WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 29, No. 16, July 10-24, 1999

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

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Article Index

Northern Ireland: Whose Agenda?

Bombing of Iraq Must Be Ended!

Communiqué of 3rd Plenum of Central Committee of RCPB(ML)
Putting the Full Weight of the Collective Behind the Work

Durham Miners Gala, 1999

North of Ireland:
Chronology of Events from July 15
Joint Declaration, 15 December 1993
Article by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP, 14 July 1999
IRA Statement on the Peace Process
Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations
Link to Report of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning

East London Workers’ Weekly Readers’ Group Holds First Meeting

From the 3rd Congress of RCPB(ML):Building the Communist Party on the New Historical Basis

Workers and Politics
The Low Paid Demand That Their Voice Be Heard!

Diary of a Health Worker - Part 2 – A Day at a Cuban Hospital

Youth & Students: Talking with a Youth in South London

Questions and reflections on NATO's new strategic concept

UN to Assess Balkans Environment Damage

President Kim Il Sung Remembered

Message from Central Committee of RCPB(ML) to Kim Jong Il on 5th Anniversary of Passing of President Kim Il Sung

Northern Ireland: Whose Agenda?

A CONFLICT OF AGENDAS is giving rise to the impasse on the progress of the peace process in the north of Ireland. What are these agendas? Whose agenda represents the way forward?

On Thursday morning, July 15, David Trimble led his Ulster Unionist Party delegation away from Stormont, refusing to attend the session of the Northern Ireland Assembly, of which he was last year elected First Minister, that was to establish the Assembly’s first Executive. Tony Blair immediately announced (unilaterally) that the Good Friday Agreement, whose implementation has been delayed time and time again, would be set aside or “parked” until the autumn. The British and Irish governments set up a review of the breakdown on July 20 under the terms of the Agreement.

The Ulster Unionists’ action was cited as being based on their refusal to sit on an Executive with Sinn Fein representatives until the decommissioning of IRA arms actually begins. There is no clause in the Good Friday Agreement, however, which requires decommissioning of paramilitary arms before its provisions can be implemented. In accepting the Ulster Unionists’ boycott, therefore, Tony Blair is in contempt of his own government’s solemn undertakings in signing the agreement (as well as ignoring the Irish government, who were co-governmental signatories). As Sinn Fein representatives were quick to point out, referring to decommissioning, there is a lot more to taking the gun out of Irish politics than the IRA surrendering its weapons. There are the Loyalist paramilitary arms, there are the thousands of private “legally held” weapons, and most importantly there is the armed presence of thousands of British troops and the sectarian and colonial RUC. As they also pointed out, “parking” the Good Friday Agreement means suspending not only the Assembly but all the other provisions too, including the setting up of north-south bodies, reform of the judiciary and police, and various measures regarding employment and other rights, as well as leaving a dangerous vacuum.

Is the Unionists’ blocking of the implementation of the Agreement part of a joint agenda worked out with the British government, or have they an agenda of their own which is frustrating Blair’s plans? Of course, both can be the case. The English bourgeoisie created Unionism and has used it over centuries to create divisions among the Irish people. This division has more often than not been used as a source of diversion in this country, to justify to the workers here why “their own” bourgeoisie should maintain the sovereign power in the north of Ireland. In such a fashion, the events over the past few days follow a pattern. The Executive of the Northern Ireland Assembly had been set up. What right then does the British government have to step in using the pretext of the exodus of the Ulster Unionists to set aside its proceedings?

The minimum that could be pointed out is that the way that Westminster has fashioned the Assembly is to attempt to institutionalise the division of the “two communities”. This very structure itself can be said to go against the “Framework Document” of 1995 which specified that new political institutions in Northern Ireland should “avoid any entrenchment of the main community division”. This, then, is supposed to give the Labour government the right to declare the proceedings null and void when one party of one of the “two communities” institutes a boycott. What should be noted is the way Westminster passes Acts, tears them up, and passes more Acts in the space of a few hours, just as it suits them. All this, of course, is said by Tony Blair and the Labour Party to be done with the best of intentions. It is all a matter of “devolution”, doing what is best for the people of Northern Ireland, working overtime with a “great sense of responsibility” to sort things out. The working class cannot get diverted by these manoeuvres, but must see them as further deepening the crisis of the credibility of the parliamentary democracy they represent. In particular, it is by virtue of the Royal Prerogative – that executive power in Northern Ireland is vested in the Crown – that the government can give itself the justification to act as it wishes with regard to the political process in the north of Ireland. In other words, it once more underlines the profoundly absolutist character of British parliamentary democracy.

The British government neither wants a state of open bloodshed in what it unjustly regards as the “province” of Northern Ireland, not does it wish to resolve the situation in the context of the sovereignty of the Irish people as a whole. The English working class, as well as all progressive people in Britain, must condemn Tony Blair for this state of affairs, carried out in defence of the status quo. They must also condemn him for using the Good Friday Agreement as a cynical manoeuvre which would be honoured only if events took the course he would wish, rather than as an agreement entered into in good faith as a step towards reuniting Ireland on terms in which the people are the decision-making power. This is no less than the Downing Street Declaration of 1993 itself recognised as the framework for progress in the north of Ireland, with the provision that it is achieved by consent. But since all parties agree not to impose their will by force, this is the recognition that this declaration contains of the right of the Irish people as a whole to self-determination. In particular, the British government affirmed in the Framework Document that it will not impede the option of a united Ireland.

The workers should draw the warranted conclusions about the nature of the parliamentary democracy which enshrines the rule of the financial oligarchy. The agenda of the working class is for modern sovereign states of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The working class calls for a free and equal union of these states, should they so desire, which will put an end to the colonialism of the English bourgeoisie once and for all.  

Article Index

Bombing of Iraq Must Be Ended!

As soon as the United States and Britain concluded their criminal war against one sovereign country they have begun to intensify their undeclared war against another. The bombing of Yugoslavia has been replaced by an escalation of the bombing of Iraq, where it is reported that 17 civilians, many of them women and children, were killed and another 17 injured in US and British bombing raids last Sunday, July 18. The following day, even while the funeral of the civilian casualties were taking place, the Defence Secretary, George Robertson blamed the Iraqi government for the deaths and injuries, by claiming that what he called “indiscriminate” anti-aircraft fire, targeted at British and US aircraft, was risking the lives of the Iraqi people on the ground. He added that the British and US aircraft will use whatever means necessary to defend themselves. Thus according to the Hitlerite logic of the imperialists, not only do they have the right to bomb a sovereign country and to establish the so-called “air exclusion zones”, they also give themselves the right to bomb the Iraqi people into submission should their government attempt to act in self-defence. In this way the British and US imperialists can step up the war while their propaganda blames the Iraqi government for the escalation of the aggression.

Image of Photo of Iraqi man with fragment of missile

Both France and Russia were quick to condemn the latest attacks. The French government used to take part in air patrols of Iraq but withdrew its planes when Britain and the US stepped up their criminal bombing raids last December. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the air strikes were a “crude violation of the fundamental norms of international law”. Since December last year there have been more than 60 days of air strikes on Iraq.

