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Economic and Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. V. I. Lenin

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No 1257 November 16th 2004

Arafatism is dead. Much more Palestinian war-resistance now inevitable,- - - Revolutionary war-resistance.

Arafat, the "uncompromising" nationalist, who lifelong hoped for some sort of halfway compromise deal with the Western imperialist Zionist-Jewish colonial seizure and occupation of the Palestians' country, - can be claimed as "father of the nation" for all eternity, but it will never be true.

His Stalinist-made refusal to accept that only total revolutionary war would be the answer to this very specific postwar monopoly-imperialist Middle East colonisation conspiracy, always meant that the Palestinian people would NEVER get even any "real" scraps of laughable "compromise justice" along the humiliating and idiotic "two-state solution" bourgeois-utopian daydream lines, to which the whole world's fake-"left" has ludicrously continued to subscribe (from the United Nations to the Trotskyites and Stalinists, and anti-communist nationalists) out of grotesque philosophical-idealist ignorance and blindness, - the incurable tendency of spontaneous petty-bourgeois opportunist "thinking" worldwide.

Arafat's huge compromising influence has been dying for years, in total confusion on ALL sides, - - except for in the cynical NAZI minds of the long-term American Empire warmongering neo-cons and their utterly dedicated Jewish-Zionist co-conspirators, - who always knew that there would NEVER be any kind of "justice" for Palestine, and who ALWAYS knew that the Palestinian nation would have to be kept under repression-prison conditions ENDLESSLY, - - (if not genocidally where killing them all would be the only "final solution".)

Only occasional clarity, around militant-combative groups like HAMAS and Islamic Jihad and other confused "Islamic revolutionary nationalists", - has broken away in recent years from the compromising petty-bourgeois chaos to realise at last that Jewish NAZI-Zionism, backed by the American-Empire, had always known, - - and dementedly and gleefully WILLED, - - - that there could NEVER be any justice, democracy, or independence for the Palestinian nation, EVER in history, and that only conditions of PERMANENT murderous imprisonment (and possibly genocidal too) could be imposed on the Palestinian people, - effectively wiping them out as a nation, (just as the American Empire did to nearly 200 native American-Indian nations to create US imperialism in the first place (and other imperialisms did too, all round the world).

At enormous and heroic sacrifice, such "Islamic terrorist" influences have tried to bring the world to its senses and at last realise what imperialist NAZI-terrorist permanent warmongering tyranny had been imposed by the Vest on the Middle East (and hence onto the whole planet, - permanently).

And apart from the particularly sick, humiliating, ignorant treatment of Arafat personally that 90% of Jewish-Zionism has always relished (unopposed by the rest of the West), - there is now the huge joke "problem" that Marwan Barghouti, the only conceivable "compromise" follower of Arafatism as "acceptable" to enough Palestinians in order to dress up some rotten "final" capitulation sell-out of the Palestinian nation as a just settlement", - - - is on currently a term of FIVE "life sentences" deep in a Zionist torture-dungeon somewhere. (And Abbas and Dahlan, the British Foreign Office favourite, were booed out of Ramallah last night as "American agents").

So the whole degenerate imperialist neo-colonialist-tyranny issue will now merge back into the general international-imperialist warmongering neo-con American-Empire—crisis blitzkrieging for its likely ultimate resolution.

And as the EPSR's grasp of Marxist-Leninist scientific history (the only science of history of civilisation) knows, the world remains on course for the greatest imperialist warmongering HUMILIATION and DEFEAT of all time, - worse than created the revolutionary crises of Franco-Prussia, World War I, and World War II, when the revolutionary proletariat became so disgusted with the pointless inter-imperialist slaughter and destruction (which was never going to solve the incurable internal economic-political contradictions anyway - see EPSR box for original Marxist science) first took action to rescue civilisation.

And what is posed, of course, is the terminal crisis of the monopoly-imperialist system, - once again plunging the world into an "overproduction" crisis of "too much monopoly-imperialist greed and domination", which (as will be seen from their own bourgeois admissions below) the system has not the slightest intention to get to the bottom of, let alone solve (there is no solution), - but with maximum degeneracy-philistinism, the American Empire rulers of Earth insist is all the fault of "rogue states" or of "failed states" causing "terrorist disruption threats" making it "impossible to organise the world nicely and permanently prosperously" (a total joke given the monstrously built-in unfairness of the exploitational-bullying monopoly-imperialist world "free market" system to start with, which has again (not for the first time in history) taken the planet to the brink of economic catastrophe). (See EPSR box).

Meanwhile, more and more evidence is piling up that, as Marxist science has always explained, the people of the world have inevitably been so changed by the very experience of monopoly-capitalist globalisation that now they are no longer able and willing to suffer any longer under such a stifling, humiliating, and essentially brutally-repressive CLASS and RACIST military tyranny any longer, and are renewing the mentality and skills of the great historic revolutions by communists in Russia, China, Vietnam and Indo-China, Korea, Cuba, scores more, and by the whole mighty national—liberation movement which dismantled the physical European Empires in the first place (only to sink back, under neo-colonial exploitation tyranny due to Stalinist stupidity worldwide, and nationalist idiocy and corruption).

The whole world is now re-learning what the EPSR has always explained what one day must and will be re-learned by the whole planet, - - that the only science of purposeful world development is Marxist-Leninist proletarian-dictatorship science (but it must be given time to overcome its rotten capitalist origins, and to learn from its continuing (for a while) weaknesses and mistakes).

A crucially historic DEFEAT is still on the cards for the dying, rotten imperialist system.

The American Empire's firepower and nastiness remain colossal.

And worldwide, Western-influenced "left" opinion, from "United Nations" believers to the demented anti-communism of Trotskyism-Labourism, has again degenerated to the level of stupidity which gradually prevailed after 1912 and the retreat from the Basle Manifesto which was supposed to prevent World War I, but which, under Kautsky's ridiculous light-minded influence, actually effectively undermined the Second International which promoted Basle but totally ignored its revolutionary implications, thereby totally invalidating it.

But nasty, NAZI, murderous-pre-emptive—imperialism still has to get the job done of getting the world to agree to co-operate with mindless, pre-emptive, blitzkrieg warmongering as, the "best way for the world to now solve "all its problems" - - but hostility and resistance to this INSANITY only keeps spreading all round the Third World which is where the next great proletarian revolutionary breakthrough for civilisation will be stimulated.

The brainwashing bourgeois media reports themselves admit as much in the smaller print on CLASS WAR anti-imperialism, effectively:

The fears of large numbers of civilian injured have raised fresh warnings that the suffering in Falluja will be used to rally insurgents across northern Iraq.

