ILC INTERNATIONAL NEWSLETTER
A dossier of weekly information published by the International
Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples
June 20, 2006
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The 13th Conference In Defense of the ILO Conventions and Trade Union
Independence met in Geneva on Sunday, June 11, 2006.
A discussion began concerning the questions posed by the "new trade
union international" set to be founded in Vienna.
The delegates felt it was necessary to continue and organize. This
whole summer, our newsletter will publish all the interventions, as
well as the new contributions sent to us. This week, we are
publishing the second part of the introductory report of Daniel
From Spain, we are publishing an interview with a unionist from
Catalonia concerning the results of the June 15 referendum.
From Guadeloupe, you will find an interview from a unionist of the
General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG).
From Bolivia, we are publishing an Open Letter of Bolivian members of
the ILC to President Evo Morales and to the labor and popular leaders.
To remain informed and support the ILC, subscribe to the ILC
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- A discussion on the questions posed by the "new trade union international" set to be founded in Vienna: The second part of the report of Daniel Gluckstein
- -- Spain: Referendum in Catalonia and massive abstention
- -- Guadeloupe: Interview with Elie Domota, vice secretary general of the UGTG
- -- Bolivia: Open Letter against the autonomies
Entente internationale des travailleurs et des peuples,
87, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis -75010 Paris - France
Tel: (33 1) 48 01 88 28
13TH CONFERENCE IN DEFENSE OF THE ILO CONVENTIONS AND TRADE UNION INDEPENDENCE
Geneva, Sunday, June 11, 2006
The countries represented were Algeria, Germany, Bangladesh, Belgium,
Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ivory Coast, France, Gabon, India,
Italy, Niger, Pakistan, Romania, Senegal, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria,
Togo, and Chad.
A discussion began concerning the questions posed by the "new trade
On Sunday June 11, delegations from 21 countries came together in
Geneva at the 13th Conference of the ILC In Defense of the ILO
Conventions and Trade Union Independence.
This conference opened up a needed discussion concerning the reality
of the "new trade union international," this is set to be founded on
November 1st in Vienna, after the dissolution of the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World
Confederation of Labor (WCL).
Due to the quality of the discussion at this conference, we will be
publishing all the speeches. This week, we are publishing the second
part of the report of Daniel Gluckstein.
The ILC is not in competition with any other organization of the
Its mission is not to formulate a program. Its responsibility is to
inform, alert and discuss the questions that affect the future of the
workers´ movement. At the end of the rich debate, the following
proposals were made:
- To organize the debate and continue the discussion, not only on a
national level, but in the framework of the newsletter of the ILC. In
the ILC International Newsletter we will include, until November, a
special section on this discussion, beginning with the publication of
speeches presented at the Geneva conference
- To mandate the bureau of the ILC to write a letter to all the
affected organizations and all the delegates to the November 1st
Congress in Vienna, to discuss with them the need to preserve the
independence of trade union organizations.
In this issue of the ILC International Newsletter, we publish the
second part of the report of Daniel Gluckstein, the coordinator of
He spoke of the connection between the threats to the International
Labor Organization (ILO) and the questions posed by the "new trade
union international," as well as the World Summit of the U.N. of last
autumn. The first part of his report concluded:
"Do we still live in a society divided into social classes with
antagonistic interests? If this is so, why should the workers throw
out truly independent organizations?
"We have the right to pose these questions because, by putting
forward the plan for the ´world governance,´ all the international
institutions (the IMF, the World Bank, the U.N., and also the
so-called regional institutions, such as MERCOSUR, FTAA, ALENA,
ACEAN, and OECD) are demanding to be part of the construction of this
In reality, what is planned is the integration/cooptation of the
international trade union movement. This is why the ´world
governance´ must be unified on an international level."
Part 2 of Daniel Gluckstein's Introductory Speech
Some union leaders have gone very far on this road. You know that, a
year ago, there was an important division in the trade union movement
in the United States. A significant number of trade unions broke with
the AFL-CIO and constituted a new regroupment -- which is not a new
trade union federation -- called Change to Win, which groups together
various national trade unions.
