Monthly Archives: October 2019
Received from a contact (followed by links to various recent events)
Originally entitled “Social revolt in Iraq and Lebanon”, this text basically concentrated on Iraq. I have now moved all the information on Lebanon to here
SF note: There’s a tendency to minimise the problems and contradictions of these movements (eg patriotism and flag-waving; “citizenist” ideology in Lebanon which ignores class differences; etc.), which nevertheless doesn’t by any means mean that they’re not significant and that they don’t have a welcome spontaneity and independence.
At the moment there are significant socio-economic protests in Iraq and Lebanon. From a social-revolutionary perspective, this is a major event in the Middle East. These protests are organized through social networks and are of a leaderless nature. Their participants have managed to overcome sectarian barriers: Sunnis and Shiites have joined the protests.
The movement covers mainly Shiite areas: Baghdad and the southern cities of Iraq. But Sunnis and some Kurds have also spoken of their desire to join. Youths have raised the slogan: “Shiites and Sunnis are brothers!”. The main reason for the protests is related to 40 percent youth unemployment. In addition, in Iraq, social services are poorly functioning, there are not enough doctors, there are failures in the supply of electricity. The main problem is drinking water. Last year, 100,000 residents of the southern city of Basra received infectious diseases due to the fact that they drank dirty water (the entire population of Basra is 2 million people). The protesters are demanding the provision of work, basic public services and they fight against all politicians.
Iraq is incredibly rich. Iraq is the fourth largest oil exporter in the world, exporting 4.5 million barrels per day. But at the same time, Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. A giant inefficient government sector of the economy and private foreign companies that control oil production are appropriating all profits. Iraqis say: “Politicians get everything, people get nothing!”.
Previously, the government actively used the factor of sectarian division of the country, directing Shiites against Sunnis or Arabs against Kurds. But currently, mainly Shiite parties are in power, while Shiites make up the majority of protesters. It is therefore difficult for the government to exploit sectarian division. In addition, the core of the protesters are young people (Iraqis aged 15 to 25 make up 8 million of Iraq’s 39 million inhabitants), and they are less dependent on sectarian religious leaders and politicians.
The movement is somewhat reminiscent of the Yellow Vests [SF note: can’t see it helps clarify anything to make this comment]. They attack government offices, shouting slogans against all parties. In the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, youths set fire to the headquarters of all political parties and then chanted : “Nasiriyah has become free of political parties!”
The Iraqi authorities and Pro-Iranian militias were able to weaken this movement by using teams of snipers and other assassins: 163 protesters were killed and 6,000 wounded. However, two days ago, a very similar movement broke out in Lebanon, covering not only Beirut but also the cities in the South.
Today [19th October] is the Shiite Holy day, Arbaeen, and 20 million [sic] pilgrims from Iraq, Lebanon, Iran are gathering in the city of Karbala in southern Iraq and the protesters want to use it.
According to an email, activists in the movement are being subjected to largely coordinated attacks, such as kidnapping, assassination and torture, by unknown armed men suspected of being members of Shiite factions, and today in Baghdad and southern Iraq, 11 demonstrators were injured, and 3 were killed. And 44 were wounded in clashes with the security forces in Khilani Square on Sunday, in Baghdad. It’s dangerous to leave your home and oil prices have reduced the value of wages.
Class struggle for the moment has been repressed also because of the epidemic: Coronavirus is the most effective weapon in the hands of the state to repress the class struggle. Fear of the epidemic is sweeping the Iraqi streets.
“In the morning, demonstrators briefly blocked several faculties in Nassiriya, reopened after clashes with university security personnel who had opened fire to disperse the strikers…Clashes between protesters and security forces, security guards and rival demonstrators are more and more frequent near schools and administrations in the south of Iran where the civil disobedience movement is running out of steam. Students continue to be the spearhead of this revolt, which calls for the overhaul of the political system and an entirely new ruling class.
Faced with them, the authorities who appointed Mohammed Allawi to form a government responsible for organizing early elections before March 2, pleaded for a return to normal life. They deployed police reinforcements around schools and administrations to reopen them. Since the start, on October 1, of an unprecedented popular revolt, nearly 550 Iraqis have been killed, almost all of them demonstrators and half of them in the capital Baghdad.“
“At least six people were killed Wednesday in Iraq when supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr allegedly opened fire on those demonstrating against the appointment of Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as prime minister. More than 40 protesters were injured when the Iraqi cleric’s supporters, also known as blue hats, tried to enter Sadrain Square in Al-Najaf province and opened fire on protesters, according to witnesses. Tents set up by protesters were also set on fire. The blue hats later announced the square was under their control after protesters were moved out. Meanwhile, in Babil, one person was killed after blue hats attacked protesters in the central Iraqi city.”
Diwaniya: further clashes with pro-government factions and those who continue struggle after protester is stabbed to death
“Anti-government demonstrators faced off against followers of influential cleric Muqtada Sadr in protest squares across Iraq on Tuesday, a day after one demonstrator was killed in a clash between the two sides. Sadr, an enigmatic militiaman-turned-politician, backed the anti-government rallies when they erupted in October but has split with other demonstrators over the nomination of Mohammad Allawi as prime minister. The cleric endorsed Allawi while other protesters rejected him, charging he is too close to the ruling elite they have been demonstrating against for four months…Sadr took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon in an apparent attempt to calm the tensions. “The ‘blue hats’ have a duty to peacefully secure schools and service centres, not to defend me or suppress the voices that chant against me,” he said. Tensions have been high in protest squares in recent days between youths furious at Allawi’s nomination and Sadrists. On Monday, a demonstrator was stabbed to death and three others wounded after men in blue caps attacked an anti-regime rally, medics and security sources said.”
Heavy clashes between pro-politician former protesters and those who recognise necessity of continuing the struggle
Sample quote: “Iraqi riot police opened fire on Tuesday amid clashes with anti-government protesters on a central Baghdad highway, wounding at least nine, officials said, the latest since violence erupted again last week between demonstrators and security forces. The clashes on the key Mohammed al-Qassim highway broke out when riot police moved in to disperse a crowd of mostly young men who had gathered there. The protesters burned tires, halting traffic along the key artery and some protesters hurled Molotov cocktails, or fire bombs at the riot police. Police shot live rounds and fired tear gas canisters at the crowd. It was not immediately known how serious the wounds of the nine protesters were. As the violence escalated, the police pulled back, allowing demonstrators to take over the thoroughfare”
“Protesters threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the police, who responded using tear gas and grenades. “They should [the security forces] stop shooting and targeting people… who are they and who are we? We are all Iraqis. Why are they shooting their brothers? “, shouts a woman in the crowd in Baghdad, who asks for anonymity. In the southern city of Basra, two policemen were hit and killed by a car during a street demonstration. According to initial reports it was an accident, because the driver of the vehicle was trying to avoid the area of clashes between citizens and police; in doing so, he panicked hitting two of them. Also in the south of the country, hundreds of demonstrators set fire to tires and blocked the main communication routes Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. According to the demonstrators, the interim Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not kept his promise to identify a new government that is “acceptable” for all Iraqis…three Katyusha rockets fell in the Green Zone in Baghdad, the maximum security area that is home to embassies and government buildings. They were launched from the district of Zafaraniyah, on the outskirts of the capital, and fell a short distance from the headquarters of the US diplomatic representation in Iraq”
“Clashes near Wasit University in Kut left 11 protesters and 49 security personnel with injuries. In Karbala, 11 protesters were injured when they tried to storm a government building. At least one protester was killed. Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Badr Organization headquarters. Tires were set on fire in Basra. No casualties were reported….Two bodies were discovered in Wadi Hajar. In Karbala, assassins killed a high-level militia commander, Taleb Abbas Ali al-Saedi, who was head of the Karbala Brigades. A mortar attack on the Balad Air Base wounded four Iraqi soldiers…”
To distract from internal miseries, the Iranian state begins provocation that could end in war with the US
“Iraqi anti-government protesters blocked roads and bridges in Baghdad and the country’s south Thursday after torching several buildings overnight. The demonstrators oppose the entire political class and have vented their anger against leaders who are negotiating to nominate an establishment insider as the next prime minister. …Smoke and flames from burning tyres in Nasiriyah, Basra and Diwaniyah blocked major roads and bridges across the Euphrates all night, AFP correspondents said, before some of these roadblocks were lifted in the morning. In Nasiriyah, demonstrators set the provincial government building ablaze overnight for a second time since the protests began, and protesters also torched the new headquarters of a pro-Iran militia in Diwaniyah. …Government offices and schools remain closed across almost all of Iraq’s south.”
“Protesters also blocked roads with burning car tires in the southern city of Basra. Around 460 protesters have been killed since the start of the demonstrations in early October and 25,000 have been wounded. Rallies have continued despite a campaign of intimidation that has included targeted killings and abductions of militants. After dwindling in recent weeks following a string of killings, the protest campaign has rediscovered its vigor”
Although this is referred to as a “mini-state”, it seems, at least from the limited reports one can get of what’s happening, to be proletarians self-organising the necessities of daily life without a clearly delineated hierarchy, unlike states throughout history, past and present.
“Road blocks and massive strikes also disrupted work in Hilla, Amara, Diwaniya, Kut and the shrine city of Najaf.“
“Since October 25, university and school students across Baghdad and Iraq’s south have defied the government and gone on strike to support protesters’ demands…”There are barely any jobs out there, even if you’re a university graduate,” he told Al Jazeera. “So, what’s the point of going to class now and then being unemployed a few years later.”…Most of those boycotting classes have been university-level students but school teachers and students have also taken part. After the Iraqi teachers’ syndicate called for a nationwide strike from October 28 to November 7 to mark the beginning of school walkouts, most schools in Baghdad and Iraq’s southern provinces shut their doors..”During the official strike, we saw 100 percent adherence at most schools across Baghdad and the south,” .. when the education ministry tried to end the strike by threatening to blame the syndicate for any measures it takes against striking teachers, the body fought back… 50 to 75 percent of school students in Baghdad and the south were on partial strike or attended protests after school hours. The ministry of higher education has warned that if university students continue to strike it may cancel spring break, while the army has warned it would detain administrators who keep schools shut as part of its fight against “terror””
“…an eerie howl from a brass trumpet breaks the uneasy silence. This is the signal for a group of young men to re-congregate for a night of personal and targeted action: burning the homes of local officials, politicians and militia leaders…In the capital, sit-ins and strikes by students have symbolised the hopes of a young generation yearning for a post-sectarian politics. But in the south, where Iran-backed militias are either stronger than the state or are the state, and where a party or a militia can dominate a single security apparatus, the rage and anger has been more personal and more vengeful….In Ammara, for instance, a crowd burnt the headquarters of a powerful Iranian-backed militia. Guards opened fire, and during the ensuing clashes protesters pulled the militia’s injured commander from an ambulance and killed him…”…when local people heard the bullets and saw their young getting killed, they left their houses. It became a matter of honour and shame. We decided to liberate our cities from these parties.”…The anger towards the militias and political parties, activists say, began with the defeat of Isis, when young men returned from the frontlines to find that their commanders had turned into warlords, accumulating wealth and business contracts. …“So many politicians and officials come from here, and yet this a very poor town in a very poor province,” says Mohamed, a human rights activist and a vocal anti-corruption campaigner. “During the elections the politicians give people blankets and a few phone cards, hire a few men to the police, pave a road … that’s how they win votes. After 16 years of Shia rule, the Shia kids are now saying that things were better under Saddam.”
