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01/06/2021

The year that changed the world order: exclusive views on 2020 from 18 countries

The year that changed the world order: exclusive views on 2020 from 18 countries

2020 has been a year that will be remembered for decades, even centuries. There might not be another year in which the worries and hopes of all the nations were so common. Billions of people’s lives have changed, people asked the same questions and had the same expectations at the same time around all seven seas.

We have gathered some words about 2020 from analysts closely in touch with their own countries. We present to you an international panorama from geographies all around the world.

This natural disaster of the century has also affected the economic, political and geopolitical balances of the world greatly, while the center of gravity of the world has continued to shift towards Eurasia. Many events took place in this year, from groundbreaking events in crisis regions, to commercial agreements with the highest trade volume of the century.Countries that are governed by neoliberal principles were especially hard struck by an economic crisis that even overshadows the Great Depression of 1929. It is already clear that history will be divided into before and after 2020.

CHINA: STAR OF 2020

Wei Yan / China Media Group Ankara AGENCY

At the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak, the source of which was not yet known, first hit China. However, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its government, the Chinese people, especially the Wuhan people, over 11 million, showed great sacrifice and spirit of solidarity and made huge strategic progress in combating the Kovid-19 epidemic across the country.

THE ONLY GROWING ECONOMY

In addition to fighting the epidemic, China, which has since gradually returned to normal, has been the only major economy in the world to achieve positive growth this year.

Despite floods in 28 provinces in China in the middle of the year, another huge victory was achieved in the fight against floods.

COMBATING POVERTY

Against these challenges, China made a major blow in the fight against poverty in 2020. Under the goal of alleviating poverty and building a moderately prosperous society in all respects in the middle class, China has reduced the number of people living under the poverty line by more than 10 million each year for 7 years in a row. The number of the poor decreased from 98 million 990,000 at the end of 2012 to 5 million 510,000 at the end of 2019, the poverty rate decreased from 10.2 percent to 0.6 percent. In 2020, the targets to fight poverty across China were achieved on the projected date.

DEVELOPMENT

The 14th Five-Year Plan and 2035 Long-Term Development Goals were determined at the 5th Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held at the end of 2020. This will guide the development of China in the coming years.

HONG KONG LAW

In 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China approved the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This law ensures the security of Hong Kong.

OPENING-UP

In 2020, the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the 30th anniversary of the development and opening of Pudong were celebrated with magnificent ceremonies. China is on track for a higher level of outward expansion.

CHANG’E-5

In 2020, outstanding progress was made in science and technology in China. The Chang’e-5 Lunar probe completed its 23-day space mission and landed in Inner Mongolia in northern China. The vehicle brought the first lunar samples to Earth since the 1970s.

ANNIVERSARY OF THE KOREAN WAR

In 2020, the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Volunteers Entering the Korean front in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea was commemorated with a ceremony.

In 2021, I hope that the peoples of the world will join forces to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak as soon as possible!

AZERBAIJAN: GLORIOUS YEAR!

Dr. Ahmet Şahidov / Head of Azerbaijan Democracy and Human Rights Institute

2020 has been a historic year for the Azerbaijani people and state. We can say that it is the most memorable and glorious page of the last 100 years.

As a matter of fact, the parliamentary elections held in Azerbaijan at the beginning of 2020 did not meet the expectations of the people, and the rapid spread of the pandemic in the country created a deep despair in the Azerbaijani people.

The decrease in oil prices in the world markets, the closing of the borders of the country, the closure of businesses and the numerous restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 epidemic have minimized the hopes of the Azerbaijani people for the future.

The violation of the ceasefire in the Tovuz region in July and the targeting of the Armenian forces to Azerbaijani civilian villages escalated the tension. Azerbaijani society already thought that war was inevitable. The people’s patience was exhausted. Everyone’s eyes were on İlham Aliyev.

It was just a matter of time. The Azerbaijani administration warned Yerevan many times not to escalate the tension. Ignoring all calls, Armenia once again violated the ceasefire at the front in September, and the long-awaited moment has come. Azerbaijan started a large-scale military operation using its sovereign rights and started to free its lands one after another.

This Homeland War, which went down in history as a 44-day war, was a new page in the history of Azerbaijan. First of all, we regained our self-confidence as a nation. It is the first time that the state and the people have joined together like an iron fist.

At the same time, the world heard once again the fair position of Azerbaijan. As a country, we have also come to know who are our friends and enemies.

Turkey, our brother, was the country closest to us, and was always with us. In addition, Pakistan has openly supported Azerbaijan from day one.

During the 44-day war, we learned that Armenia is not our only enemy. The resolutions of the parliaments of France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, which supported the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, prompted us to reconsider our relations with these countries.

Azerbaijan, which won successive and magnificent victories on the battlefield, brought the Nagorno-Karabakh problem to a logical end by taking Shusha back on November 8. Finally, on November 10, a peace agreement was signed between the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. This was a great victory for Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, which won the 44-day war, also gained victory in the diplomatic struggle. Agdam, Lachin and Kelbajar were handed over to Azerbaijan according to the November 10 agreement.

