Argentina has been brought to a halt by a general strike, called by trade unions in protest against a $50bn International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. The General Confederation of Workers is also demanding salary hikes in line with inflation of nearly 30% a year. Trains, buses and the underground system stopped in Buenos Aires. Access roads to the capital were blocked by activists. Some 15 million people were affected in the capital, officials said.
Argentina’s main worker unions, social movements and human rights groups have planned a massive protest in Buenos Aires to oppose President Mauricio Macri’s economic policies, layoffs, the recent pension reforms, judicial persecution of social leaders, and other intended labor reforms. A series of actions and mobilizations against the austerity measures started on Feb. 15. The various groups, including the General Confederation of Labor (3 million members) and the Argentine Workers’ Central Union (1.5 million members) and the Association of State Workers (roughly 250,000 members) will arrive downtown at noon on Wednesday. Transport union leader Hugo Moyano, will address the crowd. The union called Camioneros (or truckers) has roughly 200,000 members and is reported to have the capacity to paralyze the country.
By Kim Ives for Haiti Liberty. Massive, raucous demonstrations, sometime several times a week, have rocked Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and other provincial cities over the past two months and show no sign of subsiding, despite a lack of clear or unified leadership. Police repression of the demonstrators has grown as their calls have morphed from denouncing a tax-laden, fee-hiking, austerity budget proposed in early September to demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who came to power in February following controversial, anemic elections in November 2016. The neoliberal measures, featuring privatizations, public employee layoffs, and tariff reductions, included slashing gas subsidies which resulted in a 30% hike in transportation costs overnight. The Caracazo revolt led to the 1992 coup d’état attempt and subsequent 1998 election of Hugo Chavez. Similarly, Jovenel Moïse’s Washington-influenced budget proposes a host of taxes and fees on everything from drivers licenses, vehicle registrations, and passports to a 10,000 gourdes ($157US) annual tax on expatriate Haitians.
By Glenn Greenwald for the Intercept. It’s almost impossible to imagine a presidency imploding more completely and rapidly than the unelected one imposed by elites on the Brazilian population in the wake of Dilma’s impeachment. The disgust validly generated by all of these failures finally exploded this week. A nationwide strike, and tumultuous protests in numerous cities, today has paralyzed much of the country, shutting roads, airports and schools. It is the largest strike to hit Brazil in at least two decades. The protests were largely peaceful, but some random violence emerged. The proximate cause of the anger is a set of “reforms” that the Temer government is ushering in that will limit the rights of workers, raise their retirement age by several years, and cut various pension and social security benefits. These austerity measures are being imposed at a time of great suffering, with the unemployment rate rising dramatically and social improvements of the last decade, which raised millions of people out of poverty, unravelling. As the New York Times put it today: “The strike revealed deep fissures in Brazilian society over Mr. Temer’s government and its policies.”
By Denis Rogatyuk for Green Left - The left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos is planning to hold its second country-wide citizens’ assembly (Vistalegre II) on February 11th-12th to decide the political direction, organisational structure and its electoral strategy for the next regional and general elections. In the last several months, tensions have risen between the two major figures within Podemos — Pablo Iglesias and Iñigo Errejon, and their respective strategic visions of bring the organisation to power in the Spanish congress as the regional assemblies across the country. The party’s orientation towards state institutions (such as the mayoralties in Barcelona and Madrid), its relationship with the social movements
By Staff for DW. "Blockupy" is back, demonstrating against austerity, consumerism, and the plight of refugees in Germany. Supporters could be seen all over Berlin demanding a more egalitarian approach to integration and economic policy. Anti-capitalism protesters of the "Blockupy" movement took to the streets of Berlin on Friday to protest the policies of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Although there were 50 arrests and a brief scuffle in which some demonstrators threw rocks at officers, authorities categorized the atmosphere as largely calm. The collective has its origins in Frankfurt in 2012, where protesters began to gather regularly outside the European Central Bank (ECB) and takes its name from the Occupy movement that took place on New York City's Wall Street.
By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams - Seeking to replace France's increasingly unpopular President François Hollande, former industry minister and "left-wing firebrand" Arnaud Montebourg announced his candidacy for president on Sunday. The French election will take place in May 2017. Hollande, whom Jacobin notes has "force[d] his way though political institutions and democracy in order to implement his unpopular policies," has not yet said whether he will run for re-election. In 2016, he faced a popular uprising under the banner "Nuit Debout," a pro-democracy movement that grew out of protests against his anti-labor and authoritarian security policies.
