In the 20th Century the concepts of national self-determination, state sovereignty and the equality of states became established principles of international law. Article 1(2) of the United Nations Charter declared that one of the purposes of the UN was the development of friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and the self-determination of peoples.
One aspect of the right of self-determination was the right of peoples to use and exploit their natural wealth and resources, reinforced by the Declaration on Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources of 1962.
The 1970 Declaration on Principles of International law provided that all states enjoy sovereign equality, have equal rights and duties and are equal members of the international community, notwithstanding differences in political, social, economic and cultural systems. The Declaration provides that the territorial and political independence of the state is inviolable and that each state has the right to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems.
These principles are, of course, anathema to capitalism which believes in its right to move capital and profits across national boundaries without interference from nation states. Where nation states have sought to develop political, social and economic systems based on the needs of their peoples they have been confronted with economic pressure, covert actions to undermine and overthrow national governments and direct military intervention. In 1950 the US United Fruit company ran Guatemala as a private concern, owning the public infrastructure, including ports, railways, communications and banks. United Fruit owned 550,000 acres of Guatemalan land, some 85% of which was deliberately left permanently idle to keep prices high. The company paid little or no tax. That year Guatemala elected a reformist government which legalised trade unions and nationalised, with an offer of compensation, 400,000 acres of land held by the United Fruit Company. The US sponsored a coup which overthrew the Arbenz government and installed a pro-US dictator. As in Iraq at the time of the Ba’athist coup, the CIA handed the new regime a list of thousands of names, many of whom were never seen again. There followed 30 years of terror during which 150,000 people were killed. This subversion and intervention and the attack on progressive and democratic forces and governments by the US and its allies, both overt and covert, took place across the world – involving Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela … in the Caribbean, Central and South America alone.
That global intervention continues. Imperialism continues to support its client states and to undermine those states committed to an anti-capitalist development path. While significant advances have been made in Latin America, in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and significantly in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia the US has renewed its efforts to turn back progressive change and to restore power to the privileged elites. In Latin America Colombia is the “aircraft carrier” for US imperialism in the region.
After years of US intervention and support for violent right-wing dictatorships Latin America suffered extreme inequality, poverty, illiteracy and exploitation. Now, however, in Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries in Latin America the capitalist project is under attack.
Under “Plan Colombia” the US has supplied the Colombian government with $6 billion in arms, personnel and logistics. Colombia receives more US military aid than the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean combined. The primary purpose of “Plan Colombia” is to preserve the position of Colombia’s political and economic elite and to intensify imperialism’s attack on democracy and social progress in Latin America. Colombia is a deeply unequal society and the government, aligned to the United States and trans-national corporations, has reduced workers’ rights, environmental protection and public spending in the pursuit of a nakedly neo-liberal agenda. The natural resources of Colombia and the region in general provide rich pickings for the multi-nationals.
The US, through its Colombian proxy, directs its aggression towards Ecuador and Venezuela. In March 2008, while the US openly supported Colombia’s military incursion into Ecuador, the Organisation of American States (OAS) passed a resolution condemning the attack as an illegal violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty.
Hugo Chavez has received repeated democratic endorsement as the President of Venezuela. The government of Venezuela has brought about a real democratisation of society. Workers, small farmers, women and the poor who have traditionally been excluded from political life have been provided with a powerful voice. The introduction of free education, universal health care, land reform, opposition to privatisation and neo-liberalism together with the control over the country’s wealth and natural resources has brought about far-reaching change. Venezuela has nationalised key enterprises in the oil, gas and electrical industries, steel, cement, food production and distribution and telecommunications. The government has taken millions of acres of unused farm land from speculators and absentee owners. It has invested in agriculture, public transport, primary health care clinics and literacy campaigns. Following the revolutionary example of socialist Cuba Venezuela is creating a society based on meeting the needs of its people in the face of open imperialist aggression.
The Cuban Revolution remains an inspiration for the workers and poor farmers of Latin America. Cuba has led by example. The popular revolution which triumphed on 1st January 1959 overthrew the tyranny of Washington’s unconditional ally, Batista, and established the sovereignty of the people over the land and its resources. The situation in Cuba prior to the Revolution was characterised by US intervention, corruption, poverty, the violation of human rights, criminality and exploitation.
Prior to 1959 life expectancy was 58 years and the wealthiest 20% of the population enjoyed 58% of the national income with the poorest 20% receiving only 2%. Now life expectancy is 77 years and all Cubans are guaranteed the basic requirements of affordable food, the right to employment, social security, free health care and education up to and including university. Cultural, educational and sporting rights are enshrined in the constitution. The land belongs to those who work it. Workers are guaranteed a pension on retirement or in the event of disability. In 1959 there was one medical school in Cuba, now there are at least 21 faculties of medicine and 4 higher institutes of medical sciences. In addition to providing a doctor per 165 inhabitants and ensuring that all Cubans receive free medical care the Cuban government has provided more than 25,000 doctors to developing countries across the world and the Cuban health system is recognised as one of the best in the world. Democracy in Cuba is popular, direct and participative.
The Cuban people have had to fight to preserve the gains of their revolution. From the earliest days of the Revolution the US commenced a campaign of aggression including economic and financial sanctions, sabotage, assassination attempts, slander and misinformation, military training of Cuba’s enemies, attempted invasion and open terrorism. These acts of imperialist aggression continue with the aim of destroying the Cuban Revolution, reversing its gains and bringing Cuba under US control. The continued imprisonment of the five Cuban patriots in the US, the ongoing economic war against Cuba and the EU restrictions and “common position” on Cuba are evidence of imperialism’s continuing efforts to extinguish Cuba as a beacon of hope and socialism for progressives throughout the world. These efforts have failed and will fail. International respect for Cuba has grown stronger and the commitment of the Cuban people to national independence, socialism and solidarity is undiminished.
This Ard Fheis calls on the Ard Comhairle/CEC to send its greetings in 2009 to the Communist Party of Cuba and the Cuban people on the 50th anniversary of the Revolution, to strengthen and build solidarity with the Cuban and Venezuelan Revolutions, to defend Cuba and Venezuela against imperialist slander and attack and to use Party publications to counteract the distortions of the capitalist press, to build a heightened consciousness of and support for the Cuban and Bolivarian Revolutions and to create and fortify links between Ireland, Cuba and Venezuela. The Ard Fheis also instructs the CEC to call on the Irish government to end the EU “common position” on Cuba and remove diplomatic and other restrictions and sanctions against Cuba.
If Columbia is the US “aircraft carrier” in Latin America then Israel is its “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East. Since World War II Israel has been the largest overall recipient of US aid. Between 1996 and 2006 Israel received $24 billion in military aid from the US. While the United States threatens and pressurises the DPR Korea, Syria and Iran over the alleged possession of nuclear weapons technology Israel has nuclear weapons and has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the US remains silent over Israel’s nuclear capacity.
Last month was the 60th anniversary of the massacre at the village of Deir Yassin, where, the Irgun, a group of Zionist terrorists led by Menachem Begin, murdered some 300 Palestinian villagers, including women and children. This was a deliberate and planned operation designed to terrorise the indigenous Arab population and ethnically cleanse them from their lands. A month later the state of Israel was proclaimed. 750,000 Arabs fled from their homes in terror and the Israelis destroyed those homes in an effort to ensure that their owners would never return. 370 agricultural colonies were established between 1948 and 1953, 350 of these on Arab land. When the United Nations representative, Count Bernadotte, made recommendations insisting on UN action to ensure that refugees had the opportunity to return to their homes he was murdered by the Israelis. The Zionist movement robbed the indigenous Arab population of their land and livelihood, deprived them of their basic human rights and drove them into exile.
Although the partition plan of 1947 only assigned part of Palestine to the Jewish state from its earliest days the Zionist movement had designs on a much wider territory. In 1956 and 1967 the Israeli state used the opportunity to attack Arab states and expand its territory. In 1967 Israel invaded and occupied the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Israel has on numerous occasions attacked and invaded Lebanon, overseeing the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians in the refugee camps at Sabra and Chatila in 1982.
Palestinians who remained in the state of Israel after 1948 were treated as second-class citizens and subjected to repeated discrimination. The Palestinians exiled to the refugee camps are not permitted to return to their homes and property and are exiled to a life of poverty, exclusion and deprived of basic civil, political, social and economic rights. Those Palestinians who live in the territories occupied by the Israelis in 1967, the West Bank and Gaza, have been subjected to oppression, destruction, death and unceasing military attack.
Since 1968 the United Nations has documented repeated violations of human rights in the Occupied territories including occupation, annexation of territory, the illegal building of Jewish settlements, the deportation and expulsion of Palestinians, the confiscation and destruction of property including the demolition of Palestinian homes and agricultural land as collective punishment, the exploitation of Palestinian labour, mass arrests and administrative detention without trial, ill-treatment and torture of persons under detention, censorship, the violent suppression of demonstrations and protests, military attacks on political organisations and the strangulation of the economy of the Occupied territories.
