us not to trust them. Our ancestors teach us not to trust them. Our missing and murdered Indigenous women teach us not to trust them. The Coastal GasLink man camp is proposed just off the Highway of Tears, where dozens of Indigenous women have been abducted or murdered. While Coastal GasLink attempts to make Unist’ot’en yintah into an industrial work site, the RCMP illegally extend their jurisdiction into our space of healing. Both incursions increase our risk of gendered and sexualized violence. In an area already prone to increased violence against Indigenous women, this is distressing, alarming, traumatizing, and unacceptable. We must respond. Rise up. Push back. The twin faces of industry and state will continue to inch their way into our unceded lands. They will exchange our trauma for the “national interest.” They will attack our land, our bodies, our spirits. We have given enough, and enough has been taken from us. No pipelines on Wet’suwet’en territoryNo man camps on Unist’ot’en yintahNo sexual violence against Indigenous womxn, girls, and two spirit peopleNo colonial violence against sovereign Indigenous nations.#UNISTOTEN #MMIW #MMIWG #NOPIPELINES #WETSUWETENSTRONG #NOTRESPASSDonate to our legal fund: toolkit:

Unist’ot’en Camp 发布于 2019年2月14日周四

  • Members of IWOC joined family members outside of Corcoran prison in Central California to hold a rally in support of a recent hunger strike organized by inmates.
  • In so-called Parkdale, tenants started a flyering campaign against their landlord.
  • Members of Workers’ Liberation and Defense were out in force in Denver, showing solidarity during the recent teachers strike and also providing free food.
  • Students in Denver self-organized and carried out a series of walkouts and protests in solidarity with the teachers strike. This swelled numbers of the strike, shut down schools, and showed that students and teachers have common interests.
  • In Charlotte, the trial began for Rayquan Borum, who is accused by police of killing someone in the midst of the riots that broke out in 2015, in the wake of a police killing. Local activists and residents state firmly that the trial is a set up and that police themselves are to blame for the shooting.
  • Jason Van Dyke, the police officer doing time for killing Laquan McDonald, was severely beaten in prison.
  • A trolley bus was stopped in protest of the police murder of Stephon Clark in Sacramento.
  • Political prisoner Jay Chase has been moved. Write to him here:
  • Neo-Nazi and Alt-Right posters were found and destroyed across the US in recent days. This includes Stamford, CT, Berkeley, CA, and Boston. Also, in Salt Lake City, community members are mobilizing and fighting back against Identity Evropa, who has been putting up posters on the campus and dropping banners.
  • Water Protectors in Minnesota disrupted an event put on by the Governor, unfurling a banner and chanting.
  • It was announced that Amazon is pulling out of its proposed HQ from Queens in New York due to continue dopposition.
  • Local news outlets in Portland report that a treasure trove of text messages between far-Right organizer Joey Gibson and Portland police show a close and working relationship between the two. Police are seen to be giving information to Gibson about antifascist protesters, explaining how their members with warrants can avoid being arrested, and in general, coordinating to help facilitate Gibson’s event.


  • Autonomous kitchen to be used as more caravans arrive on border is in need of support. Donate here.
  • Help Jason Walker, prison journalist often targeted by state for repression. Donate here.
  • Show solidarity with queer and trans comrades in Portland who have recently been attacked while on the street. Donate here.
  • Stand with Native resistance camps on the border who are resisting border wall construction destroying sacred sites and animal habitat. Donate here.

Further Readings Mentioned In Our Discussion:

A Brief History of Neoliberalism

Capitalism and Freedom

20 Thesis on the Subversion of the Metropolis

Haiti: Prelude to Revolution

We Are the Yellow Vests

Matamoros Strikes

by It's Going Down at February 15, 2019 10:37 AM

Index at CIJ Well Told

CIJ Well Told is the UK’s only longform and narrative festival, and takes place on 1 and 2 March at Goldsmiths college, London. It’s a unique chance to learn storytelling skills from some of the best talents from both sides of the Atlantic. More than ever, staying solvent as a journalist requires getting the right skills, and this is a unique opportunity to meet the best in the business.

Well Told 2019 will kick off on Friday 1 March at 6.30pm with our live event. Come to Goldsmiths and hear some of the finest narrative and longform talents from both sides of the Atlantic.

Then on Saturday 2 March, sessions exploring different topics will run all day (9.30am until 6pm).

Your story through different eyes

Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship magazine, and Meera Selva from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism will discuss how to balance explaining the story and making it interesting. In a world where your audience is global, journalism often needs to be written not just for the people who already know half of the story. How do you write for an international audience not just a national one? What are the common mistakes that journalists make? Too local? Too simplistic? Not understanding what the story may look like from another country?

More information about CIJ Well Told is available here.

When: 1-2 March 2019. Full schedule
Where: Goldsmiths, University of London, 8 Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW
Tickets: From £45 via CIJ Well Told

The post Index at CIJ Well Told appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at February 15, 2019 10:35 AM

InterPressService (global south)

‘Today, We Declare Our Love to Our Forests and Ecosystems’

Minister for Foreign Affairs Yldiz Deborah Pollack-Beighle said the adoption of the Krutu of Paramaribo Joint Declaration on HFLD Climate Finance Mobilisation declaration represents a commitment that no longer would HFLD nations be the ones producing the solution to climate change and global warming without the required financial assistance. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
PARAMARIBO, Feb 15 2019 (IPS)

High Forest Cover and Low Deforestation (HFLD) nations ended a major conference in Suriname on Thursday, with the Krutu of Paramaribo Joint Declaration on HFLD Climate Finance Mobilisation.

Krutu—an indigenous Surinamese word—means a gathering of significance or a gathering of high dignitaries, resulting in something that is workable.

“It is with great joy that I announce the adoption of the Krutu of Paramaribo Joint Declaration on HFLD Climate Finance Mobilisation,” Suriname’s President Desiré Delano Bouterse said.

“The adoption of this document is important to jointly continue our efforts and focus on practical results, as it enables us to increase our cooperation at relevant international and multilateral mechanisms.”

In the declaration, HFLD nations made several pledges, among them: to raise international recognition of the significant contribution that HFLD developing countries provide to the global response to climate change by enabling their forests to serve as vital carbon sinks, and look to the international community to provide adequate financial support to help maintain this treasure.

For HFLD developing countries, nature and development are intrinsically connected, Bouterse said, adding they were all confronted with the threats from unsustainable activities, while attempting to plan a sustainable development.

Bouterse said the challenge for these nations had been to find a development model that balances their national interests while continuing to deliver eco-services to the world.

“I look forward to a united voice and innovative models that will shape our mutual interests. Suriname is honoured to have received the mandate to bring the HFLD developing countries’ effort to the international fora. We take this assignment very seriously and pledge our dedication,” the Suriname president said.

“We, as HFLD developing countries, have set ourselves on a new path. We offer to all of our friends and collaborators the Krutu of Paramaribo to lead the way.”

Suriname was the first country that reserved vast amount of its land mass—11 percent—for conservation purposes, when it established the Central Suriname Nature Reserve in 1998.

Bouterse said at that time Suriname had manoeuvred itself into a difficult position because almost half of its land was handed over to logging companies in the early 90s.

However, he said that the strategic establishment of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, with a total area of 1.6 million hectares, put an immediate halt to these activities.

“This decision was specifically taken for protection reasons. A decision without even having the foresight of what this Nature Reserve’s intrinsic value would be in the years to come,” he said.

“Now, 20 years later, we owe it to ourselves to evaluate and question the impacts of this decision. Are the ecosystems in the Nature Reserve intact or enhanced as originally intended?

“Do the conservation efforts contribute to our economic development? Do we invest enough in our own capacity to be a player on the world environment stage? Do we make sufficient use of available multilateral funds and financial mechanisms? And, to what extent does our fellow Surinamese man or woman benefit from having a Nature Reserve that comprises 11 percent of their land?”

Meanwhile, Bouterse said Suriname will improve its legislation, align policies to their aspirations and improve even further.

“It is with great satisfaction that I announce that Suriname has deposited the instrument of ratification to the Paris Agreement on Feb. 13. We look to the international community to assist us with appropriate financial instruments, technology and training, for only together we can attain our common objectives.”

With the Declaration being adopted on Valentine’s Day, Panama’s Vice Minister for the Ministry of Environment Yamil Sanchez said, “Today we declare our love to our forests and ecosystems.”

Suriname’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Yldiz Deborah Pollack-Beighle said the declaration represents a commitment that HFLD nations no longer will be the ones producing a solution to climate change and global warming without the required financial assistance.

“The conversation needs to change, and it should be that we should be paid for maintain or our forests,” Pollack-Beighle told IPS.

“It was not an easy conversation, but we’ve had a breakthrough and the breakthrough resulted in the fact that we will be leaving this conference with this document.”

She said at the end of the day, it’s the people of HFLD nations that will benefit from the three days of talks.

The Krutu Declaration will result in tangible benefits for the communities that are living and are resident in these forested areas, Pollack-Beighle said, adding that the countries as a whole will also benefit.

“For Suriname, we need to arrive at the point where we will no longer have to beg for the fact that we have presented the world with a solution, but we will be sought out and provided with opportunities that are existing,” she said.

“We are leaving here with a commitment that needs to translate itself in such a way that . . . we see significant changes immediately after this conference.

“Suriname has been given the role of advocate and champion to make sure that this declaration finds its way at the highest level of the global agenda, bilateral agendas, but also the regional agenda,” Pollack-Beighle added.

The post ‘Today, We Declare Our Love to Our Forests and Ecosystems’ appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Desmond Brown at February 15, 2019 10:10 AM


Long Live the People’s Urbanism

Today should be a day of celebration. Amazon is leaving New York, and we just dealt a blow to urban neoliberalism.

alt Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos presents the company's first smartphone on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. David Ryder / Getty

Amazon ditching its plans for a heavily-subsidized corporate complex in Queens could mark a new beginning for New York, one that could bring about a much-needed paradigm shift in planning and urban economic development.

For too long, powerful corporations and politicians have promoted policies and projects that asked the working majority to sacrifice our meager benefits and social services for the supposed greater good of the economy. Today, with the demise of Amazon’s New York City headquarters, dissenting voices are heard clearly.

The movement that beat Amazon — made up of Queens workers and tenants, and lead largely by women of color — did not just take on one particular corporation, but also asked bigger questions about our society, such as: Who is this economy for? Who gets to decide what our futures will be? What will it mean for our children and grandchildren, who are already in debt before they are even born?

For years, our leaders gave us one set of answers: the economy is first and foremost for the wealthy, who might share their riches with the rest of us; developers get to shape the city, with ‘consultation’ and subsidies from the people; and your children will benefit from the shared prosperity the rich somehow summon.

Obviously, this approach to urban development is distasteful to large numbers of New Yorkers. People in this city have always fought back against this logic, but all too often our movements have been conditioned to accept compromise as the best outcome — to prematurely negotiate, or to fight for a better version of a bad plan rather than fight such proposals outright. But when New York’s political class announced that it had struck a deal behind closed doors to gentrify the world’s most diverse urban area by further enriching the world’s richest man, people stood up and fought what often felt like an impossible battle. They forged a proudly oppositional movement, which sought not to negotiate the parameters of their own displacement but to fight head on the forces driving the cost of living to absurd heights.

The inevitability of Amazon’s arrival, however, had formed a strong common sense. Many acknowledged that it was a crummy deal – including, at times, the plan’s own architects – but urged New Yorkers to resign themselves to its eventuality. Just two days ago, the New York Times published an editorial by historian Kenneth Jackson that granted the subsidies’ absurdity, but suggested still that the city capitulate, stating: “this is how the game is played.” A few weeks earlier, Governor Cuomo, in an interview with Brian Lehrer, said that in a perfect world a company should not have states bidding against one another, but that: “We pray for the perfect, we live in the real.”

In other words, the deal may stink but our hands are tied. Mayor de Blasio acknowledged the obscenity of tax breaks for Bezos, but insisted that the deal was democratic because its key negotiators — the mayor and governor — were democratically elected. The message to New Yorkers was clear: sit down, there is no alternative.

And then, on Valentine’s Day, New Yorkers proved them all wrong. They burst the ideological bubble the establishment was floating, and showed that they will not accept the trickle-down, supply-side urban economics under the vague and misleading banner of “progressive” policy. This demonstrates that we can — and we must — do more than “play the game,” “pray for the perfect,” and follow the leaders.

February 14, 2019 should forever be recalled as a loud rebuttal to the hegemony of neoliberal urbanism. Perhaps it will be also remembered as the start of a new era of people’s urbanism.

It won’t be easy and we’ll need to write a new roadmap. There will be plenty of voices mourning the loss of the Amazon deal, and decrying New Yorkers as prisoners of inertia. They will say we are afraid of change, but they are wrong: it was Amazon’s backers who defended a status quo in which land use policy is meant to perpetually boost corporate profits and inflate property values; Amazon’s opponents were the ones calling for change, not only to this plan but to our entire way of understanding the point of cities, of planning, and of economies.

Amid rampant displacement, mounting homelessness, union busting, and cultural erasure, it is beyond time for an urban planning overhaul. Today, as the horrible deal becomes history, our voices are firm: governments must stop treating our cities and homes as commodities, put people before profits, and radically democratize the way we plan our urban futures.

by Samuel Stein at February 15, 2019 08:09 AM


(en) Landlord drops Fox & Sons after single picket, whilst our campaign escalates to Jade Software in Australia

It's been a good week in our dispute with Fox & Sons. On Wednesday we picketed the business of a landlord who rents a property out through Fox & Sons; by Thursday she had dropped them as her letting agent. We'd written to this landlord one week previously, explaining Fox & Sons' systematic mistreatment of their tenants, and demanded that she either drop them as her agency or speak to them and tell them to pay compensation to the tenants involved in our ongoing dispute with them. This landlord chose to do neither, so we staged a picket outside her business on Wednesday 6th February, informing passers by about her association with Fox & Sons. ---- The picket was a lively one, with one passer by joining us in solidarity, and the business owner and landlord in question responding by calling the police and then behaving aggressively toward the picket when the police didn't ...

by A-infos ( at February 15, 2019 07:47 AM


Ilhan Omar and the Jeremy Corbyn Playbook

The attacks on Ilhan Omar for antisemitism are reminiscent of those levied against Jeremy Corbyn. The charges aren't just nonsense — they're being used to stifle criticism of Israel.

alt Ilhan Omar arrives at an election night results party on November 6, 2018 in Minneapolis, MN. Stephen Maturen / Getty

It’s a given now that if New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez so much as breathes, the response will be so histrionic as to border on the incomprehensible. Predictably, upon tweeting that she had spoken with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the telephone, a deluge of outrage descended on her for daring to converse with her closest ideological counterpart in the United Kingdom. That Ocasio-Cortez had engaged in conversation with the leader of the second-biggest political party in the UK was reprehensible, the line went, because Corbyn had faced accusations of antisemitism.

The furor around the Corbyn-AOC chat bears resemblances to the furor around Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar’s comments about AIPAC: a throwaway comment by the young legislator was cast as virulently antisemitic, and discussion of the issue has been all but shut down.

The discussion around antisemitism in the Labour Party has been complex and fraught, and remains ongoing. Jennie Formby, the party general secretary, released a report on the current state of investigations around allegations of antisemitism this month. Several issues were clear: as no one denies, antisemitism is a legitimate issue in the Labour Party, as it is in the UK as a whole, and the party has now committed to dealing with allegations of antisemitism leveled against individual members.

At the same time, many of those reported for abuse are neither members of the Labour Party nor anything more than online troll accounts. While a real problem exists, many people desperate for attention have leapt onto an online bandwagon and brazenly regurgitated antisemitic bile in the hope of provoking a reaction. Often this works, and the comments are perversely attributed to the Labour leadership, usually by prominent accounts with no links to Labour, intent on disparaging the party.

Needless to say, there exists no parallel for the Conservative Party. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has repeatedly called for investigations into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party and been roundly ignored. On mainstream political programs in the UK, I have been on panels in which other commentators have been allowed to say that Islamophobia is justified, unchallenged by the hosts. Muslims have endlessly begged the Tory party leadership to investigate the depth of Islamophobia in the party with absolutely no response.

Meanwhile, Labour has been criticized for launching investigations into reported antisemitism. No one in Labour argues the issue is new; it’s only now that it is being taken seriously. That is true of all such issues within the party: many people have told me they reported issues around sexual harassment, bullying, and racism to the previous Labour leadership and were told investigating such matters would jeopardize party unity. The current leadership has not swept such matters under the rug, and are criticized far more for not silencing alleged victims.

If we are to root out antisemitism properly, several lines need to be drawn: between careless remarks that might be misread; remarks that carry antisemitic undertones without full knowledge; and straightforwardly antisemitic remarks. I have regularly seen people condemned for antisemitic behavior online and am confident that many left spaces are able to self-police. But while building political movements, we also have to accept that many people have become engaged politically via social media, and that can sometimes mean regurgitating phrases with dubious meanings. Educating people rather than condemning and excluding them yields far more value for everyone involved. That is true in general, but also specifically in stopping those with a predisposition to conspiracy from moving in that direction.

Ironically, the response to Omar’s comments has reinforced the perception that criticism of Israel can be quashed instantly. Any mention of AIPAC can be dismissed as antisemitic, despite the fact that AIPAC, as a lobby, exists to influence the political system, including through the use of money. Some will back down, but Omar did nothing wrong. Likewise, Ocasio-Cortez is quite right to seek links with Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

by Dawn Foster at February 15, 2019 07:01 AM


(en) histoires de luttes de femmes: Stories of Women's Wrestling - Clara Zetkin (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

It is Clara Zetkin, a teacher, journalist and German politician, who is the real instigator of the International Women's Day. ---- Director of the famous magazine Die Gleichheit (Equality), which she founded in 1890, Clara Zetkin is part of a revolutionary perspective. She convened the international conferences of the socialist women of Stuttgart (1907) and Copenhagen (1910), where she imposed her point of view and elected her secretary, making her newspaper Die Gleichheit their official organ. ---- It was in Copenhagen in 1910, at the 2nd International Conference of Socialist Women , that the German Clara Zetkin proposed, for the first time, to organize an "International Women's Day" to be used for propaganda for women. women's vote. The conference brings together a hundred women from 17 countries, and immediately adopts this proposal, inspired by the ...

by A-infos ( at February 15, 2019 06:53 AM

(en) A small tribute to Ern. Malatesta by Dmitri

We are not more prophets than other people, and if we pretend to offer a formal solution to all the problems that will arise in the life of the future society, we should have a strange idea to abolish the government. ---- - From the book "On the way to Anarchy", "Katsanos" publications ---- Excerpts from the article "On the way to Anarchy" first published in "Le Reveil" in 1910 ---- {...} We are not going to get to anarchy today , neither tomorrow nor ten centuries * simply, we are going to anarchy, today, tomorrow and always. {...} ---- Extracts from Article "Anarchists and Ethics", first published in "Le Reveil" in 1904 ---- {...} They are lying, that in order to fight properly ethics, you have to contradict, both in theory and in practice, a moral superior. And with the help of their temperament and circumstances they end up becoming unethical in all the meaning of ...

by A-infos ( at February 15, 2019 06:53 AM


(en) Poland, WORKERS' INITIATIVE: What's next with the Bunkier Sztuki? [machine translation]

Protest against the merger of the Bunker of Art and MOCAK (Krakow, 30/01/2018) On February 6, a spokeswoman for the Minister of Culture and National Heritage gave information about the Minister's lack of objection to appointing the director of the Contemporary Art Gallery "Bunkier Sztuki" in Krakow without conducting a competition. According to previous announcements, the President of the City of Krakow prof. Jacek Majchrowski proposes that this position be taken over by Maria Maria Potocka, director of the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow. ---- The OZZ Factory Committee of the Workers' Initiative at the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery maintains its objections regarding the appointment of a director's office to the head of another Krakow institution. As colleagues from KZ in Bunkier write: "Our objections are confirmed by further media ...

by A-infos ( at February 15, 2019 06:41 AM

(en) Czech, afed: Moscow: Another persecution of anarchists - This time, the secret went into tours and arrests of anarchists in the capital. [machine translation]

From 6 am on February 1, the police arrived at the apartments of activists, and seven people took off. Tours made dozens of bowlers with weapons in their hands, for example, they were carrying sticks or hard drives. Among the activists, they picked up the airsoft people again (as in the case of the Penzy Network ) and used a paralyzer. ---- This time, the anarchist chicanes are reportedly related according to investigators with a planned terrorist attack in the nearby town of Balašich, which they prevented on January 11th. ---- Among other things, anarchist Azat Miftachov was arrested on the basis of the section on "Unauthorized Production of Explosive Devices". At Azata, they had been touring on January 18, when they were not at home, and took phones, books, notebooks, and money. The others are at liberty, but the Azata left in custody and refused to let the lawyer go. ...

by A-infos ( at February 15, 2019 06:41 AM

Athens, Greece: Solidarity with «Αsilo Occupato» in Torino

Solidarity from Exarchia, Athens to the «Αsilo Occupato» in Torino and the 5 arrested 
via:  mpalothia

by actforfreedom at February 15, 2019 06:36 AM


(en) Britain, anarchist communist group ACG: Free movement of solidarity!

