IC Quarterly Analysis – Q1 & Q2 2023
Period: January-June 2023
Volume 3, Issue 3
Volume 3, Issue 4
At its 2019 convention, Democratic Socialists of America voted that its International Committee (IC) should produce for members a quarterly newsletter of news and analysis about international events. In our joint first and second quarter of the 2023 newsletter, we cover: The Coup Attempt in Brazil; Peru’s Coup Government’s Cracks Down on Protesters; US Designation of Cuba on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List; Revolución Ciudadana Electoral Victories in Ecuador and Right Wing Violence; French Labor Campaigns to Stop Pension Cuts; the Ten Year Anniversary of Hugo Chavez’s Passing; Earthquake and Sanctions in Turkey and Syria; Turkish Government Attacks on Democracy; and the US Media War Against Morena.
Coup Attempt in Brazil
On January 28th, thousands of supporters of former President Bolsonaro gathered in the Brazilian capital, calling for the closure of the Congress and Supreme Court and an immediate intervention by the Armed Forces, messages disseminated repeatedly by Bolsonaro himself and his closest political allies throughout the four years of his administration. The protest quickly transformed into a violent invasion of the buildings which house the Brazilian Congress, Supreme Court and Presidential offices.
In the face of this grave attack on Brazilian democratic institutions, the Workers’ Party government led by Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva led with an exemplary show of force against these illegitimate, pro-authoritarian coup plotters. DSA commends the strong actions that are being taken by both the Executive and Judicial branches of the government, including the hasty roundup and arrest of over 300 antidemocratic protestors before they could even flee the capital city, the call for an arrest warrant for the leader of the security forces in the Federal District of Brasilia, and the temporary suspension of the mandate of the Bolsonaro-supporting governor of the Federal District. Only swift and decisive action can bring the fascist far-right to heel in Brazil and in all other countries facing this authoritarian threat, with no backdoor pardons or amnesty agreements!
Peru’s Coup Government Cracks Down on Protesters
At the end of 2022, following the impeachment of ex-president Pedro Castillo on December 7, President Dina Boluarte and the right-wing Congress that supported her illicitly stole power and sparked massive outrage. Since, this government has been responsible for ongoing political violence and repression against students, workers, and farmers who have been mobilizing in different regions of the country since. Peruvian state security forces have massacred 50 people in the streets of Peru, injuring and arresting hundreds more in their efforts to repress the protests that are calling for the resignation of Boluarte, the closure of the current conservative Congress, the initiation of new elections and a Constituent Assembly, and freedom for Castillo, due to the irregularities of his detention. The Peruvian government’s violence against protesters has received practically no attention in Washington DC.
Cuba Remains on The State Sponsors of Terrorism
On January 11, 2021, during the final week of the lame-duck Trump administration, Donald Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced Cuba’s designation to the State Sponsor of Terror list. The ostensive reasoning cited Cuba’s support for the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), a Colombian guerrilla organization. Cuba had been guarantor of peace talks between the ELN and the right-wing Colombian government of Ivan Duque, but when talks broke off in 2020, Duque called on Trump to designate Cuba a State Sponsor of Terror for harboring the negotiators.
The current government of Colombia under Gustavo Petro has returned to the negotiating table with the ELN and has explicitly called on the Biden administration to remove Cuba from the SSOT designation. The ELN members given safe harbor have also since left Cuba. The other U.S. grievances cited in Trump’s designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terror, such as harboring U.S. fugitives like Assata Shakur, were found not to fall under the criteria for the SSOT during the U.S. State Department’s 2015 review of U.S.-Cuba relations.
The State Sponsor of Terror list punitively harms Cuba’s economy and stands as the most significant barrier to rapprochement between the United States and the Republic of Cuba.
Revolución Ciudadana’s Ectoral Victories and Right-Wing Violence in Ecuador
On February 5, 2023, Ecuador’s Revolución Ciudadana party (RC, Citizen’s Revolution) won extensive victories in the country’s elections, winning election for prefect in seven of the largest provinces of Ecuador as well as elections for mayor in six of Ecuador’s largest cities, including Guayaquil and the capital of Quito. The voters of Ecuador also defeated eight national referenda that Ecuador’s right-wing President Guillermo Lasso had proposed.
The elections were rife with political violence, including the assassination of candidates for office. Candidates of Citizen’s Revolution were especially targeted in these acts of terrorism, and two were assassinated on Ecuador’s coast. Overcoming the deadly attacks against its candidates, the victories by former president Rafael Correa’s party Citizen’s Revolution are all the more impressive given the six-year campaign of repression by all ruling class institutions.
French Labor Campaigns to Stop Pension Cuts
On February 1st, up to two million French workers joined mass demonstrations in Paris and other French cities in response to legislation that would cut pensions. The government had proposed an increase in the normal retirement age from 62 to 64 and an increase in the number of work years required to earn the full pension from 40 to 43. The cuts to the state pension system would fall disproportionately on women workers who must raise children and on workers in manual labor occupations with less education. Many of these workers become disabled or otherwise must leave the work force earlier than professional workers.
The French Parliament began debate on this “pension reform” on February 6th. While it is possible that the government proposals will be defeated or modified, the unions are taking no chances. Planning is already underway for coordinated and escalating strikes later in February if the government does not back down. Members of two of the major railroad unions, CGT Cheminots and SUD Rail, have already authorized further strikes if needed.
