Feb 142017
 

By Michael Nevradakis99GetSmart

Originally published at MintPressNews:

The Global South is growing unintelligible from the European South amid harsh austerity measures and other maneuverings that suit the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and working class.

Maria de Jesus Oliveira da Costa, known as “Tia Zelia,” takes down an autographed photo given to her by Brazil’s impeached President Dilma Rousseff, to show it to journalists at her restaurant in Brasilia, Brazil, where photos of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also hang. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

Maria de Jesus Oliveira da Costa, known as “Tia Zelia,” takes down an autographed photo given to her by Brazil’s impeached President Dilma Rousseff, to show it to journalists at her restaurant in Brasilia, Brazil, where photos of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also hang. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

BRASILIA, Brazil — Harsh austerity. A 20-year public spending freeze. A non-elected government. A coup backed by the United States and corporate world.

This is the new reality that Brazil has faced following the impeachment and ouster of the democratically-elected Dilma Rousseff in August of 2016 on charges of corruption and her replacement by vice-president Michel Temer, a favorite of Washington.

This is also a new reality that has been met by widespread disapproval, occasional large-scale protests, and a new economic uncertainty for a country which, just a few years ago, was seen as an up-and-coming economic powerhouse, along with the rest of the BRICS, the bloc composed of emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This optimism has been quickly supplanted by an increasingly volatile social situation in Brazil and great pessimism for the future.

Much has been made in the media about the progressive credentials of the Rousseff government and that of her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, both of whom represented the Workers’ Party (PT) of Brazil. Much has also been made of the mass protests which led to Rousseff’s outster, which bore similarities to protests seen in countries such as Venezuela against the Maduro regime, and the relative lack of protest that the Temer government has faced since ascending to power.

What is actually happening, though? As is often the case in such situations, reality is far more multifaceted and complex than frequently presented, while parallels can be drawn with other austerity-ravaged countries such as Greece.

A radical break or austerity lite?: The Rousseff and da Silva governments

A man pulls a cart with an electoral poster of Workers Party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff, right, at Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. (AP/Felipe Dana)

A man pulls a cart with an electoral poster of Workers Party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff, right, at Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. (AP/Felipe Dana)

The governments of da Silva and Rousseff were often compared to those of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina, in representing a break with the doctrines of neoliberalism, economic austerity, and privatization that much of Latin America experienced during the 1980s and 1990s.

This claim is borne out by some policies and certain economic indicators. In a 2014 article, well-known commentator Pepe Escobar, who frequently focuses on the BRICS nations in his writing, pointed out the tripling of the minimum wage between 2002 and 2014, a decline in unemployment, increased GDP per capita, the repayment of Brazil’s debts to the International Monetary Fund, higher purchasing power, plus social programs which benefited almost 50 million Brazilians.

Similarly, in a 2014 interview with me for Dialogos Radio, investigative journalist Greg Palast cited da Silva’s refusal to privatize state banks and the national oil company, while creating the “Bolsa Familia,” or a minimum income offered to many Brazilians, in an effort to lift them out of poverty. According to Palast, these policies — the opposite of the privatizations and austerity dictated by the International Monetary Fund — fueled Brazil’s phenomenal growth during this time, reaching 7 to 9 percent annually at its peak.

But did da Silva and Rousseff go far enough? Numerous commentators have expressed doubts.

For instance, the Rousseff government appointed Joaquim Levy, known as a pro-austerity “fiscal hawk,” as finance minister (this, it should be noted, was when Temer was Rousseff’s vice president). Scholar and author James Petras, an expert on Latin America, pointed out in November that da Silva implemented IMF-mandated austerity programs soon after being elected, and he appointed neoliberal economists to his cabinet whilst supporting the interests of agribusiness and major oil and mining concerns — all while overseeing policies which left numerous peasant families landless.

The Brazilian “economic miracle,” according to Petras, was a mirage fueled by high export commodity prices which the Brazilian economy temporarily benefited from, enabling programs such as the “Bolsa Familia.”

This was echoed by Palast, who in a 2016 follow-up interview with Dialogos Radio cited the sharp decline of oil prices and collapse of its commodities trade with China, as factors in the Brazilian economic slowdown — and increased unrest in the country prior to Rousseff’s ouster. In turn, Escobar also cited Rousseff’s concessions to big banking and agribusiness interests and a swing to the center as mistakes which also led to the emerging middle class increasingly flirting with the right once economic difficulties began.

In an interview with MintPress, Kat Moreno, a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and visiting scholar for Global Workers’ Rights at the Penn State University, argued that the Rousseff government was quite austere, and that despite a militant, leftist background, the material conditions she faced pressured her to enact austerity policies during her reign.

A recent analysis published by TeleSUR further argues that austerity measures were implemented by the Rousseff government as a defense mechanism of sorts, in an effort to fend off Rousseff’s impeachment by appeasing the right.

