This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 7 March 2016 contains two articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.
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– Honduras: Who killed Berta Caceres?
– “Forging the struggle for women’s liberation: Glory to 8 March – International Women’s Day”
Honduras: Who killed Berta Caceres?
7 March 2016. A World to Win News Service. On 3 March, 2016, gunmen broke into the home of Berta Caceres and shot her four times as she slept.
A co-founder of the Council of Indigenous People of Honduras, Caceres was a leader of a campaign against the building of four dams on the Galcarque River, a hydroelectric project launched by the World Bank meant to attract massive foreign investment in the mining industry, now allotted almost a third of the country’s land. She had received messages of support from international human rights organizations, environmental NGOs and Catholics abroad, although not the Catholic hierarchy in Honduras. She was part of a group that met with the Pope. Last year she received the Goldman Environmental Prize, sometimes called “the green Nobel prize.” Even the US ambassador to Honduras called for an investigation after her death.
But such an investigation, if it were anything but a whitewash, would have to begin with the ambassador looking in the mirror. Students confronting riot police later that day in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, blamed the US government. Everyone knew that the army was going to kill Berta Caceres – she said so, publicly – and the Honduran army is trained, armed, financed and backed to the hilt of their bayonets by the United States.
She was supposedly under government protection, but after she died, in her home in her village, officials claimed they couldn’t have saved her because they didn’t know how to find her. Immediately after her death the police announced that they considered it a case of robbery and not assassination. This alone makes it likely that the authorities, and particularly the army, were behind her murder, as her mother said. The police, too, are US funded. The US calls the shots in Honduras.
The army is known to have been planning to kill Caceres at least since 2009, when it overthrew a president who had talked about closing the key American military base in Central America. At the time, the Obama government and its State Department were accused of organizing the coup (see AWTWNS090727). What is undeniable is that the US never stopped supporting the military and the regime it brought to power. Obama’s Secretary of State Clinton personally intervened to keep other Latin American countries from taking diplomatic measures against the new government, whose main ministries were occupied by military men who had graduated from the U.S. Army School of the Americas. Catholic activists and others have long called it “the school of coups”, because so many of its alumni have stepped in to remove governments that the US finds inconvenient. It has also been called “the school of torture” and “the school of terror” because of the methods taught by its instructors in Fort Benning, Georgia.
Shortly after that coup, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights named Caceres as one of the people on an army death list. In a 24 December 2013 television interview, she told Al Jazeera, “The army has an assassination list of 18 wanted human rights fighters with my name at the top. I want to live, there are many things I still want to do in this world but I never once considered giving up fighting for our territory, for a life with dignity, because our fight is legitimate. I take lots of care but in the end, in this country where there is total immunity, I am vulnerable… When they want to kill me, they will do it.”
Her fellow leader of the Council of Indigenous People, Tomas Garcia, was shot dead by a military officer at a demonstration in 2013. Between 2010 and 2014, 101 Honduran social movement activists were killed.
These were political assassinations, but Honduras has become a more murderous place in every way. Greater subjugation to North American and European capital and further integration into the world market, under a government brought into power and kept in power to accomplish that aim, has created a situation in which many Hondurans consider entering the US their only realistic escape.
As small as Honduras may be and as poor as U.S. domination has kept it, it has played a strategic role for the U.S. military in Central America. During the 1980s the US unleashed its “Contra” killers (the “civilian contractors” of that era) against the Sandinista regime that had overthrown a long-time US puppet in Nicaragua in a war financed by CIA-organized drug traffic. That mercenary army and the American military and civilian officials who ran it were based in Honduras. The drug trade and gangsterism that plague Honduras today are rooted in that era.
All major politicians in the US, in the presidential campaign and congress, proclaim that Hondurans, like other immigrants, are a big problem for their country. But to a large extent, they are literally fleeing from US guns. The problem is the USA.
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“Forging the struggle for women’s liberation: Glory to 8 March – International Women’s Day”
7 March 2016. A World to Win News Service. The following was written by “A group of revolutionary communists – Afghanistan”.
In memory of women textile workers in New York who, with their heroic struggle, helped lay the foundation for a united women’s struggle on a world scale!
In memory of all the rebellious, revolutionary and communist women who consciously and tirelessly struggled against patriarchy, to break the chains of gender oppression and exploitation.
It is not possible to talk about women’s day, women’s struggle against patriarchy and male chauvinism, and not talk about the situation of millions of women who have been enslaved just because they are women, women who have been devastated under the weight of the oppression and exploitation of patriarchal and exploiting systems, women who have been enslaved by backward traditions, women who have been burned in the fire of superstitious and outmoded thinking, women who have been trafficked by deception, tricks or force. Those who have been sold under the compulsion of poverty and misery, those who have lost their life due to the endless oppression and saw no solution but to burn under the burden of their grief and sorrow or set themselves on fire.
It is not possible to be silent about what the women in Syria, Iraq, Bosnia, Peru, Bangladesh, Africa and elsewhere have been going through.
We cannot be silent about what women in Afghanistan have endured either, especially during the last four decades.
