WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 28, No. 30-31, October 24 - November 7, 1998

Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 0171 627 0599,

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Article Index

Gordon Brown's Pre-Budget Report: No Sign that the Foundations of the Economic Crisis Are Being Tackled

The Focus of the Second 1998 National Consultative Conference Becomes Sharper through Work

Crime and Disorder Act and the Criminalisation of the Youth

G7 Propose the Impossible

OPINION: The Arrest of Fascist Pinochet Has Nothing Progressive about It

Fidel Castro Gives Opinion on Pinochet Arrest

New Edition of the Necessity for Change! Pamphlet by Hardial Bains


Britain has lowest-Weight Babies in EU

Mature Students Deterred by Fees

£32m PFI Project for State School

Trade Deficit Soars as Asia Exports Collapse

Ford Cuts Back Production

500 Steel Jobs Lost at Port Talbot

Actions against US Blockade of Cuba

Meeting Hails 50th Anniversary of Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Disabled People and the Return to Medievalism

Gordon Brown's Pre-Budget Report:

No Sign that the Foundations of the Economic Crisis Are Being Tackled

GORDON BROWN, Chancellor of the Exchequer, presented his Pre-Budget Report on November 3. In it he rejected predictions that Britain is being drawn into a deepening world recession. Instead he unveiled what was described as an upbeat forecast which is supposed to see the economy bounce back from its current "downturn" within two years.

Gordon Brown painted the background of the "global downturn": "World trade growth is set to fall by two thirds. Forecasts for world growth as a whole have now been virtually halved. One quarter of the world is in recession." But his objective for Britain in this uncertain world is that it "not only steers a stable course but that, by building up our long term strength, [Britain] is more than equal to any and every challenge the global economy presents."

The Chancellor is creating illusions about the economic recession and the crisis in this country. The sum total of his argument is that by adopting policies of "balancing the budget" to create stability, encouraging a new "enterprise culture" to foster productivity, and extending welfare to work and the New Deal to all the long-term unemployed, Britain will escape the global crisis of the capitalist economy. He terms these the "three essential foundations" for long-term strength and success. Finally, when all else has been taken into consideration, there comes "investing in our future", which is to say there will be an extension of the PFI schemes, and, as a footnote, a temporary increase of £40bn in spending over the next three years on health and education met by increased borrowing within his rules of "fiscal discipline".

It is important to realise that, firstly, these are policies in the framework of the Labour government's aims of competing on the global market and building a stakeholder economy – in short of ensuring the maximum capitalist profit and making sure that the maximum social product finds its way into the hands of the rich. Secondly, that these policies do not deal with the fundamentals of the economy, which is precisely that the base of the economy is geared to the making of the maximum capitalist profits on the backs of the working class and broad masses of the people. On the contrary, they provide every condition for the economic crisis to intensify. On the one hand, produced values, rather than being ploughed back into the economy to serve the needs of the vast majority instead ensure that the financial oligarchy get fabulously rich; on the other, production itself is made incidental to the making of maximum capitalist profit. All means are used to obtain the highest return on capital employed with as much capital as possible robbed from the pockets of the working people. While the capitalists are beset with the falling rate of profit for goods produced, speculation with vast sums takes place on the stock market. This does nothing to increase the production of goods and services to meet the needs of the people and leads to blowing up a bubble that will inevitably burst.

The capitalists' very pursuit of maximum profit causes crises of overproduction, as we have seen in the computer chips industry, the car industry, the steel industry, and so on. Material and human resources are destroyed on a vast scale. An increased productivity of labour in the individual enterprises, one of the central planks of Gordon Brown's recipe of the future, has only the aim of maximising the profits of the capitalists while throwing "surplus" workers out of jobs. The New Deal presses them into work at slave labour rates, while causing destitution for those who are unable to work or cannot obtain work. Those workers whose productivity is increased are being encouraged by the Chancellor to buy shares and become stakeholders, in other words become as one with their employers in their bid to compete in the increasingly crisis-ridden global market, and abandon the "them and us" culture as Gordon Brown has it. His speech even includes the plan to "enlist business leaders to take the world of work and business into our classrooms [at schools and colleges]". Meanwhile, the TUC leaders are continually tailing behind the government, at odds with the workers' interests and those of society at large, intoning that "social partnership is the key to a successful economy".

These measures will do nothing to alleviate the consequences of a moribund, parasitic capitalism controlled and run for the benefit of the monopolies and the finance capitalists. Rather they will pave the way for further crises, and criminalise the workers' struggles when they demand that their claims on society be met. This is so since the foundation of the economic crisis, which is that while the process of production has become socialised to the maximum, the appropriation of the fruits of that production remains private, is not being tackled. Indeed, it is being entrenched in every way.

What is necessary in these circumstances is that the working class must further elaborate what is the way out of the crisis, intervening with a pro-social programme of their own and working for a change in the motive and direction of the economy.

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The Focus of the Second 1998 National Consultative Conference Becomes Sharper through Work

THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE for the November 28-29 National Consultative Conference of RCPB(ML) has met three times to date, and is set to further consider the plans for the Conference in the near future. At the same time, specific work is underway throughout all the Party organisations to prepare and mobilise for this second National Consultative Conference of 1998.