Once again the British government is declaring that “might makes right”, that it can interfere in the affairs of other countries and violate their sovereignty, that it is above the norms of international law that were established at the end of the Second World War. It wishes to promote the notion of Britain’s “civilising mission”, and give itself the right to intervene throughout the world, wherever the economic and strategic interests of the monopolies require it. This thinking must be condemned, opposed and swept aside if the danger of world war is to be averted. What must be demanded is that Britain’s undeclared war against Iraq immediately ceases and that all Britain’s armed forces are withdrawn from the region.  

Article Index

Communiqué of 3rd Plenum of Central Committee of RCPB(ML)

Putting the Full Weight of the Collective Behind the Work

THE 3rd Plenum held recently drew conclusions about the new arrangements which are necessary in the Party having summed up the initial experience of implementing the decisions of the 2nd Plenum. These conclusions can be summed up in the slogan: The Full Weight of the Collective Behind All the Work! The 2nd Plenum had drawn attention to the necessity for the various collectives of the Party to spend time elaborating the tasks of the 3rd Congress of RCPB(ML) and what is required for their implementation, so that the collective consciousness of the organisations is brought to bear. It had emphasised how crucial it is to re-establish the constant work fully in a very disciplined way on this basis. And it had underlined the significance of the continued cutting edge work of Improving the Content, Extending the Readership of Workers’ Weekly.

The 3rd Plenum deliberated on the fact that the necessities of life themselves had provided the preparation, the demands of life have given rise to the necessity to develop the method and the form. When all the work has the force of the collective behind it, and having gained the initial experience in considering and identifying the constant work on all fronts and at all levels, it had been presented very sharply that the method and form must be brought on a par with the requirements of the times. All and every matter has to be taken care of on a collective basis. Within that a consciousness of what the individual responsibilities are has also to be developed. This is all a question of paying utmost attention to building the organisations of the Party.

In line with this analysis, the 3rd Plenum took specific decisions on setting up a basic organisation in the publishing house, as well as strengthening the basic organisation in the journalistic work; at the same time it underlined the necessity for maximum political mobilisation on these fronts. It affirmed the line that all the Party activists write for the newspaper as organisers; it also affirmed the line that the Editorial Board of the newspaper conducts its work according to a plan. The Plenum decided on appropriate bodies to direct the work relating to the Party spokesperson, the Party finances and the National Office, as well as some other areas of work. Of especial importance was the decision to institute the March 19 Committee. This Committee leads the internal and external affairs of the Party when the Central Committee is not in session, and ensures that everything relating to the work of the Party is placed on the agenda so that nothing is left to chance.

In keeping with this orientation of the necessity to put the full weight of the collective behind all the work, the 3rd Plenum of the CC took the decision to hold a National Consultative Forum on Sunday, September 12. This National Consultative Forum will have the aim of ensuring that all activists and Party circles are drawn into the new tasks that have been given rise to by the 3rd Congress. It will ensure that there is a collective consciousness on what is being achieved and needs to be achieved after the initial period of assimilating the Congress decisions, identifying the constant work and putting this programme into operation. It will initiate a period where the Party puts this programme into practice as a conscious collective, and then sums it up in an appropriate way and creates the conditions for this work to advance. This can be considered as the start-up period of the work to take Britain into the 21st century on a new basis, a socialist basis. What is and will be key is sticking to the plan as set by the decisions of the 3rd Congress and creating our own history, with the orientation that implementation of this plan is the key thing.

The deliberations of the 3rd Plenum took place in the context of developments nationally and internationally which put great demands on the Party. The contradictions are sharpening throughout the world. The aim of the anti-social offensive, ideologically speaking, is to deny the objective existence of society and to eliminate even the conception of socialism. In this situation, the discussions of the 3rd Plenum underlined the historic nature of the 3rd Congress, the necessity to establish the new in the Party’s forms and methods of work, and to make this quality irreversible. The old way of organising does not meet with the requirements of the times. The new forms and methods are what are embodied by the force reflecting the level and needs of the movement of the working class and people.

The discussions of the 3rd Plenum paid particular attention to conceptualising what must be done to organise to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership of the Party newspaper in these circumstances. The struggle to transform these conceptions into motion in the material world is what will prove decisive in the coming period. The discussions focused on the building of collectives where the work is. They also dealt with the question of training as to how to rise to and accomplish what is required. There is a central plan, but this can only be grasped by the Party organisations participating in the spirit not of being asked to do something and then toeing the line, but of participating in working out its elaboration and implementation. Discussions must take place on this plan in the context of waging the class struggle.

The 3rd Plenum analysed why the work of Improving the Content, Extending the Readership requires the new arrangements, drawing on the experience of the period since the Congress. The cutting edge work with the newspaper must embody these methods and forms of organising at the new level after Congress. Certainly the question of Workers’ Weekly being a force in the communist and workers’ movement has to be taken into consideration and taken seriously. Establishing regularity of the paper is part of that. At the same time, to give the revolutionary movement the necessary theoretical edge, to give the workers the confidence in their line of march and the necessity to become political, and to combat the ideological offensive and misinformation of the bourgeoisie means that adequate coverage, background, context, reportage, analysis and political and economic exposures must be present in the Party’s newspaper. A focus must be maintained within this all-round coverage all the time. This conception is a new factor and what has come to the fore in the experience of elaborating and implementing the Party’s tasks in this period.

The Full Weight of the Collective Behind All the Work!

Improve the Content, Extend the Readership!  

Article Index

Durham Miners Gala, 1999

Durham Miners Gala Programme

ON JULY 10, well over 15,000 people took part in this year’s Durham Miners Gala. Starting at around 9.30 am, the bands and contingents from the former colliery towns and villages in Durham paraded their colliery banners through the streets of Durham. They halted briefly outside the County Hotel to play to the assembled guests of the Durham Miners Association and the crowds gathered there before marching onto the racecourse. Contingents of public service workers and other sections also paraded their union banners. At around 1.00 pm, the Big Meeting began in the centre of the racecourse with thousands gathering around the platform. Many guests were assembled on the platform. These included Labour MPs and Labour local authority leaders from the region, trade union representatives and leaders, as well as representatives of sponsoring organisations for the Gala. Also present were international guests representing the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China. Speakers addressing the meeting were Keighley MP Anne Cryer, UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe, Dennis Skinner MP and the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. The meeting lasted just over one hour.

In the Gala programme, a message from the General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association, Dave Hopper, pointed out: “The last Gala of the twentieth century takes place a few weeks after NATO stopped the bombing of Yugoslavia. Who would have thought that a Labour Government would have so readily supported Clinton’s bombing campaign with so much relish?” After pointing out that it was an illegal act of NATO to bomb Yugoslavia and that NATO had made the situation in Kosova even worse than it was before by the three months of conflict, he continued on the theme of the disillusionment with New Labour. “Who is to wonder that there is disillusionment when those in most need in our society are under attack through the proposed changed to the Welfare Benefit System, in which the right to Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance has been curtailed.” He went on to point out: “More and more we see evidence that the policies of the three major parties have moved closer together. Increasingly Labour appears to be represented by an elite clique and the name ‘New Labour’ more and more appears to mean ‘ Old Liberalism’.”

