China: CP calls for ‘common prosperity’

At its recent Central Committee meeting, the Communist Party of China said the new Five Year Plan starting in 2006 will emphasize “common prosperity” in an effort to bridge the growing gap between rich and poor.

The new plan will define economic growth as “Serving the people to improve life quality.” Among its goals will be increasing urban job opportunities, keeping prices stable and improving housing, transportation, education, culture, health and the environment.

Special attention will be given rural areas, where medical care and welfare are extremely weak. Before 2010, all rural children will have nine years of free education, lifting a significant financial burden from their families.

“Further progress will be made in democracy and rule of law and spiritual civilization, social security and safe production, as well as building a harmonious society,” said the CPC’s publication, People’s Daily.

Guinea: Gov’t urged to follow ILO conventions

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions last week called on the government of Guinea to end child labor and forced labor and let workers improve their lives through collective bargaining.

The ICFTU said Guinea had made those commitments during 1996-2001 as part of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Declarations. The international labor federation said that while the country had ratified all eight core ILO Labor Conventions, over 300,000 children are economically active in agriculture, petty commerce, domestic work and small scale mining. It added that bans on forced labor are not enforced.

The ICFTU said harassment of trade unionists is widespread. It also said only 7 percent of girls are enrolled in secondary school, compared with 20 percent of boys, creating a gap in employment and pay between women and men.

Paraguay: Indigenous people demand a voice

Some 300 Paraguayan indigenous people marched to the capital, Asuncion, Oct. 3 and set up a protest encampment to demand Congress approve reforms allowing the country’s indigenous communities to participate in decisions affecting them. The Chamber of Deputies has been debating the reforms, Nicaragua Solidarity Network’s Weekly News Update on the Americas reported. An indigenous council’s role in decision-making was eliminated under a separate law last year.

The protesters were also seeking more money for indigenous health and education projects, and demanding the government buy 6,000 hectares of land for six indigenous communities.

“We are again insisting [on] restitution of lands to their legitimate owners … for purchases of new lands and the granting of titles in the name of the communities for land purchases carried out so far,” the indigenous communities said in a statement.

Canada: CBC lockout ends with union victory

Members of the Canadian Media Guild have overwhelmingly ratified an agreement that ends a lockout affecting over 5,000 Canadian Broadcasting Company employees, BBC News said. CBC management had locked the workers out Aug. 15 after the union refused to yield to CBC’s demands for unlimited contracting out and use of temporary employees.

Public support for the workers and the resulting pressure on CBC from Liberal Members of Parliament helped end the dispute on terms favorable to the union.

CMG President Lise Lareau said in a letter to lock-out leaders, “You were able to help harness anger and creative energy to encourage great actions from our members. … It was about connecting to our community: the Canadian public who long to be informed, entertained and connected to one another. During the lockout, we took over the CBC’s mandate to do all that.”

Venezuela: Missionaries must leave for spying

President Hugo Chavez said Oct. 12 he will deport a U.S. Christian missionary group working among Venezuela’s indigenous people because the New Tribes Mission had “violated our national sovereignty” by gathering information in Venezuela’s southern region and sending it to the U.S.

“The New Tribes are there in the plains and in the Orinoco and take sensitive information, strategic information and they are exploiting the native Indians in our own house,” he said.

Chavez also said the Venezuelan National Armed Forces had reported the missionaries live in well-stocked camps next to poor Indian villages.

The missionary group has assigned 160 missionaries to work with 12 indigenous groups in remote areas. It has over 3,000 workers in 17 countries of Latin America, Southeast Asia and West Africa.

Chavez spoke during an Indigenous People’s Day ceremony in which the government gave over 350,000 hectares of land to indigenous communities. Keys were also distributed to tractors, pickups and outboard motors.

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (