Period: July–September 2023
Volume 4, Issue 1
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 third quarter of 2023 newsletter, we cover: the Guatemalan Elections in June and August; Resistance to the Swazi Monarchy; Peace Efforts in Colombia; the recent Coup in Niger; the 50th anniversary of the Coup of President Salvadore Allende; Elections in Ecuador; and Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Armenians.
Free elections and human rights in the elections in Guatemala
On June 25th, Guatemala held the first round of its elections where Movimiento Semilla won many difficult victories. Movimiento Semilla is a social democratic, anti-corruption political party formed in 2017 after popular mobilizations against widespread government corruption including electoral fraud, customs fraud, and narcotrafficking. Despite efforts by the “pacto de corruptos” to undermine the democratic process, Semilla earned strong majorities in Guatemala City and surrounding departments on a progressive anti-corruption platform, quadrupling their representation in the National Congress and earning enough votes for the presidential runoff.
After June 25’s surprise results, a coalition of nine right-wing political parties representing the country’s military and economic elite filed objections to the election, seeking to suspend certification of the results and launching widespread social media “culture war” campaigns against Semilla for its support of reproductive freedom and LGBT rights and labeling them as a threat to private property. In response, members of the Constitutional Court sidestepped the normal legal process for adjudicating electoral disputes and ordered a delay in the certification of electoral results.
Swazi people continue to fight in opposition to the U.S.-backed dictatorship in Swaziland/eSwatini
In 2021, partially inspired by the George Floyd uprisings in the United States, Swazi people took to the streets by the thousands to demand free and fair elections, the repeal of a ban on political parties, the liberation of political prisoners, economic justice, funding for healthcare and education, and abolition of the country’s absolute monarchy. These protests have continued despite mass arrests, state-sponsored kidnappings, torture by security forces, and massacres of street protesters. The United States remains largely responsible for the ongoing crisis in Swaziland. The Mswati absolute monarchy is able to carry out its violent repression of the Swazi people with the backing of American weapons and Taiwanese investment.
President Petro’s government one year in and Ceasefire between the Colombian Government and the National Liberation Army
One year ago the Colombian people voted to elect President Gustavo Petro and the Pacto Historico. Since then they have delivered massive change for Colombia implementing a historic land reform, working to end Colombia’s internal conflict, leading the fight against climate change, and pushing for much needed health and labor reforms in Congress. However, the right-wing opposition has stepped up its attacks against Petro through parliamentary obstruction and a media smear campaign. This campaign has included the fabrication of scandals by the right-wing outlet Semana, resistance from the Attorney General’s office to implement many of the Petro administration’s policies, and now using the legal troubles of President Petro’s son to undermine the change that the Colombian people demanded at the ballot box.
On August 3rd, the ceasefire between the Colombian government and National Liberation Army (ELN) began. This is an important step to consolidating a lasting peace and democratic reforms in Colombia. Currently, the National Liberation Army (ELN) sits on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and Cuba sits on the State Sponsors of terrorism list for its support of the peace process.
Coup in Niger
On July 26, 2023, the newly-formed National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland placed President Mohamed Bazoum under house arrest and named General Abdourahamane Tchiani the leader of the transitional government. This coup is deeply related to continued colonial domination of West Africa at the hands of the United States and France. Although Niger won formal independence from France in 1960 and possesses immense wealth in natural resources, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Bound to France through dependence on the export of raw materials to French capitalists, the occupation of its land by French and American troops, and the monetary colonialism of the CFA franc zone, Niger has been unable to develop a self-sufficient national economy and advance the interests of its people.
Following the coup, condemnation from France, the United States, and the European Union was immediate. Sanctions were launched against Niger including the removal of humanitarian aid and threats made by Economic Community of West African States.
August Elections in Guatemela
In Guatemala’s presidential runoff election on August 20, Bernardo Arévalo and Movimiento Semilla won a resounding victory with 58% of the vote. Following the election, Guatemala’s electorally-defeated elite to use the four months before the presidential transition in January to free military officials charged with crimes of genocide and former politicians charged in corruption investigations, to arrest and harass political opponents, and to threaten indigenous land defenders and social movements across the country.
50 Years Since the Coup in Chile
On September 11th 1973, The Us supported the coup d’etat and death of Chilean President Salvador Allende. Allende’s Unidad Popular coalition was a shining example of democratic socialism coming to power as a result of worker and peasant mobilization. Allende will be forever remembered as a visionary socialist leader who dedicated and even sacrificed his life to the cause of building workers’ power.
Citizen’s Revolution Party makes notable gains in Ecuador
The Citizen’s Revolution party in Ecuador made notable achievements in the August 20th snap general elections. Despite a declared state of emergency and the presence of the military on the streets, the People of Ecuador were steadfast and backed Citizen’s Revolution Candidate Luisa Gonzalez who received 33% of the vote. Citizen’s Revolution also secured a plurality in the upcoming National Assembly, increasing its representation. Gonzalez will oppose Daniel Noboa, a scion of one of Ecuador’s most affluent families, in the Presidential runoff scheduled for October 15th.
The Ecuadorian people also made a historic vote to cease oil extraction within the Yasuni National Park and to halt mining projects within the Metropolitan District of Quito. The results of these referenda underscore the significant success Indigenous and environmental activists have had opposing both oil extraction and mining activities.
Azerbaijan escalates the ethnic cleansing of Armenians
On September 19th, Azerbaijan started a new military offensive against the people of Artsakh, with the intent of ethnically cleansing the population from the enclave. The offensive followed several cargo flights carrying weapons between Azerbaijan and Israel. A ceasefire has been reached, but reports on the ground suggest attacks by Azerbaijan continue. In this latest offensive, at least 200 people have been killed, hundreds more have been injured, and thousands displaced after intense shelling. The new military offensive was the latest in a series of genocidal actions taken by Azerbaijan. For the last 9 months, Azerbaijan blockaded the Lachin Corridor, which connects Artsakh to Armenia. Since Azerbaijan closed the corridor, Armenians in Artsakh have experienced severe shortages in food, life-saving medications, fuel, and other crucial supplies.
Azerbaijan is a strategic ally of the United States and has received hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance. The ongoing offensive against Armenia and Artsakh could not continue without support from some of the U.S.’s closest allies. Turkey, a member of NATO, strongly backs Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Artsakh, and Israel, a close U.S. ally, supplies nearly 70 percent of Azerbaijan’s weapons.