As new attacks took place in Baghdad and Samarra, President Bush used a radio address to warn of increasing violence in the run-up to elections in January. Meanwhile, the US death toll rose to 24 after two marines were killed by a home-made bomb.

The full cost of the battle of Falluja emerged last night as large numbers of wounded civilians were evacuated to hospitals in Baghdad, as insurgents stepped up retaliatory attacks in other cities.

The military operation to retake Falluja has been 'accomplished', according to Iraq's national security adviser. Qassem Dawood said 1,000 insurgents had been killed and 200 captured, although these figures could not be independently verified. Iraq's interim government extended the closure of Baghdad's international airport indefinitely yesterday under an emergency rule imposed before the Falluja offensive. The closure applies to civilian traffic only, and was to have been in place for a few days only.

As the first Red Crescent aid convoy was allowed into Falluja, Iraq's Health Minister, Alaa Alwan, said ambulances had begun transferring a 'significant number' of injured civilians out of the battle zone, although he did not specify how many.

The evacuation of the wounded from Falluja came as insurgents consolidated their grip on large areas of Iraq's third largest city, Mosul, setting up checkpoints and conducting their own patrols, and as fresh Iraqi and US troops were rushed north to counter the new threat.

The moves came amid renewed warnings from aid groups that Iraq's civilian population was facing a 'humanitarian catastrophe'. Although many of Falluja's 200,000 to 300,000 residents fled the city before the assault, between 30,000 and 50,000 are believed to have remained during the fighting.

The horrific conditions for those who remained in the city have begun to emerge in the last 24 hours as it became clear that US military claims of 'precision' targeting of insurgent positions were false. According to one Iraqi journalist who left Falluja on Friday, some of the civilian injuries were caused by the massive firepower directed on to city neighbourhoods during the battle.

'If the fighters fire a mortar, US forces respond with huge force,' said the journalist, who asked not to be named.

The city had been without power or water for days. Frozen food had spoiled and people could not charge their cellphones. 'Some people hadn't prepared well. They didn't stock up on tinned food. They didn't think it would be this bad,' he said.

At the main hospital, cut off from the rest of the city, doctors have reportedly been treating the injured with nothing but bandages, while the Red Crescent says people have been bleeding to death for lack of medical attention. The claims came as an Iraqi Red Crescent convoy entered Falluja yesterday with the first aid supplies to reach the city since US-led forces began to blast their way in five days ago.

Prior to that the city had been surrounded by a US military cordon and subjected to heavy daily bombardment.

Red Crescent spokeswoman Firdoos al-Abadi -who had described the situation inside the city as 'catastrophic'.

Iraq's government extended its security clampdown last night imposing new curfews as the US military struggled to contain a spreading wave of militant attacks. It came as American troops in the assault on Falluja were locked in heavy fighting in the Joulan district, which they had previously declared under control.

Last night there were curfews in the predominantly Sunni towns of Falluja, Ramadi, Samarra, Bayji, Hawija and Mosul, as well as in Baghdad and even the Shia holy city of Najaf as the insurgency spread. There were heavy clashes in several districts of Baghdad.

A US Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Taji, north of the city, injuring three crew members, and a Lebanese American working for the Sky Link company at the international airport was kidnapped.

In Mosul, US and Kurdish troops went in to reinforce the Iraqi police, and US planes launched air strikes.

The Iraqi Red Crescent said it had delivered aid to the many thousands of families who had fled Falluja and were now living in villages around the city; some were eating raw flour and relying on dirty drinking water. The US military had refused to allow the organisation's convoy into the city.

An Iraqi doctor in Falluja, Ali Abbas, told al-Jazeera: "We need help desperately.

"Bodies are scattered in the streets, families are in a miserable situation, doctors are besieged. Thousands of families are still inside Falluja.

"We hear the loudspeakers of the Americans asking us to leave our houses and put up white flags. But at the same time we are hearing explosions and gunfire."

US troops were drawn into a new offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday to tackle a tide of insurgency unchecked by the military assault on Falluja.

In Baghdad at least 17 Iraqis were killed in a suicide car bombing as gunmen set up checkpoints on roads in the west of the capital and fought battles with US troops.

Rebels also took to the streets of the northern town of Baiji, home to Iraq's main refinery, clashing with security forces.

The violence suggests the four-day operation in Falluja may have cleared out the most important insurgent stronghold in Iraq, but has done little to curb the burgeoning militant movement.

For two days insurgents have defied a curfew to rampage through Mosul, attacking or setting fire to at least seven police stations as well as government buildings.

Masked gunmen stole bullet-proof jackets and Kalashnikov rifles from police stations and were roaming the city centre yesterday setting fire to police cars and taking control of bridges. The five bridges over the Tigris were later closed to civilian traffic.

At one stage a group tried to storm an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two major Kurdish parties, and fought gunbattles with Kurdish guards. Mosul's television channel went off air for an hour and the US military admitted the Iraqi police were unable to handle the crisis. At least five Iraqi national guardsmen and a civilian have been killed and a dozen injured.

By 1pm soldiers from the US 25th Infantry Division and a team of Iraqi national guardsmen were called in to launch "offensive operations" in south-east and south-west Mosul against "known concentrations of insurgents".

The official, who declined to be named, said: "They are working together and know what they are doing. They have had a lot of notice about the Falluja assault, and were prepared to move the fight."

Residents said there had been explosions and heavy gunfire from assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

"I have been inside my house for 24 hours and am too frightened to go out," said Shereen Hawleri, a Kurdish resident.

Since the start of the Falluja offensive on Sunday night, attacks have taken place across Sunni areas in central and northern Iraq in towns such as Samarra, Baiji, Baquba, Tikrit, Ramadi, Hawija and now Mosul. The violence in Mosul has been the worst since the invasion began and a sign of the growing influence of Sunni militants. The [insurgent] activities have now spread to the borders with the Kurdish self-rule area.

Last night Kurdish leaders in Arbil and Sulaymariiya, inside the Kurdish self-rule region, said they were preparing Kurdish troops in the national guard to restore order in Mosul and Kirkuk in coordination with the US military. But the deployment of Kurdish fighters in Kirkuk would be sensitive.

The Kurdish governor of Kirkuk, a disputed city to the north-east, survived an assassination attempt yesterday when a car bomb exploded as his convoy passed.

Abdulrahman Mustafa was not hurt, but six members of his personal security detail and eight civilians were hurt, according to Arif Qurbany, the director of a local TV station. "The situation in the city is very tense," he said.

A Baghdad centre car bomb killed at least 17 and wounded 30. It also destroyed 11 cars and brought down a building. The bomb detonated at 11.15am, moments after a US convoy had passed in a crowded high street.

