60 years of Cuban medical solidarity / by People’s Dispatch

Photo: People’s Dispatch

Originally published in People’s Dispatch on June, 2023

As of May 2022, 605,000 health workers from Cuba have served in 165 countries and have dealt with emergency programs for the response to infectious disease, relief work after hurricanes and earthquakes and provision of primary health care.

The last week of May marked the 60th anniversary of the first batch of Cuban health workers who went to Algeria to support rebuilding efforts after its liberation from France. As of May 2022, 605,000 health workers from Cuba have served in 165 countries and have dealt with emergency programs for the response to infectious disease, relief work after hurricanes and earthquakes and provision of primary health care.

Peoples Dispatch, formerly The Dawn News, is an international media project with the mission of bringing to you voices from people’s movements and organizations across the globe. Since its establishment three years ago, it has sought to ensure that the coverage of news from around the world is not restricted to the rhetoric of politicians and the fortunes of big companies but encompasses the richness and diversity of mobilizations from around the world.

Earth is ‘really quite sick now’ and in danger zone in nearly all ecological ways, study says / by Seth Borenstein

A swan stands between dumped plastic bottles and waste at the Danube river in Belgrade, Serbia, on April 18, 2022. A new study says Earth has pushed past seven out of eight scientifically established safety limits and into “the danger zone,” not just for an overheating planet that’s losing its natural areas, but for well-being of people living on it. The study, published Wednesday, May 31, 2023, for the first time it includes measures of “justice,” which is mostly about preventing harm for groups of people. | Darko Vojinovic/AP

Originally published in the People’s World on June 1, 2023

Earth has pushed past seven out of eight scientifically established safety limits and into “the danger zone,” not just for an overheating planet that’s losing its natural areas, but for the well-being of people living on it, according to a new study.

The study looks not just at guardrails for the planetary ecosystem but for the first time, it includes measures of “justice,” which is mostly about preventing harm for countries, ethnicities, and genders.

The study by the international scientist group Earth Commission published in Wednesday’s journal Nature looks at climate, air pollution, phosphorus and nitrogen contamination of water from fertilizer overuse, groundwater supplies, fresh surface water, the unbuilt natural environment, and the overall natural and human-built environment. Only air pollution wasn’t quite at the danger point globally.

Air pollution is dangerous at local and regional levels, while the climate was beyond the harmful levels for humans in groups but not quite past the safety guideline for the planet as a system, the study from the Swedish group said.

The study found “hotspots” of problem areas throughout Eastern Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, and much of Brazil, Mexico, China, and some of the U.S. West — much of it from climate change. About two-thirds of Earth don’t meet the criteria for freshwater safety, scientists said as an example.

“We are in a danger zone for most of the Earth system boundaries,” said study co-author Kristie Ebi, a professor of climate and public health at the University of Washington.

If planet Earth just got an annual checkup, similar to a person’s physical, “our doctor would say that the Earth is really quite sick right now and it is sick in terms of many different areas or systems and this sickness is also affecting the people living on Earth,” Earth Commission co-chair Joyeeta Gupta, a professor of environment at the University of Amsterdam, said at a press conference.

It’s not a terminal diagnosis. The planet can recover if it changes, including its use of coal, oil, and natural gas and the way it treats the land and water, the scientists said.

But “we are moving in the wrong direction on basically all of these,” said study lead author Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

A woman bathes her daughter in the Yamuna River, covered by a chemical foam caused by industrial and domestic pollution as the skyline is enveloped in toxic smog, in New Delhi, India, on Nov. 17, 2021. A new study says Earth has pushed past seven out of eight scientifically established safety limits and into “the danger zone,” not just for an overheating planet that’s losing its natural areas, but for the well-being of people living on it. The study, published Wednesday, May 31, 2023, for the first time includes measures of “justice,” which is mostly about preventing harm to groups of people. | Manish Swarup/AP

“This is a compelling and provocative paper – scientifically sound in methodology and important for identifying the dimensions in which the planet is nearing the edge of boundaries that would launch us into irreversible states,” Indy Burke, dean of the Yale School of the Environment said in an email. She wasn’t part of the study.

The team of about 40 scientists created quantifiable boundaries for each environmental category, both for what’s safe for the planet and for the point at which it becomes harmful for groups of people, which the researchers termed a justice issue.

Rockstrom said he thinks of those points as setting up “a safety fence” outside of which the risks become higher, but not necessarily fatal.

Rockstrom and other scientists have attempted in the past this type of holistic measuring of Earth’s various interlocking ecosystems. The big difference in this attempt is that scientists also looked at local and regional levels and they added the element of justice.

The justice part includes fairness between young and old generations, different nations, and even different species. Frequently, it applies to conditions that harm people more than the planet.

An example of that is climate change.

The report uses the same boundary of 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming since pre-industrial times that international leaders agreed upon in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The world has so far warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit), so it hasn’t crossed that safety fence, Rockstrom and Gupta said, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t being hurt.

“What we are trying to show through our paper is that even at 1 degree Centigrade (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) there is a huge amount of damage taking place,” Gupta said, pointing to tens of millions of people exposed to extremely hot temperatures.

The planetary safety guardrail of 1.5 degrees hasn’t been breached, but the “just” boundary where people are hurt of 1 degree has been.

“Sustainability and justice are inseparable,” said Stanford environmental studies chief Chris Field, who wasn’t part of the research. He said he would want even more stringent boundaries. “Unsafe conditions do not need to cover a large fraction of Earth’s area to be unacceptable, especially if the unsafe conditions are concentrated in and near poor and vulnerable communities.”

Another outside expert, Dr. Lynn Goldman, an environmental health professor and dean of George Washington University’s public health school, said the study was “kind of bold,” but she wasn’t optimistic that it would result in much action.

Seth Borenstein, Associated Press science writer, covers earth sciences and climate change. APNewsGuild member. Teaches at NYU/DC.

Canadian aid for Cuba? 35 national and regional organizations support it / by Stephen Kimber and John Kirk

Cuban propaganda poster proclaiming a quote from Fidel Castro: “Luchar contra lo imposible y vencer” (“To fight against the impossible and win”). Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Originally posted in Canadian Dimension on May 27, 2023

Cuba desperately needs food and medical aid now. It also deserves an end to the longest-standing embargo in modern times

It is not often that the United Church of Canada, the (Anglican) Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, Oxfam, and the Communist Party of Canada join to lobby the Canadian government. But that is what they have just done.

Together with 27 other Church groups, unions, development agencies and civil society groups in mid-April they wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan, requesting humanitarian aid for Cuba, and asking Canada to lobby Washington for a change in its policy towards Cuba.

What unites this broad alliance is their shared concern about Cuba’s current social and economic crises and the continuing impact of a US policy of aggression against Cuba.

Cuba is in desperate shape, with major shortages of food and medicine. The shelves in the pharmacies and grocery stores are empty. There isn’t enough fuel to transport fresh produce to the cities. The inflation rate is 44 percent. The price of food and non-alcoholic beverages in March 2022 cost 72 percent more than the same period last year.

I (Kirk) was in Cuba in December 2022 and again in April this year. I saw first-hand how desperate life is for ordinary Cubans.

A friend who is a dental surgeon in Havana told me that he had been unable to perform surgery for three months because of a lack of anesthetics. Another medical colleague, head of the emergency department at a large hospital, told me that they were badly in need of everything from antibiotics to bandages, painkillers to Band-Aids.

There are also nationwide fuel shortages which, combined with ancient power generator infrastructure, have resulted in massive blackouts—some lasting days.

In late April 2023, fuel was only guaranteed for tourist activities, public transportation, ambulances and hearses. University classes in five provinces had to go online. A lack of fuel resulted in a concert by the national symphony orchestra being cancelled, as was the traditional annual May Day parade—for the first time since 1959.

Food rations—including essentials such as basic grains and cooking oil—often arrive late and are incomplete. The 2022 sugar harvest—historically the mainstay of the economy—was the worst in over a century, reaching only half its target. This year’s is predicted to be worse.

While tourism has increased 139 percent over the same period last year, it is still far behind the pre-COVID numbers (4.2 million for 2019).

Cuba is in crisis, and in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Hence the alliance of these 35 groups, and the letter to the Canadian government.

What is happening in Cuba?

There are several explanations for the current crisis. The pandemic decimated Cuba’s critically important tourist industry for the past two years. Moreover, the country’s traditional top-down economic management system also hamstrings innovation and efficiency. Worst, of course, is the US embargo—the longest in contemporary history. Its screws tightened during the Trump presidency and barely loosened since—wreaking havoc with every sector of the economy.

Nature has also caused major damage to the island. There is widespread drought, with 400,000 people affected in March. Hurricane Ian, with winds of 220 kilometres an hour, devastated western Cuba in late September 2022, damaging 63,000 homes, and destroying several thousand. A month earlier fire destroyed half of Cuba’s only supertanker oil storage facility in Matanzas.

It is not surprising that some 280,000 Cubans left the island for the United States in 2022, the greatest exodus in decades.

Ultimately, however, the causes are less important today than the reality—and the massive humanitarian needs of the Cuban people.

In the early 1990s during a similar humanitarian crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Canada stepped up aid to the Cuban people.

This 35-member alliance wants the Canadian government to not only support Cubans with increased humanitarian (food and medical) aid but also to use its good offices to lobby the Biden administration to drop the debilitating trade embargo on Cuba, in effect since 1962.