Hugo Chávez: A World-Historical Leader
The ten-year anniversary of the passing of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela reminds us what an important leader the world lost on March 5th, 2013.
When Chávez became president in early 1999, he initially espoused a “third way” type of liberal social democracy. However, his efforts to actually reform Venezuela moderately — against the will of the country’s ruling elite — brought him into an outright confrontation with this elite. This radicalized Chávez, particularly after the 2002 coup attempts. By late 2005, he openly declared the Bolivarian revolution to be a socialist revolution.
This example of steadfastly pursuing an anti-capitalist, pro-socialist, and anti-imperialist program inspired movements and people in the rest of Latin America to elect similar leftist leaders throughout the region between 2003 and 2010, bringing forth the first so-called “pink tide” in Latin America. His efforts to redistribute Venezuela’s wealth, to re-democratize the country’s political system, and to build international solidarity within the Global South almost single-handedly put socialism back on the agenda for people the world over.
Chávez not only re-popularized the idea of socialism, he also empowered the people to renew it and to re-think it, emphasizing that socialism is more than just social justice, that it also must be radically democratic and participatory. This revival of socialism and expansion of what socialism can mean is at the heart of why Chávez remains a world-historical leader and most-revered comrade to DSA IC. His legacy is a contemporary inspiration for a new generation of socialists, many of whom joined DSA only in the past five or six years. More than that, the persistence of his efforts at transforming Venezuela – which the US has tried so hard to crush since Chávez’s death, particularly via illegal sanctions – shows the indomitable spirit of the Venezuelan people and the enduring promise of socialism in the 21st century.
Further, Chávez’s tireless work to build international South-South solidarity, in open opposition to US imperialism, inspires us in the DSA IC. He proved that even a relatively poorly-developed country such as Venezuela could stand proudly in solidarity with the people of Haiti, of Palestine, of Cuba, and of various other Caribbean and African nations. Also, his tireless efforts to build new multilateral regional organizations, such as CELAC (Community of South American and Caribbean States), UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), and ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America), demonstrated his far-sightedness as to what would be needed to confront US power.
In effect, Chávez was not only a world-class strategist and organizer, but he also was someone who was unafraid to delve deep into political, social, and economic theory to guide him through the difficult questions of the day. Chávez taught the world—including DSA— how to unify theory and practice in today’s times.
Chávez should have been with us longer; he had so much more to do and to teach us. But it is up to us to carry on his legacy, to hold in our minds his lessons, and to hold in our hearts his courageous spirit. ¡Viva Chávez! ¡Viva la revolución bolivariana!
Devastating Earthquake in Turkey and Syria and How Sanctions Cripple Syria
A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on February 6th, 2023 had taken the lives of over 6,795 Syrians and injured at least 14,500 more across both government-controlled areas and rebel-held and Turkish-occupied areas in north and western Syria. As many as 5.37 million had been made homeless. Devastated by more than a decade of war and an illegal and punitive sanctions regime by the US and its allies, the Syrian people were unable to receive proper humanitarian aid to recover from the earthquake or rebuild their war-torn economy and infrastructure.
Although the Biden Administration had issued a General License, temporarily exempting humanitarian aid related to the earthquake from sanctions, issues of overcompliance and de-risking ensured that this 180-day reprieve will fall far short of the breathing room needed for Syrians to recover from the military, economic and natural disasters they face. US sanctions had exacerbated inflation, unemployment, food insecurity and hastened the spread of disease, strangling the most vulnerable sectors of Syrian society.
Turkish Government Attacks on Democracy
In the months leading to the 2023 general election, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Turkey’s other reactionary ethno-nationalist forces continued its anti-democratic prosecution of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). In March 2021, the government filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court of Turkey in an attempt to ban the HDP. This lawsuit resulted in an indictment calling for the closure of the HDP based on allegations that the party is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a political formation designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its NATO allies.
The United States has long supported the most autocratic, nationalistic and militaristic elements of the Turkish state. By turning a blind eye to the repressive and anti-democratic actions of the Turkish government and continuing to arm its NATO ally, the U.S. is complicit in the repression of ethnic minorities and the degradation of democratic institutions and practices.
In addition to the government’s attack on the HDP through the judicial system, democratically-elected HDP politicians had also been forced out of office, imprisoned, and killed. The criminalization of the HDP has been a part of the broader fascist campaign to destroy democracy in Turkey and suppress the Kurdish liberation movement.
U.S. Media War Against MORENA and Mexico
Recent media coverage of Mexican politics within the United States has aimed to discredit the MORENA party and vilify AMLO in light of their unwillingness to take orders from the U.S. The recent coverage is based on various issues including the passage of the electoral reform bill, “Plan B”, by the senate on February 22, 2023, which has since been stalled in the unelected judicial branch. Media opposition claims that the reforms to the Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE) mean the institution will be unable to monitor elections on the ground, while in reality they further democratic reforms to the Mexican Government. The DSA IC also notes with concern the recent media campaigns attacking the AMLO administration’s expansion of state energy manufacturing and senatorial letters to Biden advocating intervention in Mexico’s energy sector.