In his 2014 interview, Palast cited Rousseff’s return to IMF-sponsored austerity policies and the reduction of pensions as factors which were disastrous for the Brazilian economy, calling the IMF “a society of poisoners,” while in his 2016 interview, he cited Rousseff’s political inexperience and her inability to effectively communicate with the public as factors which made her impeachment possible.

An uprising from below or from above?

Soldiers stand guard outside Planalto presidential palace where protesters have projected the word “Impeachment” on the building, as they call for the impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, March 21, 2016. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

Soldiers stand guard outside Planalto presidential palace where protesters have projected the word “Impeachment” on the building, as they call for the impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, March 21, 2016. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

2013 could be seen as a hallmark year for Brazil, one in which the tide began to turn against the ruling PT. The “Brazilian Spring” — following in the footsteps of the protests seen in Turkey that year, the Arab Spring, protests of the “indignants” in Spain and Greece, and the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011 — emerged out of protests against public transportation fare increases and perceived government corruption. These protests could be seen as having served as a “dress rehearsal” of sorts for those which followed in 2015 and 2016, when fed-up Brazilians took to the streets en masse, including an estimated 7 million citizens during a March 2016 protest, to rally against worsening economic conditions and continued government corruption.

Or did they?

It has been pointed out that the protests of 2015-2016, leading up to the impeachment of Rousseff were not led by the impoverished or the working class, but by such groups as the Free Brazil Movement (MBL) and Students of Liberty (EPL).

Who are these groups?

In this March 18, 2015 photo, anti-government protest leader Kim Kataguiri poses for a picture in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP/Andre Penner)

In this March 18, 2015 photo, anti-government protest leader Kim Kataguiri poses for a picture in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP/Andre Penner)

Largely consisting of well-to-do, white academic circles, it has been revealed that they were financed by the decidedly right-wing Atlas Economic Research Foundation, itself funded by the notorious Koch brothers.Pepe Escobar has described the events of 2015-2016 as a “white coup,” fueled by the country’s major media outlets, who were “salivating” for regime change.

This scenario closely mirrors the protests seen recently in Venezuela against the increasingly embattled Maduro regime. Venezuela, like Brazil, has been battered by falling commodities prices — especially the sharp decline in the price of oil. This has brought to the forefront protests, led by right-wing elements seeking regime change and sensing an opportunity to make it happen.

Such protests are also not confined to Latin America. Greece, itself embattled by years of economic depression and austerity, has begun to see occasional (but, for the time being, relatively small-scale) protests led by supporters of the center-right parties such as New Democracy.

Prior to the country’s July 2015 referendum on approving or rejecting an austerity package demanded by Greece’s European “partners,” these elements organized fairly large protests in favor of “yes” (accepting austerity in order to “remain in the European Union”). In turn, smaller protests in 2016, organized with such social media hashtags as ftanei pia (“enough already”) ironically protested the austerity measures imposed by the purportedly left-wing Syriza-led government whilst supporting closer EU ties and the New Democracy party.

Similar to Brazil, Greece’s major media groups — all owned by oligarchic interests with a huge stake in the country’s major economic sectors — have vehemently supported austerity and supported the “yes” vote in the 2015 referendum.

Speaking to MintPress, Guilherme Giuliano, at Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of São Paulo and member of the “Catso” social workers’ autonomous collective, described the 2016 protests as not having been solely against Rousseff or her government. Nevertheless, the protests were co-opted by certain parties and movements and used as a catalyst for the coup against Rousseff.

Kat Moreno described the MBL as one of the movements which freely took to the streets, while other protest movements not organized by formal actors and representing poorer strata of society were met with police repression.

Petras classifies the capitulation and eventual fall of the PT governments, led by da Silva and Rousseff, as another in a long string of failures of the left. These “failures” have also been evident in countries such as Greece, where Syriza was, in January 2015, elected on promises to “tear up” Greece’s memorandum agreements with its lenders and to put an end to austerity but has instead faithfully continued enforcing such policies and signed further austerity agreements with the country’s lenders, implementing further cuts and reneging on all of its pre-election pledges.

The ‘shock doctrine’ returns to Latin America

A police officer pepper sprays demonstrators as a scuffle breaks out during a protest against the money spent on Rio’s 2016 Summer Olympics on the route of the Olympic torch, in Niteroi, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016.

A police officer pepper sprays demonstrators as a scuffle breaks out during a protest against the money spent on Rio’s 2016 Summer Olympics on the route of the Olympic torch, in Niteroi, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016.

In her 2007 book “The Shock Doctrine,” Naomi Klein highlights how the global capitalist class uses crises and disaster situations — both real and invented — as an opportunity to pounce upon suffering countries when they are at their weakest, imposing harsh austerity christened as “free market” policies and imposed, when necessary, by force, including police violence and brutality.

This has been characteristic of Brazil following Rousseff’s impeachment and Temer’s takeover.

It has also been characteristic of the crisis-hit countries of the European South, where protesters in Greece have been dispersed and stunned into submission by tear gas and police violence which invariably goes unpunished, while riot police enforcing home foreclosures is a common sight in Spain.

