Report from U.S. anti-war delegation: ‘Life calm in Caracas, people prepared for more struggle’

first_imgWorkers World managing editor John Catalinotto on March 16 interviewed Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center. Flounders is in Caracas, Venezuela, as part of a solidarity delegation of a dozen anti-war leaders from all over North America, organized and sponsored by the U.S. Peace Council. Members of the delegation arrived in Caracas on March 9 and 10. As of March 16, they are still there, after American Airlines canceled their flights. A full list of the participants can be found at the end of this article.Workers World: Washington claims there is a “humanitarian crisis” with people starving in Venezuela. What have you observed?Sara Flounders:  Our delegation made a short video today to talk about the situation of the people we have seen here in which everyone said that life in Caracas is going on. People were eating ice cream in the street. No one looked skinny, let alone starving, and people were treating each other with respect. (See video: danger that still exists, as Eva Bartlett pointed out, is from the continued threats and actions by the U.S. government that disrupt Venezuelan society, plus the threat of military intervention. The people here are preparing for the next U.S. attack through their community councils, which are telling them to start storing food, water and batteries.Our delegation is committed to mobilizing back in the United States for the March 30 anti-NATO demonstration in Washington, D.C., that is now focused on telling the U.S. government: “Hands off Venezuela.”WW: You have been there during the power outage, right?SF: Yes, naturally this created big problems here. It started on March 7 with sabotage of the power station. It seemed to be solved by the morning of Saturday, March 9, but then went out again. Even government ministries were without power. Water can’t be pumped without power. There were long lines for people collecting water to drink, cook, wash and flush toilets. Water trucks went to street corners and to central distribution sites for emergency distribution. By March 14, after one week, the government managed to overcome the cyber terrorism. When you think how in Puerto Rico it took months and months to recover from the hurricane damage, this was pretty amazing.As important as the government’s quick repair was, however, it succeeded because the government and the population mobilized to resolve the everyday problems caused by the power outage. This mobilization also helped resist the rest of the sanctions and shortages the imperialist governments have imposed on Venezuela.WW: Were popular organizations called into action during the outage?SF: Community councils. First some background: Caracas is in the mountains. Cable car metros go to mountainous neighborhoods or barrios that surround downtown. This was a big accomplishment of the early days of the Bolivarian Revolution, to break the forced isolation in these working-class suburbs or shanty towns. We visited two of the larger barrios where it looked like there was 100-percent support for the revolutionary process. Catia, for example, is a poor mountainside district with 1.5 million people. Its January 23 neighborhood is where the late president and revolutionary leader Hugo Chávez is buried at a fort/mausoleum overlooking Caracas.Electric attacks impact plumbing, elevators, gas lines and more. So keeping everything running is based on the collective determination of the local community councils. A community council is a self-organized group of about 200 families. They apply for government recognition. Direct  government aid is distributed through these councils. Eight to 10 community councils make up a commune. People are elected at each level to these councils and the councils elect commune representatives to the National Constituent Assembly. This has created a functioning popular power base or network throughout the country. There are many immediate problems to solve. Involving everyone in the problem-solving empowers the population and energizes people to see this as a historic challenge.There are 500 communes. They are based in all the poor and working class communities and represent thousands of organized community councils. These coordinate their efforts to find workable solutions to the shortages that the imperialists’ internal sabotage has created in their efforts to create chaos and confusion.People’s militias, which are armed groups from the masses, function through these organs of Popular Power and coordinate with the Bolivarian Armed Forces. Tenacity and determination is the watchword!WW: Given the problems with inflation and the currency, how do the people, especially poor people, manage to get enough food?SF:  The government organization known as CLAP delivers boxes of essential supplies to community councils that service 6 million families. Almost all poor, working and out-of-work families receive these essential supplies of corn flour, cooking oil, beans, coffee, sugar, personal hygiene and essential paper products. Of Venezuela’s total population of 32 million, these 6 million families make up more than two-thirds of the people. Our young hosts in the solidarity organization here, COSI, need and rely on these basic supplies. Of course, the government has to have the food in order for CLAP to distribute it. The economic sanctions and actual theft of Venezuela’s wealth have prevented the government from purchasing much needed food abroad. The longer-term solution requires producing more food at home.That’s why our visit this week with the head of the Ministry of Urban Agriculture, Madeline Arias, and her staff was so fascinating. Totally organic gardens will produce 25 percent of Venezuela’s food needs this year, using backyards, empty lots, small greenhouses. Venezuela plans small agricultural production that is 100-percent organic and sustainable, and that requires the latest scientific advances. The Venezuelans are learning from Cuban, Vietnamese and Korean experts in small agriculture solutions who have had to deal with near-famine conditions created by U.S. wars and sanctions. The plans include up to one-acre gardens on rooftops and in backyards; up to three-acre gardens in empty lots. Also, fish farms are being developed to create more than 260 large fish ponds for protein and fertilizer. Rabbit raising is planned — it’s easy and clean, provides high protein, and you can feed the rabbits vegetable scraps.There are other, larger local farming efforts that are also 100-percent organic. There is an all-out effort to develop urban gardens to provide low-cost vegetables and fruit. WW: What is housing like in Venezuela?SF: Since 2016 the Maduro government has built 2.5 million new housing units all over the country, which can accommodate almost one-third of the population. This was also a big jobs program. New housing complexes come with surrounding services of schools, daycare, medical clinics, bakeries, groceries, cafes, playgrounds, transportation — as well as, most importantly, community gardens and greenhouses, etc. The recent U.S. sanctions have impacted hundreds of essential parts used in modern housing — just as sanctions first imposed by President Barack Obama in 2014 make it difficult to obtain necessary pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. WW: When is the delegation returning?SF: I was due back Friday night (March 15). Although life seems normal here, American Airlines has shut down its flights. All the flights out of Caracas are packed. I and some of the others might not return until Tuesday morning, March 19.We had an excellent two-hour meeting with President Nicolás Maduro that just finished. Since we can’t return for a couple of days we will go to an anti-imperialist demonstration here in Caracas tomorrow. We’ll report on these soon, wifi permitting. The U.S. Peace Council delegation consists of Bahman Azad, the organizational secretary of the U.S. Peace Council; Ajamu Baraka, national coordinator of Black Alliance for Peace; progressive journalist Eva Bartlett; Gerry Condon, president of Veterans For Peace; Darien De Lu, president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-U.S.; Miguel Figueroa, president of the Canadian Peace Congress; Sara Flounders, co-coordinator of the International Action Center; Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance; Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition; Sarah Martin of Women Against Military Madness; Daniel Shea, board of directors, Veterans For Peace; and Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