With all the furore over Brexit, it is becoming increasingly obvious that all politicians care about is that we keep consuming-whether it be in or out of the EU. No one seems interested in opening up borders to refugees, fighting climate change or ensuring that workers all over the world are free from exploitation. What matters is ‘free trade'. This is what capitalism is all about- getting us to work, often in horrendous conditions, so that products can continue to be produced, shipped around the world, and consumed. And the less we look at what goes into these products, the better. As long as we keep working and consuming, all will be well- at least for capital! Of course we need to consume to live, but what is produced, by whom and how, should be decided by workers and communities. ...

by A-infos ( at February 15, 2019 06:31 AM


In the United States, growing segments of the population are undergoing a period of profound politicization and polarization. Political elites are struggling to maintain control as increasing numbers of people seek out alternatives on the left and the right. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, political organizations on the left have grown significantly, most notably expressed in the explosive growth of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Meanwhile, the Trump administration has joined other far-right governments emerging around the globe, emboldening fascist forces in the streets. These developments have sparked widespread debate on the nature of socialism and its distinct flavors within and outside the US. Among the various branches within the broad socialist tradition, libertarian socialism is ...

by A-infos ( at February 15, 2019 06:31 AM

Italy : TURIN, 7TH FEBRUARY 2019.

Translated by act for freedom now!
8th February 2019
Thursday 7th February: police storm the Asilo squat in Turin with the intention of closing down yet another place of freedom and conflict, with arrest warrants against comrades who for years have been active in the struggle against the system of the State’s concentration camps known as C.P.R. [Migrants’ Reception and Repatriation Centres]. The charges against all those arrested are subversive association and, at different levels, instigation to commit a crime, possession, fabrication and transport of explosive devices.
Thursday 7th February is another day of attack in the State’s offensive against the exploited and those who rebel. A few days after the shameful parade made by brave captain [Salvini, the minister of the interior] dressed as a playmobil in the TAV building sites, the ministry of terror erects another day of lined-up platoons, clinking handcuffs, militarized neighbourhoods. As in Giambellino, as in Cosenza a month ago, the goal is to extirpate anyone who might represent an alternative to desperation and resignation in this country.  To strike those who represent a real obstacle to the spreading of the machinery of fear with which they want to pave the way more and more to the domination of the bosses’ mafia, the speculative interests of the usual Mr Lavazza and Mr Benetton and the triumph of the new yellow-green lords.

In fact the Asilo squat is a problem for those who for years have wanted to turn the neighbourhood of Aurora and surroundings into a new playground for estate agencies, for those who in the name of redevelopment are taking a piece of the city away from its inhabitants in order to give it to the logic of profit. Years of struggle against evictions, years of resistance to anti-immigration raids, years of unconditional support to those deprived of freedom. Years of repression, which have never crushed the comrades who have always resisted.
At the same time they triggered the umpteenth operation relating to article 270: subversive association. The fact that those who fight against the system have no difficulty in recognizing themselves in the aim of subverting the regime is plain and clear. However we know that article 270, alongside other instruments the State gives itself, is used ad hoc by police and judges to strike those in struggle. And those who for years have been in the streets, not only to denounce and attack the interests that  behind the system of repatriation and deportation have produced a progressive barbarization of public conscience against the migrant, ‘the different’, the ‘foreigner’, are the first targets of the enemy. We believe that the Turin prosecutors’ attack is not an isolated event, but it is the sign of a phase where all forms of resistance are [repression’s] targets.
We believe that every day it’s more and more urgent to set up a response to the system of the old and new bosses. We live surrounded by horror: dead bodies in the sea met with exultation, people killed by police in the streets, shots at those whose skin is a different colour to the western pallor, a system of slavery increasingly regulated and legitimized, the reign of falsehood which every day rewrites a page of sur-reality where people’s consciences and intellects are made to drown.
We ask all, and first of all ourselves, for a dash of dignity and anger.
We ask all to take full responsibility for what solidarity means: to feel yourself hurt when they strike a part of your class; to take the burden and the difficulties that those who struggle on your side can no longer bear. Solidarity is revolutionary only if it’s real, and a revolution can only become real if it’s based on solidarity.
We’ll participate in a gathering on Sunday 10th February outside the CPR of Ponte Galeria [Rome], and we call on everybody to do the same, so as to be on the side of those who for years have been taking part in this struggle, and because the attack on the comrades from Turin is also an attack on those who experience in first person the abuse the comrades have always opposed with courage and generosity.
Let’s take to the streets on Sunday 10th February, let’s bring solidarity to the prisoners of the CPR of Ponte Galeria, let’s look one another in the eye and plan a response together.
We welcome with pride the resistance carried out in Turin.
With lively thoughts to the comrades who are being taken by carabinieri in these hours.
With lively thoughts to all those who are already hostages of the state.
Freedom for all
Rete Evasioni

by actforfreedom at February 15, 2019 06:26 AM

Mexico : Attacks on a Ford car showroom and the bird breeding farm PATSA

Explosive attack on a Ford car showroom
Communique received on 02/01/2019:
It’s obvious that techno-industrial progress is advancing and with it the impact on nature is becoming stronger and more irreversible…
We won’t take a reformist and conformist attitude in the face of this situation, now less than ever as the ‘ecologist’ struggle has been absorbed by governmental institutions and platform groups, which prepared the ground for a new form of irrational consumerism, depicted as ‘ecological’, ‘green’… (sic) so as to allow companies to make profits at the cost of the destruction of the planet and all the beings who inhabit it… as hypocritical happiness and tranquillity dominated the end of the year festivities, we preferred to prepare and carry out an attack with an explosive device at dawn on 1st January, against a Ford Gimsa car showroom situated in Mexico- Texcoco Carretera in reyes a la paz, which caused damage to the façade and to some cars that were parked there… with this action we express solidarity with the comrades on the run in this territory under surveillance and with the Argentinian comrades who are been subjected to a wave of repression following an explosion; this attack is also part of a coordination of attacks in several areas of the country and responds to a call for agitation and attack.
Earth liberation Front –anti-civilization cell
Translated from Italian by act for freedom now!

by actforfreedom at February 15, 2019 06:18 AM


(en) What is "Primitive Accumulation"? Marx's and Kropotkin's Viewpoints - A Background by Wayne Price

This was prepared as background for an anarchist study group which is reading Silvia Federici's Caliban and the Witch; Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation. Federici is a well-known Marxist-feminist of a libertarian-autonomist Marxist perspective. ---- Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1 (my emphasis) ---- [Adam Smith and other theorists of bourgeois political economy explained "primitive accumulation"-also translated as "primary" or "original" accumulation-this way:]In times long gone by there were two sorts of people; one the diligent, intelligent, and, above all, frugal, elite; the other, lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living...Thus it came to pass that the former sort accumulated wealth, and the latter sort had at last nothing to sell except their own skins. And from this original sin dates the poverty of the great majority...and ...

by A-infos ( at February 15, 2019 06:15 AM

Rovereto, Italy : Fire to the door of a church where anti-abortion militants meet

In the night between 8th and 10th January, unknown individuals set fire to the door of the Saint Rocco church in Rovereto. The church is the meeting place of a group of catholic fundamentalists.
A nativity scene had been set up outside the church, where women who have recourse to abortion were compared to King Herod, who pierced a foetus with his sword. A piece of writing was left: ‘the real martyrs are in the sea’.
Here is the poster on the fire against the Saint Rocco church distributed in Rovereto and Trento.

A logical thread 
Concerning the fire against the Saint Rocco church
Given that all the newspapers drew us into play no one will be offended if we also have our say.
In an article on the episode of Corso Bettini published in the ‘l’Adige’ of 11th January, journalist Luisa Pizzini writes: ‘It’s not easy to find a logical thread, provided there’s any behind this attack’.

We are not interested in knowing who set fire to that door. But the ‘logical thread’ appears very clear to us. And in fact it was picked by everybody. Even journalists.
The Saint Rocco church is the meeting place of a group of Catholic fundamentalists and anti-abortion militants. The very group involved with Sentinels on guard, with rosaries recited outside the hospital in Rovereto against women who have recourse to abortion. Not only. It is to this group and to priest Matteo Graziola, its man of reference, that the setting of a nativity scene entitled ‘the massacre of the innocent’ is due: a row of foetuses and King Herod who pierces one of them with his sword. Women who choose abortion are compared to a tyrant who orders the massacre of new born babies. Something disgusting that only an epoch where words and images seem not to bear any weight can tolerate. Priest Graziola affirms that this is not an attack on women but on a ‘system’ of which women are unaware victims. So women who choose abortion are not only murderers but also unaware and manipulated beings deprived of any autonomy. In fact the fanatics of Saint Rocco also inveigh against divorce and birth control. It looks like a mere grim folkloristic group. But this reactionary group is the most militant part of Comunione e Liberazione, an economic power in control of more and more hospitals and doctors. As a matter of fact Fontana, the current ‘minister of the family’, is exactly the expression of this fascist-clerical group.
A piece of writing left near the door of the Saint Rocco church said: ‘The real martyrs are in the sea’. In a society where thousands of poor die in the Mediterranean or under bombs, where waged work takes more than a thousand lives every year only in Italy, where women are raped and killed every day, for these fundamentalists the ‘life’ to be protected is… that of the unborn.
We won’t dwell upon the chorus of condemnation of the incendiary attack, where journalists, politicians, priests and unionists once again held a contest on who best mystified notions of dialogue on the one hand and violence on the other.  But there’s a particularly despicable lie that cannot be ignored: the comparison archbishop Tisi made between the fire against the Saint Rocco church and those against structures for refugees. No! Racist and fascist-league groups are precisely those who take part in Sentinels on guard! Not to mention the fact that those who burn the door of an empty church  put absolutely nobody at risk. The only ‘terrorism’ in this story is that exercised against women by the anti-abortion nativity scene.
One can obviously disagree with certain actions, but a revolt against that nativity scene and the ideology it carries was… sacrosanct.
Something disgusting hovered on ‘our community’ (given that such expressions are praised so much). A response came. As clear as fire. That’s all.
Rovereto, 12th January
Translated by act for freedom now!

by actforfreedom at February 15, 2019 06:05 AM

Italy : Call for Solidarity with the Imprisoned of ”Operazione Scintilla”

Act for free received 13.2.19
*** Summary of the recent repressive operation in Italy in connection with the resistance against the Italian migration regime ***
This is a translation of the original article in German, with pictures:
On Thursday 7 February 2019, at 4:40 a.m., the eviction of the squat”Asilo occupato” (“the occupied kindergarden”) in Via Alessandria 12 in Turin, occupied since 1995, began. The eviction was carried out as part of the “Operazione Scintilla” (“Operation Spark”). Several hundred Carabinieri in riot gear, police officers and Guardia di finanza with machine guns and plain clothes police not only evicted the house, but also arrested six anarchists. A seventh person is still being searched for.
The charges are serious: formation of a subversive association,
incitement to crime and the possession, manufacture and transportation of explosives in a public place. The charges are related to the resistance against the Italian migration regime, namely against the deportation camps/prisons CPR and CIE (Centro per l’Immigrazione e il Rimpatrio = Immigration and Repatriation Centre; Centro di identificazione ed espulsione = Identification and Deportation Centre),
more information below.

The Asilo was evicted as part of this operation because the state
regards it as the “logistical and operational base” of this “subversive, insurrectional association”.
The eviction of the Asilo was delayed by the squatters for 36 hours because some of them had retreated to the roofs. In the meantime, sympathizers organized wild demos in the city, where there were clashes with the police. The Asilo was made uninhabitable in the last few days (destruction inside, bricked up windows, etc.).A first court date for the prisoners of the “Operazione Scintilla” will follow in about 15 days, i.e. on about 27 February.
During the big solidarity demonstrations there were several arrests and over 300 identity checks. Many arrested people report bruises inflicted by the police when they were arrested. At least four people had to go to the hospital because of their injuries. The accusations for the twelve people arrested at Saturday’s demonstration are devastation, looting, resisting orders, bodily harm and possession of weapons. However, in the
meantime, these twelve people who got arrested at the demo are again free but have to report daily to a police station (as of 13 February).
Freely translated from the communiqué of the solidarity demonstration on Saturday, February 9:
 “They wage war on the poor and call it retraining. We oppose the lords of the city.”Behind this banner the demo concentrated. A multifaceted, strong demo, determined to make the hostility against those who benefit from the management of the city concrete and visible. […]
The atmosphere we breathed was an atmosphere of intense emotional participation in the events of the past few days and growing anger at the militarization of much of the Aurora district, a police presence that still does not seem to be diminishing and that restores the sense of “normality” that the mayor wants to impose on the city. […]
The demo fought its way through the streets, leaving barricades of burning dumpsters and shattered cars behind. […] Unfortunately, a final police action at the end of the demo caused the arrest of twelve demonstrators and the injury of four.
Yesterday’s demo is only the beginning, now it’s time to start a
fierce battle that will produce a new flower from the ashes of this repressive operation.”

*Details of the accusations*
The allegations: formation of a subversive association; incitement to crime; possession, manufacture and transportation of explosives in a public place.The six persons were arrested at the request of the anti-terror group of
the Turin public prosecutor’s office. The indictment is that the accused “have promoted, constituted, organised and participated in the creation of a subversive association (ex Art. 270 c.p.) which is intended to and can influence national immigration policy through the repeated destruction of the CIE/CPR and through systematic acts of violence and intimidation against the companies involved in the
management of the abovementioned structures.”
(“aver promosso, costituito, organizzato e partecipato a
un’associazione sovversiva (ex art. 270 c.p.) diretta e idonea a
influire sulle politiche nazionali in materia di immigrazione mediante la ripetuta distruzione dei CIE/CPR e con sistematici atti di violenza e intimidazione nei confronti delle imprese impegnate nella gestione delle sopra indicate strutture di accoglienza”)
The arrested are accused of “21 subversive attacks” in various Italian cities: On the one hand, 15 parcels of explosives were allegedly sent to companies in Turin, Bologna, Milan, Rome (French Embassy)Bari and Ravenna; six other explosives affected the offices of the Italian Post Office (Poste Italiane) in Turin, Bologna and Genoa. Poste Italiane was allegedly hit because, as the owner of the airline “MistralAir”, it has
held the ministerial mandate for deportation flights since 2011.
Two of the arrested (together with two yet unidentified persons) are accused of having placed explosive devices in front of Poste Italiane ATMs in Turin on 30 April and 9 June 2016.
“In order to establish contacts within CPR, they threw tennis balls with a multilingual brochure and a mobile phone number with which they agreed simultaneous actions within and outside the CPR structure. Then they put matches and everything needed to start a revolt and setting fire in packages of biscuits and other goods.”
Allegedly, the aim of these actions was to weaken or destroy the CPR’s “capacity” (see

*The political climate in Italy and other notes*
Italy’s politicians want to “crack down with all their might”:
– Police president Messina describes the (imagined) group of detainees as a “highly dangerous cell”.
– Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demands “prison for these infamous people” and wants to close all “social centres frequented by criminals”.
– Mayor Chiara Appendino congratulates the police on their eviction.
– Alessandro Ciro Sciretti, a Turin Lega-Nord politician, wishes “no mercy at all” for the demonstrators of the Solidarity demonstrations for the Asilo-Squat. His suggestion: “a little bit of the Diaz school” is needed (

Net to all the bad news the following news have been joyful:
Shortly after the demonstration on Saturday, an anti-fascist
demonstration took place, like every year, on 13 February, against a fascist commemorative torch march of the Casa Pound in the district Vallette.
The antifascist demonstration ends in front of the prison, where the prisoners of “Operazione Scintilla” are imprisoned. According to the communiqué, this was “a cordial greeting to all the prisoners and especially to the comrades and friends who had been imprisoned for a few days. A shed in the prison yard catches fire by a happy coincidence [a Molotov cocktail according to the media] and is destroyed.
*Practical solidarity*
A lot of money is needed, long prison sentences are imminent – people are very grateful for solidarity contributions to the following account:
    Giulia Merlini e Pisano Marco
IBAN IT61Y0347501605CC0011856712
ABI 03475 CAB 01605
The list of those arrested during “Operazione Scintilla”:
    Rizzo, Antonio
Salvato, Lorenzo
Ruggeri, Silvia
Volpacchio, Giada
Blasi, Niccolò
De Salvatore, Giuseppe
You can write to the prisoners!
    *Name of the detained person*
C.C. Lorusso e Cutugno
via Maria Adelaide Aglietta, 35 e
10149 Torino TO
This is an incomplete summary of the events in Turin, in part freely translated from the following sources:
  Round Robin –
Macery – anarchist blog from Turin:
Radio Blackout – subversive radio station from Turin:
Corporate media
Black Pigeons Collective

by actforfreedom at February 15, 2019 05:47 AM

Vandalizado el monumento a la División Azul en el cementerio de la Almudena

Recibido por correo electrónico
El pasado viernes 8 de febrero vandalizamos el monumento a la división azul en el cementerio de la Almudena en Madrid. Motivos hay para hacerlo cualquier día, pero esta fecha la elegimos con gusto ya que al día siguiente los fascistas le hacían un homenaje y el domingo una amalgama de rancios, ultracatólicos, fascistas, casposos, neonazis e imbéciles varios paseaban sus anacrónica y repugnante simbología por unas pocas calles de Madrid.
La memoria histórica la llevamos en nuestro corazones. En las cicatrices no visibles que nos han dejado siglos de opresión. En nuestro ideario y nuestras prácticas. En nuestra búsqueda incesante de la libertad. No necesitamos gobiernos ni leyes que nos cambien unos símbolos por otros. Siempre nos divertiremos manchando los sucios símbolos de la autoriad, ya representen la democracia o dictaduras fascistoides.
¡Muerte al Estado y Viva la anarquía!

by actforfreedom at February 15, 2019 05:15 AM

Hambach Forest Occupation

Hambach Forest, lofty heights and deep precipices, part 2

YouTubeNo subtitles by now, but this is no problem. This report gives a good optical impression of the eviction of the forest autumn 2018, from above and beneath.
Part 1


by hambacherforst at February 15, 2019 01:50 AM

February 14, 2019

Updates and Tabler Lineup for Green Scare Anarchist Bookfair May 11-12th Boyceville, Wi

When we first put the call out for table submissions we were overwhelmed. It is good to see so many people were interested in tabling this event. Many didn't get back to us in time before others confirmed. But here is the good news: (unless we get locked up or some shit like that) we doin' this event again next year! Anyone who didn't make it this year and still interested will get first pick for next year. So here is the official lineup!