The Central Committee has set the parameters for the work of the Preparatory Committee, as well as taking up the recommendations of the July National Consultative Conference regarding the Conference and taking the lead in their realisation. However, the nature of the November Conference is such that the whole Party is involved in its preparation and will be involved in participating in its deliberations and in the work to make it a success. The Preparatory Committee, as well as making the necessary practical preparations, has the character of being a mechanism to facilitate this involvement and ensure the political readiness of the Party activists, thereby consolidating and building on the level of consciousness and organisation that emerged from the First 1998 Conference and strengthening the Party from top to bottom.

The Preparatory Committee paid particular attention to setting its own agenda, so that nothing was taken as read, overlooked or left to chance. In the course of this, the aim of the Conference stood out in sharp relief. This aim is to provide a stepping stone in preparation for the extremely important event of the holding of the Third Congress of RCPB(ML). The Conference therefore provides an opportunity for the Central Committee to consult not only with the members and sympathisers of the Party, but also the workers, youth, women and other sections of the society who are concerned about the forward march of society out of the crisis – consult with them as to the themes and agenda of the Congress and what steps must be taken to ensure that it is a profound success. Thus the Party is dealing with the issue of what must be done to lead the way out of the crisis, in the conditions of New Labour in power and the impending world recession, in the context of its forward march, in an extremely pro-active manner.

The question arises, with this aim, what should be the focus of the National Consultative Conference. What has become clear is that the focus of the Conference will become sharper through the work which is being undertaken. Thus, in the situation in which the Third Congress will set the seal on the work of the Party since January 1994, it is essential that a central focus of the Conference is a thorough-going discussion on the editorial policy of Workers' Weekly, strengthening the newspaper organisationally and building its distribution among the working class and people. The same criterion applies when the other aspects of the Congress are considered: that the work which is being undertaken in terms of the Party's ideological, theoretical and political work which has the aim of advancing the movement around a pro-social programme and for a new society and building the communist party as the instrument to provide this movement with consciousness and organisation – that this work will provide the focus for the discussion on setting the themes and agenda for the Congress.

Mobilise to the Maximum for the Second 1998 National Consultative Conference!

All Out with the Work to Make It a Success!

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Crime and Disorder Act and the Criminalisation of the Youth

The Crime and Disorder Act, which received the Royal Assent on July 31, 1998, is an Act which under the guise of combating crime, especially among young people and children, actually serves to criminalise whole sections of the youth.

For example, its provisions for local child curfew schemes in dealing with "youth crime and disorder", and which were brought into force on September 30, are aimed specifically at children under the age of 10. Children aged nine and below can be made subject to a local child curfew order if they are out unsupervised at specific times between 9pm and 6am. Another set of provisions also came into force on September 30. These deal with, for example, the setting up of "youth-offending teams" in certain areas, to deal with "young offenders" according to a "youth justice plan" of the local authority. The provisions for the "removal of truants to designated premises" are set to come into force on December 1.

If one looks at the local child curfew schemes, the Home Office guidelines explain: "Local child curfews are primarily to be for the purpose of maintaining order (section 14(1)(b) of the 1998 Act) but in drawing up the local child curfew scheme, consulting on it and making the application to the Home Secretary there is no requirement at that stage for the local authority to have identified a specific problem of unsupervised children. The maintenance of order is not, however, the only objective of a local child curfew. Although not specifically prescribed in legislation the proposal is closely related to the provisions for the child safety order and as such it is designed to protect young children who because they are out on the streets unsupervised may be at risk of harm or getting into trouble." However, in case it might be thought that the focus of the legislation is concern for the children, the guidelines underline: "The Government believes that for a number of reasons children under the age of 10 should not be out late at night unsupervised. It may place them at risk and can create problems for the local community because such children, particularly when gathered in large groups, may become involved in anti-social or potentially criminal behaviour. Such behaviour should not be tolerated because people should have the right to live in a society which is safe and trouble free."

The first question which can be asked is: what kind of society is it which gives rise to a situation where children under 10 are "at risk" in this way? The second question which comes to mind is: what kind of government is it that targets the behaviour of children under 10 as not tolerable and utilises the full force of the law against it? Furthermore, this goes hand in hand with reducing the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 10. At the same time, according to the provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act, anyone aged 10 and over can be made subject to an "anti-social behaviour order". Besides this, the curfew scheme could be a step to introducing such a scheme also for older children, as in the pilot scheme in Hamilton, Scotland, which applied to those 16 and under. Thus the state is getting involved in criminalising the youth at an incredibly early age – next it will be blaming those in prams and in the womb for the problems in society! As it is, a whole network of agencies is being organised to ensure that "problem" youth of all ages are identified and targeted. Or, as the Home Office Guide puts it: "Delivering the full range of youth justice services to deal with young offenders". The government is at pains to point out that, in all these schemes, "primary responsibility" rests with the police.

As the fabric of society comes under attack as the all-round crisis intensifies, so, instead of pointing the finger at the social system which is denying the youth a future, which is blocking them on all sides, which is denying them a full education as of right with no discrimination as to who can afford it, in which whole communities are devastated and laid waste, where drug-taking and crime are fostered among young people, where the culture they are being force-fed exhorts them to act against their own interests and take up a world outlook of fending for themselves, in this situation the government is blaming the youth and their attitudes for the problems in society and doing everything possible to turn the complex problems they face into law and order issues. And it calls this nipping crime in the bud!

Workers' Weekly vigorously condemns the attempts to criminalise the youth through the Crime and Disorder Act. It salutes all the youth who are engaged in fighting for a future and working to open the door to progress in society. It will do all it can to assist them in their struggles.