The embargo was once again condemned at the United Nations General Assembly last year, with 185 countries (including Canada) supporting Cuba, and only two (the United States and Israel) supporting it.

The alliance also wants Ottawa to press Washington to take Cuba off the list of countries that allegedly support terrorism. This designation, unsupported by evidence, was overturned by Barack Obama, but slapped back on by Donald Trump, and remains in place.

Being on this list (along with North Korea, Iran and Syria) has significant consequences. International banks are unwilling to process Cuban payments and have frozen accounts for businesses and individuals seeking a normal commercial relationship with Cuba. It has a chilling effect on bank transactions, academic exchanges, investment and trade. It has also made it difficult for faith-based groups to send food to the Cuban people.

This all has a major human cost on the Cuban population, resulting in widespread food and medicine shortages—as the government faces obstacles in importing badly needed supplies.

The group’s letter to Ministers Joly and Sajjan reminds them of the close historical ties between Canada and Cuba. Canada and Mexico were the only two countries in the Western Hemisphere not to break relations with Cuba in the 1960s, and Pierre Trudeau was the first leader of a NATO country to visit Cuba. For its part, Cuba was the only country in 1970 willing to accept the FLQ terrorists from Québec. It is still Canada’s principal market in the Caribbean/Central American region, and Canadians currently make up 51 percent of tourists to the island.

Cuba desperately needs food and medical aid now. It also deserves an end to the longest-standing embargo in modern times.

Canada can play a major role in promoting both outcomes. By doing so it will provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance, but will also enhance its own role in the region where Cuba, because of its medical aid to dozens of countries, plays an outsized role. The ball is now in the court of Ministers Joly and Sajjan.

Stephen Kimber is an award-winning journalist and the author of 13 books, including What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five.

John Kirk is Professor Emeritus of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University and the author and co-editor of 18 books on Cuba.

Worker Empowerment Stalls in Venezuela as Left Unity Fractures / By W. T. Whitney Jr.

Indigenous spokespeople, Venezuela (archive) | venezuelanalysis.com/

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s president from 1999 until 2013, inspired and led a “Bolivarian Revolution” that sought independence from U.S. domination, regional integration and so-called socialism of the 21st century. Obstacles are many: capitalism in control of the national economy, unrelenting rightwing political opposition, U.S. intervention – and longstanding political divisions among left forces.

Worker empowerment languishes in such a context. We offer an explanation, and doing so, attribute the divisions to differing approaches to the predicament of Venezuelan workers.

Several months ago, union workers in many sectors were vigorously protesting low wages and demanding that wages be paid in dollars, to counter inflation. Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s president after Chavez’s death in 2013, reprimanded them for not “understanding the effects of the blockade and the oligarchy’s economic war.”

The government faces terrible challenges. Contributing to economic disaster are U.S. sanctions and depressed oil prices over ten years or so. Oil exports have accounted for most of Venezuela’s export income. Economic crisis surely diminishes prospects for worker empowerment.

Impact of economic crisis

Recent developments tell much of that story. The U.S. Justice Department on May 4 lifted restraints on the sale of Citgo company’s assets to the creditors of the Venezuelan state and of Venezuela’s state -owned oil company, PDVSA. Citgo is PDVSA’s U.S.-based oil company. Worth $13 billion, it owns three oil refineries and 4000 gasoline stations.

U.S. authorities confiscated Citgo in 2019. It gave Citgo to those rightwing opponents of the Maduro government who between 2015 and 2021 constituted a majority in Venezuela’s National Assembly. This group will be managing the sales of Citgo shares to the company’s high-rolling creditors worldwide.

Rather than retrieve annual Citgo profits of a billion dollars or so, the government has lost them. Income from the sales of oil products had enabled the government to pay for healthcare, schools, housing, and more. The larger picture is that $30 billion in Venezuelan assets have been “blocked, retained, or confiscated.”

The U.S. State Department on May 3 announced that $347 million in Venezuelan funds now frozen in U.S. banks will be returned, not to Venezuela’s government, but to that former opposition bench in the National Assembly. For the United States, that’s Venezuela’s government.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan workers are struggling to survive; worker empowerment is a distant dream.  Presently, one third of Venezuelan children are undernourished. The poverty rate has fallen a little but remains at 50%. In one of the world’s most unequal societies, wealthy Venezuelans have access to imported goods, dollars, and the proceeds from illegal businesses. The latter make up 20% of the national economy.

The economic crisis hurts Venezuela’s working class. It impedes efforts to strengthen it. We must know the extent to which Venezuela’s government supports workers.

Shifting alliances and labor rights

President Maduro in February 2018 was seeking support in presidential elections that year from the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV).  He appeared at the PCV headquarters and declared the PCV “to be the principal party in founding and defending democracy in the 20th century.”

The government’s political party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the PCV signed a “Unitary Framework Agreement,” which backed “the rights of the working class and the working people.”  The PCV did support Maduro in elections in May 2018.

Within months, however, the government introduced its “Program of Recuperation, Growth, and Economic Prosperity,” which, according to labor historian Omar Vázquez Heredia, provided for “major devaluation of the official exchange rate, elimination of price controls and import tariffs …[and] regressive labor reforms … [such as] elimination of the right to strike.”  He adds that dollars had already been disappearing through smuggling, hoarding, import fraud, and governmental corruption.

The new anti-worker measures showed up in the government’s “Memorandum 2792” of October 2018. ThePCV critiqued the government’s ready support for business interests and questioned its delivery of scarce dollars to foreign creditors and to Venezuela’s business sectors to help them import and distribute foreign goods.

Analyst Héctor Alejo Rodríguez notes that the government, through its October memorandum, “flattened the wages for all sectors and unilaterally cancelled all the collective bargaining agreements of the workers.” Workers, he points out, were already dealing with “acute shortages, loss of social gains, deterioration of public services and the systematic destruction of [their] incomes and rights.”

At a May Day rally in 2023, former labor leader Maduro told workers that funds were unavailable for salary increases, also that their “economic war bonus” would continue and their monthly food bonuses increase. The minimum wage would be equivalent to $5.25 per month – and lose value due to inflation.    

President Chavez created the “Great Patriotic Pole” electoral coalition. The PCV joined, and backed Chavez in the 2006 and 2012 elections, and Maduro in the 2013 elections. Chavez created the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in 2007. He counted on smaller leftist parties to relinquish their identity and join the PSUV.

The PCV and other parties refused, provoking Chavez in 2008 to threaten the PCV’s destruction.  PCV leader Oscar Figuera declared that his Party would still affiliate with the Patriotic Pole, but would remain independent. After all, as he noted, “We have just completed 77 years struggling for socialism in Venezuela.”

The PCV broke with the PSUV in 2020 and formed a new electoral coalition, the People’s Revolutionary Alternative (APR). Party leaders say they are “Chavista” and anti-imperialist, but want oil monies used more for industrial development and rural productivity and less for paying on foreign debt or for capitalists to use as they wish.  

Meanwhile, the government stepped up “criminalization of labor protests” and forced the retirement of many labor leaders. APR candidates have been dismissed from jobs, or jailed. The PSUV presented speakers who denounce the PCV and at the same time falsely claim to have been PCV members or to have been expelled by the PCV.

Some clarity

Mostly tellingly, a flurry of killings has recently taken the lives of PCV activists. In Apure state alone, in 2023, thugs murdered Communist journalist José Urbina and Communist community leader Juan de Dios Hernández.

In Venezuela presently the prospects for worker empowerment, not to speak of working-class political power, are dismal. A distant observer lacks full knowledge of local realities and is ill-equipped to assign blame. In any case caution is the watchword in passing judgment that might detract from unity in the broader political movement.

Now a neighbor weighs in.  Writing May 8 in Seminario Voz, the Colombian Communist Party’s newspaper, Ricardo Arenalescriticizes the PSUV. He cites the killings and false PSUV accusations.

Arenales cites a communication from the PCV Political Bureau to Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who on April 1 met with   

representatives of Venezuela’s rightwing political opposition and who was about to meet with regional foreign ministers. Petro is seeking to ease political conflict within Venezuela and somehow to end U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela.

The PCV letter calls for negotiators to attend to “the political and social forces that are on the fringes of the polarizing diatribe.” The PCV rejects “a pact among the elites … [which] is built on the ruin of the popular majorities” and which represents “the interference of foreign powers in the solution of conflicts that exclusively concern Venezuelans.”

Arenales implies that rightwing powerbrokers in Venezuela and abroad use negotiations to incapacitate the PCV. He mentions that, “under the heading of sovereign resolution of conflicts in the brother country, … the right of the Venezuelan Communists to exist and struggle cannot be denied. For that to happen would be a serious contradiction in the building of democracy.”

Arenales reports that “parties and intellectuals of the world” and regional groupings in Latin America like the Sao Paulo Forum are proposing mediation processes for the sake of “rapprochement among the PCV, PSUV and Venezuelan government.”