North American Animal Liberation Press Office
Viscera Print Goods and Ephemera
Oogle Insurrection Distro
Burning Bridges Distro
Warzone Distro
Green House Distro
Days of Rage Patches
Intellectual Vagabond Editions
Anarcho Mofo Books
Milwaukee Prison Abolitionists
A Boulder on the Tracks Mobile Bookstore
Contagion Press


We really want/wanted to have bands play in the carpeted basement downstairs for this event. We only have one band confirmed and like 4 maybes. We were aiming for 8 bands. We will continue to keep band submissions open but it IS possible there won't be live music for this event. But that could change in the next few months. We shall see and keep everyone posted.


We have at least 3 different speakers confirmed. Details of what they will be speaking about are still a bit too fuzzy to post here. If they are reading this and want to post in the comments what they will be talking about, that would be cool. Submissions for other speakers are still welcomed.


Attendees are welcomed to either:
-sleep inside the venue (Blasphemy Collective)
-sleep outside in the (big) backyard
-set up camp outside at a *free* camping park one block away


There is a facebook event page that is set to private/invite only.

Dangerous Space Policy:

The Green Scare Anarchist Bookfair will be eschewing a 'safer spaces' policy in favor of a Dangerous Space Policy.

This means that we expect all attendees and vendors to be responsible for their own actions, and the potential repercussions of their actions. As hosts of this event, we refuse to assume the role of "police" or "security" to mediate conflicts that happen between people. We personally will not be used as a security apparatus to kick anyone out of this event, unless the conflict is with us directly. Everyone who attends is expected to utilize their own individual agency in directly dealing with and solving their problems with others.Therefore, this event is a dangerous space for anyone who disrespects the space and those occupying it.

We accept that oppression based on identity exists in our present society, but we are not interested in perpetuating this paradigm. All voices here are weighed based on the merit of their experience, not the identity of the person who voiced them.

This should go without sayin' but to make it abundantly clear, this is an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist event.

Any questions, concerns and hate mail please send an email to the address on the flyer.


by anon at February 14, 2019 11:09 PM

“Expressive Eyebrows”: Azat Miftakhov Jailed After Secret Witness Testifies

From The Russian Reader

Anatrr Ra
February 12, 2019

Azat Miftakhov, a mathematics and mechanics graduate student at Moscow State University, has been remanded in custody until March 7, 2019

Golovina District Court Judge Sergei Bazarov has remanded Azat Miftakhov in custody for a month, until March 7, at the request of police investigators. The police suspect Miftakhov of involvement in a January 13, 2018, incident in which a window in the Khovrino office of the United Russia party was broken and a smoke bomb was thrown inside.

The only evidence in the case is the testimony of a secret “witness” who emerged three days ago. Allegedly, the witness was near the United Russia office the night of the incident. He saw six young people. Three of the young people smashed the window and threw a smoke bomb in it, while the other three stood off to the side. The so-called witness supposedly recalled Miftakhov as being among the group who stood and watched, yet he was unable to describe neither what Miftakhov waswearing or his facial features, only his “expressive eyebrows.” The witness, however, did not contact the police for an entire year since, he explained, his phone had gone dead at the time and, subsequently, he had been busy with his own affairs.

Miftakhov was detained by law enforcement officers on the morning of February 1 on suspicion of making explosives, a criminal offense as defined by Article 223 Part 1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code. He was held for twenty-four hours at the Balashikha police station, where law enforcement officers tortured him, demanding he make a full confession. Only on the evening of February 2 was Miftakhov officially detained and sent to the Balashikha Temporary Detention Facility.

On February 4, however, a court refused to remand him in custody due to a lack of evidence. Over the next three days, police investigators were
unable to muster any evidence against Miftakhov, and so, on February 6, he was released from the temporary detention facility without charge.

As Miftakhov was leaving the detention facility, he was detained by men in plain clothes and taken to the Interior Ministry’s headquarters for Moscow’s Northern Administrative Division, where he was told he had been detained in another case, an investigation of alleged disorderly conduct outside the United Russia office in Khovrino on January 13, 2018. An investigation into vandalism (Criminal Code Article 214 Part 1) had been opened in January 2018, but Russian law does not stipulate remanding vandalism suspects in custody during investigations.

In an amazing coincidence, just as Miftakhov was detained a second time, the case was reclassified as an investigation of disorderly conduct, as defined by Criminal Code Article 213 Part 2. People suspected of disorderly conduct can be remanded in custody, and Miftakhov suddenly had become the main suspect in the case. On February 10, the Golovina District Court in Moscow refused to remand Miftakhov in custody, postponing the hearing until February 12.

Miftakhov denies the charges against him. He believes he has been framed because of his anarchist views.

Over a thousand lecturers, professors, researchers, and students from leading Russian and international universities have signed a petition in Miftakhov’s defense, include MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and Viktor Vasilyev, president of the Moscow Mathematics Society. Mikhail Finkelberg, professor at the Higher School of Economics and Skoltech, Boris Kravchenko, president of the Confederation of Labor of Russia (KTR) and member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, and Russian MP Oleg Shein have agreed to stand surety for Miftakhov.

Translation and photo by the Russian Reader. Please read my earlier posts on the Khovrino vandalism case and the Russian police state’s senseless, relentless persecution of Azat Miftakhov.

by anon at February 14, 2019 11:06 PM

Anarchy Radio 02-12-2019


Kathan co-hosts. Strikes then & now. Chomsky on "Moral Depravity." More on ASMR. "Becoming Animal." Despair the basis of school shootings. "See something, say something." Latest fashion is post-apocalypse-wear. Surprising allergies rise. "Fauxtography." Resistance briefs, one (nihilist) call.


by anon at February 14, 2019 10:59 PM


Injury against Erasure, Damage against Time : Two Stories about Love and Death

For Valentine’s Day 2019, we offer two retellings of a classic story—the tale of the lovers who secure a single night together before one of them is to be executed. The one who is to go free urges her partner to leave marks on her body by which she might remember him, yet try as they might, she comes away bare.


Lying beside him in the guest bedroom at his mother’s house on the night he was released from custody, she remembered the first time they had undressed together, many summers before. She had been trying to teach him how to give her a hickey. Those had been wild years for her, free years, before everyone had terrorism charges.

That first innocent morning, when he lifted her shirt, the clefts where M— had raked his nails still marked the small of her back like the f-holes of a violin. A great crushed plum on the left side of her chest testified to R—’s vigor and carelessness. But she could hardly bring him to so much as nip her.

“You can’t just touch your teeth to my skin,” she had protested, finally, after a pleasant but fruitless hour. “You have to bite down.”

“Like this?”

“Yes, that’s… better, but you also have to suck on the skin—and sort of move your teeth around, break up the capillaries.”

He complied, tentative as a fawn. “Doesn’t that hurt?”

“No—I mean yes, it hurts, but my idea of a good time is somebody scraping a brillo pad all over my body.”

“A brillo pad? Is that something you’ve done?”

“No, silly,” she giggled, rolling her eyes up to reconsider, “—or yes, once, but it was electrified.”

“Electrified?” He shuddered.

She teased him about that for years afterwards. He never did manage to give her a hickey.

So there they lay, on the night he was released, entwined and reminiscing. The tracking device on his leg scuffed her ankle every time one of them moved.

“There’s no way to take this off?”

“My lawyer’s appealing it. But you might have to put up with it until trial. I’m sorry, honey.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, my darling!”

“When all this is finished, we’ll go back to the park by your old place, where we first hooked up outdoors.”

“And we’ll do it again on that bench! Even though they have security guards now.”

“Then we’ll go back to the old library…”

“Where I went down on you in the stairwell! Now that it’s shut down, we can break in and do it on the ground floor.”

“And we could go to the beach…”

“And I’ll ride you in the surf! The Coast Guard will crash their helicopters in envy.”

It all felt like a lark, a dramatic backdrop for their love. Why would the court have released him to house arrest if they really considered him dangerous? And yet when they made love again that night, she felt the transience of the moment, as if this meeting of their bodies were simply a sketch in pencil that could be erased, washed away in the torrent of days.

“Mark me, my darling,” she urged him, pulling his mouth to her throat, to her shoulders, to her chest. “Mark me.” He sank his teeth into her, as fearless as he had once been timid, seizing and shaking her flesh around in his teeth like a wolf with its kill. “Harder,” she entreated him, arching her back, offering herself, demanding proof, permanence.

Yet in the morning, when they woke to the sound of the police van pulling into the driveway, her body was bare, as bare as if she had slept alone.

A year later, standing before the gates of the prison in a black veil, she still couldn’t bring herself to believe any of it was real. She felt a world away from the protesters holding up their little candles behind her, from his mother and father and younger brother—a world away from the prison, from her own body, from herself.

Midnight was approaching. Surely a call would come in from the governor, or the lawyers would force a stay, or the power would go out. Then this would be over, and the gate would open and he would step out into her arms and they would walk away from this place together, fingers entwined.

And then she knew that he had been executed—not from the messages arriving on her phone, not by the hush that descended upon the crowd, but because she could feel every place on her body that he had touched her come to life, electrified, from the nibbles of the first morning to the savagery of the final night. A thousand wounds breaking out all over her body, like flowers opening in the darkness.

She dropped her veil from her face and shoulders and stood there before everyone, purple bruises blossoming on her neck, the imprints of his teeth on her cheeks. She turned to the crowd, drawing their eyes, calm and cold and powerful. She raised her arms, displaying the contusions, flaunting them against the lethal world, injury against erasure, damage against time.


Shall I write to you of love?

There is a trail of flowers that weaves through the city. You have not followed it from beginning to end, but you may have stopped to admire one of the many tendrils that together comprise the trail. Lilac rushes through a chasm in the brick wall. Honeysuckle climbs in spirals up a splintering pole. Lavender shoots through a sharp crack in the cobblestone. A graffitied violet rose transforms a rusting spiked gate. Year after year, the path is reborn, for there are always new crevices to fill, new (old) grounds for beauty to occupy, as the investors of today revitalize the past with concrete and plastic (and here is the first secret—these façades too will fall in time, but the path will remain).

I have heard many stories of the path’s origin, but only this one is true (this is the only true thing).

Once upon a time, the night before his execution, she makes her way to the prison to see him. Her delicate slippers (my steel-toed boots) are muddied by the long walk through the torrential rain, her hair is wild, her skirts are torn. She skillfully picks the locks, evading the guards (or do I stab them, shoot them?) until she reaches the last, looming impenetrable door, buried in the deepest cellar, drugging the guard (with laughter, poison, a kiss), relieving the guard of the single bijou key. He is reading by candlelight. (Are you reading Paradise Lost like Barthélemy, or is that going too far, my beautiful anachronism? Was that all you would accept from the exasperated priest in your final moments?)

She unlocks (I unlock) the cage that holds him (the cage that holds you), the last enclosure (I am excited by cages myself, but only when you hold the key, my darling). She goes in to see him. He looks up from his book. He knew she would arrive, the way she does in the story.

Our time is so short and I cannot save you. I can barely hope to escape with my own life, my own life without you, the life I have promised you I will not sacrifice. While you may desire tender embraces before our lovers’ tragic end, I have promised you the truth, and the truth is that true love is written in blood (it is through blood—this is the second secret—that we may arrive at the deepest tenderness, the most exquisite tears, the cleansing fire).

As their lips, tongues, teeth touch, he pulls the wet tangles of her hair back, exposing her delicate throat, biting into the center like a plum, penetrating the most delicate, the strongest parts of her, destroying all that separates, even skin. (We are transported to a place where we bound together through the woods, senses heightened, you carrying me away from danger by the scruff of my neck, then rolling wrestling licking on the forest floor until our fur is matted, covered in briars and thorns, we release inside each other, the deepest soundest sleep.)

As I revel in your bites and blows, I ask that you mark me, consume me, so that I might live inside you and you inside me as you mount the scaffold in the ever-nearing sunrise. But though you tear more and more harshly into my flesh, the wounds seem to close, the excited capillaries settle, leaving only drops of blood resting against my unblemished skin.

This is when the tears come—not from the pain, not at the sight of blood, but with the knowledge that I cannot take you with me. Are you real, am I real, my dearest dream? Is this indeed only a story?

At dawn, as the crowd gathers, they notice a woman, her shoes and skirts muddy, her hair wild, but her skin radiant and pure and unmarked. As he walks to the gallows, she stands there like the hawthorn in spring (I am tied, I am rooted, you are gone, one, none, my nightmare, my angel). And this is what the people will tell their grandchildren, and all those who possess the innocence to recognize truth: as he falls, her perfect skin blooms with a thousand bruises and wounds, and from this carnage flowers begin to grow. Soon she is entirely abloom, transfigured, a garden, a tree that some insist was there already, has always been there.

The path starts at this tree, but where does it end? Some say it ends at his grave. It crosses his gravesite, that much is certain, but others claim to have followed it further—to the cave, the ocean, the stars. There are also those who claim there is no path, no lovers, no marks. There are those who wish to tidy away these stories for which the only evidence is folktales, flowers, and blood. To this I have but one answer, the final secret: This is the only true thing, my love. My love is the only true thing.

February 14, 2019 10:17 PM

Love, Anarchy, and Drama : The Classical Anarchists' Adventures and Misadventures in Polyamory

Like many contemporary anarchists, many anarchists of the 19th and 20th centuries maintained relationships with multiple romantic partners, or were involved with partners who did so. Just as it does today, this often precipitated gossip, heartache, jealousy, and interminable emotional processing. A complete history of anarchist polyamory drama would be nearly as ambitious as a comprehensive history of the anarchist movement itself. Here, we’ve limited ourselves to a few poignant anecdotes from the lives of a handful of classical anarchists. There is a great deal more to be told—for example, the love triangle involving Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Johann Most, or Voltairine de Cleyre’s writing about ownership and possessiveness in relationships.

Why revisit all this, you ask? Certainly not just for the salacious thrill of letting the skeletons out of the closet to dance a little on holidays. No, we return to these stories because our antecedents were just like us, flawed and fallible yet capable of greatness. They were responsible for both heroic acts and gross stupidities (let’s not forget Bakunin’s anti-Semitism). In studying their lives, we might recognize some ways to improve ourselves.

A membership card for Emile Armand’s “International Association of Combat against Jealousy and Exclusivity in Love.”

“We want freedom; we want men and women to love and unite freely for no other reason than love, without any legal, economic, or physical violence. But freedom, even though it is the only solution that we can and must offer, does not radically solve the problem, since love, to be satisfied, requires two freedoms that agree, and often they do not agree in any way; and also, the freedom to do what one wants is a phrase devoid of meaning when one does not know how to want something.”

-Errico Malatesta, “Love and Anarchy

Mikhail and Antonia Bakunin and Carlo Gambuzzi

One of the most influential anarchists of the 19th century, Mikhail Bakunin famously asserted “I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free.” In his Revolutionary Catechism,1 he devoted a section to the abolition of compulsory relationships, marital or otherwise:

Religious and civil marriage to be replaced by free marriage. Adult men and women have the right to unite and separate as they please, nor has society the right to hinder their union or to force them to maintain it. With the abolition of the right of inheritance and the education of children assured by society, all the legal reasons for the irrevocability of marriage will disappear. The union of a man and a woman must be free, for a free choice is the indispensable condition for moral sincerity. In marriage, man and woman must enjoy absolute liberty. Neither violence nor passion nor rights surrendered in the past can justify an invasion by one of the liberty of another, and every such invasion shall be considered a crime.

There was a 24-year age difference between Mikhail’s father and mother; they had become engaged when his mother was 18 and his father was nearly 42. This was not particularly unusual in Russia at the time. Mikhail grew up surrounded by four sisters, from whom he learned a variety of intellectual pursuits and, above all, the importance of women’s autonomy and self-determination. He came of age fighting alongside them against pressure from their parents to get married to men who did not share their philosophical or artistic interests.

When Mikhail was living in exile in Siberia after being sentenced to death in three countries for participating in the revolutions of 1848 and 1849, he met Antonia Kwiatkowki, the daughter of an exiled Polish teacher. When they married, she was 18 and he was 44.

A few years later, Mikhail pulled off a daring escape from Siberia, circumnavigating the globe to arrive in Western Europe, where there was not yet a price on his head. Antonia joined him, and the two lived together in Sweden, Italy, and Switzerland.

At this point, Antonia was in her twenties, while Bakunin was in his fifties, prematurely aged by years chained up in solitary confinement. Antonia began a tempestuous relationship with one of Bakunin’s young Italian comrades. In the following letter to his Russian friend Nikolaj Ogarev, Bakunin describes the considerable challenges that ensued. His complicated feelings will be familiar to anyone who has struggled to set boundaries regarding a partner’s volatile relationship or struggled to balance the demands of two very different relationships.

Mikhail Bakunin.

December 16, 1869
Locarno, Switzerland

Antosja arrived. I went to meet her in Arona, the first Italian city at the end of Lake Maggiore, and I spent two and a half days in great anxiety, expecting her at any moment. Contrary to date on the telegram I had received from Naples, she arrived two whole days late, as a result of the storm in the Mediterranean. She traveled by sea, on account of the low price. The poor woman was quite shaken. Imagine yourself in this situation: alone at sea with an eighteen-month-old child, eight months pregnant and of an ideal disposition for seasickness. She spent days without moving on the boat until Gaeto, despite terrible sea turbulence. She arrived to me exhausted and sick. The child is also sick. I took them to Arona with great difficulty. Antosja took a little rest, the little one as well. But in four, three, or perhaps two weeks, she will deliver. You understand that in these conditions, my head is spinning.

Dear friend, I want once and for all to explain to you my relationship with Antosja and her veritable husband. I did a terribly stupid thing, even more than that, I committed a crime by marrying a young girl almost two and a half times younger than me. I could, to justify myself, invoke many extenuating circumstances, tell you that I pulled her out of a vulgar provincial dump, that if she had not married me, she would have become the wife of a monster, of a Siberian police chief. But a fact is a fact, a mistake a mistake and a crime a crime. Antosja is a kind person and a beautiful soul, I love her as much as a father can love his daughter. I managed to wrest her away from the world of trivial ideas, to help her human development and save her from many vulgar temptations and loves. But when she met true love, I did not believe myself to have the right to enter into a struggle with her, that is to say, against this love. She loved a man who is completely worthy of her, my friend and my son in social-revolutionary doctrine, Carlo Gambuzzi. Two and a half years ago, Antosja came to tell me that she loved him and I gave her my blessing, begging her to see me as a friend and remember that she had no better nor more sure friend than I.

A few months later, at the Congress of Geneva, after a long struggle not only on her part, but also on the part of Gambuzzi, a struggle in which furthermore I did not interfere in any way, that I deliberately ignored, Antosja found herself pregnant. Due to lack of confidence, she hid her pregnancy from me, she endured terrible torments, deceived everyone and, under the pretext of going on a trip, went to give birth in a village near Vevey, exposing herself, as well as the child, to great danger. Informed of this without my knowledge, Gambuzzi arrived and took the child with him to Naples. Antosja recovered; as for me, I still suspected nothing.

