WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 29, No. 2, January 23, 1999

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

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

Article Index

“NHS in Crisis”: Organise to Safeguard the Future of the NHS!

The Party and its Work: Preparing for the Third Congress

The Merger of BAe and Marconi Electronic Systems

Opinion - Careful Consideration on the Issues of Fascist Pinochet’s Extradition Is Required

Struggle Continues to Save the K&C


Birmingham Branch Welcomes the Third Congress Announcement

East London Branch Enthusiastically Prepares for the Third Congress

Response from the Northern Regional Committee on the Significance of the Third Congress

Britain is Block to Progress in North of Ireland

March to Commemorate the Bloody Sunday Massacre

News in Brief: Service Sector Malaise

The Most Extraordinary Page of Glory, and of Patriotic and Revolutionary Determination Has Been Written during these Years of the Special Period

Clinton Affirms Decision to Maintain the Blockade

Top UN Official to Address London Meeting on “Immoral and Illegal” Policy of US and Britain on Iraq


Deeper Interference of Britain in Sierra Leone

Dangerous Interference in Kosova

Message from RCPB(ML) Delegation

Demonstrations Planned against Euro Summit


“NHS in Crisis”: Organise to Safeguard the Future of the NHS!

A SOCIETY in which the health care of each member of society, without exception, is recognised as a right and is guaranteed is the cherished wish of the vast majority of people.

Yet such an aspiration is precisely what is under attack as the government is seen to be pushing ahead with intensifying the anti-social offensive against the NHS and other vital social programmes. What does Frank Dobson’s admission that the NHS is in crisis mean? Health care is guaranteed, unless you are elderly, unless you don’t have the means to pay for treatment, unless you don’t have private medical insurance, unless you have flu, unless the services in your local area have been cut or down-graded, unless your treatment is rationed. In other words, health care is not guaranteed at all. It may be a policy objective, if one day sufficient funds might be available.

But increasingly, such health care provision to meet the people’s needs as of right is not even put forward as a policy. It became a policy objective just to try and reduce waiting lists. Then along comes a “bed crisis” and it becomes a policy objective to overcome this “bed crisis”.

Meanwhile, the reality is that hospitals are being cut and downgraded, to be replaced with private hospitals or hospitals refashioned with PFI-type contracts resulting in 30% less beds.

Actually, the Health Secretary’s admission that the NHS is in crisis means even more than this. For one thing, it reveals how deep the crisis actually is. Measures which were initiated under the previous government are being pushed forward by the present one. These are measures of making essential public services available to the private sector as a source of profit making through PFI or PPP (Private-Public Partnership). This is what is proving so disastrous. More than that. The admission that the crisis is so bad, that services are failing, that there are bed and staff shortages, is being used by the government to try and convince public opinion that their “radical” and “modernising” agenda of steering the NHS further down the road of privatisation is the only path, and that it is futile to resist such changes which are here to stay. In this context, the reality that everyone can see and is protesting about, that through the government’s agenda beds are being reduced, may be seen in a different light. In other words, this very bed shortage is facilitating the government’s argument that private companies (and hence the banks, the money-lenders) have to fund (and hence reap profits from) construction and services in the NHS, since the government itself, the argument goes, patently does not otherwise have the funds so to do.

The conclusion must be that the working class and people should put forward a pro-social programme to articulate and defend their rights and to increase spending in health, as well as other social programmes such as education. The elements in such a programme flow from an analysis of the objective situation, as well as considerations that every human being in society has such rights as that of health care at the highest level without discrimination, and that society should be organised so as to meet those claims on it. For example, there would be no problem of funding for public services if a moratorium on debt servicing was declared. As it is, the rich have, as it were, two bites on the cherry – one directly from the interest payments on government debt, and one from the profit-making from social programmes. Furthermore, if mechanisms were in place to empower the people to make the decisions on running the economy, the health service and other programmes, how could it be otherwise than that they would opt to build such hospitals and schools as were necessary, adequately fund them, and provide the necessary jobs and training to build, staff and service them. If human needs were at the centre of all considerations, nothing could be more important.

Workers’ Weekly therefore calls on health workers and professionals, as well as all people in the community concerned with the growing crisis in the health service, to organise to defend and safeguard the future of the NHS. We call on them, in common with all those fighting the cuts and concerned about the anti-social offensive throughout the country, to take a stand against this offensive on the health service and other social programmes. The surest guarantee of safeguarding the future of the NHS is for the working class and other sections of the people to fight for and elaborate a pro-social programme, one that is summed up in the fighting call to Stop Paying the Rich – Increase Investments in Social Programmes! In such a programme, the struggle for a national health service which recognises and guarantees in practice the right of each and every member of society to health care at the highest level is an integral and vital part.

Organise to Safeguard the Future of the NHS!

Article Index


Preparing for the Third Congress

THE ORGANISATIONS OF THE PARTY, as 1999 gets under way and the Third Congress of RCPB(ML) on March 19-21 approaches, have taken up the work to prepare to make the Third Congress a profound success and a historic landmark in the life of the Party and of the working class and people of Britain. They have done so according to the orientation set by the Central Committee arising out of the recommendations of the two National Consultative Conferences of 1998. They are grasping that the content of the work of RCPB(ML) in these weeks before the Congress is in a very profound way to bring the work of preparation for the Congress to fruition in the Congress itself.

The work to establish credentials for attending the Congress is taking top priority, in conjunction with the actual preparatory work. In accordance with our Party’s definition that basic organisations are the mainstay of the Party and organs of class struggle at their level, providing the organic link between the Party and the masses in their work to implement the line of the Party, the basic organisations are shouldering the responsibility of establishing the appropriate credentials. First and foremost, they will have to establish that they themselves, the basic organisations, are in good standing. They will have to establish that they have taken up their work in the context of implementing the Party’s tasks in a conscious and organised manner. In particular, they will assess these criteria in relation to the Party’s tasks in preparing for the Congress, initiated at the National Consultative Conference on July 18-19, 1998, and as further concretised in the resolutions of the National Consultative Conference of November 28-29, 1998. This being the case, the credentials of the activists in relation to this work fall into place. The basic organisations will also invite the supporters and sympathisers of the Party to participate in the preparatory work at their level, and, in consultation with the supporters and sympathisers themselves, assess their credentials on this basis. Finally, the basic organisations, on the basis of links and ties already established, will invite those people from the working class and other strata who are active in the various movements against capitalist exploitation and the anti-social offensive to attend the Congress as observers, at which they may be invited, as appropriate, to give their views and speak from their experience.