Picture of crowds marching through Durham

During the Gala, activists of RCPB(ML) in the region engaged people in discussion and distributed hundreds of leaflets with a Statement from the Regional Committee of the Party: “A Socialist Britain for the New Millennium! The Working Class and People should Take Control of What Belongs to Them!”. Also, many of the people engaged Party comrades in discussion at the Party bookstall and many copies of the latest and previous issues of Workers’ Weekly were sold.

In its Statement, the Northern Regional Committee pointed out:
“The Durham Miners Gala and Big Meeting which is taking place today is the last one before the start of the new millennium. What kind of society will the new millennium bring? For all New Labour’s talk of a ‘new and modern Britain’, all now acknowledge that this conception is one where the needs of the people are being sacrificed to the interests of big business and the financial circles. All are aware that what is being presented is the continuation of the anti-social offensive of Margaret Thatcher. Building on her privatisation of nationalised industries, New Labour was brought to power to turn back the clock on all the gains made over medievalism for the provision for public welfare. The interests of society and all individuals are being subordinated to those of the financial oligarchy and monopolies to compete in the global market.”

The statement, focusing on the North East, exposed the government’s conception of “Britain PLC”. It said: “The reality is there is a virtual war going on between one monopoly and another. New billion pound industries like Siemens and old established industries such as Vaux close overnight. Millions continue to be thrown onto the dole in a society where benefits are being increasingly cut back. This reality is one of huge economic blocs, including dominant war industries, who are lining up against each other for the sole purpose of bleeding the people dry, subjugating sovereign nations and peoples to their interest for maximum profits and paying the rich, using the most barbaric and brutal interference.”

The Statement concluded by pointing the way forward for the working class: “The working class and people should place themselves at the centre of the discussion on the programme to bring about a socialist Britain in the new millennium. They should strengthen this vision: that it is they and not the monopolies who should take the decisions on the social product; that it is they who should have first claim on it; that it is they who should manage the economy to meet the needs of the people who live and work in it. It cannot be accepted that it is the rich and their warmongering and other activities in the global market that have a prior claim. The issue is that the working class and people should take control of what belongs to them.”  

Article Index

North of Ireland:

Chronology of Events from July 15

The Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble said the unionist stance remained unchanged and that he could not take the risk of entering government with Sinn Fein without arms decommissioning. The stance was taken following a meeting of the party executive on July 14. Sinn Fein’s Mitchell McLaughlin said the tactics used by David Trimble were making the British Prime Minister look foolish. He accused David Trimble of using the same tactics within the system as those used by Rev Ian Paisley outside the structures. Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam called for meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly on July 15. The first item on the agenda was the formation of an Executive by means of the d’Hondt procedure.

Sinn Fein nominated its two Assembly members for the Executive. The party was ready to take its seats on the Executive, but insisted that the legislation rushed through Parliament was changing the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Fein insisted that under no circumstances could it be expelled or excluded from any Northern Ireland Executive. Not only did the Ulster Unionist Party not put forward any candidates for the Executive, but David Trimble and the UUP failed to attend the assembly meeting. SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon resigned as Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister following the boycott. According to Seamus Mallon, David Trimble should now participate in any further discussions as the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and not from the privileged position of First Minister Designate.

Mo Mowlam said that these events did not mean the process had failed but represented a setback. Tony Blair vowed that this was “not the end of the peace process”. He noted that nothing could be done without trust and that the lesson to be learned was that more trust needs to be developed between the parties. Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern expressed himself “deeply disappointed” that the Northern Ireland Executive will not be set up. The Democratic Unionist Party led by Ian Paisley expressed itself pleased with the day’s proceedings when it declared that it was a “good day for Northern Ireland”.

US President Bill Clinton said it was a “particularly difficult day” for him. Clinton said he believed that “sooner rather than later we’ll get this thing back on track”. He told reporters at the White House in Washington, “They are having a fight over who goes first, and acting today as if the whole thing could be abandoned over that.”

Mo Mowlam met with political leaders in Belfast the following day in an effort to find a way out of the impasse. A Sinn Fein delegation met with Bertie Ahern at the Irish Government Buildings on July 19. After the 90 minute meeting, party leader Gerry Adams said the Ulster Unionists stance on arms decommissioning made the implementation of the Northern Ireland peace agreement more difficult for everybody concerned.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern met on July 20 at Downing Street, together with US Senator George Mitchell, to discuss which way to proceed and set a deadline for renewed talks. Senator Mitchell has agreed to act as a facilitator in the review of the Northern Ireland peace process. That evening he also met with David Trimble. He also met with the remaining political leaders in Northern Ireland on July 21 to reacquaint himself with and partly discuss the review.

Following the meeting between the two government leaders at Downing Street, it was decided to “park” the peace process until September. The leaders were reported to be mindful not to set fresh deadlines for agreement, but arms decommissioning by May 2000 still stands. Speaking after the meeting, Bertie Ahern said the review of the peace process had to be “tightly focused”. He said the expectation that arms decommissioning would take place by the assigned date had not changed. There is reported to have been mixed reactions to the role Senator Mitchell is to play, with some political leaders describing it as a “damp squib”. Senator Mitchell has announced that his review of the agreement will formally start on September 6.

Sinn Fein and Ulster Unionist Party representatives engaged in separate talks with Tony Blair on July 22. It was said that a statement released by the Provisional IRA would be a focus of the talks. The statement blames the British government for the failure to establish the new assembly executive and points out that the roots of the conflict lie in British involvement in Irish affairs. It points to the commitment of the IRA to the peace process, while condemning any agenda whose context is to defeat the IRA.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said after the meeting with Tony Blair that the peace process was in real trouble and he accused the Unionists of “tearing to shreds” the Good Friday Agreement. On the IRA statement, he said, “Sinn Fein will not seek to interpret an organisation we don’t have any authority, control or responsibility for.”

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said that unless the British government played its part, “There is no prospect whatever of armed groups decommissioning by next May.” He said, “There is no singular responsibility on Sinn Fein for decommissioning,” stressing that the arms question was one for all the parties, including the British and Irish governments.  

Article Index

Joint Declaration

15 December 1993

Point 4 states (Workers’ Weekly has italicised the sentence acknowledging the right of the Irish people as a whole to self-determination):

The Prime Minister, on behalf of the British government, reaffirms that they will uphold the democratic wish of a greater number of the people of Northern Ireland on the issue of whether they prefer to support the Union or a sovereign united Ireland. On this basis, he reiterates, on behalf of the British government, that they have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland. Their primary interest is to see peace, stability and reconciliation established by agreement among all the people who inhabit the island, and they will work together with the Irish Government to achieve such an agreement, which will embrace the totality of relationships. The role of the British government will be to encourage, facilitate and enable the achievement of such agreement over a period through a process of dialogue and cooperation based on full respect for the rights and identities of both traditions in Ireland. They accept that such agreement may, as of right, take the form of agreed structures for the island as a whole, including a united Ireland achieved by peaceful means on the following basis. The British government agree that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish. They reaffirm as a binding obligation that they will, for their part, introduce the necessary legislation to give effect to this, or equally to any measure of agreement on future relationships in Ireland which the people living in Ireland may themselves freely so determine without external impediment. They believe that the people of Britain would wish, in friendship to all sides, to enable the people of Ireland to reach agreement on how they may live together in harmony and in partnership, with respect for their diverse traditions, and with full recognition of the special links and the unique relationship which exists between the peoples of Britain and Ireland.

