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Greek communists on the economic and political crisis in their country

Communists unfurl their banners from the Acropolis in Athens on Saturday 11 February 2012, day two of a general strike

Communists unfurl their banners from the Acropolis in Athens on Saturday 11 February 2012, day two of a general strike

Regarding the Expressions of Solidarity with the Greek People
Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 20 February 2012

Recently, demonstrations have been held in many countries across the world under the ‘umbrella’ of slogans of “solidarity with Greece” and “we are all Greeks”. Working-class and popular solidarity are powerful weapons in the struggle of the peoples. But the workers must deal with any attempt to mislead them.

Which Greece needs solidarity? The Greece of the capitalists, who seek to acquire new loans from the EU and the IMF in order to strengthen the profitability of their capital, to reinforce their position against the people, or the Greece of the working class and the other popular strata, who are suffering due to the consequences of the capitalist crisis, for which they bear no responsibility?

At many of these events this issue remained unclear. And this is the case because there is an effort by certain forces (mainly of social democracy, the opportunists of the party of the European left and the ‘greens’) to use vaguely the idea of ’solidarity with the Greek people’ to whitewash the support that they gave in the past to the Maastricht Treaty, to the other Euro treaties, to the EU of capital itself, which is reactionary and can in no way be ‘democratised’, as they are even now claiming.

In addition, there is an attempt to use the issue of Greece in the inter-imperialist rivalries, inside and outside the EU.

Yes, the workers in Greece want the solidarity of the workers in Europe and all over the world! But solidarity with their struggles, their strikes, their militant demands, the KKE, and the class-oriented trade-union movement, PAME which is in the front line of the struggle, not the ’solidarity’ that seeks the continuation of capitalist exploitation and the squeezing of the workers.

Regarding this issue, the Press Office of the CC of the KKE issued the following statement:

The KKE addresses a message to all the workers of Europe: It is not necessary for you to ‘become Greeks’ in order to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Greece.

We call on you to join us on the same road for the contemporary rights of the working class and the poor popular strata, in order to impede and overthrow our common enemy: the dictatorship of the monopolies, the EU, and the parties that serve them.

Their overthrow in every country or group of countries, the socialisation of the monopolies, disengagement from the EU and Nato, with working-class people’s power, will be the greatest contribution to the struggle of the peoples of Europe and the whole world.

The newest and most contemporary slogan, which is more timely than ever is: “Workers of all countries, Unite!”

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. Down with the coup of the Bailout Agreement, down with the illegal Papadimos’ government
. Overthrow the whole rotten political system
. Democracy, Independence, Productive Reconstruction, Emancipation

Communist Organisation of Greece (ΚΟΕ) statement, 13 February 2012

The Communist Organisation of Greece salutes the hundreds of thousands of people who swamped Athens yesterday and protested throughout Greece, resolutely opposing the new bonds that the IMF-EU-ECB troika is imposing.

The Greek people proved their advanced readiness for combat, and showed increased endurance and courage facing the ruthless attacks of the ’special police’ forces. Despite state terrorism and the blackmail of the establishment, the fighting spirit of the people against the new occupation and tyranny is raging.

The new bailout agreement is being imposed entirely as in a coup, by an illegal government, and ‘approved’ by a parliament that has lost any legitimacy. The Papademos puppet government, the three bourgeois pro-agreement parties, and the politicians who voted for and supported the new disastrous bailout agreement are continuously violating their own constitution and the country’s sovereignty.

Their whole political system is hence entirely illegitimate. They have definitively divorced themselves from the people, and must leave immediately.

Since the appointed ‘prime minister’-banker Papademos and his entourage didn’t manage to terrorise the people with the threat of default (besides, the bailout agreement leads to default with mathematical certainty), they took sole refuge in ruthless police violence and terror. They suffocated Athens with chemicals, not hesitating to use their ‘weapons’ in the most ferocious way even against two emblematic figures like our national resistance hero Manolis Glezos and the internationally famous composer Mikis Theodorakis.

The illegal and completely illegitimate government, with the full support of most mainstream media, resorted to violence and invested in terror. The ‘journalist’-parrots of the system and the apologists of the troika talked systematically only about the damage done to buildings. They ‘forgot’ to mention the hundreds of thousands of people who, despite the barbarous police attacks and the chemicals, remained in Syntagma square and the rest of Athens’ centre for five hours.

For what happened yesterday, as well as for what’s coming, the illegal government must take full responsibility. In full contrast to the will of the people, and with repeated coups, it is delivering the country, the life and the future of its people to its patrons.

The political system that robbed and destroyed Greece, that leads it to default and is now delivering it as a colony to foreign commissioners and foreign ‘courts of justice’, is crumbling in front of our eyes.

They cannot even convince themselves any longer: 45 MPs from the bourgeois parties, under popular pressure, voted against the bailout agreement and were immediately expelled from their respective parties. For the first time since the fall of the dictatorship in 1974, fewer than 200 MPs voted ‘yes’ at a decision that had the support of both the two big bourgeois parties.

The intensified crisis of the political system is an opportunity for the promotion of a social and political front that will put a stop to this illegal regime and set the country in a different course, bringing into being what the people want and demand. A social and political front that will pave the way for the salvation of the people and the country: real democracy. Independence. Productive reconstruction.

Stop the payments NOW! Not one more euro to the loan sharks. We can break the chains; the fight continues! Forward to a radical political change led by the people!

Egypt: Economic crisis nearing tipping point

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 4 February

Relations between Egypt’s ruling military government and the US remain fraught, as the government has barred six US ‘human rights’ workers from leaving the country. To avoid arrest, at least three of them have taken refuge in Cairo’s US embassy, while the US threatens to withhold its $1.3bn annual military aid to Egypt unless the government stands down on its objection to so-called ‘pro-democracy’ groups from abroad operating in the country.