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

“Peak China” – a new low in Western attempts to persuade China to commit suicide / By John Ross

Image credit: The Economist, May 11, 2023

Posted in MR Online on May 23, 2023

One of the latest covers of the magazine The Economist carries a headline “Peak China”. This, as its name suggests, is a claim that while during the last seven decades China’s has enjoyed a peaceful “rise”, specifically in relation to the U.S., this has now ended:

Whereas a decade ago forecasters predicted that China’s GDP would zoom past America’s during the mid-21st century (at market exchange rates) and retain a commanding lead, now a much less dramatic shift is in the offing, resulting in something closer to economic parity… One view is that Chinese power will fall relative to that of its rivals… The Peak China thesis rests on the… observation that certain tailwinds are turning to headwinds… All of this is dampening long-run forecasts of China’s economic potential. Twelve years ago Goldman Sachs thought China’s GDP would overtake America’s… and become over 50% larger by mid-century. Last year it revised that prediction, saying China would… peak at less than 15% bigger. Others are more gloomy. Capital Economics, a research firm, argues that the country’s economy will never become top dog, instead peaking at 90% of America’s size in 2035… the most plausible ones [of these projections] seem to agree that China and America will approach economic parity in the next decade or so—and remain locked in this position for decades to come.

| Will China be next | MR Online

The first reaction, was really to literally laugh at what, as will be seen, was the latest of decades long wildly inaccurate predictions by The Economist regarding China. Indeed, the record shows that probably a good working guide to what will happen in China is to take what The Economist says and assume that the opposite will occur! Second, to reflect on what are the deep reasons for such a combination of ignorance and arrogance that it leads to a refusal to make any balance sheet of entirely wrong analyses repeated for these decades but when it still claims to be taken seriously on an issue on which it has such a provenly lamentable record. As the latter applies not only to The Economist but to many other Western publications that make similar claims it will be returned to at the end of this article.

The Economist on China and the Asian Financial Crisis

First, however, in order to avoid any suggestion that we are misrepresenting The Economist, let us factually establish its prolonged inaccuracies on China. Similarly, to avoid any suggestion of seizing on incidental or secondary remarks, taken out of context, which do not represent the central views of the publication, only front pages, and special supplements, that is the journal’s most important publications, on China will be used.

| Out of Puff | MR Online

A suitably distant starting point is to go back 25 years to The Economist’s analysis of China and the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98. The Economist’s front page on 24 October 1998, referring to this, was “Will China be next?” Inside it posed the question: “whether China’s growth is slowing or even grinding to a halt… yes”. It then posed the question:

whether the resulting unemployment will prompt political unrest, or a power struggle among the leadership… yes.

In fact, as is well known, China was fundamentally economically stable during the Asian financial crisis. There was no unemployment leading to political unrest, let alone a “power struggle”. In short, The Economist was completely inaccurate.

The Economist “out of puff”

Moving ahead four years, on 15 June 2002 The Economist published a a special supplement on China. This had the title “A Dragon Out of Puff”—a self-explanatory analysis. Its conclusion on China was the following:

the economy still relies primarily on domestic engines of growth, which are sputtering. Growth over the last five years has relied heavily on massive government spending. As a result, the government’s debt is rising fast. Coupled with the banks’ bad loans and the state’s huge pension liabilities, this is a financial crisis in the making… In the coming decade, therefore, China seems set to become more unstable. It will face growing unrest as unemployment mounts. And if growth were to slow significantly, public confidence could collapse, triggering a run on banks.

| How India | MR Online's growth will outpace china's

Turning from The Economist’s analysis to reality, what actually happened in the decade that followed was simple. China’s economy from 2002-2012 expanded by a total of 173% or an annual average of 10.5%. For comparison, in the same decade world GDP grew by a total 37%, or an annual average 3.2%. The U.S. grew by 21% or an annual average of 1.9%. In summary, China’s GDP grew 4.7 time as much as the world average and 8.4 times as time as much as the U.S.

And this is supposed to be China “out of puff”? It is just known as The Economist being hilariously wrong.

The Economist wrong on China and India

Let us now turn to another major sortie of The Economist into analysing China. Its front cover headline of 2 October 2010 was “How India’s Growth Will Outpace China’s”—also self-explanatory. The analysis this headline referred to stated: “Chetan Ahya and Tanvee Gupta of Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, predict that India’s growth will start to outpace China’s within three to five years… For the next 20-25 years, India will grow faster than any other large country, they expect. Other long-range forecasters paint a similar picture.” The Economist approvingly quoted that India would “outpace” China because socialist “China’s growth has been largely state-directed. India’s, by contrast, is driven by 45m entrepreneurs.”

Once more, turning from a comparison of what The Economist predicted to what happened, the reality was clear and is shown in Figure 1. Taking the data from the Economist’s prediction in 2010 up to the present, that is to the end of 2022, China’s economy grew by 116.0% and India’s by 94.6%. Far from India “outpacing” China, China’s total economic growth in this period was 23% greater than India’s. China’s annual average GDP growth was 6.6% compared to India’s 5.7%.

Figure 1

| Figure 1 | MR Online

Regarding the supposedly negative features of China’s socialist “largely state-directed” economy even more striking, because it is an index of overall economic efficiency, was the result in terms of per capita GDP growth. From 2010-2022 China experienced an average annual population increase of 0.4% and India of 1.2%. So, China’s more rapid growth of total GDP than India was despite the fact that India had significantly more rapid population increase.

In terms of per capita GDP, as Figure 2 shows, China’s total growth from 2010 to 2022 was 105% and India’s 69.6%. That is, China’s per capita GDP growth was 51% higher than India. China’s annual average per capita GDP growth was 6.2% compared to India’s 4.5%. It turns out that China’s socialist “state directed growth” was far more effective at producing per capita GDP growth than India’s “45 million entrepreneurs”. Once more The Economist was not wrong on details but got the entire course of events wrong.

The significance of population trends in China’s economic growth will be considered in more detail below.

Figure 2

| Figure 2 | MR Online

The current claims by The Economist

Having established the successive previous errors of The Economist on China let us now turn to its claims in its most recent issue. This, as already noted, is summarised in the front cover issue with the headline “Peak China?”—that is the claim that China’s rise has stopped. Regarding the details of this inside we read supposedly regarding the “certain tailwinds are turning to headwinds” that:

The first big gust comes from demography. China’s working-age population has been declining for about a decade. Last year its population as a whole peaked… Wave goodbye to the masses of young workers who once filled ‘the world’s factory’.

The Economist then goes on to claim: “China has this year liberated its economy from the lockdowns, quarantines and other strictures of its ‘zero-covid’ regime. But it has not freed itself from longer-term worries about its growth prospects. Its population is shrinking. Its epic housing boom is over.” Supposedly China has problems from “a regulatory crackdown on e-commerce firms.” Regarding comparison with the U.S.: “Some ask how much longer China’s economy can grow faster than America’s.” Quoting works which it considers notable, and which coined the “peak” claim:

Hal Brands and Michael Beckley, two American political scientists, argue that China’s rise is already coming to a halt. The age of ‘peak China’, as they call it, is upon us.

As already noted, The Economist justifies these claims in particular with reference to population trends—the bogus claim, promoted for several years, that “China will grow old before it grows rich.” More precisely: “What accounts for the lower expectations for China’s economy?… Start with population. China’s workforce has already peaked, according to official statistics. It has 4.5 times as many 15- to 64-year-olds as America. By mid-century it will have only 3.4 times as many, according to the UN’s ‘median’ forecast.” It then goes on to discuss issues such as productivity—which are analysed below.

The Economist then goes on to conclude:

It also seems safe to say that China and America will remain in a position of near-parity for decades. In Goldman Sachs’s scenario, China maintains a small but persistent lead over America for more than 40 years… in Capital Economics’s projection, China’s GDP will… be over 80% of America’s as late as 2050…. if China’s peak is more Table Mountain [a flat-topped mountain in South Africa only slightly over 1,000 metres high] than K2 [Qogir Feng, the world’s second highest mountain at 8,611 metres] its leaders will have little incentive to rush to confrontation before decline sets in.

Leaving aside that China’s leaders have not shown any desire whatever to “rush to confrontation” let us dissect this evaluation of The Economist.

Elementary reality checks

Because no angle should be ignored in dealing with this analysis by The Economist, we will discuss below its assertions using technical methods of economic “growth accounting”. But actually, elementary reality checks and calculations, which can be understood by almost anyone (apparently apart from The Economist’s writers), shows their falsity.

Start with the question of population, on which The Economist lays such emphasis. China’s average annual population growth from 1978-2022, that is since the start of “Reform and Opening Up” is 0.9%. China’s annual average GDP growth in the same period is 9.0%. So, 8.1% a year GDP increase, that is 90% of the growth, could not possibly be accounted for by population changes. In summary, even before doing detailed growth accounting, it is clear that population growth could have played only a very small role in China’s economic development. This will be fully confirmed by the growth accounting data.

Turn to the second feature. According to The Economist we ae entering “the coming age of superpower parity”. What this means in GDP terms is that China and the U.S.’s economies will be roughly the same size—one possible a little bit bigger than the other. Let us analyse the implications of this claim.

Of course, no one doubts that after the “century of humiliation” China’s economic starting point was far behind the U.S. In 1950, in purchasing power parities (PPPs), on the calculations of Angus Maddison, who was the world’s leading expert on long term economic growth, China’s per capita GDP was slightly under 5% of the U.S.. By 2022, measured in PPPs by the IMF, China’s per capita GDP was 28% of the U.S.. That is, since the creation of the People’s Republic in 1949, China has improved its per capita GDP position relative to the U.S. by more than five times.