As an integral part of the preparatory work for the Third Congress, the basic organisations are taking up the study and discussion of the documents of the November 1998 National Consultative Conference, whose deliberations took place in the context of considering the themes and agenda of the Congress. The aim of this study and discussion is three-fold. Firstly, through this means, the activists will raise their level of preparedness to participate in the Congress on a fully conscious basis. Secondly, they will contribute to the elaboration and strengthening of the material which will form the basis for the deliberations of the Third Congress. Thirdly, through their discussions on the documents, the activists will begin their conscious participation in setting the agenda for the Congress.

Furthermore, as the 1998 National Consultative Conferences drew attention to, the issue of the criteria for a modern communist party, a communist party based on modern definitions, and for building the foundations for a mass communist party on this basis, is an issue which must find its place on the agenda of the Congress. To this end, the Party organisations have taken up the group study of definite relevant material, chief of which is the Necessity for Change document by Hardial Bains, together with the author’s preface for the 1998 edition. This study is also appropriate for the Party circles.

Finally, the preparatory work for the Congress would be seriously undermined and negated if the on-going, constant work of the Party were not carried out. Indeed, the preparatory work even presupposes that this on-going, constant work be stepped up and made more conscious.

As part of this work to prepare to make the Third Congress of RCPB(ML) a profound success, Workers’ Weekly will continue to report on and elaborate this work.

Anyone who wishes to apply for credentials to attend the Congress should get in touch with their Party contact in their area, or write to the Central Committee of RCPB(ML) at 170 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LA, telephone 0171-627 0599, fax 0171-498 5407 or e-mail

Article Index


The Merger of BAe and Marconi Electronic Systems

BRITISH AEROSPACE (BAe) has announced that it is to buy Marconi Electronic Systems, the defence division of the General Electric Company (GEC), for £6.9bn. The merger will create Britain’s biggest manufacturing company with 99,500 employees and the world’s third largest weapons maker by sales after Boeing and Lockheed Martin in the USA. Previously, BAe was being urged by the government to merge with the German company Dasa as a first stage of the drive to see BAe at the heart of a new European aerospace and weapons monopoly. But GEC had its plans so as to place itself in a favourable position in any new European monopoly and by putting Marconi up for sale to other EU and US weapons monopolies they forced BAe’s hand. As a result a deal was worked out between these former rival UK weapons manufactures so that 63.3% of BAe’s shareholders and 36.7% of GEC shareholders own the new merged company. At the same time, it is also reported that Vickers, the UK armoured vehicle manufacturer, has signed a deal with Giat Industries of France to build armoured military vehicles. This new joint venture will form the first European-wide armoured vehicle business.

Logos of Bae, GEC and Marconi Electronics

The plan of the British and other European governments is the creation of a European Aerospace and Defence Company (EADC) that can compete against the US giants in the global market place as part of their plan to build the EU as a military power. Blair is pursuing the path of the bourgeoisie to “Make Britain Great Again” by on the one hand hanging on to the coattails of US imperialism as over the bombing of Iraq and on the other trying to be a key player in the EU common defence and security policy formulation.

However, it is reported that the way this latest merger of BAe and Marconi has developed is not altogether what the British government, Gerhard Shröder’s German government and the French government had planned. They had been pursuing cross border mergers to form the new monopoly. In particular, Tony Blair was reported in the end to be “furious”. This is because contradictions between governments and among the weapons monopolies is becoming very sharp on how this EADC should be set up with each trying to get the upper hand. BAe is reported as saying that it is still on course for an integrated European group whereas Dasa has said that the deal was now an obstacle to European integration and that it would be pursuing other alliances in the US and Europe.

So, what is clear in all this is that even these best laid plans of Tony Blair and others are either reactionary or impossible as the drive of these companies towards monopolisation and global hegemony continues and it is these giant monopolies which dominate national economies who are dictating how governments should line up. This is creating a very dangerous situation where the world is awash with weapons and giant weapon manufacturers who are calling the shots with politicians and governments. It could be said that one feature of the Iraq and Gulf wars, as well as the strikes on Sudan, Afghanistan and the present threats against Yugoslavia, is that the weapons are there to be used.

It is not in the interest of the British working class and people that the largest manufacturer in Britain is based on weapons production. Neither is it in their interest that Tony Blair’s government, his ministers are pursuing the aims of the weapons manufacturers in the global market at the expense of the peace and security of the world’s people. What difference is there between such a direction for the economy and the economy of Hitler’s Germany especially when the government carries this through into bombings of a sovereign country such as is taking place against Iraq and the plans they have hatched up to do the same to Yugoslavia? What alternative do workers have but to oppose these mergers of the monopolies and the increasing dangers they present to the world’s people and put forward their own programme for a new direction for the economy and for society? The militarisation of the economy must be ended and a policy of non-intervention in the affairs of other countries implemented and the people themselves should decide the direction of the economy so that it is the people’s well-being that is put at the centre and not the interests of the monopolies.

Article Index

O p i n i o n


Careful Consideration on the Issues of Fascist Pinochet’s Extradition Is Required

On January 18, seven Law Lords began the rehearing of General Augusto Pinochet’s claim that he is immune from prosecution outside Chile on charges of murder, torture and kidnap. It has been ruled that lawyers from the government of Chile should also be able to make submissions alongside those for the Crown Prosecution Service and for General Pinochet himself. Amnesty International has also leave to be represented at the rehearing. The Spanish judge who applied for General Pinochet’s extradition, Baltasar Garzon, is attending the hearing.