The Taoiseach, Mr Albert Reynolds TD, and the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Major MP  

Article Index

Article by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP

14 July 1999

Sinn Fein Delegation Members

At every stage in the peace process, there have been conflicting and confusing signals from some of the participants and from the media. Most of this is unhelpful, though not always malicious. But when seeking to get across a particular view of events, no party can match the British government in resources and influence.

After the latest round of negotiations, the British have been blowing up a storm of media spin. If this had had the effect of settling the unionists, Sinn Fein could take the pain. But it is my certain view that it will not settle the unionist leadership, even if they go into the Executive. On the contrary, it will only unsettle them.

Mr Trimble clearly understands his responsibilities under the terms of the Good Friday agreement. The problem is that these conflict with his role, as he sees it, as UUP leader. It is difficult to know in the twists and turns of the situation how Mr Blair could successfully manage the unionist constituency, but allowing the UUP to open up a process of perpetual negotiation or renegotiation is not the way.

There are frenzied, intense bouts of negotiation within “absolute deadlines” which the unionists generally ignore, and then when the negotiations are finished they continue negotiating bilaterally with the British government in pursuit of more assurances. This is what is happening at the moment.

Mr Blair, for example, asserts: “I can ensure Sinn Fein aren’t in the Executive, if they default”. The impression is given that Sinn Fein can be expelled if Mr Blair’s or General de Chastelain’s version of how decommissioning can be accomplished does not succeed. But of course there can be no question of Sinn Fein being expelled or excluded while our party keeps to the terms of the agreement.

There is no need for the exclusion legislation published yesterday under the terms of the agreement. Moreover, its provisions contradict the agreement.

The role of the decommissioning commission is to “facilitate the voluntary decommissioning of firearms”. This legislation would significantly change its remit and allow it to lay down ultimatums. It is clear that decommissioning can only be a voluntary act by those in possession of arms.

The legislative change proposed in this week’s bill is a fundamental change in the ethos of the agreement. The whole thrust of this bill is to plan for failure, not success. It is a begrudger’s charter. It suggests a policy change by the British government which could, in the hands of unreconstructed unionists, become a cover for the return to the failed agenda of exclusion.

It also causes problems for the Irish government who are being asked to put through changes to their constitution, even though the basis of the referendum permitting them to do this has been changed by this British legislation.

These recent developments occurred after an exhausting week of intense negotiations, coming 14 months after the agreement. For 12 of those months, Mr Trimble has been first minister designate. He has refused to fulfil any of the responsibilities which that office entails and he has breached the agreement on a range of issues. He has blocked the establishment of the Executive.

The all-Ireland ministerial council should also have met by this stage. The British government is also in breach of the agreement, most particularly around the issue of demilitarisation. It has refused so far to publish an “overall strategy” on demilitarisation as promised in the Good Friday agreement and by British ministers since then. So the peace process is reduced in many ways to tactical manoeuvrings with little strategic overview.

Of course, Downing Street may argue that the British government has a strategy and that these assurances are aimed not at the unionist leadership but at unionist grassroots opinion. But what of republican and nationalist grassroots opinion? What of the assertion that this process is all about building trust?

Sinn Fein took an initiative in the course of the negotiations which we had carefully worked on for some time. That involved a declaration by me which was much more advanced than anything our party had said on this issue. It contained a genuine belief of how the decommissioning issue could be resolved. It was rejected by the unionists - twice.

I accept that Mr Trimble needed space to get his party policy changed on this matter. I understand his task: in order to sign on for the agreement the Sinn Fein leadership had to convince two Ard Fheiseanna to bring about a change in our constitution, requiring two thirds majority support.

Let me reiterate once again that Sinn Fein’s public position on the question of arms is also our private position. I am totally committed to doing everything in my power to maintain the peace process and to removing the guns forever from the politics of our country. But I do not accept any block whatsoever on the right of all sections of our people to enjoy full rights and entitlements. Under the terms of the agreement all of the participants have a responsibility to deal with the decommissioning issue. This includes the two governments.

I believe this British government can be different from its predecessors. I also believe that Mr Blair has a sense of responsibility and has given more time than any other British prime minister to the quest for peace between our two islands and among the people of this island. He knows that Sinn Fein’s position has been consistent and that we too want to play a full and advanced role in this quest.

But he knows also, as does the Taoiseach, that we do not represent any other organisation, that Sinn Fein is not the IRA, and that we cannot and we will not enter into any commitments on behalf of the IRA.

Throughout all of our engagements the Sinn Fein team have publicly and privately insisted that it is only through the full implementation of all elements of the agreement, and all the parties discharging our collective responsibility in regards to its terms, that the issue of arms can be finally and satisfactorily settled. This is the best guarantee that guns will never again have a role in the politics of this island.

Our negotiating team has recently been asked by other republicans what assurances were given to the governments with regard to decommissioning. We are asked by other republicans to explain why the British government is so certain that decommissioning will take place shortly after the Executive is formed. We are asked if the IRA will make a statement.

The answer to the first question is contained in the paragraph above. The answer to the second question is one which only the British government can answer. It is not contained in the agreement and Sinn Fein’s attitude to any measure is that it has to be in the terms of the agreement. The answer to the third question can only be given by the IRA.

The single most significant act of the past 30 years was the IRA cessation of August 1994. The risk for peace which the IRA took, created what has been universally recognised as the best opportunity for peace in Ireland this century. IRA guns and bombs have remained silent for almost four years.

The IRA cessation holds firm. Its decision to call a “complete cessation of military operations” was built on the work of Sinn Fein, John Hume, Albert Reynolds and Irish America. For the first time the combined efforts of these diverse groups and individuals held out the prospect of fundamental change through an evolving peace process.

The first IRA cessation lasted for 18 months and then collapsed because continuing unionist intransigence was being underpinned by a British Tory strategy which devalued the process, obstructed inclusive negotiations and blocked progress.

A new Labour British government and the continuing efforts of Sinn Fein and others, succeeded in creating the climate in which a second IRA cessation was called. That cessation was built upon the foundation stones of inclusion, dialogue, the removal of preconditions and the honouring of commitments by the British government.

There should be no doubt about Sinn Fein’s total commitment to implementing the Good Friday agreement, including resolving the impasse over decommissioning. We want all aspects of this process to work. The choice for the UUP and the British government is clear. Either the unionist veto continues or the Good Friday agreement is implemented.

This article by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP was released by Sinn Fein and represents official Sinn Fein policy  

Article Index

Image of An Phoblacht - Republican News IRA Statement on the Peace Process

Statement by the IRA published in An Phoblacht/Republican News, weekly organ of Sinn Fein, on Thursday, July 22. The statement is signed “P O’Neill”.

