Volume 2, Number 35
6 May 2005
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
1) Don Quixote
3) Security at Dublin Airport
4) Fifty Campaign Groups Protest World Bank Failures on Controversial
BP Oil Pipeline
5) What's On
By Tomás Gorman, from Venezuela
The queue snaked for several blocks around Congress and the Plaza
Bolivar, which honours Venezuela's 19th-century independence hero
Simon Bolivar. Perplexed, I asked my companero Oscar why so many
people were waiting in the hot afternoon sun. "Ah the government is
giving away one million copies of Don Quixote."
Chavez is a keen reader and must have been inspired by the classic
tale of the poor knight setting off to put the world to right.
"Don't be left without your Quixote!" Chavez said this week. "We are
all going to read Quixote to feed our spirit with this fighter who
came out to get rid of injustice and fix the world."
"To some degree we are followers of Quixote," he added.
It is one of the many examples of Chavez trying to use his position
to both benefit and inspire the Venezuelan People. Incredibly, his
critics accuse him of squandering extraordinary oil revenues on what
they perceive as "stunts" like the book offer and "inefficient"
social programs, and they accuse him of steering the poverty-stricken
country toward what they call a Cuba-style "dictatorship".
Josefina, another companera vehemently denied that Chavez's
objectives were irrational or implausible. "I believe in his vision,
and many of us share the same vision," the 46-year-old community
worker said. To pay what Chavez calls "a social debt" left by past
governments; he has spent millions on social programs that include a
nationwide literacy program, scholarships to help people finish high
school and Cuban doctors to improve health care in slums.
To prove her point, Josefina took me to the Lidice district, situated
next to hers in the vast working class Barrio of Western Caracas, to
see one of the many initiatives that she volunteers in. Getting of
the bus at Lidice, I noticed a small group of women wearing red
Chavista t-shirts all chatting boisterously. Josefina shepherded me
towards the group of women and I was introduced by her as "Tomas, the
Irish comrade here to borrow some revolution". I was greeted warmly
with kisses on the cheek and a slap on the arse.
This was the Lidice women's collective, a close group of fiercely pro
Chavista who were engaged in various initiatives in their community.
Most notable was the "Community Kitchen". Twice a day, every day, the
women got together and cooked lunch and dinner for over 150 of the
districts poorest. The food for the project is provided by the
National Nutrition Ministry and one of the women with a larger house
donated two small rooms to the collective that are used as a
kitchen/larder and a serving hatch. It was moving to see the pride
the women had in their efforts.
Thankfully, Yollimar, a tall attractive woman, spoke some English and
was able to explain to me the work that the women do and what
motivates them. "Before Chavez and the MVR (Movement for the Fifth
Republic) came to power we did not have the ability to do things like
these. We seen the problems we had her in the community but did not
have the means to do anything. Now we have the support of the
government and are confident that we can make good changes."
At the Juan Alberdi School where I volunteer, tangible benefits of
the Revolution are also apparent. The school staff organised a
canteen along with the Nutrition ministry to provide a free and
healthily balanced meal to every pupil and member of staff every
school day. I take advantage of the meals when I can and can vouch
for their quality. Fresh vegetables, rice, beans and a little meat
with fresh fruit for desert is quite a meal juxtaposed with the
veritable crap fed to our children back home.
My English classes have proved quite popular with the children and I
have been asked to volunteer my services to the adult English classes
at night. The school doubles as a primary school during the day and
an adult learning centre at night where adults take advantage of the
Mision Ribas programme. The Mision Ribas Programme is for adults who
wish to continue their education at secondary school level after the
basic literacy and numeracy Mision Robinson programme.
The hunger for knowledge that the people, who deprived of a decent
education for so long, show is staggering. Alberto, an elderly pupil
is short sighted and had the misfortune of breaking his glasses.
Instead of staying at home until he gets a new pair, he decided to
make use of a pair of toy binoculars to read the writing on the
blackboard and TV. An amusing but stirring sight.
The education programmes seem to be the driving force behind the
awakened political and social consciousness of the Venezuelan people,
which has reached levels I have rarely, if ever, encountered before.
I was taken aback by some of the encounters I have had with ordinary
working class people here in Caracas.
