Posts Tagged ‘revolution’

[A Dossier with Six Articles]

 The World Bank President’s Tunisian Visit:
“The Tunisian foreign debt is around $50 billion”

(article reprinted from Issue No. 147 (New Series), May 4, 2011, of Informations Ouvrières [Labor News], the weekly newspaper of the Independent Workers Party [POI] of France)

A three-day visit to Tunisia, from May 2-4, will allow World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick “to determine in particular what help to bring to Tunisia during its political transition phase and how to carry out the economic reforms and governance that can create jobs and generate opportunities.”
This is how the World Bank press release presents the visit of its president to Tunisia before he goes to Morocco.

Apart from the Tunisian government, Mr. Zoellick “will meet with representatives of civil society in both countries to discuss with them the new importance attached to social responsibility and the role that civil society can play in helping citizens make their voices heard to reap the fruits of economic development and have access to better opportunities,” the press release states.

Nevertheless, the official Tunisian media did not trumpet the visit before the World Bank president landed in Tunisia. The March 18 mobilization against the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the cancelation of her press conference probably forced the Tunisian government to remain quiet about the World Bank president’s visit.

This visit comes after Tunisia has paid, since the beginning of April, the sum of 450 million Euros – which represents the year’s highest debt maturity — and comes after the $500 million World Bank loan granted April 15.

Since Jan. 14, many voices have condemned this “odious debt” and have called for its cancelation, or, if not, its suspension. The cooperation between Tunisia and the World Bank goes back to 1963. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development had invested a cumulative total of $5.5 billion in Tunisia by the end of 2009. The Tunisian foreign debt is around $50 billion, two-thirds of which was generated by the state.

Since Jan. 14, the Tunisian provisional governments have all been unanimous in their commitment that Tunisia will pay its debt and borrow more!
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 General Strike in Monastir:

The workers and youth are in the process of gathering the issues that must be put on the agenda of the Constituent Assembly

(article reprinted from Issue No. 147 (New Series), May 4, 2011, of Informations Ouvrières [Labor News], the weekly newspaper of the Independent Workers Party [POI] of France)

Since March 6, after the appointment of the prime minister, Caid Essebsi, the employees, agents and executives of the Monastir International Airport have mobilized to defend their work site, a strategic airport that has a capacity of a few million passengers per year.

Their efforts, supported by the UGTT trade union federation, led the transport union (aviation, bus, metro, taxi) to call for a strike to take place on April 29. The strike quickly spread to the cities of Sousse and Sfax. As a result, April 29 was no longer only a transit strike; it was the entire city of Monastir that was on strike. All workers’ categories joined the strike triggered by the transportation union (the schools and colleges, the banks, the Sonede, the water company, the Steg, the electricity and gas company, and all the businesses in the city).

“The strike was 100 percent successful,” stated Mouldi Jendoubi, executive board member of the UGTT.

For 55 days, the government had remained silent, relying on the deterioration of the situation and weariness of workers. It was only on April 29 that the governor responded to the protesters massed at the Municipal Building, to tell them … that the government is studying the situation.

But what is the situation?

It is a simple case of privatization of Monastir International Airport — that is to say, its concession to a Turkish company (TAV) – along with the concession to TAV of the new international airport of Enfidha, the future major hub of international air transport in the region. These are concessions framed by a loan from the World Bank for the construction of this new airport.

The demand expressed by the workers at Monastir International Airport was clearly put:

“Cancellation of the concession contracts and put the airport back under the supervision of the Office of Civil Aviation.”

The employees were joined by the entire population. The watchword of the entire city of Monastir was: “TAV clear out!”

Monastir’s general strike against privatization of the airport lays out a demand that is maturing within the working class: The nationalization of all enterprises privatized during the reign of Ben Ali. This, in turns, places on the agenda the need to repeal the “free trade” Association Agreement between Tunisia and the European Union, which opened the doors of the national economy to plunder.

It is the same question being asked by the Local Committee to Defend the Revolution of Metlaoui, which is demanding the nationalization of the Gafsa Phosphate Company.

The working class and the unemployed youth are in the process of gathering together all the issues and demands that must be on the agenda of the Constituent Assembly: The right to a job, the nationalization of the nation’s assets, the repeal of the Association Agreement with the European Union and any other agreement that undermines the sovereignty of Tunisia, the refusal to pay the debt of the Ben Ali regime (which did not benefit the people in any way), and the repayment of the sums plundered by Ben Ali and his allies.

The May 1 meeting of unemployed graduates has called for the recognition of work as a right and for the election of the unemployed to the Constituent Assembly.

One thing is certain: Caid Essebi’s government is trying every means to turn the tide of the revolution in order to dictate the course of the “transition” to democracy. It is backed by its European partners, the World Bank and the IMF. But the May 1 workers’ protest noted clearly, “Nothing has changed! It is the same theater, the same government.”

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[Note: The following four articles are reprinted from Issue No. 149 (New Series), May 18, 2011, of Informations Ouvrières (Labor News), the weekly newspaper of the Independent Workers Party (POI])of France.]

Revolution and Counter-Revolution
Four months after Ben Ali took flight, the Tunisian people are convinced that their revolution is in danger. The three provisional governments, including that of current Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, are widely perceived by Tunisians as just a continuation of the Ben Ali era.