Other terms of the contract were also very important. The land connection Nakhijevan and Azerbaijan are also contemplated, which between Azerbaijan and Turkey and also between Azerbaijan and Europe makes it possible to perform the road in Europe.

In general, the liberation of the lands from occupation has reduced the burden of Azerbaijan in the last 30 years. Azerbaijan breathes more easily today. However, we have more work ahead.

First of all, we should clear the mines in liberated land, then calculate the damage to those lands, receive compensation from Yerevan by applying to international courts, and ensure the reconstruction of the territory together with Turkey and friendly countries, the restoration of the historical monuments, churches and mosques in Nagorno-Karabakh, and provide the conditions for the arrival of world tourists to Karabakh.

We will strengthen the close cooperation and hospitality policy with all the countries of the region for the future development of the region. 2021 will be Azerbaijan’s Karabakh Year. Thinking about Karabakh, working for Karabakh and developing Karabakh!

RUSSIA: FOCUSED ON CRISIS SOLUTION

Edvard Chesnokov / correspondent at the largest Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda

2020 has explicitly shown the incorrectness of the world’s previous course and the bankruptcy of previous world leaders.

What countries managed to combat the pandemic in the most instant and efficient way? The ones that were accused of being authoritarian: China and other Asian actors.

What country managed to invent one of the first reliable COVID-vaccines? The one that was attacked as being a threat to the world: Russia.

What countries managed to solve one of the oldest conflicts in the modern world, the Karabakh case? The ones that were blamed as authoritarian and world-threat: Turkey, Russia, and Azerbaijan.

On the other hand, what country had passed through the most unfair elections in the present history? Dead voters, kicking observers out of the counting rooms, millions of fake post-ballots. We saw the collapse of the American democracy in real-time with our own eyes.

Now Washington has lost even the remnants of its power. It has no claim to moral right — along with the entire West — no authority to teach and to judge the rest of humanity. These self-proclaimed world leaders were unable to solve the world problems even previously, in the decades of economic growth and total consensus between the West and its then minor partners: Russia, Turkey, China, and others.

And what do we see today?

While the US citizens are doubting how to spend the $600 wired to their accounts as COVID-aid — millions of inhabitants of Africa are literally fighting for a piece of bread.

While the ruling classes are flying to their NY holidays by their private jets, the rest of the people are locked in their cells praying that the next COVID wave would not take their lives — as it has already taken their job and salary.

American and other Western politicians, instead of engaging in a real fight with economic inequality, are cancelling the masterpieces of art due to their alleged ‘racism’.

We must say: that’s enough. In 1917, the Russian revolution showed the Earth an alternative. A world with justice and social guarantees. A world with decolonisation and equality.

It is notable that the new powers that rose in the wreckage of the old world 100 years ago and firstly recognised each other were Lenin’s Russia and Ataturk’s Turkey.

BRIEF OF 2020 IN DPRK:

Kim, First Secretary of the Sofia Embassy of DPRK

– Maintaining anti-epidemic stability under the correct leadership of WPK

– Celebration of 75th anniversary of Workers’ Party of Korea

– Building convenient modern thousands dwellings after typhoon and flood-stricken area

– Every efforts for development with self-reliance and self-development amid epidemic, natural disaster and sanctions

NEW HEALTH MINISTER BRINGS IN HOPE

FOR INDONESIANS AMID RISING COVID-19 CASES

Riska Rahman / Business journalist at The Jakarta Post

Hopes of a better COVID-19 pandemic management for Indonesia rose following President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s appointment of the new Health Minister late in the year.

Just before the country’s Christmas break, the president made a decision to shake-up his own Cabinet amid graft cases and virus-handling failures throughout 2020. The move garnered more praise than criticism from the public as the new chosen ministers mostly came from professionals.

Jokowi on Dec. 23 appointed Budi Gunadi Sadikin, former Deputy State-Owned Enterprises Minister who is familiar with the COVID-19 economic recovery effort, to replace Terawan Agus Putranto who was blamed for the government’s lackluster pandemic response.

Indonesia did not report its first confirmed COVID-19 cases until March as Putranto denied suspicions of infection in the country. But since then, the country’s number of confirmed cases have only gone up with a total number of confirmed cases reaching past 700,000 and death surpassed 20,000, while 483 health workers that range from doctors, nurses to laboratory technicians have also died from the virus as of Dec. 27.

The lack of swift response from the government in handling the virus is also making an economic impact. Indonesia entered its first recession since the 1998 Asian financial crisis after the economy shrank by 3.49% in the third quarter after it contracted by 5.32% in the second quarter.

Millions of people are also affected by the pandemic as many of them were either furloughed or lost their jobs due to the pandemic, while some 70 million people who work in the informal sector are vulnerable to the impact caused by the economic downturn.