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G7 Propose the Impossible

THE LEADERS OF THE Group of Seven "industrialised nations" (G7) issued a joint statement on October 30 on reforms of the world financial structure to contain global financial turmoil. Among its proposals was the suggestion for a mechanism to prevent financial crises occurring, a new International Monetary Fund facility to be complemented by the private sector, and the provision of additional IMF resources of $90bn. The G7 also said slow growth rather than inflation was now the greatest risk facing the global economy.

The proposals of the G7, of which those on October 30 were only the latest, that the financial and economic crisis can be overcome by coordinating action of the most powerful countries, flies in the face of reality. It is an objective fact that these countries each has its own interests, which reflect the interests of the financial oligarchies and the monopolies, since it is those interests which dominate the economic and financial life of the big powers. Furthermore, the economic, political and even military blocs, such as the European Union, are also contending on a global scale. Even within the industrialised countries, there is the most cut-throat competition amongst the capitalist monopolies. Ever since capitalism developed into imperialism, there has been contention to divide and redivide the world into markets and spheres of influence. Today, in a period of disequilibrium internationally, that contention is especially fierce. Indeed, it is one facet which has given rise to the world economic and financial crisis. The financial oligarchy moves finance capital around the world to wherever it can make the maximum return. At one time they were scrambling to export finance capital to the "Asian tigers". With the collapse of these economies beginning a year or so ago, precipitating the collapse of the "hedge funds" and the most parasitic forms of making the maximum profit, the insatiable lust of the financiers for the maximum return on their capital has given rise, for example, to demands for a new "international financial architecture". But nevertheless, this same crisis has led to the sharpening of the rivalries of the ruling circles of the G7 countries, as well as between the blocs of the big capitalist powers, and the targeting of other areas of the globe for the expansion and contention of the imperialist powers. This has also been evident in the increased barbarism of the US, as well as its ally the British government, in giving itself the right to override the international legal and diplomatic norms and impose its dictate anywhere and everywhere.

In short, it can be said that what the G7 are proposing along the lines of a new global financial system for the 21st century, of improved surveillance of the world economics and new codes of "fiscal openness", is illusory and impossible. Although Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are very enthusiastic about these schemes, and actually wish to appear as the wise heads at these international forums, the more down-to-earth voice of the Director General of the British Bankers' Association pointed out that "there will be some tough times ahead in implementing these principles".

Try as they may to halt the slide to world depression, the G7 will not accomplish this feat because the very direction they are heading in has caused the collapse. "Competitiveness in the modern global economy" is their bottom line. In this context, even large capitalist concerns can be sacrificed at whatever cost to the economy or gobbled up in the process of monopolisation. Only changing the motive of production and eliminating the anarchy of production and the utilisation of the state treasury to pay the rich can ensure a healthy economy, which has to start from the needs of the nation, with the working class at the head, not from the parasitic demands of the financiers.

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The Arrest of Fascist Pinochet Has Nothing Progressive about It

The past weeks have witnessed a bizarre series of events concerning the fascist former President of Chile, General Augusto Pinochet. In London for medical treatment, he was first entertained to tea by ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then arrested in his hospital bed on a Spanish extradition warrant under the clear direction of Blair's government – whatever the protestations to the contrary – then released by order of the Lord Chief Justice who ruled in the High Court that he should not have been arrested because "he enjoyed immunity as former sovereign from criminal and civil process of the English courts". Now at time of going to press he is still being held on bail pending appeal to the House of Lords by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The brutal crimes of the former Chilean President against his own people as well as foreign nationals residing in Chile are well documented and indisputable. So is the fact that Pinochet was only brought to power by the direct intervention of US imperialism and maintained in power only with the support of big foreign monopolies and foreign governments which included not only that of the US but also of Britain, particularly the government of Thatcher. What was the role of the British state in his crimes? Let us hear Jack Straw and Tony Blair calling for the trial of Margaret Thatcher for crimes against humanity, and let us see them also point the finger against the US imperialists who were the backers and partners in crime of the fascist Pinochet.

Instead, the Labour government are very smug about the arrest of Pinochet. It is being backed up by their "ethical foreign policy" and in turn is being used to bolster it. However, the way this question of the arrest of Pinochet has been handled has nothing progressive about it. By their same arguments, the British government could authorise the arrest of, say, Fidel Castro if he were to visit this country. Indeed, the US-run so-called "Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba" has already applied to Spain's National Court to follow the same rules to initiate criminal proceedings against President Castro as were applied to General Pinochet.

What murky business is going on over the question of the arrest of Pinochet? Is it to destabilise Chile? To strengthen the right there? The consequences of the arrest could be foreseen. Why should the Labour government let Pinochet in to the country, not for the first time, and then arrest him at this time, a person who right now is finished politically? The Chilean people have dealt and were dealing with Pinochet. At the very least, the people are rendered passive on this question.

The judgment of the Lord Chief Justice is right according to existing international law and norms. The courts of a foreign country cannot be used to take action against the government or former government of another country, as distinct from some international court or tribunal set up by international agreement to pass judgment on specific crimes against humanity, as were the Nuremberg Trials. It goes without saying that the crimes of genocide and unspeakable brutality of which Pinochet and his backers and accomplices are guilty should be tried and punished by such a court.