Najaf: Iranian consulate torched (videos and links)
“Demonstrators outraged by rampant government corruption and poor services burned tires and blocked main road arteries…seven protesters were killed in the southern province of Basra, near the Umm Qasr port…Earlier in Basra, which accounts for nearly 85 percent of the country’s crude oil production, protesters burned tires in the city center cutting main roads. Officials said four protesters were killed in Nassiriya province, and one killed in both Najaf and Diwanieh provinces. One security official in Basra said it was “one of the worst” days since the start of the protest movement. At least 150 protesters were wounded. At least 342 people have died since demonstrations began October 1…The leaderless uprising seeks to overthrow the political establishment. Security forces appeared to have fired live rounds at protesters near the Umm Qasr port, killing three …Protesters had cut roads leading to Umm Qasr, the country’s main commodities port, halting all trade activity. Security forces cleared the area of protesters on Thursday.”
More clashes in Baghdad (videos and links)
And so it continues (videos & links)
“In the southern city of Basra, security forces dispersed a sit-in outside the local government headquarters…Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who only speaks on politics in times of crisis and wields enormous influence over public opinion in Shia-majority Iraq, held security forces accountable for any violent escalation and urged the government to respond as quickly as possible to demonstrators’ demands… Protesters, some of whom view al-Sistani as part of the political and religious system they say is the cause of many Iraqis’ misery, took little solace from the scholar’s words. “He says he’s supporting protests and that we should keep going, but he hasn’t helped. The speech won’t make a difference either way,” said one woman protesting in Baghdad whose son was killed in recent clashes…In Basra, at least five protesters were killed in confrontations on Thursday and early Friday, with security forces trying to reopen roads blocked by sit-ins, medical officials and state media said. For a week, protesters have cut access to Basra’s Umm Qasr port, which brings in most of Iraq’s food and medical imports. In Baghdad, six people died facing off against security forces Thursday”
“Demonstrators block gates to Umm Qasr port in southern Iraq, hours after services resumed following days of closure…Iraq‘s security forces shot dead at least four protesters in Baghdad on Thursday, police and medical sources said, as weeks of deadly unrest showed no signs of abating. Another 35 people were wounded in clashes near Shuhada Bridge as mass demonstrations continued for a 13th straight day with thousands thronging central areas of the capital. The protesters were trying to remove barriers near two bridges that lead to the western bank of the Tigris River and provide access to the Green Zone, which houses government offices and foreign embassies. Now all bridges leading to the Green Zone have been blocked by security forces…Protesters, mostly unemployed young people, blame a political elite that has ruled Iraq since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in a 2003 US-led invasion, and demand a complete overhaul of the political system…In southern Iraq, protesters forced the closing of the country’s main port hours after services had resumed following days of closure. The short-lived reopening of the Umm Qasr port, which houses a vital oil terminal and is an entry point for food and basic goods, came a day after the military called on the protesters to stop blocking roads and ports. But shortly afterwards, dozens of anti-government protesters – including relatives of a demonstrator killed during weeks of violence – returned and started burning tires and blocking the road to the port. Cargo-carrying trucks came to a standstill and the port shut down again. The country is beginning to feel the fiscal pinch of weeks of the unrest, which started in Baghdad and quickly spread to southern cities. The new stoppage of operations at Umm Qasr port in the south is likely to compound financial losses a day after the government said a weeklong halt of operations had cost more than $6bn…Internet returned briefly in most parts of Iraq on Thursday but went out again after 1pm local time (10:00 GMT). Authorities have heavily restricted internet access during the protests. The government said it is enacting reforms but has offered nothing that is likely to satisfy most protesters. Stipends for the poor, more job opportunities for graduates, and pledges to punish a handful of corrupt officials have come too late for those demanding an overhaul of state institutions, a flawed electoral process, and system of governance that has fuelled endemic corruption, many Iraqis say.”
“… the field’s 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) of production have been shut in for several days because road blockades in Basra are preventing tanker trucks from bringing crude to the Khor al-Zubair port. ” More here “Protests in Iraq shut down the country’s key port at Umm Qasr on Wednesday morning, as demonstrators took control of entrances into the facility days after thousands successfully blocked off the highway leading to the port.Protesters have also cordoned off the road to Iraq’s key Majnoon oil field near the southern city of Basra, while police have closed the road leading to the nearby Iranian consulate.Protesters have focused their rage on symbols of the Islamic Republic in recent days, attempting to torch the consulate in Karbala on Monday while calling for the end of Iranian meddling in domestic politics. …Six people have been killed in Basra in the past 24-hours as security forces fired rounds of live ammunition and military-grade tear gas grenades in an attempt to disperse crowds…Demonstrations showed no sign of abating in the capital, with one protester killed by smoke inhalation and at least 20 more injured after security forces opened fire on protesters attempting to cross the Al-Shuhada bridge. Three other bridges have been shut down in an effort to quash the rallies, paralysing traffic in the capital. Protests have been centered in Tahrir Square, on the eastern bank of the Tigris, as demonstrators have attempted to reach the heavily-fortified Green Zone which lies on the other side and houses government offices and foreign embassies. Two more protesters were killed in renewed clashes in Karbala on Wednesday, as the holy city becomes a flashpoint of the anti-government demonstrations.”
Umm Qasr & Shatrah – protesters seize armoured vehicle as 3 die whilst state tries to re-open port blocked for 3 days; internet shut down
“After the clashes in Shatrah, protesters set fire to the homes of three local members of parliament, according to protesters and media reports. Other protesters said there were clashes between demonstrators and security forces on Tuesday night in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, where protesters attacked the Iranian Consulate earlier this week…In Baghdad, protesters crossed a Tigris River bridge on Monday and clashed with security forces near the headquarters of state-run TV and the office of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi. At least five protesters and a member of the security forces were killed, and scores were wounded. The protesters set tires and trash containers ablaze within 500 meters (yards) of the offices, sending huge clouds of black smoke into the sky. Netblocks, a group that monitors worldwide internet access, reported a major shutdown by Iraqi authorities overnight, with usage in Baghdad and southern Iraq dropping to 19% of normal. It said the internet was partially restored early Tuesday, but that “some networks are still offline and social media and messaging apps remain blocked or degraded.” Authorities shut down internet access and blocked social media sites several times during the protests in October, but Netblocks said the latest shutdown was the most severe yet.”
Clashes continue – 5 dead (videos and links)
“The young generations no longer believe in political parties and leadership. Instead, they have increasingly resorted to trade unions and professional syndicates to voice their opinions… Groups that are far removed from any political parties were responsible for organising the demonstrations. “
“Roads closed by order of the people,” read a banner in a road that was blocked with burning tyres and barbed wire. University-age demonstrators, meanwhile, stopped traffic by parking cars in the middle of main thoroughfares, as police officers manning nearby checkpoints looked on without intervening. Other students took part in sit-ins at their schools, while the country’s national teachers union extended the strike they launched last week. Engineering, doctors and lawyers’ syndicates have all backed the demonstrations. Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from Baghdad, said the day was “anything but a typical start to the work week”. “Teachers are on strike, [classes] in Baghdad and other cities are cancelled,” Ghoneim said, adding that students were later expected to stage a protest in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad. “In the eastern portion of Baghdad, the roads are an absolute mess. Protesters are blocking many major intersections, they are lighting tyres on fire making it difficult for people to get to work. As a result, various government offices and businesses have been closed.” Demonstrators also blocked roads in the country’s south, as schools and government offices closed for the day. South of Basra, they blocked the highway leading to the Umm Qasr port, after security forces attempted to disperse a sit-in a day earlier. In the eastern city of Kut, Tahseen Nasser, a 25-year-old protester, told AFP news agency: “We decided to cut the roads as a message to the government that we will keep protesting until the corrupt people and thieves are kicked out and the regime falls…We’re not allowing government workers to reach their offices, just those in humanitarian fields,” including hospitals and police officers, he said.” Police officers – humanitarian? Though trying to stop cops would likely lead to a shoot-out, there’s no need to justify avoiding this by claiming that cops are somehow “humanitarian”, especially after the massacre of over 200 people over the last month.
“Port operations, which receives the vast majority of Iraqi imports of grains, vegetable oils and sugar… have been completely paralyzed since Wednesday. Protesters first blocked their entry a day earlier, preventing trucks carrying goods from entering or leaving the facility and causing some International shipping lines to stop operations there”
“We want a total change of government, we don’t want one or two officials fired and replaced with other corrupt ones. We want to completely uproot the government,” said protester Hussein, who did not give a last name, in Tahrir Square. “They think we will protest for one or two days then go home. No, we are staying here until the government is uprooted.” Protesters from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides thronged the centre of Baghdad in a show of fury at an elite they see as deeply corrupt, beholden to foreign powers and responsible for daily privations and shambolic public services. Protests also took place in seven other provinces, mostly in the southern Shi’ite heartland. Thousands gathered in Nassiriya, Diwaniya and oil-rich Basra while hundreds hit the streets in Hilla, Samawa, and the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf.”
“The deaths in Karbala come after three people died on Monday in the southern city of Nasiriyah from wounds sustained in earlier protests, according to medical sources. Security forces also used tear gas to disperse hundreds of school and university students who joined the protests in Baghdad on Monday. Two soldiers were reportedly seen beating high school students with batons in the Iraqi capital, actions that were condemned by the Iraqi Defense Ministry, which said the soldiers did not represent the Iraqi military as a whole. In an attempt to quell protests, a curfew was introduced in Baghdad on Monday.”
“At least two anti-government protesters were killed and 105 were wounded in clashes with security forces in central Baghdad on Monday as thousands of students took to the streets in defiance of a government order and tear gas from security forces. The students skipped classes at several universities and secondary schools in Baghdad and across Iraq’s majority-Shiite south on Monday to take part in the protests, despite the government ordering schools and universities to operate normally. It was not clear how many students were among those killed and wounded. The demonstrations are fueled by anger at corruption, economic stagnation and poor public services. “It’s a student revolution, no to the government, no to parties!” demonstrators chanted in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests. Protesters have camped out in the central roundabout and volunteers have brought them food, hoping to recreate the revolutionary atmosphere of similar rallies held across the region during and after the 2011 Arab Spring….At least 72 protesters have been killed since nationwide anti-government protests resumed on Friday, after 149 were killed during an earlier wave of protests this month.”
Over 60 killed as protesters torch dozens of provincial government buildings, party offices and offices belonging to factions of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force
“Thousands of young Iraqis have again amassed in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, shouting “they’re all thieves” on Friday, 25 October. Security forces tried to disperse them with tear gas and warning shots. Two protesters were killed in the morning, according to the Government Commission for Human Rights. “According to preliminary reports, they were hit in the face with a tear gas grenade,” Ali Al-Bayati, a member of the Commission, told AFP, adding that nearly 100 demonstrators and members of the security forces order were injured.“
SF note: there’s a certain irony amongst those denouncing the “genocide” of the Kurds in Syria (roughly 150 have been killed – certainly horrible but so far not at all genocidal, despite Trump saying the Turks needed to have a swath of Syria “cleaned out” after battling with Syrian Kurds there) whilst largely remaining silent about the 150 people who have been killed recently in the protests in Iraq. And now we see one of the reasons for this withdrawal – not just to give the green light to Turkey but to suppress the movement in Iraq.
Iraq: clashes continue (videos and links)
Iraq: death toll reaches 100 as clashes continue in Baghdad and southern part of country…this says 8 soldiers amongst those killed
“On Saturday morning the curfew was lifted in Baghdad, where over a dozen demonstrators were killed, and 40 more were wounded. Focal point Tahrir Square remains closed to cars. A witness claimed that army units tried to stop police from firing on protesters, but the military eventually retreated. Masked gunmen attacked several media outlets, including the offices of NRT, Al-Arabiya, Al-Hadath, Fallouja TV, Al-Ghad Al-Araby, SkyNews Arabia, Al-Sharqiya and Dijlah TV.“…HQs of 6 political parties torched “The mainly young, male protesters have insisted their movement is not linked to any party or religious establishment and have scoffed at recent overtures by politicians. On Saturday, demonstrators in the southern city of Nasiriyah set fire to the headquarters of six different political parties. Thousands also descended on the governorate in the southern city of Diwaniyah” See also this chronology of events from November 2018 back to July 2018 . See also this “Iraq’s wobbly democracy relies on the support of the Shia majority. The protests, though, have erupted in Shia areas and attracted the support of mostly young Iraqis, many of whom are unemployed. They are fed up with the government’s perceived incompetence and corruption. Despite increased oil revenues and relative peace after years of civil war, jobs are scarce and services are poor…There have been big protests before. In 2016 thousands of Iraqis stormed the then-fortified Green Zone, the seat of government in Baghdad, and demanded political reforms. The current protests are more spread out. There have been rallies in provincial capitals across the south and smaller, more violent protests in the suburbs. They are too numerous for the security forces to control. In Baghdad young men have cut off the airport road and set fire to the offices of the ruling Shia parties. The Green Zone, which was opened to the public in June, has been resealed. The timing of the protests seems to have caught the government off-guard. Normally they take place in the summer, when water and electricity are scarce. But the rains this year have been good and electricity production is at a post-war high. The government’s coffers are fairly flush thanks to record oil production. Still, it has been unable to deal with high poverty rates, and with youth unemployment that stands around 25%. The anger intensified after the security forces beat up new graduates seeking public-sector jobs last month. Scenes of them destroying homes built without planning permission further inflamed public sentiment… Masked men have smashed the offices of anti-Iranian satellite-TV stations that aired protest footage. Hundreds of activists have been arrested. Others have been killed in their homes. The government is also in disarray. Mr Abdul-Mahdi has unveiled a raft of measures aimed at calming the protesters, such as land distributions and increased welfare payments. But the speaker of parliament, Mahmoud al-Halbousi, has broadcast his own list of measures, including financial support for over a million low-income families… protesters… have… ignored appeals for calm from the chief Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who also warned the government that it must heed the demands of the protesters or things will get worse. Iraq’s young democracy, no stranger to tumult, may be facing its most dangerous moment yet. ”
Iraq: death toll rises as state shuts down internet on 3rd day of protests More links and videos here
Iraq: 10 dead, including 1 cop, as riots against corruption, lack of electricity, water & work spread to 8 different towns (videos and links)
“A curfew is in effect in the Iraqi capital Baghdad after a second day of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces. The restrictions will remain in place until further notice. Curfews had already been declared in three other cities as protests over lack of jobs, poor services and corruption escalated. The violence has left at least seven people dead and hundreds wounded. Social media platforms and internet access have been blocked in some areas. The nationwide protests, which appear to lack any organised leadership, are the largest since Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi took office a year ago.– here. More here. Video here explaining situation.
Iraq, Baghdad: 1 killed in protests against corruption, lack of water, of electricity and of work (videos and links)
And also these texts on this site:
Kamikaze Kapitalism (2003) On the Iraq war 2003 and aspects of its real and false opposition
Kurdish Uprising On the Kurdish uprising following the 1991 Gulf war
See comments boxes at the bottom of this post for links to other texts
“…for the majority of people the revolt has put a smile on their face (not something you see often in Santiago)…”
See also “Chile” on this site (a chronology over the last year, plus some extra links)
Left: Chile November 2019 Right: Paris, May 1968
Valaparaiso: heavy clashes (more here) – videos
“The traditional “Valdivian Night” was held on Saturday night in the capital of the Los Ríos Region, but the celebration was marred by isolated incidents and clashes between protesters and police. … the clashes were said to have started at about 10:00 pm in the Pedro de Valdivia Bridge sector where protesters threw different objects at police personnel who were there. The Carabineros for its part intervened with tear gas and the water cannon. After this some barricades were lit …and there was an attempt to loot a supermarket and an attempt to torch the town hall…”
Further clashes (this time over proposals for a new constitution – proposals that, to say the least, distract from the essential) (videos & links)
“A group of hooded people set fire to a truck and an old house in downtown Santiago…Plaza Italia, the usual protest zone in Santiago, gathered thousands of people with flags… in a peaceful demonstration that contrasted with the incidents that occurred in adjacent streets, where neighbors were locked in their homes, shops were boarded up with steel and traffic signs were destroyed by hooded people…The events occurred on Vicuña Mackenna Avenue that has been transformed into an area of vandalism and clashes between hooded protesters and riot cops since the social crisis began on October 18 last year. Four months later, the social explosion has left 31 dead throughout Chile and thousands injured, according to figures from the National Prosecutor’s Office. For the month of March, the Chilean population fears that violence will revive with dozens of marches that have already been announced on social networks against the government of President Sebastián Piñera. Since the protests began, the president has sent social reforms to Congress to respond to the demands that are heard in the demonstrations, but he has not yet managed to placate these protests, the most acute since Chile returned to democracy in 1990. Amid the disorders, Chileans prepare for the plebiscite that will be held on April 26 in which they must answer two questions: whether or not they want a new Constitution and what type of body should write it, a constituent assembly formed by legislators current or only by members elected at the polls.“
“In Puente Alto, a group of protesters attacked the 20th Police Station. While that was happening, in the surrounding vicinity protesters threw blunt objects at police officers and they responded with water cannon. A tense night was also experienced in Huechuraba, after a Transantiago bus was burned near the 54th Police Station,…As in Puente Alto, there were clashes between protesters and uniformed police officials, which caused Special Forces personnel to use water cannons and teargas-throwing trucks…50 individuals threatened the bus driver to get off with the passengers…The protesters asked him for the fire extinguishers of the vehicle, “with which they made a smoke screen in front of the barracks.” Muñoz said that “taking advantage of the poor visibility of the police personnel to where the bus was, (the subjects) proceeded to throw a burning tire inside.”“
“Around 22:00 …at least 80 people gathered in the immediate vicinity of the town square and then, with blunt instruments and fireworks, attacked the 54th Police Station... a police officer trying to repel the attacks was injured in the leg by the blow with a fire extinguisher, resulting in minor injuries and being transferred to the institutional hospital.“
“High school students who unleashed the social upheaval in Chile in October against the government of Sebastián Piñera returned on Monday to take the metro stations and generate disturbances in some venues where the university entrance test was submitted, which they oppose as an unfair selection system. The busy Plaza Egaña station was taken over by more than a hundred students who displayed banners and chanted protest songs, forcing the service to be suspended. Some violent incidents were recorded in the wealthy neighborhoods of Providencia, Las Condes and other areas of the metropolitan region, as well as in the Valparaíso region and in Colonel, in Bio Bio….The students, who in some places prevented access to those who wanted to take the exam, threw blunt instruments and faced police control, which was reinforced for the test. In Las Condes the test was suspended in one of its precincts and eight people were arrested…The test was also suspended in other places and the authorities informed the students that they will be sent to other venues to be able to perform in the afternoon. It is expected that this Tuesday there will be a second day of testing. In the afternoon, Francisco Galli, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Interior, reported that there were 68 detainees…The authorities minimized the impact of the protests. “Of the 238 premises in which this test was to be applied, it could be carried out in 235. In eight of them, however, there were partial suspensions, which indicates that 98% of the premises could effectively take the test. ” , said Aldo Valle, vice president of the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities.“
“On Tuesday afternoon, incidents were reported outside the Seventh Police Station in Renca…The commissioner of the barracks, Major Hector Carrasco, noted that the subjects “gathered in the central area and spontaneously, gradually and violently began attacking the barracks and staff outside (…) resulting in some Carabineros personnel being some injured.” According to the officer, the subjects threw “large cobblestones, molotov bombs…and steel balls…”, which led to the Special Forces launching teargas bombs. Protesters subsequently used fire extinguishers …A total of 12 people were arrested – including a minor – for disorder….Added to these incidents was a new night of violence – the eighth in a row – in the southern sector of Pudahuel, after a Carabineros patrol ran over a young man demonstrating …On Tuesday there were also riots in the vicinity of the 44th Carabineros police station of Macul…within metres of the 43rd of Peñalolén…about 15 protesters erected barricades around 11.30 pm”
”Built in 1876, the church has been dedicated to the police for over 40 years. Protesters removed furniture from inside the building and set fire to large barricades outside….Groups of hooded men clashed violently with police around the church, while in other parts of the city protesters peacefully protested for greater social reform and against the right-wing government of President Sebastián Piñera.