One year ago, in October 1868, an incident revealed everything to me. The fact that I did not learn this earlier is not the fault of Antosja but of Gambuzzi. From the beginning, she wanted to tell me everything, but he demanded of her and pleaded with her not to talk to me about anything. In this respect, as in many others, he showed himself to be below her. Raised in the bourgeois world of Italy, he still can’t free himself from the cult of propriety and from the point of honor, and often prefers small winding paths to the long straight road. I will say in his defense that the thought of aggrieving and offending me actually terrified him. He has a filial attachment for me and an undeniably warm friendship.

Anyway, having learned the essence of things, I repeated to Antosja she was entirely free and asked her to decide her own fate, without any consideration of me, in the manner that she believed best: to stay with me as a wife—a wife of course only insofar as the public is concerned—or to separate from me and live in Naples openly as the wife of Gambuzzi. She decided on the first option for the following reasons: above all, she is accustomed to me, and the idea of living apart seemed unbearable to her; second, she feared being a burden for Gambuzzi, feared to put him in a situation that he would not know how to extract himself from with honor, given his social prejudices.

So all three of us decided that everything would remain the same as before. The child would spend the winter in Naples (this decision was made in October 1868) and, in autumn, Antosja would travel to Italy, supposedly with a sick Polish friend who would “die” in the summer and entrust her son to Antosja. This fall, Antosja traveled to Naples with the child, and what happened was what was to be expected and what I had predicted: once again, she became pregnant.

She was in despair. So Gambuzzi proposed that she come to give birth in Naples and leave the new child entirely to his guardianship; renouncing him completely, she would return with me after the birth, with the son, our adopted child of the deceased Polish friend (of course a myth). Antosja rebelled against this proposal and stated categorically that for nothing in the world nor for any consideration whatsoever would she abandon her child. A fight began between her and Gambuzzi. They appealed to me as judge. I took the side of Antosja, of course, and wrote to Gambuzzi that his plan was monstrous, that a mother capable of abandoning her child simply for social considerations would be a monster in my eyes.

So Antosja addressed this entreaty to me: leave Geneva, come to Italy and recognize the two children as my own. I did not reflect on it for long and agreed. I felt obliged to accept, because I could see no other way to save Antosja; and having committed a crime against her, it was my duty to assist her. That took place in July or August of this year, precisely at the moment when I announced to you that I had to leave Geneva.

After the Congress of Basel, Antosja pressured me. I hastened to leave and, as agreed, I went down to Locarno, began looking for a home, a nursemaid, and telegraphed Antosja that she could come, that I was waiting for her. For over two weeks, I received no word of reply to my telegram, nor to letters sent after it. I realized that the struggle was continuing between them; I wrote them a synodic letter in which, while describing our mutual situation to them in its true light, I indicated two options for them and demanded that they choose one or the other, namely: either Antosja, renouncing once and for all the love of Gambuzzi and contenting herself merely with his friendship, return immediately to me with my son and my future child, or else she should remain in Naples as the wife, known to all the world, of Gambuzzi, with the two children of their relationship also recognized by him. I offered my stamp of approval for either decision, but I demanded they choose one or the other without delay and stated that I would only agree again to do the first provided that it come into effect immediately.

Antosja arrived. Gambuzzi offered to stay, but she declined the offer.

Friendly relations on my part, as well as on the part of Antosja, continue with Gambuzzi. Their romantic relationship is over. I adopted the children of Gambuzzi, without denying his incontestable right to take charge of and lead their education alongside Antosja. Life here is inexpensive. He will pay 150 francs per month into the common fund and I will do the same. We will stay together, Antosja and I, as long as the revolution hasn’t called me. Then I will belong only to the revolution and myself.

In fact, after this letter was sent, Antonia maintained a romantic relationship with Carlo Gaumbuzzi and gave birth to a third child with him. Mikhail and Antonia continued to live together, and Mikhail participated in raising all three children as if they were his own. Antonia stood by Mikhail even when political conflicts and financial mismanagement alienated him from many of his other comrades and created considerable difficulties for their household. After his death, she finally moved in with Gambuzzi, and the two had one more daughter together.

Errico Malatesta, Emilia Tronzio-Zanardelli, and Giovanni Defendi

While still a teenager, Malatesta met Mikhail Bakunin and joined him in helping to organize the First International and other early anarchist efforts, including armed uprisings in 1874 and 1877. Targeted by the Italian police forever afterwards, he was compelled to spend a great part of his life in hiding or in exile, especially in London.

Around the same time that he met Bakunin, Malatesta had begun a romantic relationship with the anarchist Emilia Tronzio-Zanardelli. Little is known about their relationship, but they likely began seeing each other as early as 1871,2 as Malatesta was involved alongside her brother in the Mazzinist student movement and then the Neapolitan section of the First International. Emilia followed her brother to London in 1879 and began working as a seamstress.

A comrade of theirs, Giovanni Defendi, had gone to France in 1871 to participate in the defense of the Paris Commune, for which he was imprisoned for eight years. After his release, in 1880, he moved to London. That year, he and Emilia announced that they were entering into a union libre:

The undersigned make it a point to announce to you that, on May 8, 1880, they will enter into a free union, in the presence of some socialist friends invited and gathered simply to receive communication.

The reasons that determined them to dispense with legal marriage, as well as religious marriage, are that they view them as bourgeois institutions created for the sole purpose of settling questions of property and inheritance, not offering any serious guarantee to proletarians of either sex, consecrating the subjugation of women, committing wills and consciences for the future, without taking into account the characters involved, and opposing the dissolubility which is the basis of any contract.

The question of children will be settled later in the manner most in accordance with justice and according to the situation that bourgeois society imposes upon them.

Fraternal greetings.

-Giovanni Defendi, Emilia Tronzio-Zanardelli

Malatesta had already been living with Emilia before this; he joined the couple at their residence in London in 1881. He lived with the Defendis for much of the next four decades. The British police, scandalized, reported that there were rumors that Malatesta was sleeping with Emilia despite her relationship with Giovanni.

Errico Malatesta.

The house and the business of the Defendi couple, where Malatesta lived, 112 High Street in Islington, was a convergence point for everyone that arrived in London. How many stormy and brotherly discussions were had in the little kitchen through the grocery store of the good Defendi family, which served as an Athenaeum!

-Luigi Fabbri’s Life of Malatesta

Emilia had six children, some of whom she may have conceived with Malatesta—including her son Enrico, born in 1883, who accompanied Malatesta when he went to Italy in 1897, and her daughter Adele, born in 1892. When Emilia fell ill in the aftermath of the First World War, Malatesta stayed by her bedside for months, nursing her until she passed away.

In contrast to the dramatic difficulties that beset Mikhail and Antonia Bakunin and Carlo Gambuzzi, the relationships of Errico Malatesta, Emilia Tronzio-Zanardelli, and Giovanni Defendi appear to have been healthy and stable, providing a solid foundation for their decades of political activity. Knowing that Mikhail Bakunin mentored the young Malatesta, we can’t help wondering if the two ever discussed affairs of the heart. Could Malatesta’s graceful conduct in relation to his partner’s marriage have been informed by advice or anecdotes from Bakunin? We know they discussed the political and martial aspects of liberation, but we know less about their discussions regarding its personal aspects, which are just as fundamental to the anarchist project.

Likewise, though Emilia Tronzio-Zanardelli was an important participant in the Italian anarchist movement in diaspora across several decades, we have little documentation with which to understand the substance of her contributions. On the basis of what we do know about her role in organizing, though, we know they were considerable.

“Let’s eliminate the exploitation of man by man, let’s fight the brutal pretention of the male who thinks he owns the female, let’s fight religious, social, and sexual prejudice. In any case, [in the anarchist future] the ones with bad luck in love will procure themselves other pleasures, since it will not be as it is today, when love and alcohol are the only consolations for the majority of humanity.”

-Errico Malatesta, “Love and Anarchy”

América Scarfó, Severino di Giovanni, and Émile Armand

If we don’t know as much as we might wish to about the perspectives of Antonia Bakunin and Emilia Tronzio-Zanardelli, we have a full record of the thoughts of América Scarfó, an Argentine anarchist who began a romantic relationship with a married man while she was still a teenager.

Born in a middle-class immigrant family, América already shared anarchist ideas with her brothers Paulino and Alejandro by the end of her adolescence. Their family rented out a room to an Italian anarchist who had fled with his wife and three children to Argentina on account of the rise of Mussolini. He and América began a vibrant intellectual exchange that blossomed into romance. But then a police raid forced him to go into hiding along with Paulino and Alejandro.

Frustrated by the interference of the state, her parents’ opposition and, worst of all, the criticism of other anarchists, América wrote the following letter across the Atlantic Ocean to Émile Armand, an interanationally known anarchist proponent of “revolutionary sexualism” and camaraderie amoureuse. Armand had revived Zo d’Axa’s individualist anarchist publication L’En-Dehors, largely as a vehicle to promote what today we might call relationship anarchy.

Émile Armand’s L’En-Dehors.

In sending this letter, América was publicly declaring the legitimacy of a relationship not sanctioned by the church, the state, or her parents, just as Giovanni Defendi and Emilia Tronzio-Zanardelli had done before her. But more than that, she was taking revolutionary measures on the terrain that was available to her as a young woman in Buenos Aires: challenging the norms around intimacy, gender, and affective relations in society at large, in her birth family, and in the social circles of her fellow anarchists.

Revolution is not something that the party implements in the parliament or the workers carry out in the factories—it is a project that concerns every single aspect of life, and therefore, every single person, wherever she is situated.

Buenos Aires, December 3, 1928
To comrade E. Armand

Dear Comrade,

The purpose of this letter is, first of all, to ask your advice. We have to act, in all moments of our lives, in accord with our own manner of seeing and thinking, in such a way that the reproaches and criticisms of other people find our individuality protected by the healthiest concepts of responsibility and liberty, which form a solid wall weakening their attacks. For this reason, we should act consistently with our ideas.

My case, comrade, is of the amorous order. I am a young student who believes in the new life. I believe that, thanks to our free actions, individual or collective, we can arrive at a future of love, fraternity, and equality. I desire for all just what I desire for myself: the freedom to act, to love, to think. That is, I desire anarchy for all humanity. I believe that in order to achieve this, we should make a social revolution. But I am also of the opinion that in order to arrive at this revolution, it is necessary to free ourselves from all kinds of prejudices, conventionalisms, false moralities, and absurd codes. And, while we wait for this great revolution to break out, we have to carry out this work in all the actions of our existence. And indeed, in order to make this revolution come about, we can’t just content ourselves with waiting, but need to take action in our daily lives. Wherever possible, we should act from the point of view of an anarchist, that is, of a human being.

América Scarfó.

In love, for example, we will not wait for the revolution, we will unite ourselves freely, paying no regard to the prejudices, barriers, and innumerable lies that oppose us as obstacles. I have come to know a man, a comrade of ideas. According to the laws of the bourgeoisie, he is married. He united himself with a woman as a consequence of a childish circumstance, without love. At that time, he didn’t know our ideas. However, he lived with this woman for a number of years, and they had children. He didn’t experience the satisfaction that he should have felt with a loved one. Life became tedious, the only thing that united these two beings were the children. Still an adolescent, this man came to know our ideas, and a new consciousness was born in him. He turned into a brave militant. He devoted himself to propaganda with ardor and intelligence. All the love that he hadn’t directed to a person, he offered instead to an ideal. In the home, meanwhile, life continued with its monotony relieved only by the happiness of their small children. It happened that circumstances brought us together, at first as companions of ideas. We talked, we sympathized with each other, and we learned to know each other. Thus our love was born. We believed, in the beginning, that it would be impossible. He, who had loved only in dreams, and I, making my entrance into life. Each one of us continued living between doubt and love. Destiny—or, better, love—did the rest. We opened our hearts and our love and our happiness began to intone its song, even in the middle of the struggle, the ideal, which in fact gave us an even greater impulse. And our eyes, our lips, our hearts expressed themselves in the magic conjuring of a first kiss. We idealized love, but we were carrying it into reality. Free love, that knows no barriers, nor obstacles. The creative force that transports two beings through a flowery field, carpeted with roses—and sometimes thorns—but where we find happiness always.

Is it not the case that the whole universe is converted into an Eden when two beings love each other?

His wife also—despite her relative knowledge—sympathizes with our ideas. When it came to it, she gave proofs of her contempt for the hired killers of the bourgeois order as the police began to pursue my friend. That was how the wife of my comrade and I have become friends. She is fully aware of what the man who lived at her side represents to me. The feeling of fraternal affection that existed between them permitted him to confide in her. And he gave her freedom to act as she desired, in the manner of any conscientious anarchist. Until this moment, to tell the truth, we have lived really like in a novel. Our love became every day more intense. We cannot live altogether in common, given the political situation of my friend, and the fact that I have still not finished my studies. We meet, when we can, in different places. Isn’t that perhaps the best way to sublimate love, distancing it from the preoccupations of domestic life? Although I am sure that when it is true love, the most beautiful thing is to live together.

This is what I wanted to explain. Some people here have turned into judges. And these are not to be found so much among common people but in fact among comrades of ideas who see themselves as free of prejudices but who, at bottom, are intolerant. One of these says that our love is a madness; another indicates that the wife of my friend is playing the role of “martyr,” despite the fact that she is aware of everything that concerns us, is the ruler of her own person, and enjoys her freedom. A third raises the ridiculous economic obstacle. I am independent, just as is my friend. In all probability, I will create a personal economic situation for myself that will free me from all worries in this sense.

Also, the question of the children. What do the children have to do with the feelings of our hearts? Why can’t a man who has children love? It is as if to say that the father of a family cannot work for the idea, do propaganda, etc. What makes them believe that those little beings will be forgotten because their father loves me? If the father were to forget his children, he would deserve my contempt and there would exist no more love between us.

América Scarfó in 1929.

Here, in Buenos Aires, certain comrades have a truly meager idea of free love. They imagine that it consists only in cohabiting without being legally married and, meanwhile, in their own homes they carry on practicing all the stupidities and prejudices of ignorant people. This type of union that ignores the civil registrar and the priest also exists in bourgeois society. Is that free love?

Finally, they criticize our difference in age. Just because I am 16 and my friend is 26. Some accuse me of running a commercial operation; others describe me as unwitting. Ah, these pontiffs of anarchism! Making the question of age interfere with love! As if the fact that a brain reasons is not enough for a person to be responsible for their actions! On the other hand, it is my own problem, and if the difference in age means nothing to me, why should it matter to anyone else? That which I cherish and love is youth of the spirit, which is eternal.

There are also those who treat us as degenerates or sick people and other labels of this kind. To all these I say: why? Because we live life in its true sense, because we recognize a free cult of love? Because, just like the birds that bring joy to walkways and gardens, we love without paying any attention to codes or false morals? Because we are faithful to our ideas? I disdain all those who cannot understand what it is to know how to love.

True love is pure. It is the sun whose rays stretch to those who cannot climb to the heights. Life is something we have to live freely. We accord to beauty, to the pleasures of the spirit, to love, the veneration that they deserve.

This is all, comrade. I would like to have your opinion on my case. I know very well what I am doing and I don’t need to be approved or applauded. Just that, having read many of your articles and agreeing with various points of view, it would make me content to know your opinion.

Her letter was printed in L’en dehors on January 20, 1929 under the title “An Experience.” Émile Armand printed his answer alongside it:

“Comrade: My opinion matters little in this matter you send me about what you are doing. Are you or are you not intimately in accord with your personal conception of the anarchist life? If you are, then ignore the comments and insults of others and carry on following your own path. No one has the right to judge your way of conducting yourself, even if it were the case that your friend’s wife be hostile to these relations. Every person united to an anarchist (or vice versa), knows very well that she should not exercise on him, or accept from him, domination of any kind.”

Severino di Giovanni.

The lover that the 16-year-old América Scarfó refers to in this letter was, of course, the anarchist Severino di Giovanni, Argentina’s most wanted criminal. When she sent this letter, he was living underground, accused of carrying out a string of bombings targeting the Italian Consulate, the US embassy, the Ford Motor Company, and a monument to George Washington, among other targets. By the time he was captured in January 1931—along with América and her brother Paulino—he was also accused of the most dramatic robbery in contemporary Argentine history and the shootings of various police officers.

At that point, a military coup had taken place in Argentina, Hitler was headed for power in Germany, and the whole world seemed to be sliding rapidly towards fascism. In such a context, we can understand Severino’s actions as a rational attempt to carry out much-needed revolutionary measures on the terrain that was available to him, just as he and América were doing in their romantic relationship.

When the police captured Severino, they rushed him to a doctor to treat his wounds, so as to be sure he would die at precisely the hour they decreed, after the proper show trial. The police reportedly tortured Severino, but none of the arrestees cooperated with the state by informing against their fellows. After the trial, Severino’s lawyer was arrested, dismissed from his post in the armed forces, imprisoned, and deported.

The novelist Roberto Arlt witnessed the scene of Severino’s execution:

He looks stiffly at his executors. He emanates will. Whether he suffers or not, it is a secret. But he remains like this, static, proud.

Only after the execution did they call over a blacksmith to unfasten his fetters—and another doctor, this time to make sure he was dead. Then they executed Paulino Scarfó, too, for good measure.

They had released América, deeming her unfit to stand trial on account of her age.

Severino di Giovanni under arrest.

On July 28, 1999, after 68 years, the Argentine government finally returned Severino di Giovanni’s letters to América Scarfó. América passed away on August 26, 2006 at the age of 93. Her ashes were buried in the garden beside the headquarters of the Argentine Libertarian Federation in Buenos Aires.

There are many different risks to loving fiercely and outside the prescribed lines. Perhaps the only thing worse than these terrifying risks is the deadly certainty that comes of not daring to love.

“For us, love is a passion that engenders tragedies for itself.”

-Errico Malatesta, “Love and Anarchy”

Further Reading and Viewing

  • Anarchist Individualism and Amorous Comradeship, Émile Armand

  • The Knights Errant of Anarchy: London and the Italian Anarchist Diaspora (1880-1917), Pietro di Paola

  • Anarchism and Violence: Severino di Giovanni in Argentina, 1923-1931, Osvaldo Bayer

Daiana Rosenfeld and Anibal Garisto have produced a documentary about América Scarfó’s relationship with Severino di Giovanni entitled Los ojos de América (“The Eyes of América”).

Thomas Nast cartoon attacking Victoria Woodhull, advocate of free love, member of the First International, associate of anarchists, and, incidentally, the first woman to run for president of the United States.

  1. Bakunin’s Revolutionary Catechism is distinct from Sergey Nechayev’s Catechism of a Revolutionary, which is often mistakenly attributed to Bakunin. In fact, there were serious differences between the politics of the two Russian revolutionists, as Bakunin set forth in this letter to Nechayev. 

  2. See Errico Malatesta da Mazzini a Bakunin, la sua formazione giovanile nell’ambiente napoletano (1868-1873) by Misato Toda. 

February 14, 2019 06:55 PM

Deep Green Resistance News Service

The Problem

This is an excerpt from the book Deep Green Resistance – Strategy to save the planet 

by Lierre Keith

You cannot live a political life, you cannot live a moral life if you’re not willing to open your eyes and see the world more clearly. See some of the injustice that’s going on. Try to make yourself aware of what’s happening in the world. And when you are aware, you have a responsibility to act.

—Bill Ayers, cofounder of the Weather Underground

A black tern weighs barely two ounces. On energy reserves less than a small bag of M&M’s and wings that stretch to cover twelve inches, she flies thousands of miles, searching for the wetlands that will harbor her young. Every year the journey gets longer as the wetlands are desiccated for human demands. Every year the tern, desperate and hungry, loses, while civilization, endless and sanguineous, wins.