One typically hot night, Oscar and me were walking back up the steep
hill of the Mannicomio area and were finding it tough going. We
happened upon one of the typical open fronted off licenses here in
Caracas that serve as an Al Fresco bar for the people who can't
afford a social night out. Instead they enjoy a bottle or two of beer
with their friends on the pavement outside of the off license. I
invited Oscar for a cold beer and a few middle aged men noticed the
white fella struggling with his Spanish and one of them asked me
in perfect English where I was from. When I replied he suddenly took
a greater interest. "Ah Belfast, future not so certain after Macarni
killing". I was dumbfounded whilst the five of us sat and discussed
the recent events in political scene in Ireland for over an hour. I
asked them how they spoke English and knew about Ireland. They told
me that they had taken the Mision Robinson and Ribas programmes and
used the Internet to look at International politics as if it were a
most common and normal thing for any man to do.
I explained this to James, the English gent kind enough to put me up
for my stay, and he said this was quite common. I was greatly
encouraged. In the political dust bowl of Ireland it had been quite
trying for a lefty like me for quite some time and this Oasis of
political activity and working grass roots socialism has boosted my
belief in a better system. I have already begun to borrow some
By Tomás Gorman, from Venezuela
Wolfgang was an extraordinary name for someone in Caracas I thought
but he was one of the most extraordinary people I have met here.
Wolfgang is homeless and wanders through the dangerous streets at
night looking for things that he may be able to sell or eat in the
rubbish that many of the wealthy throw out. My host James introduced
me to him one evening on the way home one evening as his mate.
Wolfgang it turned out was a member of the Venezuelan Communist Party
in his younger days and was commissioned by his party to go to
engineering school in Holland in the eighties. A familiar tale of a
beautiful young woman anchoring his heart in Caracas was told to me
as well as tales of harder times that neither his sweetheart nor home
Wolfgang never asked for any money but my conscience felt compelled
to offer him some cash to buy himself some food or a beer that
evening. He accepted in a dignified manner and thanked me sincerely
for it. He shook my hand and thanked me not only for the money, but
also for making the leap. I enquired what he meant.
"You made a leap forward" he replied. "Brother, you¹re a socialist
like me and you know that all the people of this world belong to a
common brotherhood. We are all the same and should all stand together
and look after on another. Some of the people who live around here
wont even look at me, and when they do its to tell me to leave their
rubbish alone. They wont make a step forward let alone the leap that
you have made in stopping here and talking to me for a little while.
But you and James are good people and you've been taking little leaps
forward all of your life. Keep taking those little leaps forward and
when others see you do it they'll get the confidence to make the
Wolfgang's street philosophy made a big impact on me. So much so that
I gave him my little notebook and pen so that he could write some of
his philosophies down and begin his book and spread his word.
His word should not have to travel far to make an impact. During his
short time in power President Hugo Chavez has allowed the poor in
Venezuela to make huge leaps forward with his social programmes and
redistribution of the countries vast oil revenue. Unfortunately, a
bureaucratic layer of counter revolutionaries and parasites remain
who are hindering the progress of the peoples revolutionary
The state run television channel is in European terms incredibly
radical, with frank analysis on international political affairs and
documentaries on the life of Che Guevara etc. It was this channel
that I first noticed something within the MVR that I didn't like.
Advertisements promoting electoral politicians posing with red berets
in the presence of Chavez made me suspicious of them. There was
something that smacked a little too much of personality cult in all
of this...too much wanting to be seen with Chavez and claiming to be
the really true Chavistas. One of the Mayors of Caracas, Barretto is
someone whom I find a little odious, despite my short stay here.
It appears that Barretto reads the revolutionary process differently
from those whom he claims to represent as a "really true" Chavista.
The Juan Alberdi School was annexed by the people of the community
when middle class teachers in this working class school walked out
during the failed bourgeois strike. The people of Manicomio organised
a committee to run the school with every position democratically
elected. They worked 15-hour days in renovating and running the
school to provide the children and adults of the area with a decent
education. It was a marvellous community effort and perhaps one of
the most advanced components of the Bolivarian struggle. Barretto it
appeared took a dislike to this community self-sufficiency that
threatened the need for the bureaucracy that sustained his employment
and raised position in Venezuelan society. He unilaterally sacked the
democratically elected directorship of the school and imposed his
own people from outside of the schools area with the precondition
that the teachers collective be allowed to remain within the school
and teach the children.
