Argentina: Killing of teacher sparks national protests

In response to the death April 5 of chemistry teacher Carlos Fuentealba, whose head was struck the day before by a police tear gas canister, demonstrations broke out in 300 places across Argentina on April 9. Fuentealba and other teachers in Neuquén province were demonstrating for salary increases, according to The independent union federation CTA called a general strike joined by the Peronista CGT federation. In Buenos Aires, 30,000 marched with Argentina’s teachers union, CTERA. Protesters held Governor Jorge Sobisch responsible. Sobisch is positioning himself as a 2008 presidential candidate. A teachers union leader declared there must be no return to “assassination as a response to social demands or struggle for wages.”

Sudan: Pressure from China on peace efforts

In Khartoum, China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun told Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir last week that improvements in Sudan’s security situation are imperative, the BBC reported. The initiative came in response to persisting Sudanese resistance to United Nations attempts to introduce peacekeeping measures. Over 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million displaced during four years of conflict between Sudanese government forces and rebel groups. The Bashir government has blocked a UN proposal originally made by Kofi Annan to deploy a contingent of combined UN and African Union troops in Sudan. Analysts give Chinese pressure on Sudan considerable weight because of billions of dollars China has invested in Sudan’s oil industry. Sudan, tied with Equatorial Guinea as Africa’s third largest oil producer, exports most of its crude oil to China, which also provides Sudan with military equipment. Chinese workers are engaged in major improvements in Sudan’s transportation infrastructure.

Nepal: Maoists take cabinet posts

After a decade of guerrilla war, Maoists entered the governing cabinet in Nepal, April 1, filling five ministerial positions. In Nepal’s current Parliament, which convened in January, the Maoist delegation occupies 83 of 329 seats. One-third are women and several represent the so-called “untouchable” caste. UN officials simultaneously began collecting weapons turned in by Maoist combatants. The UN also collected weapons from government troops who will be confined to barracks.

Peace agreements signed in November 2006 call for elections to a constituent assembly scheduled for June 20. According to Agence France Press, the Maoists are focused on removing Nepal’s king who has been shorn of power. Critics charge the former guerrillas with obstructing rival party activities in small villages and the countryside. A splinter Maoist group representing Indian-descended inhabitants is active in Nepal’s southeastern lowlands. Observers see movement in Nepal toward federalist modes of power distribution.

Afghanistan: Farmers turning to Taliban

A random survey released in March by the Brussels-based Senlis Council indicates that Taliban forces are gaining support from Afghan men at the expense of NATO troops in three southeastern provinces. Most of those surveyed said foreign troops are not helping improve their lives and will not be able to defeat the Taliban. Poverty is having disastrous effects, with 80 percent saying they had trouble feeding their families. The survey, according to Toronto’s Globe and Mail, says, “Afghanis in southern Afghanistan are increasingly prepared to admit their support for the Taliban,” which protects against forced eradication of poppy crops by Western troops. Taliban fighters’ pay for two months is equivalent to the average annual income in the region, $747. Only 19 percent said they benefit from the presence of international troops, and only 6.5 percent in U.S.-controlled areas.

Britain: Communist Party sees threat to human life

“The transnational corporations of the developed countries, together with parasitical finance-capital, are driving the world into a century of resource wars,” activist Geoffrey Bottoms told an April 11 meeting of the Communist Party of Britain’s Political Committee. It followed publication by the Oxford Research Group of “Beyond Terror: The Truth About the Real Threats to Our World.” The report charges that the so-called war on terrorism diverts attention from climate change, competition over resources, militarization and mass impoverishment. In a statement, the British Communists urged action by labor and popular movements in response to threats to human survival posed by global warming, outlined recently by a UN panel on climate change. Bottoms contrasted annual U.S. military spending of $650 billion with aid to Africa totaling $4 billion.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (atwhit @