In the meantime, the severe economic difficulties that lay behind the Arab spring uprising have continued to worsen. Unemployment stands at at least 15 percent, (but much higher among the young), half as high again as it was when the uprising started. Tourism has declined 30 percent and construction work has come to a standstill.

To avoid a devaluation of the Egyptian pound that would send food prices spiralling upwards, the Egyptian government has been spending $2bn a month in a losing battle to prop it up. According to the New York Times, foreign currency reserves have, as a result, fallen to about $10bn, from about $36bn before the revolt. Clearly this is unsustainable. (See ‘Economic crisis adds dangers on Egypt’s new political path’ by David D Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh, 24 January 2012)

Nor is the government able to raise money from Egypt’s banks to finance its expenditure, even at an interest rate of 16 percent, because the banks are fearful that the state will be unable to repay them. Another drain on its resources are energy subsidies, which cost it $15bn a year (one-fifth of all government spending), but the government cannot afford to reduce the subsidy as to do so would infuriate the Egyptian population still further.

In the circumstances, the Egyptian government has had to go back cap in hand to the IMF to ask for a $3.2bn loan – after having refused an offer of aid of $3bn only last June because it would have excessively compromised Egyptian sovereignty. In the meantime, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party controls over half the seats in Egypt’s new parliament, has pronounced itself in favour of IMF borrowing, free markets and abolishing subsidies.

With regard to relations with the IMF, the New York Times pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood’s position was a “stunning reversal after eight decades of denouncing western colonialism and Arab dependency”. The crisis is making many such organisations reveal their true colours, which can only advance the understanding of the masses.

Financial heist of the century: confiscating Libya’s sovereign wealth funds (SWF)

By Manlio Dinucci, via GlobalResearch.ca

The objective of the war against Libya is not just its oil reserves (now estimated at 60bn barrels), which are the greatest in Africa and whose extraction costs are among the lowest in the world, nor the natural gas reserves, of which there are estimated to be about 1,500bn cubic meters. In the crosshairs of the ‘willing’ of operation ‘Unified Protector’ there are also sovereign wealth funds, capital that the Libyan state has invested abroad.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) manages sovereign wealth funds estimated at about $70bn, rising to more than $150bn if you include foreign investments of the Central Bank and other bodies. But it might be more. Even if they are lower than those of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, Libyan sovereign wealth funds have been characterised by their rapid growth.

When the LIA was established in 2006, it had $40bn at its disposal. In just five years, the LIA has invested over one hundred companies in North Africa, Asia, Europe, the US and South America: holding, banking, real estate, industries, oil companies and others.

In Italy, the main Libyan investments are those in UniCredit Bank (of which the LIA and the Libyan Central Bank hold 7.5 percent), Finmeccanica (2 percent) and ENI (1 percent), these and other investments (including 7.5 percent of the Juventus Football Club) have a significance not as much economically (they amount to some $5.4bn) as politically.

Libya, after Washington removed it from the blacklist of ‘rogue states’, has sought to carve out a space at the international level focusing on “diplomacy of sovereign wealth funds”. Once the US and the EU lifted the embargo in 2004 and the big oil companies returned to the country, Tripoli was able to maintain a trade surplus of about $30bn per year, which was used largely to make foreign investments.

The management of sovereign funds has, however, created a new mechanism of power and corruption in the hands of ministers and senior officials, which probably in part escaped the control of Gaddafi himself: This is confirmed by the fact that, in 2009, he proposed that the $30bn in oil revenues go “directly to the Libyan people”. This aggravated the fractures within the Libyan government.

US and European ruling circles focused on these funds, so that before carrying out a military attack on Libya to get their hands on its energy wealth, they took over the Libyan sovereign wealth funds. Facilitating this operation is the representative of the Libyan Investment Authority, Mohamed Layas himself: as revealed in a cable published by WikiLeaks.

On 20 January Layas informed the US ambassador in Tripoli that the LIA had deposited $32bn in US banks. Five weeks later, on 28 February, the US Treasury ‘froze’ these accounts. According to official statements, this is “the largest sum ever blocked in the United States”, which Washington held “in trust for the future of Libya”.

It will in fact serve as an injection of capital into the US economy, which is more and more in debt. A few days later, the EU ‘froze’ around €45bn of Libyan funds.

The assault on the Libyan sovereign wealth funds will have a particularly strong impact in Africa. There, the Libyan Arab African Investment Company had invested in over 25 countries, 22 of them in sub-Saharan Africa, and was planning to increase the investments over the next five years, especially in mining, manufacturing, tourism and telecommunications.

The Libyan investments have been crucial in the implementation of the first telecommunications satellite Rascom (Regional African Satellite Communications Organization), which entered into orbit in August 2010, allowing African countries to begin to become independent from the US and European satellite networks, with annual savings of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Even more important were the Libyan investment in the implementation of three financial institutions launched by the African Union: the African Investment Bank, based in Tripoli, the African Monetary Fund, based in Yaoundé (Cameroon), and the African Central Bank, based in Abuja (Nigeria).

The development of these bodies would enable African countries to escape the control of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, tools of neo-colonial domination, and would mark the end of the CFA franc, the currency that 14 former French colonies are forced to use. Freezing Libyan funds deals a strong blow to the entire project. The weapons used by ‘the willing’ are not only those in the military action called ‘Unified Protector’.

Il Manifesto, 22 April 2011

Translated from the Italian by John Catalinotto