The working class and all progressive forces must exercise the utmost vigilance. As the cases of Kosova, Iraq and others make clear, the Blair government, under the guise of "humanitarian concern" and "opposing dictators", has the intention of stepping up its interference in various strategic areas of the world. It is seeking, along with its US senior partner, to act as judge and jury on the affairs of the people of the whole world, while covering over the crimes of US imperialism and the British ruling class. In arresting Augusto Pinochet in the way it has, the British government has done everything to obscure where justice lies, and to divert attention from the nature of Pinochet's crimes in Chile and from his partners in crime and the godfathers of his crimes against the people. It is setting a dubious legal precedent, giving indication of suspect motives as regards another sovereign country, and acting to take away the initiative from the progressive and revolutionary movement of the working class and people to settle scores against imperialism and fascism once and for all.

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Fidel Castro Gives Opinion on Pinochet Arrest

Picture of Castro

We are printing below extracts from an interview given by President Fidel Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, to the journalists present during his visit to the National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida, Extremadura, Spain, on October 20, 1998, year of the 40th anniversary of the decisive battles of the war of liberation. We think that progressive people should be acquainted with these opinions of Fidel Castro, especially since some one-sided reporting of these views has appeared in the press. (Translation of the transcript of the Council of State)

Journalist: It's better to be here than in London, isn't it? Could you say something for us about Pinochet? Would the situation change?

Fidel Castro: Well, that's quite a subject. I believe it was the day I was conversing with the King when someone told me the news about Pinochet, and the first thing that occurred to me was, "How strange, since Pinochet was the one who gave the English the most help during the Malvinas war!" Then I commented on a few of the concerns I had regarding the situation. But now that you've asked me, and since this Roman theatre has such good acoustics, I will simply say the following:

The situation has three aspects. First, there is the moral aspect. From the moral point of view, it is just that he be arrested and punished.

There is a second aspect, the legal aspect. I think that from the legal point of view, this action is questionable.

Third, there is the political point of view. I think that this is going to create a complicated situation in Chile, given the way in which the political process has developed there.

In the first place, there is the army, the armed forces, which constitute a powerful institution in that country. And without a doubt they will unanimously oppose this, and oppose it fiercely, and they will demand that the civilian authorities, the civilian government, adopt all the measures needed to have Pinochet freed.

In the second place, Chilean officials are traditionally very zealous when it comes to the law, to questions of sovereignty, more than in any other Latin American country, I think.

And so, what is going to happen there? The armed forces will be protesting. The entire right wing will unite, and it is powerful. The government will find itself obliged to protest with all its might, because he had been issued a diplomatic passport, and because they believe that the authority for a trial of this nature corresponds to Chile; it would have to take place in Chile.

There is the legislature, where the right will surely adopt a position in favour of Pinochet, and the left wing of the ruling coalition will find itself in a very difficult situation: whether to support the government or not. The most probable thing is that it will support the government; if not, it runs the risk of rupturing the coalition.

What will the socialists and the other centre and left parties do? If they distance themselves from the government's line, they will be divided. I think that there is a danger of the coalition being divided; this is one of the latent dangers. I think that this could considerably strengthen the right. These are the political consequences. What might happen? The right is going to unite, the left could be divided, and this could create a difficult situation in Chile, which has still not concluded the process of consolidation and opening, although it has advanced a great deal. These political consequences are somewhat worrying, from the way we see things from here, from afar.

There is an additional factor: Pinochet did not act alone. They have declassified official documents from the United States which demonstrate that from the day Allende's election was announced, the government of the United States, the president of the United States, and the high leadership of the United States made the decision to overthrow him. They allocated funds, 10 million dollars, immediately; they gave instructions to use any means to prevent him, first of all, from taking office, to try to prevent him from taking power, and second, to try to overthrow him throughout the duration of the subsequent period of time. They spurred on the conspiratorial process, supporting it with all kinds of destabilising, subversive activities; they squeezed the country economically, taking away all of its income, its credits, until they achieved the conditions for a coup d'état. They had detailed information about the plan for the coup d'état, and therefore had just as much responsibility for what happened as Pinochet himself.

Going back to the moral question, I think it would be morally right if the same fate facing Pinochet were to be met by all those who participated in the idea, the gestation, the support and the carrying out of the coup d'état.

Well, then, let him be arrested in London; but let all of the guilty parties be arrested as well. I'm not going to include Nixon, because Nixon is already dead, and we must ask that he rest in peace. But there are a lot of people who participated in all of that, and I think that from the moral point of view, they would all have to be taken to trial in Madrid, in London, or anywhere else.

This is how we see the situation.


Pinochet is someone who is already finished, who is in full political decline; but I'm afraid that an action undertaken in a hospital in London, and so on and so forth, could convert Pinochet into a martyr of the armed forces and a martyr of the right, into a cause for profound division within the country's progressive and centrist forces. A serious problem will have suddenly been created.

To summarise, I repeat, there are three major issues involved in the matter: moral, legal and political. It is from this point of view that I am analysing the situation.

Chile, really, is doing well; it has passed through a Calvary of difficulties and problems to arrive at establishing, let us say, the pre-eminence of civilian institutions within the country. As a result, this is a matter that will have to be followed carefully, and there doesn't appear to be an easy way out.

We'll have to see what Pinochet's godfathers have to say – there were 2000, 2500, 3000 victims, among the disappeared and the murdered. We'll have to see what they say, the godfathers and instructors of the tens of thousands of agents of repression who received courses in repression there, in the United States.