The wide-scale Israeli military operations against Palestinian civilians continue in violation of international and humanitarian law. The Occupied Territories are under siege. Palestinian civilians, including children, are killed virtually on a daily basis. Civilians are deliberately targeted for air strikes. All border crossings of the Gaza Strip have been closed and the total siege imposed has had disastrous social, economic and humanitarian consequences. Severe restrictions have been placed on the movement of the civilian population. The entry of food, fuel and raw materials has been restricted. Approximately 70% of families living in the Gaza Strip receive water once every five days and 30% have access to water only once every week. Drinking water has become unsafe. The Israeli occupation perpetuates the suffering of the Palestinians who are experiencing a humanitarian crisis.
This Ard Fheis condemns without reservation the Israeli occupation and expresses the solidarity of the Workers’ Party with the Palestinian people, calling upon the CEC to strengthen relations with the Palestinian people and its representatives and in particular with Left and progressive forces in Israel and Palestine. The Ard Fheis calls for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; the removal of the Apartheid Wall; an end to and the dismantling of all settlements; a solution to the refugee problem based on the legitimate and inalienable right of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and property in accordance with Resolution 194; the release of all Palestinian political prisoners; and the creation and recognition of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The Ard Fheis re-affirms its long stated position that a solution is only possible through the recognition of the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty and the implementation of international law and respect for all relevant United Nations’ resolutions.
The Ard Fheis also notes with concern the continuing attempts by the US and Israel, to extend the conflict into Syria and Iran, seeking any pretext to confront Iran and Syria politically and militarily. This is a further attempt to destabilise the region and confront two countries which it regards as hostile to its designs in the Middle East.
The Ard Fheis condemns the continuing occupation of Iraq and notes the escalation of violence in Baghdad and the provinces. Iraqi civilians continue to suffer massive deprivation and lack of basic services and infrastructure and to die at the hands of the occupation forces and sectarian militias. Many Iraqis live in poverty, human rights abuses are widespread and the United States has embarked on a policy of divide-and-rule.
The Ard Fheis calls for an end to the occupation of Iraq, for the restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty and independence, the reconstruction of the economy, resistance to privatisation and the creation of an independent, democratic, federal Iraq.
The Ard Fheis also notes with concern the new US military command for Africa (Africom). The US, under its usual false pretext of “humanitarianism”, poses an immediate threat to the sovereignty of African nations and their right to exercise control over their rich natural resources. The US proposes to establish permanent bases in sub-Saharan Africa, militarising the African continent which has already suffered enormously from the ravages of war. An increased US presence in Africa will heighten tension and instability in the continent; threaten progressive political movements and the sovereignty of independent nations and further expose the natural resources of those nations to neo-colonial plunder.
In Asia the US continues to take steps to expand its power. The attempts to create tension in Tibet and Taiwan, the continued stationing of troops on the Korean peninsula, the efforts to enlist nations in the region into an alliance against China, the creation of military bases in Central Asia, the attempts to engineer “regime change”, the war in Afghanistan, the desire to control Central Asia’s oil and gas reserves continue to pose a threat to peace and stability in the region.
The decision of the US to maintain a nuclear powered carrier at a Japanese port is a serious provocation aimed at the DPR of Korea. At a time when the US purports to speak of “dialogue” it continues to engage in threats. In March 2008 alone the US and south Korea carried out over 200 cases of aerial espionage against the DPRK in violation of its sovereignty.
This Ard Fheis salutes the continuing struggle of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Korean people for national independence, sovereignty and socialism. The Ard Fheis condemns the continuing campaign of aggression against the DPRK, congratulates the DPRK on the 76th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army which has defended the Korean people against Japanese and US imperialism and supports the call of the DPRK for the reunification of the country and peace on the Korean peninsula.
The unilateral secession of Kosovo-Metohija from Serbia, with the active connivance and support of the US, NATO and EU, in violation of the United Nations’ Charter and in contravention of UN Resolutions, in particular, UN Resolution 1244, represents a major attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia.
The installation and recognition of a puppet regime in Pristina represents the culmination of a sustained process by imperialism to undermine, fracture and dissolve the Yugoslav Federation, which involved the destabilisation of the entire region, the NATO aggression against Serbia, the demonisation of the Serbian people, the privatisation and sale to the multi-nationals of the natural resources of Kosovo-Metohija and the creation of favourable conditions for military and economic penetration.
Kosovo- Metohija is now the US/NATO “aircraft carrier” in the Balkans. It provides a base for further US and EU intervention in the region and paves the way for the establishment of permanent military bases and access to and the plunder of the natural resources of the province and the region. The Ard Fheis condemns the so-called independence of Kosovo and regards this step as a further attack on the sovereignty and territorial of Serbia and contempt for established principles of international law.
For capital and imperialism there is no genuine democracy. For socialists genuine democracy can only be guaranteed by a united struggle against imperialism and capitalist exploitation for freedom, equality, peace and democracy.
The Workers' Party of Ireland, May 2008
Motion adopted unanimously by congress