Since October, protests have left 29 people dead. A referendum will be held on April 26 for the Chileans to decide whether or not to amend their Constitution, a legacy of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). A change to the current Constitution, approved on September 11, 1980 in a controversial referendum during the military dictatorship, is one of the main demands expressed during the social demonstrations that rocked the country.”
Changing the constitution is a statist distraction from the progress of struggle and will derail the movement if it hasn’t already done so for many people. What’s extraordinary is the fact that anarchists, including supposedly the most implacable ones – the insurrectionalists who have an ideology of striving for an insurrection at any single moment without attempting to clarify current modern contradictions – seem to have succumbed to this perspective, possibly in order to court popularity. I repeat – in 1919 Germany the pursuit of a constituent assembly and of a new constitution derailed the social movement. And we all know the eventual consequence of that. Sadly, for fear of venturing into the unknown informed by aspects of past experiments in subversive social contestation, people seek a false security in political mirages that seem to be solutions as part of their confused response to an increasingly insecure world .
This might not seem very much but considering that there were hardly any strikes in the copper industry (there was a 24-hour one at the end of October but nothing as far as I can see in November) and considering that this industry is Chile’s major industry, this is quite high and possibly indicates hidden resistance to the miseries of work – even high-paid work – possibly encouraged by the movement. Considering that economic activity as a whole was down 3.3% in November, this surely implies a significant level of resistance amongst copper mining workers that has not been revealed by much overt opposition from them. Sure, they’re in a position to do a lot more, but let’s not minimise this.
Santiago: central square occupied following renewed clashes; cops set fire to cinema which housed medical personnel who came to the aid of wounded demonstrators
Hardly a critique of the cinema, more a brutal form of revenge.
Whilst it’s obvious that the Mapuches have been possibly the most significant victims of state violence, it’s vital not to just accept their culture, and the hierarchical elements of their culture, as an uncriticisable given. But I need to discover more about them.
“The only long-term solution is a Constituent Assembly. This is the only way that the legitimacy problem can be circumvented.” A Constituent Assembly was Germany’s social democratic solution to the revolution that ended WWl, using the fascist Freikorps to repress the most revolutionary sections. The German working class, having occupied the factories, effectively had most of the power of the economy in their hands but handed this power over to Social Democrats who’d already helped send them to the slaughter of the trenches. As “long-term” solutions go, we can see the long term results of this Constituent Assembly – Hitler’s eventual ascent to power and WWll. Today, anyone with intelligence and the will to determine their own lives knows that the only solution globally to the crises of austerity, of the emptiness of daily life and of the impending destruction of the planet is the global suppression of the commodity economy, not some Constituent Assembly. The affirmation of the masses of individuals against the materialised alienated power that’s been stolen from us aims for nothing less. But many are far too easily distracted into reforms of this, that and the other that can only, at best, offer temporary relief from the disaster; at worst, merely a mirage of hope that evaporates as soon as you approach it.
Union bureaucrats meet with murdering government to discuss crisis of their respective forms of organisation
“In the last few days, a new form of social organization has emerged. The masses stop traffic, drivers must get out of the car and dance with the people if they want to get through. On Sunday afternoon, a U.S. Citizen in the middle of one of these demonstrations fired his weapon in front of the protesters, demanding a “legitimate defense”. Since then, the state has condemned the spontaneous manifestation as psychological torture. They call it a “fascist practice”, a form of humiliation to take away your dignity, to tell you, “you do not own your life, we control it and will tell you what you have to do.”
“At night, hooded men ransacked and burned a luxury Costa Real hotel and a public office in the city of La Serena, while a supermarket was robbed in Iquique, and the newspaper El Líder de San Antonio was burned. In Valparaíso protesters installed barricades and caused fires. Earlier in Santiago, thousands marched in the context of a strike that ended with hooded people rioting, shattering the gates of the Republic Station of Metro Line 1 to build barricades….
Meanwhile, thousands of other people gathered to demonstrate in Plaza Italia, in downtown Santiago, where riots occurred. …After more than a month of protests, 67% of the population expressed their support for maintaining these mobilizations.“ a barbecue of looted goods
Sofa so goooood
“Pinera.. now wants to change the law so the army can be deployed to “control infrastructure, including essential public services and police activities” without the need to declare a state of emergency. It would allow the military to “monitor and patrol our streets,” he enthused.”
Which brings to mind this quote from Chilean anarchists: “… the government, with its tail between its legs, in a meeting at La Moneda asks the Armed Forces once again for help in the systematic repression of our class, however, the latter asked the government for guarantees of impunity for the crimes against humanity they would carry out against the peoples in struggle, and in view of the liberal fear of the political responsibilities associated with this decision, the government decided not to guarantee such a request, so the Armed Forces decided not to go out into the street, leaving Piñera and his ridiculous entourage in a National Chain where the braggart had to call retired cops to collaborate in the repression. Far from seeming funny to us, it seems worrying, the Armed Forces are deliberating and making decisions for themselves, therefore their political project takes on relevance in the current scenario, a project that will look for the impossibility of the current political caste to establish order in the face of the social outburst starting from a political solution, to intervene violently in the situation, in order to re-establish the bourgeois order at the point of bullets and humiliations. We call on the communities in struggle to be alert to the possibility of military terror returning to the streets, but this time from a more radical intervention.”
“Members of the Chilean Dockworkers Union began a 48-hour strike on Monday morning, paralysing operations at 24 ports up and down the country’s 6,435km (4,000-mile) Pacific coastline. Education, health, transport, public sector and other labour unions are scheduled to strike on Tuesday…”We’re on strike because of the injustice in the country,” said Walter Inestroza, a spokesperson for the local branch of the dockworkers union in Antofagasta ..”There is so much inequality,” Alberto Mamquepan, an indigenous Mapuche dockworker in Antofagasta, told Al Jazeera. “The system is rotten.” Compared to most jobs in the city, dockworkers make good money, but dockworkers also have parents and grandparents with miserable pensions, said Mamquepan. The protests cannot be pinned down to any single issue, he said. “It is … everything. It is not one single thing. That is why things exploded,” he said. “This affects us all.”…Government officials estimate arson, looting and property destruction over the past five weeks have caused $3bn in property damage.”
“Violence continued on Saturday in Chile… with the pillaging of a bank near Santiago, the looting of shops and attacks on police stations, and dozens of wounded and arrests…A protest Friday in Maipu, in the suburbs of the capital, escalated into violence all night long. One group took the opportunity to storm a bank and leave with 150 million pesos (about 190,000 dollars), 16,000 dollars, 3,800 euros and two weapons…Following a massive new protest on Plaza Italia in Santiago, the epicenter of the social movement, shops, supermarkets and offices were ransacked in the city center. Two shopping malls and a cultural center were set on fire by people wearing hoods…Protesters also attacked seven police stations across the country, in the capital and in the towns of La Calera (center), Bulnes and Los Angeles (south). Saturday’s violent day resulted in 127 injuries among civilians and law enforcement officials, and nearly 300 arrests nationwide“
“The death toll from violent unrest in Chile rose to 23 on Friday as the country entered its fifth week of social unrest. Looting and demonstrations took place in cities across the South American nation, and an agreement on a political roadmap that will see Chile draft a new constitution has halted neither the anger, nor the bloodshed…”We cannot ease up. We have to keep expressing ourselves because we have not achieved anything, because the repression continues and also (the government) keeps signing fake agreements, like the peace deal,” Claudia Ortolani, a young protester, told AFP…in Quilicura, north of Santiago, a shopping center was set on fire and looted by a crowd while in Puente Alto, another working-class area, a gas station, a police headquarters and businesses were attacked. In the northern city of Antofagasta, a motorist injured five people when he ran down protesters, while a supermarket was ransacked. Looting, barricades and fires were also recorded in the port of Valparaiso and the city of Vina del Mar, and in Concepcion in the south.”
Clashes in 3 cities (videos and links)…anarchist report on the day
“…on Tuesday, November 12, in the context of the massive strike that spread through all the territories, the government, with its tail between its legs, in a meeting at La Moneda asks the Armed Forces once again for help in the systematic repression of our class, however, the latter asked the government for guarantees of impunity for the crimes against humanity they would carry out against the peoples in struggle, and in view of the liberal fear of the political responsibilities associated with this decision, the government decided not to guarantee such a request, so the Armed Forces decided not to go out into the street, leaving Piñera and his ridiculous entourage in a National Chain where the braggart had to call retired cops to collaborate in the repression. Far from seeming funny to us, it seems worrying, the Armed Forces are deliberating and making decisions for themselves, therefore their political project takes on relevance in the current scenario, a project that will look for the impossibility of the current political caste to establish order in the face of the social outburst starting from a political solution, to intervene violently in the situation, in order to re-establish the bourgeois order at the point of bullets and humiliations. We call on the communities in struggle to be alert to the possibility of military terror returning to the streets, but this time from a more radical intervention.”
Walmart seeks police protection after the burning &/or looting of over 120 of their supermarkets during the movement
This represents about a third of their total retail outlets. According to some, about an eighth of the country’s supermarkets were wrecked &/or looted.
This gives higher figures: “The company has experienced 1,200 episodes of lootings and fires at 128 of its nearly 400 stores, with 34 supermarkets being set on fire, and 17 of them being destroyed”.
