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Sat, 24 Feb 2018 12:25:00 +0100

Disinformation : In the Philippines, political trolling is an industry – this is how it works

Georgina [1] is a transgender digital marketer for a boutique public relations agency in the heart of Manila’s business district. A resourceful SEO specialist, 28 year-old Georgina spends her office hours driving traffic to her clients’ pages, even skilfully hiding fake ad links to lure clicks.

But Georgina’s 9-to-5 job shows only a fraction of her real value in the digital arena. Georgina is an online influencer – except, unlike the photogenic jetsetters who flood Instagram and YouTube with glossy fantasies of an aspirational lifestyle, she is carefully, completely anonymous.

Georgina maintains half a dozen Twitter and Facebook accounts with over a million organic followers in total. Each page boasts a particular brand of content, from lovesick romantic quotes to “inspiring” platitudes to viciously snarky memes. Her legions of followers are quick to like, repost, and retweet her entertaining posts.

Once in a while, Georgina slips in a hashtag promoting a new movie release or soft drink brand, which her followers retweet. Before they know it, they’ve helped her make an entire commercial campaign go viral and top Twitter trending rankings globally.

Georgina is an anonymous digital influencer who carries out undisclosed paid campaigns for clients that can pay for her reach and influence. She started out working for PR agencies handling household brands and telcos – until the 2016 Philippine elections, when she took on her first campaign for a high-profile politician running for national office.

 Highly professional, hierarchical organization

In the Philippines, influential online personalities and “troll armies” are credited with winning Rodrigo Duterte the presidency in 2016. Even after carrying Duterte to victory, “trolls”, or “Dutertards” as his fanatic supporters have been derogatorily dubbed, continue to vociferously share fake news and silence dissenters.

But who are they? Who exactly is responsible for creating fake news? What kind of people sign up to become “trolls”, and why? What kind of skills do they have, what motivates them, and what shapes the content they create?

As co-authors of a new report published by the British Newton Tech4Dev Network, we found that while the moral panics of the Philippine public are focused on celebrity influencers, the problem of political trolling and disinformation is actually more insidious, systemic, and deeply rooted than any single hero or villain.

Undetected and unseen, attention hackers like Georgina form part of a highly professionalized industry of digital political disinformation in the Philippines, a country of 67 million active social media users.

We met Georgina, and others like her, while conducting 20 in-depth interviews with people we came to call “architects of networked disinformation.”

Our informants supplied us with the passwords to their anonymous influencer pages, as well as fake accounts used for political campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. With this unprecedented access, we were able to unearth a shadow industry that is professionalized and hierarchical in its organization, strategic in its outlook, and questionable in its ethics.

 Anonymous digital influencers amplify political messages

We also met Felix, a digital advertising specialist who, like Georgina, moonlights as an anonymous digital influencer. When he hit 100,000 followers, he was offered his first commercial contract. Now he runs a “quote page” with 2 million organic followers.

Hired for his first political campaign via Twitter direct message, Felix joined a team of anonymous influencers tasked with building their politician client’s image and brand on social media. Felix’s followers amplify his messages until mainstream news outlets pick them up. Other times, he reposts pieces of mainstream coverage – news reports, opinion pieces – that speak well of their client.

“You need to go slowly. You can’t post branded content right away; you’ll lose followers. Sometimes they call us bayaran (sellout, paid hack) because branded content comes first,” says Felix. “When something trends organically, only then can we slip in branded content,” he adds.

Artificially trending hashtags is only the tip of the iceberg. Other tasks might involve digital black ops – for example, seeding revisionist history narratives or sowing divisiveness in online communities.

Anonymous influencers like Georgina and Felix are ranked and paid according to the engagement they generate – likes, favorites, shares, retweets, or video views – and they receive bonuses for outstanding engagement in a campaign. It could be cash, or the latest smartphone model.

 Chief architects of disinformation dictate the strategy

Georgina is the right-hand woman of Dex, a seasoned public relations strategist with a select portfolio of elite political clients. Prior to her career in online management, Dex was an advertising executive. Having achieved financial and professional success, she was on the hunt for her next challenge – and found it in political PR.

If people like Georgina and Felix are combatants in the political PR battlefield, ad and PR industry leaders like Dex are their generals – the chief architects of disinformation.

