IC Quarterly Analysis – Q4 2022
Period: October–December 2022
Volume 3, Issue 2
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 fourth quarter of the 2022 newsletter, we cover: the Mahsa Amini protests in Iran; the crisis in Haiti; Lula’s historic electoral victory in the 2022 Brazilian Presidential Elections; and the far-right violence in Bolivia.
Iranian Mahsa Amini protests
On September 13th, 2022 Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish descent, was detained by the Guidance Patrol in Tehran for allegedly “improper hijab” and died in police custody three days later. Evidence and reports indicate she was beaten and repudiate claims she died from natural causes. Her death due to the Guidance Patrol sparked an outpouring of protests against the government and its policies, including the enforcement of mandatory hijab and ill-treatment of ethnic minorities. The protests saw many people, including student activists and labor union organizers, flooding the streets echoing the rallying cry of “Zan, Zendegi, Azadi” (Farsi) and “Zhen, Zhian, Azadi” (Kurdish), or “Woman, Life, Freedom.” The Iranian government responded through mass arrests, repression, and killings in an effort to quell the uprisings and deny the social and political rights demanded by protestors.
The protests must be situated in a historical and international context. The U.S. and other Western powers have worked to destabilize Iran and the region for decades through coups, sanctions, military interventions, and other forms of imperialist domination. These actions helped undermine the development of secular and left-wing movements and aided the rise of the current repressive government in Iran. In 1953, the CIA and MI6 helped reimpose Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s autocratic rule as Shah by overthrowing the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh as he instituted social and economic reforms, including nationalizing the British-dominated Iranian oil industry. The Shah’s rule over the next 26 years became ever more brutal, while overtly serving US and Western interests. This culminated in the 1979 revolution and the subsequent birth of the Islamic Republic, which ultimately oversaw the decimation of left-wing organizations in Iran and later deference to IMF-pushed neoliberal measures.
U.S. unilateral sanctions began shortly after the revolution and with little reprieve have since grown to severely restrict Iran’s access to medicine, food, technology, and international banking. These sanctions have negatively impacted working class people in both Iran and the diaspora for decades. Harsh prosecution of businesses for purported violations of sanctions has created an atmosphere of overcompliance, putting the health of over six million Iranians suffering from complex diseases at risk, including causing thousands of preventable COVID deaths. This economic siege by the U.S. against the people of Iran is a form of collective punishment which aggravates existing strife and struggles by further harming the most marginalized demographics, including women, the working class, ethnic minorities, and the disabled. The Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or “Iran Nuclear Deal,” provided the Iranian people with some short-lived relief from sanctions, until 2018 when the Trump Administration reversed course and withdrew from the JCPOA, instating even harsher sanctions. These moves by the U.S., coupled with the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, dealt a blow to reformist elements in the Iranian political establishment who argued that the U.S. could be worked with. Contrary to Biden’s campaign promises, negotiations to re-enter the JCPOA remain stalled, partly due to lobbying by war profiteers in the US and Israel.
The U.S. and its allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, opportunistically seize on internal strife to push their regime-change agendas while promoting exploitative actors like Masih Alinejad and sponsoring foreign interference, which undermine grassroots struggles in Iran. These actions coupled with draconian sanctions give further sway to repression against internal dissent by a government faced with foreign intervention.
Haiti in Crisis
In response to deteriorating conditions of their country, which include rising inflation and cuts to fuel subsidies, the Haitian people held months of consecutive mobilizations. These protests demanded the resignation of unelected president Ariel Henry and the construction of a government of national unity to oversee free and fair elections with respect for Haiti’s sovereignty. Decades of interference by the Western imperialist bloc, including Canada, the United States, France, and others, have rendered Haiti’s state apparatus incapable of serving the needs of the Haitian people. This is the desired outcome of an international system invested in the continued denial of Haiti’s sovereignty as a nation and people.
Haiti cemented its liberation from French colonial rule in 1804, establishing the first Black republic in the world, the first independent state in the Caribbean, and the first nation to outlaw slavery totally and completely. It has been paying the price for expelling its European rulers ever since. Haitians played a pivotal role in the decolonization of the Americas in the 19th century, providing safe harbor for South American revolutionaries and formerly enslaved Africans, as well as weapons, soldiers, and sailors for the anti-colonial war effort abroad. For more than two centuries, Haiti has struggled for liberation from the empires of the West.