General Pinochet has been arrested and detained pending the House of Lords decision on whether extradition proceedings may be granted, i.e. that Pinochet does not have state immunity, and pending the decision of the Home Secretary to issue authorisation for extradition proceedings to go ahead if the decision of the second set of Law Lords is that Pinochet does not have state immunity. Pinochet’s arrest and detention has been fraught and charged with passion and emotion and with many wars of words. There is the moral indignation against General Pinochet, where passions are running high. And there is the detailed and sometimes labyrinthine workings of the law which can give rise to (and not infrequently does) rulings by the highest court of the land on such split and slim majority verdicts as three to two.

Let us state our position unequivocally as regards to General Pinochet. His crimes against humanity are of the most heinous character and are of the most repugnant acts known to humankind. Morally speaking, justice cannot be done until this butcher is brought to the highest international court of world opinion and he is punished for his crimes. In saying so, we express our firm solidarity with those organisations of the Chilean people such as the Mothers of the Disappeared who have shown the utmost fidelity to the cause of their loved ones, to the mission of bringing to justice those who have committed genocide against the Chilean people. But morality also demands that if Pinochet is to be brought to justice, then his backers and his godfathers, those without whose arms and espionage services and war machine and anti-communist crusade and finance capital Pinochet would never have been created, that they also be brought to justice before the highest international court.

Let us also state that justice demands that the complicated situation that history has now objectively presented to humanity be looked at carefully and soberly, in its merits and in its context, taking into account all the necessary and relevant principles and considerations. Legal and political principles and considerations, both international and of the respective states involved, cannot be ignored as of no consequence. This is all the more important in the world today when the greatest imperialist power, US imperialism, is creating pretexts for installing regimes here, toppling regimes there, attempting to bomb into submission those it labels as “rogue states”, in short gives itself the right to intervene wherever it pleases in the world regardless of international norms and international law. It is all the more important when the British government, under the signboard of “ethical foreign policy”, is demonstrating that it considers sovereignty to be of no consequence, that it too is ready to intervene militarily and in other ways in its interests, like a 19th century colonial power, frequently on the coattails of US imperialism. Britain too, like US imperialism, gives itself the right to destabilise which regimes it chooses, regardless of the consequences for the peoples of those states, and regardless of the internal motion by which the peoples are struggling for their rights and settling scores with their exploiters and oppressors, regardless of the fact that foreign interference is a condition for the creation of havoc and goes against the elementary conception of the right of a people to control their own affairs. Under the guise of humanitarian concern, the British government gives itself the right 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 other words, a principled stand towards the question of international law as well as to the question of the sovereignty of peoples is called for.

In stating these considerations, we express our full conviction that the working class and people of Chile will themselves settle scores with their exploiters and oppressors. At the same time, we stand for the development of the norms of international law, which are a necessary outcome of the development of law in the 20th century. Properly constituted international courts, such as the Nuremburg Tribunal, for crimes against humanity are mandatory. Yet safeguards in this respect are very necessary when US imperialism stands against the democratisation of international relations, demands control of international bodies, and refuses to recognise, for example, that unilateral and illegal blockades and embargoes should also be brought before a properly constituted international criminal court.

It is also necessary to exercise vigilance that such actions as the arrest of the fascist and anti-communist Pinochet are not used as a precedent for the US imperialists, or for that matter the British government, or any reactionary force, to use such actions against the interests of the people. For example, a number of attempts have already been made to use the concept of “extraterritoriality” to seek the arrest of President Fidel Castro on spurious grounds. The initiative must always lie with the progressive and revolutionary movement of the working class and people to settle scores against imperialism and fascism once and for all.

Article Index

Struggle Continues to Save the K&C

Cartoon: Andrew Howe, CanteburyTODAY, Saturday, January 23, the people of Canterbury are marching to demonstrate that the struggle goes on to Save the Kent and Canterbury Hospital! Despite the ruling of Health Secretary Frank Dobson to approve the downgrade (see last issue of Workers’ Weekly, Volume 29, No. 1), hospital campaigners are determined that this will not be the last word, and that they will turn their bitterness at the decision into a resolve that the future of the NHS must be safeguarded.

More than 500 people packed Westgate Hall on January 15 to inaugurate the start of the fightback. This meeting followed a special session of the city council the previous evening when a motion condemning the downgrade and pledging to carry out a study of the economic and transport implications was passed unanimously.

Campaigns such as CHEK (Concern for Health in East Kent) are stepping up their work and mobilising more people in a spirit that they are determined to see that NHS services are defended, maintained and improved, and of confidence that the vast majority of the people also have this common purpose.

Reviewing the opposition of the people to the anti-social offensive of the Labour government on health care, Workers’ Weekly in its last issue pointed out: “The issue is that the Labour government is committed to continuing the anti-social offensive of the previous period against health care provisions. In Labour’s White Paper of a year ago it talked of making “efficiency” savings such as “labour productivity” and cutting back on “bureaucracy” and of promoting “partnerships” between the government and private finance. This underpinned, in fact, Labour’s Third Way for the Health Service. But now we are beginning to see all too clearly what principle has been behind Labour’s thinking. They are committed to carrying out the demands and needs of the financial oligarchies, of turning the Health Service into a source of profit-making for the monopolies. The K&C and the fight to save it is not an isolated example. The closure and downgrading of some hospitals while concluding PFI-type contracts with others and ignoring the needs and wishes of the people for health care provision for all without discrimination, is the pattern across the country.”

The article concluded: “While the fight goes on to save this or that hospital or health care unit the issue poses itself as to how the future of the NHS as a whole is to be safeguarded. The demand should be that the NHS is planned to meet the people’s needs which ensures that health services are equally available to all at the highest standard. It should enshrine the principle of rights to health care for all, guaranteed by immediate enabling legislation. The huge deficits of health authorities and hospitals and community services must be immediatley wiped out and there should be investment, not cuts, in the health services. Further, the plunder of the health services by the private monopolies must be ended. The demand should be for a pro-social programme of the people that says Stop Paying the Rich - Increase Investments in Social Programmes!”  

Article Index


Birmingham Branch Welcomes the Third Congress Announcement

The Birmimgham Branch of the Party and its supporters in the West Midlands are very pleased at the announcement to hold the Third Congress of RCPB(M-L) from March 19-21.

The work to hold the two National Consultative Conferences in July and November respectively and all the work leading to Congress has had a profound effect on the work in this area. Participating in these events has inspired and raised the consciousness of the comrades and made us more determined to rally around the Party line and programme and get organised to prepare the subjective conditions for the working class to take up its historic role and lead society out of the crisis it now faces, alongside and with the Party at its head.