Andy Stern, the leader of SEIU -- the main union of Change to Win,
made the following statement last February 27, in an interview
published by Epoch Times:
"SEIU's goal for 2006 is to go global and to bring unions and
corporations together as partners, not enemies. I think that what
we're going to see happen within ten years, if not sooner, is a
convergence of a global labor movement."
""Employers need to recognize that the world has changed and there
are people who would like to help them provide solutions in ways that
are new, modern and that add value to companies. ... A partnership
between labor and corporations would be a step towards the intended
Addressing himself to the trade union movement, Stern then added:
"On the other side of the coin, union members have to understand that
companies are not their enemy, but must think about increasing
shareholders' wealth. ... Labor should ask itself, 'how can I
contribute to meeting those [shareholders'] expectations in a way
that also meets mine'?"
The positive side of these quotes, linked to a positive American
tradition, is that all is said openly. The positive side of Andy
Stern is that he says out loud what others say in a more camouflaged
manner; namely, that it is necessary for the worker to be organically
connected to his or her company, for the worker to understand that
his or her well-being depends on the well-being of his or her
company, and hence it is necessary for the union and the bosses to
co-manage the company.
Comrades, in this conception, the idea of trade union independence
must be eliminated because the workers and bosses have common
We know that each time such a system has been implemented -- in all
its different forms -- it has never led to a rise in living and
working standards, but rather it has taken away the workers´
instruments to defend their interests. It has always resulted in
political and social deterioration, at least for the working class.
I would like to bring your attention to the way in which Andy Stern,
the main leader of Change to Win, poses the problem of the future of
You all know that at this moment in the United States, mobilizations
of millions and millions of immigrant workers are taking place
against the anti-immigrant proposals of the government, measures
meant to divide the working class.
This struggle has created an extremely important debate in the U.S.
trade union movement.
First of all, all the trade unions -- both within Change to Win and
the AFL-CIO -- have participated (with various levels of intensity)
in these mobilizations in defense of the immigrant workers, against
the division of the working-class. They should be commended for doing
But in relation to these mobilizations, a question is posed: What is
the role of a trade union?
Should it be, as the leaders of Change to Win have done, to write
with the legislators a law concerning immigrant workers? In the
pursuit of the goals and principles I outlined a few moments ago, the
leaders of Change to Win and SEIU participated together with
Republican and Democratic senators (notably John McCain and Edward
Kennedy and) in writing a legislate bill titled S.1033. This bill
essentially says: Let´s not let Mr. Bush himself decide on the
repressive measures to be taken against the immigrant workers; let´s
decide on these measures together, so that they will be less harsh.
Of course, this bill (which contains measures aimed at militarizing
the border, deporting immigrant workers and undermining their rights)
is infinitely less brutal than the initial proposal by Bush.
The debate in the trade union movement concerns the following
question: In the name of the "lesser evil," should a trade union
write legislation that undermines workers´ rights? Or should a trade
union reject being a co-legislator of such a law and defend the
rights of immigrant workers?
The latter is the position of the AFL-CIO, particularly defended by
its vice president, Linda Chavez-Thompson.
I think the debate in its form is North American, but its content
concerns all of us. Is the role of a trade union to be a
More and more, the trade unions are being invited to occupy this role
by all the governments and all the regional, continental, African,
American, and Asian institutions.
All the trade unions have been invited to play this role, and a
certain number have accepted. Others have refused. This is a debate
we should discuss today.
Should the trade union be a co-legislator?
For my part, I think that becoming a co-legislator undermines trade
union independence and integrates the trade unions into the
government. Isn´t this governance?
I think it is necessary to discuss these questions because this
debate concerns the "international trade union fusion" planned for
I, personally, think we make an error when we speak of a "union
fusion" or "new union international." I don´t think these terms
correspond to reality. Let´s open the discussion.
This new "trade union" institution being proposed in November is
first and foremost an instrument to destroy the existing
international trade union confederations, notably the ICFTU, to
undermine the existing trade union federations as they exist in
different countries, and to, bit by bit, integrate them into the
process called "world governance."
On this theme, I want to raise another question. One of the forms
taken by this march toward the "world governance" is the undermining
of national trade union federations.
We know that the history of the class struggle in each one of our
countries gives its trade union movement very different forms from
one country to another.
