The economic situation facing the masses in Venezuela has suffered a sharp turn for the worse over the Christmas period. The problems that already existed have worsened, with prices spiralling out of control, a further collapse of the transport system and an aggravation of scarcity (of food, fuel and cash). This has led to scattered protests and incidents of looting.

 Neither taxation nor privatization will keep our water clean, bridges safe, or roads intact. Taking control over these essentials means a fight against those who hold them–and us–hostage under a failing system.

Following huge protests against counter-reform of the pensions system in Argentina in December, the right-wing Macri government has launched an offensive of repression and criminalisation against left-wing organisations and activists. Two members of the Partido Obrero (Workers’ Party) have been arrested, and several activists from other organisations (including members of parliament) have been indicted. The International Marxist Tendency expresses its solidarity with the comrades, demands the end to all repression and calls on working-class and solidarity activists internationally to show their support.

As was expected, Venezuela’s municipal elections on December 10 produced a landslide victory for the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV). It won 308 out of 335 local councils winning in 23 out 25 state capitals. The opposition, which stood divided and largely boycotted the election, only managed to win two significant local councils, those of San Cristobal, the capital of Táchira and Libertador, the capital of Mérida.

Salvador Nasralla, the opposition candidate, travelled to Washington on Monday, 18 December, to meet with representatives of the OAS, the State Department and human rights organisations, to look for a solution to the post-electoral conflict in Honduras. In another clumsy move, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), on Sunday afternoon, 17 December, declared right-wing candidate Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) of the National Party (and current president) as the winner. Clearly this has been a fraudulent election.

2017 has been rich in political earthquakes and we have yet another to add to the list. Doug Jones has become the first Democrat in 25 years to win a US Senate seat for Alabama, a traditionally safe Republican seat with a predominantly white, religious and conservative electorate. Alabama will now have a Democrat in the US Senate. This is an outcome that would have seemed all-but-impossible a year ago and still seemed unlikely even as voters headed to the polls on Tuesday, given the flaccid and unispiring campaign waged by the Democrats, who have learned nothing from 2016 and have shifted even further to the right.

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