“I’ve overcome a lot of competition in other industries, like telecoms for example. Every time I enter a war, I find a way to win. To me, everything is war,” she said in our interview.

“What attracted me to politics is because I felt that they were all ignorant about social media. These are old-timers. How can you win a digital war with someone born in 1940 or 1929 for that matter? You cannot. It’s impossible. So let’s go to war.”

While trolling is attributed to the likes of Mocha Uson and other notorious bloggers, the real chief architects of disinformation hide in plain sight. Holding respectable day jobs as top executives in boutique ad and PR agencies, their political hustles on the side – undisclosed and unregulated – are an open industry secret.

Motivated by the challenge of winning in a new arena, chief disinformation architects interface directly with politicians and use professional tricks of the trade – brand bibles, campaign strategies, media valuation reports – to fulfil their clients’ needs. “Whether you’re a movie, softdrink, restaurant, or politician, it’s all the same to me,” says Dex. “Just give me the brief, I know what to do.”

With their track record for launching Facebook business pages, trending hashtag campaigns worldwide, and building engaged communities for household brands, telcos or celebrities, tried-and-tested industry techniques of spin and reputation-building acquire new power and momentum in their hands.

“I dictate everything from hashtag, to copy, direction, strategy, black ops,” asserts Dex. “The influencers cannot do it on their own. If they do, it’s going to be a disaster.”

“Online numbers are useless if there’s no core message, something to champion. That’s the strategy I can offer – the messaging, the attack.”

Chief architects are skilled not only at messaging and strategy, but at coming up with ways to deflect moral responsibility and professional accountability. They speak of “saving” clients’ careers, giving online personas “refreshing honesty” and “soul”, connecting with “real people behind the screen” who are looking for “empathy and understanding,” and even “helping the country.”

Strategy in hand, the chief architects of disinformation staff the teams of anonymous digital influencers to take campaign messages to smartphones and screens. They create the pay structures and come up with the incentives that motivate the influencers. But the work doesn’t stop there.

 Fake accounts create illusions of engagement

At the bottom of the hierarchy, community-level fake account operators do what we call script-based disinformation work – i.e., the grunt work. Fake accounts post pre-made content on schedule and actively like and share posts to meet a daily quota. Dex calls them “social nobodies.”

“What they do is shallow,” she says. “In my eyes they don’t exist because whatever they do has no effect without strategy.”

However, they are necessary to generate illusions of engagement. Fake account operators create a bandwagon effect that affirms the key messages of a political campaign, and encourages real, unpaid grassroots supporters and political fans to openly express their support for a particular politician.

 The weaponization of a digital workforce

The aim of our research was never to name and shame “trolls,” but to understand their identities and motivations, how they operate, and how they morally justify their work.

Beyond the Philippines, global democratic players in the west would do well to pay closer attention to how a highly skilled digital workforce for hire might be weaponized for digital disinformation in other democratic countries such as the United States and United Kingdom.

Understanding is the key to finding solutions at every level of disinformation production, which we propose in our report. More importantly, understanding is the key to taking a stand against the way disinformation is influencing free political discourse, rewriting narratives, and shaping the democratic project, both in the Philippines and far beyond.

Jonathan Corpus Ong and Jason Cabanes


CABANES Jason, CORPUS ONG Jonathan

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 11:29:00 +0100

Pakistan / Gilgit-Baltistan : Dangerous politics – On the arrest of lawyer and rights activist Ehsan Ali

Yet one more arrest of a well-known lawyer and rights activist in Gilgit-Baltistan has highlighted how the Pakistani state continues to arrest activists working for human rights. Last weekend, Advocate Ehsan Ali, the president of the GB Supreme Appellate Court Bar Association, was arrested by the police on the flimsy charge of sharing an offensive post on social media. The arrest of the elected representative of GB’s lawyers was seen as more insult to the injury inflicted on those living in Pakistan’s peripheral regions. Ehsan is the lawyer representing popular GB leader Baba Jan, who remains in jail on anti-terror charges and was prevented from contesting elections earlier last year. The Baba Jan case has become a symbol for how the Pakistani state treats dissent, and GB and other peripheral regions in the country. Jan was one of the campaigners asking for compensation for those affected by the formation of the Attabad Lake. He is now serving a life sentence in prison for allegedly instigating riots. The charges themselves have been seen as politically motivated and, in any case, are clearly exaggerated. Interestingly, Advocate Ehsan Ali was arrested as Baba Jan’s health deteriorated and there was a chance that another appeal could be presented before the court to allow his release.