New Ryanair routes for Shannon

first_imgPrint Ryanair adds new routes RYANAIR has announced two new routes out of Shannon airport, bringing to 11 the number of routes it will operate from there this winter.The airline announced that it is to add a daily Manchester service, replacing a three times weekly Liverpool service, and a weekly flight to Kaunas in Lithuania, as well as extra flights on Stansted, to its winter schedule, starting at the end of October.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up Peter Bellew, the budget airline’s marketing director and airport CEO Neil Paykey, made the announcement at a press conference in King John’s castle.Mr Bellew said the Manchester flights will have a “much larger catchment area,” and will deliver more inward-bound passengers to Shannon.Asked if the airline had been given a sweetheart deal to get it back into Shannon and whether the deal is sustainable, the airport CEO said that they were “well aware in our dealings with Ryanair that we were not the cheapest airport”.Mr Bellew agreed but said that dealing with airports is “not only about money. We’ve seen what the team at Shannon can do – we give them new routes and they get up off their backsides and go out and market those routes themselves”. RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR TAGSairportfeaturedroutesRyanairShannon Email Advertisement Linkedin Walk in Covid testing available in Limerick from Saturday 10th April No vaccines in Limerick yet Shannon Chamber Expresses Disappointment at Ryanair’s Decision to Close Shannon Base for Winter center_img Previous articleOlympic hopefuls to take on Thomond Swim challengeNext articleCalling all Limerick gameshow aficionados! Bernie Englishhttp://www.limerickpost.ieBernie English has been working as a journalist in national and local media for more than thirty years. She worked as a staff journalist with the Irish Press and Evening Press before moving to Clare. She has worked as a freelance for all of the national newspaper titles and a staff journalist in Limerick, helping to launch the Limerick edition of The Evening Echo. Bernie was involved in the launch of The Clare People where she was responsible for business and industry news. “Shannon Airport is a vital component of our tourism infrastructure” WhatsApp NewsBreaking newsBusinessNew Ryanair routes for ShannonBy Bernie English – July 24, 2014 731 Facebook Twitter Oireachtas Committee to hold series of meetings in response to aviation crisis Statement in response to Ryanair’s decision to close Cork and Shannon bases for winter seasonlast_img read more