I don´t think there is one model that is better than the others. But
the general rule of the class struggle in all countries is that,
whatever the form of the development of the workers´ movement, it
always arrives at a stage in which local, sectorial, and professional
unions come together in a confederation (which doesn´t necessarily
call itself a confederation; sometime calling itself a central, or,
in the case of the AFL-CIO, a federation).
The significance of this organization is that the working class is a
class, with members both in the public and private sectors, in small
and big industries, and in different regions. They are members of the
working class because all their organizations come together in a
In each country, the weight of the working class -- its political and
social weight -- is often directly related to the level of strength
of the confederation.
It is shocking to see how the undermining of the existence of trade
union organizations is concentrated against the existence of national
confederations. This drive is not only the work of the governments
and regional institutions -- it is also supported by sectors within
the labor movement.
I spoke of the United States. Independently of the reasons for the
split between the AFL-CIO and Change to Win -- it is possible to
differ in our assessment of these reasons -- it is clear that the
AFL-CIO is a confederation, even if it calls itself a federation.
Change to Win did not constitute itself as a confederation. It also
explained why it didn´t care to do so.
The leaders of Change to Win explained -- beginning with Andy Stern
-- that it is necessary to participate within the framework of the
multinationals, to create more useful results. Thus what is important
is not the confederation or federation, but rather promoting what is
essentially a company trade union -- whether on a world level (if the
company is a multinational corporation) or on a local level.
But the trade union confederation, based on the fact that all workers
in a nation have common interests, is in contradiction with the plan
for a vertical union, integrated into a multinational or company.
From this stems the fact that Change to Win is not a confederation.
This phenomenon can also be seen in Brazil. The congress of the CUT
-- the main trade union confederation in Brazil -- just ended
yesterday. Various sectors of the CUT decided to leave the CUT a few
months ago because of a certain number of disagreements with the CUT
leadership. These positions can be discussed. I personally do not
share their points of view. These sectors formed a regroupment called
CONLUTAS, which held its congress on May 6.
In this CONLUTAS congress, a discussion occurred concerning the
question: "Should we found a new confederation?" It decided not to do
so. "Should we found a new trade union central?" It decided not to do
so. "Should we found a new opposition current in the CUT?" It decided
not to do so. The congress decided to "found a movement larger than
just a labor union. It will be a movement that will include NGOs,
associations, etc." In other words, the class character of their
union organizations is dissolved, becoming instead a component of
so-called "civil society," the "movement of movements," the Social
Forums, and NGOs. This means the undermining of the existence of
trade union confederations.
In our respective countries, we know well that sectors of the labor
movement, together with the government, aim to undermine the
existence of federations. I think there is a relationship with this
The working classes were constituted in the framework of nations.
They created their trade union confederations, which express their
existence as a class, within the framework of nations. We are
witnessing an offensive against the existence of nations as well as
an offensive against a confederated trade union movement, and thus an
offensive against the existence of the working class as such.
This question is posed in the draft of the statutes (or bylaws) of
the new world confederation to be formed in November in Vienna. We
all know the statutes of our own trade unions.
From the preamble of the statues of the new world trade union
confederation, I quote the following:
"The confederations assume the duties of fighting poverty,
exploitation, oppression, and inequality." Many charitable
organizations throughout the world (both secular and religious) have
sought -- even before the existence of the labor movement -- to fight
poverty, misery, and indigence. It is also possible to fight spite,
evil, and ugliness. But these statutes do not mention defending the
specific interests of the exploited.
The form or vocabulary matters little. To defend the interests of the
workers, of the exploited. I am sure that in all our countries, the
statutes of all real trade union confederations contain a similar
phrase whose content (if not its form) is the same.
Here, not only is this phrase not present, but (in its place) we
find: "The new world confederation aims to fight for the democratic
governance of the economy, in the interests of labor, which it
prioritizes over those of capital."
This is all said in a pretty manner, comrades. But what this
essentially says is that, in the framework of the "world governance"
(a labor-capital association) the representatives of labor will try
not to cede too much to the representatives of capital. But, in any
case, what we have here is the world governance and corporatism.
I doubt that a trade union organization worthy of the name can fight
based on these premises. This is not only a world project, but it is
one that will have consequences concerning the events of the workers´
movement in each of our countries.