In what can only be seen as major luck, Ehsan was bailed out on Monday after protests were held across the country for his release. But other activists, such as Raza Khan from Lahore, remain missing. The possibility of another arrest if Advocate Ehsan Ali does not toe the line is still very much there. More dangerously, the shadow of religiously motivated violence has been cast on him. This is part of a dangerous trend that needs to be condemned. Even in the darkest days of y dictatorships, activists used to be arrested for their activism. Now, they are arrested on concocted charges that threaten their lives even after their release. In Advocate Ehsan’s case the relatively mundane matter of sharing a photo of the recent protests in Iran became the excuse for his arrest under anti-terrorism laws. Young students from Gilgit-Baltistan have led the protests against Ehsan’s arrest; the lawyer is a popular figure for the region’s disaffected and politically energised youth. He was also active in the recent taxation protests in GB. The unfortunate smear campaign orchestrated against him before his arrest shows the new challenges faced by those who dare to question the status quo. Perhaps, those who matter should realise that this form of politics will not quell unrest in GB, it will only make grievances more severe.

Editorial, The News, February 20, 2018


The News (Pakistan)

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 11:23:00 +0100

Pakistan / Gilgit-Baltistan: Advocate Ehsan Ali, a symbol of political sanity

“What makes us think critically when we know the consequences [are] really harsh in this country,” says a political worker who wanted me to highlight the case of Advocate Ehsan Ali who was arrested from his residence in Gilgit last week for sharing a Facebook post (and has since been released on bail).

It was believed that the post was did not sit well with some religious groups who reportedly persuaded the authorities to take this extreme step. However, there were countless attempts to deny the fact that such demands were made by religious leaders who consider Ehsan to be a symbol of interfaith harmony in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Advocate Ehsan Ali is one of the region’s most vocal rights activists and has been a key player in the resistance movements against the violation of human rights, including the extrajudicial incarceration of those who are considered to be voices of dissent in Gilgit-Baltistan. He has also extended political and legal support for political prisoners such as the progressive political leader Baba Jan, who is serving a life sentence in jail for his bravery in exposing police atrocities against those who were affected by the Attabad disaster in Hunza.

In 2010, the police had killed a father and son during a peaceful political protest that was held in solidarity with the Attabad victims in Aliabad Hunza. Baba Jan and some of his comrades were arrested for their alleged involvement in acts of arson and plundering public property in Hunza in the aftermath of police action against protesters. Ironically, Baba Jan was not present on the scene. It was later alleged that he fomented the violence even though the police shootout had turned a peaceful rally into a violent mob.

Advocate Ehsan Ali fought Baba Jan’s case and was able to highlight the cause of progressive other political workers in the national and international media. Advocate Ehsan Ali, the Awami Workers Party and local nationalist groups were able to internationalise the issues about the plight and victimisation of political workers of Gilgit-Baltistan. Ehsan’s other contributions include his ability to promote interfaith dialogue and help reduce sectarianism in Gilgit city.

Many were surprised to learn that a symbol of interfaith harmony in Gilgit-Baltistan was arrested on the charges of instigating sectarian violence. As the president of the Gilgit Bar Association, a close associate of the late Asma Jahangir and a secular and progressive political leader, Ehsan Ali posed a challenge to the monopoly of the state in an under-represented region of Pakistan. In a region embroiled in sectarian violence, a sane state must promote sectarian harmony that is symbolised by people like Ehsan Ali and Baba Jan. The decision to arrest Ehsan and the silence of GB government shows that our polity is bereft of reason.

There have been reports about the infiltration of religious extremist groups to sabotage CPEC through sectarian violence. The government of Gilgit-Baltistan has failed to demonstrate courage to stand up against an inflated bureaucracy and a powerful establishment.

There is no sense of justice, freedom, empowerment and representation among the political forces that want to promote an anti-sectarian and truly democratic form of political governance. Contrary to the government’s claims to take action against anti-state elements, it has turned out to be an anti-people state. While external enemies may conspire to sabotage CPEC, it seems that our inept and myopic ruling class has facilitated these elements by instilling a sense of deprivation among its own citizens.