Klein traces the origins of the “shock doctrine” to the neoliberal doctrine first espoused by economists such as Milton Friedman, the father of the “Chicago School” of economics, which Latin American countries such as Chile became intimately familiar with under autocratic regimes such as that of Augusto Pinochet.

It is ironic, therefore, that Klein openly and vocally supported the Syriza government prior to the January 2015 elections in Greece which first brought it to power. But she has remained conspicuously silent since then, while Syriza has continued the policies of its predecessors. Nevertheless, the “shock doctrine” serves as a useful guide to explain what is happening in such countries today, including Brazil.

In another one of his analyses on the Brazil situation, Escobar classified Brazil as a victim of a “hybrid war” launched by the world’s neoliberal elite one which is also targeting other BRICS nations such as Russia.

How has the “shock doctrine” unfolded in Brazil?

With a lot of shock, and a lot of awe, to say the least.

From left: Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff , Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of China Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma sit during a signing ceremony at the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Sergei Ilnitsky/AP)

From left: Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff , Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of China Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma sit during a signing ceremony at the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Sergei Ilnitsky/AP)

A 20-year federal freeze on public spending was almost immediately imposed by the Temer regime, placing caps on spending for health care, education, and social expenditures and shrinking a welfare state which, according to Moreno, was already much more limited than its European counterparts. This was followed up by the announcement of job cuts in the public sector (despite rising unemployment which has more than doubled since the country’s recent economic peak), and a special “Christmas gift” for Brazilian workers: the expansion of the workday from 8 to 12 hours, complete with a reduction in the lunch hour.

This closely resembles the sharp reduction in pay, dismantling of collective bargaining rights, and massive layoffs which have been seen in countries like Greece. (There, pensioners were treated to a “Christmas gift” of their own by the Syriza-led government: a paltry “Christmas bonus” used by the government as a ludicrous PR stunt after it had already slashed most pensions by approximately 50 percent in 2016 and announced further tax increases for 2017.) In Brazil, environmental regulations have also been scrapped or relaxed, posing a particular threat to the country’s indigenous peoples.

In a rare moment of frankness, Temer told an audience of business and foreign policy elite assembled in New York in September that Rousseff — who was no radical while in office — did not go “far enough” in implementing the harsh economic reforms demanded by Temer’s party.

The new Temer government does not feel itself constrained in any way in terms of going “far enough.” Corruption charges are now being faced by da Silva, who currently leads overwhelmingly in opinion polls for Brazil’s next presidential elections, and members of his family.

Not even bothering to keep up appearances, Temer’s appointed cabinet consists exclusively of wealthy white men, while his government attempted to legislate self-amnesty for itself in September — a privilege already enjoyed by members of the Greek parliament and Greek government ministers, who are immune from prosecution for any crimes committed while in office and who regularly “write off” internal parliamentary investigations into previous governments’ wrongdoings.

This comes as the Temer government, which led the ouster of Rousseff on corruption charges, is itself facing corruption scandals.

In such a climate, it is inevitable that corruption will “trickle down” to other sectors of society. Brazil is currently said to be experiencing a far-right resurgence, shattering the common image of the country as one of racial inclusiveness and harmony.

Tourists to Brazil now have the unique opportunity to visit a real-life plantation and be served by black “slaves.” Police violence, already a major problem under the Rousseff administration, continued to grow in 2016 and 2017. There’s also the increasing prison riot crisis, which has been encouraged by elements within Temer’s government who view it as an effective means of culling the population in the country’s overcrowded prisons.

How have Brazilians responded?

Demonstrators march with a sign that says in Portuguese “Get out Temer” and a drawing of Cuba’s late President Fidel Castro, as they demand the impeachment of Brazil’s President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP/Andre Penner)

Demonstrators march with a sign that says in Portuguese “Get out Temer” and a drawing of Cuba’s late President Fidel Castro, as they demand the impeachment of Brazil’s President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP/Andre Penner)

The spotlight of the international media was thrust upon Brazil in 2013 and again prior to Rousseff’s impeachment in 2016, when protests sprung up in the streets—which may have been fueled, at least in part, by Koch-funded and wealthy elements in Brazilian society.

With a regime in place which may not be supported by the majority of Brazil’s population but is very much supported by the global banking and business elite and by Washington, protests against Temer’s government have not been afforded the same level of coverage, perhaps giving the impression that the Brazilian populace has resigned itself to a tacit acceptance of the new regime. Reality, however, seems to be a bit more nuanced.

There have been both strikes and protests on a fairly wide scale in Brazil since Temer’s takeover, including protests which erupted following the enactment of the 20-year public spending freeze, further significant protests against the Temer government on Brazil’s Independence Day, and a strike of workers at oil refineries all across the country at the end of the year.

These movements are accompanied by abysmal approval ratings for the new government in multiple public opinion surveys, even if approval ratings and poll numbers are often meaningless or inaccurate. Just look at the low approval ratings and exceptionally high re-election ratings for members of the U.S. Congress, for instance, or the multiple polls which all but assured a Hillary Clinton victory in the U.S. presidential elections, or the public opinion polls in Greece which have repeatedly been not just grossly inaccurate but always in a pro-austerity direction. For instance, Greek polling firms predicted a neck-and-neck referendum result in July 2015, when in fact, the “no” vote rejecting the European Union’s proposed austerity package received an overwhelming 62 percent of the vote.