With Sadikin’s appointment as Indonesia’s new Health Minister, experts are convinced that his managerial skill and experience as a banker could help spur health spending which had been hampering the country’s virus containment measures.

The Indonesian government has allocated $26.24 billion for the 2021 national economic recovery budget, in which around $1.79 billion will be allocated for health spending and $3.84 billion will be used to procure and distribute the vaccine.

Hopes of economic improvement also rose as the country inches closer to the end of this tumultuous year as economic indicators such as export and import have gotten better in the fourth quarter, while the stock and bond market have seen a significant amount of foreign capital inflow since June.

All in all, Indonesians are ringing in the new year with optimism with hopes that COVID-19 cases will go down, no more lives will be taken by the virus and the economy will gradually recover.

BANGLADESH: THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND FREEDOM

Sabbaha Ali khan Colince / Central Committee Member Workers Party of Bangladesh

The year 2020 was a year of crisis for Bangladesh, like many other countries of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have been struggling against the virus since March 8. During the first months many people lost their jobs. Every sector of the country including agriculture, health, education, small and heavy industry were impacted by COVID- 19. We are experiencing the bitter outcome of inequality among the rich and poor in the society. Apart from these crises it is a strength of our nation that the government as well as the mass people of our country are combating the pandemic together. Government took Ensuring health protection, awaring people, taking subsidy and incentive programmes to various sectors like agriculture, garments & textile, and many other industries. We are hopeful to move forward after the pandemic has been stopped worldwide. Bangladesh is already in the queue to get the effective vaccine.

Aside from this, this year Bangladesh is celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of great Nation leader ‘Bangobondhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman , the father of our nation. Bangladesh is also eagerly waiting for the historic moment of the golden jubilee of great independence that we achieved in 1971.

In socio-economic perspective, though we have inequality in society (corruption is a big problem in almost every sector of the country), no one denies the development that is happening. Some mega economic projects as well as many infrastructural development are moving ahead, and some of these are about to complete. Electricity production increased significantly. If the government can control corruption then mass people will benefit from this development. Rohinga refugees are a big burden and burning issue for Bangladesh. In the year of 2020 we received a massive amount of foreign remittance, a new record.

From a political perspective, Bangladesh is being ruled by pro-liberation political forces, the ‘14 party alliance’ led by Awami league. Bangobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared after the liberation war that the state would be run on four major principles: nationalism, democracy, secularism and socialism. However, now his party, the Awami league, has moved very far from these principals. It is a matter of concern that anti-liberation forces or the defeated forces of the great liberation war, such as Jammat E Islam, Hefajot E Islam is behind of Hefajot and Jamat are patronizing the BNP; they all are conspiring against our national principle and the spirit of our independence

We believe that behind the scenes, Hefajot, Jamaat and the BNP conspire with their Imperialist friend America. They are trying to create political instability while Bangladesh makes preparations to celebrate its golden jubilee. They have attacked our national history, tradition and culture, even trying to destroy the sculpture of Bondobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But people are fully aware of national spirit. They already refused these communal and fundamentalist forces. The government has also taken steps against them. Though to some extent government seems to compromise with the Hefajot E Islam in order to secure their hold on power, such strategies are short sighted. The Bangladesh people expect the Government to make strict decisions and measures against fundamentalist, Imperialist forces and their friends here in Bangladesh.

In conclusion, I am hopeful that despite all limitations, the youth and the peoples of Bangladesh will take the country toward the goals promised in our great liberation war in 1971.

A DIFFICULT YEAR FOR EGYPT AND EGYPTIANS

Islam Farag / Journalist

2020 was a difficult year for Egypt and Egyptians due to the Corona pandemic.

During this year, tourism, Egyptian remittances from abroad, and freedom of navigation in the Suez Canal declined.

In addition, many Egyptians lost their jobs due to the partial curfew and the deterioration of the financial situation of many businesses.

The situation worsened with the implementation of a governmental decision to stop work for a period of 6 months, which negatively affected the real estate sector.

The application of the law of Reconciliation in building violations represented an additional burden on Egyptian families, as millions of Egyptians live in unlicensed units. These families incurred large sums of money to legalize their units.

Despite the bad situation of the epidemic, the country held two elections for the House of representative and the Senate.

On the external level, the Renaissance Dam negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia did not witness any progress.

With regard to the situation in Libya, Egypt supported the resumption of negotiations between the parties of the political process.

2020 ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE

Khaled Al-Yamani / The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

The ongoing Palestinian resistance shall continue until liberation and return.

Despite the continuous brutality of the Zionist occupation, the unlimited support provided by the imperialist Trump administration, the complicity and betrayal of some Arab Gulf regimes and their compatibility with the imperialist-Zionist plans in their aggression and conflict with our Palestinian people and its armed resistance, our Palestinian people, the resistance factions and their military wings in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, continue their ongoing resistance, which made the occupation and its aggressive army worry.