“In Chile, it was sparked by a minor increase in the capital’s subway fare. In Ecuador, it was the end of fuel subsidies, and in Bolivia, a stolen election. Latin America, which a decade ago harnessed a commodities boom to pull millions out of poverty and offer what many saw as a model of modernization, is in revolt. It’s not another pink tide, nor is it a lurch to the right; the movement is more a non-specific, down-with-the-system rage. Furious commuters are looting cities, governments are on the run, and investors are unloading assets as fast as they can…”
Protests continue as ruling class hope to derail it with referendum on new constitution and a few reforms More on this here (Trotskyist site)
“Throughout the weekend, demonstrators responded to these maneuvers by again filling the streets of Santiago, Valparaíso, Antofagasta and other major cities to protest the agreement. On Sunday, a media stunt by the former presidential candidate for the Broad Front, Beatriz Sánchez, who received over 20 percent of the vote in 2017, failed when demonstrators chanted for her to leave the main plaza of Santiago calling her a “traitor.”…Across the major “popular assemblies,” within the trade unions, and through its online publication La Izquierda Diario, the Revolutionary Workers Party (PTR) has played a key role in legitimizing the PCCh and Broad Front and channeling all opposition behind them. It has claimed that these assemblies run by tested and tried officials loyal to bourgeois rule are a necessary step toward “popular self-organization.” PTR leader Nicolás Bustamante said at a rally in Buenos Aires on Saturday organized by its Argentine partner PTS, that the PTR created one such assembly “from the Colegio de Profesores [teachers’ union]…with the goal of expanding this organism to the rest of workers organizations, form dockworkers to miners, and the most organized neighborhoods.” Their assembly has so far voted for “a campaign against repression” and “demanding that the trade-union bureaucracy of the Social Unity Roundtable…again demand ‘Out Piñera’ and a general strike to achieve that.”
Santiago, Valparaiso, Temuco: clashes, barricades, motolovs & some looting on 1st anniversary of murder of Mapuche Indian (videos and links)
Talca: offices of UDI (pro-Pinochet party) torched (7 others having been torched beforehand) Videos and links
Chile (Renaca et Punta Arenas): rioting and looting (videos and links in Spanish)
“The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions”
– Karl Marx, “Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right“
I wonder if these anarchists were thinking of Bakunin’s suggestion during the 1849 Dresden uprising that the artworks of the museum be looted and put up on the barricades to slow the advance of the troops whose generals would value art above human beings…? In a Catholic country for troops to shoot the Virgin Mary would result in permanent excommunication.
Inspired by Chopin’s “Revolutionary Étude”?
This university was private, strictly for the children of the bourgeoisie – ie the future bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, it’s not only the obvious institutions for the training of the future elite that need subverting: ” The University has always been… as fundamental an aspect of class society as has been the dominant media: a society in which the ruling class speaks to, and tries to convince, itself and society generally in order to ever-perfect its forms of social control. Whilst academia’s differing illusions of “objectivity” and “neutral” acquisition of knowledge have changed and developed, along with its intake, over the centuries, its fundamental prop for this miserable world has always remained….There will be no more reason to retain the University in a free society than to retain banks, police or supermarkets. The University is, as always, a product and producer of the hierarchical division of labour, and must disappear if we’re ever to free ourselves from the alienations of class society: in the only possible future which does not involve barbarism, education shall be everywhere, the educators shall be educated and those who have specialist knowledge will share this knowledge with whoever they want (and not just in the future, but also now). In the present, with the increasing imposition of debt-inducing fees, in many countries the University’s intellectual specialisation is increasingly open only to the children of the elite, but even where such fees are being successfully resisted, there is no reason to support such an ideology-factory. In manufacturing ideas separate from their social consequences, it is an arm of separate power, of class power. There is no such thing as a Free University, an Open University or a People’s University, any more than there could be such a thing as a Free Bank, an Open Bank or a People’s Bank (or a Free Police, an Open Police or a People’s Police). The abolition of the commodity economy and the abolition of specialised intellect necessary to justify and reinforce it entail the end of both universities and banks. Just as banks are an expression of the mediation of life by value and the relatively arbitary hierarchies it produces, so universities are a symptom of the hierarchy of brain over body, thought divorced from its social consequences, the production of words and insights resulting at best in “interesting ideas”: entertainment or half-truths easily used by our enemies.” – here
“The office of the Independent Democratic Union [party whose origins are linked to Pinochet; it opposes abortion and other minimal freedoms for women] was destroyed after unknown people looted and burned it. This was also the headquarters of the senator and party president Jacqueline Van Rysselberghe and her brother Enrique Van Rysselberghe, a deputy from the same district.”
“…once again the commune of Providencia was the scene of barricades and looting during the afternoon of Thursday, on a new day of demonstrations. The calls to protest…caused barricades and clashes with police in various intersections of Providencia Avenue, such as Lyon, Sweden, Pedro de Valdivia, Holland, Old Guard and Miguel Claro, in addition to other interior streets. Looting was also recorded at the Casa & Ideas store near Sweden, where violent people stormed the premises and took out various items to set them on fire and disrupt traffic. An attack was also reported against a local Pronto de Copec [petrol station].”
Santiago: 2 banks looted, government buildings attacked, as riots spread to rich part of town and state tries to buy off movement with increase in minimum wage
“Hundreds of demonstrators marched towards the Costanera Center, South America’s largest shopping mall and a complex that includes the region’s tallest building — a symbol of the economic expansion that has made Chile one the region’s most stable countries. A phalanx of riot police stopped the demonstrators, firing water cannons and launching tear gas to disperse the crowds that gathered at the mall.The demonstrations then spilled into the wealthy Providencia neighborhood, the hub of Chile’s financial sector, where protesters lit fires, battled with police, looted a pharmacy and at least two banks, and damaged government buildings…Separately in Renca, a working-class neighborhood in northern Santiago, a small crowd attacked a police station leaving five officers injured. And truckers and car drivers blocked highways protesting the increase in road tolls…, on Wednesday [Pinera] signed a law guaranteeing a minimum monthly wage of some $467.” More here ” ”I came here because it’s an iconic place for the whole economic model,” said Gonzalo Campos, an intern, as he banged a saucepan on the street. “This is where all the posh people live and there are never demonstrations here. They have to learn how much discontent there is and the only way is to come here and protest in their faces.” In the streets around him a few hundred demonstrators played cat and mouse with police who deployed water cannons and tear gas to move them on. Protesters quickly picked up the tear gas canisters and threw them in the San Carlos canal that runs through the neighborhood. Towering over the protest was Latin America’s tallest building, a symbol of Chile’s modernity and progress that sits on top of the Costanera Center shopping mall. On Tuesday, welders had installed barbed wire and metallic shutters around the mall. Workers in the nearby offices and buildings sites had left early and tried to make their way home through the tear gas on the streets. Some local residents clapped the protesters from their window. …A plethora of groups from students to unions are pushing for improvements to wages, pensions, health care, education and transport, as well as a new constitution. So far, social concessions granted by the center-right government of President Sebastian Pinera have failed to appease them. “There isn’t one single struggle,” said Javier Pino, a student at the University of Santiago in the protest. “There is population-wide discontent about the low wages and the high cost of living.”” More here “In Renca, a popular neighborhood in northern Santiago, about 20 people attacked a police station. Five policemen were injured. Lorry drivers and motorists have also blocked several roads.“
Clashes continue (video of Santiago riots)
More heavy clashes (videos and links)
More demonstrations. Includes video
“All governments – left or right wing – have stolen from us” – protester
What seems (from this distance) like a trade union initiative bordering on recuperation but maybe with potential to go beyond that
“Chileans have installed some 200 “Self-Convened and Open Town Councils” to maintain the independence and strength of their collective action….the Workers’ United Center of Chile (CUT) presented to the citizens a weekend protest program which includes the performance of a “Super Monday” with mass mobilizations throughout the country. On next Monday Chilean workers will march at 12:00 to the Congress, which is located in Valparaiso city, to demand right-wing lawmakers to stop the debate of the government’s bills. At 5:00 p.m., people will gather at the cities’ main squares carrying posters with their demands. In Santiago, the concentration will take place in the Italy Square where the population will remind Piñera that the collective struggle seeks to reach a new Constitution, a minimum wage of US$675, a retirement pension equivalent to the minimum wage, cheaper basic services, free public transportation for senior citizens and students, among other demands. On Saturday and Sunday, workers will go to neighborhoods across the country to support the “Self-Convened and Open Town Councils,” which do not obey the dialogue strategy whereby Piñera tries to disrupt the people’s independence and strength…citizens have created about 200 open town councils in recent days, which has mobilized some 10,000 persons to authentic dialogue processes where people discuss the country’s problems and how to solve them.” Maybe I’m reading too much into this, since it all seems very tame. However, even such initiatives can be pushed further by those who offer some more radical analysis and/or practical suggestions to these kinds of public discussions.
And it continues Videos and links
Sample quote: “In Iquique, in the north of the country, at least four unidentified people carried out an incendiary attack on the cathedral, which suffered some damage to its facade. In the same city, a group of hooded men ransacked, destroyed and burned several toll booths”
“Hotel and tour groups have seen 40% of reservations for this spring and summer canceled in the past few weeks as the violence mounted, according to the Federation of Tourism Companies. “In all my years in the industry, I haven’t seen anything like this,” said Helen Kouyoumdjian, executive vice-president of the Federation. “And this is still in development. We don’t know what is going to happen.” The Principado de Asturias hotel in Santiago was attacked, the lobby destroyed, its windows smashed and guests forced to flee early on in the protests. Later the Mercure hotel in the center of the city was ransacked, and then badly damaged by fire.” – here
Includes some of the more horrific aspects of the repression.
“…In the current context, the repressive arsenal of the Chilean State has materialized into: … Physical, psychological and sexual assaults and tortures against detained people in public thoroughfares, vehicles and police stations. Kidnapping of people using police and civilian vehicles. Images have been circulated of people being locked in the boots of police vehicles. Shots fired from behind in the street at people who are given the false impression of escaping from arrests. False permissions given by police and military to loot supermarkets that end in arrests and murders that are later reported as deaths caused as a result of the riots. Fires in large commercial premises caused by repressive forces so that companies can collect the associated insurance. In some of these fires burnt corpses have been found. Throwing people from moving police cars and then shooting them. Hanging of the bodies of people killed in vacant lots and of living people in police barracks. The massive use of social networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook has allowed for the immediate circulation of innumerable audiovisual evidence of the situations described above, which is being disseminated by “alternative” dissemination groups linked to the struggles, breaking the communication strategy deployed by the government and supported by the official media historically servile to power….”
