East Asia
Free Taiwan

Taiwan & Puerto Rico: forbidden symmetry

In Episode 63 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg draws a parallel between the self-determination struggles in Taiwan and Puerto Rico. Each is an island nation in the “backyard” of an imperial power, struggling for independence. Taiwan is de facto independent from China, with a movement to make it official. Puerto Rico is a de facto colony (officially an “unincorporated territory”) of the United States, with a movement for independence. Taiwan is being particularly threatened at this moment by the imperial power that covets it; Puerto Rico is being particularly fucked over at this moment by the imperial power that controls it. Yet the emergence of Taiwan-Puerto Rico solidarity is held back by the fact that their respective imperial metropoles are rivals on the geopolitical chassboard—another illustration of how a global divide-and-rule racket is the essence of the state system. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Wang LeWei, Josh MacPhee, Mac McGill via Art for a Free Taiwan)

Planet Watch
Cyclone Eloise

Mozambique disaster: climate ‘wake-up call’

More than 270,000 people have been affected by heavy winds and torrential rain since Tropical Cyclone Eloise made landfall in Mozambique. Schools and health centers were flattened and more than 20,000 people were displaced in the region, which is still recovering from the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai almost two years ago. Despite considerable investments in reconstruction and disaster prevention since Idai—one of southern Africa’s worst ever weather-related disasters—Mozambique remains among the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. Addressing the aftermath of Eloise, the UN’s resident coordinator in Mozambique, Myrta Kaulard, told reporters: “This is really a very bad wake-up call of how much Mozambique is exposed to climate. This yearly rendezvous with the cyclonic season is just too frequent for recovery to progress.” (Photo: World Meterological Organization via Twitter)

Planet Watch
Chile protester

Podcast: world revolution in 2020?

In Episode 43 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the current wave of popular protest and uprisings around the world, and asks if the planet is approaching another moment of revolutionary possibilities, such as was seen in 2011. He examines the prospects for these disparate movements to build solidarity across borders, repudiate ethnic and national divide-and-rule stratagems, and recognize the enemy as transnational capital and the authoritarian states that serve it. With discussions of Hong Kong, mainland China, Indonesia, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Honduras, Costa Rica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Guinea. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Photo: David Lynch via Twitter)

The Caribbean

Puerto Rico: climate change to regime change

Puerto Rico swore in its third governor in less than a week, Wanda Vázquez Garced, after the removal of Pedro Pierluisi by order of the commonwealth’s Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that his appointment was unconstitutional. Pierluisi had been the chosen successor of Ricardo Rosselló, who stepped down following weeks of mass protests. The protest wave began after group chats between Rosselló and his staff were made public, disclosing ugly homophobic and misogynistic comments aimed at political rivals—and even victims of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in 2017. New research links the unprecedented destruction of Maria to climate change—with grim implications for the future of the island and Caribbean region as a whole. (Photo of NYC rally for Puerto Rican independence by CounterVortex)

North Africa

Tunisian Jews scapegoated in anti-austerity revolt?

A Jewish school on the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to one of North Africa's ancient Jewish communities, was attacked as anti-government protests raged around the country. Days earlier, synagogues in the Iranian city of Shiraz were similarly vandalized amid nationwide protests over austerity measures. Are indigenous Jews of the Middle East and North Africa being scapegoated amid the renewed protests over economic agony? (Photo: Rabbis at Djerba synagogue, 1940 via Beit Hatfutsot)

The Caribbean

Puerto Ricans to become climate refugees?

Hurricane Maria's destruction on Puerto Rico could spawn one of the largest mass migrations in US history. Some 97% of the island's residents are still without power, and half do not have running water. Thousands now awaiting flights from San Juan's airport might be permanently displaced and become the planet's newest "climate refugees."

Oceania

Korea nuclear crisis spurs Guam independence bid

Amid all the hype over North Korea’s threats to fire a nuclear missile at Guam, just a few media accounts have made note of how Guamians themselves are reacting. Guam is usually seen in the US only as a strategic Pentagon outpost. But with a referendum on independence in the offing, growing sentiment on the island holds that the only thing Guamians are getting out of their current US territorial status is being made a nuclear target.

New York City
Lopez Rivera

Oscar López Rivera, terrorism and semantics

The controversy over liberated political prisoner Oscar López Rivera’s participation in New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade opens a window on the political uses of the term “terrorist.”

The Caribbean
Lopez Rivera

Clemency for Oscar López Rivera

Oscar López Rivera, the longest-held Puerto Rican political prisoner in the US, was among 209 federal inmates granted clemency by outgoing President Barack Obama. (Photo via PM Press)

The Caribbean

Puerto Rico: Machetero prisoner is released

With the release of Norberto González Claudio, Oscar López Rivera seems to be the last of the independentista prisoners still held in behind bars in the US.