The Palestinian resistance factions are escalating their activities and readiness to fight and resist the occupation in the Palestinian West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Among the most important Palestinian resistance achievements in the year 2020 are the following:

  1. The ability to possess a resistant infrastructure in terms of armament and training, in number as well as equipment, which enabled the resistance to create a balance of terror with the enemy supported by the powerful global imperialism represented by the United States of America.
  2. The possession of the military wings of a real resistance structure in the Gaza Strip despite the siege imposed on the Strip for more than 14 years.
  3. The establishment of a joint operations command for all the Palestinian military wings that threatens the enemy with a harsh response in case the aggression against our people continues.
  4. The Palestinian resistance possesses weapons and missiles capable of hitting any Zionist target within historic Palestine, from its north i.e. in the Galilee to its south in the Negev; and from East to West.
  5. The Palestinian resistance was able to respond to the Zionist aggression by attacking Zionist sites inside the occupied land with advanced missiles producing the power equivalent hundreds kg of high explosives, which caused real terror and panic among the Zionist security and military apparatuses.

In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the popular resistance and the armed resistance did not come to an end, as the Palestinians pursue their struggle against the occupying enemy with its ongoing acts of violence against our people in the Palestinian West Bank. The Zionist reports mentioned that the Palestinian resistance has carried out more than 1,258 commando operations during the first half of 2020 in the West Bank, which consisted of throwing Molotov cocktails and knocking out Zionist soldiers and settlers while driving. 145 Zionist military and settlers were hit in these operations, most of them are in a critical condition.

Once again, after more than a century of struggle and resistence against the occupation, our Palestinian people have proven that armed resistance against the enemy is the only mean to liberation, victory and return. From a strategic perspective, there are two benchmarks that are deemed to be the major achievements of the Palestinian resistance in its struggle:

  1. The Palestinian resistance affected the Zionist deterrent ability, as reports indicate that the Zionist army is terrified of launching any ground aggression against the Gaza Strip since they are afraid from potential human losses that might target its soldiers and settlers, in addition there might be a great possibility of division among its already vulnerable internal front.
  2. The Palestinian resistance was an obstacle, with its steadfastness and unity, to the enemy’s victory, leading to its failure to have any political achievements during its recurrent and continuous aggression.

It is true that the Palestinian resistance lacks a safety net and an Arab sponsor, however it has managed in coordination and cooperation with the resistance forces in the region from Lebanon, to Syria, Iran, Yemen and Iraq, to survive and achieve such accomplishments that will be enhanced in the future.

Our Palestinian people and their armed resistance will not subside, will not back down, and will not stop fighting the occupation until liberation, victory, and return to our homes. The white flag is a term that does not exist in the dictionary of our people.

SYRIA: WE ARE STILL STANDING

Bessam Abu Abdallah / Academician

Everyone knows that the war against Syria was fought with great resistance and defense in 2020. When the US and Western-led countries started the war in 2011, they thought that the Syrian state would collapse, but unfortunately for them, they could not realize what they hoped for, and after all these years, the Syrian state and its people are still standing today. The Syrian President is still at his office. The Syrian Army paid a great price for this over the last 10 years.

The Syrian Army achieved significant success on its borders in 2020, took control of Sakib and reopened the road between the capital Damascus and Aleppo.

Another important point is that the security situation of the country was more stable in 2020 than in previous years. The Syrian government has maintained control over many places, especially around the capital Damascus.

There are still some areas under the control of the separatist PKK / YPG organization, which cooperate with the US occupation forces. They are trying to establish an independent region in northern Syria with US’ support, separate from the central Syrian government.

Idlib is still not under control, as it is currently under Turkish intervention.

Syria also faced the coronavirus pandemic, like other countries, but under the severe American embargo called the ‘Caesar law’, Syria had a much more serious situation. Unable to defeat Syria, the US resorted to economic pressure this time.Washington thought that if he puts economic pressure on the Syrian people, they will give up their leaders Bashar Assad and blame the Syrian government as responsible, although the real reason was the US and Western embargoes. The US is trying to seize the oil in northeast Syria, exerting intense pressure to achieve this end. However, under the pandemic conditions, this intense economic pressure should be considered as a war crime. The whole world should oppose the US embargoes and demand that these sanctions stop.

In 2020, on the other hand, the Trump government recognized the Golan Heights, occupied Syrian territory, as Israeli territory. It was a decision that the Syrian government and people would never accept, and it was a dangerous step.

Finally, while Turkey has become the target of the US, the Turkish government must understand that without cooperating with the Syrian government and without cooperation to solve the problems of the Syrians, there is no possibility for stability in Turkey and the region. The West is making invasion plans using the lie they are spreading democracy in our region in order to exploit our natural resources. We must protect our sovereignty, land, integrity and future together against the invaders.

IRAN: DIFFICULTIES MAKE US POWERFUL

Mohammad Asghari / Coordinator of Justice for Peace

From assassinations to the pandemic, Iran experienced one of its most difficult years in 2020.

