Local protests are now generalized throughout the country, taking place almost every evening and into the night. Some 15 simultaneous street demonstrations broke out in the capital city of Santo Domingo alone October 21, with young activists burning tires on the road. High school students in Villa Juana, a neighborhood in northern Santo Domingo, walked out after a blackout hit their school and cops were called to stifle their action.
San Juan governor assails unions
Puerto Rican governor Pedro Rosselló recently submitted legislation that would deny public employees the right to strike. A similar bill was voted down four years ago. Protesters versus the antiunion move have linked up with some of the tens of thousands of trade unionists and others fighting the government sell-off of the Puerto Rico Telephone Co.
Mexico ruling party loses seats
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of Mexico suffered a sizable defeat, loosing more than half of its mayorships in the state of Veracruz. Ballot burnings and protests were part of the October 19 elections scene as the opposition Democratic Revolution party won 59 seats and the National Action party won 39 seats. Elections that took place last July cracked the PRI's decades-long stronghold on the government, registering losses that took away its congressional majority.
Unemployment up in Sao Paulo
September unemployment in Sao Paulo, Brazil, reached its highest level since such figures began to be compiled in 1985, according to Dieese, a labor research organization. Some 48,000 additional jobs evaporated last month, leaving 1.41 million people jobless, or 16.3 percent of the workforce in the metropolitan area. This is the first time since 1987 that Sao Paulo saw joblessness go up in September, which is normally a busy month in the industrial sector. Dieese representative Marcelo Terrazas said the figures reflect a slowing down of the economy with big-business buyers canceling or suspending purchases. Sao Paulo officially posts unemployment at about 6 percent, using the narrow criteria of those who are unemployed and actively seeking work during the previous seven days.
National strike in Greece
Trade unionists in Greece paralyzed the country in a 24- hour general strike October 23 called by the Federation of Greek Workers demanding a 9 percent wage increase, a reduction in the workweek to 35 hours, and no cuts in social security benefits. Airline ground service workers and air traffic controllers held up several flights in solidarity. Power plant workers waged a 48-hour complimentary strike, which began October 22. Government workers and transport workers also joined the strike with several-hour work stoppages. The strike was provoked by Athens's probe to limit real wage increases for workers to 1.5 percent while inflation is projected to increase nearly 3 percent.
Israelis protest Netanyahu
Hundreds of Israelis who oppose Tel Aviv's aggressive stance towards settlements in the Palestinian territories demonstrated October 24 outside the home of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he said that Israelis who support negotiations "have forgotten what it means to be Jewish." Those remarks were taped by an Israeli reporter and broadcast on the evening news. Among the protesters were two dozen army reservists wearing black bandannas with signs that read "Bibi [Netanyahu] incites." "No matter what Bibi does wrong, he never even thinks to apologize. He totally ignores the writing on the wall and we are all afraid of what will come next," said protester Ariel Doron.
Protests over Kashmir
In a demonstration backed by the Pakistani government, thousands of people formed a 360-mile human chain along the border with India October 24, protesting New Delhi's control of two-thirds of the state of Kashmir. Pakistani soldiers and paramilitary troops were deployed in riot gear to keep the protest on the Pakistani side of the border. The governments of India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the division of Kashmir, and border skirmishes continue to this day. The Pakistani government has called for a referendum in the Indian-held portion of Kashmir on making the entire state part of Pakistan. A smaller group of protesters specifically calling for Kashmir independence from both India and Pakistan marched through Mazaffarabad, some 48 miles east of the Pakistani capital Islamabad. In a recent episode of the near-decade- long struggle for Kashmir independence, Indian police killed two guerrillas in the New Delhi-controlled portion of Kashmir.
Cop raids in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan government shut down the capital city Colombo and mobilized 8,000 cops and army and airforce troops to carry out massive security sweeps October 25, accusing Tamil rebels of bombing of the World Trade Center there 10 days earlier. During the raids, which began at 2:00 a.m. and lasted four hours, Colombo's 1 million residents were ordered to remain in their homes with identification ready for inspection. Hundreds of Tamil people were seized and held for questioning. The Defense Ministry claims that detainees lacked proper identification. That same day Tamil guerrillas, who have been fighting for self-determination for more than a decade, attacked a military post in Puvarasankulam, a town in northeastern Sri Lanka, killing six government soldiers and loosing three of their own. Tamil people make up 18 percent of the population in Sri Lanka.
Antiabortion law fails
On October 20 the U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 vote, refused to reinstate a Louisiana law demanding parental consent for young women under 18 years old to seek an abortion. The law was enacted in 1995 but never enforced, because lower courts ruled that it did not have sufficient provisions by which a court could waive the requirement in individual cases. The Supreme Court has upheld laws in most states requiring unmarried women under 18 to get parental consent before an abortion can be performed, but these laws include some form of judicial bypass procedure.
N.Y. students protest racist Daily
"Stop the insults against Hostos," read one of the many signs dozens of students carried October 21 as they protested in front of The Daily News offices in New York against racist editorials the newspaper has run. The editorials imply that Hostos students, the majority of whom speak Spanish as a first language, graduate with a less-than-minimal level of education. Student government secretary of culture Dagoberto López said that teaching methods are not adapted to fit the needs of bilingual students and this must be changed. "But the Daily News has said that we don't want to learn - and that is a lie," he concluded. - BRIAN TAYLOR
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home