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams - The Spanish anti-austerity political party Podemos has an interesting idea to make its new platform the "most-read manifesto ever produced": put it in the form of an Ikea catalog. Across pages of photographs depicting the party's leaders relaxing or working in their sun-dappled homes, Podemos outlines its proposals (pdf) on key political issues, covering familiar ground with plans to reduce unemployment and increase taxes on the wealthy.
By John Malamatinas for ROAR Magazine - A couple of weeks ago, you issued an invitation for the founding of a Pan-European movement against austerity. This is to start in Berlin on February 9 with #DiEM25. You’ve already talked about this idea on several occasions, like at a panel discussion with other wise leftists at the Berliner Volksbuehne in October. Since then, I’ve been thinking to respond to you about this in an open letter. I believe and hope that I’m not the only one in this. Your appearance in Berlin and your call have generated a great deal of discussion among us. Some have been asking themselves whether the revolution could really be that easy: 12 Euros – and you are in.
By Jess McHugh for Greek for International Business Times - Greek protests turned violent in Athens Thursday while international leaders discussed the latest round of budget and pension reforms in the debt-ridden country, angering workers who say the changes are unfair. The southern European nation has been suffering under strict austerity measures, such as reduced social spending and higher taxes, for the past five years, and the top two workers' unions in the nation organized the protests as a way to push back against the ruling government. The unpopular austerity measures, including pension cuts, budget reductions and deep slashing of social services, were exchanged for cash bailouts from European lenders following a continent-wide recession in 2008...
By Staff of Aljazeera - Portugal's centre-right government has been forced to resign after an alliance of leftist politicians rejected its policy proposals, paving the way for a socialist-led administration to end years of austerity. The dramatic collapse of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's government on Tuesday came less than two weeks after it was sworn into office, and raised questions about the country's commitment to abide by the eurozone's tough fiscal rules. In an unprecedented move, the moderate Socialist Party teamed up with the Communist Party and the Left Bloc to get a 122-seat majority in the 230-seat parliament, which it used to vote down the proposed government programme.
By Helen Pidd for The Guardian - Tens of thousands of people have joined an anti-austerity protest in Manchester on the opening day of the Conservative party conference, voicing opposition to policies including spending and benefit cuts, NHS reforms and restrictions on trade unions. Up to 60,000 people are said to have joined the demonstration, which was largely peaceful, although a breakaway group pelted a young Tory with eggs, and spat at journalists and called them “scum”. The egging incident took place on Oxford Road as young delegates wearing Tory party conference lanyards were surrounded by a group of protesters chanting “Tory scum.” Earlier a man was arrested on suspicion of assault after a journalist from the Huffington Post was spat at as he left the conference venue.
In Italy, thousands of students took to the streets Thursday in Milan, the second most populous city in the country, to protest against education reforms. "This is another attack on public schools. Let us return to the streets to demand our rights. Greece is an example to follow in the fight against austerity, "said a protester. The clashes erupted when students approached the building of Lombardy, the main seat of government. As the cops cut over the protesters, they began throwing eggs, stones, smoke bombs and bottles with paint. Also, similar demonstrations took place in cities like Turin, Pisa and Rome (capital). "We are against an idea of education they are proposing, and we have an alternative. We have many alternatives and are a factory of ideas, "said a student from Rome. Riot police also arrested several students, but have not yet been revealed information on the number of wounded, according to local sources. This is another attack on public schools. Let us return to the streets to demand our rights. Greece is an example to follow in the fight against austerity ". "This is another attack on public schools. Let us return to the streets to demand our rights. Greece is an example to follow in the fight against austerity, "said a protester. The clashes erupted when students approached the building of Lombardy, the main seat of government. As the cops cut over the protesters, they began throwing eggs, stones, smoke bombs and bottles with paint. Also, similar demonstrations took place in cities like Turin, Pisa and Rome (capital).
Thousands of people have marched in the Spanish capital denouncing the government and calling for an end to harsh austerity measures that have deepened poverty among the worst-off. Gathering under the banner of "Dignity" in Madrid on Saturday, protesters decried government financial cuts, housing rights policies, and high unemployment rates. Carrying banners reading "Food, jobs and a roof with dignity. Working for a general strike", the protesters packed much of the city's Colon Square and Paseo de Recoletos boulevard. Dolores Cerezo, who had arrived from southern Sevilla, said the government had cut back "savagely" on public services such as education and the national health service.