What is the overall implication of this? In 2022 Mainland China’s population was 4.24 times that of the U.S.—put in other terms, the U.S. population was less than 24%, approximately a quarter, that of China. That means, in turn, that for China to remain having the same, or a smaller, GDP than the U.S. its per capita GDP would have to remain less than one quarter of the U.S..

Why should China be incapable of reaching anything more than one quarter the per capita GDP, with therefore roughly one quarter the living standards, of the U.S.? Is it some xenophobic illusion that the average Chinese person is only one quarter as smart, or only works one quarter as hard, or cannot work out a way to achieve more than a quarter of the living standard of an average American? Or to put it the other way round, that the average American works more than four times as hard, or is four time as smart, or can work out a way to remain living more than four times as well as the average Chinese person?

That type of thinking is delusional and is also leaving the U.S. open to a terrible shock not only in regard to China but a second one later in this century when it finds out that the average member of the more than 1.4 billion Indian people is just as smart, just as hard working and just as capable of working out how their country can develop as the average American.

In fact, China’s development has come from successful policies by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and work by the Chinese people—not from economic “miracles”. China is perfectly aware that, given its extremely low economic starting point after a century of foreign intervention in 1949, it has set its goal of becoming a “strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious, and modern socialist country” to be achieved only by 2049. In the more immediate term, at the 20th Party Congress, its goal was stated as reaching the level of a “medium-developed country by 2035”. Slightly earlier, in 2020’s discussion around the 14th Five Year plan, it was concluded that by 2035 for China: “It is entirely possible to double the total or per capita income”. These two goals are essentially the same. This target requires an average annual growth of GDP of at least 4.6% a year by 2035. That this target can be achieved will be shown in detail below.

But the size of China’s population, and the speed of its economic development, does have an inevitable consequence. Those who believe that China will never significantly exceed one quarter of the per capita GDP of the U.S. and therefore that China’s GDP will never become significantly greater than the U.S., are deluding themselves. It is only necessary to be able to multiply by four to know what will be the final result.

Growth accounting

So far only issues that can be understood by anyone, whether or not they are an economist, regarding the elementary errors of the thesis of “peak China” have been dealt with—that is, the facts that the very slow growth of China’s population compared to its GDP growth shows that increase in labour supply plays only a very small role in its economic growth, and the consequences of the fact that China has over four times the population of the U.S. Actually, these are quite sufficient to understand why the theory of “peak China” is false. The fact that these false arguments can ignore such elementary realities shows how blinded people can be by their own propaganda. But nevertheless, it is also useful to analyse more detailed issues of economics—it should not be thought that any questions are being avoided. Therefore, more detailed issues of economic growth will now be examined. Analysing these, furthermore, does cast a light on important questions and further clarifies the fundamental errors of the theory of “peak China”—and what lies behind it.

Turning from the most fundamental trends to detailed growth accounting the most recent data will be examined in order to avoid any accusations that what is really being analysed is the effects of the period immediately after 1978—which almost no one would dispute brought gains but which some claim have now disappeared. Figure 3 therefore shows the latest 10 years, 2011-2021, for which detailed growth accounting data exists—it is not yet available for 2022.

Changes in labour inputs in China

As labour is the aspect most concentrated on in the theory of “peak China” it will be dealt with first. Initially, to get these out of the way, some elementary conceptual mistakes of the “peak China” brigade will be dealt with and then their most fundamental fallacy will be shown.

The detailed data on labour inputs in Figure 3 immediately shows one of the first elementary arithmetical fallacies of the old “China will get old before it gets rich” argument—which is essentially the same as that of “peak China”. This is that this fails to distinguish between the “quality” of labour inputs (that this their level of education, training etc) and the “quantity” of labour inputs—that is simply the number of hours worked.

Figure 3

| Figure 3 | MR Online

This fallacy can be easily illustrated for non-specialists in economics. Take an hour of labour in South Korea—this country is chosen because today it has one of the highest levels of higher education in the world. In 1945 85% of South Korea’s population lived in rural areas and Illiteracy was 88%. Today 85% of South Korea’s population lives in urban areas and enrolment in tertiary education is equivalent to the entire population of the relevant age groups. China’s is passing through the same historical process from its own extremely rural past—with urbanisation reaching 65% by 2021, and enrolment in higher education reaching 60% by 2022.

The value produced by an hour’s labour by someone with a university degree in Korea, very possibly a PhD in engineering or computing, in 2022 is obviously far higher than that of a peasant who was illiterate in 1945. Similarly, as China’s population becomes more and more highly educated and trained the inputs of “labour quality” (to use the technical economic term) will rise even if “labour quantity” (the total number of workers and therefore the number of hours worked) goes down.

This is precisely what occurred in China from 2011-2021. As Figure 3 shows, the total number of hours worked (labour quantity) fell, reducing GDP growth by 0.4%. But the contribution of labour quality, that is better training and education, increased GDP growth by 0.4%. Therefore, the actual change in total labour inputs was zero. (As a side note for technical economists, calculating labour inputs simply by hours worked, without taking into account labour quality, was an error in Solow’s original formulation of growth accounting which has been replaced in modern growth accounting. For non-technical economists the difference between the value created by an hour of labour by someone who is illiterate with someone who has an engineering PhD makes the point clear).

But even leaving aside this basic distinction, actually regarding labour quantity itself China’s position is not remotely as bad as claimed by “peak China”. For example, approximately a quarter of China’s working population is still in the countryside—the passing of a substantial part of this into urban areas, as will occur over the coming decades, will increase productivity, China’s current retirement age, of 60 for men and 50-55 for women, is extremely low by international standards and is bound to gradually increase given China’s great increase in life expectancy—which will produce an increase in available labour quantity compared to if the retirement age had not been raised .

In short, because they make the elementary mistake of failing to distinguish between labour quantity and labour quality, because they do not take into account the consequences of shift of labour from the countryside to urban areas, and because they do not note that China’s very low retirement age is bound to gradually increase with growing life expectancy, claims about the reduction of labour inputs in the theory of “peak China” are greatly exaggerated even in their own terms.

The small role of increases in labour inputs in China

But actually, even all the above issues are secondary to the main one which was already analysed in fundamental terms above—the point that China’s average annual population growth from 1978-2022 is 0.9% and China’s annual average GDP growth in the same period is 9.0%. Therefore, 8.1% a year GDP increase, that is 90% of the growth, could not possibly be accounted for by population changes. What this shows is that the increase in labour inputs has played a very small role in China’s economic growth.

Turning to analyse this in detail, it was already noted that in 2011-2021 the contribution of labour inputs to GDP growth was zero—a 0.4% annual increase in GDP due to improvements in labour quality, offset by a 0.4% of GDP fall caused by a reduction in labour quantity (hours worked). Even if the longer period from 1990-2021 is taken, the contribution of labour inputs to GDP growth was only 0.7% a year out of an average of 8.7% annual GDP growth—that is 92% of GDP growth was due to factors other than increase in labour inputs.

The reason that a slowdown in labour inputs will not produce a very sharp fall in China’s economic growth is therefore very simple. Because the detailed growth accounting data naturally confirms what was already obvious from the most fundamental facts on China’ population and GDP changes since 1978. That population and labour input changes have only played a very small role in China’s economic growth!

The fundamental factors which really do affect China’s economic growth, and their consequences, will be analysed below.

The reasons for China’s rapid economic growth

Turning from what has not made a large contribution to China’s economic growth, labour inputs, to those which have made a big difference, again the latest period 2011-2021 will be taken. China’s annual average GDP growth in that period was 6.7%. The detailed contributions to growth of the different inputs are shown in Figure 4. This chart is simply a different way of presenting the facts given in Figure 3—which showed the relative weight of different inputs into China’s economy. Figure 4 is merely more convenient for present purposes because by showing how much of China’s GDP growth is due to different inputs it makes it easy to see which changes would, and which changes would not, seriously affect China’s economic growth. That is, what would, and what would not, create a real situation of “peak China”. It also allows an easy calculation of whether China can or cannot achieve the 4.6% annual average economic growth necessary to achieve its target of doubling per capita GDP by 2035.

Figure 4

| Figure 4 | MR Online

The role of labour inputs

The first reality from these facts which is obvious, as already noted, is the relatively small effect that changes in labour supply will make. Assume that no changes are made to offset the decline in labour quantity, for example there is no increase in the retirement age, and this continues to deduct 0.4% a year from GDP growth. Assume also that the increase in the beneficial effect of increases in labour quality is eliminated and therefore this deducts the 0.4% a year from GDP growth due to this factor—there is no justification for making such an assumption as China’s education and training growth will continue, but it is hypothetically assumed here just to analyse a “worst case” scenario. What then happens? It means that China’s GDP growth would fall from 6.7% a year to 6.3%—easily enough to surpass the 4.6% a year growth required to achieve the doubling of per capita GDP by 2035.

The role of Total Factor Productivity

Now consider productivity, more precisely Total Factor Productivity (TFP)—for non-economists, TFP measures all processes raising the output of the economy which are not due to increases in capital or labour (for example, improvements in technology, the benefits of larger scale of production, improvements in management techniques, scientific discoveries, benefits of increased specialisation in production etc). Assume a catastrophic case that China’s rate of TFP increase fell to zero—once again there is no justification for such an assumption and China’s rate of TFP growth is one of the fastest in the world, but it is analysed here just to demonstrate the effects of the most extreme negative assumptions. What then happens is that China’s GDP growth would fall by 1.5% a year—from 6.7% to 5.2% a year. China would then still achieve the 4.6% a year target to double per capita GDP by 2035.