“The popular rejection of the Chilean political elite continues to expand as over 2,500 workers from the mining company Escondida, the world’s largest copper deposit, begin a 24-hour strike today…In the last 24 hours, in turn, looting of shopping centers and fires in government offices have been reported in several Chilean cities.” More here “Fresh protests and attacks on businesses erupted in Chile Monday despite President Sebastián Piñera’s replacement of eight key Cabinet ministers with more centrist figures and his attempts to assure the country he has heard calls for greater equality and improved social services. Thousands of protesters crowded again into central Santiago, and one group set fire to a building that houses a fast-food restaurant and stores. Firefighters were battling the blaze. …Other looters attacked a pharmacy, and there was an attempt to set a subway station on fire…At least a couple dozen glass storefronts were smashed and graffiti cursing Piñera and calling for revolution was sprayed on virtually every building….“Chile has changed and the government must change,” Chile’s president said. However, his government announced no policies Monday aimed at addressing 10 days of protests over deficient social services and the high cost of living in one of Latin America’s most prosperous and modern nations.“A new Cabinet isn’t enough, we need real changes in health care, education, pensions,” said Omar Soto, 34, who runs a cellphone shop.”
Worth remembering that on 10th November 2017, in Aracunia in Chile a bus was torched in Mapuche territory in protest against the Pope’s visit
“Hooded activists in Chile have burned a bus and scattered pamphlets in protest of an upcoming visit by Pope Francis to a southern region claimed by the Mapuche indigenous group as its ancestral territory. …The pamphlets read: “Fire to the churches. Pope Francis: You’re not welcome here in Araucania.””
Hallowed Be Thy show
Thy State Power Come
Thy Will Be Done
On The Streets As It Is In Work.
Sell Us This Day Our Daily Lie
And Justify Us Y/ourProperty.
As We Submit To Those
That Assert Property
Relations Against Us
And Lead Us Anywhere But
Into Autonomous Temptation
But Deliver Us From Anti-Hierarchical Initiative
For Ours’ Is The Stagnation,
The Cop And The Celebrity
Forever Or Never?
General Strike declared… as Trade Unions do their usual pretense of opposition so as to collaborate with the ruling class
“Tens of thousands of Chileans marched in Santiago, the capital city, as well as elsewhere in the country on Wednesday. Students and trade union leaders headed the demonstration, which took place even though President Sebastian Pinera announced a series of social reforms in a bid to quell days of violent protests. Protesters waved banners and national flags and shouted “Chile has woken up.”…Some protesters erected flaming barricades and clashed with riot police. Police deployed water cannon and fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the protesters. Two supermarkets were set on fire in the north of Chile, and a hotel was looted near Italia square in Santiago, broadcaster 24 Horas reported….Codelco, the Chilean state mining company, had to shut one mine and drastically reduce operations at a smelter, after workers joined the strike. Six of Codelco’s eight divisions were carrying on with the “majority of their operations,” the company said in a statement. The Copper Workers Federation (FTC), which unionizes workers from Codelco, announced late on Tuesday that its workers would join the strike…Later on Wednesday the FTC trade union called off the strike. They agreed to meet with government officials to improve workers conditions. On Tuesday the FTC and the National Grouping of Fiscal Employees, among other unions, had continued to back the strike, even after Pinera had announced a social reform package. The trade unionists who called the two-day strike initially wanted Pinera to discuss the proposed social reforms with grassroots organizations and for him to remove soldiers from the streets. Reforms announced by Pinera on Tuesday include an increase in the monthly pension, raising the minimum wage and canceling a 92% rise in electricity rates due to take effect next month.”
(“ladrones” = thieves in Spanish)
“It is the game of dare that shatters the vulnerable veil separating the dispossessed from the “wealth” this world has to offer, at the same time shattering the ideology of exchange that separates people from each other; looting is a collective activity that unites us on the basis of an immediate break with our habitual submission to space & things….shopping keeps us apart, making everyone the policeman of their own encounters, reducing everyone to the banality of shop assistants and customers, workers and consumers, enervating queues and digits on a till. Products of competing businesses… shops perpetuate the nonsensical degrading form of organising things, the commodity form, which not only insults everyone’s imagination and dignity, but is also bureaucratic, inefficient and wasteful. Any proletarian with an ounce of audacity rightly goes out and liberates them on the basic class recognition of a simple re-distribution of wealth.”
Videos and links related to several towns, mainly in Spanish (19 – 22 /10/19)
President tries to buy off movement with increases in pensions, minimum wage, rescinding of electricity price rises and tax rises for the rich
Chile: protests spread to Valparaíso (where curfew was also imposed), Coquimbo, Concepción and Temuc
“Fire, smoke and sirens. Santiago looks like a post-war city. … young people…protest against the political and entrepreneurial class of Chile, whom they hold responsible for the price increase and their miserable income. …Those who complain about social injustice make noises with pans, or hit the ground and lampposts with hammers and sticks on the ground. …Trade suffers a wave of looting. From food to large televisions, vandals destroy everything…”
“Until the proletariat seizes and transforms the economy, pillage will always be the minimum expression of life. Looting implies mass communal direct power, unmediated by buying & selling, by cops & specialists: it is the necessary ‘chaos’ through which we must pass in order to organise the distribution of things on a rational and playful human basis. Theft, particularly mass theft, gives you the chance to re-invent the use of a thing beyond the resigned individuals’ normal submission to the insult of its market value the use to which the Economy demands the individual sacrifice himself to, for which degrading irrationality all the Property Laws are the tedious justification.” – here
Chile, Santiago: State of emergency declared as youths riot in response to cops getting heavy over mass fare dodging against fare increases (and other reasons)
“The latest protests follow grievances over the cost of living, specifically the costs of healthcare, education and public services. Unsatisfied by partial reforms following widespread education protests in 2011, the metro fare rise has proved the spark that has awoken Chile’s formidable student body…The entity that controls the Santiago Metro network has already confirmed that there will be no service over the weekend, and the Chilean student federation has called a nationwide strike for Monday.”
…More here “…as night fell, the Enel utility building and a branch of Banco Chile, both in the city center, were set on fire. … no employees were injured…A nearby supermarket was also looted and several metro stations were attacked with Molotov cocktails…Before the metro stations were closed, calls to get on the trains without tickets had circulated, protesting against the increase in the price of metro tickets, from 800 to 830 pesos (about $ 2) during rush hour , after already a first increase of 20 pesos last January. “The entire network is closed due to riots and destruction that prevent the minimum security conditions for passengers and workers,” the metro manager said on Twitter, after attacks against almost all 164 stations where many gates and turnstiles were destroyed. …The Santiago Metro, the largest (140 km) and most modern in South America, which carries about 3 million passengers per day, is expected to remain closed this weekend and could reopen gradually next week. Many Santiago residents have had to walk home, sometimes traveling long distances, resulting in scenes of chaos and despair. In various parts of the city, protesters erected barricades and clashed with police, who used water cannons and tear gas, the most long-standing street battle scenes in the Chilean capital…President Sebastian Pinera called the protesters delinquents. “This desire to break everything is not a protest, it’s criminal,” he said in a radio interview. Thursday, 133 people had been arrested for damage in the metro stations, where the damage amounted to 400 to 500 million pesos (about $ 925,000)”.… More here“The campaign erupted when secondary school students began to jump barriers in groups following a fare rise on 6 October, which put Santiago’s metro among the most expensive in Latin America at 830 pesos ($1.17) during the rush hour. Bus prices also climbed as part of the changes…The demonstrations have spread across the city, leading to violent clashes between protesters and police, who have used teargas to disperse crowds on concourses and platforms. Protesters have vandalized barriers and electronic turnstiles, and pulled emergency brakes on trains, affecting the more than 2.5 million passengers who use the metro each day. Police have made dozens of arrests and two officers were reportedly injured.” …More here “The state of emergency will initially run for 15 days and restricts freedom of movement and assembly. Due to the emergency, the National Football Association has suspended matches this weekend. General Iturriaga said the military would patrol major trouble spots in the city of seven million but would not impose a curfew at present.”
View of Macul Metro station set on fire by protesters during a mass fare-dodging protest in Santiago, on October 19, 2019. Santiago’s underground network is the longest and most modern in South America.
For information on the class struggle in Chile under Allende, see this.
And on Pinochet’s coup of September 1973, see: “Strange Defeat”, written in October 1973
“A homemade, remote-controlled bomb intended to “kill or to harm” riot control officers was detonated as they deployed against renewed violence in Hong Kong over the weekend, police said Monday, in a further escalation of destructive street battles gripping the business hub. The “loud thud” Sunday night close to riot officers who had been clearing away a protester-built road block was the first known use of an explosive device during protests that started in June over a contested extradition bill and have snowballed into an anti-government, anti-police and anti-China movement. “It exploded less than 2 meters) away from a police vehicle. We have reason to believe that the bomb was meant to target police officers,” Deputy Commissioner Tang Ping-keung said at a news conference, speaking through a translator.”
Was this a bomb planted by the state or was it made by protesters ?
Who knows ? It’s certainly possible that the state is preparing the ground for a bigger bomb which would maybe seem to target cops but in fact kills loads of other people, or some variant on this – eg one that does kill loads of cops, with all its obvious consequences and probably some not-so-obvious ones. It could also have been a bomb made by a protester with no sense of strategy. Who knows ? But speculation is potentially also preparation for such a possible event…
I’ve written far too often before on this possibility.But it should be repeated.
On 11th September, Beijing claimed that there are those in Hong Kong who are planning a 9/11-type terror. Should such an explosion eventually happen, or conveniently be prevented by Hong Kong’s finest in the nick of time, the state will undoubtedly dismiss those who cry “conspiracy!” on the basis of the traditional dismissal of all those who talk of conspiracy (one of the problems with conspiracy theorists is that they reduce all the contradictions of this society to “conspiracy”, and cry wolf so often that, even when the accusation is accurate, nobody believes them). Moreover, the state will probably issue, under false names, loads of conspiracy theories about it that are easily refutable in order to bury the more credible ones under a welter of bulshit. On 20th July HK cops discovered the largest ever cache of high-powered explosives uncovered in the city and then carried out a controlled explosion (see this) . “Police uncovered 2 kilograms of high explosives, 10 petrol bombs, corrosive liquids, weapons and metal poles at the property.The preparation of TATP can easily result in accidental detonation if mistakes are made. Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah, of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, said the man arrested was wearing a shirt with the logo of the banned pro-independence group Hong Kong National Front. Rallies are taking place across Hong Kong on Saturday and Sunday, with both pro-government and anti-extradition bill marches scheduled. Li said police were still investigating a possible motive and intended uses for the explosives. He did not say if extra police would be arranged for protests this weekend as a result of the raid.”