THE Iraqi interim Government declared a 60-day state of emergency yesterday as insurgents launched a bloody wave of attacks before American-led forces began their assault on the rebel city of Fallujah.

In a carefully planned campaign, guerrillas stormed police stations, capturing and killing 21 Iraqi police in a dawn raid, and carried out kidnappings, assassinations and car bombings across the Sunni Triangle.

The mood among ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad is of extreme apprehension, with many government workers intending to stay at home during the operation, fearing that they will be targeted.

Mohammed al-Jubouri, 24, who works for a Jordanian reconstruction contractor, said: "We think it's better not to go to work. Every day there's a senior policeman or government official killed. It's out of control."

Planeloads of injured soldiers have been flown to the US military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and doctors were bracing for a further influx as the Falluja battle culminates.

Two aircraft carrying 102 injured soldiers arrived yesterday. Another 125 injured arrived earlier in the week and more were expected today.

Only seriously injured soldiers are evacuated from Iraq to Landstuhl, the biggest American military hospital outside the US.

"This is one of our peak periods," a hospital spokeswoman, Marie Shaw, told Reuters. "We are very busy. It is more than we have seen in the last couple of months because we used to admit about 30 patients a day."

Most of the patients had bullet wounds, although some had more serious injuries.

"We've had more cases of bullet wounds than usual, though some have also suffered blast wounds from rocket-propelled grenades," said Lieutenant Colonel Richard Jordan, a physician at the hospital's deployed warrior centre.

Several soldiers needed intensive care, with brain or spinal injuries or limb amputations, including at least eight of yesterday's arrivals.

Many believe the weeks of warnings preceding the Falluja attack allowed insurgents to slip away from the city.

Gen Myers warned: "If anybody thinks that Falluja is going to be the end of the insurgency in Iraq, that was never the objective, never our intention, and even never our hope."

Iraqi aid officials said they were increasingly concerned about the families still in Falluja and the thousands camped in villages nearby.

Residents said the stench of decomposing bodies hung over the city, power and water supplies were cut and food' was running out for thousands of trapped civilians.

The Iraqi Red Crescent sent a convoy of four trucks to the city yesterday, carrying first aid kits, food, blankets and tents.

" It is a disaster inside Falluja," said Firdoos al-Abadi, head of the Red Crescent's emergency committee.

"There is no water, no electricity, no food. They are forbidding doctors from helping the people."

Iraq's deputy prime minister has indicated for the first time that the much-heralded elections due in January could be derailed by the country's violent insurgency.

And just as potentially devastating are the non-brainwashing bourgeois press admissions that the monopoly-imperialist "free market" global exploitation racket is facing impossible contradictions too:

The telling reaction in the markets to the result did not come from the impressive rally in equities, but from the foreign exchanges with Friday's abrupt slump in the dollar. This sent the US currency to a record low against the euro, and to its weakest overall value for nine years on the Federal Reserve's trade-weighted index.

Friday's slide in the greenback suggested that the fate of the currency is likely to become the critical economic issue to confront the President in his second term and it is developing on the policy radar screens far faster than anyone might have imagined.

This renewed decline in the dollar, which adds to its 18 per cent depreciation since President Bush took office in 2001, was all the more striking because it came against the backdrop of positive news which could have been expected to boost its value.

Contrary to the market's anxieties, there was no repeat of the "whowunnit" debacle of 2000 when the world was forced to wait six weeks to find out who would become the next president. And Friday also brought not only a third consecutive day of sharp gains in share prices, but dramatically good US jobs figures showing that American employers expanded their payrolls by 337,000 last month.

The sell-off suffered by the dollar despite this triple dose of support is a baleful portent of losses to come. Recent speculation that the resolution of the election would prove the catalyst for a sustained fall in the dollar's value now appears to have proved well-founded.

With the economic stimulus from President Bush's first-term tax cuts now fading, and Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, raising interest rates, an orderly move towards an even weaker currency would provide a welcome injection of additional fuel for America's softening recovery.

But the danger, as plain as it is immediate, is that a slide in the dollar gain's momentum and becomes a rout. Were that to happen, the repercussions would be of crisis proportions.

A serious run on the dollar would certainly take Wall Street with it. It would tend to stoke inflation, putting pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates high. And it would trigger a slump in US Treasury bonds, driving up the market interest rates which determine the scale of America's mortgage bills, and thus the strength of US consumer spending. All of this would at best spell a severe economic downturn, and at worst trigger a world recession.

The risks of such a scenario becoming reality have been multiplied by the increasing number of factors now weighing on the dollar.

Chief among these are, of course, America's twin deficits, on its current account and on the government's budget. The current account deficit is approaching a vast 6 per cent of US GDP, or some $660 billion (£370 billion) a year. The Government's annual budget deficit stands at 4 per cent of GDP. To finance these yawning deficits, America is relying on vast inflows of capital from IOUs issued to foreign investors — principally Asia's central banks — in the form of dollar holdings and Treasury bonds.

Yet the elephantine scale of the deficits, representing massive imbalances in the US and global economies, appears increasingly unsustainable, putting at risk investors' appetite for US assets and, in turn, jeopardising the dollar.

The real dangers of fiscal profligacy are more indirect. First and foremost, excessive fiscal stimulus can fuel inflation, especially in an economy where monetary policy is also extremely lax. Secondly, there is a clear link between the budget deficits and the even bigger deficits in US trade. The interaction between these "twin deficits" accounts for most of the present weakness of the dollar and could, in time, pose serious threats not only to financial markets and the world economy but even to Washington's foreign policy.

Inflation seems to me by far the most serious risk for President Bush's economic policy in the long run, but so far inflation has remained surprisingly quiescent.

While the jury may be out for years on the inflation issue, the verdict on the dollar has quickly come in. The dollar's plunge to a record low against the euro, despite Friday's strong employment figures, suggests that a steep fall in the dollar, possibly triggering some kind of global economic crisis, will be the main economic risk facing President Bush. The possibility of a dollar crisis is, in fact the main economic reason why the Democrats may count themselves lucky to have lost this election — as the Labour Party was lucky to have lost the 1992 election before Black Wednesday.

Unlike the budget deficit, which could easily stay at its present level for many years, America's current account deficit of $600 billion is unsustainable in the long run, since it means foreign investors must continue pouring this vast amount of money into US financial markets each year. In theory, this huge investment inflow might continue forever if investment opportunities in America were much more attractive than anywhere else.

Some investors believe that the re-election of a conservative President committed to low taxes and deregulation, could attract more foreign money to America and thereby prop up the dollar. This is possible, but last week's market action suggested investors may be taking the opposite view. Perhaps they recall what happened the last time an incumbent Republican president was re-elected, in November 1984.