Up and down the country the effects of the anti-social offensive are being felt and the West Midlands is no exception. Last year one of the major hospitals in Birmingham, “The General” as it was known, closed its doors for the last time, despite a concerted campaign for it to remain open. Campaigns are ongoing against cuts in social services and against the closure of several homes that specialise in the care of the elderly.

There is genuine concern in the area that provision of council homes is fast becoming a thing of the past. Housing provision is being steadily turned over to the private sector with erstwhile council estates now being run by private developers and subsequent sale of council homes. Other PFI-type deals are looming. In one case council owned land with both council and private homes is being literally given away to private developers, backed with EU funds, because the Birmingham City Council cannot afford the upkeep of the houses.

The recent attacks on the Rover Longbridge workers to speed up production and make the company more efficient and competitive in the global market has resulted in thousands of job losses and the acceptance of “felxible” working practices that are already proving detrimental to the family life and health of the workers.

Other campaigns in the area are demanding withdrawal from the EU and cancellation of the debt of developing countries, witnessed this last summer when tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Birmingham to form a human chain around the G8 Conference of world leaders and demand that these debts be cancelled forthwith. Campaigns against racism and racist violence are also working in defence of national minority rights.

All this points to the burning need for a society and an economy that serves the interests of the people, provides them with their basic needs such as healthcare, education, homes and jobs and recognises that these are basic rights of all human beings born to society.

When the jobs go and the hospitals close, who can the working people turn to? Is this all they can expect of life in contemporary Britain? This New Labour Government intends to carry on the anti-social offensive, to forge a “Public-Private Partnership” through its “Third Way” and “Make Britain Great” in the global economy. You only have to look at life itself to realise how empty these words are, that they are there to disarm the working class, manipulate and head off the opposition to the anti-social policies and maintain the status quo of paying the rich at the expense of the working class and people.

In these circumstances we welcome the initiative of RCPB(M-L) in rising to the challenge and formulating the line of march and programme for the working class to lead itself out of the crisis. We look forward to the Congress and will work hard for its success.  

East London Branch Enthusiastically Prepares for Third Congress

It was with great excitement that we received the announcement of the Central Committee that the Party’s Third Congress will be held from March 19-21 this year. The holding of this Congress is without doubt a historic event in the life of the Party. It is the Party’s highest decision making body, which amongst other things has the responsibility of summing up all the work carried out in the recent period, especially since the Coventry International Seminar in 1994, and of setting out the Party’s tasks and work for the coming period as we enter the 21st century.

The eve of the next century presents great challenges for the working class and for all progressive and democratic forces struggling for against the anti-social offensive of the bourgeoisie, for progress and the liberation of all humanity. The greatest challenge is how to give these struggles the perspective and orientation which will open the path to taking society forward on a new, socialist basis, so that it is not the interests of the monopolies and the financiers but the interests of the majority of the people that are paramount, so that it is the people who decide and control the direction of the economy and are truly empowered to decide their own futures.

Our Party is taking up this challenge and through its Congress will further prepare itself both politically and organisationally to provide organisation and consciouness to the working class and people, to imbue them with revolutionary optimism and confidence and make them aware of their historic tasks.

We feel sure that the Congress will further strengthen the Party’s work and build on the successes of the two recent National Consultative Conferences. One of the most significant features of these conferences was the participation of the whole Party in the work to make them a success. We are already enthusiastically engaged in the preparatory work for the Congress and are certain that it will also successfully meet all its aims and objectives.  

Response from Northern Regional Committee on the Significance of the Third Congress

The announcement by the Central Committee on the date of the Congress is being received with great enthusiasm by activists and friends of the Party in the region. Not only are comrades and friends enthusiastic to attend the proceedings but are enthusiastic to take part in the vital preparatory work to discuss the themes, agenda and work in preparation for the Congress and to carry out the main programme of the Party to read, write for, discuss and disseminate Workers’ Weekly on a regular basis.

What is becoming clear is that the Congress is going to mark a turning point in the work in the area. In particular the work of the two National Consultative Conferences has created the conditions for real advance in the work to build the basic organisations of the Party and create new arrangements that build the links of the Party around the work to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership of Workers’ Weekly and for the development of the alternative independent programme of the working class that will open the door to socialism. Grasping the political significance of this historic event for the workers’ and communist movement, a number of people have already expressed interest in the Congress and applications for credentials have already been made.

We are convinced that, based on our experience of the work, the preparations for the Third Congress will be brought to fruition and that in this period of retreat of revolution the Congress will have the greatest significance for the working class and people in that it will provide profound content to the struggle for socialism in Britain. Such a Congress will place the Party in a strong position to enter the new millennium so as to develop new work and new arrangements that have the aim of putting the workers’ and communist movement centre stage and creating the conditions for a mass communist party that can lead the working class to victory in the coming revolutionary storms.  

Article Index

Britain is Block to Progress in North of Ireland

ACCORDING TO THE Good Friday Agreement, signed at the end of multi-party talks last April, the time has come and gone for the setting up of a shadow Executive for the Northern Ireland Assembly and for the establishment of various cross-border bodies. There is talk that the Agreement could collapse altogether. Strictly, according to the letter of the Agreement, the failure to establish the cross-border bodies already means that the Agreement could be deemed invalid.

It is loudly trumpeted that the block to progress is the intransigence of the Unionists on one hand and the Republicans on the other. The First Minister David Trimble states that he will not form the Executive until the IRA begins to disarm. The IRA says it will do no such thing. Its political wing, Sinn Fein, the actual signatory to the Agreement, argue with some justification that there is no clause in the Agreement making the decommissioning of arms a precondition for implementing the Agreement. They say that decommissioning must come as part of a wholesale withdrawal of the gun from political life in the north of Ireland.

Once again, we have a “reasonable” and “moderate” British government and the monopoly-controlled media blaming the “warring Irish factions” for blocking progress. But as always this is to turn truth on its head. The fact is that while the Good Friday Agreement does open up the way to progress, the various parties being willing, it does institutionalise British rule and the sectarian divisions which stem from it – the main source of the problem in the first place.