You must know perfectly well that not long ago, the instruction manuals used to train officers from Argentina, Chile, Central America and other places were released publicly. When all of this was revealed, they said that they were destroying or eliminating the "pedagogical" manuals they had established; but the documentary and historical evidence of all of this remains.

Pinochet's godfathers are responsible for the 30,000 disappeared in Argentina; the 3000 disappeared or murdered in Chile; the 150,000 victims in Guatemala, since the time of the "liberating" invasion organised by the CIA in 1954; and it just so happens that Che was there, exercising his trade as a doctor, when Arbenz was overthrown in a coup for having undertaken agrarian reform.

Well then, that has cost 150,000 lives. Later came the dirty war in Nicaragua, which also cost tens of thousands of lives; the bloody war in El Salvador against that country's revolutionary movement – with a river of arms, resources, military training, and money from the United States – which cost tens of thousands of lives.

I'm not going to mention Cuba. We were able to defeat the dirty war they organised against us, from the first moments of the Revolution, throughout the country. By organising the campesinos, the workers, the students, the people, everyone, to fight for years on end, we were able to counteract and defeat the enemy action, until we captured the very last of the bandits in the Escambray mountains, before the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. But I won't mention that, I won't include it in this calculation. As part of this calculation, I could also include the many who were tortured, murdered and disappeared in other places by those who received training and repressive indoctrination in the same school.

And so I would applaud, I would be happy, like many others in the world, if the revolutionary decision were made – and I say revolutionary, because it couldn't be legal – to take all of those responsible to trial, and some of them are surely younger than Pinochet.

Pinochet received a lot of help, a lot of official support and a lot of credits from Western countries throughout that entire period.

The International Penal Court [IPC] has not been established yet. The IPC is an excellent idea, as long as it is not under the authority of the United Nations Security Council, where there is veto power, because the United States would use it to protect all of its friends and allies.

An IPC under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Security Council would not be equitable, it could not be trusted. That is why those of us who support the idea have stated that it cannot be under the authority of the Security Council, until the United Nations is made democratic. Moreover, we have stated that economic blockades should be included among the crimes of genocide and war crimes to be tried and punished by the IPC. These are our two essential points of discrepancy with regard to this idea.

We would truly see these institutions as progress. This is not the way we would see, for example, the Multilateral Investment Agreement (MIA) and other measures of domination that they are trying to have approved in addition to the international organisations, in order to consolidate the world order imposed by the United States.

An IPC without a new and just international order, in the hands of the Security Council, could serve one day to fight all those who are opposed to this unjust order, and become an instrument of this unjust order, in the hands of a country that interprets and decides just as it pleases on practically every situation it faces, as you all know.

We have seen this recently in the case of Kosovo. Different world leaders' opinions were divided regarding the way to resolve the conflict. Many proposed that it should be resolved through negotiation, and by pursuing truly fair negotiations.

NATO proposed the use of force, but not all NATO members. As you know, some countries proposed that it should be approved by the Security Council, and then there emerged the interpretation of Resolution 1199, which said that measures should be adopted for a solution to the problem, and that there should be recognition of the rights of the people of Kosovo – who make up the immense majority of the population – to their fullest autonomy.

Everyone was in agreement with this, but a few advocated the immediate use of force by NATO, and others did not, and the matter was decided by the United States, which considered that it had the authority granted by Resolution 1199 and was on the verge of launching Cruise and Tomahawk missiles, B-52 bombers and its entire arsenal of sophisticated weapons against Serbia.

The United States turns to the Security Council when it is convenient; it did so at the time of the war in Iraq, for example. The violations of international norms that were committed when Iraq occupied Kuwait were used by the United States for its own strategic goals; it had the opportunity to create a great Muslim, Arab, and Western coalition against Iraq.

Other times, as in the case of the embassies that sustained terrorist attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, they made the unilateral decision to bomb two countries, Sudan and Afghanistan. And they did it so hastily that they didn't bother to verify if that pharmaceutical factory was actually used to manufacture chemical products or for chemical weapons. All those who have been there, foreigners, British specialists, all those who have seen the factory have confirmed that there were not even the most minimal conditions required or the slightest sign that chemical weapons had been manufactured there. Even if chemical weapons are being manufactured, the international organisations must be consulted, but they decided unilaterally to launch the bombs, they decided it at the highest level, and it has been published that they didn't even consult the military experts. Not everyone involved in the executive branch was in agreement with the attack, but a few very influential people made the decision, and the armed forces were given the orders to launch missiles on Sudan and Afghanistan 24 hours before the attack.

In all of these situations, we witness unilateral measures and a lack of respect for international norms; they feel have the right to do whatever they please with their immense power. This cannot offer security to anyone, to any country, to any people opposed to the interests of the order they are imposing on the world.

You could say that this is the fourth concern, in addition to the three mentioned earlier. Over the last few days I have been meditating on this, while on the highway, rushing from one place to another, with a minimum of news on what is happening, based on the information we have available to us, which is scarce, and the experience of the way things are in the world today.

I saw the president of Chile at the Summit, and he really did look very, very worried, and the worst would be if the measures taken in London translated later into an image of Pinochet as a virgin and martyr, into a strengthened right wing, in contrast to a divided and weakened centre-left, and if, as a consequence of this, the right were to take power in Chile again, even by the electoral route, given the truly destructive and dividing effect this episode could have in Chile.