Three months later, in February 1985, the dollar began the most precipitous decline experienced by a major currency, dropping 55 per cent against the mark in just over two years. Yet this period of dollar weakness from 1985 to 1987 was the heyday of Reaganomics, when Wall Street was enjoying some of its biggest gains since the 1920s and corporate profits were going through the roof.

Why did the dollar collapse in the face of all this good news? Because the US trade deficit had become unsustainable and America was fed up with exporting jobs. Washington wanted Europe and Asia to stimulate their own economies instead of relying on exports to the US. And the President was unhappy that America's financial stability should depend on investment whims of unreliable allies, many of whom were opposing US missile deployments in Europe.

Moreover, the US policy of devaluation seemed to bring all gain and no pain — until two years after the dollar collapse when the final stage of the dollar's plunge triggered the October 1987 stock market crash.

Whatever happens to the US economy under the re-elected President, financial markets should expect an exciting time.

As should now be obvious, there is no "solution" to the political/economic crisis of the declining American Empire, from just arbitrarily massacring a few "rogue states" or replacing an existing "failed and out-of-control" stooge regime (Saddam for 35 years) with a more pliant (but just as potentially nasty and corrupt) better-trained CIA agent (Allawi).

The American Empire's problems lie in the strengths of rival imperialisms, and that is why this warmongering insanity now inflicted on the planet by dominant world imperialist Westernism, must end up in inter-imperialist WWIII.

Because as should be obvious, there is no "economic" solution to these impossible contradictions of the out-of-control monopoly-imperialist exploitation-bullying system just from forcing a few "disrespectful" or "uppity" so-called "rogue states" or "failed states", or a few small Middle East (or elsewhere) raw materials suppliers even more tightly under the American Empire's control as is happening now to Iraq and as is threatened to: a number of the more "independent-minded" or outspokenly anti-imperialist states like Iran, Syria, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Myanmar, Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, - and has just been attempted via an openly criminal fascist-NAZI coup by of all places, - the world's "oldest and greatest democracy" - Blair-led Britain, (which never stops brainwashing the public about how Britain's "purpose in the world" is only to "ensure the rule of law everywhere", and to never dream of illegal or criminal underhand NAZI military action if it is not "solely for the purpose" of "restoring full democratic control of their lives to the local population"):

Straw, the foreign secretary, admitted that he knew about the attempted coup six weeks before it took place in March.

Mr Straw's admission, in a terse four-word parliamentary answer, confirms reports that the plot—which has embroiled Sir Mark Thatcher in South Africa and a raft of his friends and associates — was known to western intelligence services.

He told the shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram that the government had known about the coup attempt "in late January 2004".

The South African mercenary vanguard for the coup, lead by former Old Etonian find SAS officer Simon Mann, was arrested at Harare airport on March 7 and jailed. At the same time a second group, led by former South African commander Nick du Toit, was arrested in Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo. His trial restarts tomorrow.

An earlier report in December last year clearly identified planning for the coup by a group of former South African soldiers attached to the apartheid regime's notorious counter-insurgency unit, the 32 Buffalo Battalion.

Individuals from the battalion — all arrested in Harare or Malabo — were identified as setting up a fishing company in Equatorial Guinea "to present a legitimate front for planned militant actions against the government."

From Mr Straw's admission it is now clear that these reports reached MI6 in London.

But given the likelihood that the plan could have resulted in bloodshed, Mr Ancram has asked for more answers. He has tabled questions to Mr Straw and the defence secretary Geoff Hoon asking what contingency plans were drawn up to evacuate British nationals before the coup happened.

He also wants to know if any British armed forces were within reach of Equatorial Guinea at the time of the coup, and whether the British government warned it about the conspiracy.

President Teodoro Obiang, who will soon preside over the third largest oil fields in Africa, has said he was warned only by South Africa and Angola.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said it was not known how many Britons worked in Equatorial Guinea,

The spokesman said he could not elaborate on Mr Straw's answer because the matter was sub judice.

Now the lying scum Blair and Straw cannot even open their mouths about what warnings (obviously none at all) they gave to the legitimate (and coherent) government of Equatorial Guinea(oil rich) about the apparent Mann/ du Toit/ Thatcher/ Calil/ Archer/ Mandelson/ etc conspiratorial plotting for degenerate, murderous fascist mercenaries to seize hold of Equatorial Guinea in a NAZI coup. (Some "democracy principles" to now be spreading militarily around the world! Worse than setting up this stinking stooge CIA stoolpigeon in Iraq!)

And our "great, brave "democratic" Opposition in Parliament could still only dare to ask Straw whether "local working British nationals had received any warning or protection from this potential NAZI bloodbath"!!!

Never mind the people of Equatorial Guinea!!

The imperialist world is rapidly degenerating into total farce!!, - but a murderously dangerous would-be NAZI-militarist farce. (To be more deeply analysed in forthcoming articles).

And the only regime on Earth which had enough, democratic civilisation as its essence (and enough anti-imperialist CLASS sense to take action against these monstrously-degenerate imperialist mercenary plotters, and in democratic solidarity with Equatorial Guinea) was Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, endlessly the target of more New Labour brainwashing media lies, and potential further NAZI-fascist coup target itself, - currently denounced by super-ignorant politically extreme rightwing cricketer mercenaries who happily-opportunistically usually pursue professional trade anywhere that can make these "sportsmen" money (but who would probably still be backing tours of Ian Smith's fascist "Rhodesia" if they could, - just as they unconcernedly maintained touring with fascist-Apartheid South Africa long after the whole world had been pleading for a total boycott of the vicious, nasty racist dump).

For an improved EPSR record of one aspect of New Labourism demented-spin commercial-imperialist bullshit (which alone on Earth the EPSR uniquely analysed (from its grasp of Marxist scientific his history) as the nearest thing to Hitler-Goebbels fascism reborn in modern postwar politics when it was launched on the world in 1997,) - and because it is such a good story, - we return to the shame of the astonishing "British-American Project as enlighteningly told (intentionally?) in Guardian Weekend.

The issue is not an organised political conspiracy, necessarily, - but precisely its opposite, — a hopelessly vague and unthought-out shallow chaos of petty-bourgeois "lifestyle" yearning, — always looking to the USA where "everything is so slick" compared to "fuddy-duddy Britain" etc.

Such impressionistic motor-mouths as these would have probably been candidates for the Mosley-Hitler "New Order" fan club in the 1930s!!!!