A polar bear should weigh 650 pounds. Her energy reserves are meant to see her through nine long months of dark, denned gestation, and then lactation, when she will give up her dwindling stores to the needy mouths of her species’ future. But in some areas, the female’s weight before hibernation has already dropped from 650 to 507 pounds.1 Meanwhile, the ice has evaporated like the wetlands. When she wakes, the waters will stretch impassably open, and there is no Abrahamic god of bears to part them for her.

The Aldabra snail should weigh something, but all that’s left to weigh are skeletons, bits of orange and indigo shells. The snail has been declared not just extinct10, but the first casualty of global warming. In dry periods, the snail hibernated. The young of any species are always more vulnerable, as they have no reserves from which to draw. In this case, the adults’ “reproductive success” was a “complete failure.”2 In plain terms, the babies died and kept dying, and a species millions of years old is now a pile of shell fragments.

What is your personal carrying capacity for grief, rage, despair? We are living in a period of mass extinction. The numbers stand at 200 species a day.3 That’s 73,000 a year. This culture is oblivious to their passing, feels entitled to their every last niche, and there is no roll call on the nightly news.

There is a name for the tsunami wave of extermination: the Holocene extinction event. There’s no asteroid this time, only human behavior, behavior that we could choose to stop. Adolph Eichman’s excuse was that no one told him that the concentration camps were wrong. We’ve all seen the pictures of the drowning polar bears. Are we so ethically numb that we need to be told this is wrong?

There are voices raised in concern, even anguish, at the plight of the earth, the rending of its species. “Only zero emissions can prevent a warmer planet,” one pair of climatologists declare.4 James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hypothesis, states bluntly that global warming has passed the tipping point, carbon offsetting is a joke, and “individual lifestyle adjustments” are “a deluded fantasy.”5 It’s all true, and self-evident. “Simple living” should start with simple observation: if burning fossil fuels will kill the planet, then stop burning them.

But that conclusion, in all its stark clarity, is not the popular one to draw. The moment policy makers and environmental groups start offering solutions is the exact moment when they stop telling the truth, inconvenient or otherwise. Google “global warming solutions.” The first paid sponsor, Campaign Earth, urges “No doom and gloom!! When was the last time depression got you really motivated? We’re here to inspire realistic action steps and stories of success.” By “realistic” they don’t mean solutions that actually match the scale of the problem. They mean the usual consumer choices—cloth shopping bags, travel mugs, and misguided dietary advice—which will do exactly nothing to disrupt the troika of industrialization, capitalism, and patriarchy that is skinning the planet alive. As Derrick has pointed out elsewhere, even if every American took every single action suggested by Al Gore it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent.6 Aric tells a stark truth: even if through simple living and rigorous recycling you stopped your own average American’s annual one ton of garbage production, “your per capita share of the industrial waste produced in the US is still almost twenty-six tons. That’s thirty-seven times as much waste as you were able to save by eliminating a full 100 percent of your personal waste.”7 Industrialism itself is what has to stop. There is no kinder, greener version that will do the trick of leaving us a living planet. In blunt terms, industrialization is a process of taking entire communities of living beings and turning them into commodities and dead zones. Could it be done more “efficiently”? Sure, we could use a little less fossil fuels, but it still ends in the same wastelands of land, water, and sky. We could stretch this endgame out another twenty years, but the planet still dies. Trace every industrial artifact back to its source—which isn’t hard, as they all leave trails of blood—and you find the same devastation: mining, clear-cuts, dams, agriculture. And now tar sands, mountaintop removal, wind farms (which might better be called dead bird and bat farms). No amount of renewables is going to make up for the fossil fuels or change the nature of the extraction, both of which are prerequisites for this way of life. Neither fossil fuels nor extracted substances will ever be sustainable; by definition, they will run out. Bringing a cloth shopping bag to the store, even if you walk there in your Global Warming Flip-Flops, will not stop the tar sands. But since these actions also won’t disrupt anyone’s life, they’re declared both realistic and successful.

The next site’s Take Action page includes the usual: buying light bulbs, inflating tires, filling dishwashers, shortening showers, and rearranging the deck chairs. It also offers the ever-crucial Global Warming Bracelets and, more importantly, Flip-Flops. Polar bears everywhere are weeping with relief.

The first noncommercial site is the Union of Concerned Scientists. As one might expect, there are no exclamation points, but instead a statement that “[t]he burning of fossil fuel (oil, coal, and natural gas) alone counts for about 75 percent of annual CO2emissions.” This is followed by a list of Five Sensible Steps. Step One? No, not stop burning fossil fuels—“Make Better Cars and SUVs.” Never mind that the automobile itself is the pollution, with its demands—for space, for speed, for fuel—in complete opposition to the needs of both a viable human community and a living planet. Like all the others, the scientists refuse to call industrial civilization into question. We can have a living planet and the consumption that’s killing the planet, can’t we?

The principle here is very simple. As Derrick has written, “[A]ny social system based on the use of nonrenewable resources is by definition unsustainable.”8 Just to be clear, nonrenewable means it will eventually run out. Once you’ve grasped that intellectual complexity, you can move on to the next level. “Any culture based on the nonrenewable use of renewable resources is just as unsustainable.” Trees are renewable. But if we use them faster than they can grow, the forest will turn to desert. Which is precisely what civilization has been doing for its 10,000 year campaign, running through soil, rivers, and forests as well as metal, coal, and oil. Now the oceans are almost dead and their plankton populations are collapsing, populations that both feed the life of the oceans and create oxygen for the planet. What will we fill our lungs with when they are gone? The plastics with which industrial civilization is replacing them? In parts of the Pacific, plastic outweighs plankton 48 to 1.9 Imagine if it were your blood, your heart, crammed with toxic materials—not just chemicals, but physical gunk—until there was ten times more of it than you. What metaphor is adequate for the dying plankton? Cancer? Suffocation? Crucifixion?

But the oceans don’t need our metaphors. They need action. They need industrial civilization to stop destroying and devouring. In other words, they need us to make it stop.

Which is why we are writing this book.

by borisforkel at February 14, 2019 05:32 PM


Trump Is About to Declare a State of Emergency. What Does It Mean?

Trump’s pending declaration of a state of emergency isn't a show of power — it's a show of desperation.

alt Donald Trump speaks to the nation in his first-prime address from the Oval Office of the White House on January 8, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Carlos Barria-Pool / Getty

What does Trump’s pending declaration of a state of emergency, so that he can commandeer funds to pay for his wall, mean politically? What does it tell us about his power or powerlessness?

I’ve talked on many occasions about Steve Skowronek’s theory of presidential power. In that account, presidential power is dependent on two factors: the strength and resilience of the existing regime, and the affiliation or orientation (supportive or opposed) of the president to that regime. The strongest presidents are those who come to power in opposition to an extraordinarily weak and tottering regime, who shatter that regime and construct a new one. Think Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan. The weakest presidents are those who are affiliated to a weak and tottering regime, and completely saddled with their affiliation to that regime. Think Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

There’s one part of Skowronek’s argument — a third factor, if you will — that I’ve not talked about. That is the organizational resources that a president has at his disposal. Where Skowronek’s theory of regimes and affiliations is cyclical — regimes rise and fall — the organizational element of his theory is linear. The organizational resources of the presidency grow over time. Early in the history of the American state, the material resources presidents had at their disposal were few; with time, they became many. Reagan had far more resources than Lincoln had or than Jefferson had, merely because of the expansion of the state apparatus itself.

One of the most fascinating twists in Skowronek’s argument is that the steady expansion of state power, the growth of material resources, works differently for different types of presidents.

For presidents who are in the strong or realignment position — Reagan, etc., back to Jefferson — there are more resources at their disposal over time. Reagan has more material power than Lincoln had. But there are also more resources available to state actors who would oppose these presidents. So Skowronek argues that if you compare Jefferson to Reagan, you’ll see that despite Reagan’s possession of greater material and organizational resources, Jefferson had far more political power and room for maneuver than Reagan did. Jefferson’s reconstruction of the political universe was far more comprehensive than Reagan’s — Reagan was never able to get rid of Social Security or Medicare, he tried to launch a new Cold War but wound up having to illegally fund the Contras because Congress would not allow him to do it legally, and so on — precisely because the state apparatus under Jefferson was not as strong as the one that was under Reagan. Which meant that Jefferson’s opponents had equally fewer resources to oppose him. Jefferson’s opponents, the Federalists, had the courts, and that was about it. And with time, and more judicial appointments, that went away, too.

But for presidents who are the in Carter/Hoover position — and this also includes John Adams and John Quincy Adams — the expansion of the state apparatus has the opposite effect. Though those presidents are in the weakest political position possible, over time, they are able to do more, despite their weakened position, precisely because there is so much more material and organizational power at their disposal. Yes, their opponents have power, too, but that power is not nearly as effective as the other kind of power their opponents have, namely, the political power that comes under a tottering regime.

So Carter, despite his very weak position, is able to do unbelievable things, things Jefferson (in a strong position) could only have dreamed of. Despite the tottering of the New Deal regime, there is still enough belief in government under Carter that he’s able to get two new Cabinet positions and departments (Energy and Education). He’s able to launch a military buildup. He’s able to deregulate whole industries. Most potent of all, he gets Paul Volcker at the Fed. John Adams and John Quincy Adams, who were in comparable positions, scrambled to do anything; Carter, despite being in the same position, is able to do a lot.

Now we come to Trump and his declaration of emergency.

From a political point of view, the situation looks like that of a classic weakened presidency. For two years, while his party had control over Congress, Trump got not a single dollar for building his wall. Amid the debacle of the shutdown (more on that in one second), it’s easy to forget that while Trump did manage to extract $1.375 billion from a Democratic-controlled House to build 55 new miles of wall, he could not even get that from a Republican-controlled Congress.

After his first two years in office, Trump played what he thought was his strongest suit: he provoked the longest government shutdown in American history hoping to finally get Congress to do what he had not yet been able to get it to do. Despite that power play, he came out with even less than he had going into the fight in December.

These are signs of classic presidential weakness. Remember, Trump staked his entire reputation on winning the midterms over the issue of immigration and the wall. His message heading into the November elections was as clear as it was crude: “If you don’t want America to be overrun by masses of illegal immigrants and massive caravans, you better vote Republican,” he said in a campaign speech. Well, the voters heard him, and cast their ballots accordingly, leading to the Democrats’ largest midterm gain since Watergate.

Losing big on a signature issue, not once, not twice, but three times — during the first two years when the Republicans controlled Congress; during the midterm elections; and then, with the shutdown — is a classic sign of what Skowronek calls presidential disjunction.

Like Carter, Trump is in a very weakened position. His ability to define the political field has been almost minimal.

Yet, like Carter, Trump is the beneficiary of the increased resources that are available to a president.

Over time, Congress has granted the presidency the power to declare national emergencies. Though the 1976 National Emergencies Act was meant to constrain the president, it hasn’t worked out that way. As Elizabeth Gotein of the Brennan Center writes in the current issue of The Atlantic:

 Under this law, the president still has complete discretion to issue an emergency declaration—but he must specify in the declaration which powers he intends to use, issue public updates if he decides to invoke additional powers, and report to Congress on the government’s emergency-related expenditures every six months. The state of emergency expires after a year unless the president renews it, and the Senate and the House must meet every six months while the emergency is in effect “to consider a vote” on termination.

By any objective measure, the law has failed. Thirty states of emergency are in effect today—several times more than when the act was passed. Most have been renewed for years on end. And during the 40 years the law has been in place, Congress has not met even once, let alone every six months, to vote on whether to end them.

As a result, the president has access to emergency powers contained in 123 statutory provisions.

Trump is now pushing the presidency’s organizational resources, in the form of presidential emergencies, to their limit. Like Carter, he’s got resources at his disposal that John Adams did not have. But as was true of Carter, Trump’s dependence on those resources is not a sign of strength but weakness.

by Corey Robin at February 14, 2019 05:22 PM

InterPressService (global south)

CPJ joins call for Nigeria to ensure internet and social media services remain connected during elections

An electoral worker prepares identity card and biometric verification readers, at the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Kano, northern Nigeria, on February 14, 2019. CPJ joined a call for Nigeria to ensure that internet and social media services remain connected during the upcoming elections. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

By Editor, CPJ
Feb 14 2019 (IPS-Partners)

(CPJ) – The Committee to Protect Journalists joined more than 15 rights organizations and the #KeepItOn Coalition to call for Nigerian authorities to ensure that internet and social media services remain connected during upcoming elections, and safeguard internet speeds of websites and messaging applications. In early February, Nigeria’s federal government denied rumors of plans to shut down the internet during upcoming elections, according to the privately owned Guardian Nigeria and Quartz news outlets. Nigeria has two sets of elections scheduled in the coming weeks: federal elections on February 16 and state elections on March 2.

The letter, addressed to Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission, emphasized how internet disruptions inhibit journalists’ ability to safely conduct reporting and run contrary to international law. It also highlighted additional social and economic costs of internet outages.

“The media is critical to this particular election and critical to people understanding both the [election’s] processes and procedures,” Festus Okoye, national commissioner of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, told CPJ on February 13. Okoye also emphasized the importance of internet connectivity because the smart card readers used for voter identification are based on the internet. “Three networks–Glo, MTN, and Airtel–are powering them [the smart card readers], so if you jam the network there won’t be any election…that’s just the bottom line.” he said.

Read the full letter here.

The post CPJ joins call for Nigeria to ensure internet and social media services remain connected during elections appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Editor CPJ at February 14, 2019 04:21 PM

Russia: Tortured anarchist detained again for ‘hooliganism’

via Freedom News

A Moscow court yesterday denied bail to Azat Miftakhov on the charge, which has seemingly been brought because the State was unable to justify earlier terror-related allegations.

Initially grabbed by police on suspicion of being a bomb-maker on February 1st, Azat was released a week later after a violent interrogation failed to make him confess, but immediately detained again on lesser charges.

Azat, a graduate maths student at Moscow State University, was first arrested as part of a wave of raids related to the Network witch-hunt against antifascists and held in Balashika police station.

He was searched and, along with other detainees, tortured with beatings and electric shocks. Supporters who had seen him before he was briefly “ghosted” from the facility reported that the attacks had been so bad that he “didn’t look like a human being”. The Public Monitoring Commission also reported that he had marks on his body consistent with torture.

Defence lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina reported overhearing in court that Azat had attempted to slit his wrists to avoid further pain. However he did not sign any confession, forcing them to release him on Tuesday.

The State seems intent on keeping the mathematics student in jail however, and the court in Moscow has ruled that he must now stay in pre-trial detention until March 7th.

Pic: Azat, centre, in a selfie allegedly taken by the officers who tortured him.

by thecollective at February 14, 2019 04:06 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Philippines’ Maria Ressa detained and released over ‘political’ charge

Maria Ressa--founder, CEO, and executive editor of the Rappler news website--giving her acceptance speech at CPJ's 2018 International Press Freedom Awards on November 20, 2018. (Getty Images/Dia Dipasupil)

By Editor, CPJ
Feb 14 2019 (IPS-Partners)

(CPJ) – The Philippine government’s legal harassment of the news website Rappler and Maria Ressa, its founder and executive editor, took an alarming turn Wednesday when officers from the National Bureau of Investigation arrested Ressa at Rappler’s bureau in Manila and held her overnight over a cyber libel case filed against her by the Justice Department. Ressa’s arrest was in connection to a story published by Rappler in 2012, before the law was enacted. Ressa told CPJ before her arrest that the charge was “political” and that the Philippines has “weaponized” its cybercrime law. Ressa was released on bail on Thursday morning. CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler explored the implications of Ressa’s arrest for press freedom in an op-ed for CNN.

Apart from the cyber-libel charges, Ressa and Rappler face five tax cases. In December, CPJ and First Look Media announced a campaign to provide legal support for journalists, and the first recipients were Ressa and Rappler. CPJ’s board also passed a resolution Wednesday condemning the arrest.

The post Philippines’ Maria Ressa detained and released over ‘political’ charge appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Editor CPJ at February 14, 2019 03:59 PM


El Salvador’s Backslide

With its loss of the presidency in El Salvador’s recent elections, the gains of the revolutionary project launched by the FMLN in 1980 are in serious jeopardy.

alt El Salvador's president-elect, Nayib Bukele, speaks in San Salvador on election night. Nayib Bukele / Twitter

El Salvador’s Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) has been ousted from office, unseated in the recent presidential election by an ambitious young millionaire who claims to transcend partisan politics. After two consecutive terms in the presidency, the former Marxist-Leninist guerrilla army won a distant third-place in the vote on February 3, trailing both the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party, which governed from 1989 to 2009, and the election’s insurgent victor, Nayib Bukele.

According to the preliminary results, Bukele swept the election with 1,388,009 votes, 53 percent of the vote. ARENA, in coalition with smaller right-wing parties, took 31.8 percent, and the FMLN a dismal 14.4 percent. The leftist party received even fewer votes than in the recent midterms, and over a million fewer than in the 2014 presidential race. The election saw about 50 percent turnout, significantly lower than previous presidential votes, suggesting that while many former FMLN supporters defected to Bukele, others did not vote at all.

The FMLN’s resounding defeat, though painful, was not unforeseen, coming after massive midterm losses in March 2018 and amid a broader left retreat in Latin America. Since the fall of commodity prices in 2014, left and center-left administrations in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil that depended on extractive rents have been swept out of office, with Venezuela and Nicaragua in the crosshairs: president-elect Bukele has called Nicolas Maduro and Daniel Ortega both dictators, and will likely prove an eager ally in the US’s right-wing crusade in the region.

The FMLN was elected with a firm mandate in 2009 but won with a slim margin in 2014. FMLN power was significantly diminished over the course of its second term, slowing the pace of reform. As I argue in Steve Ellner’s forthcoming book The Pink Tide Experiences: Breakthroughs and Shortcomings in Twenty-First Century Latin America, the increasingly hostile geopolitical climate left the party without crucial international allies and alternative sources of financing, even as right-wing obstruction and destabilization successfully starved the administration of funds and support internally. At the same time, pragmatic alliances further narrowed FMLN political horizons, sometimes with devastating consequences.

In office, the FMLN was not as radical as many of its southern neighbors. But although the party did not fundamentally restructure El Salvador’s economy, it made unprecedented gains in social investment, inclusion, and infrastructure, while forging diplomatic and commercial ties with the Latin American anti-neoliberal bloc. Many of these advances are now in danger, and the future of the Salvadoran left is uncertain.

As the rest of the region reckons with the limits of bourgeois electoral politics and state power, El Salvador’s revolutionaries must decide if the FMLN remains a viable instrument for their struggle.

A Revolutionary History

The FMLN was founded in 1980 at the start of a bloody twelve-year civil war against the US-backed military dictatorship and the landed oligarchs it served. The union of five leftist political-military organizations, the FMLN’s alliance of Old and New Left tendencies built on a revolutionary tradition forged in the 1932 communist and peasant uprising that was met with genocidal repression by the military dictatorship.

The guerrillas fought the anticommunist regime to a draw in 1992. In 1993, the UN Truth Commission Report attributed at least 85 percent of the war’s seventy-five thousand deaths and ten thousand disappearances to US-funded, -armed, and -trained Salvadoran security forces and their associated death squads, and only 5 percent to the insurgency.

The negotiations saw the FMLN lay down arms and begin a fraught transition from guerrilla army to leftist political party. As a party, the FMLN’s statutes defined itself as democratic, revolutionary, peaceful, and socialist. The former insurgency institutionalized its nationwide structures of base committees and secretariats, and cultivated a base among radicalized rural communities, urban intellectuals, labor unions, organized university students, and other social movement groups. Throughout the dark neoliberal decades of the 1990s and the 2000s, the FMLN accompanied popular struggles against structural adjustment and right-wing repression from the legislature and in the streets.

