News of struggles and conflicts from Africa, Asia and Latin America is not always easy to find. A general strike in India is not reported in the corporate press, neither is the murder of a human rights activist in Central America nor indeed is news of great humanitarian interest from the multilateral organisations (such as the agencies of the United Nations). As the world’s media gets more and more homogenised by the interests of corporate ideology, more and more news about the world’s peoples vanish. There is so little basic information, for instance, about world hunger and about the fights to feed the hungry. We are not interested merely in the conflicts and the suffering. We are equally interested in the struggles of people to address these broad challenges.

We, at the Tricontinental, will send out a weekly newsletter, a curated note with information from one part of the world, that will offer a window into some of the struggles and conflicts of our time. The newsletter will be available by subscription – and it is free.

To find out more about the newsletter, or to send us stories that you believe we should cover in it, please write to [email protected]. We do not promise to use each and every one of your suggestions, but we do welcome them. If you have objections to anything we run, please let us know. There might be times when we might publish your criticism as part of our mandate to stimulate debate.

 


The United Nation’s report on biodiversity and ecosystems provides a grave diagnosis of planeticide at the hands of global capital. The rate of global species extinction is tens of hundreds of times faster now than it was over the last ten million years. This, due to the voracious appetite of capitalism to reproduce profits for the few at the expense of all else, even the survival of the planet. ‘Market-based action will not suffice’, write the academics. Capitalism, in other words, cannot solve the serious problem of extinction.  The UN report notes that the transition would ‘entail a shift beyond standard economic indicators.’ Unable to give a name to all this, it suggests that the only human-led antidote to extinction is socialism. The resources to fund this exist in the tax havens of the rich, in subsidies given to fossil fuel firms and agribusiness that are destroying the planet. If this money could be assembled, it would be a sufficiently large fund to reconfigure energy, transport, housing and food systems. A socialist future is necessary.


Capitalism’s scandalous mining behaviour camouflages its plunder behind the discourse of ‘good governance’. The claim made is that it is not the foreign-owned mining firms, but the corrupt elite in Africa that is responsible for the enduring poverty— a claim that stands out in sharp contradiction to the facts, where the money pilfered by multinational corporations far surpasses the money stolen by corrupt government officials. But silence is not the mood of the miners. They have fought against the theft of their labour from the days of colonialism into these neo-colonial times. Their protests have been fierce, and the reaction to them has been deadly. It is this reaction that killed Honduran environmental and indigenous rights activist leader Berta Cáceres in 2016, and that attempted (but failed) to kill Francia Márquez this past Saturday, May 4 for her working organizing against the extractivist industry in Colombia. Miners – like landless workers – are familiar with gunfire and teargas, from one end of Africa (Marikana, South Africa) to the other (Jerada, Morocco). But state violence and the violence of corporations does not stop them.


In Venezuela, the political leadership of the oligarchy beg for the men in green to set aside the Constitution, as Juan Guiadó and the Venezuelan right-wing opposition attempted a military coup in Venezuela this Tuesday. By nightfall, it was clear that the coup – one of many attempted in Venezuela – had failed. What prevented the coup – despite the difficult conditions inside Venezuelan society – was the mass mobilisation in the streets and people determined to protect the sovereignty of their country, determined to allow the Bolivarian process to stumble along against all odds. Meanwhile, in Canada a close look at the country’s government and business interests reveals something quite different than the casual liberalism of its reputation. 60% of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada, where mining companies display a depraved indifference to human life. As we show in our first briefing, launched this week, this indifference, and the atrocities perpetrated against the people who live above and near these mines, are considered to be just a natural or necessary side effect to economic growth.


On 26 April 1937, twelve bombers of the German Condor Legion and the Italian Aviazione Legionaria flew low over the Basque country of Spain in the midst of civil war. They tore down over the small town of Guernica, where they let loose their fiery arsenal. In his monumental Grundrisse (1857), Karl Marx made the offhand, but accurate remark, ‘The impact of war is self-evident, since economically it is exactly the same as if the nation were to drop a part of its capital into the ocean’. A permanent war economy is a waste, even if there are massive profits to be made by these warfare companies. Today, global military spending is over $2 trillion, with the United States by itself spending almost half this amount. Total US military spending is now at $989 billion. If you add the immense secret budget of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, the US military budget is already over $1 trillion. But it is not the human toll of the wars that bothers the powerful— their indignation is reserved for those brave people who expose their crimes and call them to account.


When the British Crown took over the Indian subcontinent, theft of our wealth became routine. Britain took Indian money, made England one of the wealthiest places in the world and left India bereft. Indian wealth was used as a down payment for England’s development. The entire Industrial Revolution in England – which you study for its technological breakthroughs – was funded by this theft from India and by the Atlantic slave trade. The peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Americas that funded Europe’s technology. It is African, Asian, indigenous American wealth that enabled European universities to thrive and European students to come up with those breakthroughs. Inside James Watt’s steam engine is the blood of an enslaved African plantation worker and a starving Indian peasant. To condemn the British empire is to raise questions about the great benefits that today’s Britain enjoys because of the wealth stolen from India. No question that Britain – such a small island – would have been nothing without its imperial history. To question the Empire means to question the journey Britain took to come to its current situation. One hundred years after the massacre in Jallianwalla Bagh (Amritsar, 13 April 1919), which  galvanised the Indian people into the freedom struggle, we call for the British government and to Europe in general, to remember and recognize this history in order to have an attitude towards the world we live in that reflects the reality of the past, and the compassion that this requires; to decolonise your minds as much as the structures that continue to reproduce poverty and indignity.