It is our duty to react to these events with composure. Now that you have given me the opportunity, what better place than this theatre to speak about this matter, with all frankness.

Very little has been said about this, everyone over there's interpreted it in their own way. Robertico [Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina] tells me that there are various cables on the issue, and what I did was to make an unemotional analysis of the news, not allowing myself to be carried away by a natural enthusiasm and joy on simply hearing the news of Pinochet's arrest in a London hospital bed. There's a lot of hypocrisy and complexity around the record and the role of this ill-fated personality, of this paladin of anti-communism, of this faithful defender of the doctrines and interests of the imperialists in this hemisphere. If international norms are to be transcended and the British government – a faithful US ally – is to be granted the privilege of extraterritoriality, the responsibility borne by and the punishment merited by Pinochet's major and guilty accomplices cannot today be overlooked. Exonerating them from all blame would be immoral, hypocritical and unjustifiable.

President Castro then encouraged the assembled journalists to give their views. When no one volunteered, he asked. "So, did you understand what I was trying to say?" He continued, "I want to be precise, because this is the kind of question that has to be analysed with much care and precision, so as not to give rise to confusion over our points of view."

Journalist: Are you afraid that what has happened to Pinochet might one day happen to you?

Fidel Castro: To me? No, because our cases are not the same. I might be mistaken, but I have travelled the world in the midst of a manhunt organised over many years to physically eliminate me and I'm not afraid of going anywhere. The attempts on my life which they have tried to carry out could be counted in the hundreds, but here I am among you, happy, on this morning. Moreover, I'm one of those people who can't easily be arrested anywhere, not just on account of the ethics I hold, the convictions I have, but because of the history of my whole life, which I know well, very well, and it isn't the version that has been written by our enemies. The differences could fill an encyclopaedia.

He continued: I go where I am granted a visa and, in addition, I have ethics, dignity, and I'd like to know what would happen if they take it into their heads to do that. I am thinking more of other leaders, of which there are many in the world. For example, Arafat travels throughout Europe, to many places, and Arafat could be captured any day, let's say, and subsequently placed on trial, or some procedure of that kind, as the price for the long struggle for the freedom of his people. I am thinking of you, I'm thinking of the progressive peoples of the world and I'm thinking about the powerful people who take it upon themselves to do such things.

Batista killed approximately 20,000 Cubans and many of his henchmen travelled to the United States – many of them with hundreds of millions of dollars; Batista alone stole 500 million. We never even organised a group to hunt them down, and we had countless volunteers to go to where he was and settle accounts with Mr. Batista and others like him. We didn't want to apply justice on our own beyond our borders.

In Switzerland, hundreds of billions of dollars stolen from our peoples have been deposited; there was never any law, there were never any trials, there was never any justice to reclaim that money. Mobuto carried off seven billion dollars; nobody knows where that money is. Our countries have always been totally unprotected; but yes, I would be in favour of impartial and independent international courts that could offer protection to all nations, against all crimes, genocide and plunder. I would definitely be in favour of that, in order to put the people who commit those kinds of deeds on trial. That's what I think.

I know this world very well and our adversary isn't just any adversary; it is the strongest power ever to have existed in history.

President Castro later on again asked the journalists to give their opinions, and although they declined one of their number replied to Castro that he wanted Castro to know that a great many of the journalists are with Cuba and with him.

Journalist: And, in your opinion, who should be put on trial?

Fidel Castro: In the revolutionary sense, Pinochet should be put on trial with the entire group that produced Pinochet, supported Pinochet, educated Pinochet and led him to commit so many crimes.

Journalist: Tell me who, because I was a little girl when the Pinochet problem happened.

Fidel Castro: Tell you who? I already defined them, I don't wish to mention names, but those who participated must have included many people much younger than Pinochet. I recommend you to search in the archives on the Internet for the declassified documents in relation to the way in which Allende's overthrow was engineered, who participated in all of that and what each one did, because the list is a lengthy one and there are many of them. The role each of them played is noted there.

Well, that would be a great lesson, but it would have to be in the revolutionary sense, for those who are in favour of bringing Pinochet to trial wherever. All I am proposing is that the major guilty parties and those who created Pinochet should be judged alongside him. It won't do any good sending him to the firing squad or life imprisonment – I believe they've abolished the death sentence in Europe, but life imprisonment remains – that he should be judged with all those who have been his accomplices, that would be my preferred option. If that cannot be done, well, I would say that I am far more concerned about Chile, its current situation, its future prospects, than the fact that Pinochet might receive a greater or lesser prison sentence.

If I were to say more, I believe he should have been put on trial a long time ago. If I were to say more, I would affirm that those who are responsible for the 30,000 disappeared persons in Argentina should have been tried and given heavy punishments, as a deterrent; that those who committed crimes in many other Latin American countries should have been given trials which serve as a deterrent. I'm not going to dwell on the purely legal aspects. To make a revolution, one has to change constitutions and laws of all kinds, and that is precisely what our Revolution consisted of; if one has to transcend legal principles, in a revolutionary context, that has to be done in order to apply with total justice the new revolutionary principles arising from that action.