Demonstrators protest Brazil’s President Michel Temer after a military Independence Day parade in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

Demonstrators protest Brazil’s President Michel Temer after a military Independence Day parade in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

Despite the protests that have taken place ever since Temer took over in Brazil, Kat Moreno points out the factors that have prevented them from being more widespread or long-lived.

According to Moreno, some strata of society do not feel safe in taking to the streets, and Moreno cites fear as a “strong variable” to consider when examining responses to the political situation in the country, as a result of the high degree of police repression and brutality, which has been especially evident during protests of left-wing groups and protesters who are not affiliated with any major organization or party.

Such a situation could also be said to foster “protest fatigue,” which is often seen as a factor in the lack of wide-scale protest in Greece and other crisis-stricken countries of the European South in recent years. Following large-scale protests seen in the 2010-2012 period, which peaked with the movement of the “Indignants” in Spain and Greece in the spring and summer of 2011 and which were eventually met by a violent and heavy-handed police response, protests have largely disappeared or been confined to ephemeral and single-issue efforts without longevity.

In Greece, a common response to questions as to why Greeks no longer take to the streets is that protesters will simply get tear gassed again and sent back home. The “shock doctrine” described by Naomi Klein may also serve as another psychological factor: When protests turn out to be fruitless and unpopular policies are rammed through despite opposition, feelings of discouragement and despair become more prevalent and serve as obstacles to further action.

To some extent, Brazilian society may be experiencing some of these symptoms.

Familiar Tactics

Brazil’s acting President Michel Temer arrives to speak, at Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, May 12, 2016.

Brazil’s acting President Michel Temer arrives to speak, at Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, May 12, 2016.

Escobar refers to the “toolbox” of tactics employed in Brazil leading up to Rousseff’s ouster. This set of strategies included the creation of manufactured consent amongst the populace, for the impeachment and the new regime.

This bears a great similarity to the cases of countries such as Greece, where public opinion polls conducted by polling firms which are not independent of the state and which are commissioned by pro-austerity media outlets have repeatedly shown vast majorities purportedly in favor of EU and eurozone membership at all costs, while the very few independent surveys conducted in Greece, such as those by Gallup International, have actually found such majorities to be slim or nonexistent.

Manufactured consent is used to legitimize the austerity policies which then follow, and to characterize any dissent as belonging to a small, marginal minority.

Indeed, similarities between the case of Brazil and the case of countries of the European South such as Greece abound. Just as the Temer government has not been elected and overthrew a government which apparently did not go “far enough” in its austerity regime, the EU imposed a non-elected technocrat prime minister, Lucas Papademos, a former banker, on Greece in late 2011 to ensure that a new package of austerity measures and “reforms” would be railroaded through parliament.

At around the same time, a non-elected prime minister, Mario Monti, was also installed in Italy, with the blessings of the EU — technocrats from which described this unelected government as “the best thing that ever happened to Italy” during a visit of mine to the EU in 2013 as part of a week-long academic program. Italy is now being governed by no less than its third consecutive non-elected prime minister.

The Greek referendum overwhelmingly rejecting EU-proposed austerity was shot down in short order, replaced by an austerity package even harsher than that which had originally been proposed, and even more onerous than the two prior memorandum agreements signed by Syriza’s predecessors, the New Democracy and PASOK (“socialist”) political parties.

The manufactured consent and “shock doctrine” which imposed the “bitter medicine” of austerity on Greece could be viewed as a pre-emptive strike against any thoughts of “Grexit,” a Greek exodus from the Eurozone or even the EU, much like the “hybrid war” against countries like Brazil and Russia described earlier by Escobar.

A man holds a sign that reads in Portuguese “Respect, I’m a teacher, the vandal is the state” at a burning barricade set up by protesters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP/Silvia Izquierdo)

A man holds a sign that reads in Portuguese “Respect, I’m a teacher, the vandal is the state” at a burning barricade set up by protesters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP/Silvia Izquierdo)

Kat Moreno identifies certain parallels between the Global South, of which Brazil is part, and the European South, which has in recent years experienced much of the same IMF-supported austerity which Latin America is all too familiar with. She highlights the “clear relationship” between being a part of the Global South and being dependent on and the hostage of the international financial system.

And in looking to the future, it is difficult to say who can lead these countries, whether it is Brazil or Greece or Spain or Italy, out of their current death spiral unscathed. Guilherme Giuliano points out that what has been happening in Brazil, as in Greece, Argentina (where the Kirchner government was replaced by one much friendlier to Washington and to global capital), or even the United States, are symptoms of a global crisis — a crisis which, according to Giuliano, “nobody has a progressive way out.”