On Thursday, the 18th of July, this report was published: “Chinese officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs are working on an urgent strategy to solve the city’s political chaos and have ruled out the use of military force…They will soon present top leaders in Beijing with both an immediate plan to handle the mass protests and a longer-term strategy that could result in China overhauling its management of the former British colony…The Chinese officials also see Hong Kong’s police force as key to maintaining stability…Mainland officials want to avoid bloodshed and ensure the financial hub remains largely stable…. China’s approach will be to “lure the snake from its hole,” according to one adviser cited by the SCMP, taking a defensive position until the opposition reveals its strategy.”
Are all these things mere coincidence?
The report above says “A powerful high explosive, TATP was used in the November 2015 Paris attacks, the March 2016 Brussels bombings, the 2017 May Manchester bombing and a failed bomb attempt by an Islamist extremist at the Gare Centrale in Brussels in 2017.” Is this part of China’s “urgent plan”? Is this a way of luring “the snake from its hole”?
In December 1969, after a massive social movement threatened to turn into an Italian equivalent of France’s May ’68, fascists in collaboration with a section of the state, planted a bomb in a bank in Milan that killed 17 people; the state blamed it on anarchists.
The Falklands war of 1982, when Thatcher deliberately allowed Argentina to invade so as to manipulate “public opinion” to ensure her re-election, was a direct result of the 1981 riots in the UK, and was designed to ensure her re-election after a massive slump in the polls.
“Terrorism” or war are always methods for the state to distract & divert from (and divide) proletarian subversion.
Undoubtedly I might be crying wolf yet again, but amongst other ideas to de-rail the movement, these are genuine possiblities.
Very interesting report, which I’ve just received from a friend. But ignore the stupid recommendations at the end, which don’t make sense given the obvious involvement of the UK in helping Hong Kong’s cops which part of the rest of the article focuses on. The article shows not only how the UK cops directly help the HK filth in their tactics against HK protesters, but also how the experience of HK cops in 1967 helped cops at Orgreave against the miners in 1984 and elsewhere in the UK. This was published on July 18th 2019. The following are some extracts:
“The HKPF [Hong Kong Police Force] stopped recruiting from foreign services in 1994, but older British officers left over from the handover continue to dominate its senior staff. At the center of the heavily criticized police response to the recent protests are three senior British police officers: chief superintendent Rupert Dover, senior superintendent David Jordan, and superintendent Justin Shave. June 12 saw HKPF officers use rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, and pepper spray on peaceful protesters and riot police beating unarmed demonstrators senseless, on the orders of Dover and others, and in the most infamous incident of all, Shave ordered a tear gas round to be fired at an unarmed approaching legislator…
In 1981, shortly after Margaret Thatcher’s government took office, an unlikely meeting took place …Police in the United Kingdom, widely criticized for their handling of the race [sic] riots that same year, had requested help from Roy Henry, the then-police commissioner of Hong Kong, who ordered one of his most senior officers, Director of Operations Richard Quine, to the U.K. to tell them all he knew.
Some 14 years earlier, the HKPF had brutally suppressed the worst violence in the city’s history, as pro-communist rioters launched indiscriminate bomb attacks against civilians. The British police were eager to hear exactly how it had been done—and to reproduce the same tactics against demonstrators in the U.K.
In 1967, with the Cultural Revolution in China reaching its crescendo, communists inspired by the activities of the Red Guards in the mainland waged a protracted insurgency in Hong Kong against the colonial government. More than 200 people were killed, including a radio journalist burnt alive by communist attackers—with some rioters beaten to death by police. Hong Kong’s status as a colony was exploited by the HKPF as a potential testing ground for new strategies that would be deemed too extreme for use in Britain.
The scholar Lawrence Ho details the police measures as encompassing the “liberal use of force and lethal weapons [and] widespread assault and imprisonment of demonstrators,” coupled with the imposition of oppressive legislation and curfews. Revolutionary new policing techniques widely used across the world today, including “kettling” and the first-ever use of tear gas and short shields by newly instituted riot squads, were first tested in the summer of 1967 by the HKPF…
Quine’s recommendations to British police included instituting dedicated units of officers—“riot suppression units,” each with a particular responsibility to fulfill, such as arresting demonstrators (“snatch squads”), firing tear gas, or crowd intimidation. To this end, Quine proposed initiating a program of 10-week crash courses for officers in techniques including kettling, the use of tear gas, and crowd control, with an eye to rapidly improving the British police’s ability to respond to civil unrest.
The training came too late for the race [sic] riots—but the techniques were on full display in British police violence against miners during the 1984-1985 strike, most infamously in the Battle of Orgreave. These techniques were eventually codified amid total secrecy in a file titled the “Public Order Manual of Tactical Options and Related Matters,” an infamous document that only became public in the aftermath of Orgreave.
The events at Orgreave have been described by the historian Tristram Hunt as “[a]lmost medieval in its choreography, it was at various stages a siege, a battle, a chase, a rout and, finally, a brutal example of legalised state violence.” A total of 4,000 police officers—including hundreds mounted on horseback, hastily ordered in by the police commander at Orgreave, Anthony Clement—charged repeatedly at 10,000 striking miners. Mounted police were immediately followed in by the assembled riot suppression units, which had been modeled on the HKPF’s organization in the intermediary three years since Quine’s counsel.
The police response at Orgreave ran largely on HKPF hardware. A former assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, John Alderson, later stated that the policing strategies used at Orgreave were “a carbon copy of the Hong Kong riot squad.” Meanwhile, allegations continue to swirl to this day about police engineering the entire confrontation to damage and discredit the miners….
The most notorious incident of the events on June 12 was the firing of a tear gas cylinder at Democratic Party legislator Wu Chi-wai, who was peaceably approaching a police unit following brutal scenes of that same unit of officers beating unarmed demonstrators.
A white police officer, initially believed to be Dover but subsequently identified as Shave, could be seen directing a subordinate to fire a tear gas cylinder directly at Wu, who was totally unarmed and clearly identified himself as a sitting legislator. Later footage subsequently revealed that Dover was also embedded in the unit.
Elsewhere, rubber bullets and long-range pepper spray were used on both demonstrators and journalists, resulting in 79 injuries, while in total the HKPF fired more than 150 tear gas canisters over the course of a single day. Tactics first developed during the 1967 riots were again on full display, most notably in the repeated deployment of dedicated riot squads equipped with short shields and batons.”
See also this – British cops help Hong Kong cops, which links to a mainstream video shown on 7th September which talks of British cops helping HK cops, and provides a transcript of the relevant section of the report.
Protests throughout world, though totally lacking in any perspective other than trying to influence the destroyers of the planet not to destroy it The “Midas Touch” which capitalism has long seen as something positive, in its over 3000-year-old myth was considered as a warning to those who would turn everything into gold, as the king even turned food into inedible gold and eventually turned his son into gold, finally dying of starvation. This is something that capital is increasingly realising for an increasing majority of people – it’s in the nature of political economy, the power to transform everything into a commodity (already 22,000 kids worldwide die each day because of malnutrition and easily curable diseases, because of their need for money which they don’t have). Without a vision of destroying commodified social relations, of destroying the need for money through the expropriation of the expropriators, extermination rebellion will break on the rocks of its contradictions. See below.
Better targeted spraypaint: graffiti on cinema mid- 1970s
Re. Extinction Rebellion, see this (from 15/4/19) interesting initiative – an alternative to Extinction Rebellion’s jail-fodder actions “Our main route consisted of visiting and blockading various locations with functional significance for capital and resource transactions in London – the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England and the Metal Exchange. Along the tour we also stopped off at other points of interest – banks, courts, the church of Scientology – either chosen by particular comrades in the moment, or by the police who, due to not having any idea of our plans, kept running to protect buildings we hadn’t previously considered trying to get into.” The flyer they produced for their march-cum-blockade, however, is a typical lowest common denominator of correct line anti-capitalism, coming from the eclectic mix of its members, which doesn’t even begin to try to confront the contradictions of ecological ideologies and movements – perhaps for fear of being unpopular. More about them here. Meawhile, this shows clearly the capitalist nature of the leadership of Extinction Rebellion. And this shows how their phoney legal advisers are a danger to anybody getting arrested on their arrest-fodder demos. And this is a good critique of the Green New Deal. See also “Extinction Rebellion: Not the Struggle we Need”.
Should also be pointed out that claiming some historical lineage with the Suffragettes’ apparent non-violence is a lie. The Suffragettes were often “violent ” in society’s terms (ie against things; from the point of view of capital people are mere profane commodities, whilst property is sacred), and took some very daring initiatives against mainstream culture: “What’s largely forgotten is the excellent violence of the women against private property and against aspects of culture and religion in this movement: Mary Richardson herself was imprisoned in October 1913 for burning down an unoccupied house, and was, with another woman, the first woman forcibly fed under the Cat and Mouse Act against hunger strikers. In 1914, in the seven months before the outbreak of a very convenient war: 3 Scottish castles were destroyed by fire on a single night; the Carnegie Library in Birmingham was burnt; Romney’s “Master Thornhill” in the Birmingham Art Gallery was slashed by Bertha Ryland, daughter of an early suffragist; Carlyle’s portrait of Millais in the National Gallery and a number of other pictures were attacked, a Bartolozzi drawing in the Doré Gallery completely ruined; many large empty houses in all parts of the country were set on fire, including Redlynch House, where the damage was estimated at £40,000 – no precise calculations here – but certainly well over a million quid in today’s money, possibly over £3m. Railway stations, piers, sports pavilions, haystacks were set on fire. A bomb exploded in Westminster Abbey and in St George’s church where a famous stained-glass window was damaged. There were two explosions in St.John’s, Westminster and one in St Martin in the Fields, and one in Spurgeon’s Tabernacle. The ancient Breadsall Church and the ancient Wargrave Church were destroyed. As far as we know, nobody was hurt in these explosions and arson attacks. The Albert Hall organ was flooded, causing £2000 worth of damage….” (here).
On fires and firebombs “Hong Kong fire officials have voiced concern about online instructions for petrol bombs that suggest using a self-igniting material that would make the explosives even more dangerous and unpredictable.”
The fact that such an apparently ‘neutral’ source of information as the fire brigade could warn of potentially frightening consequences of firebombs got me thinking that instead of an obvious terrorist attack (like the fascists’ Piazza Fontana bombing following the Italian autumn movement of 1969 – see also this), the state might try to arrange a fire that kills loads of people. They did this in Athens in May 2010, when young nihilist anarchists firebombed a bank. It was a strike day, and the young guys thought the bank was empty (the doors were locked). In fact, the management had locked employees in – and 3 were killed. There was no fire exit, no sprinklers or fire extinguishing apparatus in the bank (see this and the following posts for details…eventually 3 bank officials were found guilty, though the head of the bank – Andreas Vgenopoulos – the main person responsible – got off scott-free, surprise surprise). I’ve cried wolf so many times over the possibility of a state (or maybe triad) strategy like the Piazza Fontana bombing in ’69, maybe nobody will believe me, but it seems like a real possibility but maybe taking another form like a fire.