In the last few days he has reneged on this agreement. The teachers
collective have received four days notice that they are to leave the
school. I sat during their meeting and watched them discuss this
betrayal and their response to it in their typically democratic
fashion. It was a passionate meeting with heated debate and sometimes
tears from the majority female teachers. However these tears were not
tears that showed weakness, they only served to portray the deep
anger at all of their hard work in the school and the revolution
being stripped away from them with not as much as a thank you. I
shared their anger.
The move by Barretto is simply to reassert the strength of
bureaucracy in the affairs of the people in their own communities. It
is a step backwards in the movement for revolutionary progress. False
leaders like Barretto exist all over the world and have done so for a
long, long time.
Hugo Chavez would be better advised to listen to the words from the
people on the streets of Caracas, the working class, for they are the
true inheritors and vehicle for revolution. He should listen to the
wise words of Wolfgang and make the leap over this bureaucracy and
distance himself from these artificial idols.
The fight for the School Alberdi is not over however, the greater the
oppression the greater the fight. As I write, the teachers collective
are at the Mayor's office to make their case to him face to face,
whether he likes it or not.
Barretto would also be advised to heed the words of Wolfgang. His
parting shot the other night made me laugh and raise my fist to this
"Just because you may be bigger than your neighbour, don¹t dare
try and stamp on him. You may stamp him down, and again and again....
but be careful. The next time you bring your foot down he may be
holding up a spear."
SECURITY AT DUBLIN AIRPORT
By Kevin Morley
Security at Dublin airport is being tightened to ridiculous levels,
following the smuggling into the complex of imitation explosive
devices and replica firearms by the European Aviation Authority.
The stunt, was carried out by the authority, during the week ending
17.4.2005 in a successful attempt to highlight weaknesses in security
at the airport. Since September 11 2001 security at all the worlds
airports has being tightened, except it would appear Dublin where,
even with weaker security, guess what? Nothing has happened.
September 11 2001 was when the World Trading Centre (WTC) the twin
towers, were blown up by two aircraft crashing into them. An eternal
cynic would point the finger of suspicion for this deed at the
security services of the United States. The rationale behind this
cynical theory is that the US needed an excuse to carry out its
foreign policy of expansionism, therefore something so terrible that
no country would question the actions of the US in the pursuit of
this expansionist programme. The title was and is War on Terror the
result genocide in Iraq, with a view to doing the same in other oil
The reward, domination of the Middle Eastern oil fields. It is of no
consequence to United States capitalism how many people are
inconvenienced, globally, so long as they continue to believe that it
is necessary to combat terror. It is the job of world governments
including that of the 26 counties to keep their respective
populations convinced of this necessity. One day the penny might just
On Sunday 17 April 2005 thousands of passengers were forced to queue
up at Dublin Airport. This was due to the belated, and probably
unnecessary, increase in security at the airport. Passengers have
been assured that this queuing was not a once off incident and to
expect more of the same until more staff are trained to deal with the
US created security risk. Many passengers missed their flights and,
as is common practice with benevolent companies like Ryan Air, there
are no refunds. Therefore the unlucky passengers had to buy another
ticket. At the same time as this farce is going on United States
troops are regularly landing at Shannon airport on their way to
committing war crimes in Iraq. These troops are fully armed and
the only security concern at Shannon is to protect these gun totting
soldiers and the aircraft, which are transporting them. So men from
another country can run around Shannon airport, fully armed and
possibly under the influence of illegal substances and this does not
constitute a security threat. At Dublin airport people have to jump
through hoops in order to board their flight under the guise of war
on terror while at Shannon alien armed thugs can wander about fully
armed with the approval, or perhaps compliance would be a better
word, of the 26 county government. In the year 2004 158,000 of these
armed strangers passed through Shannon but, it would appear do not
constitute a security risk. More recently things appear, at least on
the security front, to have calmed down with many people saying how
necessary all the chaos was in order to keep the "terrorist threat".
What they never seem to question is the validity of this so called
terrorist threat which if, and it would appear more and more to be a
big if, what is the root cause of it? Not so many years ago British
Premier, Tony Blair, informed the population of Britain that there
was a serious terrorist threat to the Sellafield Nuclear Power
Plant, which should be closed but for different reasons) in Cumbria.
This frightening announcement came at Christmas time and, many people
were concerned to say the least. As in the case of Dublin airport the
net result was that nothing happened. Perhaps the reason is that the
only terrorist threat comes from the other side of the Atlantic, the
United States. George W. Bush, US President for some strange reason,
once reportedly said capitalism survives by keeping the people in a
state of panic. Well George you are certainly doing that, to many
people anyway. Were we not lied to about the evils of communism?
Where there was nothing evil compared with what we have in the USA.
FIFTY CAMPAIGN GROUPS PROTEST WORLD BANK FAILURES ON CONTROVERSIAL BP
Kurdish Human Rights Project
Friends of the Earth
29th April 2005-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fifty Campaign Groups Protest World Bank Failures on Controversial BP
More than 50 human rights and environmental groups from 13 countries
today protested against the failure of the World Bank to rectify
continuing problems with the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC)
oil pipeline. The groups outlined serious safety, environmental and
human rights concerns with BTC in a detailed Memorandum to the Bank
and other BTC project funders.
The BTC pipeline, which has been controversial since its inception,
is being built by the oil giant BP to take oil from the Caspian Sea
through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean. Most of
its nearly £2 billion cost comes from public sources, including
the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and
The World Bank and EBRD's support for BTC places on them duties of
due diligence over the pipeline, duties which non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) argue they have consistently failed to meet. The
Memorandum lists an array of serious problems with the pipeline,
including the possibility of disastrous safety failures and
accidents; pending cases against BP at the European Court of Human
Rights and the European Court of Justice; the withdrawal of a senior
private backer from the project; construction failures; and deepening
political discord in the region, including mass strikes by pipeline
workers and the alleged torture of a local activist.
The Memorandum will deepen pressure on the World Bank to take action
on BTC, following a recent Sunday Times report that BP is locked in a
multi-million pound arbitration case with its contractors over a key
BTC safety coating on the pipeline. According to the report, problems
with the coating "could seriously delay the £1.8 billion project
because it suggests the pipeline will corrode, and is therefore, in
Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House, one of the signatory groups,
said, "It is quite simple: the World Bank and the EBRD haven't done
the job they were entrusted to do with our public money. We have
repeatedly raised concerns with the World Bank and EBRD - but they
have failed to act. It is critical that the project is subject to an
immediate independent safety audit before oil starts to flow."
Kerim Yildiz of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, said, "We have been
monitoring the impact of the pipeline on the ground and taking
statements from the communities directly affected by it. It is very
clear there are serious and well-documented concerns which the World
Bank and EBRD have yet to address adequately."
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL:
Nicholas Hildyard 0777 375 0534 or Anders Lustgarten 0797 316 4363
Saturday, May 21st
Premiere of the documentary film "OLGA BENARIO: A LIFE FOR THE
REVOLUTION" by Galip Iyitanir
At the Flax Mill, Derrylane, Dungiven, Ireland
Saturday, May 21st, 7 pm
Live Music after the film
ADELE INGRAM & LAYLA NOBLET
THE DOMINO EFFECT
02877742655 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, May 29
Date: Wed, 4 May 2005 08:18:28 EDT
Hello - this is a mass mailout with the final lineup for my birthday
greetings to friends, family, workmates, acquaintances and apologies
to those to whom this e.mail is of absolutely no interest or
pertinence. all the best, Peggy
Celebration of Peggy Seeger's 70th year! Queen Elizabeth Hall ,
Sunday, May 29 - 7 p.m.
Booking from inside UK: 08703-800-400
Booking from outside UK: +44-8703-800-400
Guest Artists: Billy Bragg, Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, Calum
MacColl, Kitty MacColl, Neill MacColl, Irene Pyper-Scott, Mike
Seeger, Pete Seeger and Norma Waterson with instrumentalists James
McNally, Roy Dodds, Graham Henderson and probably a few more!
London, UK 0870-382-8000
Email for more information
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