Even if the ludicrous assumption is made both that China achieved no increase in labour quality, deducting 0.4% of GDP growth a year, and that its rate of TFP growth collapsed to zero, deducting 1.5% a year from GDP growth, then the combined slowdown of 1.9% a year would still leave China growing at 4.8% a year—enough to achieve its 2035 target.

These negative assumptions are of course themselves ridiculous—there is no reason China’s improvement in labour quality will fall to zero, on the contrary it is pouring resources into education and training, and there is equally no reason why its TFP growth will fall to zero. But these extremely unrealistic assumptions have the benefit that even with them the thesis of “peak China” will not work.

Cutting China’s investment

It is factually clear that only one assumption would justify the argument of “peak China”—i.e. that a drastic slowdown in China’s economy will occur. This is that there is a huge fall in China’s level of investment in GDP—that is, in technical terms, in capital inputs into the economy (it should be understood that by “capital” in this sense is simply meant fixed investment—it is irrelevant whether this investment is carried out by the state, private capitalists, or any other form of ownership). This is, indeed, an inevitable result of the fact that 78% of China’s economic growth is due to capital/investment inputs—or in other terms that these account for 5.2% annual GDP growth out of a total of 6.7% growth. China’s dependence on capital inputs for economic growth is furthermore fairly standard, the average percentage contribution of capital inputs to economic growth of the world’s 20 largest economies in 2011-2021 being 81%. This is indeed why reductions in the level of investment in GDP do produce very large slowdowns in economic growth. This was analysed in the earlier article 它曾成功“谋杀”了德国、日本、四小龙,现在想要劝中国“经济自杀” and is dealt with in detail below.

In reality, although they spend large amounts of space discussing other issues which would have no great effect even if true, the statistics of those arguing for the theory of “peak China” show that they arrive at their claims because they assume that China will drastically cut the percentage of its economy devoted to investment. The reasons this claim is made will be analysed below, but first, to clarify the issue, the arithmetic of those who present serious quantified justifications for the “peak China” arguments will be examined—although, it is striking, that some who makes such claims don’t even bother to attempt to quantify them.

Taking first, among those studied by The Economist, an analysis by Roland Rajah and Alyssa Leng for the Lowy Institute with the self-explanatory title “Revising down the rise of China”. This concludes regarding China that: “our projections suggest growth will slow sharply to roughly 3% a year by 2030”. This analysis precisely assumes a huge fall in the percentage of China’s economy devoted to fixed investment/capital inputs:

total investment falls from the current 43% of GDP to 33% of GDP on average over the coming decades.

The same assumption is made by Goldman Sachs, which projects that China’s GDP growth will fall from an annual average 6.0% in 2013-2022 to 3.4% in 2023-2032—that is a decline of 2.6%. The reason for this alleged slowdown is because of the overwhelming effect of a single fact that the annual increase in GDP growth created by capital investment is projected to fall by 2.4%—from 4.8% to 2.4%. As this fall in capital investment accounts for 92% of the decline in the GDP growth rate, only 8% of the decline the Goldman Sachs report projects, or 0.2% GDP growth a year, is attributable to factors other than the decline in investment. Without the investment decline, the Goldman Sachs report’s data shows that China’s annual GDP growth would only fall from 6.0% to 5.8%—a level which would easily allow China to exceed its own targets for 2035. In short, Goldman Sachs shows that only the decline in investment makes a decisive difference to China’s growth rate, and therefore, to use The Economist’s terms, accounts for “peak China”.

Of course, these calls for, or predictions that, China will cut the level of investment in its economy are put forward in a concealed way. They are presented as calls for China to increase the percentage of consumption in its economy. But as consumption and capital creation/investment combined necessarily add up to 100% of China’s economy the call for China to increase the percentage of consumption in its economy is necessarily to call for it to reduce its level of investment. This would indeed, of course, for the reasons already given, lead to a drastic slowdown in China’s economy—to “peak China”. But it would simply be a case of China deciding to commit economic suicide.

While the studies published by the Lowy Institute and Goldman Sachs at least have the virtue of being clear, others don’t—so these will be examined below.

A leader is certainly different

There is no doubt that from the facts already given that if China drastically cuts its level of investment its rate of economic growth would indeed substantially fall—as capital inputs account for 78% of China’s economic growth that is inevitable. But why should China make such a drastic cut in its level of investment in GDP?

The alleged reason for this is because China is different from other “Western” economies. For example Capital Economics, which unlike the Lowy Institute or Goldman Sachs studies, does not even properly quantify its findings, but is nevertheless cited by The Economist as a source, argues: “we expect China’s trend rate of economic growth to fall to around 2% by 2030.” It notes:

China… has an unusually large capital stock…. If China’s capital stock to GDP ratio were to continue to rise at the rapid pace of the past decade, it would soon be much higher than in other major economies.

Similarly, Goldman Sachs argues that China’s level of investment in its economy will fall sharply: “Investment as a share of GDP is forecast to decline from 42% in 2022 to 35% by 2032.” The reason that this will happen is apparently because China is at present an upper middle-income economy, although approaching the level of a high-income economy by World Bank standards, and:

Investment as a share of GDP in upper-middle-income countries is 34%.

Well certainly China is different from other economies. Why? For the simple reason that its economy is growing much more rapidly than they are! Therefore, it is producing a more rapid increase in average living standards than they are, it has produced a more rapid reduction in poverty than they have etc. Naturally the leader is different to those who are further behind£ The economy with the most rapid economic development is different to the countries with slower economic development.

Why should the more rapidly developing copy the less rapidly developing

But then it is a completely bizarre logic that says that the economy which is most rapidly developing should change to become like the less successful ones! What would a client of Goldman Sachs, or any other bank or consultancy, say if it argued “We notice that you are developing more rapidly than your competitors—so you need to stop that and reduce yourself to their level.” Or if they said to a company: “We notice that in this field one company is developing much more rapidly than the others. Therefore, you should ignore that company and copy the less successful ones. Incidentally we are advising this most successful company to abandon its advantages and instead accept the approach of its less successful competitors.” Anyone who made such a proposal would be laughed at—in the few seconds before the contract with them was immediately terminated.

But that is exactly what those who are arguing the case for “peak China! are doing. They are saying: “We note that China’s economy is developing more rapidly than others. Therefore, it should abandon the reasons for this success and adopt the methods of the less rapidly developing.” Instead, of course, what any sensible person would argue is: “China is different because it is the most rapidly developing. Therefore, other countries should learn from the reasons for China’s success (which is not, of course, to pursue the impossible course of mechanically copying it).” This entirely logical argument is, of course, what other countries are doing. It explains the increasing international interest in China’s socialist development strategy.

Instead, what those arguing the case for “peak China” propose is that China should voluntarily commit economic suicide. That it should abandon the methods that have made it the most rapidly developing economy in the world and adopt the methods of the less successful. If China decides to commit economic “suicide” then that certainly would produce “peak China”—if someone decides to commit suicide they will undoubtedly be dead. But it would be very bizarre for China and the CPC to adopt such a logic! Why, having brought China from almost the poorest country in the world in 1949, after a century of foreign intervention, to achieve the most sustained rapid economic growth of any major country in world history should the CPC decide to adopt a less successful approach? Gorbachev may have decided that the USSR should commit suicide, bringing ruin to his country, by adopting Western approaches, but the CPC has shown no similar inclination.

The reasons for blind arrogance

Turning from these specific economic points to more general considerations, these factual issues are so obvious to anyone who thinks about them seriously, that it takes us back to a point made before the discussion of detailed analysis of growth accounting. That is, what is the explanation of the blindness to reality, to facts, that is created by unconscious arrogance?

The Economist, Goldman Sachs etc note that China’s economy differs from their capitalist ones. But instead of drawing from the more rapid development of China’s economy than theirs the conclusion that China’s system shows its superiority, they conclude that necessarily China must be wrong—and that they are right! The reason is because to accept the facts would be to overturn their, conscious or unconscious, arrogant way of looking at the world. It is worth looking at just a few of these implications to understand the reasons for the blindness.

The first is the role of CPC. It is the CPC, no other political force, which created the socialist market economy, an economic system which had never before existed in history, which has created the most rapid economic growth of any major country in human history, which has produced the most rapid increase in living standards or any country, which has produced the greatest reduction in poverty in any country in human history, and which overall has produced the most rapid sustained improvement in the living standards of any country in human history. The idea that such gigantic achievements could occur by “accident”, that is without thought or theory leading it, is laughable. What it means is that the CPC not only produced better practical results for its people than any other political force but that the CPC out thought every other political force.

Second, it means that China has achieved what every country that was once dominated by imperialism dreams of—that China, and China alone, will decide its destiny. This is indeed the greatest of all the CPC’s national achievements. That after a “century of humiliation”, in which China was simply trampled on by other states, only China will now decide its own fate. If China takes wise decisions it will prosper. If China takes foolish decisions it will suffer. But no one else will decide the outcome. In a fundamental sense that is precisely the basis of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”..

Third, China’s success, brought by the CPC, brings to an end an entire centuries long epoch in human history—perhaps this is particularly to be commented on by someone from Europe? During approximately the last 500 years, “white” European countries, and their offshoots, became the most powerful in the world. That 500 years is certainly a short period in the approximately 5,000-year history of human civilization. For most of that time it was Asia’s people—China, India, West Asia/parts of North Africa (falsely labelled the “Middle East” in Eurocentric worldviews) who were the most advanced. But, of course, 500 years is far longer than the life of anyone alive today. And during that 500 years these “white” countries built into the foundations of their capitalist system the vile dregs of racism—this is a point particularly emphasised in recent material produced by the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research which should be regarded as of fundamental importance. Slavery, the treatment of non-“white” people as not equal in order to justify colonialism, were built into the foundations of that European originated capitalist system.

China’s rise, that of almost one fifth of humanity, which it should be remembered is more than the population of all “advanced” economies in the world put together today, not only creates a socialist society but completely destroys the entire cultural basis and assumptions of that 500-year-old epoch in human history. A long time Afro-Caribbean friend of mine, knowing I followed China as closely as I could, once said to me “but what does China’s rise mean for the rest of us?” I said: “Well among other things it destroys the myth of the ‘superiority’ of the white race”. To which their reply was “well that’s a victory for everyone.”

Indeed, in terms of the entire moral dignity of humanity, China’s success is playing an indispensable role in putting an end to the shameful traits of an entire period of human history. It is in large part because of that entire 500 year history that those proclaiming “peak China” can continue to write views that are so completely out of touch with the facts and with reality and why they refuse to draw any lessons even when they are repeatedly shown to be wrong—as was shown with the test case of The Economist at the beginning of this article (and many more examples could be taken). The stubborn blindness of the refusal of Western reporters and analysts to face the fact they have repeatedly been proven entirely wrong reflects not only bad journalism or a love of capitalism. It reflects the blindness to reality produced by 500 years of an unconscious cultural arrogance produced by a system which is fortunately now progressively disintegrating.

Xi Jinping noted carefully at his first press conference after becoming General Secretary of the CPC that China directly sees its own national rejuvenation as a part of the overall progress of humanity:

Throughout 5,000 years of development, the Chinese nation has made significant contributions to the progress of human civilization… Our responsibility is… to pursue the goal of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, so that China can stand firmer and stronger among the world’s nations, and make new and greater contributions to mankind.

This is not simply a goal for the future. This is a process that is underway today. It is a part of China’s great achievement, brought about by the extraordinary struggle of its people for national rejuvenation, that the rest of humanity benefits from it. That certainly involves economics. But it goes far beyond it.

[This article was originally published in Chinese at Guancha.cn.]

John Ross is a senior fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He was formerly director of economic policy for the mayor of London.

Corporate donations to Japan’s ruling party driving government’s anti-China military buildup / by Shimbun Akahata

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) escort ship ‘Kurama,’ left, navigates behind destroyer ‘Yudachi,’ with an Imperial Japanese rising sun war flag, during a fleet review in water off Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo. | Itsuo Inouye / AP

Originally published in the People’s World on May 15, 2023

TOKYO—Behind the Japanese government’s policies prioritizing a huge military buildup and the promotion of nuclear power generation lies the huge donations made by corporations in the relevant industries to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

New data shows that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s party is raking in cash from arms manufacturers and atomic power companies.

According to the 2021 Political Funds Report released by the Internal Affairs Ministry, in the arms industry, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and other 11 major firms which have procurement contracts with the Defense Ministry made donations totaling more than 166 million yen ($1.2 million USD) to the LDP’s political fund management body, the People’s Political Association.

Mitsubishi’s Heavy Industries division manufactures missiles for the Defense Ministry, including surface-to-ship guided missiles whose range exceeds 1,000 kilometers, high-speed gliding missiles, and research prototyping technologies to realize hypersonic-speed guided missiles.

The Defense Ministry on April 11 announced that it awarded the company a contract to develop a long-range missile capable of being launched from Maritime Self-Defense Force submarines. The ministry will spend 58.4 billion yen ($429 million) in tax money to conduct this project as part of the government’s policy seeking Japan’s possession of enemy base strike capabilities.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, another division of the conglomerate, gave 20 million yen ($147,000) in donations. The company supplies improved intermediate-range ground-to-air guided missiles, a network e-war system, air-to-air guided missiles, and other advanced weapons to the ministry.

Mitsubishi in 2021 donated 33 million yen ($242,000) to the LDP’s fund management body and received a total of 459.1 billion yen ($3.37 billion) in defense contracts, comprising 25.5% of the total value of the ministry’s procurement.

The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc. (JAIF), consisting of electricity providers and nuclear power-related companies, enthusiastically welcomes the Kishida government policy sticking to the promotion of nuclear power generation.

The Internal Affairs ministry data showed that JAIF member companies, including Hitachi, Ltd. and Nippon Steel Corporation, in 2021 donated nearly 638 million yen ($4.7 million) in total to the LDP. For example, Hitachi, which engages in research and development of an innovative water reactor, and Nippon Steel, which supplies steel materials needed to construct nuclear power plants, made a contribution of 40 million yen ($294,000) and 27 million yen ($198,000), respectively.

Based on the political funds report of the People’s Political Association of the LDP, Akahata found out the amount of political donations provided by the top 20 contract corporations that were awarded the Defense Ministry’s procurement contracts.

The LDP Kishida government is promoting a major military buildup, seeking Japan’s possession of an enemy-strike capability. The government-proposed budget draft for fiscal 2023 allots more than ten trillion yen ($73.5 trillion) for military spending.

Shimbun Akahata (しんぶん赤旗) is the daily newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party.

U.N. Indigenous forum tells U.S. and Canada to decommission Great Lakes oil pipeline / by Brandon Chew

The Mackinac Bridge is visible from a marker near Enbridge Line 5 on the northern shore of the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan. | Neil Blake / The Grand Rapids Press via AP

Originally published in the People’s World on May 15, 2023

LANSING, Mich.—On Friday, April 28, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called on Canada and the U.S. to decommission Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline, which runs underneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the Straits are the short waterways between the state of Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

In the final report of its annual session, the UNPFII stated that Line 5 “jeopardize[s] the Great Lakes” and “represents a real and credible threat to the treaty-protected fishing rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Canada.”

Line 5 is just west of the Mackinac Bridge and was built in 1953 to transport oil from the tarsands in the Canadian province of Alberta to tanker ships in Lake Superior.

A diver inspects one of the Line 5 oil pipelines at the lake bottom in the Straits of Mackinac. | Photo via National Wildlife Federation

To convince local residents to accept Line 5, the company deployed salespeople to the region in the early 1950s presenting the project as “essential to the defense of the United States and the whole North American continent” amidst the Cold War.

In the decades that followed, Enbridge continuously increased the flow rate. By 2013, the corporation was pumping 540,000 barrels per day under the Straits.

The UNPFII recommends that Canada and the United States “decommission Line 5,” a spokesperson said.

The body was established in 2000 to provide advice and recommendations on Indigenous issues to the U.N. Economic and Social Council. The April 28 meeting of the UNPFII can be viewed by using this link.

“The Anishinabek are the people of the Great Lakes and never before has there been such a unified call for action for both the United States and Canada to abandon failing fossil fuel infrastructure to protect our land and water,” said Bay Mills Indian Community Ogimaakwe President Whitney Gravelle in a statement.

Members of a coalition of Anishinaabe leaders and environmental advocates attended the forum to advocate the highlighting of Line 5 as an Indigenous and human rights concern.

“Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline has already leaked at least 29 times, spilling over 4.5 million [liters] of oil. It isn’t a matter of if, but when another rupture will occur,” said Michelle Woodhouse, Water Program Manager for Environmental Defense Canada in a statement.

Cory Morse / The Grand Rapids Press via AP

“At a time when the world is facing a biodiversity, freshwater, and climate crises, it’s unconscionable for the Canadian government to gamble with the Great Lakes,” Woodhouse said.

“The Government of Canada must withdraw its use of the 1977 pipeline treaty, and work with U.S. governments and the Anishinaabeg Nations of the Great Lakes to shut down Line 5,” Woodhouse said.

Several representatives of Indigenous communities within the Great Lakes region recently submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council voicing concerns over Canada’s support for Line 5.

That report (which can be read here) was submitted for consideration under Canada’s fourth Universal Periodic Review, in which Canada’s human rights record will be reviewed and scrutinized by other U.N. member states.

Canada’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review is scheduled to take place from Nov. 6 – 17, 2023, at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Brandon Chew is a journalist from northern Michigan.

Landlords Are One of the Leading Causes of Canada’s Rent Crisis / by Mitchell Thompson

Nearly 20 percent of renters in Toronto are forced into overcrowded housing units. (Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images)

Originally published in Jacobin on May 11, 2023

Dismissing Canada’s rental crisis as nothing but a supply-demand issue overlooks the fact that a small group of landlords dominates the rental market and exploits tenants. As rents become extortionate, Canadian landlords are reaping record profits.

Canada’s rental crisis is often dismissed by the corporate media as a “mismatch” between supply and demand. But a deeper analysis of the country’s rental market — where tenants face some of the highest housing costs on the planet — reveals that a tiny percentage of landlords are controlling the sector and exploiting tenants for their own gain.

