Bob Geldof is 100 percent wrong on Bush and Africa
BOB GELDOF is right to attack the European Union's 'pathetic and appalling' response to Africa's human crisis. But he is totally wrong to praise George Bush's policies towards the continent. Bush's administration is the central actor in making sure that debt payments are pumped out of Africa.
It is the US dominance of the IMF and World Bank that makes sure African governments are forced to pay around $15 billion in debt servicing each year. The result is that 19,000 children die every day. Bush has also instructed his trade negotiators to obstruct all efforts to break the chains of patent protection which at present keep the price of AIDS drugs too high for the vast majority in Africa. Again his decisions murder thousands every day.
It is true that he has announced $15 billion to fight HIV and AIDS. But most of the money will be channelled through USAID, a government body that pushes US strategic and economic interests.
Bush is the latest in a long line of US presidents who imposed brutal dictatorships in African countries like Congo and backed vicious killers like Angola's UNITA movement. He is no more a friend of Africans than he is of Afghans or Iraqis.
Wendy Griffiths, East Anglia
BOB GELDOF'S praise for George Bush is surreal. The US is intervening in Africa for the same reasons all the major powers have done. There is currently a new 'Scramble for Africa' under way as the oil multinationals jostle for the right to exploit the massive oil reserves of the west coast.
From Angola to Nigeria goverments are being bribed and bullied to give the rights to US companies.
Since Seattle African governments have tried to hold off massive US pressure to allow the multinationals free rein to sell GM crops. During the recent famines in Zambia a condition of US aid was that the Zambians had to accept genetically modified grain.
George Bush is no saviour of Africa. Geldof has lost the plot and should stop polishing his image off the back of dying children.
Simon Hester, North London
Why refugees are forced to flee
ABAS AMINI is an Iranian refugee who went on hunger strike and sewed his eyes, nose and mouth shut in protest against his treatment. Instead of taking pity on Abas, David Blunkett boasts that his vicious anti-asylum laws are working because the number of people claiming asylum fell recently.
Blunkett insists the brutal treatment of asylum seekers has reduced the number of applications. This is not true. There has been a dramatic fall in asylum applications in all industrialised countries – with the sole exception of Greece, where welfare is not an option at all!
Asylum applications fall when life improves for people. Numbers applying from Sri Lanka have fallen because of a peace deal there. Numbers from Afghanistan began falling as soon as the war ended.
Elane Heffernan, East London
THE HOME Office were refused leave to appeal against the decision to grant Abas Amini refugee status. Abas finally ended his hunger strike, and wants to continue raising wider issues about the treatment of asylum seekers.
Two hundred people gathered outside Abas Amini's house in Nottingham on Wednesday of last week to show their solidarity with him. That afternoon Abas's solicitor got the decision about the Home Office appeal. Abas wishes to express his thanks to everybody who has supported his struggle.
John O, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns
No confidence in Tory Blair
I AM a member of Leytonstone and Wanstead Labour Party and the east London postal workers' union branch. At our general committee meeting on Friday 23 May we passed a resolution of no confidence in Tony Blair.
The resolution said the party no longer has confidence in Tony Blair as prime minister because he led us into a war which cost over 30 British lives and thousands of Iraqi lives without just cause. The chair of the branch will be writing to other Labour Party branches across London to ask them to do the same. The branch secretary, David Hayes, said he voted for the resolution with a heavy heart. He is New Labour but he recently stood in a council by-election in Waltham Forest.
It should have been a safe Labour seat. He found many people apathetic about Labour, and many more were still annoyed about the war. The Lib Dems won the seat. They had a better position on the war and people think they are actually to the left of Tony Blair. We feel getting people to vote Labour will be an uphill struggle in the future because the main issue on the doorstep is the war.
Labour Party member, Waltham Forest
A Euro vision
SO, PETER Hain has declared, and recanted, that the European elections in 2004 can be a referendum on the Euro constitution and the euro itself. This is an opportunity that the Socialist Alliance must not pass up. We need to organise now for a combined left slate of candidates who can provide people with a real alternative to the Little Englander Tories and the 'capitalism without criticism' of New Labour and their Lib Dem fan club.
We proved under the first past the post system in Preston that we can win. Under proportional representation we can make a real breakthrough. A Socialist Alliance victory next year is within our grasp.
Roger Smith, Hull
Forging a new political voice
DURING THE recent local council elections, a small group of firefighters determined to contest a limited number of seats. Their 'party' – Firefighters Against Cuts – was hastily organised. They did not expect to win any seats. What they did do was register a protest.
Paul Woolstenholmes, a Suffolk firefighter, and a colleague drew 13.5 percent of the vote. They beat the Lib Dems and cost a Labour councillor his seat. This is not simply about firefighters' pay. There is a widespread feeling that public services are being neglected. A party giving expression to that feeling may find that it lays claim to much popular support.
David Howells by email
Sci-fi debate reloaded
BOB LIGHT'S review of The Matrix Reloaded (Socialist Worker, 31 May) was way off the mark. By Hollywood standards, the Matrix films are extremely radical. They promote ideas of freedom and rebellion.
I think these films are popular for their message of resistance as much as for their special effects.
Jarvis Ryan, Sydney
Pleasure in Socialism
I RECENTLY had the pleasure of attending a day of political discussions and debate organised by the Socialist Workers Party in Swansea. The event, 'Socialism in Wales', was held in the deprived Townhill area.
I hope the SWP will be organising more excellent events like this in areas like Townhill in the future!
Leigh Richards, Townhill
Brutal face of British army
THE appalling slaughter in Congo has led to some calls for British troops to be sent there to keep the peace. But Masai women in Kenya say that for 20 years British soldiers on training exercises in the region have systematically raped them. Not one soldier has ever been investigated.
Kerry Hearne, South London
Should the UN act in Congo?
IN RESPONSE to the article on Congo (Socialist Worker, 24 May) I was born in the republic of Rwanda. I witnessed the 1994 genocide when over 800,000 people died. The scariest thing of all is that it is not over. The Hutu army is hiding in the forests of Congo, hoping to reclaim what they still assume is theirs.
Much of the intrusion of the US can be very self serving and improper, but it can't be worse than being ignored by the whole world. Something needs to be done about Congo, but this time done right, through the UN.