“The argument that the present political process can deliver real and meaningful change has been significantly undermined by the course of events over the past 15 months.
“This culminated in the failure last week to establish the political institutions set out in the Good Friday Agreement.
“The Agreement has failed to deliver tangible progress and its potential for doing so has substantially diminished in recent months.
“The credibility and motivation of unionist leaders who signed up to the agreement is now clearly open to question.
“They have repeatedly reneged on the commitment they made in signing the agreement and successfully blocked the implementation of its institutional aspects.
“It is clearly their intention to continue their obstructionist tactics indefinitely.
“There is irrefutable evidence that the unionist political leadership remain at this time opposed to a democratic peaceful settlement.
“Recent events at Stormont cannot obscure the fact that the primary responsibility for the developing political crisis rests squarely with the British Government.
“They have once again demonstrated a lack of political will to confront the unionist veto.
“Over the past five years we have called and maintained two prolonged cessations of military operations to enhance the peace process and underline our definitive commitment to its success.
“We have contributed in a meaningful way to the creation of a climate which would facilitate the search for a durable settlement.
“The first of these cessations foundered on the demand by the Conservative Government for an IRA surrender.
“Those who demand the decommissioning of IRA weapons lend themselves in the current context inadvertently or otherwise to the failed agenda which seeks the defeat of the IRA.
“The British Government has the power to change the context and should do so.
“It remains our view that the roots of conflict in our country lie in British involvement in Irish affairs.
“Responsibility for repairing the damage to the argument that the current political process can deliver real change rests primarily with the British Government.”  

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For Your Reference 

Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations


The following is the relevant paragraph in the Good Friday Agreement on what the participants agreed to on decommissioning and its time-scale.

3. All participants accordingly reaffirm their commitment to the total disarmament of all paramilitary organisations. They also confirm their intention to continue to work constructively and in good faith with the Independent Commission, and to use any influence they may have, to achieve the decommissioning of all paramilitary arms within two years following endorsement in referendums North and South of the agreement and in the context of the implementation of the overall settlement.  

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East London Workers’ Weekly Readers’ Group Holds First Meeting

AS WAS REPORTED IN Workers’ Weekly, the East London Branch of RCPB(ML) decided to begin regular meetings for all readers of the paper in the local area. The first meeting of the readers’ group was held recently and now plans to meet on a monthly basis.

The members of the readers’ group decided that they should set their own agenda for the meetings. After some discussion it was decided that everyone should give their views on the form as well as the political content of the paper. There were many different views presented. One reader remarked that the paper had developed a very clear political coherence over recent years and provided a very comprehensive coverage of the main political issues. It was also felt that the technical quality of the paper is improving and this was particularly noticeable in the quality of the photographs. The coverage of demonstrations and other protest actions of the people was also seen as a very positive feature, giving a sense of the struggles that are developing throughout society. There was much discussion on the usefulness of the reference and information material that has recently appeared in the paper. Differing views were expressed, but generally this was felt to be a very positive development, allowing the workers and other sections of the people access to material so that they can form their own opinions and make their own judgements.

There then followed a lengthy discussion on NATO’s criminal war of aggression against Yugoslavia and the way in which Workers’ Weekly had presented and analysed Britain’s role in the war as well as the wider significance of the conflict in the context of the global contention between the big powers. There was some discussion on the need for more articles explaining the basic nature of imperialism and why it remains the main source of war, as well as other articles which could present theoretical issues in an accessible form for workers, youth and other sections of the people.

The meeting concluded with some discussion about how members of the group could make written contributions to Workers’ Weekly and how they could disseminate the paper more widely, particularly amongst their friends and work mates. What is important is that workers, youth and all those who are concerned about the future, see the importance of building a paper that can provide them with a voice, and as a means to organise others, so that it is the workers and people who take centre stage. For those who are not used to submitting articles for Workers’ Weekly writing might appear a daunting prospect, but the readers’ group agreed that it must begin to grapple with this problem. It was suggested that one way forward was by contributing letters to Workers’ Weekly which begin to share our experiences, concerns and struggles and those of our colleagues and friends.  

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From the 3rd Congress of RCPB(ML)

3rd Congress logo

Building the Communist Party on the New Historical Basis

(Continued from the previous issue of Workers’ Weekly, Vol.29, No.15)
IN DEALING WITH THIS QUESTION, the Congress pointed out that in this period there is very big pressure for people to say that the movement is everything, that getting involved with and intervening in the movement is the main thing, whereas the Party’s work comes nowhere. Our Party, however, is constituted on the basis of the analysis that the objective conditions are over-ripe for revolution but the subjective conditions lag behind. Our entire raison d’être, therefore, is to prepare these subjective conditions for revolution. For this reason, it is essential for our very life to go profoundly into the question of the modern definition of a communist party.

In the course of the deliberations, it was pointed out that in the twentieth century there has been a great deal of experience. There has been not only the victory of revolution first in socialist Russia, and the creation of the Soviet Union, but people’s democracies were established. The communist and workers’ movement has been in existence from the time of Marx. However, in the 1960s, when the Internationalists were founded, the situation was that, more than one decade after the second world war had ended, with communist parties in many countries, including Britain, revolution was not taking place. Not to address the question of why this was so was not to take a serious attitude.

Let us go back to Marx’s time, and trace through the question of the party of the working class, the communist party, as the issue was discussed at Congress. Marx said that the issue is not to interpret the world, the issue is to change it. Marx and Engels issued the Communist Manifesto in answer to the spectre of communism which the bourgeoisie had evoked. It is important to realise that the “spectre of communism” means precisely the bourgeoisie’s rendition of communism, a phantasm of the brain. One of the big problems that the communist and workers’ movement faces is that what is generally understood by communism is what the bourgeoisie promotes as communism. Marx and Engels, who settled scores with the conscience of their time, with French socialism and other trends, said that it is high time that the spectre of communism is answered with a manifesto of our own, the Manifesto of the Communist Party.

Marx analysed that the bourgeoisie has given rise to its own gravedigger, the proletariat. It is the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and proletariat that is the basis of motion, development and change in society. The Chartist movement was the expression of the working class movement at that time. At that time, only the citizens, the men of property, were eligible to vote, and the struggle for universal suffrage took place. If the bourgeoisie had not perfected the party system, then under a democracy the working class could have been elected to power. However, the bourgeoisie established their conception of a political party as an electoral machine, and established the system of representative democracy as one which brings political parties to power or keeps them in power. Political parties in this system are instruments to de-politicise the masses. And the essence of this political system is to keep the working class out of power. When the role of a political force in this society is assessed, then it must be assessed in relation to the class struggle. That is to say, whether it is struggling to bring the working class into power so that it can vest sovereignty in the people, or whether its contribution is to de-politicise the people, keep them marginalised, keep them out of power. In other words, the key thing about the role of a political party under modern definitions is whether it is facilitating the working class to occupy that space for change, the space to empower itself, or not.