Gilgit-Baltistan is one of the most politically sensitive regions of Pakistan. It is, therefore, vital to develop the region to help address the grievances of its people. No political party welcomed the arrest of Advocate Ehsan Ali and his political associates and even religio-political parties had rejected the charges against him. As a result, people have started to raise questions about who has created this crisis in Gilgit-Baltistan.

There is a visible sense of deprivation in a region that has one of the highest literacy rates in the country. Despite the miseries of extrajudicial treatment inflicted upon the people of this region, there has never been an anti-state uprising – except when locals have taken to the streets to demand their legitimate political, economic and constitutional rights.

For 70 years, the Gilgit-Baltistan has been in a state of political limbo that is intractably linked to the Kashmir dispute. It wouldn’t be a violation of any international laws, national policies or foreign policy initiatives if the people of this region are given their due share in the economic, political and constitutional affairs of Pakistan. This will not weaken the political claim of Pakistan over Kashmir. In fact, it will strengthen its international stance and result in public buy-ins vis-a-vis the dispute among GB’s residents.

The conventional political tactics of control, coercion and oppression are not going to help the state build a broad-based consensus over Kashmir. On both sides of the political divide, the people of Kashmir have suffered significantly. India has deployed 0.7 million troops to maintain illegitimate control over the people of the valley. Kashmiris are also not being treated with dignity in Pakistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan has not witnessed any reciprocity from the government of Pakistan. The people of the region have been pushed to the margins and there appears to be a continuation of the colonial mode of governance through indirect rule. Inept bureaucrats, who are mostly appointed through the federal government, have facilitated the real instruments of control and an overly centralised local council has fuelled indirect rule in the presence of a spineless local legislative assembly.

Last week, I had opportunity to participate in a seminar on the status of Gilgit-Baltistan at the National Press Club Islamabad. The speakers were able to put forth some valid recommendations for the political mainstreaming of Gilgit-Baltistan. There was a consensus among all political parties – including the PPP, the PML-N and the PTI – that the region must be accorded the same political, economic and constitutional rights enjoyed by the other four provinces.

Experts and political leaders were able to set the context for a national narrative on the political mainstreaming of Gilgit-Baltistan. There are reports that both the Kashmir and GB councils will be abolished and all powers will be transferred to the local legislative assembly. This is a welcome step that will help address the political grievances of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan’s people.

However, a great deal needs to be done to bring these areas at par with the four provinces of Pakistan. These regions can eventually become the fifth and sixth provinces of Pakistan and their disputed status does not stand in the way of pursuing this option. There are no legal, constitutional or political complications to obstruct this path – unless we are stopped by an old-fashioned, security-focused interpretation of our national issues.

People like Advocate Ehsan Ali and his political comrades must continue to speak out to ensure a better future for their people because they provide hope and motivation to our youth who are in search of an identity in a nation-state.

While there is a price to be paid for talking sense in this country, the poor have proved that they value those who speak for their rights. The turnout at Asma Jahangir’s funeral showed how much admiration she had earned. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan admire heroes like Advocate Ehsan and Baba Jan. The sacrifices that these heroes have rendered to ensure the supremacy of the law will not go to waste.

Amir Hussain


HUSSAIN Amir

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 11:15:00 +0100

Korean Peninsula – After the Year of Living Dangerously: Why Pyeongchang really could be the “Peace Games”

Few have given peace on the Korean Peninsula a chance after the Pyeongchang Games finish, but after a tense 2017, the Winter Olympics have opened a path towards peace

At the outset of the women’s slalom at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, US superstar Mikaela Shiffrin was ranked first and North Korea’s Kim Ryon Hyang last among the field of 79 skiers. True to form, Kim finished last among the finishers and Shiffrin, who was sick, came in a disappointing fourth. During both rounds of the competition, Kim received by far the biggest ovation led by a troupe of North Korean cheerleaders — decked out in sunglasses and matching sneakers — who in turn led a left-leaning group of South Korean supporters as they too cheered in disciplined formation. Such is reality in the topsy-turvy world of Pyeongchang 2018, dubbed the “Peace Games.” A supposedly apolitical event has turned political in the extreme, the boogie men have transformed into heroes and the losers into winners. While North Korea has expertly orchestrated a love-in with the majority of South Koreans, Americans have looked on somewhat bemused as this divided people enjoys all too rare facetime. But can Olympic euphoria last and lead to real peace?

