The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.61/No.28           August 25, 1997 
In Brief  
Pol Pot on trial in Cambodia
Cambodia's prime minister, Hun Sen, has consolidated power after ousting co-premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh on July 6. Citing the coup as unstable for investment, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) reneged Cambodia's invitation to the Asian trade bloc. Meanwhile, Pol Pot, the leader of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, has reportedly been put on trial by members of his group and given a life sentence. Hun Sen told reporters that the trial was a "trick" by the Khmer Rouge, and that he believed Pol Pot remains in command.

U.S. state department spokesman Nicholas Burns also stated disbelief in the trial and hypocritically added that the sentence of Pol Pot's life imprisonment was not sufficient for his crimes. The Pol Pot group, which killed more than 2 million people while in power from 1975 to 1979, was backed by Washington in its subsequent war against the Hun Sen government.

No buying, selling land in Russia
On July 25, Russia's Duma adopted a Land Code that didn't include the right to buy and sell land. Russian president Boris Yeltsin, who has pushed for such measures as part of so-called "market reforms," said he won't sign the bill. Land sales have been banned since the Russian revolution was consolidated and land nationalized nearly 80 years ago.

Meanwhile, the growing economic crisis in Russia, which has meant at times Russian soldiers are not paid, has forced Yeltsin to announce cuts in military personnel of up to one- third. Soldiers earn a mere $3 a month, and the severity of life led to 500 Russian soldiers committing suicide last year.

French gov't reveals `jobs plan'
The Socialist Party-led government in France, elected on the promise of creating 350,000 new jobs, announced a draft law July 30 it said would begin to meet that pledge. The measure is supposed to create 150,000 jobs by the end of 1998 for workers under age 26. The jobs will be limited to five years and pay the minimum wage, with the government subsidizing employers 80 percent of the wage. These workers will not receive benefits normally associated with government jobs. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose again in June to 12.6 percent, or 3.13 million workers.

Paris pulls troops out of Central African Republic
Paris has decided to withdraw some 1,400 troops from its base in Bouar, Central African Republic. Defense Minister Alain Richard said that troops are being transferred to the capital city of Bangui and will eventually be withdrawn from the country. Over the next five years, Paris is expected to cut its forces on the continent from 8,000 to 5,000. Since May of 1996, there have been three major rebellions by soldiers and working people in Central African Republic. French troops aided the government in putting down the rebellions every time.

Strike called in Venezuela
The CTV labor confederation in Venezuela has called for a nationwide strike on August 6 in response to the government's economic austerity measures and a 27 percent increase in gas prices. Several other unions are planning work stoppages for that week. Carlos Navarro, secretary- general of the CTV, said the strike is also pressing demands to increase wages based on an agreement between the union, private companies, and the government signed earlier this year.

Workers protest in Peru over economic conditions
Protests have continued against the Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori. In the largest actions since Fujimori took office in 1990, about 3,000 workers rallied in the capital city of Lima July 17, against austerity measures and attacks on democratic rights by the Fujimori regime. Members of the General Federation of Peruvian Workers chanted "Down with the dictator." On July 28, Fujimori was forced to announce a 15 percent wage increase for public employees, many of whom make $250 a month. More than half of Peru's 24 million people live below the poverty line, and 70 percent do not have full-time employment.

Promising to clean up of the government, Fujimori dissolved Congress for a period in 1992 and ruled by decree. Recently, however, Fujimori's cabinet has been rocked by five resignations of top government officials. Fujimori's approval rating has hit an all-time low of 23 percent, and scandals including the questioning of Fujimori's nationality, and therefore the validity of his presidency, have also plagued the regime for months.

Italian company pays U.S. ITT for land nationalized in Cuba
The Italian communications firm Stet International agreed to pay the U.S. company ITT $2.5 million for land that was nationalized after the 1959 Cuban revolution. In doing so, Stet will no longer be subject to possible sanctions under the misnamed "Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act," commonly known as the Helms-Burton law. It is the first time that a U.S. company has received any payment for land that was nationalized in Cuba.

Mas Tec, the telecommunications and construction firm founded by right-wing Cuban-American Jorge Mas Canosa, had also approached ITT in an effort to buy out its claim.

UN troops to stay in Haiti
The United Nations Security Council decided July 30 to keep its intervention force in Haiti until the end of the year. UN troops arrived in March 1995, six months after U.S. soldiers invaded the island. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations William Richardson told the U.N. General Assembly that the imperialist mission in Haiti had made "impressive strides in bringing the rule of law and an effective justice mission to Haiti." The Haitian police force, which was trained by U.N. instructors and militarily backed by the United Nations, has killed nearly 50 people since July 1995.

Air Force chief resigns post
On July 28, Ronald Fogleman, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, resign his post in protest over the sanctioning of one of his brigadier generals for lax security in the bombing of U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia last year. Fogleman had backed his officer corps in arguments with Secretary of Defense William Cohen. The main issue, Fogleman said, was the impact of the prosecution on the military brass and "whether or not the power of this government stands behind them when they go out there."

DC gov't stripped of power
White House and Congressional leaders reached agreement July 30 on a plan to strip the elected mayor and city council in Washington, D.C., of most of their political power and put the financial control board in charge for at least the next four years. The board, whose members were appointed by President William Clinton under legislation enacted by Congress in 1995, will now have control over nine major agencies, including Public Works, Human Services, Employment Services, Corrections, Health, Housing and Community Development, the public schools, police, and personnel. The mayor will oversee recreation, cable TV, tourism, and the taxicab commission.

In addition, the financial control board is directed to hire teams of what will be high-salaried consultants to reorganize city government operations. Businesses that invest in the city will receive huge tax breaks.


Brian Williams in Washington, D.C., contributed to this column.  
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