Build Leninism. EPSR

In the summer of 1997, a few weeks after New Labour won power, a striking article about the election appeared in a privately circulated newsletter. Under the cryptic headline Big Swing To BAP, the article began, "No less than four British-American Project fellows and one advisory board member have been appointed to ministerial posts in the new Labour government." A list of the names of these five people and of other New Labour appointees who were members of BAP followed: "Mo Mowlam... Chris Smith... Peter Mandelson... Baroness Symons... George Robertson ... Jonathan Powell... Geoff Mulgan.. .Matthew Taylor..." The article ended with a self-congratulatory flourish and the names of two more notable BAP members: "James Naughtie and Jeremy Paxman gave them all a hard time on BBC radio and television. Other fellows, too numerous to list, popped up throughout the national media commenting, criticising and celebrating."

The British-American Project for the Successor Generation, to give it its full title, was founded in 1985 "to perpetuate the close relationship between the United States and Britain" in the words of BAP's slim official history, through "transatlantic friendships and professional contacts". It has a membership of "600 leaders and opinion formers", drawn equally from both countries. It holds an annual conference (the next starts this Friday in Chicago) to which journalists are not invited and at which everything said is, officially at least, not to be repeated to outsiders. It rarely features in the mainstream media — instead, it makes tantalisingly vague and fleeting appearances in those corners of the internet where conspiracy aficionados gather.

Here, BAP is portrayed as a Trojan horse for American foreign policy, recruiting Britons of liberal or left-of-centre inclinations and political talent and connections when they are young, indoctrinating them with propaganda about the virtues of American capitalism and America's role in the world, and then watching them approvingly as they steer British politics in an ever more pro-Washington direction. According to this analysis, the project's greatest success has been New Labour.

Besides the names mentioned in BAP's 1997 newsletter, the organisation numbers among its members Douglas Alexander, the precocious Foreign Office and trade minister; Baroness Scotland, the politically favoured criminal justice minister; Julia Hobsbawm, the prominent public relations executive and New Labour associate; and Adair Turner, one of the government’s most senior business allies and author of the recent official report on the future of pensions.

In the years immediately before the founding of BAP, the early 1980s heyday of Tony Benn and CND, the Labour party was sceptical about America. Now it will seemingly swallow almost anything the US does, and the idea that BAP made the difference has some authoritative backers. The leftwing journalist John Pilger, who has been uncovering American manipulation of other countries' politics for decades, has described BAP as a "casual freemasonry" and "by far the most influential transatlantic network of politicians, journalists and academics". The historian Frances Stonor Saunders, who has written extensively about the American use of earlier, similar networks to influence western opinion during the cold war, sees close parallels with BAP: "All that's changed is that BAP are much more sophisticated."

In December 2001, in response to a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, Tony Blair said that the organisation "arranges meetings, including with ministers, for young leaders from the business, economic, professional, cultural, artistic, governmental, academic, scientific, medical, military and social life of the two countries".

Beyond New Labour, the BAP membership includes the Conservative election strategist Steve Hilton, the shadow work and pensions minister and Tory intellectual David Willetts, the former Conservative minister Stephen Dorrell, the founder of the UK Independence Party Alan Sked, and Charles Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph.

Until now, BAP's public response to allegations of political influence has been to ignore or dismiss them. A postscript to its official history calls the idea of the project as a vehicle for the American government a "myth" and "a curious reinvention of BAP history". But what, then, does BAP do exactly? Since 1985, it has received sponsorship from, among other companies, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Monsanto, Saatchi & Saatchi, Philip Morris, Coopers & Lybrand, American Express, Apple, British Airways, BP, Cadbury Schweppes and Camelot. Busy politicians and other public figures have crossed the Atlantic, some of them repeatedly, to attend BAP conferences, which can last for five days. One member describes proceedings as "a quasi-religious experience for some people", but what else has kept the whole enterprise going for almost 20 years? What has BAP achieved?

The author of both the project's official history and the article in its newsletter about New Labour is a British journalist called Martin Vander Weyer. He has been a BAP member since 1994, and until last year was chairman of its British operation.

Meeting him, at first, is something of a disappointment. He is disarmingly jolly: amused eyes, a raspy, confiding voice, swept-back grey hair rebelling behind his ears. He is wearing an ostentatiously traditional but slightly unkempt suit of the kind favoured by middle-aged Tory journalists, and has just come back from a lunch at the Spectator, where he is an associate editor. He suggests a café, and strides off, talking freely, through the London rush hour. He does not look much like a New Labour conspirator.

Vander Weyer depicts BAP in altogether more relaxed terms. "It's both a fantastic social opportunity and an amazing professional networking opportunity." At the conferences, he says, "Everyone is on equal terms, and you take the handbrake off..." He grins. "There's quite big late-night drinking. Requires a lot of stamina. Every year you can see the astonishment of the church-going Americans. You see them jogging around the hotel whenever you open your curtains in the morning."

To see anything sinister in all this, he continues cheerily, is "bonkers conspiracy stuff". But what about his newsletter article? Vander Weyer clasps his forehead in mock-regret. "I wrote the headline. I thought it was quite snappy. It was a great mistake. Probably my greatest mistake."

But then he begins to choose his words more carefully. "The British membership is quite a concentrated elite," he admits. "There was a stage where... a lot of the people who emerged as part of the New Labour leadership group happened — and I say happened, because it is partly chance — to be members of BAP ... The American side is more spread out: Americans who just enjoy contact with Brits. We have Republicans, Democrats, people who work on Capitol Hill."

He explains how BAP members are selected. Each existing member can nominate up to three people aged between 28 and 40. These nominees are then interviewed and tested: there are competitive debates, "management games" and personal presentations. "We sift the nominees according to their willingness to listen to other people," says Vander Weyer. "Whether we think they'd fit with the group."

Do they ever pick people who are anti-American? "Oh yes. There are lots and lots of members who are anti-American." He mentions the journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. Then he grins again. "I've never found myself in such a leftwing group as this." If BAP has a political diversity problem, he says, it is rather different from the one its critics allege: "Some of the drier Conservatives who've come to conferences over the years have found… too much of a bleeding heart."

The circular nature of the nomination process narrows the BAP membership in other ways. A member recalls, "I was nominated by the man who subsequently became my husband, who was nominated by a friend of his, who was nominated by someone he knew." Vander Weyer says BAP is trying to compensate for this. "We try to find people outside our network." He cites "a cinema manager and a fire, officer from Newcastle" who have become members. He gives a rare serious look. "We want to counter any sense that this is a self-perpetuating elite."

