Attack in Colombia
and Myanmar Crises
This has been a brutal year for workers and
activists in Colombia and Myanmar, where
ongoing protests and labor strikes against
repressive regimes have been met with astounding
bloodshed. These attacks on workers and unions abroad need our attention
here in the U.S.; these courageous protestors are not only standing up for all
working people, but for all who hold pro-democratic ideals.
In Colombia, protests have raged for weeks after a now-canceled
proposal that would have expanded taxes on basic groceries such as bread
and eggs while also increasing taxes on many middle-class Colombians. In
late April, a national strike organized by a coalition of unions brought
thousands of protesters into the streets of Colombian cities. While the tax
plan has now been canceled, tens of thousands of people have joined the
movement, speaking out against the brutal repression of protestors and
calling for economic support for the pandemic-ravaged public. As the actions
entered their third week, dozens of protestors have been killed and over 900
injured in violent police actions.
The situation in Myanmar — where a military coup overthrew the elected
government and halted a decade of ongoing democratic reforms — is even
worse. As the country reached 100 days in early May since the February 1
military coup, the death toll for protestors stood at almost 800 civilians, while
almost 4,000 have been detained. It’s a human rights, economic, and
humanitarian crisis that has grown daily since the military junta overthrew the
elected government in Myanmar, and there is no end in sight. With an
economy in tatters and rising inflation and hunger, and anger growing over
the violent and brutal junta response to protests, experts fear a full-scale civil
war is brewing.
Workers and unions have been under assault in Myanmar since the start
of the crisis, with the junta declaring most of the country’s labor
organizations “illegal.” Myanmar’s garment workers were among the first to
take to the streets against the military junta, and they were quickly joined by
other workers including medical workers, teachers, utility workers, and
others. They were met with arrests and violence.
In early May, more than 11,000 academics and other university staff
were suspended after going on strike in protest against military rule,
endangering education institutions and bringing a fresh round of protests.
America’s labor movement stands firmly behind the protesters in
Colombia and Myanmar, and calls for the U.S. government to forcefully
condemn the violence and support the courageous workers, unions,
students, and civil society and democracy activists who are the backbone of
these social movements in these countries. America’s unions have called
upon international companies operating in Myanmar to demand the
immediate reinstatement of democracy and release of political prisoners.
In Myanmar, labor leaders and activists have said international solidarity
matters; the international support they’ve seen has helped
keep their spirits up as they fight back against the
oppressive military junta. Attacks on workers and
unions anywhere is an attack on all workers, and we
will continue to use our collective voice to support
those who are fighting for reform, human rights,
and justice across the globe.
Caribbean L 26 ife, MAY 21-27, 2021
Inaugural virtual Guyanese
diaspora conference, May 22
By Tangerine Clarke
Under the theme: “A New Era of
Engagement for the Guyanese Diaspora,”
the Guyana Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and International Cooperation,
in collaboration with the Guyana Consulate
New York, will host its inaugural
virtual Diaspora Conference on Saturday,
May 22 from 9 am to noon.
According to the Ministry, in keeping
with President Irfaan Ali’s promise
to aggressively pursue the involvement
of the diaspora in national development,
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs &
International Cooperation will provide
a platform for the government to garner
feedback from the Diaspora on its
plans to engage, enable and involve the
Most importantly, the government
wants the diaspora to feel that the cabinet
is serious and remains committed
to fostering their participation in the
process of national development.
Key speakers will include: President
Irfaan Ali, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh
Todd, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud,
as well as other government ministers.
The interactive conference will
inform Guyanese on what is going on in
Guyana. Additionally, participants will
have questions answered after presentations,
that will discuss investment and
trade, exploring business opportunities,
Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali. REUTERS/
Ranu Abhelakh, fi le
remigration incentives, security concerts,
Guyana Revenue Authority, volunteering,
and Guyanese living abroad
concerns and what the government
can and will do to address the diaspora
Due to the limitation of the virtual
platform, only the first 1,000 registrants
will be allowed into the conference. All
other attendees will be able to view the
conference on YouTube and Facebook.
Provisions will be made for the latter to
send in questions to panelists.
To register, visit: https://www.minfor.
US reparations activist delivers Grenada’s
inaugural public lecture on reparations
By Nelson A. King
A veteran reparations and Black political
activist in the United States was
expected to deliver the inaugural lecture
on reparations by the Grenada National
Reparations Commission (GNRC).
The New York-based Institute of the
Black World 21st Century (IBW), a Black
group in the US, said on Sunday that Dr.
Ron Daniels, IBW’s president and convener
of the US National African American
Reparations Commission (NAARC),
will address the virtual meeting on
Wednesday, May 19, at 7:00 pm.
Dr. Daniels told Caribbean Life that
he was delighted to accept GNRC’s invitation.
“I am especially honored to accept the
invitation, given my engagement with
the People’s Revolutionary Government
of Grenada, via the National Black Independent
Political Party, which brought
a large delegation to Grenada for ‘All
Heroes Day’ at the height of the revolution,”
IBW said the theme of the public lecture
is “Malcolm, Maurice and the Movement
for Reparations in Grenada.”
It said the purpose of the event is to
“connect the struggle for reparations
to the revolutionary struggle for Black
liberation – a struggle that was led by
two of Grenada’s revolutionary sons,
Malcolm X, whose mother was born in
Grenada, and former Prime Minister of
Grenada, the late Maurice Bishop.
IBW noted that May 19 is also the
birthday of Malcolm X.
“This is an important moment for Grenada
and the Caribbean region,” Ambassador
Arley Gill, GNRC’s chairman.
“The fight for reparations for slavery
and the legacy of slavery which is still
being felt here in Grenada and across
the African diaspora is long overdue,”
Dr. Nicole Phillip-Dowe, another
GNRC commissioner, said: “I believe the
time has come to amplify and elevate
this very important issue here in Grenada.
“Serious conversations on slavery and
the effects of slavery on our citizens are
still very uncomfortable conversations
for many people in our society,” she
By Stuart Appelbaum, President
Retail, Wholesale and Department
Store Union, UFCW