Report on the spread of solidarity and the kindness of strangers Report about October 1st on how whole neighbourhood helped protesters escape cops and teargas, inviting them into their flats, providing reconnaissance information about cop movements etc. “So even those not protesting on the streets are protesting, all contributing to the resistance in their own way. The majority of the city is united against the regime. The story of Wan Chai is not new to me: I’ve experienced the kindness and aid of strangers many times in recent weeks. Just days before, I’d been going toward Causeway Bay together with about 2,000 protesters, again retreating from the police. We heard there were a lot of riot police in Causeway Bay and so decided to head southward, but every street we came to, we saw police at the end of it. Eventually, we had no choice but to go into Happy Valley, a prosperous neighbourhood that has seen little of the protests. It was terra incognita for most of us. Once there, we felt safer, but we knew it was just a matter of time before the police would try to flush us out, and we didn’t know where to go. Security guards emerged from middle-class high-rises and offered directions. A taxi driver had seen us and alerted his colleagues. Before long, dozens of taxis started to arrive. Private drivers pulled up, rolled down their windows, and announced their destination. Protesters hopped in. Within about a half hour, of those 2,000 protesters, no one but myself and a few others remained on the street. Among protesters, a guardian rule is you never leave anyone behind. I play the role of the one who remains until last to make sure everyone gets out. I changed out of my outfit and headed back to cross police lines. Along the way, knowing residents who witnessed and helped the evacuation gave me knowing smiles and thumbs up. “Stay safe, stay safe,” they said….This kind of resistance – it’s a feeling within us. Hong Kong people are famously phlegmatic, unexpressive. We don’t talk much or effuse. But these days, we recognise something in each other, a common purpose, a common identity. This is the sort of unity that can’t be crushed by force. In fact, police attacks fortify it, drawing us closer together. I’m often asked how this will all end. My true feeling is, it doesn’t matter, because the little secret that everyone knows and no one is saying (and perhaps many aren’t even admitting to ourselves) is, we’ve already won. The immediate and original concrete objective, the withdrawal of the extradition bill, has been achieved. We’ve won the battle for hearts and minds. But beyond that, we’ve achieved something much more profound than that: confidence in ourselves as a people and trust in one another for what is sure to be a long, hard struggle ahead.”
Proletarians show Lenin what is to be done:
A police vehicle burns during a protest against Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s austerity measures in Quito, October 7, 2019
President forced to retreat “Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, has struck a deal with indigenous leaders to cancel a disputed austerity package and end nearly two weeks of protests that have paralysed the economy and left seven dead. Under the agreement, Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package, known as Decree 883, that included a sharp rise in fuel costs. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades. “Comrades, this deal is a compromise on both sides,” Moreno said. “The indigenous mobilisation will end and Decree 883 will be lifted.” The two sides will work together to develop a package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenue and reduce Ecuador’s unsustainable budget deficits and public debt. In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other’s willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break. Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defence ministers over their handling of the protests.”
One has to be very naive to think that any deal that will have to have the eventual aproval of the IMF if the country is going to receive its strings-attached money will be anything other than a sell-out. Of course, the IMF may refuse to give them money – and where will that end? Or maybe it’s just a bluff on the part of the government so as to disband the movement and give them time to work out a better strategy (attacking the whole of the dispossessed almost all at once was not an intelligent strategy on the part of the state). An interesting potential consequence of this apparently total victory will be how this may very well encourage the poor in other Latin American countries.
” The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador explained that at the moment there were no talks between the protesters and the government… Indigenous activists in Ecuador will continue protests across the country despite accepting President Lenin Moreno’s offer to hold dialogue, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador said…”We will hold contact in order to try to ensure the abolition of Decree 883 [on cancelling subsidies on fuel prices] but we will continue protests across the country demanding the government ensure adequate guarantees,” the statement said. The confederation explained that at the moment there were no talks between the protesters and the government. “There cannot be any real dialogue until security guarantees are provided for indigenous activists across the entire country’s territory,” the statement said. On Friday, President Moreno invited protest leaders to hold a direct dialogue in order to stop violence and stabilize domestic political situation. The confederation’s first reaction was to reject talks until the government dropped plans to cancel subsidies, but on Saturday the activists said they were in favor of dialogue. The first round of talks between Ecuador’s government and the indigenous activists is due to be held the capital of Quito at 3 pm. local time on Sunday, the South American country’s UN mission wrote on Twitter. ..Ecuador’s authorities said on Wednesday that over 400 people, including 86 police officers, sought medical assistance. The press service of the human rights ombudsperson said that five people died in clashes between protesters and the police. On Saturday, Quito Mayor Jorge Yunda said Ecuador’s leadership had agreed to meet the protesters’ demands and scrutinize the decree on cancelling subsidies on fuel. Later Moreno made a decision to introduce curfew in Quito and its outskirts.”
Indigenous leaders reverse decision from previous day to not talk with Lenin Moreno “An indigenous group in Ecuador that has led protests for more than a week against a law that ended fuel subsidies said on Saturday it has accepted direct talks with President Lenin Moreno, the first sign of a possible breakthrough in the dispute. The highland capital of Quito was rocked by a 10th day of clashes over Moreno’s austerity plan, with the office of Ecuador’s comptroller set on fire and access roads to Quito’s airport blocked. TV channel Teleamazonas showed images of its own offices in flames and said its employees were unharmed…Conaie, an umbrella organization for indigenous people in Ecuador, made the announcement about the talks with Moreno. Ecuador’s ombudsman Freddy Carrion, who has been monitoring the conflict and encouraging dialogue, said Conaie’s leaders were unaware that Moreno planned to announce a curfew and said it could jeopardize talks. “This measure looks like a desperate attempt by the government that will only worsen the violence,” said Carrion. He recommended Moreno suspend the subsidy cut immediately…Earlier on Saturday, one of Conaie’s leaders told TV channel Ecuavisa that conditions for the talks included them being in public and having them broadcast. “We’re not going to talk behind closed doors. It has to be with the Ecuadorean people,” Leonidas Iza said in broadcast comments. “There has to be large screens so every tiny input from our members can be heard.”
On 11th October they’d said “The dialogue that he’s seeking lacks credibility” (statement by indigenous umbrella group CONAIE) , adding that it would negotiate with the government only when a decree to remove fuel subsidies had been “repealed.” What’s happened to change that basic principle? “Suspending” the subsidy cut should be treated with the same scepticism that with which the movement in Hong Kong treated Lam when she “suspended” the extradition law. Nobody believed her, and she had to withdraw it totally at the beginning of September, by which time it was too little too late.
Indigenous group rejects pseudo-dialogue with President Lenin Moreno… as clashes continue (video)… lots of videos and links here More here “The protests first erupted last week when truck drivers took to the streets, but indigenous protesters have since taken the lead, with villagers from the highlands walking and hitching rides to reach Quito.Representatives of Amazonian tribes, many carrying spears, streamed into the city late Thursday and early Friday, adding opposition to oil drilling to a growing list of complaints about Moreno’s government.While most roads in Quito outside of the center remained clear, dozens of taxis formed a caravan that wound through the city to express solidarity with protesters, honking and displaying anti-Moreno signs.”
Cops captured by movement “The demonstrators detained at least eight uniformed police officers who they forced on stage before a crowd. The stance of the indigenous movement has hardened even more after clashes on Wednesday night left more casualties. Indigenous leaders here said there will be no negotiation with the government, and some are calling for Ecuadorian President Moreno to step down…Foreign Minister José Valencia said it will not negotiate under the threat of violence and vandalism. “This is an extremely critical situation which is not a decision of the indigenous leaders,” Valencia said.” (cops were later released, deprived of their bullet-proof vests & boots)…5 protesters, including an indigenous leader, killed
Ecuador: 1st day of possibly indefinite general strike…whilst some indigenous leaders (certainly not all of them) condemn “vandalism and looting”…clashes in Guayaquil, where government has moved to …More here Videos and other links here…Force Majeure (unforeseeable circumstances preventing fulfillment of contract.) declared on all oil operations – pipelines shut down
Ecuador, Quito: anti-austerity riots etc. force Lenin Moreno’s government to relocate outside of the capital after state ends fuel subsidies, sacks some public sector workers, threatens privatisations “Images from Quito showed protesters hurling petrol bombs and stones, ransacking and vandalising public buildings as well as clashing with the police in running battles late into the night… The president faces a stiff challenge from indigenous groups and others who blocked some roads for a fifth day from Monday morning with stones, tyres and branches. Indigenous-led protests brought down three presidents in the years before Correa’s rule. Rioters in Quito forced their way into the comptroller general’s office and vandalised the assembly building on Monday. It followed days of violence in which protesters burned military vehicles, destroyed dozens of rose farms, a dairy and an oil production facility. The outnumbered security forces have been unable to prevent much of the destruction… prices rose overnight by about a quarter for petrol and double for diesel. A state of emergency was imposed on Thursday. Lorry and taxi drivers forced a partial shutdown of Quito’s airport and roadblocks have paralysed trunks roads across the country. ” More here “The South American country of 17 million people appeared to be at a dangerous impasse, paralyzed by a lack of public transport and blockaded roads that were taking a toll on an already vulnerable economy. Violence has persisted since last week, when President Lenín Moreno’s decision to end subsidies led to a sharp increase in fuel prices. Protesters seized some oil installations and the state oil company, Petroecuador, warned that production losses could reach 165,000 barrels a day, or nearly one-third of total production, if insecurity continues. The government declared an overnight curfew around key state installations and government buildings as well as vital infrastructure such as airports and oil refineries. Earlier Tuesday, protesters broke through police barriers and some entered the empty congress building in Quito. Police fired tear gas and forced them to retreat. Indigenous protesters occupied two water treatment plants in the city of Ambato, south of the capital, raising concern about supply to residents, according to municipal authorities. On Monday night, hundreds of people rampaged through the Duran area near the port city of Guayaquil, looting pharmacies, electronic appliance stores and other buildings. In another part of Ecuador, police abandoned an armored vehicle to protesters who set it on fire. In multiple areas, rioters smashed car windows, broke into shops and confronted security forces...”…and here (videos and links).