The only problem is, BAP was founded to be exactly that. At the start of the 1980s, the idea of a "successor generation" began to stir on the dusty pages of British and American foreign policy journals. Kenneth P Adler, an academic employed by the US government to watch western European political trends, defined it as "the segment of the general public that is most likely to succeed to positions of power and influence in the near future". This group, he and other observers predicted, would either follow the broadly pro-American path of "the founder generation" of postwar western European political leaders, or take a more independent, even hostile stance. With Ronald Reagan in the White House and the cold war he was helping to orchestrate in one of its least appealing, most attritional phases, it was by no means certain "the successor generation" would stay loyal to Washington.

"Ideologically, if a consensus exists across Europe," wrote Adler, "it would be somewhere on the left.. .a middle way between Sweden and Yugoslavia .. .distancing [itself] from 'the superpowers'."

The US government was particularly worried about Britain. Despite all the official talk of a "special relationship" between the two countries since the second world war, there had been surprisingly regular periods of British public disenchantment with Washington: over Suez and Vietnam and, particularly, over the deployment in Britain of US nuclear weapons. In November 1981, three weeks after CND had held its biggest ever protest in London, Reagan made a speech in Washington warning that 'some young people do not understand ... why we need nuclear weapons [or] Nato's roots in defending freedom." With Margaret Thatcher a deeply unpopular prime minister, and the Labour opposition influenced by an anti-Washington party membership, a new British official attitude to America looked quite likely. "It is possible to argue that had a Labour government been formed," the historian Peter Jones wrote of the early 1980s in his book America And The British Labour Party, "it would almost certainly have led to the complete collapse of the 'special relationship'."

A 27-year-old British economist called Nick Butler decided to intervene. For someone of his age and profession, he already had unusually useful and diverse connections: he worked for BP, but he was also treasurer of the influential left-leaning pressure group the Fabian Society and a promising junior player in the Labour party. He also loved America. "The UK was in a bad state," he saw. 'America seemed much more dynamic, full of ideas, open." For years, he had been reading Tom Wolfe and Joan Didion and books about US politics. He was always wanting to visit America, more than his work permitted. At the same time, he felt the Labour party needed fresh ideas from abroad. "My perspective then was that my generation — I would have been described as 'rightwing' in the 1982 Labour party — were totally stifled here. No prospect of being in power."

That spring, Butler wrote a memo proposing "some form of regular contact for Britons and Americans", to reduce "hostility to all things American" and promote "mutual understanding over a wide range of policies... how cities are regenerated, how market forces worked, and so on." For the membership of what was to become BAP, he had a specific transatlantic group in mind: "Bright people, in many different fields, who were likely to influence outcomes in those fields. People who were interesting. Interested in change. In doing things. In progress."

Butler says this with a straight face and takes a sip of wine. Sitting in the half-darkness of his London club, wearing an immaculate suit and barely opening his mouth as he talks, he explains the philosophy and workings of BAP with less of Vander Weyer's cheery evasiveness. "I don't think networks are inevitable," Butler says with emphasis. "They are absolutely desirable, I think networks are a great phenomenon. The Fabians are a network, BP's another network — that is civil society."

Since the 1980s, Butler has maintained and extended his political and commercial connections like a model member of the "successor generation". He is close to Mandelson and other senior New Labour figures. Thanks in part to Butler, BP — where he is now group vice-president, strategy and policy development — has become known as "Blair Petroleum" for the warmth of its relations with Downing Street.

Butler's gifts for alliance-building and persuasion turned BAP from a paper proposal into an international organisation in less than three years. Between 1982 and its first conference in 1985, he recruited a shrewdly broad range of supporters, co-founders and financial backers: Sir Charles Villiers, a liberal Tory businessman with a long personal attachment to America; the US embassy in London, which gave Butler a grant to go to Washington to test reactions to the BAP idea; and the Pew Charitable Trusts, a very large and wealthy American foundation.

These days, Pew supports diverse causes, from public health to the environment. But the foundation's origins are more controversial. The Pew family made their money in oil, and for much of the 20th century the dominant personality in their business and philanthropic activities was J Howard Pew, a man of particular political convictions. To me free enterprise is a very noble thing," an official Pew history from 1984 quotes him saying.

During the 1950s, he established the J Howard Pew Freedom Trust to, in the words of its charter, "acquaint the American people with the evils of bureaucracy ...the false promises of socialism ...the paralysing effects of government controls". Since his death in 1971, the official history continues, the Freedom Trust "has supported those projects and groups that reflect the founders-philosophy". BAP, it appears, was one of them: according its own official history, it received "grants totalling $460,000, which funded the first three BAP conferences".

Butler says that the Pew organisation "never interfered. Never told us what to do. I never met them." He sounds convincing. Yet, if you read the reports from these and subsequent BAP conferences, written by and circulated to BAP members, and talk to some of those who attended, a process of political education can be discerned of which J Howard Pew would have approved.

Every autumn, BAP hires a hotel, or a large part of one, for a long weekend, alternating between British and American venues. Conference rooms are reserved, boardroom-style tables arranged, themes chosen for discussion. A purposeful timetable of seminars and larger gatherings, dinners am group excursions is drawn up. Lighter interludes are scheduled for drinking and bonding and organised fun—Vander Weyer has been known to host a closing-night revue as a rightwing caricature called Professor Whiplash — but the overall atmosphere remains somewhere between an international summit and a corporate retreat for young executives. Even at the more intimate seminars, there are papers and water jugs on the tables, and some of the men like to keep their ties on.

"I've been on weekends organised by other networks—Anglo-French, Anglo-Spanish, Anglo-German —but I've never been on such a grand one" says Alibhai-Brown. "The amount of drink, the way you were treated, the dinners with everyone who was anyone ...Jonathan Powell [Tony Blair's chief of staff] used to come a lot. I remember having many an argument with him beside swimming pools in white towelling dressing gowns... It was money that I'd never seen at any conference before. We [the participants] used to joke, 'This is obviously funded by the CIA.'"

Any such connection to Washington is denied by BAP, but a more subtle subordination to America was there from the beginning. There was the fact that BAP started as a British initiative, not an American one. And there was the way the American members set t he tone of the conferences. "I vividly remember the first: we were all stunned by how much more money they all had," says Butler. "They'd run their own businesses. They ran charities. They were in a different league in terms of what they'd achieved. I remember Jeremy Paxman saving that to me, and Mo Mowlam. We were all struck by that."

This sense of American superiority framed and coloured the discussions. As people leaned forward on the conference tables and made bright-eyed presentations and asked each other penetrating questions, European notions such as socialism, the welfare state and high levels of government spending were judged, in the slightly sweeping way of clever young thinkers, to be in difficulties. American notions such as less regulated capitalism, a smaller "enabling state" and a world kept safe by the Pentagon came to be regarded as sensible, inevitable. "Five years before I joined BAP, I thought wealth creation and progressive politics were completely incompatible," says Trevor Phillips, now chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality. "BAP was one of the things that made me think that was absurd."