The 27th anniversary of Bloody Sunday next week is once more a reminder of what this annexation of the six counties has given rise to. It should also be remembered that it was only last year that a new public inquiry into the killings of 14 unarmed young people was granted after so many years of struggle.

Although the focus of the struggle in the north of Ireland has changed, it still remains true that the main block to progress is the refusal of the British government to turn into deeds its verbal acknowledgement of the sovereignty and the right of self-determination of the people of the “island of Ireland”, its refusal to commit itself to immediate withdrawal from Ireland and an end to its interference in the affairs of the Irish people. To realise this continues to be the main demand of the working class and all progressive people.  

Bloody Sunday March

March to Commemorate the Bloody Sunday Massacre

Demonstration Poster

“March for Justice, Time for Truth” Saturday, January 30, 1999

March from Victoria Embankment to Friends Meeting House

Assemble Victoria Embankment (opposite Temple tube station) at 12.00 noon, march at 1.00pm via Westminster, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square

Rally at Friends Meeting House, Euston 3.30pm

Invited speakers from Sinn Fein, SDLP, Bloody Sunday Relatives for Justice Campaign, Justice for Diarmuid O’Neill Campaign, Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign and the Labour Party

Organised by Bloody Sunday March Organising Committee, PO Box 10132, London SW2 3BZ, Tel 0181 442 8778 

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Service Sector Malaise

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) publiched figures on January 21 in its quarterly survey of 10,000 firms showing that the economic malaise affecting the country's manufacturing sector is now hitting the larger service sector.

The BCC warned that Britain's economy may slide into recession this year, with service company exporters being particularly hard hit and job growth in the sector standing at a three-year low. The service sector accounts for over two thirds of GDP.


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The Most Extraordinary Page of Glory, and of Patriotic and Revolutionary Determination Has Been Written during these Years of the Special Period

Extracts from the speech given by Fidel Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and president of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the main ceremony for the 40th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, in Céspedes Park, Santiago de Cuba, on January 1, 1999, Year of the 40th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution

(From the translation of the transcript of the Council of State)

Fidel Castro Ruz

People of Santiago:

Compatriots in all of Cuba:

I am trying to recall that night of January 1, 1959; I am reliving and perceiving impressions and details as if everything were occurring at this very moment. It seems unreal that destiny has given us the rare privilege of once more speaking to the people of Santiago de Cuba from this very same place, 40 years later. […]


Even today, the Revolution has barely begun for the youngest generations. A day like this would have no meaning if I do not speak for them.

Who are those who are present here? In their overwhelming majority they are not the same men, women and young people of that time. The people I am addressing are not the people of that January 1. They are not the same men and women. It is another, distinct people and, at the same time, the same eternal people. (APPLAUSE)

Of the 11,142,700 inhabitants that constitute the country’s current population, 7,190,400 had not yet been born; 1,359,698 were under 10 years of age; the overwhelming majority of those then aged 50 and who would now be at least 90 have died, even though those living beyond that age are constantly more numerous.

Of those compatriots, 30% were unable to read and write; I believe that a further 60% never reached sixth grade. Only a few dozen technical colleges and high schools existed, not all of them within the reach of the people; the same with teacher training colleges, plus three universities and one private one. Professors and teachers amounted to 22,000. Possibly 5% of adults, that is, 250,000 persons, could have had more than a sixth-grade education.

There are some statistics I remember.

Today, much better trained teachers and working professors total over 250,000; doctors, 64,000; university graduates, 600,000. Illiteracy has been eradicated, it’s extremely rare to find a person who hasn’t reached sixth grade. Education is obligatory up to ninth grade; without exception, everyone who reaches that level can continue high-school level studies free of charge. There’s no need to refer to absolutely accurate and absolutely exact data. There are facts that no one would dare to deny. Today, with pride, we are the country with the highest per capita indices of teachers, doctors and physical education and sports instructors in the world; and we have the lowest infant and maternal mortality rates in the Third World.

Nonetheless, I don’t propose to talk of these and our many other social achievements. There are far more important things than these. What is an absolute reality is that there is no possible comparison between today’s people and yesterday’s people.

The yesterday’s people, illiterate and semi-illiterate, and with really only a minimal political awareness, were capable of making the Revolution, of defending the nation, of subsequently achieving an exceptional political consciousness and initiating a revolutionary process that is unparallelled in this hemisphere and in the world. I do not say that out of any ridiculous chauvinistic spirit, or with the absurd pretension of believing ourselves better than others; I am saying it because, as a result of fate or destiny, the Revolution that was born on that January 1 has been subjected to the hardest trial faced by any revolutionary process in the world.

With the participation of three generations, our heroic people of yesterday and today, our eternal people, have resisted 40 years of aggression, blockade, and economic, political and ideological warfare waged by the strongest and richest imperialist power that has ever existed in the history of the world. The most extraordinary page of glory, and of patriotic and revolutionary determination has been written during these years of the special period, when we were left absolutely alone in the middle of the West, 90 miles from the United States, and we decided to carry on.


Our people aren’t any better than other peoples. Their historic greatness is derived from the singular fact of having been put to the test and having been able to withstand it. It’s not a great people in and of itself, but rather a people which has made itself great, and its capacity to do so is born out of the greatness of the ideas and the righteousness of the causes it defends. There are no other causes like these, and there have never been. Today it’s not a matter of selfishly defending a national cause; in today’s world an exclusively national cause cannot be a great cause in and of itself; our world, as a consequence of its own development and historical evolution, is globalising quickly, unhaltingly and irreversibly. Without abandoning national and cultural identities and even the legitimate interests of the peoples of each country, no cause is more important than global causes, that is, the cause of humanity itself.

Nor is it our fault or our merit that for the people of today and tomorrow, the struggle begun on January 1, 1959, has inexorably turned into a struggle along with other peoples for the interests of all humanity. No country on its own, no matter how big or rich - not to mention a medium-sized or small country - can solve its problems on its own. Only those with limited vision, those who are politically shortsighted or blind, or who are completely devoid of concern and sensitivity toward human destiny, could deny that reality.

But the solutions for humanity will not come from the goodwill of those who rule and exploit the world, even though they can’t conceive of anything except what constitutes heaven for them and hell for the rest of humanity, a real and inescapable hell.

The economic order which dominates the planet will inevitably fall. Even a child in school who knows how to add, subtract, multiply and divide well enough to pass an arithmetic test can understand that.

Many take recourse in the infantile practice of calling those who talk about these subjects sceptics. There are even those who dream of establishing colonies on the moon or Mars. I don’t blame them for dreaming. Maybe if they achieve that, it will be the place where some can take refuge, if the brutal and growing aggression against our planet is not halted.

The current system is unsustainable because it is based on blind and chaotic laws which are ruinous and destructive to society and nature.

The very theoreticians of neo-liberal globalisation, that system’s best academics, spokespersons and defenders are unsure, hesitant, contradictory. There are a thousand questions which cannot be answered. It is hypocritical to state that human freedom and the absolute freedom of the market are inseparable concepts, as if laws of this kind, which have emerged from the most selfish, unequal and merciless systems ever known, were compatible with freedom for human beings, who the system has turned into mere commodities.

It would be much more exact to say that without equality and fraternity, which were the sacrosanct watchwords of the bourgeois revolution, there can never be liberty, and that equality and fraternity are absolutely incompatible with the laws of the market.

The tens of millions of children in the world who are forced to work, to prostitute themselves, to supply organs, to sell drugs in order to survive; the hundreds of millions of unemployed, critical poverty, the trafficking of drugs, of immigrants, of human organs, like the colonialism of the past and its dramatic legacy of underdevelopment today, and all of the social calamities in the world today, have arisen from systems based on these laws. It is impossible to forget that the struggle for markets led to the horrific butchery of the two world wars of this century.

We cannot ignore the fact that the principles of the market are an inseparable part of the historic development of humanity, but any rational person would have every right to reject the presumed perpetuation of such social principles as the foundation for the subsequent development of the human species.

The most fanatical defenders of and believers in the market have converted it into a new religion. This is how the theology of the market emerged. Its academics, more than scientists, are theologians; for them, it is a question of faith. Out of respect for the genuine religions practised honestly by billions of people throughout the world and out of respect for genuine theologians, we could simply add that the theology of the market is sectarian, fundamentalist and not ecumenical.

For many other reasons, the current world order is unsustainable. A biotechnologist would say that its genetic map contains numerous genes that lead to its own destruction.

New and unsuspected phenomena are emerging, ones which escape the control of governments and international financial institutions. It is no longer merely a matter of the artificial creation of fabulous wealth with no relation to the real economy. Such is the case of the hundreds of new multimillionaires who have emerged over recent years through the growth in the price of shares on the US stock markets, like a giant balloon that inflates to absurd proportions with the serious risk that it will explode sooner or later. That is what happened in 1929, setting off a deep depression which lasted a decade.

In August of last year, the simple financial crisis in Russia, which produces only 2% of the world’s gross domestic product, caused the Dow Jones industrial average, which is the New York stock market’s top indicator, to drop 512 points in one day. Panic set in, threatened to cause a crisis like that of Southeast Asia in Latin America and thereby seriously threatened the US economy. They have barely been able to hold off disaster until now. The stocks traded on these stock exchanges include the savings and pension funds of 50% of US citizens. At the time of the 1929 crisis, that figure was only 5%, and there were numerous suicides.

In a globalised world, what happens in any one place has immediate repercussions on the rest of the planet. The recent scare was considerable. The resources of the world’s wealthiest countries, summoned together by the United States, were mobilised to head off or attenuate the disaster. Nevertheless, they want to maintain Russia on the brink of the abyss, and are demanding unnecessarily tough conditions from Brazil. The International Monetary Fund has not moved a millimetre from its fundamentalist principles. The World Bank has rebelled and denounced the situation.

Everyone is talking about an international financial crisis; the only ones who haven’t caught on are the citizens of the United States. They are spending more than ever, and their savings are less than zero. They’re not concerned that their transnationals invest other people’s money. Nor does it matter that the trade deficit continues to grow and has now reached 240 billion. They enjoy the privileges of the empire that prints the currency of the world’s reserves. The speculators seek refuge in their treasury bonds en masse when there is a crisis. Because the domestic market is large and more money is being spent, the economy appears to be in good shape, although the profits of the corporations have decreased. Megamergers, euphoria; stock prices rise once again. They’ve gone back to playing Russian roulette. Everything will continue to go well eternally. The system’s theoreticians have discovered the philosopher’s stone. All points of access are intercepted to keep out the ghosts that could destroy the dream. It is no longer impossible to square the circle. There will never be a crisis.

But is the balloon that continues inflating the only threat and the only speculative gamble? Another phenomenon that is reaching ever more fabulous and uncontrollable proportions is that of speculative operations involving currencies. These operations now represent a minimum of a trillion dollars a day. Some claim it to be 1.5 trillion. Scarcely 14 years ago, this figure was only 150 billion dollars a year. There could be confusion regarding the figures. It is difficult to express them, and even more so to translate them from English to Spanish. What we call a billion in Spanish, that is, a million million, is a trillion in North American English. On the other hand, a billion in North American English is a thousand million in Spanish. Now they have come up with the milliard, which means a thousand million in both Spanish and English. These language difficulties demonstrate how difficult it is to follow and comprehend the fabulous figures that reflect the degree of speculation in the current world economic order. The immense majority of the world’s nations pay for it with the perennial risk of ruin. The slightest carelessness can lead the speculators to attack, devaluating the currency in any one of these nations, and liquidating their hard currency reserves, built up over decades perhaps, in a matter of days. The world order has created the conditions for this. Absolutely no one is or can be safe. The wolves, grouped in packs and aided by computer programs, know where to attack, when to attack and why to attack. […]

The world needs some leadership to confront its current realities. There are already six billion inhabitants on the planet. It is virtually certain that in just 50 years’ time there will be 9.5 billion. Guaranteeing food, health care, education, employment, clothing, footwear, homes, drinking water, electricity and transportation for such an extraordinary number of persons who will be living precisely in the poorest countries will be a colossal challenge. First, consumption standards will have to be defined. We cannot continue introducing the tastes and ways of life inspired by the industrialised societies’ wasteful model, which would be suicidal in addition to being impossible.