When Kim Jong-un signed off the launch of a Hwasong-15 Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) on November 28 last year [1], much of the focus was on its range — 8,000 miles. Far enough to reach every corner of the continental US, it was the first such test of its kind by North Korea. But the timing now also looks significant. After conducting 16 missile tests in 2017, the most ever in a single year, the DPRK then went silent in what now looks like an effort to lay the ground for a rapprochement with the South in a bid to drive a wedge with the US. Five weeks later, Kim delivered his traditional New Year’s speech with two key points [2]: The DPRK was ready to join the Pyeongchang Games, he said. And then came a warning for the US: “The nuclear button is on my office desk all of the time. The United States needs to be clearly aware that this is not merely a threat but a reality.”

Kim’s comments represent the most significant gambit North Korea has played in recent times. Although his threat was interpreted as an offensive posture by the US and much of the international media, inside North Korea it was considered defensive. Kim was telling the US, and South Korea, that the North has all but perfected an insurance policy for its own independence. Now Pyongyang was ready to talk, and bargain.

Three days later, South Korean President Moon Jae-in responded to Kim. Joint military drills with the US, which simulate an attack on the North and anger Pyongyang, due to take place in the Spring would be suspended during the Winter Olympics. Moon’s overtures to the US confirming this freeze required little more than massaging Trump’s ego. Before making his announcement, the South Korean president first allowed Trump to Tweet that it was he who had brought the two Koreas together [3]. Then, a week later, Moon flattered his US counterpart [4]: “I give President Trump huge credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, and I’d like to thank him for that,” he said.

China and Russia have repeatedly called for a “dual freeze” [5], a cessation of missile tests by the North alongside a stop to military exercises by the US and the South. So even before the opening ceremony, the Olympics had delivered — without being hailed as such — the very thing that North Korea’s only two neighbors and so-called allies had championed for months. For the moment, an unspoken dual freeze continues.

Following 2017, among the most dangerous years on the peninsula in the six decades since the Korean War, this year has witnessed almost daily overtures towards peace. Multiple military talks have been held on the DMZ, the military hotline between the two Koreas has been re-established, and Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un, has become the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to visit the south since the Korean War when she joined titular head of state Kim Jong-nam in Pyeongchang for the Olympics opening ceremony on February 9 [6].

The full implications of this high-level visit are still to be felt. The media has played up the PR masterstroke by Kim Jong-un in Pyeongchang but Moon has also pulled off something similar, if not more advantageous, in regards to his own position and agenda. Not only has the left-leaning president exposed the ruling Kim dynasty to the South for the first time, he may also have brought more South Koreans into his political camp — one which advocates engagement and ratcheting down tensions over bellicose threats. Moon’s approval rating slid below 60 percent for the first time in late January after announcing both Koreas would walk together during the Olympics opening ceremony [7]. But by the day of the actual event, polls showed Moon was back up to 63 percent, and a week later 61.5 percent of South Koreans polled were in favor of a meeting between Moon and Kim Jong-un [8]. Such a meeting, proposed in an invitation hand delivered by Kim’s sister to Moon, will likely prove crucial as to whether the “Peace Games” can actually deliver a thaw in relations that extends beyond the end of the Paralympics on March 18.

By that date, North Korea will have gone 110 days without a missile test [9] — barring something unexpected — the longest period since Trump became president. South Korea has said it will announce resumed joint military exercises with the US between March 18 and April 1 with the aim of starting drills after this period [10]. This will be the key test.

From the US side, the clock is ticking. With every passing week, Kim gets closer to perfecting and expanding his nuclear threat. But time is also of the essence for North Korea. Just before Christmas, the UN Security Council passed yet harsher sanctions which restrict fuel imports and require all North Korean laborers to return home within 24 months, thereby cutting off a vital supply of foreign currency [11]. The White House’s “maximum pressure” campaign with the option of talks, as described by Pence following his return from Pyeongchang, is effectively mirrored on the North Korean side, however. An opinion piece published by the government-run Korean Central News Agency on February 19 stated [12]: “The DPRK is fully ready for both dialogue and war.”