For the American participants, the political epiphanies were less dramatic. "Americans who might have thought that the Labour party was off the radar screen had their minds opened," says George R Packard, a prominent American international relations academic and BAP supporter from the beginning. Another American member says simply, "You learn a lot about how many perspectives there can be." In Phillips's experience, the traffic in specific ideas was mostly one-way: "I didn't detect that the Americans had learned a great amount [from us] about what they could and should do in the US."

Besides the advantages of the American way, the other big political preoccupation of BAP conferences during the 1980s and early 1990s was the condition and prospects of the Labour party. The Conservatives may have been in government, but the conference reports mention them surprisingly rarely. Instead, there are involved discussions about the Labour attitude to nuclear weapons, about the strengths and weaknesses of the party's general election campaigning, about whether, as BAP members saw it in 1987, Labour "had more interest in remaining a party, with policies and an ideology', than in achieving power".

It is too conspiratorial to see in these debates the creation, in secret, of New Labour. The remade party was the product of countless gatherings and discussions, and too many of its architects — Blair and Gordon Brown, to name two — were not BAP members. But, in retrospect at least, there was a whiff of something new in the analyses of Labour's problems presented at BAP conferences. "Most of us held broadly New Labour views — before Tony, you could say," says Lord Lipsey, the journalist, Labour peer and BAP member. "BAP was one of a number of streams that came together in New Labour."

Of course, not everyone in BAP is a politician, just as not every conference seminar is about politics. "For any 10 politicians who happen to be members," says Vander Weyer, "you could name, 10 artists, writers ..." He pauses, and then a gleam comes into his eye: "Benjamin Zephaniah [the radical black British poet] is a member. Although not a regular attender."

Another element of the BAP membership is less surprising. "Many BAP alumni are directly involved with US and UK military and defence establishments," noted the 2002 conference report. An account followed of a conference excursion to the Pentagon: "Our BAP group was welcomed as 'old friends'." Butler is equally frank about the link. "The military are quite important, quite influential. We had a great guy who was a Polaris submarine commander. And he was a leftwinger... loosely left-wing. [Colonel] Bob Stewart, of Bosnia fame — a lovely guy — gave a great break-out talk. These weren't people pumping out a military line. These people were talking about their direct experience." The encounters and contacts that BAP makes possible are often cited enthusiastically by members. An American mentions meeting an astronaut at a conference.

"We kept in touch... then he told me he was giving a lecture at West Point [the US military academy]. I took the train up and we had dinner. It was a blast! Completely out of my normal world." Packard says that at the conferences he is "astounded at how quickly the bonding takes place". In BAP's official literature, the former Labour minister Chris Smith describes attending one as "four intoxicating days of thought and discussion". Critics of BAP say that is precisely the point. "Propaganda that really works," says Saunders, "is when you get people to move in directions you want them to for reasons they think are their own."

Yet not everyone joins BAP with their guard down. "I did make some inquiries privately before joining," says the British writer and foreign policy analyst Anatol Lieven. He cites the infamous British liberal journal secretly funded by the CIA during the cold war: "After the whole Encounter experience, one does have to be a little careful." But Lieven's inquiries about BAP left him reassured: "It is genuinely pluralist. The discussions are very frank. In 2002, they asked me to give a talk on Bush's strategy in which I was very, very tough."

Other critics of Washington join BAP in order, they say, to know their enemy. Alibhai-Brown found her first conference in 1988 "a miserable experience ... but really useful. There were hardly any women, and unspeakable people — so rightwing — on both the British and American sides. But I wanted to know about this very powerful axis, to learn to talk to them without poking them in the eye." She was still attending BAP conferences 15 years later.

A certain number of internal dissidents are good for the project's image: they make BAP, and the Anglo-American relationship, seem open to criticism but too important to ignore.

And they keep the conferences interesting. But, reassuringly, not every rebel is successfully co-opted. Zephaniah recalls his one and only conference: "It was in this hotel in California, in Oakland, the Claremont. I remember them [the BAP members] all as men in suits or power-dressed women. Oil people, a couple or people from minority groups. I remember loads of trust games. The men were told, 'Now take off your tie, and relax, and do some yoga exercises, and go off into a group, and talk about empowerment.'"

Zephaniah started skipping the discussion groups by telling each one that he was going to the other. But after a while he had had enough. One evening, "I escaped. I got out of the hotel. I went down to Berkeley [the neighbouring city], hung out with some homeless people, went to see a friend of mine." How did BAP treat him after that? "Every year, they kept sending me the report of the last conference. I had a whole shelf of them. Last year, I put them in the bin."

Sitting in his London club, in his immaculate suit, Butler smiles. We have been talking for perhaps 20 minutes, and we are already on to the second glass of wine. The founder of BAP, like many of its members, is good at being convivial. "BAP is not a terribly serious venture" he says. "It's an interesting venture." He says he feels "quite proud" of what it has achieved. "A lot of people have learned a lot from American experience in a lot of fields."

He says he hopes that the British members of BAP can exert a moderating influence on America in return. Perhaps. The more liberal American members of BAP also hope so. But, as with the special relationship itself, the power and uniqueness of BAP can be overstated. There are other Anglo-American networks for the young and ambitious: Rhodes scholars, Fulbright scholars, Kennedy scholars. And there are other American networks. Packard mentions one in passing: "In 2000, I started an exact clone of BAP: the US-Japan.

Behind the confidence of the BAP conferences, according to Vander Weyer, lies a skeletal organisation: no British office, a "cubicle office" in the US, a tiny staff working from home. "From time to time we receive a small amount of money from the foreign and commonwealth office, the US embassy," he says. After getting their first conference for free, members pay up to £500 each to attend.

And every year, BAP needs new members. As he gets up to go at the end of our interview, Vander Weyer gestures expansively across the café table. "Depending on how this goes," he says, "I'd be very happy to nominate you."