Is it possible to forget the bloody face of Farkhunda and her eyes as she held the gaze of the thugs of ignorance and superstition while her body was being shattered, before they burned it to ashes?
Could we possibly forget the look of young Rokhshana when her face and head were being smashed by the vicious weapon of patriarchy? How can we not be outraged by this savagery?
The death of Farkhunda and Rokhshana and the broken lives of Setara and hundreds of other women in the last year and years indicates the situation for women in Afghanistan. They are not safe at home, among their relatives, in the society, by religion or law. They are threatened by all of these relations and institutions.
History shows that the oppression of women has been a major pillar of all exploiting systems. It shows that the interest of these systems is to protect and consolidate the various forms of the oppression of women and patriarchy.
The imperialists who brutally invaded and occupied Afghanistan under the pretext of liberating its women showed the people of the world that what they call the liberation of women is nothing but the installation of a patriarchal regime, whether in traditional garments or Western clothing. Some forces were trained in male chauvinism by the imperialists they serve, in the US, Germany and UK. Others were trained in enmity toward women by the reactionaries in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose interests they serve. They all participate in the intensification of the degradation of women, and the oppression and exploitation of people, and, in sum, serve the interests of their class and world imperialism.
After 15 years, the regime installed by the imperialists in Afghanistan can only compare their so-called achievements for women with the situation of women under the Taliban regime. Even the pre-war situation for women in Afghanistan in the 1960s and ’70s is far beyond their reach.
However, we must refer to another bitter reality about the woman question in Afghanistan. Given their deviations and the dominant wrong line, the communist movement in Afghanistan has not been able to launch a principled and scientific struggle against the oppression of women. This movement has not been able to take a serious and solid step forward in the struggle for the real liberation of women in Afghanistan. This movement could not fully grasp the importance and position of women’s oppression in the exploitation system of the oppressive ruling class, both those in power and those seeking it, yesterday and today.
Also, the bitter truth is that the members and supporters of the communist movement in Afghanistan have been totally buried in the dust of patriarchy. This has been one of the main obstacles to a correct handling of this thousands-of-years-old oppression. That movement has the obligation to get rid of this thick layer of dust by relying on the science of revolution. Without a deep rectification of the line and outlook regarding gender oppression and a vigorous and merciless struggle against patriarchy in this movement, it would not be possible to organise a struggle that can mobilise and organise the masses of women. The screams of Farkhunda under the fists and kicks of thugs and the loud cry of Rokhshana under the rain of stones of the outmoded forces are also telling us: we are fed up with male chauvinist and revisionist excuses. How much longer can you can justify your lack of concern and ignore the reality of women’s daily oppression by resorting to arguments like “the issue of women is subordinate to the main issue”?
It is true that the liberation of women can only be achieved in a communist society. It is also true that the contradiction between men and women will express itself in some way until a communist society is achieved. But these truths cannot and must not be a justification for indifference to the countless and extreme forms of the oppression of women today, which cannot be simply overlooked. They cannot be used to justify a movement that is made up only of men. They cannot be a pretext to ally with or in some way support anti-women criminals or to downplay the contradiction under the pretext that imperialism is the main enemy. We cannot ignore gender oppression and overlook these crimes, and fail to struggle against these hard-core enemies of humanity and other reactionary, outmoded forces.
This line and method goes against the teaching of our great leaders. Lenin said that the answer to the woman question is socialism, but he also emphasised that there can be no talk about socialism without the struggle and participation of women. Women are a potentially powerful force, half of population of the society, a force that is full of outrage towards the enemies of humanity. They can only join the ranks of conscious struggle against class exploitation and gender oppression if communist forces make an effort and struggle to mobilise and organise the masses of women and try to win over their most advanced forces.
After the crisis of the international communist movement and the occupation of the country by the Russians, the Maoist movement that had taken shape in Afghanistan during the 1960s liquidated its communist identity under the excuse that the occupation of the country was the main contradiction. Most of the Maoists took part in the resistance against the Russians under the umbrella of anti-women Islamist and jihadi forces. Under such conditions, how could those who related to the communist movement mobilise and organise a conscious struggle against gender oppression? How could this movement do away with the ideological and political influence of these fundamentalists?
Women in Afghanistan can and must struggle against gender oppression, domestic and state violence, reactionary anti-women laws and traditions, religion and the patriarchal state, anti-women imperialism and fundamentalism by organising themselves in a mass organisation. In an organisation that can draw a line of demarcation with patriarchal imperialism and anti-woman reactionaries, and struggle for a revolution of the toiling masses and the goal of a world without oppression and exploitation. An organisation whose advanced members are organised in a real revolutionary and communist party and are led through that party.
A correct, communist handling of the woman question is an expression of our outlook towards the future society. The fighters and revolutionary communists cannot realise a revolution without winning over and organising the masses of toiling women in struggle against gender oppression and winning over the advanced to their own ranks. For such a mobilisation, first of all we must get rid of the thick chauvinist dust that has influenced all of our movements, and we should no longer postpone the struggle against women’s oppression and the struggle for the liberation of women to “after seizing power”. It is already too late. The communist movement in Afghanistan must make up for its failures and assume its long overdue responsibilities regarding the oppression of women.
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