Both sides have therefore reached high noon on the Korean Peninsula, Moon playing good cop and Trump bad in a showdown with Kim. Who will blink first? If US-South Korea military exercises resume in April then Kim will almost certainly sign off more missile tests, effectively ending the recent Olympics honeymoon period. This in turn raises a key point: by inflaming tensions on the Korean peninsula with talk of attacks on the North, the Trump White House has not only brought the region closer to war, it has also encouraged Kim to speed up his weapons program, the very thing the US is trying to avoid.

The US sees biannual military exercises as a key showcase of its military presence in the South, a display of force also partly aimed at China. Moon appears less supportive, berating the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe for urging the resumption of drills after the Games finish. Moon will therefore surely attempt to stall the US further on joint exercises with the aim of extending the current period of improving North-South relations, thereby creating conditions for a visit to Pyongyang, while encouraging direct dialogue between the US and North Korea. Should the South Korean president reach Pyongyang, the Korean peninsula and its enduring Cold War standoff will enter rare territory. There have only ever been two previous visits by a South Korean president to Pyongyang — Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and his successor Roh Moo-hyun in 2007. Both efforts eventually fizzled to nothing. Moon should thereafter scrap the worst of this previous “Sunshine Policy,” notably secret multi-million-dollar payments to Pyongyang and a lack of focus on the Kim dynasty’s appalling human rights record, while keeping parts that worked, namely top-level talks and a zero-tolerance policy on Northern military aggression.

And so despite the cynicism, and fears that the current thaw on the Korean Peninsula won’t last until the Spring, the so-called “Peace Games” have, in theory, opened up a path towards peace. The question is: will all those involved walk down it?

Alan Scott


SCOTT Alan

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:39:00 +0100

Algérie – Déclaration : « Résister et construire une alternative ».

Défendons l’Etat social, la souveraineté nationale et les libertés démocratiques menacés par le gouvernement – Parti socialiste des travailleurs (PST).

Sur un fond de crise économique et financière présentée comme inéluctable voire comme une fatalité, le gouvernement Bouteflika s’attèle à remettre en cause l’Etat social, la souveraineté nationale et les libertés démocratiques arrachés par un long combat et la résistance des travailleurs et des masses populaires.

Austérité pour les masses laborieuses, cadeaux pour les possédants

Le pouvoir d’achat des travailleurs et des retraités est attaqué de toutes parts. Les lois de Finances qui se succèdent voient l’augmentation des prix de l’électricité, de la TVA, des carburants, des produits électroménagers, du tabac… La dépréciation continue du dinar pèse d’autant plus sur le budget des familles modestes que de nombreux produits sont importés de l’étranger.

Alors qu’un système de santé à deux vitesses s’est installé, l’école publique se voit privatisée par la généralisation des cours particuliers. Les salaires et les retraites sont quant à eux bloqués. C’est dans ce contexte que le gouvernement annonce son intention de supprimer les subventions sur les produits de première nécessité.

Le gouvernement et le Parlement sanctionnent les classes populaires, mais ils multiplient les cadeaux aux possédants. L’impôt sur la fortune a été enterré. Les barons de l’informel se voient offrir l’amnistie en plaçant leurs capitaux dans les banques. La bourgeoisie locale (entrepreneurs, importateurs…) et les entreprises étrangères bénéficient de subventions, de la commande publique, d’accès aux crédits et de facilités multiples. Les entreprises du secteur public leurs sont même offertes dans le cadre du partenariat public-privé qui n’est que la nouvelle forme de privatisation des biens de l’Etat. Le bradage continue. Des entreprises florissantes sont cédées au privé, national ou étranger (SNTA…).

Le caractère de classe bourgeois de la politique gouvernementale s’affirme de plus en plus ouvertement.

Soumission à l’impérialisme

Si le pouvoir refuse à juste titre d’envoyer l’ANP jouer le gendarme régional, il accepte le rôle de garde-frontières de l’UE. Les entreprises étrangères sont accueillies à bras ouverts. Le gaz de schiste est exploité dans le Sud, malgré la décision officielle de suspension et la réprobation des populations. Le pouvoir cède aux pressions impérialistes (USA, UE, FMI, Banque mondiale, Medef…) en faveur de réformes structurelles : privatisations, suppression des subventions, révision de la loi sur les hydrocarbures…

La collaboration avec les puissances occidentales et leur bras armé (OTAN) se développe. Le pouvoir fait preuve de modération sur El Qods et présente, au nom de l’Algérie, des excuses aux assassins du peuple yéménite parce que de jeunes supporters d’Ain M’Lila ont exprimé tout haut ce que l’écrasante majorité du peuple algérien pense du régime wahhabite.