Haiti’s position within the capitalist world system is that of a peripheral zone where Western multinational corporations exploit free or cheap labor with impunity. This position allows for the seizure of land and minerals by foreign powers, as well as the replacement of domestic production with dependence on imports from abroad, mechanisms which underwrite the expansive wealth of the world’s dominant capitalist economies.
Following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021, Prime Minister Ariel Henry received the backing of the Core Group, the foreign power bloc responsible for overseeing the administration of Haiti’s affairs, to be installed as his replacement. Henry’s government has suffered from a crisis of legitimacy since its birth. Contrary to claims that gangs of violent criminals are the decisive force driving Haiti’s unrest, Haitians are in the streets en masse to assert their right to self-governance by and for Haitians.
Foreign military intervention in Haiti will not be for the benefit of the Haitian people, but to preserve a Western agenda which has deliberately cast widespread poverty and illegitimate political leadership onto the Haitian people for the benefit of foreign powers. The people of Haiti were clear in their demands: Haitian-led solutions must prevail over the desires of the Western imperialist bloc which has already begun to deliver armored vehicles and other supplies for an impending armed invasion to crush the unruly Haitian masses.
See DSA IC stands in solidarity with Haitians against military invasion by imperialist powers
Lula’s Historic Electoral Victory in Brazil’s 2022 Presidential Elections
On October 30, 2022, Presidential Candidate Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, Vice-Presidential candidate Gerardo Alckmin, the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (PSOL) and the Vamos Juntos pelo Brasil electoral coalition all had a historic win in the national elections in Brazil held on October 2nd. This victory was a resounding condemnation by the Brazilian people of the genocidal, ecocidal, neo-fascist modus operandi of the outgoing Bolsonaro administration.
Far-Right Violence in Bolivia
Violence erupted in Bolivia after the far-right demanded the government of Luis Arce to move the date of Bolivia’s national census to 2023, one year earlier than planned. The right wing hoped that an earlier census would disadvantage the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party in terms of political redistricting and cast doubt on its 2020 election victory. The far-right governor of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, called for an indefinite strike beginning October 22. Far-right and explicitly fascist groups such as the Santa Cruz Civic Committees and the Youth Union blockaded roads, burned union halls representing indigenous peasants, attacked government ministries including the National Institute of Statistics responsible for carrying out the census, and engaged in gun battles with local security forces. The right wing declared “civil death” as the penalty for those who oppose their actions in Santa Cruz. The violence resulted in at least four deaths and over 170 injured and disrupted Bolivia’s food exports and distribution.
The Permanent Assembly of Human Rights in Bolivia alerted international human rights organizations of acts of violence and racism directed at the region’s poor and indigenous populations on the part of the Civic Committee and its allies. Moreover, there were concerns that the violence in Santa Cruz was the prelude to an additional coup attempt against the Arce government of Bolivia. The pattern of election denialism, lawfare, and violence against the state stoked first in the 2019 coup and continuing now has been a pattern for right-wing reaction in other countries, including Brazil after the recent victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and in the United States during the capitol insurrection on January 6.
The instigator of the violence, Luis Fernando Camacho, is one of the most visible leaders of the 2019 coup that overthrew the government of Evo Morales and installed Jeanine Añez. The Civic Committee backing his call to violence is a chamber of commerce-like organization backed by large, regional agribusiness conglomerates and has been previously linked to covert US funding. The Youth Union, meanwhile, is best known for its fascist salutes and menacing poor and indigenous residents of Santa Cruz using jeeps emblazoned with swastikas. The violence also coincided with the 3-year anniversary of the plot by security forces and far-right parties to overthrow Evo Morales, a coup instigated by the Organization of American States. The Añez government unleashed brutal repression against left-wing, indigenous, and peasant opposition and was eventually defeated by nationwide mobilizations leading to a clear electoral mandate for the MAS party in 2020.