The authorities are trying to transform the Constituent Assembly elections into a show to reproduce the same system. The highest authority for carrying out the objectives of the revolution was coopted and integrated into the regime to eliminate the ones that form the neighborhood committees, as well as the local and regional committees for the protection of the revolution.

The RCD, the party of Ben Ali that was officially dissolved by court decision, is back, disguised as several smaller parties. The political police, officially dissolved as a result of the second sit-in at El Kasbah, is more active than ever. Torture, kidnapping, defamation and disinformation is being carried out to counter the rallies and demonstrations of workers and unemployed. The interim government is using all means to delegitimize the movement of the masses and to attack the UGTT trade union federation and union activists.

Self-defense committees, born recently in some cities, are still struggling to cope with organized gangs of corrupt police and thugs who terrorize the population. The blackmail the counter-revolutionary forces are forcing on the population isn’t only about security; it is also economic, orchestrated by the major powers and transnational corporations.

Essebsi has struggled to impose the sacred union behind his policies, with the support of the majority of the Tunisian political apparatus, and especially of the European Union and the United States.
Increasingly, the Tunisian people are convinced that the interim government and its highest authority to which the the objectives of the revolution are entrusted represent, in fact, the greatest counter-revolutionary threat.

Its security and police policies, however, have not been able to prevent the workers, the youth and the unemployed — those who caused Ben Ali’s downfall — from resuming what they began in December 2010. In Tunisia, the revolution is certainly in danger, but a revolutionary wind is blowing once again.

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Declaration of the Metlaoui Local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution

The Metloui Local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution denounces:

– The arson of its local office, the sacking of its equipment and the theft of its records.

– The policy of deception adhered to by local authorities, which sanctifies the position of the illegitimate interim government in its relations with the local committees to protect the revolution.

– Rejects the deliberate silence of the imposed and illegitimate National Council to protect the revolution, which does not stand against the assaults on the local committees to protect the revolution or against what happened to the UGTT unions in Monastir and Siliana.

The local committee for the protection of the revolution demands:

– Securing local committees by local authorities.

– The establishment of a climate ensuring the freedom of movement and work and removing all obstacles that oppose that.

– The dissolution of the National Council for the protection of the revolution.

The local committee for the protection of the revolution calls for a national convention to be held, based on the local committees to protect the revolution, establishing a national council to protect the revolution, one that will be a strategic factor for all the decisions concerning the present and future of our country.

Metlaoui, May 15, 2011

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Founding Declaration of the Kef local committee for the protection of the revolution

We demand:

– Urgent solutions for the problem of unemployment (…).

– The use of the local offices of the RCD [the former ruling party — translator’s note] for local cultural and recreational activities for youth.

– Urgent support be given to small artisans and small farmers.

– Restitution of public property in the region that was looted.

– The independence of justice and the installation of financial and administrative courts in our region.

– The cleansing of administrations and channels of information of all symbols of the previous regime.

– The activation of the UGTT regionally in the cleansing of all careerists, while remaining committed to the unity and independence of the UGTT as a unique and legitimate representative of all Tunisian workers.

– We support the call for a national convention based on the local committees to protect the revolution.

The Founding Committee

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The Revolution on the Eve of a Second Stage

Tunisia: In response to threats against the revolution, the UGTT trade union federation and the defense committees of the revolution express the views of youth, workers and peasants.

Declaration of the Administrative Commission of the UGTT:

Following the attacks and the brutal repression that victimized the citizens and all of the successive attacks that have targeted various institutions and agencies, and the attempts to stir up trouble to create a climate of doubt about the progress of the revolution and to impede the march to democracy (…), the May 11 UGTT administrative committee meeting:

1) Strongly denounces the attacks against the UGTT at the local, regional and national levels, and the violence that targets trade unionists in many regions. That particularly includes Comrade Said Youssef, Secretary General of the Regional Union of Monastir, as well as the smear campaigns that seek to accuse peers in other regions, as is the case in Siliana.

2) Remains committed to the right of citizens and of all the people to demonstrate and protest against the the savage violence exercised against the people. This had as a consequence the death of a citizen who opposed the destruction of public assets, operations which remind us of old practices against which we continue to fight. The Administrative Committee protests the attack and destruction of public and private property and against attempts undertaken by organized groups, whose interests are completely linked to the regime of the deposed president and the dissolved RCD (…).

4) Warns against making the accusation of betrayal against all those who have a different perspective on the general situation of the country, the nation’s future prospects or on the question of postponement of Constituent Assembly elections. The Administrative Commission calls for the establishment of a healthy social climate that respects the freedom of expression and opinion.

5) Affirms its commitment to the independence of choice and union direction (…), as it affirms its commitment to defend a society that strengthens the rights of women, which respects freedom of belief and separation of religion and politics – on the grounds that mosques are only places of worship. The Administrative Commission has stated its commitment to build a democratic society that strengthens the social gains and whose language is Arabic and whose religion is Islam (…).

14) As much as it rejects any form of foreign intervention in Arab affairs, it also expresses its solidarity with the people’s revolutions in Libya, Yemen and Syria and denounces the killing operations undertaken by the repressive regimes in power in opposing demonstrations for freedom, democracy and human rights.
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