1.-ES NECESARIO Y URGENTE UN CAMBIO DE RUMBO:
El peso que tienen las decisiones de los sindicatos mayoritarios, CCOO y UGT, sobre el conjunto de los trabajadores transciende, por la importancia de ambos, a sus afilados para marcar su impronta sobre el conjunto de los trabajadores españoles. Más allá de su papel de representación institucional en los comités de empresa, el modo en que afronten la defensa de los trabajadores, por acción o por omisión, nos afecta a todos, afilados a alguno de los dos o no.
1.- Hace ya 20 años que el Comité para la Abolición de la Deuda del Tercer Mundo (CADTM) se caracteriza por su combate contra de la deuda que los acreedores utilizan como un poderoso instrumento de dominación y de succión de riquezas. Sin descanso, el CADTM supo, a partir de esta cuestión, núcleo de su combate, tejer los lazos con las luchas del mundo entero, sobre temas diversos, con el fin de formular un análisis global del sistema capitalista y de avanzar en la formulación de alternativas.
La crisis está
causando estragos no sólo entre la gente que vive en
sino también a gente desahuciada por impago de hipoteca
y la juventud
que no puede independizarse. Las Administraciones sólo han apoyado los derechos de
en contra del derecho a una vivienda digna de las clases
La excusa orquestada han sido las campañas mediáticas de los medios de comunicación dominados por los grandes empresas del IBEX que han bombardeado sistemáticamente para crear un continuado estado de opinión contrario a las okupaciones ilegales de viviendas vacías criminalizando sin contemplaciones a las clases sociales más humildes.
‘The system is fucked’. That is the conclusion reached at the end of the film that has become in the last few weeks Brazil’s most succesful production of all time. ‘Tropa da Elite 2′ is the sequel to a film which itself broke box office records in 2007. It is, in the words of the film’s director José Padilha, unusual for such a politically and socially engaged film to meet with such success.
The first film depicted a series of invasions of favelas by the incredibly brutal military police known as BOPE. It was based on real accounts from former BPE agents, and focussed on the attempts to ‘clean up’ the favelas in preparation for the visit of the Pope in 1997. Some people interpreted the film’s tortured protaganist, Captain Nascimento, as an action hero mercilessly blowing away the bandits, which was not precisely the intention of the film makers. Any kind of gung-ho interpretation of the sequel is not possible. In the new film Captain Nascimento joins forces with a prominent human rights activist to challenge the growing power of the milícias, mafia gangs mostly made up of former (and often serving) police officers who dominate life in many of the favelas, charging extortionate rates for services such as electricity and gas supplies, cable TV and internet, and threatening, beating and murdering those who stand up to them. The film depicts the way in which they have taken over from the drug gangs that used to dominate crime in the favelas, and also highlights the levels of corruption which permit and sustain their activity, reaching up to the highest echelons in the political system: corrupt politicians in the Rio government and in Brasilia itself - hence the stark and bitter conclusion to the film.
After the recent successful operation by the military to expel the drug trafficking gangs from their strongholds in certain favelas, police officers moving into areas previously outside their control were accused by residents of acting ‘just like in the film’ - demanding favours and a share of the income of local businesses. However in recent weeks the focus in the media has not been on the militias themselves, but on the drug gangs.
The drug gangs appear to be on the wane, but the power of the militias is much more deeply entrenched. Through intimidation and bribery they manage to get their own representatives elected to the city council, in order to protect and promote their interests. As for where the proceeds from extortion go, the profits do not all go into the pockets of those further up the scale, but also subsidise the pitifully low salaries of the police, who because they earn only around $800US per month often moonlight as private security guards, either independently or with the mafias. The book of the film even goes as far as to say that in Rio, the problem of violent crime is the police.
In Brazil the police and the military are know as the ‘public security’ forces. However, according to Marcelo Freixo, there is no such thing as public security. He is well placed to judge; for the last number of years he has been a human rights activist fighting against police corruption in the city. It is on Freixo that the character in the film who tries to take on the mafia gangs is based. He has also just begun his second term as a representative on the city council, on behalf of the Socialism and Freedom Party, which split from the ruling Worker’s Party in 2002.
In that capacity has sought to uncover corruption, to expose links between the mafias, the police and politicians, and it was he who instituted a far-reaching public inquiry into these questions. The recommendations that the inquiry produced have still not been implemented. Although the character in the film has a different name, in the book of the film he appears under his own name, and so he has gained a significant profile as someone prepared to challenge power in its most dangerous form. The film and the book both show clearly the terrible dangers that anyone brave enough to stand up to the milícias faces.
It is significant that in the first ‘Tropa da Elite’ film the favela is being cleaned up to ensure security for the visit of an international VIP, the Pope. Ten years later the Pan American Games saw the then governor of Rio reportedly embarking on a campaign to ‘retake the favelas’. The games brought new stadiums and a great deal of investment to some of the wealthier parts of the city, but, in the words of a community activist in one of the favelas, delivered ‘nada para os moradores’ – nothing for the people who actually live in the poorer parts of the city.
More recently the Rio government has launched a campaign to install police posts in some of the areas they were previously afraid to enter. By and large this has been a success in the limited areas where it has been implemented, and the events of the last few weeks, with supposedly impregnable strongholds of the drug gangs invaded and occupied in a very short space of time, have taken everyone by surprise, not least the drug gangs themselves. But as the film shows and as activists such as Marcelo Freixo have tried to make clear, the corruption and violence which blight the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout Rio is not at this stage directed or controlled by the drug gangs, but by the militias, whose power is more deeply entrenched.
It is very clear what the impetus for this current campaign to retake certain favelas is about: it is in preparation for the coming of the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games two years later. As an increasing amount of people around the world are aware, there is a history of the poor being shunted out of town to make way for these mega-events, as we have seen recently in Beijing, where the residents were impolitely requested to stay inside their homes so as not to get in the way of the important foreign guests, and in South Africa, where a movement sprung up fuelled by outrage at the forced evictions of shack dwellers to enable corrupt land deals backed up by the full force of the state.
Remaking the city for such events is not just a cosmetic exercise - it forms part of a strategy to remake the host city more amenable for business interests and tourism. It is also a means of forcing up rents and land and property prices - poverty that can not be physically forced out of sight and out of mind will not be able to withstand the increase in the cost of living as speculators move in - which raises the question of where the poor are to live. In the 1960s and 1970s the answer to the ‘problem’ of the favela was to uproot and force entire communities away from the centre, to the far west of the city. It has been suggested - and evidence shows - that this is what the preparations for the upcoming events will bring about.
Rio is said to be the capital of informality. The favelas are held to be one of its charms, and the views from some of the those located close to the centre are some of the most iconic images of the city. In Rio, the spontaneity and chaos are very much selling points, and the city is sometimes idealised as a space of democracy: rodas de samba, carnival and the beach, spaces which everyone, rich and poor, shares. Reality often and clearly contradicts this picture; the other side of this unboundedness is social exclusion, the threat of violence and the reality of third-world levels of deprivation. Tourists now flock to favelas on organised tours to get a closer look at this curious mix of heaven and hell. But if these spaces of informality are to be formalised, for whose benefit will it be? For the people who live there, or for the rich visitors? And to whom will these spaces belong once the VIPS have left?
Mega-events such as the Olympics and the World Cup seek to submit all local control to commercial interests backed up by the legal and physical might of the state, and to channel and control all surrounding economic activity in such a way as to benefit certain formal interests which operate, as Andrew Jennings has ably demonstrated, in a world of backhanders and sweeteners. The reality behind the airbrushed images is one of extortion and bribery, both formal and informal. Given the obscene corruption of FIFA and the Olympic Committee, amply documented on this site, and given the recent history of the brutal displacements in Beijing and South Africa, it is clear that corruption in Brazil is about to move up to another level. Fortunately there are signs of a growing movement in Rio to begin to expose and challenge the attempt to remake the city in the interests of corrupt international cartels which are much more powerful, but in a way very similar, to the mafia gangs that seek to control and exploit Rio’s favelas. It is, after all, in the words of Captain Nascimento, no accident that favelas exist in the first place.
Huerga | Ingeniero aeronáutico y militante de Izquierda Anticapitalista | Diagonal
AENA: LA BÚSQUEDA DE BENEFICIOS INFLUIRÁ EN LAS MEDIDAS DE SEGURIDAD AEROPORTUARIADespués de nueve decretos para debilitar a los controladores, el Gobierno planteó la privatización parcial de Aena, lo que repercutirá en todo el sector.El 3 de diciembre, los controladores aéreos de distintos aeropuertos españoles se ausentaron de sus puestos de trabajo, ocasionando el consiguiente caos aéreo, el cual a su vez hizo que el Gobierno español declarase el estado de alarma. Hay una serie de datos que hay que tener claros para entender el conflicto.
Michel Husson offers a contribution to the debate on how the European left should respond to the economic crisis and argues that leaving the euro is not currently an option for countries which use it.
The global effects of the crisis have been made even worse by what is happening in Europe. For thirty years the contradictions of capitalism have been overcome with the help of an enormous accumulation of phantom rights to surplus value. The crisis has threatened to destroy them. The bourgeois governments have decided to preserve them claiming that we have to save the banks. They have taken on the banks’ debts and asked for virtually nothing in return. Yet it would have been possible to make this rescue conditional on some assurances. They could have banned speculative financial instruments and closed the tax loopholes. They could even have insisted that they take responsibility for some of the public debt that this rescue increased so dramatically.
We are now in the second phase. Having shifted the debt from the private sector to the public the working class has to be made to pay. This shock therapy is delivered through austerity plans which are all broadly similar – a cut in socially useful spending and hiking up the most unfair taxes. There is no alternative to this form of social violence other than making the shareholders and creditors pay. That is clear and everyone understands it.
The collapse of a ruling class plan
But the European working class is also being asked to pay for the collapse of the ruling class project for Europe. The ruling class thought that it had found a good system with the single currency, the budgetary stability pact (“Stability and Growth Pact”), and the total deregulation of finance and the movement of capital . By creating a competition between social models and wage earners squeezing wages became the only means of regulating inter-capitalist competition and intensifying the inequalities that benefitted only a very narrow stratum of people in society.
However this model put the cart before the horse and wasn’t viable. It presupposed that the European economies were more homogeneous than they actually are. Differences between countries increased due to their place in the global market and their sensitivity to the euro exchange rate. Inflation rates didn’t converge and interest rates favoured property bubbles and so on. All the contradictions of a curtailed programme of European integration which the Euro liberals are discovering today existed before the crisis. But these are blowing apart under speculative attacks against the sovereign debts of the most exposed countries.
Underneath the abstract concept of “financial markets” there are mainly European financial institutions which speculate using capital which states lend to them at very low interest rates. This speculation is only possible due to the states’ policy of non-intervention and we should understand it as a pressure applied to consenting governments to stabilise budgets on the back of the people of Europe and to defend the banks’ interests.
Two immediate tasks
From the point of view of the working class it’s obvious what has to be done: we have to resist the austerity offensive and refuse to pay the debt which is nothing but the debt from the banking crisis. The alternative plan on which this resistance must be based demands another way of sharing society’s wealth. This is a coherent demand. It is in fact against the squeezing of wages, in other words the appropriation of an increasing portion of surplus value by capital.
The alternative requires a real fiscal reform which takes back the gifts which for years have been given to businesses and the rich. It also implies the cancellation of the debt. The debt and the interests of the majority of the population are completely incompatible. There can be no progressive outcome to the crisis which does not put the debt in question, either by defaulting on it or restructuring it. In any case some countries will probably default and it’s therefore important to anticipate this situation and say how it should be managed.
Leaving the euro?
The offensive, which the peoples of Europe are facing, is undeniably made worse by the European straightjacket. For example the European Central Bank, unlike the Federal Reserve in the United States, cannot monetise public debt by buying treasury bonds. Would leaving the euro allow the straightjacket to be loosened? That is what some on the left like Costas Lapavitsas and his colleagues are suggesting for Greece as an immediate step. He proposes that it is done immediately without waiting for the left to unite to change the euro zone, something he thinks is impossible.
This idea is put forward elsewhere in Europe and is met with an immediate objection that even though Britain is not part of the euro zone it has not been protected from the climate of austerity. It is also easy to understand why the far right, such as the Front National in France wants to leave the euro. By contrast it is hard to see what could be the merits of such a slogan for the radical left. If a liberal government were forced to take such a measure by the pressure of events it is clear that it would be the pretext for an even more severe austerity than the one we have experienced up to now. Moreover it would not allow us to establish a new balance of forces, which is more favourable to the working class. That is the lesson that one can draw for all the past experiences.
For a left government leaving the euro would be a major strategic error. The new currency would be devalued as that is, after all, the desired objective. But that would immediately open up a space, which the financial markets would immediately use to begin a speculative offensive. It would trigger a cycle of devaluation, inflation and austerity. On top of that, the debt, which until that point had been denominated in euros or in dollars would suddenly increase as a result of this devaluation. Every left government which decided to take measures in favour of the working class would certainly be put under enormous pressure by international capitalism. But from a tactical point of view it would be better in this test of strength to use membership in the euro zone as a source of conflict.
It is basically true that the European project based on the single currency is not coherent and is incomplete. It removes a variable of adjustment, the exchange rate, from the set of different prices and salaries inside the euro zone. The countries in the periphery thus have the choice between the German path of freezing wages or suffering a reduction in competitivity and loss of markets. This situation leads to a sort of impasse and there are no solutions that can be applied straight away: going backwards would throw Europe in a crisis which would hit the most fragile countries hardest.; and beginning a new European project seems out of reach at the moment.
If the euro zone explodes the most fragile economies would be destabilised by speculative attacks. Not even Germany would have anything to gain because its currency would appreciate in value uncontrollably and the country would undergo what the Unites States is today trying to impose on several countries with its monetary policy.[ii]
Other solutions exist which need a complete recasting of the European Union: a budget which is financed by a common tax on capital and which finances harmonisation funds and investments which are both socially and ecologically useful and richer countries help poorer ones with their public debt. But again this outcome is not possible in the short term, not through lack of alternative plans but because implementing them requires a radical change in the balance of forces at the European level.
What should we do at a very difficult moment like this? The struggle against the austerity plans and refusing to pay the debt are the launch pad for a counter offensive. We then have to make sure that the resistance is strengthened by arguing for an alternative project and work out a programme which offers both “practical” answers as well as a general explanation of the class content of the crisis.[iii]
The specific task of the radical, internationalist left is to link the social struggles happening in each country with arguing for a different kind of Europe. What are the ruling classes doing? They are facing up to the policies they have to follow because they are defending interests which are still largely nationally based and contradictory. Yet as soon as they have to impose austerity measures on their own working classes they present a solid united front.
There are better things to do than emphasise the very real differences that exist between the countries. What’s at stake is having an internationalist point of view on the crisis in Europe. The only way of really opposing the rise of the far right is by suggesting other targets than the usual scapegoats. We can affirm a real international solidarity with the peoples who are suffering most due to the crisis by demanding that the debts are shared equally across Europe. Thus we have to oppose an alternative project for Europe to that of the European bourgeoisie which is dragging every country backwards socially. How is it possible not to understand that our mobilisations, which are faced with coordination of the ruling class at a European level, need to be based on a coordinated project of our own? While it is true that struggles happen in a national framework they would be strengthened by a perspective like this instead of being weakened or led down nationalist dead ends. The students who demonstrated in London chanting “all in this together, all in this together” are a symbol of this living hope.
For a European Strategy
The task is as difficult as the period which the crisis has opened. However the radical left must not get locked into the impossible choice and start the risky adventure of leaving the euro and a utopian idea of currency harmonisation. We could easily work on some intermediate targets which challenge the European institutions. For example:
· The states of the European Union should borrow directly from the European Central Bank (ECB) at very low rates of interest and private sector banks should be obliged to take over a a certain proportion of the public debt.
· A default mechanism should be put in place, which allows public sector debt to be written off in proportion to tax breaks for the rich and money spent on bank bailouts.
· Budgetary stabilisation has to be reformed by a fiscal reform which taxes movements of capital, financial transactions, dividends, large fortunes, high salaries and incomes from capital at a standard rate across Europe.
We have to understand that these objectives are neither further or closer away than an “exit from the euro” which would be beneficial to working people. It would definitely be absurd to wait for a simultaneous and co-ordinated exit by every European country. The only strategic hypothesis that one can then conceive of must take as its starting point the experience of a social transformation which starts in one country. The government of the country in questions takes measures, for example imposing a tax on capital. If it is thinking clearly it will anticipate the retaliation for which it will be the target and will impose controls on capital. By taking this fiscal reform measure it is openly in conflict with the rules of the European game. It has no interest in unilaterally leaving the euro. This would be an enormous strategic mistake since the new currency would immediately come under attack with the aim of pulling down the economy of the “rebel” country.
We have to give up on the idea that there are “technical” shortcuts, assume that conflict is inevitable and build a favourable balance of forces of which the European dimension is a part. One point of support for that is the ability to damage capitalist interests. The country, which starts, could restructure the debt, nationalise foreign capital etc, or threaten to do it. The “left” governments of Papandreou in Greece or Zapatero in Spain have not even dreamed of doing this.
The main point of support comes from taking the measures cooperatively. This is completely different from classic protectionism, which basically always tries to gain ground by nibbling at parts of the global market. Every progressive measure on the other hand is effective to the extent that it is shared across a number of countries. We should therefore be talking about a strategy, which is based on the following idea: we are willing to tax capital and we will take the necessary steps to protect ourselves. But we are also hoping for these measures, which we propose, to be implemented across Europe.
We can sum up by saying that rather than seeing them in opposition to each other we have to think hard about the link between breaking the neoliberal European project and our project of creating a new Europe.
[ii] Michael Hudson, “US Quantitative Easing Is Fracturing the Global Economy”, http://gesd.free.fr/hudsonqi.pdf[iii] Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc) Portugal: “On the crisis and how to overcome it”, May 23rd 2010, http://gesd.free.fr/bloco510.pdf