Central America
antibitcoin

El Salvador: Bitcoin flop, pseudo-war on gangs

A year ago, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele declared Bitcoin legal tender in the country‚ÄĒa global first. Since then, Bitcoin has lost half its value. Many Salvadorans, who were dubious on the plan to begin with, cashed in on a $30 bonus offered as an incentive to download the Bitcoin app, only to delete it once they received the money. The lack of enthusiasm may have protected people from losses due to Bitcoin’s dive. But many in the country have still sunk deeper into poverty in the past year. One reason is a crackdown on gang violence by the self-described¬†“dictatorial” president that has seen more than 52,000 alleged gang members rounded up since March. Instead of catching criminals, innocent people are being arrested to meet quotas. The majority of those detained may not even have links to gangs, and the arrests have left many poor families without breadwinners.¬†(Photo via Twitter)

The Amazon
COICA

Indigenous peoples issue urgent call for Amazon

More than 500 indigenous leaders from across the Amazon, meeting in Lima, issued an urgent call for the world to act against the destruction of the planet’s largest rainforest. The statement, “Amazonia Against the Clock,” was approved by the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), at a summit of representatives from nine countries. The statement invokes the Emergency Motion 129 issued last September in Marseille by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), calling for “permanent protection” of the remaining 80% of intact rainforest by 2025. (Image via Twitter)

Africa
freetown

Econo-protests rock Sierra Leone

Authorities in Sierra Leone imposed a nationwide curfew amid anti-government protests, in which a still undetermined number of people have been killed, apparently including at least four police officers. In the capital Freetown, protesters barricaded the streets and clashed with security forces, enraged at a 40% spike in the cost of living. A key demand is the resignation of President Julius Maada Bio, who is on a month-long vacation with his family in London‚ÄĒa trip apparently paid for with misappropriated public funds. The government has shut down internet access in the country to prevent activists from issuing calls to protest and spreading images of the repression. President Bio has long been accused of rampant corruption and human rights abuses.¬†(Image: Africa Facts Zone¬†via Twitter)

Southern Cone
BsAs

Econo-protests sweep Argentina

Argentina has seen weeks of mass protests in response to a rapidly deepening economic crisis. Prices for basic goods are skyrocketing, leaving many struggling to make ends meet. The protest wave began¬†on Argentina’s independence day, July 9, when thousands marched on the presidential palace. Dubbed the “Argentinazo,” the mobilization was held in Buenos Aires and cities across the country. Last week, center-left President Alberto Fern√°ndez named his second new economy minister in less than a month, as his own coalition has fractured over how to handle the burdensome national debt. The country avoided defaulting on an IMF loan in March, postponing scheduled payments in exchange for pledges of belt-tightening measures. These include a slash in energy subsidies that have helped keep utility bills low‚ÄĒimposing further hardship¬†on the poor amid the spiralling inflation. (Photo: Pag√≠na12)

East Asia
Zhengzhou

China: can authorities contain unrest after Henan protests?

China’s banking regulator announced that it has opened an investigation into officials at its bureau in Henan province, which this month saw protests by depositors unable to withdraw funds. The China Banking & Insurance Regulatory Commission said a local inspector is suspected of “serious disciplinary violations” concerning fraud and embezzlement at five rural lenders. Several members of a “criminal gang” accused of taking control of the banks have been arrested. The situation turned violent after some 1,000 depositors protested in Zhengzhou, demanding access to their savings in frozen accounts. The protesters were assaulted by a group of unidentified men in matching white outfits, as police held back and did not intervene. Video of the incident went viral on social media. In addition to the banking imbroglio, China’s central government faces a growing mortgage payment boycott across the country‚ÄĒand it is all happening in a politically sensitive year. President Xi Jinping is widely expected to secure a third leadership term at the upcoming 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.¬†(Photo via¬†Twitter)

South Asia
colombo

Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s newly appointed acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe unleashed police and army troops against remnant protesters at an encampment site in the capital, Colombo. More than 50 were injured in the raid and several arrested. Military personnel also reportedly detained a group of protesters for several hours and severely beat them before they were released. Just hours earlier, protest leaders had agreed to disband the encampment the following day, in response to a court order. The site had been occupied by protesters since March, when an uprising began in response to near-total economic collapse in the country.¬†Wickremesinghe, implicated in past atrocities during a counterinsurgency campaign against leftist rebels, has repeatedly derided the protesters as “fascists.” (Photo via Twitter)