We all know that as this project is implemented on an international
level, the proposals find relays in each of our countries in very
There are three components of this world trade union central: the
ICFTU, the WCL, and a third group made up of national trade union
organizations which up to now have not been affiliated to either the
ICFTU or the WCL.
Some of these are important confederations which belonged to the
World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). Others are unaffiliated
What is the position of the trade union confederations concerning
this new international formation, which they dare to call a "trade
union central"? First of all, this debate has not even taken place in
many organizations. In a few organizations a debate took place and in
others, at the very least, the question was touched upon in a few
recent congresses. I´ll speak about two, but I´m sure the comrades
here can speak of others.
In the congress of the Brazilian CUT which just took place, a motion
was presented that called for "the defense and autonomy of the CUT in
the face of the government, the defense of union democracy and
working class unionism against ´proposal´ unionism, the fight for the
renationalization of the privatized enterprises against the policies
of ´corporate social responsibility,´ and the condemnation of the new
world confederation." This motion received 25% of the votes. This, at
the very least, demonstrates that the discussion is posed.
Also, the congress of the CUT unanimously voted in favor of the
following resolution: "Faced with the recomposition of world trade
unionism, the CUT reaffirms that the principal objective of any
organization on any level should be to defend the interests of the
workers against capitalist exploitation."
That the congress of the CUT judged it necessary to pass this motion
-- even if it didn´t want to condemn this new international formation
-- represents, at the very least, an obstacle toward the type of
organization that is being built like to build. It shows that this
debate must take place.
In France, this debate took place during the recent congress of the
CGT union federation. Bernard Thibault, the general secretary of the
CGT, and his organization play a central role in the third group of
the new international formation.
What are the arguments of Thibault? Here is a quote from the
pre-congress forum of the CGT, dedicated to the international
questions, in which representatives of all the international
organizations (ICFTU, WCL, and the European Trade Union
Confederation, ETUC) participated:
"We are in the process of building the unionism of the 21th Century.
In France, with the impetus of the ETUC, we have progressed down this
road." (There is not enough time right now, but I hope the French
comrades will return to the discussion on whether the ETUC is a
factor for trade union independence or not.)
Thibault was more specific:
"Even if we are only beginning, the goal is to set up union networks
inside the multinationals." Comrades, the conception of union
networks inside multinationals is linked to Andy Stern´s proposals.
It is a conception that blunts, at the very least, or eliminates the
fact that the class is a class through its organizations and its
confederations. Thibault adds: "Of course, the national framework
remains pertinent, but it is necessary to be lucid: social relations
between states are no longer sufficient."
That social relations between states are no longer sufficient is not
a new idea. For instance, it was to complete the work of the national
trade union confederations that the ILO was constituted almost 80
years ago; naturally, the role of the ILO is to elaborate conventions
which once ratified by states are backed by the force of law and are
thus a point of leverage for trade union organizations.
But Bernard Thibault is not referring to this. He adds: "Social
relations between states are no longer sufficient despite all the
efforts of our unionist comrades inside the Workers´ Group of the
ILO; this institution is not up to the task of providing norms
adapted to the new context of globalization."
I think that this affirmation is extremely debatable. I think that
the difficulty of enforcing the ILO Conventions is first of all
linked to an offensive led for various years against the ILO system
of conventions (which have a constraining character) for the seven
fundamental norms, which are only principles and recommendations with
no binding character upon states. This is what has weakened the power
of the ILO.
But if we say the opposite, that is, that the ILO no longer produces
social norms adapted to globalization, then we are heading down the
road of the reform of the ILO of the U.N.
Thibault says: "The analysis of the CGT joins that of the report
published in 2004 by the commission of the ILO on the Social
Dimension of Globalization, which concluded: ´The potential for
globalization is enormous, but for the vast majority of men and women
it has not responded to their simple and legitimate aspirations to
From the view point of the working class and its class independence,
the affirmation of the immense potential of globalization (which has
not yet reached the exploited and oppressed) is a very contestable
Globalization is a capitalist instrument for the policies of
deregulation and the destruction of workers´ rights. It is not a
potentially progressive force. Globalization is not what each of us
will make of it; it is not what each component will be capable of
doing within the framework of the "world governance."
Faced with what is called globalization, the response should be the
strengthening of the independent workers´ movement and its capacity
to defend its past gains.
