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.

 


In November 2019, the Bolivian army – with a nudge from the shadows – told its President Evo Morales Ayma to resign. Morales would eventually go to Mexico and then seek asylum in Argentina. Jeanette Áñez, a far-right politician who was not in the line of succession, seized power; the military, the fascistic civil society groups, and sections of the evangelical church backed her. Áñez said that she would hold elections soon, but that she would herself not stand in them. Áñez set the date of election for 3 May. Despite her promise, she will stand for the presidency. The conditions for the election are so poor that the United Nations has publicly worried about the ‘exacerbated polarisation’ in the country. There is ample evidence of intimidation and violence being used by the interim government and its far-right allies against the members of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) – Morales’ party – and its supporters. Even though early polls indicate that MAS is ahead, with its candidates Luis Arce Catacora (President) and David Choquehuanca Céspedes (Vice President), there is every indication that dirty tricks are afoot to create fear in society and to disenfranchise sections of the Bolivian citizenry.


Students of the Dr. P. V. Ramachandra Reddy People's Polyclinic (PPC) Nursing College undergoing karate training. Photo credit: Nellore People’s Polyclinic.

In December 2019, several people began to develop infections in the People’s Republic of China. “In many ways, China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response,” observed WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus on the country’s public efforts to contain and treat the virus. The Chinese response to the crisis shows the advantages of the Chinese socialist system when it comes to an epidemic of this kind – in stark contrast to a capitalist system, which cannot understand what it means to put people before profit. This commitment to serve the people is mirrored by initiatives for people’s medicine across the world, from the Nellore People’s Polyclinic in India to Cuban medical brigades. Yet, in September 2019, the United States accused Cuba of human trafficking doctors, and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro called the 8,300 Cuban medical personnel in Brazil ‘slave labour’. It tells you a lot about the divergence of world views between Bolsonaro and the Cuban doctors that he would see their socialist commitment as slavery.


In mid-January, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released its flagship report, World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020. The report predicts that global growth rates this year will be unimpressive and provides a key understanding of the world we live in today that we seek to highlight in this week’s newsletter. In this report are some numbers in this report that are so confounding that they should be read over and over again: the richest 22 men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa; if you saved $10,000 a day every day since the pyramids were built in Ancient Egypt roughly five thousand years ago, today you would have only one-fifth the average fortune of the 5 richest billionaires;  women and girls put in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day, contributing at least $10.8 trillion a year to the global economy – more than three times the size of the global tech industry. The world we live in today is plagued not only my military offensives, but also by hybrid wars and economic wars. This economic war deforms human aspirations, empties out dreams and breaks hopes.


Tensions between Washington, DC, and Tehran seem to have gone from a boil to a simmer, but they nonetheless remain. There is reason to believe that US President Donald Trump – reckless by nature – will launch an attack on Iran in the next few months. He might do so to distract from the impeachment trial he faces in the US Senate or to hasten his chances of re-election in November 2020. The objective of the US has been to subordinate Iran, to defang it, and to make it irrelevant in West Asia. That has not happened, and it is what continues to provoke tension in the region. After the assassination of Soleimani, the Iranians said that if they were attacked further, they would destroy Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Haifa (Israel). Iranian short-range missiles can hit Dubai; but it is Hezbollah that will strike Haifa. That means that the United States and its allies will face a full-scale regional guerrilla war if there is any bombing run on Iran. These militias are the deterrent for Iran. That is why Trump hesitated; but he might not hesitate for long.


A decade ago, when China and Russia joined Brazil, India, and South Africa to form the BRICS, it appeared as if the global architecture was shifting from US unipolarity (with its allies as the spokes around the US hub) to multipolarity; but, with the deepening crisis in countries like Brazil and China, the new global architecture will be one of bipolarity, with the US and China as the two poles of the global order. The United States – which has the habit of dominance – has tried its best to both manage and to prevent the growing global role of China. To manage China meant to intimidate it to remain subordinate to US economic interests. From February 2018, various dispute settlement mechanisms – including the Strategic Economic Dialogue – set up by the US and China failed to operate. The most recent ‘phase one’ deal creates new platforms for discussion and debate and provides a roadmap to settle the chaos unleashed by this trade war. But this agreement is a ceasefire – not a peace treaty.