The peace accords demilitarized the Salvadoran state and laid the foundations for a fragile liberal democracy, but failed to address the structural inequities of El Salvador’s economy, which remained firmly in the hands of a small class of elites, as did state power. Even before the war’s close, the ruling class — represented primarily by the quasi-fascist Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party — began to enact sweeping neoliberal reforms. With US support, ARENA zealously privatized the public bank, telecommunications, electric energy, sugar mills, coffee exports, and pension system; imposed the US dollar as the national currency; and signed El Salvador onto the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States.

The results were predictably disastrous for the country’s poor majority.

The low-wage, highly surveilled maquiladora employment that emerged in new deregulated, tax-exempt export processing zones for foreign investment could scarcely replace the tens of thousands of public sector and agricultural jobs lost to structural adjustment. The ranks of the informal sector swelled, and US-bound migration exceeded wartime levels. Income from migrant remittances soon outpaced that of maquila exports. The export of cheap labor fueled the expansion of the precarious service sector in the US, while remittances sustained the fragile Salvadoran economy, further entrenching the asymmetrical relationship of economic dependency and political subordination between the two countries.

Rising violence and organized crime further eroded living conditions for the Salvadoran working class. Racist anti-gang policing in Los Angeles and anti-immigrant legislation in the late 1990s facilitated the mass deportation of US-raised youths to El Salvador, some of whom carried the culture and practices of street gangs formed in US working-class neighborhoods and prisons. These groups flourished amid the unaddressed traumas of the recent armed conflict and the poverty facing many postwar Salvadoran young people.

With steady US support, ARENA responded to the growing crisis with repressive “iron fist” policing that only served to criminalize and alienate poor young men, radicalizing and fortifying gang structures. Gang violence and extortion, concentrated in struggling working-class Salvadoran communities, soon joined economic hardship as a driving force for northward migration.

These were the fraught conditions in which the FMLN assumed El Salvador’s presidency in 2009, aided by a swelling “Pink Tide” to the south and a relative diplomatic opening from the new Obama administration in the north, which offered the US’s first-ever neutrality statement ahead of the elections. The election marked the country’s first peaceful transition of power since the war, and the first time that popular progressive forces would govern in the nation’s history.

FMLN Gains

The FMLN’s 2009 presidential candidate Mauricio Funes was an outspoken progressive journalist and non-FMLN militant, enlisted to broaden the FMLN’s reach. Former guerrilla commander Salvador Sánchez Cerén joined him on the ticket as vice president. Sánchez Cerén, a former schoolteacher and leader in the historic ANDES-21 de Julio teacher’s movement that challenged state repression in the 1970s, also served as education minister under Funes and was elected president in 2014.

These administrations did not alter the structures of El Salvador’s highly concentrated, US-dependent economy. But they enacted unprecedented social reforms and investment aimed at the country’s most vulnerable and historically excluded populations.

The FMLN’s sweeping healthcare reforms abolished so-called “voluntary” fees at public hospitals and, following the Cuban model, established hundreds of community clinics across underserved areas, with prevention-oriented healthcare promoters providing regular home visits. The government built several new hospitals, including a national women’s hospital to replace the maternity hospital that had languished in disrepair after a 2001 earthquake as ARENA officials embezzled reconstruction funds.

New comprehensive “women’s city” centers provided onsite services including mental and reproductive health care, legal support, and job training. Maternal mortality fell from fifty-six deaths per one hundred thousand live births in 2009 to thirty-one by 2018.

Sánchez Cerén’s Education Ministry launched a national literacy program, designed and implemented with Cuban advisors, in which high school students fulfilled community service hours by teaching reading, writing, and basic arithmetic to adults in their communities. By the close of 2018, over 330,000 people, the majority elderly women, had learned to read and write, and one hundred territories were declared free of illiteracy.

In what became a signature FMLN policy, the administration removed barriers to public education by providing annual packets of school supplies to public elementary students, together with shoes and uniforms made by local small-scale producers. Public schools began to serve milk and a small meal of rice and beans, sourced from Salvadoran farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture distributed seasonal packets of native bean and corn seeds to small farmers — a program that was unsuccessfully challenged by the US for favoring local cooperatives over Monsanto. El Salvador had been reduced to importing most of these staples, but by 2012, domestic production was meeting national demand.

The Public Works Ministry was transformed from a notorious source of ARENA graft into an FMLN flagship. When the Funes administration completed an emblematic highway (the funds for which were brazenly stolen under the previous administration), they named it after martyred Archbishop Óscar Romero, now a saint, who was gunned down at mass in 1980 at the orders of ARENA party founder Roberto D’Aubuisson. The international airport was also renamed for Romero, and in 2012 Funes apologized on behalf of the state for the violence waged against civilians during the civil war.

From the legislature, the FMLN advanced key social movement priorities like The Law for a Life Free from Violence Against Women; the Gender Equality, Equity, and Eradication of Discrimination Against Women Law; a constitutional amendment to recognize indigenous peoples; and the National Law Against Metallic Mining, the first of its kind in the world to ban the environmentally destructive industry.

The FMLN also implemented an Access to Public Information Law and launched an open government portal on state websites. For the first time, public entities were mandated to publish yearly reports of their activities and spending. At the helm of the elections authority, the FMLN established a nationwide residential voting system, going from 460 voting centers in 2009 to 1,600 by the 2015 midterms, adopted measures to ensure suffrage for disabled and transgender voters, and inaugurated an international absentee voting system.

Sánchez Cerén modeled his presidency after Uruguay’s Pepe Mujíca. He opened the presidential residence to the public, remaining with his wife in their modest family home. His administration also discursively aligned itself with South American Pink Tide governments by adopting buen vivir, an indigenous notion of collective and sustainable wellbeing employed in Evo Morales’s Bolivia and Rafael Correa’s Ecuador. He also signed El Salvador onto PetroCaribe.

Under Sánchez Cerén, programs providing supplies, uniforms, shoes, and meals were expanded to high school, and several more women’s city centers were established. The University of El Salvador was made tuition-free for public school students, and the administration helped secure a major minimum-wage hike that increased salaries by 102 percent for the country’s lowest-paid workers.

Still, the administration saw fewer innovations than its predecessor. This relative moderation accounts in part for the FMLN’s declining support, and corresponds to both internal and external pressures that increasingly limited the administration’s ambitions.


While the FMLN oversaw a reduction in poverty and inequality, the party did not transform El Salvador’s prevailing modes of capital accumulation.

FMLN-governed municipalities had partnered with Venezuela since 2006 in the Alba Petroleos initiative, which used proceeds from subsidized Venezuelan fuel at Alba gas stations for community social programs. After the FMLN reached the presidency, former Communist Party militant José Luis Merino led an effort to build alternative capital, founding companies like Alba Alimentos, which sold local Salvadoran staples; Tu Financiera, which provided microcredit; and Veca, a new Alba-financed airline, which offered cheap Central American flights.

The fall of commodity prices at the start of the FMLN’s second term, however, dashed hopes that the anti-neoliberal bloc would provide the solutions to finance broader transformations and offset US influence. By 2018, most Alba gas stations had been shuttered, and Veca airlines had folded.

In addition, the party failed to make qualitative improvements to the country’s entrenched public security crisis.

The 2009 decision to increase military participation in police operations disturbed human rights advocates, who presciently warned that the remilitarization of public security would portend dangerous abuses. In 2013, journalists exposed negotiations between the Funes administration and the country’s top gangs that had sharply reduced homicides; the truce’s subsequent unraveling saw a spike in violence, and the fierce public backlash, together with a Supreme Court decision classifying gang members as “terrorists,” foreclosed on the possibility of future dialogue.

The Sánchez Cerén administration sought to center violence prevention in its security strategy, but right-wing obstruction in the legislature and courts blocked the funds for much of those initiatives. At the same time, the government escalated enforcement, cracking down on prison security and provoking further human rights concerns, even as public opinion in favor of hardline anti-gang policing remained resolute. Homicide rates rose, then fell over the FMLN’s two terms, but gang violence and extortion remain a dark daily reality for the most vulnerable Salvadorans.

More broadly, the party failed to deploy the state’s ideological institutions towards building a left cultural hegemony so as to better defend and radicalize the FMLN project.

The demands of governance took a toll on the party’s relationship with its base and allied social movements, as attention and resources were diverted to affairs of state and increasingly subordinated to electoral logics. At the same time, the aging leadership’s refusal to promote younger militants to top party posts, aversion to critique, and vertical decision-making fostered additional tensions among the FMLN rank and file.

These discontents were heightened after the massive 2018 midterm losses. Despite the clamor from movements and left intellectuals for a decisive affirmation of radical FMLN principles and policy, the government fumbled, waiting weeks to enact an unremarkable cabinet reshuffling. Rather than reassure its increasingly disaffected base, the lackluster response only fostered further alienation.

“The FMLN leadership has not listened to its base, it imposes decisions and has lost its revolutionary mystique,” declared the Social Alliance for Governability and Justice (ASGOJU) coalition in the aftermath, adding that “the discontent is also due to the government’s lack of political direction, weak presidential leadership, the failed strategy of ‘governability,’ neoliberal economic measures, deficient political communication, and the lack of cabinet changes.”

Together with ongoing right-wing destabilization, these shortcomings helped secure Nayib Bukele his share of former FMLN supporters. After ten years in power, the FMLN was no longer the party of change. Reluctant to return to ARENA, most Salvadorans cast their lot with the charismatic newcomer.


From the outset, the FMLN faced fierce obstruction and destabilization by the representatives of Salvadoran and transnational capital. From its bastions in the legislature, the judiciary, and the commercial media, the Right worked to sabotage successful FMLN governance.

No party achieved a forty-three-vote majority in the legislature, but by 2012, ARENA had overtaken the FMLN as the largest voting bloc. Measures requiring a two-thirds majority, like appointments for Supreme Court magistrate, Supreme Elections Tribunal magistrate, attorney general, and human rights ombudsperson, as well as the national budget, usually needed ARENA’s votes to pass, forcing negotiations. The right-wing parties consistently united to block social movement demands for legislation to guarantee equitable, universal access to food and water, and ARENA routinely held international loans and key budgetary measures hostage, seeking to provoke a fiscal crisis.

From the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber, magistrates rejected every FMLN initiative to balance El Salvador’s regressive tax system, abolishing a new 1 percent minimum income tax, a tax on financial transactions over $1,000, an income tax for newspapers, along with anti-tax evasion measures. The chamber also cut off crucial sources of public funding, most notoriously reversing the legislature’s emission of $900 million in government bonds.

The same magistrates adopted a cynical technocratic discourse of non-partisanship to purge leftists from top institutions. These decisions ran counter to the foundations of the Salvadoran political system, which rests on strong political parties. The chamber barred party members from occupying any post determined through legislative vote, ousting dozens of officials, including the FMLN president of the national elections authority (TSE) and his successor (for FMLN sympathies). The chamber ejected its own president for his FMLN membership, but left those with financial and familial ties to ARENA on the bench.

The court also unilaterally remade El Salvador’s electoral system, in brazen disregard for the peace accord’s designation of the TSE as El Salvador’s highest elections authority. The magistrates opened legislative and municipal races to independent candidates, ordered candidates’ photographs on the ballot, and allowed voters to select multiple legislative candidates across competing parties, effectively orienting the system toward charismatic individuals over collective projects.

The court then barred party members from serving as poll station volunteers. These decisions have generated confusion, chaos, and delays in recent elections. They prompted public confidence in the electoral process to plummet and advanced a depoliticizing ideological framework that portrayed collective struggle through partisan politics as passé.

In addition to the court, the Office of the Attorney General assumed a new antagonism towards the central government. Rather than investigating the over 150 cases of corruption against prior ARENA administrations that the FMLN documented and filed after taking office, prosecutors set about attacking ARENA’s enemies with great fanfare.

The recent, highly touted prosecutions of Salvadoran ex-presidents are illustrative. After enormous pressure from President Funes, the attorney general reluctantly brought charges against ex-president Francisco Flores (1999–2004) for the theft of at least $15 million in Taiwanese donations for victims of the 2001 earthquake, much of which was funneled into ARENA party accounts. Even after trying to flee the country, Flores was granted house arrest during his trial, and no co-conspirators were charged. Flores died during the proceedings, and the case was dismissed.

Former president Tony Saca (2004–2009), in contrast, defected to found the conservative GANA party in 2010; he was dramatically arrested during his daughter’s wedding party and jailed to await trial. Saca was convicted of embezzling hundreds of millions in public funds, but cut a plea deal; his relatively light sentence prompted speculation that the attorney general’s office negotiated leniency in exchange for protecting accomplices who remain loyal to ARENA.

After leaving office in 2014, Funes himself became the target of a series of investigations. In 2016, he sought asylum in Nicaragua in 2016 shortly after the attorney general invited the press to a spectacular raid on the former FMLN president’s house, live-tweeting random photos of Funes’s belongings, from permitted firearms to an aquarium. In 2017, he was convicted in absentia for failing to account for $400,000 in an audit; in 2018, he and thirty family members and business associates were charged with laundering and embezzling a staggering $350 million, allegedly used for luxury goods and services.

The attorney general is now seeking the former president’s extradition, though requests for Interpol to issue a warrant have been denied. The case is still unfolding, but the political cost to the FMLN is already incalculable. These selective prosecutions of ARENA’s adversaries won high praise from the US Embassy, but preserved impunity for ARENA and the class it represents.

Indeed, the United States worked hard to constrain the FMLN and impose policies that advanced the interests of US capital. In addition to ongoing restraints on US aid that encourage repressive security measures and private sector–led development, despite Obama’s previous promises of neutrality, the US actively intervened throughout the FMLN’s two administrations.

In 2013, the Obama administration conditioned hundreds of millions in US development aid on the passage of a public-private partnership law; after major social movement opposition led by public sector unions, the FMLN legislative bloc was able to exclude healthcare, education, water, and public security from the project. In 2014, the US again threatened to withhold aid, this time over the FMLN’s family agriculture program. The US ambassador also repeatedly threatened aid if controversial Supreme Court decisions were not respected.

After the FMLN rescinded diplomatic recognition of Taiwan in favor of China in 2018, the Trump administration temporarily recalled the US ambassador, slamming the FMLN and declaring US relations with El Salvador would be “reevaluated.” After the devastating decision to rescind Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans in the US, the rebuke fueled opposition accusations that the FMLN was jeopardizing US relations.

Together, the political obstruction, the campaign against (leftist) political partisans, and the high-profile corruption prosecutions helped foster a climate of cynicism and rejection not just of the FMLN, but of politics in general. This ideological work was amplified by the monopolized corporate media, which relentlessly railed against the government.

The Salvadoran media projected a constant crisis, amplifying acts of gang violence and portraying the FMLN as inept or corrupt, far outpacing the government’s capacity to publicize any successes. Public opinion of the FMLN and politics in general plummeted over the course of the Sánchez Cerén administration.

Such was the success of this barrage of negativity that a Central American University (UCA) year-end poll found 62.4 percent thought violence had increased in 2017, even as homicides fell significantly that year. In a 2018 UCA poll, 57.5 percent of respondents identified insecurity and gang violence as the country’s principal problem; when asked if they had personally been victim of a crime, 83.5 percent said no.

Despite a decline in poverty and inequality under the FMLN, the 2017 poll found 54.6 percent of respondents thought poverty had increased. The same poll found the top three most trusted institutions in the country were the Catholic Church, evangelical churches, and the armed forces; the least respected were the elections authority, the legislature, and political parties.


Facing obstruction and antagonism from the opposition, the FMLN’s project was also limited by its own political alliances.

The alliance with journalist Mauricio Funes ushered the FMLN into the presidency with a strong mandate and high expectations in 2009. But relations between the party and its “strategic ally” were tense throughout much of the term.

Funes surrounded himself with centrist, non-FMLN advisors, and he excluded party representatives from the economic cabinet entirely. Héctor Dada, founder of El Salvador’s Christian Democratic Party and representative of the small Democratic Change party that had endorsed the FMLN ticket, resigned from his post as economy minister in 2012 over the administration’s continuity of the neoliberal course, and Funes fired other appointees like the minister of labor and the president of the Salvadoran Institute for Women’s Development for their radicalism. Most damaging, however, was the subsequent Funes corruption investigation, which, however politicized, dealt a devastating blow to FMLN credibility.

The FMLN reached its legislative peak in 2009 with thirty-five seats, retaining thirty-one from 2012 to 2018, then falling to twenty-three. As its legislative share diminished, the FMLN negotiated a pact with the small right-wing GANA party. In exchange for GANA’s votes on key legislative measures, the conservative party was granted posts in the Sánchez Cerén administration, including the vice ministry of trade and industry. The FMLN also agreed to split the presidency of the National Legislative Assembly with GANA from 2015 to 2018, leaving GANA with control of the legislature for the final eighteen months of the term. These concessions further shrank the FMLN’s political horizon.

The FMLN was also constrained from within. In order to unite the party around the 2014 ticket, the popular five-term mayor of the middle-class San Salvador suburb Santa Tecla, Óscar Ortiz, was tapped as vice president. Ortiz represents a latent social-democratic “renovador” faction within the FMLN that challenged the dominant revolutionary socialist current in the 1990s; always cozy with the private sector, Ortiz courted capital under the title of commissioner for public and private investment in addition to his ceremonial duties as vice president.

Following the dramatic 2018 midterm losses, Ortiz executed a sort of bloodless coup, overseeing the ensuring cabinet reorganization and effectively taking over the government. He steered the administration to the right, unveiling a deeply unpopular proposal for a deregulated “Special Economic Zone” on the country’s eastern coast. The initiative earned a scathing editorial from the ARPAS community radio network, a longtime FMLN ally, declaring that the project “is the final neoliberal catastrophe of this ‘leftist government’ that abandoned the progressive project of structural transformations.” After the party’s presidential defeat, Sánchez Cerén announced that Ortiz would lead the transition team.

In electoral terms, however, the party’s most disastrous alliance proved to be its brief and ill-fated romance with president-elect Nayib Bukele.


The heir to an unusually progressive wealthy family of Palestinian descent, Bukele was not an FMLN member when he was tapped by the party leadership to run for mayor of the small San Salvador suburb of Nuevo Cuscatlán in 2012 at the age of thirty-one. His charisma and publicity savvy, however, earned him a formidable social media following with middle-class millennial voters, and Bukele consolidated his brand by bathing the city in his signature baby blue rather than the FMLN’s traditional red and white.

In 2015, Bukele was selected as the FMLN candidate to regain the capital city from ARENA, which he did decisively. Bukele styled himself an anti-establishment renegade, and he brought youthful energy to a party whose original guerilla comandancia still occupy the principal posts of power.

Bukele’s administration was far from radical, however; his governing slogan was “There’s enough money when nobody steals.” Bukele’s ambitions increasingly brought him into conflict with the FMLN leadership, all the more so as it became clear that he would not be tapped as the 2019 presidential candidate. In 2017, he was expelled by the party’s ethics tribunal after he called an FMLN city councilwoman a “witch.”

Bukele took thousands of supporters with him. He was ousted too late to run for reelection as an independent in the 2018 midterms, and over two hundred thousand voters heeded his call to turn in blank ballots. Many more stayed home. The FMLN lost the mayor’s seat to ARENA and was reduced to its lowest standing in the legislature since the 1990s.

But Bukele’s true ambition was the presidency. When the right-wing-dominated elections authority rejected his hastily formed “New Ideas” party, he sought an alliance with the tiny center-left CD party. The elections authority then dissolved the CD, and Bukele, even as he cast himself as a radical alternative to a corrupt political establishment, jumped onto the right-wing GANA party’s ticket. He was joined by vice presidential candidate Félix Ulloa, who was part of the FMLN’s diplomatic corps during the war but left the party in the 1990s to join a short-lived social-democratic party that advanced a less radical progressive politics; he later went into academia and consulting.

