Crises afflict the world at a rapid velocity. It is hard to keep up with these developments, let alone develop a historical and critical perspective regarding them. Our Red Alert series provides a brief two page assessment of key crises.


On 10 November 2019, a coup d’état took place in Bolivia. The commander-in-chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces asked President Evo Morales to resign. The police had already mutinied, and society had already been destabilised – this had been triggered by a presidential election whose results had not been recognised by the opposition and whose results had been suspiciously discredited by the Organisation of American States (OAS). Two days after Morales resigned, a largely unheard-of opposition politician, Jeanine Áñez, declared herself to be the interim president without the necessary quorum in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, where Morales’ party, the Movement to Socialism (MAS) holds the majority of the seats.


No such hatred marked US relations with Iran during the reign of the Shah (1941-1979). Only when an economic nationalist – Mohammed Mosaddeq – came to power between 1951 and 1953 and only when he threatened to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, did the CIA, the Shah, and the right-wing of the Iranian army – led by General Fazlollah Zahedi – move against him. But even then, they saw the communists as the threat and not the Iranian people. During that period, the Saudi kings and the Iranian Shah made common cause against popular movements and the communists; no Shia-Sunni divide bothered them.


Since mid-September, an intense wave of protests has cascaded across Haiti. Roughly five million people – half of Haiti’s population – have participated in road blockades and marches. They demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, reject any foreign intervention, and call for a resolution of the energy and economic crisis. Lack of fuel on the island is the spur. The government’s response has been to send in the police. Our Red Alert #4, sent to us by our comrades in Haiti, offers a fuller assessment of the situation on the ground.


At the United Nations General Assembly, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro opened the proceedings with the rather bizarre comment that the Amazon – which has been on fire for weeks – is ‘practically untouched’ and that a ‘lying and sensationalist media’ had been fanning the flames of fake news. The Amazon, 60% of which is inside Brazil, is not – Bolsonaro said – the ‘heritage of humankind’. It is Brazilian territory, he said, and if Brazil wants to cut it down, then so be it. Protests have taken place around the world against the Amazon fires, since it is well-recognised that the Amazon is one of the major carbon sinks on the planet. If there is 25% deforestation of the Amazon, then the rainforest would have reached a point of no return. At that point, the vegetation loses its capacity to regenerate and would likely devolve from a rain forest into a savannah. We are in the age of madness again, on the edge of the destruction of the Amazon, an age that calls to be brave and to be bold.


On 12 September, thousands of people took to the streets across Sudan to call for the ouster of the chief justice and the attorney general. They have said that they want to see a more civilian character to the government. Faced with the determination and heroic continuation of the mass protest movement and the support of junior officers, the military junta has had to accept compromises. The military is not prepared to fully crush the movement because many junior, non-commissioned officers are sympathetic to its goals. This does not mean that the military has not used violence. It has. But the alliance has been resilient. For them, the revolutionary process has not ended.