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New Edition of the Necessity for Change! Pamphlet by Hardial Bains

Image of Pamphlet Necessity for Change
Workers' Weekly is very pleased to inform its readers that a new edition of the Necessity for Change pamphlet by Hardial Bains, first published by The Internationalists in 1967, is now available in this country. It was published by decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), and contains a foreword by the CC of CPC(ML), as well as a Preface written by the author, the late National Leader of CPC(ML), in May 1997, shortly before his death.

Workers' Weekly hails the publication of this important and seminal document, and calls on all revolutionary and progressive forces, especially members and supporters of RCPB(ML) and all the youth, to read and study Necessity for Change by Hardial Bains. See below for information on how to order. A number of articles discussing the Necessity for Change analysis are being published in TML Weekly, the Newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Copies can also be ordered from Workers' Publication Centre.

Necessity for Change!

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;Available from John Buckle Books

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Britain Has Lowest-Weight Babies in EU

Britain has the highest proportion of under-weight babies in the European Union, according to World Health Organisation figures. Low birth weights can lead to increased risks of dying within a month, mental handicap, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and autism.

At 7.2 per cent, Britain had proportionately more low-weight babies, defined as live births under 5.5lbs, than Albania (6.9 per cent). Out of more than 35 European countries surveyed, the only ones with higher proportions of small babies were Bulgaria (9.1 per cent), Romania and Hungary (9.0 per cent) and Turkey (7.5 per cent). Specialists said social inequalities were to blame for many of Britain's under-weight births.

Mature Students Deterred by Fees

New figures published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service disclose that mature student numbers on college courses have dropped by 10% after the introduction of £1,000 tuition fees. By October 21, the number of people who had found places in higher education institutions was 326,841. This is 1.7% fewer than 1997.

£32m PFI Project for State School

Westminster City Council in London is to press ahead with controversial plans for a £32 million private finance initiative to rebuild Pimlico School after two years of stop-go talks with the local community, according to reports.

Trade Deficit Soars as Asia Exports Collapse

UK exports to South-East Asia in September fell by almost a third and exports to Russia halved, sending Britain's trade deficit with non-European countries to a record £1.9bn.

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Ford Cuts Back Production

ON OCTOBER 22, it was reported that Ford has announced further production cutbacks at its huge production plant at Dagenham, Essex. The company claimed that the cutback in production would not effect jobs and the workers will still turn up for work and be paid. The plant is already on a four-day week and workers have been told that the plant will not produce cars on eight extra days in November and December. The Dagenham workforce builds Fiesta cars and vans, exporting 45% of its vehicles to countries including Italy, France, Spain and Mexico. During one shift 500 to 600 vehicles are built, so the announcement will lead to over 4,000 cars not being built. A Ford spokesman said: "The reason for the cutback is the continuation of the decline in the European market." These new cutbacks in production follow on from the 4 day week at the plant which started on October 1, which was also due to deterioration in export markets. The spokesman said that the British market remained "quite strong" with Fiesta being one of the top two selling cars in the UK in the past year. However, according to the report it is clear that Ford is reviewing the situation and is likely to make further announcements in the new year, or even before. Once again the situation at Ford is showing that "competitiveness in the export market" provides no solutions to the economic crisis. What is happening at Ford exposes the solution that is being put forward by the government and BMW/Rover that workers in the car industry must become "more productive" in order to safeguard their jobs, when the glut in the number of cars being produced and exported world wide is a part of the present developing economic crisis and impending world recession.

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500 Steel Jobs Lost at Port Talbot

IT HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED THAT 500 jobs will be lost at Port Talbot's British Steel works in South Wales over the next year. British Steel currently employs 4,000 workers at the plant. Newspaper reports say that the company is blaming new steel methods and the introduction of new practices. The company is introducing a state-of-the-art sheet steel treatment unit which will eventually replace the outdated cold mill and is introducing "team working". Local political representatives in Port Talbot are saying that this will be a severe blow to the local economy and is devastating news, affecting local families, youth who are looking for jobs and small businesses.

How is it that the introduction of new technology which increases the productiveness of industry leads to increasing devastation for the people? Facts show that British Steel is introducing the new technology to try and halt its falling rate of profit. Pre-taxed profits have fallen from £1.1 billion in 1996 to £315 million in 1998. This exposes the claim that increasing productivity through new technology is a basis for prosperity in the economy. The workers must fight for a fundamental transformation in the direction of the economy so that the introduction of new technology and investment are used to provide stable growth in the economy, an economy which is geared to meeting the needs of the people and which utilises the new productiveness to expand the economy and provide a livelihood for all.

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Actions against US Blockade of Cuba

AS PART OF WORLD-WIDE ACTIONS in October calling for the unconditional lifting of the US blockade of Cuba, a national picket of the US Embassy was held on Saturday, October 17, a Grand Concert entitled A Night for Cuba was staged at the Festival Hall on Sunday, October 18, and a public meeting took place in the House of Commons on October 20 under the auspices of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC).

Over 200 activists picketed the US embassy. Visiting Cuban student Ivei Gonzalez denounced the blockade as "unjust and criminal". The event at the Festival Hall was attended by over 2,000 people.