Le caractère antinational de la politique gouvernementale s’affirme de plus en plus ouvertement.

Atteintes aux libertés démocratiques

La politique antisociale et antinationale du gouvernement provoque de nombreuses réactions populaires. Pour la faire passer, il recourt à la répression et s’attaque aux libertés démocratiques. Des ministres réclament la suppression du droit de grève dans leur secteur, la justice est instrumentalisée pour déclarer systématiquement illégales les grèves. Des grévistes sont radiés (Cnapeste). Des syndicats sont dissous (Snateg), les libertés syndicales sont bafouées, des élus syndicaux sont licenciés abusivement mais pas réintégrés, d’autres sont assignés en justice. Le droit de manifester est interdit à Alger et dans d’autres villes du pays (Sidi-Bel-Abbès…). Les manifestants sont réprimés dans le sang (Résidents en médecine). Le droit d’organisation associatif, syndical et politique est bafoué par les institutions de l’Etat…

Le caractère autoritaire du pouvoir fait craquer la façade démocratique du régime.

Le pouvoir est à l’offensive mais il craint les mobilisations sociales

Le pouvoir est à l’offensive, mais il n’est pas tout puissant. Des mouvements sociaux l’ont fait reculer ces derniers mois. Les mobilisations contre la loi de Finances 2018 en Kabylie et dans les Aurès, ont poussé Bouteflika à inscrire Yennayer dans le calendrier officiel des fêtes nationales chômées et payées et à mettre en place une Académie de tamazight. La direction d’Air Algérie qui avait suspendu des syndicalistes à la suite d’un mouvement de grève a été contrainte de reculer face au front-uni des syndicats autonomes et de l’UGTA de la compagnie nationale. Les paramédicaux ont contraint le ministère de la Santé à négocier avec eux alors que les élèves des Ecoles normales supérieures (ENS) ont obligé la ministre de l’Education nationale à accepter leurs revendications. Les résidents en médecine viennent de reconquérir la rue à Alger.

Il n’y a pas de miracle. Seules les luttes populaires peuvent faire reculer le pouvoir.

Construire un mouvement d’ensemble pour faire échec à la politique libérale

Les luttes sectorielles ou locales peuvent faire reculer une direction d’entreprise, un ministère ou le gouvernement. Mais pour défendre l’Etat social, la souveraineté nationale et les libertés démocratiques, il faudra davantage que des mouvements épars. C’est d’un mouvement d’ensemble dont nous avons besoin. Un mouvement qui dépasse les seules revendications catégorielles pour exiger ce qui est commun à tous les travailleurs : retraite, pouvoir d’achat, défense du secteur d’Etat et du service public, impôt sur la fortune, code du travail, école publique pour tous et de qualité, santé gratuite, libertés démocratiques… Un mouvement qui rassemble toutes les professions, tous les secteurs, toutes les régions, tous les travailleurs, les retraités, les chômeurs et la jeunesse scolarisée (étudiants, lycéens, apprentis…). Un mouvement qui se traduit par une grève générale capable de faire renoncer le pouvoir à sa politique antinationale, antisociale et antidémocratique.

Pour une assemblée constituante souveraine arrachée par le peuple

Face au gouvernement, il faut une politique antilibérale, anti-impérialiste et sociale qui réponde aux besoins des masses populaires. La résistance actuelle doit s’accompagner de la construction d’une alternative qui culminera avec la convocation d’une Assemblée constituante. Il reviendra au peuple mobilisé et non au pouvoir d’organiser et de superviser le scrutin.

C’est à la construction unitaire d’un tel mouvement que le PST appelle pour :

- Faire échec aux politiques antipopulaires du pouvoir en défendant l’Etat social, la souveraineté nationale et les libertés démocratiques.

- Ouvrir une perspective de rupture avec le néolibéralisme par l’élection d’une Assemblée constituante souveraine arrachée par le peuple.

Le Secrétariat National du PST, 21 février 2018


PST (Algérie)