The world’s development must be programmed. That task cannot remain in the hands of the transnationals and left up to the blind and chaotic laws of the market. The United Nations is a good basis for this task, since it has a lot of information and experience; we must strive to make it more democratic, to put an end to the Security Council’s dictatorship, and the dictatorship within the Council itself, or at least to increase the number of its permanent members so that the Third World is properly represented, with all the prerogatives enjoyed by the current members and changing the rules on decision making. Furthermore, the functions and authority of the General Assembly must be broadened.

Hopefully solutions won’t be found as a result of economic crises. Billions of people in the Third World would be affected. An elemental awareness of the technological realities and the destructive power of modern weapons obliges us to think about the duty to prevent the inevitable conflicts of interest from leading to bloody wars.

The existence of a single superpower, of a global and asphyxiating economic order, makes it difficult - perhaps impossible - for even a revolution such as ours to survive, if it had been born today instead of when it could count on a source of support, in a world which was then bipolar. Because of that support, our country had the necessary time to develop an invincible capacity for resistance and to make known, in the international arena, the strong influence of its example and heroism, in order to carry out a great battle of ideas in all forums.

Peoples will keep on struggling, the masses will play an important and decisive role in those struggles, which in essence will be their response to the poverty and suffering to which they have been subjected, and thousands of creative and ingenious forms of pressure and political action will emerge. Many governments will be destabilised by economic crises and the absence of solutions within the established international economic system.

We are living though a stage in which events move more quickly than consciousness of the realities under which we suffer. We must sow ideas and unmask deceit, sophism and hypocrisy, using methods and means which counteract the disinformation and institutionalised lies. The experience of 40 years of slander falling upon Cuba like torrential rain has taught us to trust the people’s instincts and intelligence. […]

The franc, peseta and lira also suffered the damage wrought by speculation. The dollar and the euro are keeping watch over one another. The dollar now faces a prospective adversary. The United States is anxiously wagering that the new currency will struggle and fail. We are keeping a close eye on events.

Anguish, uncertainty and doubt lead some to seek out eclectic alternatives. The world, nevertheless, has no other alternative to neo-liberal globalisation, which is dehumanising, morally and socially indefensible, and ecologically and economically unsustainable, than a fair distribution of the riches that human beings are capable of creating with their dedicated labour and fertile intelligence. May there be an end to the tyranny of an order that imposes blind, anarchic and chaotic principles, that is leading the human species towards the abyss. May nature be saved. May national identities be preserved, and the cultures of all nations protected. May equality, fraternity, and with them, true liberty, prevail. The unfathomable differences between the rich and poor within each country and between countries cannot continue growing. They must, on the contrary, progressively diminish until they disappear someday. May differences be determined by merit, capacity, creative spirit, and what each individual actually contributes to the welfare of humanity, as opposed to theft, speculation, and the exploitation of the weakest. May humanism be genuinely practised, with concrete actions, and not hypocritical slogans.



To all of our compatriots, and especially the young, I assure you that the next 40 years will be decisive for the world. Before you there are tasks that are incomparably more complex and difficult. New glorious goals await you; the honour of being Cuban revolutionaries demands it. We will struggle for our nation and for humanity. And our voice can reach and will reach very far away.

Today’s struggle is tough and difficult. In the ideological war, as in armed battles, there are also casualties. Not everyone has the courage to withstand these tough times and difficult conditions.

I was recalling today that in the midst of the war, in the midst of the bombings and countless deprivations, of all the young volunteers who entered the school, one in ten was able to withstand it; but that one was worth ten, a hundred, a thousand. By strengthening awareness, forming character, educating the young in the difficult school of life in our era, sowing solid ideas, using arguments that are irrefutable, preaching through example and trusting in the honour of humankind, we can ensure that for every ten, nine remain in their battle posts alongside the flag, the Revolution and the homeland. (APPLAUSE)

Socialism or death!

Patria o muerte!



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US government rejects proposal to set up commission to review Cuba policy:

Clinton Affirms Decision to Maintain the Blockade

ON January 5, President Bill Clinton reaffirmed that he will maintain the blockade of Cuba, while concurrently announcing new measures aimed, in his words, at increasing contacts with the Cuban people.

According to news agencies, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confirmed that the government has rejected the proposal by a bipartisan group of senators, headed by Republican John Warner, to set up a commission to review policy toward the island.

News dispatches report that the new measures are: extending the possibility to all US residents to send up to 1200 dollars per year to family or friends in Cuba; facilitating the issuance of visas for bilateral exchanges of academics, athletes and scientists; authorising additional direct charter flights between cities in the two countries, in addition to those existing between Havana and Miami; working to re-establish direct mail to Cuba; authorising the sale of foodstuffs and agricultural supplies to non-governmental entities; and strengthening the resources destined for Radio and TV Martí, sponsored by the US government.

A CNN survey undertaken on the same day via the Internet revealed that 67% of US citizens interviewed were in favour of the United States lifting the economic embargo maintained against Cuba for the last 40 years.  

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Top UN Official to Address London Meeting on “Immoral and Illegal” Policy of US and Britain on Iraq

DENIS HALLIDAY, former Assistant Secretary General of the UN, was until late last year in charge of the “Oil-for-Food” programme in Iraq. He resigned from the UN in September, calling the sanctions a “totally bankrupt concept”. He is to speak at the public meeting “Iraq: For Peace and Justice” (see advert below).

After resigning from the UN in September 1998, Denis Halliday said: “We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.”

“It is time after years of humanitarian tragedy, we acknowledge that this conflict has brutalised the resolutions of the UN Security Council. It has sustained economic sanctions, in the full knowledge of their catastrophic impact on the people of Iraq, and represents the effective abandonment of civilised values.”

“[During the war of 1991, the coalition forces] very deliberately set about destroying the civilian infrastructure of the country... They destroyed schools, hospitals, bridges, roads, places of employment, factories, consumer, industry, ... railways, domestic airports... They also wiped out Iraq’s capacity to produce potable water, the sewerage systems were heavily damaged, water treatment plants were damaged...”