This year began for Iranians with shocking news from Baghdad: The assassination of Soleimani was perhaps the most important event in recent decades in Iran. Martyr Soleimani was a champion of the Iranian nation. Millions poured out into the streets to mourn Haj Qasem and condemn his assassination. The funeral of Martyr Soleimani, in the midst of economic crisis and US sanctions, showed that the Iranians, despite all the pressure, are still united and strong against the enemy. Iran’s response to Soleimani’s martyrdom was a promise to expel the United States from the region. Resistance forces, from Palestine to Iraq, allied themselves to expel Americans from West Asia, and 2020 could be seen as the beginning of the end of the United States in the Middle East.

FROM CARACAS TO TEHRAN

Last year, Iran also sent the largest fleet of oil tankers to Venezuela despite the US ban. The tankers symbolized Independent nations’ courage and was a crack in the wall of the United States illegal sanctions against Caracas and Tehran.

A NATIONAL VACCINE

In the year of the coronavirus, Iranians tried to turn tragedies into blessings and threats into opportunities. Iran is currently on the verge of producing the coronavirus vaccine. Martyr Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated by Israel, was one of the scientists working on the vaccine.

ECONOMIC CRISES

The Iranian people also went through difficult days last year. The economic crisis caused by government policies and US sanctions has widened the class gap. These days many people want social justice, one of the primary ideals of the Islamic Revolution. The government has also started a new round of anti-corruption measures. Of course as the Supreme Leader said, social justice requires more effort, because this lofty value should shine like a unique gem in the Islamic Republic.

For Iranians, the tests of 2020 were difficult, but passing through such difficulties makes a nation powerful.

LEBANON: A YEAR OF DISASTERS

Muhammed Mawas / Coordinator in the Leadership Council of the Arab National Youth

2020 is considered one of the worst years that the Lebanese people have witnessed.

This year began in the midst of the civil popular movement that began on October 17, which carried many slogans, mostly economic in nature, but the supposed revolution did not continue in the way it began because of the exploitation of the movement by some political parties directing its compass against the government despite the fact that the opposition and anti-resistance parties were and are still participating in the government as they have been for 30 years.

The economic situation has been gradually collapsing since late last year due to the economic sanctions imposed on Lebanon and because of the many corruption files and favoritism characteristic of the ruling class in Lebanon with its various parties, all of this necessarily led to the collapse of the national currency against the US dollar.

On top of all of this, Beirut has not been spared from a massive explosion, the third largest explosion after Hiroshima and Nakazaki due to the ignition of the substance ammonium. Investigations are still continuing to seek out the cause of the explosion, be it negligence or sabotage, especially after a series of recent assassinations of some of the people familiar with the event.

As for the international situation and its reflection on Lebanese politics, the Lebanese still disagree with each other on fundamental issues, the most important of which is the weapon of resistance, deterring the Zionist enemy and confronting the American sanctions, while there is a second team that seems to be betting on the Arab orientation towards normalization with Israel and the recourse to American demands. It also seems that this latter team did not see the confusion of the American and Zionist imperialist project in syria and Iraq and did not notice that the unipolar world has dropped them. Meanwhile, Russia is building an axis of resistance extending from Tehran to Caracas.

This was a very small summary of the great events that Lebanon this year, but we hope to pass this stage, if even partially, during the coming year, to move towards a better Lebanon alongside the oppressed peoples, the opposition to global imperialism and the international plundering system led by America and the Zionist outpost called “Israel”. In 2021, we will move towards liberation, freedom, socialism, social justice, unity of the national ranks, and victory.

THE USA: A DIRE PICTURE

Andre D. Fields, M.Ed / Assistant Principal, HS / CPT (ret), US Army

Texas Notary Public

For me 2020 highlighted the many failings in the US social structure. The pandemic showed that there is a racial divide as African Americans and Latinos contracted and died of the virus at a higher rate than any other race. They are also the ones working “essential” jobs like cooking and cleaning at very low wages for those that are not poor and coming into more frequent contact with the virus. The refusal to wear masks by some coupled with Black Lives Matter protests and the polarized presidential election further highlighted the racial divide to show just how many people in this country do not value diversity. As a person working in education administration, I have been forced to have my school open, not because it is safe, but because we do not have the resources to provide internet and computer access to the poorest of our community who also happen to be mostly African American and Latino. 2020 has shown the ugly face of racism in all aspects of our lives from Healthcare, to education, to standards of living. It is a dire picture. I hope that 2021 can trigger the start of fixing some of these issues to make America great for all and not just a few.

ITALY: TRAGEDY AND COLLAPSE

Francesco Valerio della Croce / Member of National Secretariat and National Head of International Department of Italian Communist Party

Annus horribilis. This Latin expression has been heavily used in Italy, and beyond, to describe 2020 which is almost over. The global pandemic has certainly upset the lives of countries and peoples of the world, but for Italy, this coronavirus emergency has truly represented an epochal upheaval. Italy was the first country in the West to find itself in the eye of the epidemic cyclone at the beginning of the year. It is the country that, in proportion to the number of inhabitants, has so far recorded the highest number of deaths from coronavirus: over 70,000. Italy recorded a number of deaths this year that had not been seen since the end of the Second World War. Mourning and the sense of tragedy have continually covered this dramatic year.