Peers call for removal of triple lock on UK state pension

first_imgThe select committee’s report today said that as pensioners’ incomes had been brought back in line with those of working people, according to an inquiry by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, it was no longer needed.“The triple lock for the state pension should be removed,” the report said. “The state pension should be uprated in line with average earnings to ensure parity with working people. However, there should be protection against any unusually high periods of inflation in the future.”The move follows similar calls made by the OECD in October 2017. At the time, the institution said: “Indexing the state pension solely to average earnings would be fairer, while it would still allow pensioners to benefit from improvements in living standards.”‘Important first step’John Taylor, president-elect at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), said the institution supported the peers’ recommendation.“The introduction of the new state pension in 2016 restored the level of the state pension in relation to wages and means that the triple lock should no longer be necessary,” he said.The peers’ report said that maintaining the triple lock indefinitely would be unsustainable, something echoed by Frank Field, an MP who represented Labour at the 2017 election but is now independent. Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee in the lower house of parliament, told the Lords that he still supported this notion, but was quoted as being “worried about its political ramifications”.Taylor at the IFoA said: “It should now be a priority to ensure the state pension remains sustainable and affordable over the long term. Removing the triple lock would be an important first step in ensuring the sustainability of the state pension for future generations.”The peers’ report called on the Treasury to generate and publish data on intergenerational fairness. It also recommended the government create intergenerational impact assessments for all draft legislation indicating how it will affect different generations. A committee of peers in the House of Lords has called for the removal of the triple lock on the UK state pension, saying keeping it active indefinitely was unsustainable.In a report published today, entitled Tackling Intergenerational Unfairness, the Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision called for the measure to be withdrawn.The triple lock was a mechanism introduced by the UK’s coalition government of 2010-15. Its application means the state pension must be raised annually according to whichever was highest of wages, inflation or 2.5%.Each of the main political parties pledged to maintain the triple lock before the snap election of 2017, although the ruling Conservative party proposed to scrap the 2.5% lower limit after 2020. However, following its poorer-than-expected showing at the polls, the party was forced to abandon this idea in order to secure parliamentary support from Northern Ireland’s DUP.last_img read more

Cape clears away to score

first_img Cape Clear Island continued to respond to pressure to get the better of Greatest Journey by a neck, with Rocky Rider a further head away in third. Co-owner Michael Tabor said: “I think the price tells you it was a surprise. He is a nice horse and hopefully he will improve on that. “I don’t know if he is up for going for the Dante or to Chester, as I don’t know if he is good enough. It is hard to say how good that race was.” Kurland created an instant impact on her racecourse debut after sauntering to an effortless success in the Montaz Restaurant EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. Moving well throughout the five-furlong contest, the Martyn Meade-trained runner (8-1) was kept close to the front end of the race by Fergus Sweeney before smoothly asserting during the closing stages. Once in the clear, she only needed to be pushed out with hands and heels to come home three and three-quarter lengths clear of 40-1 runner-up Sakhee’s Jem. Meade said: “She is a very exciting prospect, who had always worked really well at home. She was prepared for the moment and she has shown she was good enough. “We will have a look at what time she did to see how good she is, then we can really get to work with her.” Held up at the rear of the field early on by the three-times champion jockey, the 14-1 shot joined the battle for the mile-and-a-quarter race late in the day. Long-time leader and favourite Rocky Rider looked to have fought off the bulk of his rivals from the front, but the Aidan O’Brien-trained winner and eventual runner-up Greatest Journey forged ahead inside the final furlong. Press Association Ryan Moore was seen at his strongest in steering Cape Clear Island to a battling success in the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-0 Trophy at Newmarket. Winter House overcame early signs of greenness to come from well off the pace and open his account at the first time of asking in the Swan At Lavenham Wood Ditton Stakes. Favourite Fallen For A Star and the hard-pulling Bermondsey took the field along early on in the mile contest and were still well in contention entering the final two furlongs. As Bermondsey’s run came to an end, Fallen For A Star continued to battle on but was powerless to prevent both Mustaaqeem and Winter House powering past. It looked as though the Sir Michael Stoute-trained representative had got first run on the 8-1 shot, but with the post looming James Doyle managed to forge the son of Cape Cross into the lead to score by a neck. Winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: “He will learn a lot from this race. He has been doing well in the mornings, but he is still a bit green. He didn’t behave himself last year, but he is a different horse this year. He was only 80 per cent fit for today and I am sure he will improve for it. “The next race for him will be a Listed race at Windsor on May 11.” last_img read more