With GANA, Bukele capitalized on the pervasive cynicism fomented by the Right, honing a messianic, post-ideological populism. He continued to rally supporters against both the FMLN and ARENA, and called the FMLN “ARENA 2.0.” Putting his publicity savvy to work, Bukele addressed his followers via Facebook Live and deployed internet trolls to defame his detractors. He hedged against a potential defeat by claiming that the establishment was preparing electoral fraud.

Bukele refused to participate in a single presidential debate. Much of his platform was plagiarized, including from FMLN government documents. One of the document’s few original turns of phrase declared that Bukele’s administration would be “anti-neoliberal” and “pro-free market.” In the absence of any coherent political ideology or project beyond his own opportunism, Bukele has projected himself as a Bruce Wayne–like savior.

Feminist economist Julia Evelyn Martínez warned in July: “It seems that for Nayib Bukele and the group of people that accompany and advise him, the goal is not to transform politics, instead the goal is to get to the presidency, and if in order to get to the presidency they have to step on [people], make pacts with the devil, with the forces of evil, with corruption, they’ll do it.”

An Uncertain Future

Bukele’s GANA presidency is largely a monster of the FMLN’s own making. Sunday’s outcome is the product of a dangerous electoral pragmatism that, while successful in the short term, seriously weakened the party in the long term. As Pablo Benítez, a voice of a younger generation of Salvadoran leftists, reflected, “that excess of pragmatism is what has the FMLN in a crisis of credibility. . . . It’s because of that frustration that people feel for not having made fundamental, radical changes.”

Support for Bukele, however, confirms that the Salvadoran people are impatient for change. Unlike in Brazil or Argentina, El Salvador’s rebuff of the FMLN was not accompanied by an embrace of the traditional right. The question for the Left is whether it can regain the strength to offer a cogent alternative if and when Bukele disappoints.

With GANA’s meager ten seats in the legislature, Bukele’s administration will have little political support. It is not clear, furthermore, what class of policies his administration will pursue. Bukele was mercurial as ever on the campaign trail, but his sponsor, GANA, has opposed abortion and marriage equality (a position Bukele shares), and supported water privatization and the death penalty. Ten years of gains in public health care, education, and social inclusion may well be reversed, and the current social movement struggles for the decriminalization of abortion and against water privatization may face devastating setbacks. Bukele’s friendliness with the Organization of American States’ right-wing secretary general, Luis Almagro; support for Israel; and denunciations of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro suggest that he will likely steer El Salvador’s foreign policy to the right, further consolidating the region’s reactionary turn.

Some, like Julia Evelyn Martínez, have suggested it is time to rebuild the Left through a new party. Still, any effort to build a left alternative outside of the FMLN in El Salvador would face serious challenges. Though weakened, the FMLN maintains deep roots across contemporary Salvadoran social movements and an extensive organizational network throughout the country.

The Salvadoran leftist youth collective Progre summarized:

We understand the many obstacles that arise when pushing a progressive agenda from the Executive branch, we know clearly the obstacles that [the FMLN] faced in the Legislative Assembly without a majority and the need to secure votes from the Right; but none of that justifies the tolerance shown in the face of the corruption of some of its members, the timidity with which it pursued deeper economic transformations, [or] the lack of ideological consistency from the Executive initiatives like the Special Economic Zones project. . . . Despite that, we recognize that the FMLN remains the only political party with which we can ally in some of our collective battles, like the struggle against water privatization, improvements in public healthcare, defense of women’s rights, cultural policy, and more. . . . It is the FMLN that must renew itself and rise to the ethical and combative level of the Salvadoran Left’s struggles, of our people, and not we who should conform to their electoral interests.

Within the FMLN, a struggle is brewing for the soul of the party. While some advocate a return to the FMLN’s revolutionary roots, moderates like Ortiz appear to be consolidating political power. Together with fellow former Communist Party militants in the Alba group, Ortiz was rumored to be seeking an alliance with Bukele, foreshadowing a possible rupture.

The FMLN’s more orthodox party leadership, however, appears shaken from its complacency. The party recently announced it will hold its internal elections, scheduled for December 2020, in the coming months. Furthermore, the majority of the Political Commission’s members, including Ortiz, Sánchez Cerén, and Secretary General Medardo González, will abstain from any new positions, effectively excluding an entire generation of the party’s historic comandancia from continuing in internal positions of power. “There is a clamor for greater participation from our base, which is why this process will be carried out in consultation with our party militants. Today, we must promote greater participation of the new generations of revolutionary, capable, and ethical young people who can carry the FMLN forward,” said González.

In his victory speech, Bukele claimed to have “turned the page on the postwar [period],” urging his followers to look to the future, not the past. But El Salvador’s history of repression and resistance still palpably permeates the present. Deep inequality and impunity continue to structure everyday life, and the revolutionary project launched by the FMLN in 1980 is painfully incomplete.

As the region’s right gathers strength, the Salvadoran left demands a political instrument committed to its most radical emancipatory traditions. The FMLN has assumed that responsibility in the past; the coming struggles will determine whether it can do so again.

Copublished with NACLA.

by Hilary Goodfriend at February 14, 2019 02:38 PM

Victor Serge’s Heartache

In 1941, the Russian revolutionary Victor Serge fled Europe for Mexico — leaving his companion Laurette Séjourné behind. His private notebooks recount months of lovesick anguish, as he watched the war progress and waited for Laurette’s escape.


The following is adapted from Victor Serge’s Notebooks, 1936-1947 (edited by Claudio Albertani and Claude Rioux and translated by Mitchell Abidor and Richard Greeman), out in April from New York Review Books.

A lot of people wanted desperately to leave Europe in 1941. The Russian revolutionary and writer Victor Serge was one of them. Serge had lived in  Belgium and France since fleeing Stalinist persecution in 1936. While in exile, Serge maintained correspondence with the radical dissidents who had previously coalesced around the Left Opposition — including Leon Trotsky and his son Lev Sedov.

After the Nazi invasion of France, Serge hurriedly prepared to flee the continent, ultimately finding a spot aboard a ship headed to Mexico. Among his traveling companions were the pioneering anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Surrealist Andre Bréton, who booked passage on the same ship. Serge ultimately made it to his new country in 1942, just a few days after Trotsky’s assassination in Mexico City.

In Mexico, he threw himself into organizing against the Stalinization of the international socialist movement. But he was distracted. Serge’s partner Laurette Séjourné, as well as his daughter Jeannine, had stayed behind in Europe.

Month after breathless month first on board the ship, passing dusty Iberia, the open ocean, the green shores of Martinique; then finally at home in a Mexico alive with revolutionary activity Serge awaited her arrival. His private notebooks, soon to be published for the first time in English, recount his internal struggle in the midst of epochal change.

The Miracle of Your Arrival

March 24, 1941 — Shed 7, Pinède [the Cape Pinède basin on the port of Marseille].  Enormous, filthy stable. Standing around, long wait, document controls, lines. Your presence, us, confident, sure of ourselves, unaware of the separation. Your courage.

Embarkation. How lovely, brave, gay you are. Final moments: us in the bows, standing under the wooden construction, your radiant and sad smile. Your little blue coat with its squared shoulders that made my heart leap when I lost hope waiting for you at Lilas and you came out of the metro. I gaze through a mist, I clench my teeth. Unforgettable. Saddened. We move away from the high hull of the Florida, which separates us.

Happy that Vlady [Vladimir Kibalchich, Serge’s son] is here, tall and solid; happy for him that he’ll discover the world. I would like to stay. You.

For a long while we watch Marseille fade into the distance, Notre-Dame de la Garde, the ferry, our memories. Evening gently gilded, thoughts of your solitude, I stifle the urge to collapse. “Be strong—be hard—I’ll carry on—but really it’s hard.”

March 21, 1941 — Night. The spears of the searchlights hunt the skies for a little silver fish that’s said to be a plane, perhaps British. Someone is playing a harmonica in the dormitory. Beneath a weak bulb I read Leon Davidovich [Trotsky]. Some men are playing cards next door, swearing and spitting.

Suddenly the memory: window on the Cours Saint-Louis; tea, the evening, and you came and sat at my knees, your eyes. What are you doing now? Heartbreaking awareness of being carried along by a wind. Yet available and confident. That dust in the wind smells strongly.

The poem won’t come. It’s there in my head, but it feels itself so stunted, it struggles so weakly to find itself. Feeling of captivity on this floating concentration camp, with its stinking hold. Absurdity of a motionless boat in the shelter of a harbor. To be outbound, launched onto the sea, justifies all.

March 29, 1941 — Did I do the right thing in agreeing to this separation from Laurette and Jeannine [Serge’s daughter]? The distance grows with every turn of the propeller. Can we ever know what a separation is, what a separation will be? The comfort of thinking of Laurette’s eyes when she was encouraging me to leave. Temptation of the petty, submissive life with its guaranteed warmth — which we believe to be guaranteed but isn’t, or which evaporates. One drowns oneself in it. Forge ahead.

April 13, 1941 — Twenty-first day at sea. We see dramatic cities and mountains burst forth between the zenith and the horizon, and our freighter stubbornly carries its cargo of scrap iron, merchandise, and men across a prodigious flow of unreal metals.

The ship ploughs the ocean into the night. Sky overcast, clouds that in places appear phosphorescent, but it’s only an effect of the hidden moon. Warmth, space, the sound of the waves, slight rocking, the depths white and green like melted marble under the side lamps. I had a moment of intense solitude, a feeling not in the least painful, as if the sea and the future wouldn’t allow me to truly suffer. It seemed to me that I was quietly calling you in the night, as if this weren’t senseless. How wonderful it would be if you were here.

April 20, 1941— Twenty-eighth day of navigation. Went out onto the deck at 7:00 a.m. The morning light is milky yet transparent. An enchantment you breathe in, that penetrates you through the eyes and every pore of your skin — and touches your soul. The brain vibrates with a joy of being for which there are no words. We can see the island. A green isle, bathed in misty colors whose summits are like stones set in rings. It rests on the ocean; light seems to emanate from it.

The captain says: “The pearl of the Antilles . . . and the dishonor of France.” He explains: “Business dealings, crooked deals, abandonment . . .The sugar fields, the rum distilleries, etc.”

The island stands out more clearly. We watch it rise over the ocean, it emerges from it, a marvel. Vegetation streams down the slopes. In the distance the sugarcane fields are clear emerald patches. There’s nothing but sun. The mountain stands out against the background, its conical peaks a purplish blue. Green life spurts from the rock on contact with the sky. One could easily dream pantheistic dreams. What is the sun if not love?

Let’s not wander too far, even in this widening wonder. Clouds of tiny flying fish, like dragonflies, swarm out of the pearly-blue sea. One can see them stretching their fins underwater getting ready to leap. A group of porpoises, either panicked or pleased by the opportunity provided them by the passage of this freighter, swims alongside the bow and frolics in the waves. They are more than a meter long, brown and blue, with slender, gracious heads — intelligent, I believe. They leap so high their entire body leaves the water.

June 17, 1941— I shall not go mad. I have walked along the borderline of madness often enough to have become convinced of the impossibility, for me, of crossing it.

But I return to that borderline with an odd regularity, especially when you’re not here. I would suddenly find myself there when you used to go way for an hour or when you were a little late coming home. I’d be angry with you for plunging me into that state of despair, you whom I love, you who are my salvation, for your mere presence drives away the darkness. I’ve been thinking of this for two days, struggling unsuccessfully, depressed and feverish.

You know all this, you who are so sensible and honest, and I don’t always succeed in pushing away from you the cloud that passes over your face and your being and makes you turn a bit nasty, separates you from me, overwhelms you with faults and unhealthy sorrows.

“Cloud” is the right word for this, for it’s like a heavy cloud that suddenly blocks the sun, and the color of the landscape changes, the joy of living is converted to sorrow, and one can see the despair in the movements of the tree branches.

Beloved, what clouds are passing over you at this moment?

November 2, 1941— The Day of the Dead. On the street they sold little skeletons, white or golden, skillfully made; death’s heads made of sugar with green or red eyes and names written in sparkling colors across the forehead; buns in the shape of skulls or bones. Evocation of death in sugar and charms.

Went to visit the small cemetery and church of San Fernando right nearby. The tombs in the garden are overwhelming and lacking in style. Strange need to suffocate the dead beneath such heavy and pitifully proud stones. [Mexican revolutionary Benito] Juárez’s tomb, with no inscription, massive and simple. An arm perfectly expresses immobility, the end of strength. The head is noble and true, amazingly simple, one sees the fallen man, a powerful and serious man. Juárez has many profound similarities with Lenin: I find that the Lenin of Mexican independence is fully revealed by this marble statue.

I was alone. Thought about how over the course of our lives there are successes, and as I contemplated Juárez recalled one of our successes, our visit to the Wall of the Hostages on the rue Haxo [where the Paris Commune executed its most important hostages during its final days, including the archbishop of Paris].

Do you remember that gray afternoon? We were good together, intimately so, neither exalted nor jubilant, and Paris was gray, the Pré [Pré Saint-Gervais, where Serge lived upon his arrival in France in 1937] was gray. We went out shortly before twilight, walking the dull streets on the heights of Belleville, which always put me in mind of the barricades of the Commune. Rue Haxo, the small new church of white stone with brick walls and well-tended gardens, a passing cassock. A young and almost merry priest showed us the spot where the hostages fell. We entered an inquisitor’s office where another priest, emaciated and curious, asked us if we knew anyone who had recollections of the event.

You, his gaze fell on you. He thought we were father and daughter, doubtless with a slight suspicion. This bare office, papers and crucifix, severity, dryness, intelligence, sharp and cold. We so carnal together and so different from this corner of the world and completely on the other side. We returned via the Avenue Gambetta. I certainly kissed and caressed you when we got home, as we spoke of that world of organized faith that was closed to us, perhaps emptied of real faith.

Juárez, Lenin, Mexico, let this not be a mere descriptive phrase: man carved out of a single block; life, thought, and action all one; powerfully rooted in the soil, his own, his race; educated and intelligent, not an “intellectual” or a scholar at his desk nor a manipulator of ideas for the pleasure of it: knowledge in the service of life. Not a philosopher, a surgeon operating on a nation.

November 18, 1941 — Your Cuban transit visas have been confirmed. A ship arrives in Vera Cruz tomorrow, another is leaving Lisbon, a third will leave Casa in December . . . Is it possible, is it real that you are finally going to come? I am strangely unable to imagine what I most desire; I’m like I was during the last hours of my imprisonment, when I couldn’t believe in freedom yet I was telling myself that if I didn’t know I was going to be free in a few hours there would nothing left to do but kill myself. A black spot, at moments a great worry, your exit visa.

December 22, 1941 — I write these notes in light of the cable announcing that your trip is confirmed for early January. Would this be the end of the great anxiety? I think of your joy and don’t know how to measure mine.

I recognize everywhere the landscapes of another continent. The Popo [Mount Popocatépetl, near Cuautla] puts me in mind of the Kazbek; the reddish glow over on the plains at the foot of the mountains of the valleys of Georgia. But tall, upright cacti suddenly appear, from which the peasants make hedgerows. Others spread their large, oval, spiky leaves of a pure green in all directions. There are explosions of magueys, bouquets of gigantic grass.

Why do they seem so beautiful to me? It’s because they harmoniously, victoriously display vegetal energy; powerful, but not immoderate, on a human scale and in a way intelligible, since they are like a prodigious grass — while the cacti are disconcerting, strange.

I’m observing a beautiful orange cat. He toys with a lizard the way he’d toy with a mouse, allowing it to flee, hiding under a wad of crumpled paper, patiently watching as the lizard, playing dead, starts breathing again and feeling reassured. He snatches it carefully between his beautiful little white teeth to carry it to a convenient spot where he can play with it. He ultimately devours it slowly, swallowing it whole.

I made a movement, the cat grumbled, with a mistrustful look in his black-slitted yellow pupils. Does this creature in dark black glasses want to take his lizard — to eat it, obviously? The first signs of intelligence, carnivorous intelligence.

In the sky only one star shines, white. Here a darkened garden is in front of the church, tall crosses tilting to the right over old graves. Silence, star, mountain, spaces, three small bells high up in the pink-hued stone hold your gaze. I’d like to return here with you at this same time of day so I can, at a moment like this, feel your shoulder close and see this corner of the world reflected in your eyes. (All along the road the sturdy plants and the new flowers made me think of the happiness you’ll feel discovering them… )

Perhaps the ultimate function of intelligence: to contemplate, that is, feel the world becoming conscious of itself (Élisée Reclus). Surpassing carnivorous intelligence.

February 25, 1942 — Fourth day that I have been waiting for you in Veracruz. The latest worries don’t succeed in troubling my joy. At times the idea of the epidemic on board torments me. How many storms you traverse accompanied by our Jeannine with a smile on your face, my love. It seems to me that they must shun you, like darkness, the light.

February 27–28, 1942 — Veracruz, waiting for you.  I love you, I’m waiting for you, and you’ll help keep a fierce desire to work and fight. That’s far better, no matter the times. Ever onward is the best solution, as long as it’s available. The days of this extraordinary wait grow longer, as if fate wanted me to develop a taste for it. I feel strong and ethereal.

We visited Boca del Río by car, a fishing hamlet with palm trees, a restaurant (El Mago). Waves’ foam, dunes, thought of you… Ballet of fireflies at twilight. In the distance a boat, all lit up, entered the harbor. Briefly thought it was the Nyassa [the vessel carrying Laurette], rushed by car to the quay . . . It was a sorry little coastal tub.

March 2, 1942 — Yesterday, Sunday, Boca del Río, beautiful beach, palm trees. Evening, the wind picks up. Is this the final day of my wait? This morning, 8:30, ran to the dock: violent wind, difficult to walk. Packets of froth, blinding mist. Through my binoculars I try to examine a large trawler that has entered the port. Disappointed. A passing sailor says to me, “The other ship’s coming in,” and gestures toward the port. Through the gusts of spume I glimpse, behind Wenner-Green’s [Swedish millionaire, inventor of the home vacuum cleaner] yacht,, the outline of the Nyassa, tall and gray.

The Nyassa passes close to the dock in order to face the wind. In the stern a few people. Not you. Marceau is also fighting the wind in order to see. We question each other. No one? The Nyassa seems empty.

Ran onto the old dock with its waterlogged planks; terrible wind, people, handkerchiefs. Irritating to not be able to see the faces on board. Marceau is finally able to recognize his family, I seek you in vain, alarmed. There’s talk of epidemics on board.

Suddenly, glimpsed, all alone at the front of the ship, your silhouette, amazingly the same as always: orange sweater, your hair. Exactly like our first meetings near the Eiffel Tower. Motionless, you don’t wave, you look sad — alone. When you finally respond to my signs, I think I see you smile.

All of this is amazingly simple. Passed the day wandering around the city in the wind, returning hourly to the quay. Difficult to realize the immense joy. It’s so simply beyond me and renews me. You haven’t changed. Will you still be mine? I feel a bit of fear. A bit. Almost certain that our love has deepened, been sealed with a confidence, a will, and a tenderness touching on the absolute. Saddened not to see Jeannine, but you immediately understood my appeal and showed her to me.

Evening, went to see the Nyassa at anchor in the basin, completely illuminated. Thought of the long voyage, the risks, the miracle of your arrival. Love you.

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by Victor Serge at February 14, 2019 02:37 PM

Denver Teachers Win Steps Forward

Striking Denver teachers reached a tentative contract agreement this morning. Though they did not achieve all of their demands, Denver’s educators have wrested important gains from school privatizers — and shown once again the power of teachers withholding their labor.

alt Eric Blanc

After an all-night bargaining session, the Denver teachers’ union and the district reached a tentative agreement at 6 AM this morning to end their strike.