But if, like Thibault, we feel that it is necessary to tap "the
potential of globalization," taking steps in this direction has its
own logic and conclusions.
Thibault in his introductory speech to the CGT conference declared:
"Because the potential of globalization is immense, to respond we
cannot remain isolated and canonized in our national territories."
For my part, I don´t think that the existence of national trade union
confederations means the cantonization of the labor movement.
This same day, Jean-Louis Moineau, the former confederal leader of
the CGT, said: "Globalization puts into question the pertinence of
the national framework which we grew up in." Let´s discuss the
Globalization undermines the national framework because it was within
the national framework that the workers codified all their conquests,
rights, and national trade union organizations.
Clearly, internationalism is needed to reinforce the role and
perspectives of the trade unions in each of our countries. But can we
say that globalization "pertinently" undermines the national
I think I can correctly affirm that all the comrades here can
indicate what the undermining of the national framework means in
their respective countries. They can respond to the following
question much better than I: Is this process "pertinent" for the
workers´ movement and democracy? I don´t think so.
J.-L. Moineau adds: "It is necessary to bring forward a new
contribution to the redefinition of the world: It is necessary to
pass from the national level familiar to the union to the regional
level." When he says regional, he means continental: "The union
should enrich itself with associations and NGO experts to fight for
the social question in a global economy."
I don´t think that the working class -- the main producer of all
society´s riches and the only social class which can provide a future
and social and democratic progress for humanity -- can be reduced to
becoming the "social dimension of a global economy."
Referendum in Catalonia: Massive abstention in the referendum on
On July 18, a referendum on the new autonomy statute of Catalonia,
put forward by the majority of the regional government, took place.
This statute aims to deepen regionalization and transform the
institutions of Catalonia into subsidiary institutions of Brussels
and its directives.
The response of the majority of the population of Catalonia was
unprecedented: 51% abstained and 6% voted blank. In the working-class
suburbs and neighborhoods in Barcelona and Tarragona, the abstention
rate reached 60%.
One thing is clear: The electors of Catalonia affirmed that there is
no solution for the national rights of the peoples of Spain nor for
the demands of the working class within the framework of the European
Union and the monarchy inherited from Franco.
We are publishing an interview with Rafael Aguilera, member of the
federal committee of the UGT and the regional committee of Catalonia,
which took place three days before the referendum.
ILC: What is the goal of the reform of the statute of Catalonia ?
RA: This statute was adopted in 1979, after the "democratic
transition," which was created by the Constitution of 1978,
transforming Spain into a "state of autonomies."
In the face of the national aspirations of the peoples, particularly
the people of Catalonia and the Basque country, who were oppressed by
Franquism, a new state was created which combined relative
administrative autonomy with the preservation of much of the old
Franquist apparatus, which was profoundly centralist. The monarchy
crowned this whole edifice.
The fact is that, 27 years after this regionalization, the situation
in Catalonia, like all the peoples, is worse than before.
Health-care, education, and public services in general have been
greatly cut back. Catalonia has been given responsibility, but it
does not have the resources to deal with the growing needs of the
population; the authorities have begun a process of the privatization
of all the services.
The region has also suffered a severe process of
de-industrialization, the loss of thousands of jobs, and waves of
out-sourcing. At first this was done in the name of "integrating into
Europe." Then it was done in the name of implementing the policies
and directives of the European Union, which imposes fiscal budget
cuts, the liberalization of public services and a policy of "free
trade" which prevents states from defending their industries, their
strategic sectors, etc. in the name of the free market economy and
ILC: What is the content of the new statute?
RA: It is not essentially different from that which was adopted in
1979. It respects the framework of the Spanish constitution, it
maintains administrative autonomy, that is, the duty to distribute
the services and goods that others decide upon, and a little bit more
financing for services and infrastructures (but proposed in a manner
that will only provoke confrontation with other regions and within
Catalonia itself.) The budget from which the common funds are drawn
and the decisions over allocations were decided first by Madrid --
now they are decided by Brussels. It is Brussels that will make all
the decisions regarding what a state can spend, what budget deficit
levels can be maintained, etc.
The new financing can only come from two sources: a rise in taxes on
the people, or cuts in services for other regions.
