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This from Counterpunch shedding some light onto what is happening in South America, without being filtered through the corporate press.

“Over the last year reports about Venezuela in the corporate media have been depicting a country undergoing a “humanitarian crisis.” What they described was not consistent with what I know about the country, and I wondered what was actually happening. To find out, I traveled with a group of other North Americans who wanted to see the reality on the ground, and how the majority, the “popular classes,” were responding to the pressure of economic sanctions and threats of war.

My first impression was the scene on the streets. I was wondering if there would be signs on the streets of those same conditions returning—begging, homelessness, street vending. What I saw was surprising. Things looked so normal. People were going to work, relaxing on the weekend, just as they had been on my more recent visits.  Media in the US and around the world were creating an image of desperate suffering, hardship and chaos, but I did not see signs of that on the street. No begging, no homeless, no masses of peddlers. There was food in restaurants and stores, business as usual in retail shops, and people were working at their jobs.

Although life appeared outwardly normal, I soon learned about the two big problems beneath the surface: inflation and the blockade.

The government is trying to deal with one aspect of inflation by providing food through a system known as CLAP, an acronym of the Spanish words for Local Committees to Supply the People. Every two weeks bundles of basic foods like rice, beans, oil, sugar, etc. go directly to households, distributed by neighborhood committees. There is enough food in the bundle for people to survive on, but just barely. If supplies run out, food is available in stores, but some people’s salaries have not kept up with inflation. There are other ways that some get food—school lunches, etc,—but many suffer from the problem of not being able to afford to buy what they need, food and other things.

The second problem is the blockade on imported products. Venezuela has the industrial capacity to produce a substantial amount of what the country consumes. The road to the west of Caracas, for example, goes past huge plants, large populations of working people, highways full of big trucks hauling things to stores. But no country of 30 million people can produce all the things it needs. Countries have to import things, from medicine for specific diseases like HIV, to spare parts for most of the cars in the country. The blockade creates a lot of suffering.

On the other hand, the popular classes are in a much better position to withstand economic war than they were in earlier years. Free health care, education, and many other basic needs are available. Very important among these is housing. In the past 8 years the government has built 2.6 million homes, rural and urban. Enough to provide a new home to one third of the population. The goal is 5 million.

On past visits I have ridden past big blocks of apartment buildings, many under construction. One group after another, it takes many minutes to pass them, speeding along the highway. I thought about big apartment complexes for poor people in the US that turned out so badly, and wondered how these would be different. This recent visit was the first time I had an opportunity to see one of those developments from inside, and my question was answered.

Our group happened to be in Caracas at the time of a big conference about housing. Delegates from many countries were there to learn about Venezuela’s remarkable achievement. We were invited to attend, and we went with a busload of other “internationals” to the state of Vargas, on the coast of the Caribbean.

We saw a community of apartment buildings that house 32,000 people, many who had lost everything in the catastrophic mudslides of 1999, when whole communities in the area were swept out to sea. The buildings are designed to include much more than housing: childcare, cooking and dining, meeting and educational space, sports courts, a community radio station…a long list. The community manages its affairs through communal councils.

These spaces make it easy and natural for people of all ages to get together. We had a taste of this as we were welcomed with a concert by young people who had learned to play their instruments through el sistema. The star of the show was a girl of 8 or 9 who sang three long songs from memory, in a strong, confident voice. It seemed like a good place to raise kids.

This kind of housing would soon be history if the opposition were to come to power. Soon after they won a majority in the National Assembly they attempted to privatize the millions of homes the government had built, so landlords could buy them up as rentals and speculative investments. The Supreme Court was able to block that move, but if the opposition were in power they would do it.

We had come to Venezuela to learn how the popular classes are responding to the economic attacks and military threats from the US. One very visible response is that they are joining the militia; we were impressed by how this has been taken up. Our visit coincided with two demonstrations and two Sundays: four days when militia members did not need to dress in routine work-day clothing, and chose to wear their distinctive khaki uniforms in the marches and as they strolled around the plazas and shops. People of literally every adult age, and both sexes. It seemed there are about as many women as men. Even more remarkable was the number of people who are quite old, many in their seventies.

These militia groups train regularly. Their guns are kept in secure locations in communities around the country, close to where they might be needed. It was recently announced that the militia will be responsible for delivering the packages of food to be distributed to neighborhoods. This is a prudent measure given the history of violent attacks on medical clinics and other services provided to the popular classes. There are one and a half million members of the militia at this time, the goal being two and a half million.

Another response of the popular classes is a massive effort to produce food, through urban agriculture as well as in the countryside. We visited one substantial facility in Catia, a large hilly section at the western end of Caracas, where four communes with a total population of about 150,000 have created an urban farm named after Fabricio Ojeda, a revolutionary who died in the struggles against the oligarchy in the last century.”

Wow, people power in action.

 

 

Canada is doing marginally better than the US in terms of abortion law.  The problem is gap between legality and accessibility.  Following the letter but not the spirit of the law gives Canadian women the short end of the stick, as usual.  It’s a legal medical procedure, and a government that respected women as autonomous human beings would ensure that women access to the medical procedures they required with as few encumbrances as possible.  The fuckery still goes on here in Canada though.

“Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988 when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws against it. But for women living outside of big urban centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, accessing the procedure “becomes really tricky,” Chabot said.

Some of those barriers include funding. Under the Canada Health Act, abortion services are insured in all provinces and territories. But some provinces have placed limits on funding for the procedure.”