Also this year, Western societies and Italy obviously among them, have seen their “black swan” in the coronavirus. The model of development, society and international relations that for a very long time had dominated the whole world has revealed its dramatic limits in dealing with the emergency: we have discovered that universal health care, a fundamental achievement of the twentieth century, has been in recent years dismembered and transformed from right to privilege; that the individualistic instincts of the competitive market are incompatible with the protection of the common good and of society. In these difficult months, we have verified that State intervention is indispensable and irreplaceable in the concrete protection of rights, in particular, that of health. Many years of neoliberalism have led Italy to confront the dramatic contradiction between “health” and “work”, between well-being, “life” and “economy”.

However, a single thought over the last few decades has dominated our society and still prevents us from thinking of an economy that is based on the interests of society, through the executive intervention of the state and political power as an expression of popular sovereignty. The European Union itself, which has also been called to set aside (only momentarily?) some of its neoliberal dogma, is unable to orient its coordination of economic and monetary policies in a solidarity sense, while still maintaining the austerity logic, maintaining the form of loans for grants guaranteed to states to cope with the pandemic, with probable future cuts in public spending as compensation. The transformations in everyday life that we have known, such as teleworking from home, can at the same time become tools at the service of workers or for unbridled exploitation.

The profound crisis affecting Western liberal democratic systems must push us to abandon a merely “Euro-Atlantic” vision of the model of development and international relations, all the more so in these very difficult times. From many countries of the world which for a long time have been considered outside “civilization”, such as China, are today learning an important lesson, first of all about the correct balance between individual and collective freedoms, between particular needs and the general interests of society. China has learned how to build an economy capable of becoming a project and a plan, and that global humanity faces the same fate, something the epidemic has dramatically reminded us.

SWITZERLAND: TESTING NOT ONLY THE HEALTH SECTOR. BUT ALSO FEDERALISM

Massimiliano Arif Ay / General Secretary of the Communist Party of Switzerland

Switzerland, in this year that is coming to an end, has discovered itself to be a vulnerable country: the pandemic that first hit the south of the country has severely tested not only the health sector, but also federalism: sending the much-vaunted solidarity between cantons into crisis. The year 2020 taught the Swiss people to see the limits of a voracious capitalism that not only forced politicians to put corporate profit before public health, limiting lockdowns, but also forced them to save on beds in public hospitals in order to favor private clinics; that prevented young Swiss from studying to become doctors because it was cheaper to hire doctors from neighboring countries; that gave money to companies in difficulty who then laid off workers anyway and distributed dividends to shareholders. The Swiss bourgeoisie acted promptly in its penetrating ideological propaganda to ensure that this experience did not lead the population to become more class-conscious: for example, it increased Sinophobia, but it also fostered the rather dangerous idea that technicians are neutral and therefore must command our political parties so as to reduce democratic margins, etc.

While it must be said that, especially in the first wave of the pandemic, in Southern Switzerland, we have seen forms of popular solidarity starting from the bottom with local sports clubs and cultural associations volunteering to help people at risk, we have also seen some problems such as the retreat of the State in favor of volunteering and the dysfunction of the ‘militia’ system (not professional) on which the whole Swiss model is based: MPs, firefighters, civil defense and soldier re organized according to the principles of institutional volunteering or by compulsory conscription, which has not shown much efficiency during this emergency. Just a few days ago, the Swiss government had to admit that the army pharmacy, which is in charge of supplying the country with medicines and vaccines in serious crisis situations, “is not adequate for large-scale supply”. However, only a few months ago the government had pushed the people to buy new military fighter planes (of NATO production) for many billions of francs instead of investing in the civil protection and supply of the country.

The Communist Party, the country’s only vanguard party, had a slight increase in membership during the lockdown, but much work remains to be done to extend its territorial roots beyond the Italian-speaking region of the country. In addition to the agitation, the communists have won at least one battle, that of inserting in the Constitution of the Republic and Canton of Tessin (Southern Switzerland) the principle of ‘food sovereignty’, so as to force the state to compensate for the limits of economic supply in the country found during the lockdown. In addition, one of our proposals to prohibit layoffs when a state of emergency is declared due to a public disaster will soon be discussed.

THE SPANISH STATE AS A POLITICAL TARGET

Nuño Rodríguez / Political Scientist

Spain is an atypical case in international politics, just as its national policy is atypical. Spain began 2020 by announcing a coalition government of the PSOE with PODEMOS, supported in parliament by all regionalist and pro-independence forces. The state’s structure was already suffering the attacks of the PSOE through the unilateral substitution of strategic positions in the bureaucratic structures. The Attorney General of the State, for example, had been the Minister of Justice in Pedro Sanchez’s provisional government. Previously, in a television interview, Sanchez had recognized that the Attorney’s office depended on the presidency, hinting that the government could control the prosecutor’s action in the judicial sphere. Elements pointed to a direct attack by the PSOE on the state’s composition in 2020.