This is a new drive in the same policies of regionalization. In fact,
to deal with the problems of health care and education, they are
already speaking of cutting loans or introducing new taxes on the
That said, there is one real change with the constitution of 1979:
the definition of the international relations of the regional
government, particularly with the European Union (EU).
ILC: Essentially, what is the change?
RA: Title V of the new statue devotes several articles to "Relations
between the Généralitat (the regional government) and the European
Union." Article 184 affirms: "The Généralitat participates ... in the
affairs which concern the duties or interests of Catalonia in
relation to the European Union." And Article 189 stipulates that:
"The Généralitat implements the right of the European Union in the
field of its responsibilities ... In the case where the European
Union establishes legislation which would substitute the base norms
of the state, the Généralitat can adopt the developmental legislation
based on the European norms."
Does this respond to the people´s aspirations to sovereignty? Will
this help solve the people´s needs? I don´t think so.
The European Union dictates all the policies of "zero deficit,"
budget cuts, the dismantling of public services, cuts in pensions,
and attacks on workers´ rights. The EU subsidizes privatizations and
prohibits states from subsidizing public enterprises or maintaining
strategic sectors in its hands.
This is not a temporary policy stemming from the fact that the
European Union is currently run by the "right." These policies,
contrary to the interests of the workers and peoples of Europe, are
codified into its very nature. All the treaties, and the so-called
European Constitution, are expressions of this.
The Republican Left Nationalists (ERC, traditional nationalist party)
cling to the recent example of Montenegro. Personally, I don´t think
we can ignore the possibility that, tomorrow, the European Union can
push for a similar process in Catalonia or the Basque Country.
But is formal independence, subordinated to the policies decided on
in Brussels, an expression of sovereignty? How would it be possible
to defend health care, education, jobs, and industry?
Without the possibility of defending the means of existence, jobs,
and social conquests, what content can there be to the words
"independence" and "sovereignty"? A flag? The people cannot survive
on flags. They do not want to sell their sovereignty to see their
flag fly in Brussels. They want sovereignty to have a present and a
future. The European Union prohibits this for all peoples.
That is why I think that both those in favor of the Yes vote and the
No vote participate in undermining the sovereignty of Catalonia. One
submits to Brussels and respects the constitutional framework of an
indivisible Spain and the monarchy, the other propose a Catalan
republic, independent of Spain, but subordinated to the same master:
the European Union.
ILC: How should people vote in this referendum ?
RA: Personally, I am not going to vote. In my opinion, the proposed
statutes deny sovereignty to Catalonia and submit it to the
Constitution of 1978 and the demands of the European Union. It will
not satisfy the needs of the people. It is not a solution. I cannot
vote Yes. But I also cannot vote No, because the alternative of
those, on the left, who call to vote No is only another way to submit
to the policies of the European Union, which has led Catalonia to the
critical situation facing us today. This is not a solution.
But I think that the vote on June 18 should not divide us. On the
19th, we should search to unite our forces to defend the common
aspirations of the immense majority of the population. For the people
of Catalonia to be truly sovereign and in solidarity with the other
peoples of Spain, we must together overcome all the obstacles.
(Interview by Andreu Camps, on July 15, 2006)
Interview with Elie Domato, deputy general secretary of the General
Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG)
ILC: In May, the UGTG and other organizations in Guadeloupe will pay
homage to the fighters of 1802. Can you explain to our readers this
history, what will take place in Guadeloupe, and your opinion on the
commemorations that took place in France?
ED: In May 2002, we decided, together with other organizations, to
provide another dimension to our history; to live it differently; to
not content ourselves with the master´s version. Through historical
research and militant activity we will discover this history for
ourselves. The war of 1802, in which the anti-slavery troops of our
country fought Napoleon´s troops (who sought to re-establish slavery)
cannot be reduced to a holiday.
From our perspective, we don´t think of this as a simple
commemoration or a simple homage to fighters, but a true reconquest
of our history through the concept "Fe Mémwa Maché, Fe Konsyans
Vansé." The goal of all this to raise the consciousness of the people
of Guadeloupe to advance our struggle against French colonialism.
For the past two years, these organizations have decided to link the
events of May 1802 to the events of 1967, where no less than 100
workers were assassinated by the French gendarmes during a
demonstration of the BTP workers, who were demanding a 2.5% raise in
their salaries. A request has been made for the vice-prefect of
Point-a-Pitre to clear up the truth about these assassinations. On
Friday 26, we will go and receive the government´s response
concerning the massacre of May 1967.