I swear, mandatory male vasectomies ought to be the way to go with the amount of bullshit that surrounds this issue.

Ontario does not fund abortions at every clinic, while New Brunswick does not fund abortions at clinics at all, only hospitals. Health Canada, in its 2016-2017 annual report, said New Brunswick’s lack of coverage “remains a concern.

And in the case of New Brunswick, the “federal government has failed to penalize the province by withholding transfer payments.”

Distance to abortion services can also be a barrier. In many remote communities, specifically northern communities, there are no abortion clinics in town and no hospitals that perform the procedure.

So, small check mark, but we need to continue to push to make sure that all Canadian women have access to the reproductive health care they need, not just the ones in the major cities.

 

The bullshit is coming full circle now. A purportedly feminist organization using a slur against women who question transgender ideology. We see you Women’s March and note your centring of men in your policies. Fortunately on they are having a rough go of it on twitter as actual feminists are taking their misogyny to task.

This is why effective feminist organizing focusing on liberating females from the structures of patriarchy, rather than chasing some never to be realized notion of equality. Women never win in a patriarchy, and attempting to play by the rules is a recipe for disaster (see the gender-self-id bollocks).

We found this amazing letter on Mumsnet and approached the author for permission to share. It is powerful and needs to be heard.

To the woman who shrieked at me that I am a bigot and a terf and a hateful transphobe for defending women’s rights,

Ten, fifteen years from now, I ask you to remember me.

Remember me when you have your first baby and you’re referred to throughout your pregnancy as a birthing individual, a pregnant person, and it makes you feel kind of dehumanised and you wish they’d just call you a woman, a mother, because that’s what you are. But they’re not allowed, because it’s illegal to say only women can be pregnant and give birth.

Remember me when you give birth and you feel vulnerable and exposed and you really want a woman beside you who understands what you’re going through and instead your midwife is a six foot man with stubble in a dress and you know he isn’t a woman but you’re not allowed to object, even when you need to be examined and you just want a woman to do it but you know you can’t say anything because that would be hate speech, even though your body is screaming no.

Remember me when your elderly mother, who has lost her mind to dementia, goes into a care home and is told that her carer, Susan, is a woman, because you asked that she only be cared for by women. And even in her addled state of mind, she knows that Susan is a man, and you know Susan is a man, but you cannot object, and she has to allow Susan to perform her intimate care, because to object would be hate speech.

Remember me when your daughter comes home from school crying, the daughter who has spent the last five years training to be the best athlete in her class, her school, her district, she’s crying because Lucas in her class, one of the fastest boys, has decided he identifies as female for now and so is allowed to run in her race, and she knows it doesn’t matter how hard she trains, he will always beat her, and she can only ever hope for a silver medal now. Or bronze, if there is another Lucas.

Remember me when you go into a toilet late at night, perhaps in a bar, and there’s noone else around, and a guy walks in, he has a beard and is wearing jeans and a t shirt, and the way he looks at you seems off, and you feel afraid and unsettled and worried he might hurt you. But you can’t challenge him, because if you do he’ll say he’s a woman and has as much right as you do to be in this toilet, a place where many years ago you might have come to feel safe.

Remember me when you go for a promotion, for a board position at work that’s designated for a woman. You’ve put in the hours, you’ve worked so hard, you know you deserve it. And the position goes to Lola, who until last year was a 50 year old man. Lola will never do anything inconvenient like needing time off to have babies, or to deal with any health issues that you, a woman might face, like endometriosis, breast cancer, PND. Lola is a woman just like you, and your company are happy that they have fulfilled their quota of women members on the board.

Remember me when you read on the news that crime statistics for women committing rape and murder are on the increase, and now women carry out a much higher number of rapes and murders than they did when you were a teenager or a young woman. And you know that these ‘women’ are men and that the statistics are wrong, but to challenge this would be hate speech. Remember me too, when these women rapists are locked up with vulnerable women in female prisons and cannot escape, because to challenge the presence of the women rapists with penises in prison with them would be hate speech.

Remember me when your son comes home from school and says that he’s learned at school that you can change sex and that some girls have penises and some boys have vaginas and that his teacher said that because he likes playing with girls and dolls that maybe he is really a girl in the wrong body. And you think, no, you are just my wonderful, unique, son, and you were born in your own body. Remember me when a few months down the line the teacher calls you in and says she’s concerned that you are not validating your son’s identity and that she’s noticed you are still referring to him by the name you so carefully chose for him when he was born, and calling him a boy, when he is actually a girl, and that she doesn’t want to have to involve social services but she’s worried she might have to if you continue to misgender your son and deny his real identity. And you know that she will, because it’s happened before in a school near you, and you are afraid.

In this brave new world that you helped to create, look around for your transactivist friends, your lefty male allies, the ones you stood beside and yellled ‘terf, transphobe, bigot’ with, with you shouting the loudest, because you wanted to show what a good ally you were, how inclusive, how progressive. Where are they now? Why, they are where they always were. Benefitting from the patriarchy. Enjoying the new, improved version of it that you helped them to build by crushing the resistance from the women who spoke up for their rights. This has all cost them nothing; it has made the world a better, easier place for men. It has cost you and your sisters who campaigned with them for virtue cookies, everything.

And me? I’ll be where I’ve always been. Fighting for your rights. Fighting to undo the damage.

I’ll have your back, as I always have done.

by CR

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