The Farmers Movement in India has inspired millions around the world who are fighting for justice, democracy and solidarity. The farmers held their ground in the face of threats, intimidation and relentless propaganda, and forced the Modi government to repeal the farm bills. This was one of the most spectacular victories of ordinary people against the combined assault of corporate power and the state, showing that determined struggle can defeat the mightiest of forces. On 19 November 2021 the Government of India announced that three highly contentious Farm Bills introduced in June 2020 would be repealed. The Government introduced the laws in the early months of the Covid-19 crisis, when opportunities for public and democratic discussion were extremely limited.
Teachers and government workers carried out a national day of strikes and protests in Puerto Rico Friday. There were marches and rallies across the US territory. A mass demonstration took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city. The marchers demanded just wages and pensions and an end to the privatization of schools and government services. Despite a morning attempt by San Juan police to block a section of marchers, the protests were peaceful and high-spirited. In San Juan, in the early morning hours demonstrators began congregating in the Hiram Bithorn baseball stadium before marching toward the headquarters of the Fiscal Control and Supervision Agency. Among the many demonstrators were teachers, electricity and road workers, university professors and students.
On Wednesday, February 9, teachers across Puerto Rico called for a national strike to protest the government and the Fiscal Control Board’s (FCB) cutting of wages and pensions. Other public sector workers, namely firefighters and police, have also joined them. Teachers are demanding a decent salary, an end to pension cuts, and the resignation of Puerto Rican governor Pedro Pierluisi. Teachers have been protesting since February 4. That same day, the FCB imposed by the US Congress that has been in charge of Puerto Rico since 2016, was boasting because it supposedly already put the end of the bankruptcy process on track by approving a plan negotiated with the big bondholder funds.
On 19 November 2021, a week before the first anniversary of the farmers’ revolt, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi surrendered. He accepted that the three laws on agricultural markets that had been pushed through the parliament in 2020 would be repealed. The farmers of India had won. The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), one of the organisers of the protest movement, celebrated the triumph and declared that ‘this victory gives more confidence for future struggles’. Many pressing struggles remain, including the fight for a law to guarantee a minimum support price that is one and a half times the cost of production for all crops of all farmers. The failure to address this, the AIKS notes, ‘aggravated the agrarian crisis and led to the suicide of over [400,000] farmers in the last 25 years’.
Today, South Korea ranks third in highest annual working hours and as of 2015 it was third in workplace deaths among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Over 40 percent of all workers are considered “irregular workers.” As in the U.S., many of these irregular workers labor in the gig economy, beholden to tech giants’ apps. With an economy and society dominated by corporate conglomerates known as chaebol, South Korean people face increasingly bleak prospects. The top 10 percent of earners claimed 45 percent of total income in 2016, real estate speculation has led to a housing crisis, and privatization in education and health care are expanding disparities. As South Korea undergoes blowback from the effects of COVID-19 on the global economy, these crises have only sharpened.
Thousands of Indian farmers blocked traffic on major roads and railway lines in the national capital Delhi on Monday as they marked one year since the passage of the federal government’s contentious agricultural laws. The farmers called for a nationwide strike to renew their protests against the “black laws” that they believe will bring an end to their livelihood, demonstrations that first began 10 months ago. The government says the changes will benefit farmers, but unions fear they could take away the protections provided by state-run markets. “The strike was observed in several parts of the country from Kerala in the south to West Bengal in the east,” Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the All Indian Kisan Sabha, told The Independent. “Farmers in Maharashtra, Telangana, Tripura and Bihar also took part in the strike.”
Since April 28 hundreds of thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets to demand the end to neoliberal reforms, chanting “el pueblo unido jamás será vencido”. Now, a month later their joint call has grown into a generalized rejection of the neoliberal and far-right government of Ivan Duque. His government is polled as the least popular in recent Colombian history, already a low bar for a State that has waged an ongoing war against its people.
Social organizations called new strikes for Tuesday, Colombia’s Independence Day, to demand that Congress passes legislation on economic policy, peace and human rights. The latest strike was called by the National Strike Committee more than 80 days after it’s initial April 28 strike sparked protests throughout Colombia that have continued in the cities. The initial protests successfully sunk a controversial tax reform, but failed to force the far-right government of President Ivan Duque to negotiate demands on economic policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The National Strike Committee has given up on the increasingly tyrannical government and is now trying to pressure Congress, which begins a new legislative year on Tuesday,
A recent satirical video has been gaining steam among Colombian youth, titled “Todo es Culpa de Petro,” **or “Everything is Petro’s fault.” The video highlights the story of a young man who has everything going wrong in his life, from missing class to getting rejected by his crush. The person behind his misfortune is revealed to be none other than leftist politician Gustavo Petro, former M-19 guerilla, senator and presidential candidate. Although the video is meant to be a joke, it does reflect the dominant media narrative — and much of the mainstream political discourse — which blames the protests that have gripped Colombia since April 28 on Petro. This is despite the fact that he has no connections to them, and they have been spontaneously organized.
What started as a Colombian protest against a regressive tax bill has become a national strike against police brutality and poverty. The administration of President Ivan Duque has already pulled back the tax reform and the finance minister has resigned, but people are angry and marches and road blocks continue. Unions, student groups, and other organizations have formed a National Strike Committee which is negotiating with the government, demanding transformational change. Among the strike committee’s demands are guaranteed health care during the pandemic, a universal basic income, and a commitment to protecting domestic industries. Protesters are blocking roads and commerce to create leverage, which the government claims is causing shortages of basic goods.
In today’s episode of the Daily Round-up we look at the ongoing national strike in Colombia and the establishment of the National People’s Assembly by various social movements, the ongoing vote count in Peru as the presidential runoff elections draw to a close, a countrywide strike for better wages and safe working conditions by health workers in New Zealand, the ongoing strike to demand a renewal of wages by garment and textile workers in Lesotho, and 6 years of the #NiUnaMenos movement against femicide and other forms of gender-based violence.
Colombia’s national strike — or paro (stoppage) as it is called locally — began on April 28 with enormous protests and on May 5 entered its eighth day, with another round of mass protests around the country. Truck drivers and rural communities have joined in, paralyzing entire swathes of the country. What provoked these protests was yet another tax reform from the extreme right-wing government of Iván Duque, the third of his government. As the Colombian economist Libardo Sarmiento Anzola wrote in Le Monde Diplomatique: The three tax reforms of the Duque administration (2018–2022) have one common denominator: benefits for the large companies and a greater tax burden for 80 percent of the population, which is poor and vulnerable, through a mechanism that squeezes from both sides: on one hand, higher taxes on their personal income, and on the other hand taxes on their consumption of basic foodstuff.1
Colombia woke up on Wednesday with a new national strike in the country's main cities, amidst the coronavirus crisis and the increase in the numbers of massacres and murders of social leaders and former members of the then Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP). The president of the Central Workers Union (CUT), Diógenes Orjuela, explained that the strike would clarify the position of absolute rejection of the massacres and murders that have occurred in the country in recent months, as well as the repression exercised by the police.
Colombia - On 21 November, a powerful general strike paralysed Colombia. Originally called to reject a package of measures by the right-wing government of Ivan Duque, including a counter reform of the labour laws, a counter reform of pensions and massive cuts in education, it became the focal point for accumulated anger. The strike was the largest the country has seen since 1977 and there were mass demonstrations in every town and city. The government responded with repression and threats. This only served to escalate the situation. In response, there was a spontaneous call for the continuation of the strike on Friday, 22 November when protests continued. The government has now militarised Bogota and declared a curfew across the capital and other cities.