After the time of Marx, the role of a political party was still conceived of as that of coming to power through elections. When the working class created its own party, the Labour Party, it represented the interests of labour, just as at that time the working class was organising itself in defence organisations, defence organisations of the interests of the working class. At that time, the issue presented itself as a contest between parties of different kinds with the Conservatives representing very definite property interests and the Liberals representing very definite commercial interests. But by the time capitalism changed into monopoly capitalism, the whole system had been perfected of keeping the working class out of power. Then it was once again necessary to address the question of the nature of a political party.

This is the time that Lenin came forward to analyse that it was necessary to create a party of a new type, the Leninist party. Our Party is a Leninist party in that its conditions for membership are based on agreeing with the general line of the Party, paying dues and working in a Party organisation. The fight that took place at the time of Lenin on the rules of party membership was between those who wanted just to agree with the general line and those who upheld that membership must entail working in a party organisation. This is when it was hammered out that the communist party must be organised on the basis of cells. If the issue is left there, the question arises, if there exist communist parties where everyone who belongs to the party is working in a party cell, why is revolution not occurring? Why aren’t the subjective conditions being prepared?

The problem taken up for solution is precisely that of the relationship between form and content. There is the issue that you cannot be in good standing unless you agree with the general line, you pay dues and you work in a party organisation. However, this is not enough. The key element, according to our modern definitions, is that the basic organisation has to be an instrument of class struggle. In other words, its members have to be political. Being political means waging the class struggle in favour of your class. This is a matter of very tough decisions of how to occupy this space and how to bring the class with you, how to create the social forms, how to imbue the movement with theory. The key question about democratic centralism is that it is based on the line. There cannot be organisations devoid of dealing with the line, not waging the ideological struggle. Therefore, when our Party gives the formulation that the issue is to raise the level of consciousness and organisation, based on our theory that an individual cannot have understanding without conscious participation, this means that there cannot be organisations except those of people who participate in elaborating the programme. It is impossible to build basic organisations in any other way.

Social form comes as a vision is provided, as the ideological struggle is waged, as the movement is imbued with its line. Therefore, it is necessary to consider which social forms facilitate the workers occupying this space for change, facilitate ending the political passivity of the working class. It is our responsibility to end the passivity of the working class.

How is an organisation going to occupy the space for change, set its line of march? What is important are the collective decisions that are made in practice. If organisations are instruments of class struggle and are waging the class struggle, then sometimes very hard decisions have to be made. But this is what is going to end the passivity, this is what is going to break the de-politicisation of the working class.

If the movement is everything and the plan is nothing, then you can fight in the movement and it is not going to make any difference, because what is needed is sticking to the plan and then taking those initiatives. Courageous basic organisations are needed that are going to analyse, that do not exist in order to master the “correct line”. The line is there as a guide. As a Party, we base ourselves on the most advanced theory, the most advanced experience. But when all is said and done, theory is the summation of the actual experience of the workers’ and communist movement. The comrades who are actually waging the class struggle in practice are the ones who not only know what is going on but can determine what can be done to advance the struggle. Of course, as all the comrades who are in the working class movement and others know, this is very, very tough.

To sort out of the relationship between form and content, and the dialectical relation between the two, is to defend form once the content has been decided. It is by defending that form, that democratic centralism, the implementation of the decisions, the representing and not misrepresenting, that defends the content. This is what becomes decisive. If any concession is made on the question of iron discipline then nothing will be accomplished. This is why fights take place on this question, and this is why these fights are life and death issues. This is why our Party is so enthusiastic about these fights and sorting out these problems.

When that quality is given birth to, the quality of the new historical basis, the quality of the modern communist party, of settling scores with the old philosophic conscience, this is the quality that you have your organisation and you defend it like the apple of your eye. It is then the Party will be able to turn that quality into quantity. This is why the 3rd Congress of RCPB(ML) is historic, because it is based on, it has given rise to, this quality of the new historical basis that is decisive for preparing the subjective conditions for revolution, for preparing for the coming revolutionary storms.

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———Workers and Politics ———

This is the column of Workers' Weekly on the conditions of the workers and on the agenda the workers themselves are setting to overcome their marginalisation and to take up politics. We encourage all our readers to contribute to the politicisation of the workers and write for this column

Unskilled and Semi-Skilled Workers:


A West Midlands correspondent for Workers’ Weekly recently interviewed a low paid worker in a Black Country engineering firm.

Question: Where do you work and what do you produce?
Answer: I work in Sandwell, West Midlands. I’m a maintenance toolmaker. The firm I work for produces coat-hangers, plastic plant pots, drinking glasses for airlines and other products that can be made on plastic injection moulding machines. We supply international companies.

Q:Do you know anything about the history or status of the company?
A: Yes. The company moved from very old buildings in Smethwick, Birmingham. They were given a rent-free package and grants from the EC. The company has grown and occupies a new building. A new process has been installed costing £1.5m and a further £1m to commission. The new process is called “Rotary Thermic Moulding”.

Q: What is the make up of the workforce?
A: There are 150 production workers (mainly of Asian origin), ten office workers and five maintenance workers.

Q: What is the average pay of the workers?
A: There are many of the unskilled and semi-skilled workers on £3.75p per hour but we know that there are some workers on as little as £1.95p per hour, which is well below the national minimum wage.

Q: Why do you think that this is the case?
A: The company is not known as a good payer. It is only recently that wages were increased in many areas to the minimum wage level. The place is non-unionised: some workers have not been in a position to exercise their rights.

Q: Can you tell us about some of the working conditions which reflect the lack of rights as workers?
A: Yes. The place runs a compulsory 5 by 12-hour shift pattern from 7am until 7 pm making a basic 60-hour working week for dayshift. The maintenance workers work 40 hours plus a 3 hours overtime in midweek and sometimes a Saturday morning. The overtime is compulsory on demand with no notice given. There are some early morning and late afternoon shifts, which are mainly made up of women.

Q: If the workers have no union do they have any voice in the factory?
A: No. There is a vaguely organised Works Committee. It is a management committee which only allows workers of its choice to sit on it. No one knows when it meets or what it talks about. It is supposed to negotiate wages.

Q: How are wage issues resolved?
A: Workers are simply told what the wage rise is, there is no discussion.

Q: What about safety?
A: There is no safety committee. Company safety “specialists” are employed.

Q: Has the safety inspector ever been on site?
A: Yes. The safety inspector came on site approximately three to four months ago. A manager’s son, who was only 10 years old, operated a crane that had not been specified! A worker reported it to the inspectorate.

Q: What is the general safety like?
A: Not very good. Safety limit switches are taped down on machines to speed up operation. Injection moulders are extremely dangerous, the hydraulic power is very powerful and can crush limbs easily.

Q: If you were to talk about the kind of things workers would raise what would they be?
A: There are issues which workers are putting forward regardless of the set up in the factory. There is talk on the shop floor of demanding a 21% wage increase. The workers have shown that they will not put up with the poor safety on the plant and many stand up for their rights in front of management these days. Workers are demanding better facilities like decent sanitation in the toilets. We should be able to have a pension scheme paid into by the company. There is no works canteen on site or place to make a cup of tea, only vending machines. Many of the worst conditions are given to Asian women who are trebly oppressed as workers, women and the fact that they are national minorities.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: Yes, low paid workers are fed up of being marginalised. Workers here are treated as second class citizens and are told off for breaking petty company rules. The general feeling is that we are sick of the poor treatment. The fact is that we are not asked our opinions, we have no say! This has got to change because morale is kept permanently low and that is why there is high turnover of the workforce. I would like to add that the workers in my factory are open to plenty of political discussion and most issues of society are aired. During the Balkan war many workers openly gave their opinions and many were clearly against what Tony Blair was up to.