UK members of the British-American Project include:

Peter Mandelson EU trade commissioner
Jonathan Powell Tony Blair's chief of staff
Jeremy Paxman broadcast journalist and author
Mo Mowlam former Labour Northern Ireland secretary
Adair Turner head of pensions commission
Establishment faces in the BAP conspiracyTrevor Phillips chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality
James Naughtie broadcast journalist and author
Matthew Taylor Downing Street head of policy
Chris Smith former Labour culture secretary
Baroness Symons Foreign Office minister
Lord Robertson former Nato secretary-general
Douglas Alexander Foreign Office and trade minister
Geoff Mulgan former head of Downing Street's policy and strategy unit
Baroness Scotland Home Office minister
Julia Hobsbawm public relations consultant
Steve Hilton Conservative special adviser
Benjamin Zephaniah poet and activist
Colonel Bob Stewart former commander of British
forces in Bosnia
David Willetts Conservative shadow work and
pensions secretary
Alan Sked founder of Ukip
Stephen Dotrell former Conservative health secretary
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown columnist and broadcaster
Charles Moore former editor of the Daily Telegraph
Nick Butler BP group vice-president, strategy and policy development
Lord Lipsey Labour peer and author

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).

Multinational terror in Colombia

Colombia is a beautiful country better known for its ugly statistics. Nearly 50 trade unionists have been killed so far this year, and that is only a small part of the final figures of those whose lives end violently in a country where unemployment rates are upwards of 80%.

Edgar Paez, responsible for the international department of the trade union SINALTRAINAL, knows the risks very well. He knew many of those who were killed or have had to leave Colombia because of their dedication to human rights. He also knows very well that his "subversive" activities as a trade unionist may land him in jail in a country where justice has a price and impunity is the norm.

Paez's was over here to take part in the recent European Social Forum, to raise awareness about the situation in Colombia and SINALTRAINAL's proposals against the policies of corporations in his country. He spoke particularly about Coca-Cola, which SINALTRAINAL deems responsible for the killing of nine trade union officials in bottling plants.

AN PHOBLACHT: Over a year since the boycott against Coca Cola was launched, how do you judge the campaign so far?

EDGAR PAEZ: What we are looking for is for full reparation from Coca-Cola to the victims, its acceptance that serious crimes were carried out on its behalf and the naming of those responsible so they are brought to court.

We are not alone, as this company is known for its "aggressive" policies all around the world. The level of aggression associated with its policies depends on where it is applying them, but we can see a common thread of neo-liberal policies, which diminish workers' rights; steal water resources from local populations, pollute water and soil, etc. We have been constantly denouncing these policies.

A year after the beginning of the boycott, we are very happy because, although Coca-Cola has not compensated its victims, we have enjoyed a wave of solidarity. People now know about the economic misery suffered by Colombia's population, the situation of state-sponsored violence and how corporations benefit from that violence. Coca-Cola is a clear example of this reality.

How have people participated in the campaign?

This campaign has allowed people to take part on different ways, depending on their circumstances. Some people have sold their Coca-Cola shares; others have stopped drinking Coca-Cola as they consider that it is financing war. Another achievement is that Coca-Cola has been taken out of many selling points, like universities; cultural and recreational centres; social venues; trade union headquarters, etc. These are expressions of rejection of war and violence and a call for dignity and workers' rights. It has also set the ball rolling, as other communities that never dreamed of confronting' Coca-Cola have launched their own campaigns. So, the campaign has served to unite initiatives and peoples around the struggle against a corporation that has established itself in more countries than even the United Nations.

How difficult has been to keep the campaign going in Colombia?

It has not been an easy task due to the increasing violence emanating from the so-called Plan Colombia and the rise of the right-wing paramilitaries' activities. Paramilitaries have an important role in our case against Coca Cola, as they are responsible for the murder of nine trade unionists who worked in Coca Cola's bottling plants in Colombia.

I believe that this campaign against Coca Cola and all the international solidarity created around it is the reason why there have not been more casualties in the ranks of the trade union SINALTRAlNAL and the reason why this organisation still exists. Because this campaign is not only about justice for the dead and their families; it is also about workers' right to join a union; for the right to keep their employment and their dignity.

In the last year, Coca-Cola has closed ten factories in Colombia, leaving 500 people unemployed. The company has violated all agreements between workers and management. Union officials have been the target of constant abuses and threats. We had to go on hunger strike for ten days to get the company's representatives to meet the workers.

It is your support, the support of many others in Europe, Latin America, and the US, that has kept us going. It has been a beautiful experience, because we have learned to love other people, to join efforts in the struggle, and others have shown their love for us and their support.

So, is Coca-Cola still not accepting responsibility for the situation in its plants in Colombia?

When Coca-Cola establishes franchises, they also impose conditions. They impose conditions on the quality of the product, - colour, bottle, labelling, etc - and the same happens when it comes to its global policies.

The company maintains that it has nothing to do with what is happening, but it has failed to express condemnation for the killing of trade unionists, though we have informed its headquarters in Atlanta and Bogotá every time there has been a violation of its workers' human rights.

At the moment, there are 27 trade-unionists in Colombian jails who have been denounced by Coca-Cola management in Colombia. Sixty-seven comrades are under death threat. That is their response to union activities, and a warning to anyone who dares to try to improve working conditions. This is why we had to launch this campaign.

The response from Coca-Cola to the expressions of international solidarity towards the workers has been one of further violence. For example, when we started our campaign, another comrade was murdered, increasing to eight the number of our officials working in Coca-Cola plants murdered by right-wing paramilitaries. However, as I said, we believe this campaign has saved lives.

At the meeting, we presented our proposal calling for total reparation for the victims of its violence, but the company was only interested in negotiating a set of rules for the future; they did not want to talk about the past.

We cannot subscribe to a proposal that will mean impunity for those who murder our comrades. We cannot allow this company to benefit from the deaths of our comrades. We cannot forget how Isidro Gil was murdered, and his wife, who denounced his murder, was also assassinated by the paramilitaries.

However, Coca-Cola is not the only corporation responsible for human rights violations in Colombia. Nestlé is responsible for similar actions. And oil companies like Occidental Petroleum, REPSOL and British Petroleum are responsible for forced displacements, pollution and further violence in the region of Arauca. The inhabitants of Arauca settled there due to what we call The Violence, a civil war from 1948 and until the 1960s that caused the displacement of millions of people in Colombia. Well, now these people are being displaced once again by oil corporations.

The US administration is also very interested in the region. First, because of its vast oil reserves; second, because Arauca borders Venezuela, a country where the revolutionary government of Hugo Chavez is not cooperating with the policies of the US. Finally, it is the area where the US would like to build a dry canal to allow the transport of goods from the ports of Venezuela to the Pacific coast of Colombia, as part of the so-called Plan Puebla-Panama.

This is why many people have been murdered in the region; why many community leaders have had to leave the country. There have been massacres and massive arrests. To this you should add the massive pollution caused by oil extraction; the enormous environmental damage; the destruction of the means of survival and social structures of the indigenous people in the area.

This is the new face of the struggle against corporations in Colombia, and we are calling for expressions of solidarity and support for our struggle against the oil companies.


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