Sanchez came to power in 2018 after filing a motion of censure against then-President Mariano Rajoy. After winning it, the first visit he received at the Moncloa Palace was from George Soros. A few days later, Soros’ organizations conducted an effective media campaign to get a ship called Aquarius, full of illegal immigrants, into Spain. Soros’ policies were evident from the very beginning. It didn’t take long for the PSOE to announce that they would reform the education law. The Minister of Education announced that “under no circumstances can it be said that the children belong to their parents.” The attacks on Spain’s social and political structure have been constant for decades by all parties. In 2020 the situation has worsened because the nation’s government is sustained by the parliamentary votes of all parties openly hostile to the nation.

The irruption of the world health crisis has been of great importance for the Sanchez government. The parliament approved a state of emergency that gave the presidency partial control of the country. Still, Sanchez took total control of the country, exceeding the capacities reflected in the state of alarm. All parties in parliament tacitly approved the excess power. The constitution ceded Sanchez the capacity to apply laws without parliamentary control. Sanchez’s first thing was to stop the country’s economy and stop the market for goods and services. The government suspended civil and constitutional rights. Secondly, the government introduced PODEMOS to the National Intelligence Center. Thirdly, the government spent billions of Euros on political propaganda and deficient or non-existent sanitary supplies. One of the budget items went directly to the country’s mass media, who instantly started defending the government’s draconian measures. It did not take long before it became known that an illicit network awarded public contracts to companies owned by friends and relatives of government members.

The country’s economic destruction was done simultaneously to economic recovery and aid policies. Still, the policies were never implemented, and the aid never reached the families. The Minimum Vital Income, the star policy promoted by PODEMOS, never reached the families without income, just as the assistance for renting housing or buying food never arrived. The obscurantism in the bidding and the political and police repression have been the most significant characteristics of the health measures taken. These measures have not stopped the coronavirus, but have decapitalized the Spanish population by destroying countless jobs and depriving families of economic income.

Today, Spain is a ruined country that suffers more from economic crisis than the health crisis. The Minister of Education has managed to approve the so-called Cela Law, by which the state abrogates the rights of children that were previously in the hands of their parents. On the other hand, regional relations have been stressed due to Morocco’s foreign policy in the Sahara and the Canary Islands coasts. This situation should generate a severe diplomatic conflict since Morocco is attacking Spain’s national sovereignty, but Sanchez’s government has neither the capacity nor the interest to react. Spain is a country with bureaucratic structures controlled by the executive and no division of powers in practice. Still, the government’s ability is not going to be applied to the benefit of the population. The pessimists think 2020 has been a bad year; the optimists give 2021 a chance to be worse.

VENEZUELA: UNITY, COURAGE AND RESISTANCE

Micaela Ovelar / Political Scientist

This year has been difficult and complex for the whole world, but for Venezuela the difficulties and challenges have multiplied exponentially; the Caribbean country, which has endured unfair sanctions from the United States and part of the European Union since 2014, has been hit like never before in its history. However, the Bolivarian Revolution has many reasons to feel optimistic, hopeful and empowered.

In the first place, it’s highlighted that the strategy to contain the expansion of the Coronavirus has been successful: with just over 100,000 total infections, Venezuela presents a much lower number of cases than most Latin American countries, which are in a much better economic situation.

Furthermore, this year has been one of hard work to achieve the well-being of the Venezuelan people.

In terms of social protection, the elderly who received pensions and retirements, with 100% coverage, reached 5 million, for a total population of 28 million inhabitants. Similarly, the government has managed to sustain direct and indirect economic subsidies, including the so-called “bonds” in liquid money and the food supply system (CLAP) at affordable prices, both are delivered monthly and reach about 10 million people in the country.

In the political sphere, the great achievement of 2020 has been for far the recovery of the National Assembly, which was in the hands of the opposition, this will allow the Bolivarian government to advance in 2021, in the legislative and institutional agenda. This is a great opportunity to stabilize the national political order.

Also, it’s well known that Venezuela has the largest certified oil reserves of any country in the world, however, the international economic and financial blockade has affected the national production of fuel in such a way that it hasn’t been possible to even meet the domestic demand for oil, as despite of this, the government has ensured a minimum essential so that the country doesn’t paralyze.

This last point brings us to the international front, since, this time, the aid came from the hand of several Iranian oil tankers, which were decisive in meeting the national demand for fossil fuel. Likewise, Venezuela celebrated the reincorporation of Bolivia, to the regional multipolar, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist blocs ALBA and UNASUR. It should be noted that, after the coup d’Etat against Evo Morales in 2019, the Bolivian coup government had withdrawn from these counter-hegemonic regional spaces.