“Probably five or six thousand children are dying per month. This is directly attributable to the impact of sanctions, which have caused the breakdown of the clean water system, health facilities and all the things that young children require. All of this is just not acceptable.

“I don’t want to administer a programme that results in these kind of figures. Sanctions are being sustained by member states, knowing of this calamity. I wanted to be in a position to speak out on sanctions and the dreadful impact that they are having on the people - particularly the children - and the future of Iraq.”  

Public meeting:


Stop the bombings — Lift the sanctions

Saturday January 23, 1999. 6.00 - 8.30 p.m.

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1 (tube: Holborn)

Tony Benn MP

Ahmed Ben Bella, first President of Algeria Denis Halliday, Former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq With: Fattuh Benyamin, Iraqi doctor; Sukhdev Reel, mother of Ricky Reel; Liz Davies, Member of Labour Party NEC; Seb Wills, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq


“FOR THE CHILDREN OF IRAQ”, a cultural event with Children of Britain’s Arab community with Alfred George, composer; Kids for Peace, choir of the Beechgrove Bruderhof School; and others Admission £5; Children, concessions: £2. Donations urgently needed; pay cheques to CASWI, and post to: CASWI, BM 2966, London WC1N 3XX

For further information, phone: 0171 436 4636 Campaign Against Sanctions and War on Iraq (CASWI) In association with the Institute for Independence Studies Address: CASWI, BM 2966, London WC1N 3XX. Phone 0171 436 4636. Fax 0171 436 4638. E-mail  

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Deeper Interference of Britain in Sierra Leone

AS HEAVY FIGHTING CONTINUES in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, it has been reported that the British frigate HMS Norfolk, which was said to have been dispatched to the region for humanitarian reasons, has already taken part in military operations. President Kabbah, who is facing an armed rebellion against his government and who has received British support in the past claimed that HMS Norfolk was simply equipped to provide humanitarian assistance and to provide essential services. But Brigadier David Richards, the commander of the “Reconnaissance Team” sent by the British government made it clear British armed forces planned to support the Nigeria-led intervention forces currently backing the Kabbah government, and “would do whatever is necessary to restore stability in the country”. The government had already announced earlier this month it was making £1 million available to the West African ECOMOG intervention force and the Sierra Leone government.

Other reports, including those from The Times, claim that Richards had already met with President Kabbah and his Chief of Defence Staff to discuss the military situation in Freetown, that Britain had already supplied military equipment to the intervention forces and that one objective of HMS Norfolk was to supply guidance or “intelligence-gathering equipment” to assist in finding the positions of the AFRC/RUF forces who are fighting against the Kabbah government.

RUF commanders have accused the British frigate of shelling their positions and have stated, “The British have taken sides. They have no good intentions regarding the people of Sierra Leone.”

The British government has no business interfering in the affairs of Sierra Leone or trying to dictate which government should be in power there, which it does for its own political and commercial interests. It is the right of the people of Sierra Leone to determine their own affairs free from the interference of ALL foreign forces. Britain’s sordid military intervention is against all international norms. It is utterly condemnable that Britain interferes and utilises its military might wherever it chooses in such an arrogant and chauvinist manner. The more it continues, the more it exposes the reactionary nature of its world outlook.  

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Dangerous Interference in Kosova

THE big powers including Britain are once again stepping up their interference in the Serbian province of Kosova in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Such interference has created an unstable situation fraught with danger, a situation which they are continuing to exploit. The pretext for further military threats and bullying has been the atrocity committed by the Serbian security forces who killed 40 unarmed Albanians in the village of Racak in what have been described as “execution style murders”. These murders and continuing violence in the region highlight the fact that the “ceasefire” between the Serbian forces and the Kosova Liberation Army that was imposed by the threat of armed NATO intervention last October is nothing but a sham and that such threats are in no way designed to bring peace to the region, but on the contrary are aimed to facilitate the continued intervention of the big powers for their own strategic and other aims. NATO forces are once more poised to strike.

For its part the British government is again interfering in the area in league with the other European powers, through NATO and in the UN Security Council. It is also reported that a substantial force of SAS troops is on alert to intervene if any of the OSCE monitors is “taken hostage”.

Past history has shown that the interference of the big powers has not brought peace, sovereignty and national and social rights to the people of Kosova or elsewhere in the Balkans. On the contrary it will bring further disasters. The working class must oppose such intervention by Britain and the other big powers and must support the right of the peoples of the Balkans to settle their own affairs.  

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Meeting of National Commission to Transform Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) into a Mass Communist Party – December 27 to 30, 1998:

Message from RCPB(ML) Delegation

It was a great joy and privilege to be with you on the occasion of the convening of the National Commission to Transform CPC(ML) into a Mass Communist Party.

We are extremely confident, having experienced at first hand the thorough-going, step-by-step and profound deliberations which took place during the proceedings of the National Commission, under the leadership of Comrade Sandra Smith, First Secretary of the CC of CPC(ML), that the work to transform your Party into a mass communist party by December 31, 1999, will be crowned with success. The implementation of the Resolutions of the National Commission, which are based on profound and revolutionary considerations, are the sure guarantee that this will be so, and nothing could give us greater joy.

We would like to express our appreciation for your invitation to be with you on this occasion. The proceedings of the National Commission provided many insights which we are sure will assist our Party as it works out solutions to the problems it faces in advancing its work.

Every success in your work in 1999, the fifth and final year of this first phase of your Historic Initiative!  

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Demonstrations Planned against Euro Summit

On June 3 and 4, the European Summit of the heads of the state and government of the EU will take place in Cologne, Germany. It will be followed on June 19 by the meeting of the G8 leaders.

An international demonstration is planned through the streets of Cologne on May 29 to express the people’s anger against unemployment, job insecurity and all forms of social exclusion and racism, and to demand a Europe and a world of social justice and liberty.

From May 29 to June 4, a “Counter-Parliament” will be organised under the title: “European Parliament of the unemployed and those in insecure jobs in struggle”. “Parliamentary sessions” will be held throughout the European Summit. It is planned that the “Counter-Parliament” will draft and adopt a Charter of Demands, and demand to be received by the governing powers.  

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