Q: Well thank you for the interview, will it be possible to follow up the situation at your factory at a later date?
A: Sure, anytime! Thanks for asking.  

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---------- Diary of a Health Worker ----------

----------- on Her First Visit to Cuba -------------

Part 2 – A Day at a Cuban Hospital

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(Part 1 – What A Day! – appeared in the previous issue of Workers’ Weekly, Vol.29, No.15)
AT THE HOTEL they have many workers so they work in a very relaxed manner and keep it clean and tidy and are very warm to visitors. It was interesting how the manager approached two children who were playing ball in an area they were not supposed to. He explained carefully to them, pointing out where they should be playing and then joined in their game for a short time.

George and Saida arrived to take us to the Ambrosia Grillo Hospital, we saw many horses and horse and carts being used as transport and children going to school. The hospital was set in the most beautiful place but it was a very old and dilapidated building that clearly needs work on it. They particularly have a problem with lifts so they have to use a ramp. Like our hospital it began life as a tuberculosis hospital.

We had a welcome from the Director, the Medical Director and the Director of Nursing and the Branch Secretary of the Young Communist Union in the hospital who was 26 years old and a nurse. The Director told us a little about the hospital and we met some other staff. I told them about the problems we faced, the bed shortages and they explained that until ten years ago they too had problems with pressure on beds and then under guidance from Fidel the family doctor programme was put in place. This was together with the polyclinics to which about 30 family doctors were attached and where there are a few beds for observation and minor investigation. Now occupancy is about 70% but there have been no cutbacks in beds or nurses. We talked for a while and then left the office, which had a big recent photo of Fidel.

We then met with the Branch Secretary of the hospital branch of the party who was a doctor. We then began our tour. The Director pointed out an area they had set aside for an intensive care unit but because of the special period they had not been able to get the equipment needed and so the area was still empty. He took us to the area that is now used as an intensive care unit. They have six beds and one woman was on a ventilator. He explained that they did many heroic things here after major surgery, things that you would think wouldn’t be possible here. He confided in me that he worried that he might die before he saw the proper intensive care unit set up.

We then went to a five-bedded ward where they treated acute strokes. There was no monitoring equipment but there were a lot of nurses. The whole hospital was alive with many people everywhere but nobody appeared to be rushing about other than nurses and doctors working closely together laughing and talking. We passed many different sorts of laboratories and then went out into the rehabilitation area, which was a newer building containing four-bedded units, 20 male and 20 female. They are a regional centre for rehabilitation. We met a patient who had an accident and lost the use of all her limbs and was now able to walk after treatment here. The average stay was 60 to 68 days and sometimes patients returned for another period. In the community, care was taken over by the family doctor and nursing team and the polyclinic. The team on this unit was truly multi-disciplinary and they also rehabilitated patients with strokes. They have quite a lot of equipment, some amazing multi-use machines built by science students according to the wishes and needs of the rehabilitation team.

We then started back to the boardroom to talk about the objectives of twinning. On the way over I talked with the party secretary about the role of the party in the hospital. There are a number of party units who discuss and analyse the problems they face trying to solve things and put into practice the line of the party. The cell is crucial to implementing this. He said that he is not a professional party man and has his work as a doctor but had been elected to his role and the elections take place every three years. We discussed how democratic the running of the hospital was. The Director had left us to go to a meeting of all of the workers who could be spared to discuss the forthcoming wage rise. This sort of meeting was all very common and all had a say. I asked about how delegates were elected to the Party Congress. He said that representatives were elected from each workplace and they also encourage people who are non-party to participate in the discussion at Congress.

At the meeting in the boardroom was Saida, George, the Branch Secretaries of the party branch and the Young Communist Union and the director of nursing and the head surgeon who had taken over from the Director on the tour.

I explained that the twinning was important for us and had created much interest. I said that in my position I could not guarantee what material things we could send because our hospital and health services was not run in such a democratic way but I hoped that many of the things we were sending across in the ship would come to the hospital. (The ship refers to the Salud Project, a shipload of health care and other material support being organised by trade unions from Britain). During the meeting they provided us with food and the branch secretary of the party took notes. We agreed to exchange experiences and knowledge as well. We then all had a photograph with the union banner and Saida giving me the twinning documents signed by the Director, the Branch Secretaries of the union, party and the Young Communist Union. The twinning document set out objectives to improve the health care to the surrounding population of our two hospitals and sent revolutionary greetings to the directors of my hospital in England!

As we stood at the imposing entrance to the hospital, I enquired about the person whom the Ambrosia Grillo Hospital had been named after. We were informed, that he was a doctor in last century who had worked with the poor, giving his services free and building a hospital for the people. He was much loved by the people of Santiago. He was forced to leave for Brazil for a time, but returned to fight in the liberation war. I pointed out that I thought that it was certainly better to have such a person to name a hospital after than to name a hospital after Queen Elizabeth, or Victoria, etc.!

We then said warm goodbyes, particularly the youth member of our delegation and the Branch Secretary of the Young Communists who exchanged addresses after exchanging ideas! We were sad at only being able to spend a short time at the hospital but buoyed by what we had seen and experienced. We were driven back into Santiago, to the health workers’ hotel. This hotel is for health workers who use it for holidays and coming to visit or work in the region. Here we were once again warmly welcomed by the regional delegates who were staying at the hotel, preparing for their Congress, and some more photos were taken. We had more discussion whilst we waited for lunch with Rosa Lydia, Saida and George. Rosa became particularly animated when we discussed the question of sovereignty and how important this question is for the world’s people, particularly at this time. Obviously, for the Cubans, this is a question always uppermost in their minds and actions as the slogan for the Congress, “In Defence of My Country”, shows. We were then given a lovely meal, and talked about our families showing photos. I also showed them photos of a recent national demonstration in our area, to demand a living wage, in which many youth had participated.

After a long meal we were taken back to the hotel where we were staying. The rest of the evening we spent by the hotel pool talking with Cubans staying at the hotel and listening to the sound of music and laughter drifting up from the town below.
The diary will conclude with the experience of May Day in Cuba.

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Youth & Students

Talking with a Youth in South London

In June, we talked to Christopher, a youth from South London. He said he is fifteen years old and has already been trying to earn extra money in between sitting for his GCSE exams by doing casual work.

In a discussion concerning rights and conditions for the workers he said that, if they could, those in power would get workers to work for nothing. “I think if it comes to the worst job, they should make their pay quite high,” he said. He then went on to talk about the conditions at school from his perspective. He said that at school the best and most successful youth are selected out but that “those children who are not so good” are just left to fend for themselves. He said, “They just don’t care for us. It seems unfair. How long can this go on for?”

Is this your experience? Let us know at the Youth and Students Page.