Indeed, many progressives and much of the global left seem to be focused more strongly on identity politics and a notion of a world without nations or states. In doing so, they have supported such undemocratic, austerity-driven institutions as the EU, while demonizing phenomena such as the “Brexit” as the exclusive realm of racists and xenophobes, widening their chasm with vast sections of the poor and working classes in the process.

Meanwhile, a blind eye has been turned to the actions of former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in conjunction with Wall Street, supported right-wing coups and electoral takeovers all across Latin America, from Brazil to Venezuela to the Honduras. In this vein, James Petras chastises “left politicians who speak to the workers and work for the bankers.”

As for Brazil, Moreno describes the country as finding itself at a crossroads.

“People are seeking autonomy over their destinies, but where it is going we are not sure,” she said. “It can lead to neo-fascism, or it could go towards leftist  positions.”

 

Oct 022014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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A documentary film called “Until Globe Surface Becomes the Face of Love” tells the story of resistance against state repression during the Gezi Park protests of June 2013 in Turkey. The director, Reyan Tuvi, has worked on scenes recorded at ground zero in real-time protests and reflected on the multicultural atmosphere in Gezi Park during the uprising, telling the story of different characters who have contributed to the struggle for the sake of lifestyles that they dream of and to change their destiny.

Yet, when the film was brought before the primary jury and got approved as one of the 15 finalists, it was taken off the shortlist due to legal concerns. The explanation stated that the film violates Articles 125 and 299 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The quoted articles read as follows:

TPC 125:

1) Anyone who undermines the honour, dignity or respectability of another person or who attacks a person’s honour by attributing to them a concrete act or a fact, or by means of an insult shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three months to two years, or punished with a judicial fine. In order to convict for an insult made in the absence of the victim, the act must have been witnessed by at least three persons.

(2) If the act is committed by means of a spoken, written or visual message addressing the victim, the perpetrator shall be sentenced to the penalties set out above.

(3) If the offence of insult is committed:

a) against a public official in connection with their duty;

b) in response to the expression of religious, political, social, philosophical beliefs, thoughts and opinions, in response to an individual’s changing or attempting to propagate their religious, political, social, philosophical beliefs, thoughts and opinions, or in response to an individual’s compliance with the requirements and prohibitions of their religion;

c) by reference to the holy values of a person’s religion, the penalty shall be not less than one year.

(4) (Amended by Law 5377 of 29 June 2005 /Article 15) Where the offence of insult was committed in public, the penalty shall be increased by one sixth.

(5) (Amended by law 5377 of 29 June 2005 /Article 15) In the case of insults to public officials in connection with their efforts working as a committee, the offence shall be deemed to have been committed against all committee members. In such a case, the provisions related to concatenated offences shall be applied.

TPC 299

(1) Anyone who insults the President of the Republic shall be imprisoned for a term of from one to four years.

(2) (Amended by Law 5377 dated 29 June 2005/Article 35) Where the offence is committed in public, the sentence shall be increased by one sixth.

(3) Initiation of a prosecution for this offence shall be subject to authorization by the Minister of Justice.

Members of the primary jury also read out a press statement telling the public at large that they consider this act of bringing the film under penal code investigation serves the purposes of censorship. When even the jury declares this kind of action as censorship, there is not much to be debated on the side of the state representatives.

The primary jury’s statement is as follows:

“As the jury of 51st Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Competition for National Documentary, out of all the lists of films, we have selected 15 films for the finals and notified the festival management. We then came to learn that one of the films has been disqualified for the reason that it violates two clauses of the Turkish Penal Code, Articles 125 and 299, with its content.

We, the primary jury, consider this kind of an action – a film being disqualified from the shortlist due to its investigation through the Turkish Penal Code – as censorship. Even though we have shared with the festival management that this is unacceptable and requested that the situation be corrected, these concerns and request have been discarded. We thus declare here that we do not recognize such censorship and neither do we want to be part of it.”

Currently there are still hundreds of thousands of websites, books, films, and songs banned in Turkey. And this film about one of the most honorable periods of Turkish history is yet another brick in the wall of censorship. But still, just as we the “Internetophiles” had protested when the censorship bill was brought to the Parliament floor, the primary jury at this film festival also say they do not recognize the censorship.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Mar 082014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto, 99GetSmart

Source: CADTM Europe

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The CADTM affirms its full and complete solidarity with the people of Cyprus and their organisations struggling against privatizations in the energy, telecoms, and shipping sectors – privatizations required by the Memorandum imposed by the Troika in March 2013. Cyprus is the fourth country to be placed under the budgetary supervision of the European Union, after Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

In the face of the demonstrations of 27 February (a 3-day renewable strike by Electricity Authority of Cyprus workers and a strike by longshoremen at the ports of Limassol and Larnaca), the Parliament was unable to reach a majority to adopt the initial bill (25 votes for, 25 against, 5 abstentions; a majority of 29 is required for adoption). The following day the government handed in its resignation. The media, in total complicity with the Troika, have observed total silence over this situation – an extraordinary one, to say the least.

Despite the refusal expressed by the population in the streets, the Cypriot legislators have just adopted (4 March), by a vote of 30 to 26, a bill that is only a slightly modified version of the one they had themselves rejected the preceding week and which would result in the privatisation of the major public services: EAC (electricity), CYTA (telecoms), and CPA (the port authority). This new version of the law claims to guarantee the jobs of the employees of these companies, but no one actually believes that.

Adoption of the law was a condition for the granting of a new 236-million € tranche of the 10-Bn € loan granted by the Troika in March 2013.

The causes of the crisis in Cyprus have been clearly identified: 

1) A hypertrophied banking system
 that was completely out of control. The banks, who have considerable liquid assets provided by the “financial markets,” have recklessly made risky investments.

In 2012, Cyprus’s banks speculated on the restructuring of the Greek debt – 40% of their external commitments, which cost them 4.5 Bn €, or the equivalent of a quarter of Cyprus’s GDP, and brought on the collapse of this overinflated sector (whose assets represent seven times the country’s GDP).

These private losses were then promptly transformed into public debt. These debts are totally illegitimate and must be abolished, along with those stemming from the assistance plan!

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In 2009 and 2010, Cyprus’s public debt was only 52.4% and 60.8% of GDP, whereas in the Euro zone as a whole it was 80% of GDP in 2010.

In Germany, the percentage was 74.5% in 2009 and 82.5% in 2010.

2) A tax situation that is highly advantageous for companies: Corporate tax, which until the Memorandum was at an official rate of 10%, has only been raised to 12.5% (not enough to resolve the budget deficit).

To obtain the 10-Bn € assistance plan from the Troika (9 Bn € from the ECB and 1 Bn € from the IMF), Cyprus’s government also agreed to the restructuring of its banking system, a 10% reduction in public expenditures, and the privatization of the island’s main public sectors.

The IMF, represented in Cyprus by a former executive of Lehman Brothers, itself recognizes the economic ineffectualness of such measures. The IMF’s goal is not to provide support for the population of Cyprus, but to protect and guarantee the interests of the creditors! That is why the agents of the IMF must be run out of Cyprus, along with the representatives of the European Commission and the ECB!

Aside from the obvious risk of growth in unemployment (forecast to reach 19.4% in 2014), Cypriots fear skyrocketing prices, with wages and pensions already reduced by 20% in one year. The people’s mobilisation, practically uninterrupted for months, goes well beyond the industry sectors that are directly concerned.

Rubbish bins brought by the population are piled up in front of bank branches. There are regular interruptions of electrical power and the people are besieging the Parliament and official buildings. All sectors, both private and public, are present around the Parliament, demonstrating their opposition to the Troika’s structural adjustment plan.

The CADTM considers:

  • that the entire debt of Cyprus to the Troika is illegitimate and odious, and must be abolished in its entirety;
  • that the austerity plan imposed by the Troika must be revoked.

The population does not want to pay for the speculators and the wealthiest 1%. International solidarity must organise as soon as possible in support of this exemplary struggle. The CADTM will do all it can.

Translation by Snake Arbusto

Photo : CC – Eu Council Eurozone
Discussion before the meeting begins : Christine LAGARDE, IMF ; Thomas WIESER, President of the EFC (Economic and Financial Committee) and Michael SARRIS, Finances Minister of Cyprus (on the right).

Feb 262014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Prime Minister Erdoğan, in his weekly address to his group in Parliament, defended the bills expanding censorship and surveillance by referring to the recently released tapes of phone conversations that revealed corruption at extreme levels. The scandalous phone conversation between the Prime Minister and his son can be accessed here (http://erdogansdollars.blogspot.com.tr/).

Minutes after the phone conversation was uploaded on YouTube, people started downloading the video, and if they were unable to do that they started recording the voice on their phones. Only a few hours later, the original video was censored and in the morning it was not possible to browse to the exact URL of the tape.

The people who downloaded the video from YouTube, started uploading from different usernames and to other platforms as well. While the government was busy trying to accomplish Mission Impossible and censor the leaked phone conversation, people have found a new way of getting around censorship. Throughout the day, people have reported from all over the city that their cab driver put on an audio CD of the phone conversation when they took a cab, that some old gentleman on the bus shouted out “this is my debt to fellow citizens!” and turned on loudspeakers to broadcast the downloaded video, or that a lady on the ferry asked for the attention of all citizens who cared about the taxes they pay for the state’s services and used her phone’s loudspeakers to let everyone listen.

Before 24 hours had passed after the video was uploaded, 2.5 million people had viewed the original video and millions of others saw duplicates. And after work shifts at 7 p.m., at least 10 cities had mass protests calling for Erdoğan to resign. Police attacked with all the hatred they had towards peaceful protests, yet more and more people joined in. The Police may be the protector of the government, yet the people are furious to see one man calling his son to “melt the wealth” to avoid arrest, while citizens at home turn heaters down a bit more so they don’t spend everything they earn to pay the gas bill. Once this information is out there, there is absolutely no way of going back, as the people will find a way to spread this information.

When censorship aims for blanket coverage of information, other ways of spreading it emerge. People have reverted to Samizdat-style information sharing via Bluetooth on public transport, e-mail attachments, cassettes, and CDs. Censorship is a lost cause to begin with and in the end only helps the content reach more people.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Jun 252013
 

By Shirley Coenen, 99GetSmart

 University students march in protest in Santiago on June 13, 2013. Photo by Shirley Coenen. Chile, 2013.

University students march in protest in Santiago on June 13, 2013. Photo by Shirley Coenen. Chile, 2013.

Despite the overwhelming discontent among the general public in Chile, President Sebastian Piñera continues to defend the present education model. Piñera believes that education is a consumer good, not a right. At this time, more than three years after the initial protests were sparked, can we look to the Chilean students for a success story?

The protests in this South American nation began in 2011, when Universidad de Chile students took to the streets to demand change from the tax system created in 1981 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, when most of Chile’s educational system was privatized and government support reduced.

The students’ central demand—for free and equitable access to higher education for all Chileans—has yet to be met. In the last few months of Piñera’s presidency and with presidential elections looming on November 19, 2013, the government is under pressure to draft a new constitution.

“The current constitution we have now doesn’t protect the rights of people at all—it’s completely anti-democratic,” said Hernán Moreno Acuña, a high school teacher and president of the largest teachers union in southern Santiago, the capital.

In the last few years the government has made various concessions to the protesters, such as lowering the student interest rate on loans from 5 percent to 2 percent.

Today students from 24 universities and 35 high schools throughout Chile continue to protest for the fundamental transformation of the educational system.

The movement has also drawn attention to the country’s reliance on copper exports. But it seems unlikely that nationalizing the copper industry so that the profits can be used for education will ever happen. Although the Chilean economy is a shining success story compared to other Latin American neighbors, it is almost completely dependent on its export of one commodity. What happens when copper prices falter? Without an education overhaul that fosters the development of Chile’s young people and provides them with the space and resources to thrive and innovate, the Chilean economy will suffer.

Additionally, the protesters have brought attention to the unequal distribution of resources not only in schools but also in the healthcare system and in rural areas of Chile. They have galvanized Chilean citizens and initiated a necessary conversation with the government.

According to the president of the Student Federation of the Universidad de Chile (FECH), Andres Fielbaum, the announcements made by Piñera in his speech in Santiago on May 21, 2013, were not nearly enough to improve the dire state of education.

“Piñera’s words only “reaffirm that for him education is conceived as a business and not a right,” he said. “The only option left for students is to further strengthen their movement.” Fielbaum later announced the “intensification of the protests until the end.”

The 26-year-old mathematics and engineering graduate student said “politicians should not forget that this is an election year and that students will remain a major player when it comes to discussing the project country.”

Michelle Bachelet, the presidential candidate favored to win the election, supports educational reforms. Fielbaum however reminded students, “it is very easy to make promises in an election year.”

Bachelet served as Chile’s former socialist party president (2006-2010) and later was appointed to a United Nations post. She is running as a member of the communist party for the 2013 presidential elections, with approval ratings at an estimated 50 percent.

• This article was produced with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Jun 202013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

The unprecedented decision by the government to shut down ERT – the Greek Public Broadcaster has been a heavy blow for all. Both me and my colleagues, journalists and technicians, we ran immediately at the ERT Broadcasting Center. Since the beginning, every day we are recording what we see. We just edited quickly nine minutes to not erase from our memory what happened the first day. This is our way to react. We will continue as much as we can.

This is a rough cut sequence, part of the feature-length documentary that we are filming since the beginning of the crisis, for the last three years. It is called “AGORÁ – From Democracy to the Market” and it is an international co-production of major TV networks. AGORÁ will be released in April 2014.

Best Regards
Yorgos Avgeropoulos
Documentary Filmmaker
Author & Director of Exandas Documentary Series

Main Credits:

Written & Directed by Yorgos Avgeropoulos
Producers: Yorgos Avgeropoulos, Anastasia Skoubri
Picture: Yiannis Avgeropoulos, Anna Prokou
Music: Yiannis Paxevanis
Production Manager: Anastasia Skoubri
Editing: Anna prokou, Vasilis Magos
Researchers: Georgia Anagnou, Achilleas Kouremenos, Andreas Vagias
A Small Planet production © 2013-2014 smallplanet.gr

VIDEO @ https://vimeo.com/68637086

Jun 182013
 

Photography by Giorgos Panagakis, 99GetSmart

Thousands of people outside ERT all day to show their support

Thousands of people outside ERT all day to show their support

The front entrance of ERT at night

The front entrance of ERT at night

A protester wearing a t-shirt that reads, "ERT BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE".

A protester wearing a t-shirt that reads, “ERT BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE”.

A child's sign says, "No one should be unemployed."

A child’s sign says, “No one should be unemployed.”

"ERT will be their graves!"

“ERT will be their graves!”

A message of solidarity between Greeks and Turks is expressed in a banner

A message of solidarity between Greeks and Turks is expressed in a banner

A banner at the entrance of ERT says that ERT and Taksim Square have a lot in common.

A banner at the entrance of ERT says that ERT and Taksim Square have a lot in common.

A giant banner in the front of ERT building with the image of the famous Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis.

A giant banner in the front of ERT building with the image of the famous Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis.

A musician playing violin in support of ERT employees.

A musician playing violin in support of ERT employees.

Musicians playing music at the demonstration in support of ERT.

Musicians playing music at the demonstration in support of ERT.

Protest sign made by a Greek child

Protest sign made by a Greek child

Apr 132012
 

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9073827608399871128#

BREAKING THE SPELL An hour-long look at the 1999 Seattle WTO protests and the anarchists (particularly those from Eugene) who traveled there to set a new precedent for militant confrontation. Rather than attempting to cover every situation at the WTO, Breaking the Spell has covers a few scenes film in depth. It is filmed in the thick of the action, including footage that aired nationally on 60 Minutes, it captures a moment when world history was up for grabs. Rather than attempting to cover every situation at the WTO, Breaking the Spell has several moving montage sequences combined with a few scenes that cover one or two situations in depth. [63 min.]

VIDEOhttp://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9073827608399871128#

Apr 112012
 

Source: FLO6x8 – acciones

VIDEOhttp://flo6x8.com/acciones/26-esto-no-es-crisis-se-llama-capitalismo

Acción rumba catalana en una oficina de La Caixa en Barcelona.

COLABORAN
PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca)
Docuficció. Acció Ciutadana
Malestar 2.0 / 15M
Art Situacions
RAI (Recursos d’Animació Intercultural)
Flamenc·s y otras personas de Barcelona

INTERVIENEN
Al baile
Donna
La Niña NINJA
Chari Lee
A Chili Punk
+ Cuerpazo de Baile

Al cante
La Tasa de Plata
Alba Rikada
Niña Molina

Al toque
XaViSa
Toni Na
Ramón Serrano

Letra y adaptación
Niña Molina y XaViSa

Apoyos
Anonymous

Flo6x8 Barcelona 08.02.12 ‘Esto no es crisis, se llama capitalismo’ rumba catalana
http://flo6x8.com/acciones/26-esto-no-es-crisis-se-llama-capitalismo
Acción rumba catalana en una oficina de La Caixa en Barcelona.

El pasado miércoles 8.02.12, una horda de tacones salvajes mordieron el mármol de una oficina bancaria de La Caixa en Barcelona. Tacones salvajes, sí, aunque no hablamos de una secuela de la película de Almodóvar ni tampoco del atraco a un banco (todavía), sino de una nueva acción del colectivo flo6x8, esta vez por rumba catalana.

En los últimos cuatro años, el colectivo flo6x8 viene realizando acciones flamencas en numerosas oficinas bancarias del Estado español. Se presentan por sorpresa y la lían: cantan, bailan y tocan arrojando contra la banca toda la fuerza que les proporciona el flamenco.

Esta es su primera acción colectiva en Barcelona, en la que colaboran con los colectivos locales Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH), Docuficció-Acció Ciutadana, Malestar 2.0/15M y RAI (Recursos d’Animació Intercultural) y Art Situacions, además de otras personas del mundo del flamenco de la ciudad. La danza y la música, en este caso la rumba catalana, sirven como expresión de desacato al orden financiero. Ese orden financiero que se cuela en nuestras vidas a través de las oficinas bancarias.

Con esta nueva acción, flo6x8 abunda en su objetivo de extender su crítica al sistema capitalista a través de su práctica artístico política flamenca. La acción ha sido fruto de un taller en el que, como es habitual, este tipo de prácticas se hace accesible a más gente, no sólo a especialistas en flamenco. Se trata de ‘flamenco de situación’, un flamenco fuera de la reunión entre amig·s, fuera del escenario, fuera del estudio, que se emplaza en un contexto extraño y bajo una situación adversa: la desobediencia civil. Con ello, flo6x8 reivindica la tradición política en el flamenco, su afinidad con las clases populares, que hoy en día son cada vez más numerosas. Enmarcada en la ‘gira patas arriba’, en esta acción se apuesta, además, por un acercamiento al contexto local, en este caso mediante la rumba catalana, bajo un nuevo ‘mundo y formas… del flamenco anticapitalista’ o del ‘rito y geografía del flamenco… de agitación’.

Nuestro agradecimiento a todas las personas que han hecho posible esta acción.
Grupo flo6x8
facebook/ Paca La Monea
facebook/ Flo6x8 (Organización sin fines de lucro)

Apr 112012
 

Source: FLO6x8 – acciones

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72jYiDLKa1k&feature=like-suggest

Flamenco flashmob by flo6x8 inside a bank in Sevilla, Spain to protest against the finacial system.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough FLAMENCO FLASH MOBS!

BRAVO flo6x8!

RELATED POST:

‘THIS IS NOT A CRISIS, IT IS CALLED CAPITALISM – CATALAN RUMBA: http://99getsmart.com/?p=3076