Unfortunately, one of the saddest events that happened in the country this year is the shipwreck and sinking of a small boat that departed, at the beginning of December, from the East of Venezuela to Trinidad & Tobago, separated by 130 kilometers; causing the death of more than 20 people, in what, in our opinion, represents the greatest Venezuelan tragedy in immigration matters. This tragedy has mourned the whole country and is a direct consequence of the wave of Venezuelan migrants who decide to undertake other horizons to overcome the economic strangulation of the criminal US blockade.

In short, we can say that, despite the difficulties, challenges and sadness, the Bolivarian Revolution continues to be a source of hope and inspiration for many peoples of the world and that it remains firm in the face of imperialist attacks. Without a doubt, in 2020, the Venezuelan people have once again become an example of unity, courage and resistance.

ARGENTINA: IN THE SEARCH OR A NEW PATH OF LIBERATION AND INDEPENDENCE

Facundo Escobar / Patria Para Todos

The national government of Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been in charge of the country for 12 months now, 8 of which were of pandemic crisis, quarantine, multiple restrictions and uncertain scenarios at all levels of society. The government of the Frente de Todos follows the brutal attempt at neoliberal restoration led by Macri (2015-2019) on behalf, and with the support of, the dominant classes that has dashed violently the country into a deep economic, financial and social crisis, dismembering the benefits and conquests of the great majorities built up during 12 years of the governments of the people lead by Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández (2003-2015).

A high-impact political maneuver ended up changing everything and started off the new stage of hope that we are living today. Former President CFK proposed Alberto Fernandez as a candidate for president as she played the role of vice president (2019). That is how we achieved victory. Since that time we have been carrying out a new policy to unite the national camp struggling to transform the balance of social forces.

We the Argentine people and their organizations have enormous challenges to overcome: massive foreign debt, a large political, economic, judicial and media power that the anti-popular forces still hold, while the Federal Courts lingers as the enemy of institutionality and democracy. If we don’t neutralize all of that, no popular project will be possible.

But we are a people with a good memory: we know how to do it, and we have already begun.

As Argentinian peoples we have defeated and recovered from dictatorships and repressions. We have resisted and expelled neoliberalism from the government twice already, and we won’t let them come back. We are resisting the pandemic and we will overcome the tremendous crisis it has sown while we prepare ourselves to address every fight that may be encountered along the way, and face any scenario that comes our way, without shunning the conflict.

There is one basic step needed for that to be possible: build a new liberating experience taking popular political culture as the starting point, letting the rebellious and revolutionary traditions of our rooted history guide our decisions and set the tone of our political repertoire. That must be constituent of a new starting point from where to regain the most recent and brighter experience of change that had its references in Fidel, Chávez, Kirchner, Lula, Cristina, Evo, Correa, Dilma, and Ortega, to build a new regional experience of integration of states and peoples, solidarity and complementarity, from an anti-imperialist stance, on the trail of the Great Homeland, to definitively expel imperialism and dependency from our continent.

CHILE: THE PANDEMIC HAS TAUGHT US WELL

Rodolfo Vicencio / Member of the Student Federation Council of University of Chile

Certainly 2020 was a difficult year for most of us. COVID-19 erupted in our political agenda, and in our personal lives. Most of the world has suffered from the pandemic; it’s probably the hardest year in our recent history as humanity.

In the case of Chile, we were living in very turbulent times even before the pandemic. Last year (2019), specifically in October, the people said “stop”. The people went out to the streets and called for dignity, more social rights for everyone, education, public health, better retirement pensions. In Chile you have the capacity to get a credit card, spend money that you don’t have in an American customized shopping Mall, but you can’t ask for free and good quality education, or some free medical attention for your children, even if they are dying.

After six months of social protest in our country, the pandemic arrived at our home. Everyone was locked down and we spent several months not going out, and watching the terrible news crossover our country and in the world. But the pandemic taught us some important things. The strike of COVID-19 everyone in my country that an enforced public health system is necessary for every civilized country to confront this virus. It also showed us how important it is to support each other, to lend a hand (maintaining social distance of course) to each other. In the end, it showed us how important it is to be united as a country, and to eradicate the imperialist logics imposed in us such as the post liberal economy, where the rampant consumption is at the order of the day and where our government doesn’t take care of its own people, rejecting emergency benefits and offering bank loans to the poor. At the end of the year, it showed us a vision of a country that we don’t want to be in the future. Right now, most of the Chilean people know what they want for tomorrow: a country that doesn’t leave its people behind, a country that can offer social rights to every citizen, a country that can show an enhanced structure to provide every citizen some dignity.

Even in the darkest times, there’s always a silver lining in the end, and of course, we must take it and convert that little hope in something stronger, something that can improve the lives of our people.

Elif İlhamoğlu
Elif İlhamoğlu is political scientist and  journalist (Turkey). She is studying for PHD on the political science and international relations department at Istanbul University (Middle East studies). She visited Middle East countries, Syria, Lebanon, Iran several times and did interviews with the leaders as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hilal al-Hilal Secretary General of the Syrian Ba'ath Party.

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