None of Canada’s five million tenants need to read Canada’s mainstream media to know that the county is facing a rental crisis. Over the past year, according to an RBC Economics study, the country saw its “highest annual increase in rent growth on record.” These skyrocketing rents have also caused homelessness to explode in nearly all of Canada’s major cities. Housing congestion is a growing issue as well, with nearly 20 percent of renters in Toronto, 21 percent in Mississauga, 11 percent in Montreal, 13 percent in Edmonton, and 11 percent in Vancouver are forced into overcrowded housing units “not suitable for their household size.”

However, a significant portion of media coverage simplistically attributes the housing crisis to a mere incongruity between the demand for rental housing and its supply, removing from the equation the landlords who are charging excessive rents. On this view, housing crises are not examples of profiteers leveraging market failure, but rather a fleeting problem that people should accept and move beyond.

With five million renters competing for two million purpose-built units, we’re told, double-digit rent hikes are unavoidable. Various politicians and corporate media outlets suggest that scrapping rent control and other tenant protections will somehow lower “housing costs.”

Against the backdrop of the housing crisis, some members of the ruling elite have used it as a justification to call for an overhaul of Canada’s immigration system. News outlets like BNN Bloomberg have run with headlines like: “Rents are soaring in Canada as surge of people goes undercounted.”

Blame for record-high rents seems to be placed on everything and everyone — except landlords and speculators. Lamenting that it “has become cool” to “disparage” real estate speculation, the Toronto Sun claimed earlier this year: “If it wasn’t profitable for investors to own rental properties, investors would take their capital elsewhere and supply would diminish. We need them.”

It’s true enough that Canada’s major cities are experiencing population growth, as a result of both immigration abroad and from the residential reclamation of ex-industrial urban corridors. It is also true that housing is being absorbed, both by ordinary people — and speculators.

The country’s extortionate rent hikes are hardly an accident of mismatched supply and demand. Housing scarcity is undoubtedly a problem. But using it to hand-wave away eye-watering rental costs is obtuse or disingenuous. Canada’s landlords are not simply having their hands forced. Empowered by Canada’s governments, landlords are reaping record profits at their tenants’ expense.

The Chimera of the Mom-and-Pop Landlord

Senior economist Ricardo Tranjan from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) provides an insightful analysis of the concentration of Canada’s rental units in his remarkable new bookThe Tenant Class. The book breaks the rental supply down into four segments: 12 percent of renters occupy nonmarket housing, 38 percent rent non-purpose-built units from private landlords, and the remaining half rent from corporate and financial landlords.

Despite the media’s focus on Canada’s so-called “small landlords,” Tranjan observes:

The widespread notion of “struggling landlords” is a grave mischaracterization of the rental market. In fact, Canada’s landlord class comprises wealthy families, small businesses, corporations, and financial investors. Rent revenue increases their wealth and political influence, allowing them to extract more income from more tenants, amass more wealth, and do it again.

The private rental market generally refers to individual landlords who own one or a few rental properties. It can be challenging to keep track of the total number of units as they can include not only private homes and condos but also their individual rooms, garages, basements, and closets. But the concentration of wealth in this market is increasing too.

The book calculates that units in the private rental market account for roughly 38 percent of the overall rental market. Tranjan estimates that multiple-property owners have an average net worth of around $1.7 million. As he notes, these owners are hardly “scraping to get by.”

Statistics Canada estimates that the relatively small number of homeowners, who have invested in multiple units, account for nearly one-third of total home ownership.

In 2021, half of the dwellings in the downtowns of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver were condos. But, as Statistics Canada notes, more than half of these condominiums were owned by investors — comprising a total 840,045 units overall. These investors have, on average, managed to obtain up to a 30 percent increase in the value of their assets while renting them out to desperate tenants in Canada’s major cities.

Corporate Landlords and Financial Landlords

Among Canada’s purpose-built rental housing units, the concentration is even more enormous. In 2017, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) economist Gustavo Durango noted: that “Roughly 90 percent of purpose-built rental apartment units in Canada are owned by individual investors and private corporations.”

The book breaks the concentration down further. Tranjan estimates that 22 percent of the country’s rental housing units are owned by small business landlords — individual investors and joint ventures. On average, these landlords own 44 units each nationally and up to 151 each in Toronto. The remaining 28 percent of units is split between corporate and financial landlords. Typically, corporate landlords own and manage rental properties as part of a larger real estate investment portfolio, while financial landlords are entities such as pension funds, insurance companies, and investment trusts.

According to University of Waterloo professor Martine August, Canada’s twenty-five largest landlords, split between corporate and financial landlords, held about 330,000 units in 2020 — nearly 20 percent of the country’s private purpose-built stock of rental apartments. These include rental juggernauts like Starlight Investments, CAPREIT, Boardwalk REIT, Skyline Apartment REIT, Killam Apartment REIT, and Mainstreet Equity.

Since 2020, in turn, there is every reason to believe this concentration has gotten worse. As August wrote in Policy Options, “In some communities, financial firms have effective monopolies over the local market.”

How They Make Their Millions

These corporate and financial landlords are upfront about where their revenue comes from — by extracting rents from squeezed and beleaguered tenants. In the final quarter of 2022, CAPREIT, with over sixty-seven thousand units, was named one of Canada’s safest dividends. As noted by BNN, the company itself explicitly stated the source of its profits. “A record 24.3 percent average rent increase on turnover.” This increase is above average, but not by much. A report by CMHC found that after a tenant moves out of a two-bedroom apartment, the average rent increases by 18.2 percent.

Despite the claims of Canada’s landlord lobby groups, rent hikes have almost nothing to do with “increased expenses,” maintenance costs, or utility rates.

Starlight Investments has openly declared its intention to profit from the rental shortage in Canada. “We think there is a definite housing shortage, or almost a crisis level in Canada,” said then CEO Dale Drimmer in 2019, “and the good news for investors is there is no easy solution in sight.”

Similarly, last year, Hazelview Investments vowed to “create value” by massively hiking rents. “We believe the key to creating value will be identifying companies with pricing power that are able to raise rents on new leases and pass-through higher rental rates on existing leases.”

In 2012, fellow behemoth landlord Timbercreek listed “evictions,” as one of its strategies for hiking rents. As quoted to Canada’s human rights tribunal the company’s “value-add repositioning” program starts by reducing expenses and then “stabilizing revenue” through methods such as “improving the quality of the tenant and tenant profitability,” as well as implementing “stronger disciplinary measures for problem tenants, including evictions.”

“We Only Want the Earth”

In a recent report, Canada’s central bank tracked the flow of capital, focusing on 2008 to 2022, away from productive investment and into housing speculation, housing debt, and rental housing. This reallocation of capital was marked, the report notes, chiefly by the growth of real estate and rental and leasing (RERL) firms, “high-yield debt markets,” the mortgage-backed securities made famous by the 2008 meltdown, and by ever-rising rents. Crucially, the bank notes, none of these entities are really reaping their returns from housing as such — they’re reaping their returns chiefly in areas where “land is scarce” — from their monopoly over a portion of the Earth.

The CCPA likewise notes:

In Canada, housing prices have been driven higher largely by land appreciation; it is not uncommon in major cities for the structures built on land to comprise just a small sliver of the value of a property. For example, between 2007 and 2018, real estate in British Columbia doubled in value, appreciating by nearly $1 trillion in inflation-adjusted terms, the vast majority of that a result of higher land values.

This is “ground rent” — profit that reflects investor’s state-sanctioned monopoly over a natural resource. Land prices are, naturally, monopoly prices. And they make housing unlike any other investment item.

As the New Economics Foundation notes: “Most capital assets depreciate in value over time due to natural wear and tear but land tends to appreciate.” This is, in large part, as they observe, because “The permanence and inherent scarcity of land make it a good asset for the storing of value.” Liberalized credit markets across the Western world since the 1970s, they further note, “have also incentivized banks to favor property-related lending over other types of loans and so contributed to keeping property and land prices up.”

This helps to explain why, just before the pandemic, Statistics Canada found that $8.752 trillion or 76 percent of Canada’s $11 trillion national wealth, was caught up in real estate. It also helps to explain why Statistics Canada found, in 2016, that the top fifth of Canadian households own 63 percent of Canadian real estate’s net worth, while the bottom 40 percent own just 2 percent. Among properties that are not principal residences, the top quintile owns 81 percent of the net worth.

As land values rise, more people are left struggling to find affordable housing. This creates an opportunity for landlords to exploit their tenants by increasing rents at an exorbitant rate, thereby securing a steady stream of passive income. It’s a vicious circle and landlords always win.

The “rental crisis” is not simply a scarcity problem, it’s also a policy failure. To ease the crisis, the most parasitic wing of the capitalist class — landlords — must have their power broken. Large cities everywhere should follow the lead of Berlin and expropriate their most powerful landlords. These vast holdings should be turned over to public housing for human need and not for speculation. And once the inevitable elite backlash occurs, doubling down on such expropriations should be the way forward, with no concessions made.

Mitchell Thompson is a writer, researcher, and occasional radio producer in Toronto.

Unexpected melting of Greenland glacier might double sea level rise projections / by Olivia Rosane

The ice island that calved off the Petermann Glacier in northwestern Greenland is seen in this NASA photo taken on August 16, 2010. | Jesse Allen / Robert Simmon / NASA Earth Observatory

Originally published in the EcoWatch on May 10, 2023

A glacier in the north of Greenland is melting faster and in a different way than scientists previously thought, and this has troubling implications for the future speed of global sea-level rise.

