Cutting cane in Colombia, workers win sweet victory

Colombian sugar cane production is confined to 500,000 acres in Valle de Cauca and Cauca, departments situated in the country’s southwest. From legalized slavery on, Afro-Colombians have done most of the cutting. Recently they’ve worked 12-14 hour days, every day, under contract with facade cooperatives, an arrangement allowing landowners and refinery operators to avoid paying for tools, transportation and workers’ retirement costs. After deductions, cutters earn less than Colombia’s minimum wage of $222 per month.

WORLD NOTES: November 22

Gaza: Collective punishment remains Malaysia: Rights protests grow Nicaragua: Sandinistas win city elections Switzerland: Gender gaps shrink Zambia: Change in the wind Cuba: New cooperation with Russia

Cuba survives third major hurricane, this time Paloma

Aida Perez, 44 years old, was waiting out Hurricane Paloma with her two daughters in a dormitory at the University of Camaguey inland, along with 900 others from Santa Cruz del Sur, a small city on Cuba’s southern coast. Her house was probably gone, she told an AP reporter, “But what’s important is that we are alive.”

World Notes: November 15, 2008

Australia: Unions go global re climate change Iraq: Awakening Council role in question Italy:School privatization elicits protests Japan: Profitable Toyota lays off thousands Panama: Tolerance of terrorism gets second look

Populist president faces long odds

President Fernando Lugo, up against an agrarian oligarchy and answerable to a mobilized peasant movement, has yet to introduce transformative measures reminiscent of those initiated by his Venezuelan, Bolivian and Ecuadorian counterparts.

Gardens, forests and Black artists: documentaries worth seeing

Some of the documentaries shown at the 44th Annual Chicago International Film Festival should be of interest to progressive activists. They deal with flora — one in the form of a community garden, another the Amazon rainforest — and with Black artists and film.

World reacts to Obama presidency

International media coverage of the election last week of Barack Obama has continued non-stop. A survey follows.


The other Colombia stirs

“What was new was the breadth, extent, and depth of the protest, and above all the confluence of actors.” For analyst Raul Zibechi, the “other Colombia” was manifest in a wave of indigenous and workers’ protests against the regime of President Alvaro Uribe. Along the line, Uribe, custodian of a militarized U.S. puppet state, blinked.

Economy fix cant wait until 1.20.09

As the economy continues crashing and as Congress readies for a special post-election Nov. 17 session at which it could pass a new stimulus package of more than $300 billion, labor and its allies are pushing for sweeping measures aimed at getting millions back to work and putting money into the pockets of the people.

Worldnotes: November 8, 2008

Greece: Labor builds toward political change Brazil: Workers’ Party, allies dominate city elections Benin: Poor nations want in Iraq: U.S. forces agreement may fail China: Partnership grows with Russia Cuba: General Assembly nixes blockade

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