On Wednesday December 17, the United States admitted that its attempt to bully Cuba into submission had failed. This should be seen as a victory for the Cuban Revolution and its resilience against the relentless onslaught of the most powerful imperialist power on earth only 90 miles away from its shores. However, US imperialism has not given up on its aims: the restoration of the rule of private property and the destruction of the gains of the revolution. It has just changed the means to achieve the same result.
The ugly face of Obama's “hope we can believe in” has been starkly revealed. The extrajudicial killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice, all unarmed black males killed by white police officers, have set off an emotional firestorm of protests and outrage on a scale not seen in the US in many years. Even more than the deaths themselves, it was the refusal of two separate grand juries to indict the police who killed Brown and Garner that pushed things over the edge. In particular, the video of the murder of Garner, choked to death as he begged police to stop with cries of, “I can’t breathe!” has shocked Americans and the world.
America is number one . . . in its prison population. In the “land of the free,” several million humans languish in cages in the name of law and order. Since its exponential growth in the past four decades, there is not another nation on this planet that comes near America’s incarceration rate. Instead of being given the help they need most, the workers and youth who are hardest hit by the poverty, unemployment, and social decay endemic to capitalism are brutalized by the police and traumatized by hellish prison conditions until they no longer become a problem to the system. Furthermore the expansion of the prison system is used as a battering ram by the bosses against any resistance from an already battered working class; it comes hand in hand with a police force of titanic proportions and a dangerously draconian set of laws.
First came Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, with sickening revelations of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of the cynical conduct of US diplomacy. Then Edward Snowden exposed the full extent of NSA information gathering: anything and everything you have read, written, or spoken on the phone or internet in the last decade or more has been recorded and archived and can be retrieved at will. Branded as enemies of the state, traitors, and threatened with the death penalty, all three of them are either in prison or enforced hiding and exile. Now, the US government itself is hypocritically airing its dirty laundry in a cynical pre-election maneuver, fully corroborating these whistle blowers’ tales, and revealing even greater depths of government depravity.
Millions of US immigrants, their families, co-workers, friends, and supporters had their hopes for relief from their difficult conditions built up by advance hype for President Obama’s November 20 speech on immigration policy reform. All such hopes were cruelly shattered once the outlines of his policy shift became more clear—an outline with an uncanny resemblance to GW Bush's own proposals.
With each passing day, the stage is being set for a big showdown between workers and Quebec’s Liberal government. Since the government announced that they would attack municipal workers’ pensions (which effectively means a wage cut), tens of thousands of workers have been taking to the streets, participating in various actions and mobilizations across Quebec. The attack on pensions is also just a part of a much wider austerity package which is targeting childcare services, health care, and a myriad of other social services, all of which are part of the general social wage in Quebec won by the labour movement over decades of struggle.
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