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Questions and reflections on NATO’s new strategic concept

Speech given by Fidel Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, at the first working session of the Summit of Heads of State and Government from Latin American and the Caribbean and European Union, in the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 28, 1999

(Translation of the transcript of the Council of State)

THERE is one political question of extreme importance that cannot be overlooked in the context of NATO’s new strategic concept. I shall cite four paragraphs.
One: With the objective of promoting peace and stability in Europe and in a broader context, the European allies are raising their capacity for action, including an increase in their military forces.
Two: The security of the Alliance continues to be subject to a wide variety of military risks. These risks are derived from uncertainty and instability in the Euro-Atlantic region and its outlying areas, and the possibility of regional crises on the periphery of the Alliance.
Three: It will have an increased number of elements of force on the levels of adequate preparation to effect prolonged operations, either within or outside of Alliance territory.
Four: It is more probable that potential threats to Alliance security will emanate from regional or ethnic conflicts, or other crises outside of Alliance territory, as well as from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their vectors.

I wish to put forward three extremely brief reflections and questions.
One: We should like a clarification, if possible, about whether or not the Latin American and Caribbean countries are included within the Euro-Atlantic periphery defined by NATO.
Two: After much discussion, the European Union has given its support to a declaration from this summit, which states that this strategic association is founded on full respect for international law and the objectives and principles contained in the UN Charter, the principles of non-intervention, of respect for sovereignty, equality among states and self-determination. Does this mean that the United States is also committing itself to respect the principles contained in this agreement of its allies? What would be Europe’s attitude if the United States should decide on its own and using any pretext, to start launching bombs and missiles against any of the Latin American or Caribbean countries meeting here?
Three: Everybody knows that, for example, Israel possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons manufactured with certain Western aid, about which an unusual and hermetic silence has been maintained.
Could this signify that, based on point number four of the document I was reading from, by virtue of a clandestine proliferation not only of those weapons of mass destruction but their mass production, that NATO, on any given day, could proceed to drop thousands of bombs on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, other Israeli and Palestinian cities, destroying electrical systems, factories, highways and all the essential means of survival of those peoples, directly killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians and threatening the existence of the remainder of the population? Would this be a civilized solution to such problems? Could one be assured that this would not lead to a nuclear war? Where might the new and untenable NATO doctrine lead us?
Having expressed just a minimal idea related to this delicate theme, I have nothing further to say. I beg your pardon.
Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE)  

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UN to Assess Balkans Environment Damage

According to news report, three teams of international experts invited by the United Nations arrived in Belgrade and Pristina on July 18 to investigate the effects of the US-led aggression against Yugoslavia. They are working for the Balkans Task Force, a joint initiative of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat). Task force chairman, Pekka Haavisto, a former environment minister of Finland, is leading the teams. He said, “There has been a lot of speculation, from various sources, about the actual impact on the Balkans environment as a result of the conflict. This, the first independent UN-led assessment, will provide the international community with a neutral and scientifically credible report on the situation.” The teams’ preliminary report is expected in September.

One of the three groups, to be based in Pristina, will work on creating mechanisms for registering title to land, and on resolving tenancy and property disputes. The other two groups will make an environmental assessment of the worst damaged industrial sites, mainly in Serbia. They plan to visit the Pancevo and Rakovica industrial complexes, the Novi Sad oil refinery, and the Baric chemical plant. Fishing has been banned at Pancevo, 15 kilometres from Belgrade. One woman said gynaecologists were advising pregnant women to seek abortions, for fear of bearing deformed infants. Other local people say they do not know what is safe to eat, because of the pollution emitted by the complex. The teams’ itinerary also includes the Zastava car factory at Kragujevac, and oil depots in Kraljevo, Nis and Pristina. The teams, who will be accompanied by mobile laboratories, may also visit other sites. They expect to finish their fieldwork by July 28.

The task force plans to send further missions in August to assess the impact of the war on the river Danube, the region’s biological diversity, and on human health. The task force was set up in May by the head of UNEP, Dr Klaus Toepfer, to look at the effects of the aggression in Serbia and Kosova, and at its wider regional consequences.  

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President Kim Il Sung Remembered

Memorial in Pyongyang

A reception was organised in London on Saturday, July 3, by the Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign (KFSC) to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the passing of the late President Kim Il Sung of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It is a mark how profoundly the Korean people respect the leadership qualities and the inestimable contributions he made to the independence of the Korean nation that last year the Supreme People’s Assembly bestowed on him the title of President in perpetuity.

Guests of honour at the reception were members of the permanent delegation of the DPRK to the International Maritime Organisation in London, headed by Pak Jong Il. Friends of Korea at the reception included Andy Brooks of NCP, Chris Coleman of RCPB(ML) and London Labour Councillor Mushtaq Lasharie.

KFSC Secretary Lila Patel welcomed the participants and pointed out the importance of observing this solemn occasion as a mark of respect for the late President and of solidarity and friendship with the Korean people.

The Chair of KFSC Keith Bennett then spoke of the continuing significance of the leadership of Kim Il Sung in a situation where the imperialist forces are now spearheading their attack to the Korean peninsula. He outlined the urgent tasks in Korean friendship and solidarity work at this juncture. He spoke of how President Kim Il Sung had not only shouldered the enormous responsibility of leading the complex and difficult Korean revolution but had also from the standpoint of complete support and solidarity been concerned to provide profound, detailed and wide-ranging guidance to revolutionary forces throughout the world.

Following the playing of The Song of Kim Il Sung and three minute’s silence, a video film of the celebration of Kim Il Sung’s 80th birthday was shown. A message of condolence and solidarity to the great leader Kim Jong Il who is carrying on President Kim Il Sung’s cause, was adopted.  

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Message from Central Committee of RCPB(ML) to Kim Jong Il on 5th Anniversary of Passing of President Kim Il Sung

July 3, 1999 (Juche 88)

Kim Jong Il
General Secretary Workers’ Party of Korea

Dear Comrade Kim Jong Il,

On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the passing away of the great leader, the late President Kim Il Sung, we send to you our most sincere and heartfelt good wishes.

It was the great leader, Comrade Kim Il Sung, who led the heroic Korean people to national liberation and in defending the independence of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in building socialism and in the sacred struggle for the reunification of the homeland. It is to the great credit of the Korean people and their Party, and to your wise leadership, that since his sad and unexpected passing and faced with great difficulties they have continued without wavering along the path laid down by him, illuminated and guided by the Juche ideas formulated by the great leader.

We are very mindful that these are very dangerous times for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Armed provocations by the US imperialists and their south Korean puppets have increased in recent weeks, particularly on the high seas. And we are very aware that having cast aside all international norms of territorial integrity and sovereignty in the bombing and military occupation of Serbia, the US imperialists and their partners, including Britain, are turning their eyes and their ships towards People’s Korea. Your resolute refusal to bow the knee to such pressure and provocations is a great inspiration to all the peoples of the world struggling to resist the attempts of the US imperialists and other powers to impose on them their free market economy, political pluralism and “human rights” based on private property.

On this occasion, as ever, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the common struggle of all progressive humanity, and for socialism.
With warmest fraternal regards,

Chris Coleman
On behalf of Central Committee  

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