- Crackdown in Argentina
- Workers' Party expels left leaders
- Indonesian military continue war in Aceh
Crackdown in Argentina
On 20 December 2003, the second anniversary of the popular uprising in 2001 that brought down the government of Fernando de la Rúa, 50,000 people demonstrated in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires.
During the peaceful demonstration a bomb exploded, causing injuries to 23 people, including several children and a pregnant woman.
On 22 December 5,000 people participated in a demonstration called by different social movements and political parties to condemn the attack, and agreed the following statement.
Send messages of support to at: the Argentina Solidarity Campaign
We, the undersigned, condemn the criminal attack on demonstrators in the Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires, on Saturday December 20, 2003.
We demand an enquiry into the attack and the prosecution of those responsible for it.
We demand that the government and employers stop their campaign against the 'piquetero' movement and other workers' organisations in struggle. This campaign has prepared the conditions for such attacks on the freedom to demonstrate.
We call on all workers' organisations to defend the right to demonstrate and to struggle.
We demand the trial and punishment of those responsible for this and all other attacks on activists.
We demand an immediate halt to the prosecution of the 4,000 popular activists throughout the country who have been arrested during the course of the struggle.
Workers' Party expels left leaders
In a further sign of its drift to the right since coming to power, the National Executive of the Brazilian Workers' Party (PT) expelled four dissident socialist representatives in December. The four had voted against the government on pensions and tax change.
Two dozen congress representatives presented a petition with 22,000 signatures asking the executive not to expel Senator Heloísa Helena, who is a member of Socialist Democracy (DS), the tendency within the PT associated with the United Secretariat of the Fourth International.
The DS comrades have rightly vowed to fight the expulsions and remain within the PT. This is part of their statement:
"The expulsion of comrade Heloísa Helena, member of the National Directory of the PT and its Executive Commission, is absurd. Comrade Heloísa Helena was leader of the PT group in the Senate of the Republic, where she had a brilliant and militant performance. The positions that she defended then on behalf of the party are the same ones that she defends today.
"Our comrade Heloísa Helena never moved away from her basic commitments to the working class, to all the Brazilian people, to socialism and humanity. In the name of these commitments she confronted the northeastern oligarchy and committed herself uncompromisingly to building the PT.
"The DS, in line with the resolutions of its last conference, reaffirms the centrality of the fight within the PT to win it back to a socialist and democratic orientation."
Indonesian military continue war in Aceh
The Indonesian military has obtained a six-month extension to martial law in Aceh, after failing to defeat the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). In May 2003 the military promised to obliterate GAM in six months, but by November were saying that they had not even captured GAM's leaders.
Official figures say almost 1,000 suspected members of GAM (and its armed wing, the TNA) have been killed and more than 1,800 others have been arrested or surrendered. 304 civilians have died and 140 others have been injured.
The TNA is usually estimated as around 5,000 strong, which means that it is far from decimated. According to William Nessen, a US journalist who managed to join the TNA forces in the jungle: "Only a couple of the top 100 or so commanders have been killed and none of the middle-level company commanders."
The extension of martial law is a sign that the military has regained the upper hand in security and political affairs of the country. Martial law in Aceh will now be in operation during the Indonesian general election in April, and the military is also threatening a crackdown in West Papua.
- More information from the TAPOL website