Friday, November 29, 2013

Improving the well being of the majority: Nicaragua and ALBA

An interview, by Liz Light the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, representative in Nicaragua, with Carlos Fonseca, FSLN international department, in advance of his UK visit 3-13 December.

Issues canvassed: Councils for Citizens Power, ALBA, gender equality, International solidarity.

What are the key messages that you want to get across during your visit to UK? In the first instance to explain the direction the FSLN has defined for the revolutionary transformation of Nicaraguan society, how this manifests itself in economic and social policies and programmes and the political model that we are promoting. Fundamental is the achievement of improvements in the living conditions for the majority of the population. Politically speaking it is incredibly important that the international community and progressive forces in the world know what we are doing, since there are detractors who attack the FSLN and seek to disparage our credibility.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

El Salvador: Embedding Neoliberal Policy

US & Allies Promote 30-Year Neoliberal Policy Pledge for Salvadoran Presidential Candidates

On Friday, November 1, all presidential tickets save the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) candidates publicly signed onto an elaborate  “Nation’s Agreement” policy document that would guide El Salvador’s economic and social policies for the next 30 years, regardless of the party in power. The signing ceremony was attended by US, Mexico, Chile and Peru’s ambassadors—all right-wing nations and, notably, parties to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement that would swallow 12 coastal nations along the Pacific Ocean; the TPP threatens to super-size the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) model that has devastated local agriculture, labor standards and environmental protections across the region.

Right-wing presidential candidates joined to sign the pledge
FMLN spokesman Roberto Lorenzana explained the FMLN’s refusal to sign the Nation’s Agreement, saying that it “contains an implicit reduction in social spending…we could never sign anything that commits to eliminating or reducing social programs.” Lorenzana revealed that the proposal includes measures like increasing the sales tax and raising taxes on small businesses, policies that FMLN candidate and current Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén opposes. In fact, on Wednesday, October 30, President Funes presented a bill to the Legislative Assembly that would ensure the continuity of many of the groundbreaking social programs pioneered under the first FMLN government regardless of the outcome of the 2014 presidential elections, including the Women’s City service centers, free school supplies, uniforms and milk for students, pensions for the elderly in impoverished municipalities, and more.

The legal nature of the Nation’s Agreement is unclear, but the right-wing parties’ commitment to a common policy document further evidences the fact that, despite the fierce campaign discourse, little differentiates the FMLN’s electoral opposition from one another and from the failed neoliberal policies of the past. While El Salvador is not among the nations poised to enter the TPP, this agreement seeks to ensure that the ideologies that drive the TPP are cemented into Salvadoran policy for the foreseeable future. This effort stands in stark contrast to the FMLN’s platform, which embraces alternative development models championed by South American nations like Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Philippines Typhoon: Urgent Appeal for Funds

A Message from the Philippines Solidarity Network

You don’t need me to tell you about the utter catastrophe that has just devastated the central Philippines. It is receiving unprecedented saturation coverage in the NZ media (which shows just how bad it is, because the NZ media usually ignore the Philippines).

This was a storm like no other, with wind speeds higher than ever before recorded and a storm surge that was basically a tsunami.

The Filipino people continue to pay the ultimate price for global climate change. And the situation is made much worse by the unjust structure of Philippine society. In recent days media reports have described it as “an impoverished country”. On the contrary, it is a very rich country, with a huge number of very poor people.

The Philippines suffers from criminal, wilful negligence by local and central government – they do not build or maintain infrastructure to control floods and provide protection from storms, so this catastrophe has caused massive loss of life and damage, impacting most on the poor. A lack of care by the ruling class rich for the vast majority who are the poor; institutionalised corruption; and skewed priorities, whereby the military gets the lion’s share of the national budget, mean that millions of Filipinos are left exposed and in harm’s way.

PSNA is not a relief agency or a development agency but we can’t stand idly by while poor Filipinos suffer in huge numbers.

If you wish to donate, do so via PSNA and our good friends at Christian World Service will transmit the money to the National Council of Churches of the Philippines for us, in one lump sum (doing it that way means that none of the money raised has to be spent on the extortionate international money transfer fees charged by banks).

You can send your donation by cheque to:

Box 2450, 
Christchurch 8140 

Accompany it with a note saying “disaster appeal”, and include your e-mail address, so that we can acknowledge it.

Or you can deposit your donation directly into PSNA’s bank account:

Philippines Solidarity Network
Kiwibank, 155 The Terrace, Wellington
389000 0792619 00

Include your name and “disaster donation”.

And please e-mail us, to tell us that you’ve made the deposit, so that we can look out for it online.

Murray Horton

Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa