World Beat

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Fascist-leaning government targets Kurds and dissidents

Recent assaults against progressives at home and Kurdish people in both Turkey and northern Iraq show that the Turkish government is anything but the liberal, democratic regime its Western allies claim.

In March, Turkey sent 35,000 troops into Iraq against bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which represents Turkish Kurds fighting for an independent state. In its campaign of suppression against the Kurdish national minority, Turkey has banned their language and cultural organizations, outlawed the PKK, jailed thousands, burned 2,000 villages, and killed at least 60,000 people.

Turkey, a new European Customs Union partner, is in the midst of a full-blown economic crisis. This is engendering both strikes and a fascist mobilization, which is more and more taking over the state.

The fascist National Movement Party now has 20 parliament seats, and its members and supporters make up two-thirds of Turkey’s enormous police force. The group is believed to be responsible for a series of physical attacks on leftist students and for the police shootings of at least 30 people demonstrating against those attacks.

Huge strikes challenge privatization

In May, 300,000 Brazilians went on strike to resist plans to sell off the country’s nationalized industries and services.

Employees of Petrobras, the state-owned oil giant, had been promised a 26 percent raise. They stayed out for 31 days, until the government threatened mass firings. New president Fernando Henrique Cardoso had already sent in army units to operate four refineries.

Cardoso must prove to international creditors that he can payoff Brazil’s massive debt while avoiding economic collapse. His Plano Real aims to generate big bucks through the sale of public assets and fight inflation by tying the value of Brazil’s currency to the dollar.

But this will depress wages and conditions in a nation where the rift between rich and poor is already the second-greatest in the world, after Uganda.

The recent strikes were by unions in the United Labor Federation, allied with the Workers Party (PT). Walkouts by auto workers protesting the military dictatorship led to the PT’s 1980 founding as a “party without bosses.” But the PT began to abandon its workingclass program in an effort to win elections, and by 1992 it was endorsing capitalist development. It joined the bourgeois parties in pressuring the oil workers to end their strike in June.

Brazil’s workers have demonstrated that they can shut the country down. Now all they need is a political party willing to show that they can also take the country over and run it!

Rightward shift in Labor Party

In militant strikes and rallies, British nurses, teachers, and other workers have been protesting the Tory agenda of privatization, paycuts, layoffs, and union-busting. In May, voters protested via local elections.

The ruling Conservative Party lost 54 local governments and almost 1,800 council seats; in Wales and Scotland, all Tory council members were ousted.

The Labor party gained 1;400 seats and control of 37 city councils. Recently, Labor and union bureaucrats have pushed the party rightward. They have joined the government in condemning strikes and back-pedaled on demands for full-employment, a minimum hourly wage of eight-dollars, and public education and healthcare.

In April, after a bitter fight, they also amended the party’s success at the ballot box vildates their program of capitulation. But by tossing out the Tories, workers did not vote their approval of concessions, but their repudiation of them. Labor will not keep its new seats unless it shows that it can set Britain on a truly new course.

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