Planet Watch
#ariseghana

Ghana to Peru: more ripples from Ukraine storm

Governments around the world are scrambling to shore up economies hard hit by rising oil and wheat prices as a resut of the Ukraine war. Ghana has opened talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)¬†for emergency relief after angry protesters flooded the streets of the capital Accra, clashing with police. Protests were called under the slogan “Arise Ghana” to pressure President Nana Akufo-Ad to address a dramatic spike in the cost of food and fuel. Meanwhile, the Central Reserve Bank of Peru is to raise its key interest rate in a bid to quell inflation, after freight shipping was briefly paralyzed across the country. The truckers’ union, the National Council of Terrestrial Transport, announced an “indefinite” strike, although it was suspended following a pledge by the government of President Pedro Castillo to bring soaring fuel prices under control.¬†(Image via Twitter)

Europe
Ukraine

Podcast: Ukraine between East and West II

In Episode 129 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the book Ukraine & the Empire of Capital: From Marketisation to Armed Conflict by Yuliya Yurchenko of the Ukrainian left-opposition group Sotsialniy Rukh (Social Movement). In the book, written in 2018, Yurchenko takes a rigorous neither/nor position between Russia and the West, tracing the roots of the current crisis to the rise of regional oligarchs and a “criminal-political nexus” in the post-communist transition a generation ago. The West, in its rush to effect a crash capitalist conversion in the East, was deeply complicit in this. But these regional fiefdoms would be exploited by Vladimir Putin to effect a division of Ukraine as East-West rivalry re-emerged. This January, as Putin amassed forces on Ukraine’s borders, Sotsialniy Rukh issued a statement appealing for “anti-war solidarity.” In interviews since the invasion was launched, Yurchenko has been unequivocal in supporting Ukraine’s “popular resistance.” Similar statements from socialists and anarchists in Ukraine, Belarus and elsewhere in Eastern Europe have called, first and foremost, for the defeat of Putin’s neo-imperial project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map via Perry-Casta√Īeda Library Map Collection)

The Andes
paro

Oil spike sparks national uprising in Ecuador

Ecuador’s national indigenous alliance CONAIE announced an “indefinite” paro (general strike), in response to a sudden jump in petrol prices. Things escalated when CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza was arrested in Cotopaxi province, where he was apparently participating in a blockade of the Panamerican highway. He was held at a military base, but released the next day following angry protests over his detention and a CONAIE call for “radicalization” of the campaign. Roadblocks are reported in at least 14 of the country’s 24 provinces, including Pichincha, where the capital Quito is located. CONAIE has presented the government of President Guillermo Lasso with a list of 10 demands.¬†These include, in addition to a drop in fuel prices, a¬†¬†moratorium on new oil and mineral leases, and reparations to communities impacted by extractive projects. (Photo: Kawsachun News)

Europe
Budapest

Hungary dictatorship consolidates; Putin pleased

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor √ďrban declared a state of emergency, citing threats originating from the war in Ukraine. The declaration, allowing him to rule by decree, came days after his Fidesz party used its supermajority to pass a constitutional amendment allowing the government to impose a state of emergency in the event of¬†war in a neighboring country. √ďrban declared a similar emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and those assumed special powers, having been extended by the National Assembly multiple times, were set to expire just days before the new declaration. The declaration also came¬†days after Tucker Carlson and friends from the American far right attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Budapest. It also comes as Hungarian officials are blocking a European Union plan for an embargo of Russian oil, and calling for removal of the question from the agenda of an imminent EU summit.¬†(Photo: Pixabay)

Iran
#iranprotests

Iran: protest, repression as food prices soar

Angry protests have swept through several provinces of Iran amid an economic crisis exacerbated by subsidy cuts that have seen the price of basic goods soar as much as 300%. According to reports on social media, at least six people have been killed as security forces have been deployed across the country to quell unrest. The protests have turned political in many areas, with crowds calling for an end to the Islamic Republic. The government has cut off the internet to a number of areas that have witnessed protests, including traditionally restive Khuzestan province. (Image: Hajar Morad via Twitter)

Africa
Camp-Levieux

Protests over fuel price hikes shake Mauritius

The African island nation of Mauritius exploded into angry protests, with residents of poor Kreol communities erecting roadblocks and fighting the police. The island had seen days of peaceful demonstrations over a sudden and drastic increase of petrol and gas prices, centered on the town of Camp-Levieux. Things turned violent after the arrest of “Darren,” a young protest leader, on charges of “participation in illegal demonstrations.” The police headquarters where he was being held was besieged, and protests spread quickly to other towns across the island. Police deployed anti-riot units and armored vehicles against youth hurling stones and Molotov cocktails. Things calmed when Darren was released on bail. But it remains to be seen if the increasingly debt-burdened government can strike a deal with the newly mobilized popular movement. (Photo: Zinfos¬†Moris)