ILC: In the official commemorations it was stated, in relation to
slavery and colonialism, that all of this occurred a long time ago
and, thankfully, neither slavery nor colonialism exist anymore. Do
you share this point of view?
ED: Guadeloupe is a French colony. The commemorations organized in
France aim to reinforce the integrationist current, which would have
us believe that we are a component of the French people. History must
from now on be made by the mother country; there should be no more
political protests or historical research. Some even go so far as to
say that we were lucky in comparison with those who weren´t captured
400 years ago.
The society of Guadeloupe continues to rest upon the very same base
of the plantation system. On the top of the pyramid are the békés,
the children of slave owners and the white French; on the bottom are
the blacks, the children of slaves. Our current society remains based
on the class and race relations of the plantation system.
ILC: Can you tell us about the developments of the past few weeks in
ED: We have witnessed continued repression of unions. But the workers
and trade unions are determined to defend their rights and jobs.
The hotel restoration is strongly marked by the closing of numerous
hotels. Thus, the search for maximum profits has led the capitalists
to transform the hotels into luxury hotels or time-shares, without
workers; this same drive is leading to the privatization of our
beaches. The workers of Hotel Callinago decided to struggle and
intend to take back the hotel.
The workers of the oil sector are threatened by the arrival of
self-service stations. This trade, which employs 900 workers, is
In Guadeloupe, for the past several months, the majority of eggs
eaten have been refrigerated. An exemption of the French state
permits the import and consumption of refrigerated eggs -- though
this is illegal in France. The principal chicken firm of the island
was liquidated and the workers laid-off due to shady financial
Thirty workers have been on strike at Danone for 11 months. They
demand the implementation of the collective contract. They are faced
with the children of the slave-owners who, with the support of the
colonial state and the passivity of the labor inspectors, who refuse
to respect workers´ rights.
Last May 10, the UGTP decided to meet with the president of the
regional council, to demand his response to the workers. All services
in the Guadeloupe region are paralyzed.
ILC: How have activists like you responded to the developments on the
American continent, such as the nationalization of the hydrocarbons
in Bolivia and the mass mobilizations in the U.S. for immigrant's
rights and against the war?
ED: The developments of the last months and years, the mobilizations
of the workers with their organizations and the people, testify to
the will of the masses to fight the hardships of the capitalist
In the U.S., the massive demonstrations against the war and, on May
1, for immigrant rights, demonstrate the rising rejection of the war
by the people and its will to end the laws pushed forward by the Bush
The revolutionary mobilization which began in Bolivia in 2003, and
which intensified with the election of Evo Morales, has taken a new
step with the Supreme Decree 28701 of May 1st, 2006, in favor of the
nationalization of the gas and hydrocarbons resources of the country.
This measure takes place after that taken by Hugo Chavez; it is an
important step toward the sovereignty of the Bolivian nation and we
must support the Bolivian workers and peoples on this road.
The UGTG struggles for the national and social emancipation of
Guadeloupe and welcomes the movement developing on the continent.
ILC: The Caribbean Social Forum will take place at the beginning of
July in Martinique. What is your point of view on this question? What
initiative is the UGTG taking?
ED: They tell us that the Social Forums are spaces for discussion,
debate, and the elaboration of proposals by social actors (NGOs,
In fact they are spaces for friendly criticism based on citizenry and
not on the class struggle, where one can criticize the multinationals
without questioning capitalism.
Faced with globalization, the multinationals, and the dismantling of
nations, the workers, peoples, and their organizations resist and
organize in an independent manner. Clearly, this worries the
governments and Capital.
The Social Forums came into being to attempt to domesticate and
control this discontent. We see that the Social Forums are supported
from right as well as "left" ministers, all shades of governments,
European institutions, and the multinationals. Not surprisingly, they
receive tons of media attention.
They would like to have us think that it is possible to create a
capitalism that will benefit all the men and women on the planet.
Some speak of a "liberalism with a human face" -- as if it were
possible to humanize a system based on exploitation and the
dehumanization of man.