The House of Commons meeting was attended by members of both Houses of Parliament as well as members of the public. It was the first joint meeting of the all-party Cuba parliamentary group with the CSC. The members of the Commons and the Lords on the platform – Angela Smith MP, John McCallion MP and Lord Rea – condemned the US blockade of Cuba and called in particular for the rescinding of the Helms-Burton Act. The main speaker was the Cuban Ambassador, Rodney Lopez. Sr Lopez began by asking why there should be a blockade of Cuba. Ir was claimed that the Cold War was over yet it continued against Cuba, even at times a hot war. He said that the main issue at stake was one of national sovereignty. He said Cuba was not asking for agreement with its economic and political system. It was asking that its sovereignty be recognised, and that it be enabled to have normal relations with other countries, like any other country. Sr Lopez detailed the great problems which the Cuban government and people had been forced to confront since the Revolution of 1959. He said they had overcome all difficulties because the government had never lost the people, who still upheld the Revolution. He spoke of the measures which Cuba was taking to deal with its present problems and pointed out that, on the evidence of the yearly UN vote, Cuba was gaining friends year by year, and it was the US which was increasingly isolated.

Speakers from the floor joined in the condemnation of US policy towards Cuba and paid tribute to Cuba's stand for its independent path. A member of the House of Lords said that the extra-territorial aspect of the US blockade was totally unacceptable. Several speakers condemned the Blair government for its servility towards the US government and demanded a change of policy towards Cuba on Britain's part. One speaker pointed out that the policy of sanctions, practised against such countries as Cuba, North Korea and Iraq, was a crime against humanity, as had been asserted by one of the MPs on the platform.

The following day CSC Chairman Ken Gill, Labour MP George Galloway and Louise Richards of UNISON handed in a 10,000-strong petition at the US Embassy calling for an end to the blockade.

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Meeting Hails 50th Anniversary of Democratic People's Republic of Korea

ON OCTOBER 24, the Korean Friendship and Solidarity Campaign (KFSC) organised a meeting in London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), marking at the same time the 53rd anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the first anniversary of the election of Kim Jong Il as its General Secretary.

The main speakers were Prof Mohammed Arif of the British Afro-Asian Solidarity Organisation and Eric Trevett, Honorary President of KFSC and President of the New Communist Party. Both speakers paid tribute to the great achievements of the people of the DPRK and their leadership over 50 years and gave moving reminiscences of the meetings which they had both had with the great leader, Kim Il Sung.

A moving address to the meeting was given by Pak Jong Il, Permanent Delegate of the DPRK to the International Maritime Organisation based in London. In speaking of the life of Kim Il Sung, he highlighted the internationalism of the great leader and his meetings over many years with visitors from Britain and Ireland. He spoke of the struggles of the people of the DPRK under the leadership of the WPK and Kim Jong Il in recent times against the ordeals created by natural disasters as well as the military provocations, the economic sanctions and blockade. He expressed his delegation's appreciation of the assistance given the DPRK in its current difficulties, including from the government level, as well as the friendship and solidarity campaign.

Keith Bennett, chairing the meeting, relayed messages of support for the meeting from various MPs as well as from some veteran communists who had been active in support of People's Korea as far back as the Korean war of 1950-53. Among other contributions, Chris Coleman of RCPB(ML) pointed out that the moving words of the Permanent Delegate, so greatly appreciated, only underlined the scandal that there was no full diplomatic representation of the DPRK in Britain, and spoke of the importance of demanding that the Blair government come out from behind the coat-tails of US imperialism, demand immediate US withdrawal from the Korean peninsula and move towards establishing full diplomatic relations with the DPRK.

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Disabled People and the Return to Medievalism

A NUMBER OF INHUMAN ATTACKS on the rights of disabled people by local authorities over the past months have shown just how far the state and local authorities are preparing to go with cut backs to benefits and services for the disabled.

On August 17, the Chief Executive of Castle Morpeth Borough Council was given a vote of no confidence after the Council was publicly shamed by his comments relating to a disabled woman who recently died in a private nursing home. Local people and care workers at the home were disgusted when the Council refused help with the funeral expenses to this disabled woman. However, this led to angry protests which took place in Northumberland after a letter was leaked in which the Chief Executive Officer tried to justify the action of the Council by likening the residents of private care homes as the "raw materials" of the Nursing Home industry. He said that the deceased woman was equivalent to the "business waste" of a commercial enterprise.

Also in August, the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL), an organisation of the disabled people's movement, issued a press-release which condemned the threat made by Bradford City Council to take away the baby of a disabled woman. The woman became disabled three years ago through an accident and was expecting a baby. The Council said that the cost of supporting the woman as a disabled person and her child would be too much for their present community care budgets. They threatened her with institutionalisation and having her baby taken into the custody of the state. Due to the strength of her arguments for flexible and adequate personal assistance, and the support of local people she has at the moment been allowed to live independently.

These examples show very clearly what is behind the rhetoric of Tony Blair when he speaks of "modernising" the "system of disability benefits" and the policy of the government to "think the unthinkable". It also shows very clearly that the bourgeoisie brought New Labour to power to carry through its anti-social offensive and withdraw all public guarantees which were previously acknowledged and push society back towards medievalism. It reveals the ugly ideas behind this push back towards medievalism that refuse to recognise disabled people as human beings whose needs should be met in full by society.

It is in this context that the attacks on the collective and individual rights of the disabled people are taking place. Such a situation places great responsibility on the working class, the disabled people's movement and other oppressed sections of the people. What is required is the building of the movement of the people around a pro-social programme for society, an immediate programme that society must recognise that all individuals are born to society and thus all have inviolable rights simply by dint of being human and that society has an obligation to all its members. Such a path is the key to defeating the present attacks on the disabled people and in opening up a path to progress and the creation of a society fit for all human beings.

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