The new discovery was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday. The scientists found that warming ocean water had melted a cavity in the bottom of Petermann Glacier taller than the Washington Monument, as The Associated Press reported. If other glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica behave the same way, it could double predictions for how quickly the burning of fossil fuels will melt ice and raise sea levels.

“It’s bad news,” study author Eric Rignot, a University of California, Irvine (UCI), glaciologist, told the AP. “We know the current projections are too conservative.”

The Petermann Glacier is a massive glacier in Northwest Greenland that contains enough ice to raise sea levels by a little more than a foot, the study authors noted. It is one of four Greenland ice masses that make up “the largest threat for rapid sea-level rise from Greenland in the coming decades” since they drain into the ocean below sea level.

Up until recently, however, the glacier was relatively stable, gaining about as much mass each year as it lost. That began to change in 2016, when the center of its grounding line began to edge backward at a rate of 0.6 miles per year.

A glacier’s grounding line is the place where it moves from being supported by land to floating on the ocean, and it’s this feature of Petermann that is the focus of the new study. The scientists from UCI, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Houston, Finland’s Iceye mission, China’s Tongji University, the German Aerospace Center, and the Italian Space Agency used satellite radar data to learn that the grounding line was moving significantly with the tides.

“Petermann’s grounding line could be more accurately described as a grounding zone, because it migrates between 2 and 6 kilometers [approximately 1.2 to 3.7 miles] as tides come in and out,” lead author Enrico Ciraci, a UCI assistant specialist in Earth system science and NASA postdoctoral fellow, said in a statement. “This is an order of magnitude larger than expected for grounding lines on a rigid bed.”

This movement, in turn, accelerated ice melt.

“These ice-ocean interactions make the glaciers more sensitive to ocean warming,” Rignot explained.

Between 2016 and 2022, the grounding line retreated by more than two miles. During that time, the warmer ocean water melted a 669-foot tall cavity at the bottom of the glacier. The melt rates around the cavity for 2020-21 were 50% greater than the melt rates for 2016-19, and, during 2022, the cavity stayed open the entire year.

What’s especially concerning to the study authors is that what happens in Petermann may not stay in Petermann.

“These dynamics are not included in models,” Rignot said.

If they were included, it could double sea-level rise projections, the study authors observed.

Hélène Seroussi, a glaciologist at Dartmouth College who was not involved with the study, cautioned The Washington Post that models for ice melt and sea-level rise would not incorporate these findings overnight, since scientists still need to determine how many glaciers they really apply to. However, Seroussi acknowledged that the measurements were unprecedented.

“The melt rates reported are very large, much larger than anything we suspected in this region,” Seroussi said.

Andreas Muenchow of the University of Delaware, a scientist who studies Petermann Glacier but was also not a part of the study, further told the Post that the high melt rates were observed over a relatively small area.

“My main takeaway is that models need to be improved,” Muenchow said.

This article was reposted from EcoWatch, via Common Dreams.

Olivia Rosane is Opinion Editor and News Writer at Common Dreams, a reader-supported independent news outlet “To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.” Rosane previously wrote for EcoWatch, a long-time leader in environmental news.

Haiti’s Choice Is Social Revolution or Foreign Intervention / By W. T. Whitney Jr.

Photo: RICHARD PIERRIN/AFP via Getty Images

With long experience of chaos, violence, and dysfunctional governance, Haiti looks now to be on the verge of new crisis in the form of foreign military intervention. U.S. and United Nations decision-makers have held back, but now they look to be moving, again. 

The need all the while has been for change so that all Haitians might live decent lives. Whatever is in the works now offers little prospect for rearrangement of political and social hierarchies in Haiti. 

Haitians for several years have faced high prices, recurring shortages of essential supplies, and deadly gang violence in cities that has converted Haiti into a war zone and is the focus of media and political attention from abroad.   

Left-leaning political activist Camille Chalmers insists “there is a clear connection between these gangs and sectors of power, [which include] the far right” and the U.S. government. In an interview published on May 7, Henry Boisrolin agrees. This Haitian analyst living in Argentina states that: 

We have entered … a new phase in a spiral of violence characteristic of a crumbling neo- colonial system … The armed gangs are frankly death squads that are instruments in the hands of the Haitian oligarchy and the international community, mainly the United States. They want to subdue the popular movement in Haiti, sew terror, and put off an uprising.

The government headed by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, appointed by President Jovenel Moïse just days before his murder on July 7, 2021, is a façade. The U.S. government and the supervising “Core Group” of foreign nations put him in office and are backing him now. 

The last national elections were in 2016; the National Assembly has no legislators. Those elections, remarkable for minimal voter turn-out, gave the presidency to Moise, a wealthy businessman.  

Moïse overstayed his term of office, was accused of massive corruption, and was killed by paramilitaries who prepared in the United States. His predecessor, millionaire Michel Moise, became president in 2011 only after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intruded in the elections.

Affecting Haiti’s situation now are: death and destruction from earthquakes and hurricanes; UN military occupation for 13 years that that introduced cholera, killing tens of thousands; and billions of dollars stolen that were set aside to pay for oil from Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program.

The distant background shows U.S diplomatic and commercial barriers during Haiti’s first 50 years, unjust and massive debt obligations to France for over a century, U.S. military occupation and U.S. support for the Duvalier dictatorships during the twentieth century, and subsequently a U.S. hand in two coups that removed the progressively-inclined President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. 

The United Nations Security Council  on October 21, 2022, “demanded an immediate cessation of gang violence and criminal activity” and declared itself ready “to take appropriate measures … against those engaged in or supporting gang violence.”  In January, 2023,U.N. Secretary General António Guterres called for “deployment of an international specialized armed force to Haiti.” 

On April 26 the Security Council deliberated on Haiti;19 speakers were heard. Maria Isabel Salvador, Head of the UN’s “Integrated Office in Haiti,” indicated that almost 50% of Haitians require humanitarian assistance. “The Haitian people cannot wait,” she declared; a “specialized international armed force” is needed. Jean Victor Geneus, Haiti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, agreed.

The U.S. government is ready to act, it seems, with plans aimed at implementing the 2019 Global Fragility Act. That law would prevent and reduce violent conflict” abroad by means of “negotiating bilateral, 10-year-long “security assistance” arrangements with  “fragile states.”

The State Department on April 1, 2022, released a document explaining rationale and methods for implementing the GFA. A year later, on March 27, the State Department explained that the GFA would be implemented through 10-year plans … in partnership with Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, and Coastal West Africa, including Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo.” 

An accessory document reveals that Haiti was being prioritized. It mentions a “sequenced approach for U.S. efforts” that will depend upon “political and security openings in the country.”

Kim Ives, veteran defender of Haiti’s sovereignty, commented that the plan “is essentially a new alliance of USAID ‘know-how’ with Pentagon muscle.” He foresees that the United States will be “returning the country from a neo-colony back into a virtual colony as it was from 1915 to 1934, when U.S. Marines occupied and ran it. Nonetheless, the U.S. would try to keep some Haitian window-dressing.” 

Vassily A. Nebenzia, the Russian Federation’s Permanent Representative on the UN Security Council, received a letter on April 24 from 58 individual Haitians and representatives of Haitian political organizations.  Russia is currently serving as the Security Council’s president.

The letter claims that U.S. plans for Haiti’s future would violate the United Nations Charter. It calls for an independent commission to evaluate U.S. interventions in Haiti since 1993. The authors fear “a grave attack on the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and unity of Haiti.” 

They also object to U.S. occupation since 1856 of the Haitian island Navase, the U.S. government’s manipulations in the 2010 presidential elections, and U.S. failure to prevent the weapons being shipped to Haiti for use in killings and crimes. 

A month after President Moise’s murder in 2021, the “Montana group” of civic leaders proposed a two-year provisional government that would prepare for elections.  The results have been nil.  

De facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry in December 2022 announced a “High Transition Council” set up to arrange for elections. But eight political parties soon vetoed the project and very little has been achieved. Already in October, Henry had requested the U.S. government and/or United Nations to intervene militarily. 

Whatever happens in Haiti promises little help for a severely distressed underclass; 59 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, the poverty rate is 60%, a quarter of the population has no access to electricity, 50% of Haitians are food insecure, 50% of Haitians must drink polluted water, 50% Haitian children do not attend school, and two thirds of adult Haitians are unemployed or informally employed. 

No social revolution is on the horizon and most Haitians, individually and collectively, are powerless. Power lies with Haiti’s business class whose impulse is for “invasion and occupation.” 

These would be the richest ten percent of Haitians who control 61.7% of the country’s wealth. The billionaires in that class are conglomerate owners Gregory Mevs and Gilbert Bigio, worth $1.0 billion and $1.2 Bіllіоn, respectively, and Irishman Denis O’Brien, who is worth $6.8 billion and controls Haiti’s telephone services.  

Henry Boisrolin, cited above, sees U.S. hypocrisy when he looks at U.S. sanctions against ten powerful families in Haiti that buy “tons of arms and munitions” for use in Haiti. This is a U.S. government that “does not allow a single syringe to make its way to Cuba” while claiming ignorance as to who sells those arms or that they come from the United States.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.