The spread of Social Forums threatens the independence of
organizations, particularly the class trade unions that base
themselves on the method of mass struggle and a class-struggle
The independence of union organizations was a theme at the center of
our 16th Congress, as well as the question of social dialogue: " Sé
Fanm, Nonm é angajman an Konsyans balan é inité San Janmen manjé an
men a yo ka Kalbandé espwatasyon Kapitalis é Kolonyalis."
We decided to directly address the organizations of the Caribbean, so
that each of them can learn of our point of view concerning the
question and continue the discussions of the Second Caribbean
Conference of December 2005.
For the sovereignty and unity of the Bolivian nation!
For the victory of the No vote in the referendum on autonomies!
The same policy aiming to break-up nations
Last week, we reproduced the map published in the British newspaper
the London Times (June 2), showing the 21 future "Montenegros"
planned by the European Union, twenty-one pseudo-states stolen from
the currently existing nations of Europe. But is this only the case
in Europe? Not at all!
In Bolivia, shortly after the president issued a decree nationalizing
the oil and gas resources, the country is facing a referendum on
"regional autonomies." The oligarchy of the department of Santa Cruz,
underhandedly supported by the American embassy, has announced in
advance that the "Yes" will win with 80% in the department and that
they will not recognize the national results.
This is the open announcement of secession, the break-up of Bolivia.
The department of Santa Cruz holds most of the hydrocarbon reserves.
In an open letter (see below), the activists of La Chispa, the
sympathizing section of the Fourth International in Bolivia, call on
the workers´ and popular organizations of Bolivia to build a united
front to save the nation.
Open Letter to Evo Morales and the Workers´ and Popular Leaders
To the Attention of
Leaders of all the workers´ and popular organizations,
Brothers and sisters of the Bolivian people:
The future of Bolivia will be decided in the following weeks.
Imperialism and the multinationals, using the instruments of the
regional oligarchies, aim to divide Bolivia to perpetuate the pillage
of our natural resources.
Imperialism has destroyed Yugoslavia and is currently destroying
Iraq. Now, through the "regional autonomies," it aims to do the same
to our country.
They lie to the people when they say that the autonomies will bring
Bolivian harmony and well-being. They lie when they say that the
autonomies are the solution to the economy´s problems. They lie when
they say that the autonomies are the recognition of the rights of the
The autonomies are in contradiction with Decree 28701 and the
struggle for the full nationalization of the hydrocarbons. They would
hand over our natural resources to the puppets of the multinationals,
that is, to the regional oligarchies.
Likewise, the autonomies are in contradiction with the process of
agrarian reform. The land-owning oligarchies will aim to abrogate the
distribution of land to the peasants by decreeing the autonomy and
the secession of Santa Cruz and the other departments.
The vast majority of workers´ and popular organizations -- and Evo
Morales himself -- correctly have called on the Bolivian people to
vote "NO" in the referendum.
It is now necessary to pass from words to actions. It is necessary to
organize united mobilizations to assure the triumph of the No vote in
all the departments of Bolivia.
President Evo Morales and leaders of the workers´ and popular organizations:
You have the power and the duty to mobilize the whole nation for the
No vote and against any secessionist attempt on the part of the
The very existence of the Bolivian nation is at stake.
We, signers of this letter, declare our firm stance in this struggle
to defend the nation and its resources against imperialism.
The gas, oil, land, and all the natural resources belong to the
For the sovereignty and unity of the Bolivian nation against the autonomies!
June 16, 2006
Evo Morales comes out against the proposed regional autonomies
Political tension does not cease to grow in Bolivia. While the new
Bolivian president has just publicly come out for the No vote in the
referendum over regional autonomies, the secessionist groups multiply
their provocative declarations.
The newspaper Pagina 12 notes that the partisans of the Yes vote in
Santa Cruz, "are strongly influenced by the organizations such as the
powerful Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Cainco) and the
Agro-industry Confederation (CAO).
The reaction of the MAS [the party of Evo Morales] was taken in
relation to the violent declarations of the last three weeks, with
their veiled threats to defend with arms the lands the government
aims to redistribute. ... The situation places the country in the
face of a stark alternative ...: If the Yes wins in Santa Cruz, (this
would result) in a violent power dispute. ... We could face a very
conflictive situation that will be difficult to resolve."
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