Most Denver teachers I’ve spoken with see the contract as a victory and are happy to be returning to school. Before this contract struggle, the district was offering zero base-pay salary increases; because of the push towards a strike, and now the strike itself, all educators will be getting between a 7 and 11 percent pay raise.

As is often the case, the biggest win of this work stoppage was workers’ increased sense of power and political consciousness. As Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) vice president Christina Medina told me this morning, “This week, a lot of us were able to make our voices heard — and to really see how there’s power in numbers, in workplace action, and in unity.”

Though DCTA was not able to get the district to drastically reduce the existing “merit pay” bonuses, it did win a large number of regular “steps and lanes” for salary increases. Up until now, salary increases in Denver were pegged entirely to contingent criteria like test scores and “Student Learning Objectives,” the benchmarks set by the district that teachers need their students to pass.

As such, getting a 7-11 percent raise, combined with the introduction of these “steps and lanes,” is a major victory for teachers and a significant move away from the corporate reformers’ agenda.

On the whole, Medina’s balance sheet of the agreement was positive: “We didn’t get everything we wanted, but this is a real win — we forced the district to listen to our demands to immediately increase base pay and, by getting regular ‘steps and lanes’ for wage increases, we’re taking a step away from the privatizers’ ‘merit pay’ system.”

Most teachers here are clearly eager to return the classroom, but since the tentative agreement was announced at 6 AM this morning, the majority of students and teachers won’t be in school until tomorrow. At the same time, a lot of educators I spoke with felt that they needed more time to discuss the terms of the agreement before returning to school — the process, in their view, was rushed, especially because there was no agreement reached yet on back pay for the strike.

And some agreed with what one teacher at East High told me this morning: “I think we’d be able to get more if we stay out for longer.” Some teachers have said on social media that they wanted to stay out on strike until teachers ratify the deal. The details on when and how teachers will vote on the agreement will be announced shortly.

It’s important for the growing teachers’ movement to start moving towards better practices for upholding union democracy and collective deliberation at the end of strikes. Doing so while under the gun of employers is no easy task. But it’s worth underscoring the relevance and importance of the Chicago 2012 teachers’ strike, where rank-and-file members took two extra days to discuss the tentative agreement before ratifying it. Such a precedent will be crucial to keep in mind in Oakland, which is next in line for the teachers’ revolt.

All in all, the majority feeling on the ground is that this was another important win for educators. Denver, like Los Angeles before it, hammers home a basic truth that the labor movement as a whole urgently needs to reclaim: strikes work. Whether in a blue state or red state — and whether in public education, Amazon, or the federal government — the greatest power that working people have is withholding our labor.

Perhaps most importantly, Denver’s work stoppage has helped generate the militant energy that will be required in the coming months and years to reverse privatization and to win the schools students deserve. Christina Medina put it well:

Teachers showed working-class collective power this week. We need to leverage and deepen this collective power to bring about the big changes that we have to see in Denver. We’ll need unions to fight for better funding and social justice in our schools, which means not only lower class sizes, but also getting more funding for services and support, hiring more teachers of color, and instituting a culturally relevant curriculum for our students. This is just the beginning.

by Eric Blanc at February 14, 2019 02:37 PM

Q&A with Erin Gautsche of West Philly Tool Library

West Philly tool library

The West Philly Tool Library was founded in 2007 to help make home repairs and maintenance more accessible and affordable for local residents. The library offers more than 4,000 tools to its more than 2,600 members, who pay for membership on a sliding scale.

by Paige Wolf at February 14, 2019 01:31 PM

Dreams of Sheep at Shepherd’s Dream

Shepherd's Dream

A few miles south and across the California border, I had just seen raw, local wool being carded and made into batting at  Woolgatherer Carding Mill, then stuffed and hand sewn into mattresses, toppers and pillows to be sold by Shepherd’s Dream.

by Heather Fordham at February 14, 2019 01:21 PM

Foods from the Holy Land

Palestinian food

From the back streets of Jerusalem to the markets of Nablus we take a journey through some of the most iconic foods, learning how they connect people, offering comfort and community and making tangible years of culture and history.

by Megan Perry at February 14, 2019 01:08 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Q&A: What of the Carbon Neutral Countries?

Dr. Armstrong Alexis, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative for Suriname tells IPS High Forest Cover and Low Deforestation (HFLD) nations need support as they continue to protect their forests. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
PARAMARIBO, Feb 14 2019 (IPS)

As High Forest Cover and Low Deforestation (HFLD) nations meet in Suriname at a major conference, it is obvious that the decision made by these countries to preserve their forests has been a difficult but good one.

“It is a choice that governments have to make to determine whether they want to continue being custodians of the environment or whether they want to pursue interests related only to economic advancement and economic growth,” Dr. Armstrong Alexis, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative for Suriname, tells IPS in an interview.

The UNDP and the U.N. Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) have been instrumental in the coming together of the group of countries under the HFLD umbrella.

Both U.N. bodies have supported countries with the design and implementation of national policies and measures to reduce deforestation and manage forests sustainably, hence contributing to the mitigation of climate change and advancing sustainable development.

Forests provide a dwelling and livelihood for over a billion people—including many indigenous peoples. They also host the largest share the world’s biodiversity and provide essential ecosystem services, such as water and carbon storage, which play significant roles in mitigating climate change.

Deforestation and forest degradation, which still continue in many countries at high rates, contribute severely to climate change, currently representing about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Amid this, Alexis says HFLD countries need support as they continue to protect their forests.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

For a long time Suriname has maintained 93 percent forest cover of total land area which has been providing multiple benefits to the global community, in particular, combatting climate change for current and future generations. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Inter Press Service (IPS): Can you give a brief synopsis of the work of the UNDP in Suriname?

Armstrong Alexis (AA): The UNDP is a partner in development in Suriname. We specifically focus on resources. We cover a whole spectrum of issues around climate change, renewable energy, the reduction of fossil fuels and adaptation and mitigation measures. We also focus on the issue of forests.

IPS: Why is this meeting important for Suriname, and what was the UNDP’s role in collaborating with the HFLD nations?

AA: Suriname is the most forested country on earth. Approximately 93 percent of the land mass of Suriname is covered by pristine Amazonian forests. So, with 93 percent forest cover, Suriname has traditionally, for centuries, been a custodian of its forests and have preserved its forests while at the same time achieving significant development targets for its people.

Given the role of forests as they relate to climate change and in particular the sequestration of carbon, Suriname genuinely believes, and the science will back that up, that Suriname in fact is a carbon negative country. It stores a lot more carbon than it emits. And there are a number of other countries in the world that the U.N. has defined as Heavily Forested Low Deforestation countries. These are countries that are more than 50 percent covered by forests and at the same time they have the deforestation rate which is way below the international average which I think is .02 percent of deforestation per annum.

These countries have come together through a collaborative effort supported by the UNDP and the UN-DESA.

We’ve brought these countries together because they all have a common purpose, they all have a common story and they all are working towards finding common solutions to ensure that there is:

  1. Recognition of the fact that these countries have traditionally maintained their forests and have not destroyed the forests in the name of development;
  2. Given the relevance of trees and forests to combatting climate change, that these are actually the countries that provide a good example and the best opportunity for serving the earth with high forest cover.

IPS: What is the way forward for the protection of forests?

AA: In every country where there are forests there are activities that result in two things – deforestation, where the trees are cut down and usually not replaced; and you also have what it called forest degradation where the forest is not totally destroyed but it is not as thick, it does not have as many trees and sometimes the trees are much younger for many different reasons, including timber production. So, you might be degrading the quality of the forest but not necessarily deforesting in total.

Those countries that form the HFLD have made commitments with the international community that they will continue to pursue their development objectives without necessarily destroying their forests. And destroying here means either deforestation or degradation.

It’s a challenge because in Suriname for example, the small-scale gold mining sector is the largest driver of deforestation—not timber production, not palm oil as in some countries, and not infrastructure.

IPS: So, what do you say to a country that has gold in the soil? That they should not mine that gold?

AA: It’s difficult to say that to a country when the economy depends on it. How do you say to a country don’t produce timber when the economy of the country depends on it?

There are ways and means of doing it [small-scale mining or timber production] in a sustainable way. There are ways and means of ensuring that in granting concessions whether it be for timber production or small-scale gold mining, that you take into consideration means and approaches for rehabilitation.

You have to take into consideration the biodiversity and the sensitivity of some of those forests and whether or not you value more the biodiversity of that area or the few dollars that you can make by destroying that area’s forests and extracting the gold and extracting the timer.

So, conscious decisions have to be made by governments and our role as UNDP is to provide the government with the policy options, which usually is supported by sound scientific research and data to indicate to them what their real options are and how they can integrate those options in the decisions that they make.

So, it is a difficult choice indeed, but it is a choice that governments have to make to determine whether they want to continue being custodians of the environment or whether they want to pursue interests related only to economic advancement and economic growth.

So far, they’ve done a good job at it. One of the areas that I want to emphasise is that a lot of this work cannot be done by the countries alone, because if you think about it, the market for the timber is not Suriname. The market for the gold is not Suriname.

Usually the companies that come into those countries to do the extractives, they are not even local companies. They are big multinational companies. A country like Suriname or Guyana—those countries cannot take on this mammoth task alone. They need the support of the international community, they need the support of agencies like the U.N., they need the support of the funds that have been established like the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility, the Adaptation Fund, and they need the support of the bilateral donors and the countries that have traditionally invested in protecting the forests.

The post Q&A: What of the Carbon Neutral Countries? appeared first on Inter Press Service.


IPS Correspondent Desmond Brown interviews DR. ARMSTRONG ALEXIS, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative for Suriname.

The post Q&A: What of the Carbon Neutral Countries? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Desmond Brown at February 14, 2019 11:56 AM

Love Beyond Borders

Love Beyond Borders banner

With borders hardening around the world, more people than ever are taking on the slippery, often tortuous challenge of proving their relationships to the authorities, which often boils down to having their love recognised as legitimate by the state. I’m one of them, or fear I soon will be.

by Niki Seth-Smith at February 14, 2019 11:22 AM

InterPressService (global south)

The Role Technology Can Play in Fighting Climate Change and Deforestation

Engineer Roberto Wong Loi Sing says technology has a very crucial role to play in fighting climate change and deforestation. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
PARAMARIBO, Feb 14 2019 (IPS)

At 51, Roberto Wong Loi Sing has spent nearly half of his life working in the field of engineering. But as he spends his days designing more efficient stormwater management systems, or water purification systems, for instance, the child in him comes alive as he combines his skills to find “win-win” solutions for the environment.

“On a practical scale, I am talking about things like water purification,” says Wong Loi Sing, who specialises in land and water management. “The child in me lives when we can combine things for a win, win. So, if I can design, if I can work in making better stormwater management systems but at the same time contribute to better land management, that would be ideal.”

He currently serves as the Leader of Projects at ILACO—an engineering firm in Suriname which is active in a wide range of studies and planning of development projects, among other things. The firm is also one of the local sponsors of a major international conference on climate financing for High Forest Cover and Low Deforestation (HFLD) countries, which the Caribbean nation of Suriname is hosting.

Wong Loi Sing, who spoke with IPS on the sidelines of the conference, says technology has a very crucial role to play in fighting climate change and deforestation.

At the macro level, he says technology can also help big polluters in the world reduce their pollution and become much more environmentally friendly.

“On a large scale, we, as experts in the field of technology, definitely have to take the lead role—not politicians, not economists, not financiers—but technologists, engineers, the scientists. [We] should make it so attractive for investors to be willing to invest in cleaner technology, greener technology,” Wong Loi Sing tells IPS.

“You have to invent. Your mind is the biggest asset that you have, and we are able,” he affirms.

Trinidad & Tobago-based KVR Energy Limited is one company that has taken military technology of Forward Looking InfraRed Optical Gas Imaging (FLIR OGI) and found innovative uses for it—such as using it to find hazardous gases.

The company uses an optimal gas imaging camera, which is considered a highly-specialised version of an infrared or thermal imaging camera, to find gas leaks “which would be otherwise impossible to find using conventional methods,” KVR’s regional manager Vikash Rajnauth tells IPS.

“The technology is not new, it has been used for military and defence, but this aspect of it is very special because it uses a specific tuning of a detector to find hazardous gases. We have worked on a methodology to use footage from the camera to quantify this gas . . . so this way we can put an actual dollar value to it,” Rajnauth says.

Most importantly, Rajnauth says they can also now put a value as to how many credits companies are using by producing hazardous gases and emitting them into the environment.

He explains that his company has already implemented the technology at British Petroleum (BP) and Shell, noting that they were able to get Shell in Tunisia to come onboard long before getting buy-in for the technology from Shell in Trinidad & Tobago.

“At the end of March this year, we will be entering into our first exercise with the Atlantic LNG facility in Trinidad to quantify gas leaks,” Rajnauth says.

But he also admits the technology does not come cheap.

“It has a spectral filter inside the camera. It also has a cryogenic cooler that cools a FLIR Indium Antimonide (InSb) detector inside the camera down to -321 degrees F. The technology is not cheap, but it pays back for itself in no time when we consider loss of containment, prevention of catastrophic failures and harm to the environment,” Rajnauth says.

Information technology consultant Camille Pagee says there are also low-cost solutions available to countries in the Caribbean to gather data. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Meanwhile, information technology consultant Camille Pagee points out that there are low-cost solutions available to countries in the Caribbean to use to collect data as they address climate change.

Pagee, the Managing Director at Connect Consulting Limited, has worked in IT in the Caribbean since 2004, following software development experience in Canada. Over the years she has gained experience in dozens of businesses, from large breweries to small companies and public agencies.

She says that in the Caribbean region, costly solutions and projects by both business and government have a high rate of failure, and she recommends that countries use the tools they already have at their disposal and to also start on a small scale.

“The truth is that climate finance is a subject that is very abstract, but it’s founded 100 percent on data. We are speaking as the HFLD countries and stating that we’re delivering a service and we’re demanding that services have a particular value,” Pagee tells IPS.

“How does business work, how does finance work? It wants to measure value. There’s a value to everything that we purchase and so we have to present a value to everything that we want to receive, sell, market or manage. And where does that come from? Data.”

Pagee says she has found that there are two main myths that have contributed to the high rate of failure of IT projects. The first is that collecting data is a very technical exercise.

“The truth is, every single day in our businesses, in our offices, at client service counters for government public service we are collecting data, some [of it is through] using simple tools like the old fashion ledger, while others conduct face to face surveys.”

Using her own company as an example, she says they have collected data from around the Caribbean trying to make use of simple every-day tools.

“We conduct face-to-face surveys to collect primary, real, current information about a range of things. It could be public opinion, it could be state of projects, it could be impact,” she tells IPS.

“My company [comprises] under 10 people, we have had clients in nine countries around the Caribbean, and in the past eight years we have collected 100,000 face-to-face interviews on points of data ranging from short questions–10 points to as long as 50 points.”

Pagee says the second myth is that data collection is a technical activity and complex projects require complex and advance project structures.

But she says most people, even in developing countries and HFLD nations are already preparing to collect data.

“We’re not lacking any of the tools. I am calling on those who are in a position to make decisions about big projects, especially relating to data which is especially related to the success of climate financing, climate measurements and carbon measurements – let’s think about the importance of small steps and small projects, community level activities,” Pagee says.

“Data is a product which continue to have value. It doesn’t lose the value if you collect it in small portions compared to collecting it in large portions. It all tells you the reality of your process, the success of your business efforts,” she adds.

The post The Role Technology Can Play in Fighting Climate Change and Deforestation appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Desmond Brown at February 14, 2019 10:50 AM

Succeeding Generations of Green— The Dean and AOC

John Dingell

John Dingell has had a hand—a hugely constructive hand—in nearly every major advance in social policy over the past five-plus decades, including civil and voting rights, health, and the environment.  

by Joel Stronberg at February 14, 2019 10:37 AM

Clodagh Harris on How Citizens’ Assemblies Rekindle the Imagination

Clodagh Harris

Citizens Assemblies are a powerful tool for hearing the thoughts of a population without the filter of political interference, lack of understanding, and the polarity that has been driven by social media and surveillance capitalism. But what are they, and how might Citizens Assemblies be a vital tool for creating the spaces that allow imagination back into our public life?

by Rob Hopkins at February 14, 2019 10:00 AM


(en) Czech, afed: Moscow: The released anarchist again arrested or who in Russia will be taken once, will never let go ... [machine translation]

At least, the current situation of Azat Miftachov confirms this traditional experience from Stalinist times. Yesterday, we published information on the raid of the Russian police, and on the same day the following information appeared about the development of the case: ---- On Thursday, February 7th, a trial was held to allow Azata Miftachov to extend his custody. "I just learned that my agent Azat Miftachov was released," said Azat's defense attorney Svetlana Sidorkin. ---- Azat Miftachov was arrested on February 1 and other students of Moscow University for alleged suspicion of explosives production. All arrests are members of anarchist organization. The others were subsequently dismissed as witnesses. Finally, the Balihichin City Court upheld the prosecutor's request and prolonged Miftach's bond. ...

by A-infos ( at February 14, 2019 09:18 AM

(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL Lorient - Let's support the Kurds against Erdogan's Turkey (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

The Kurdish people are divided between several states: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran ... In each of them, the Kurds see their cultural and political rights flouted. ---- In Turkey, the repression is particularly fierce. The Kurdish political leader and theorist Abdullah Ocalan has been imprisoned in Imrali prison-island since he was kidnapped in 1999, under conditions repeatedly denounced by the European Court of Human Rights: unfair trial, Isolation equated with torture ... In Turkish prisons and around the world, hunger strikes are carried out to demand the end of his isolation and his release ---- In northern Syria, the Kurds took up arms to fight "the Islamic State" (or Daesh) alongside a US-led coalition including France, a task that has almost come to an end. . The Kurds began to build a communal-based federal society where the rights of women and minorities are ...

by A-infos ( at February 14, 2019 09:13 AM


The following is a statement on the current political crisis and U.S. backed coup underway in Venezuela produced by Solidaridad, a libertarian communist political organization in Chile. In the coming days we will be publishing an additional statement written jointly by anarchist groups in Brazil and Uruguay. For additional analysis we recommend our archive of articles and statements on Venezuela. ---- Translation by Francisco C., Black Rose/Rosa Negra. ---- Original Link ---- A Public Statement on the Situation in Venezuela ---- Venezuela is going through a profound crisis of which it is impossible to exempt the responsibility of the leadership of Chavismo: the failure in opening a path that allows the country to overcome the ...

by A-infos ( at February 14, 2019 09:11 AM

(en) Spaine, aragon [CNT-Zaragoza]Our solidarity responds to the headquarters of Eurofirms ETT. [machine translation]

Last Thursday CNT Zaragoza held a picket in solidarity with a worker fired by Aniser Facility in Iruña, hired through the ETT Eurofirms. ---- On December 12, our partner Pape, affiliated with CNT in Iruña , received a letter of dismissal in which the management of Aniser Facility communicated the decision to terminate their employment, under the pretext of alleged disrespect company management personnel. ---- Pape was hired through the ETT Eurofirms , a company linked to Aniser Facility, which in turn is contracted by Euroestampaciones SA . ---- From CNT, we are clear that the real causes of his dismissal have been the claim by Pape to your company of your rights as a worker. In August 2018 he had to claim in writing his right to enjoy his paid holidays, and ten days before receiving the letter of dismissal had also shown in writing his dissatisfaction with the ...

by A-infos ( at February 14, 2019 09:11 AM