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Workers Day celebrated worldwide

Published May 13, 2007 10:34 PM

From Cuba to Pakistan to South Korea, millions of workers around the world celebrated May Day with marches and rallies.

Lahore, Pakistan

In Cuba, more than half a million people paraded through Havana’s Revolutionary Plaza. They denounced the U.S. government’s release of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles from a Texas jail last month. Carriles was behind the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 and several other terrorist activities. The Cubans also demanded the release of the Cuban Five, who have been imprisoned in the U.S. for more than eight years for supplying information on terrorist conspiracies against Cuba.

President Fidel Castro, who was not at the parade, sent a message calling for “prison for the assassin” Carriles. Salvador Valdés, secretary general of Cuba’s central workers’ union, spoke before the crowd wishing Fidel a speedy recovery, to which people shouted “¡Viva Fidel!” Millions of Cubans marched in other parades across the island.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez marked May Day with another blow against imperialism: the government took over the last privately run oil fields in the country. BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, France’s Total SA and Norway’s Statoil ASA had controlled the drilling fields in the Orinoco River basin. Chávez addressed a gathering of thousands of red-clad oil workers, shouting “Down with the U.S. empire,” the Associated Press reported.

May Day events were held throughout Latin America. In El Salvador, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica people protested against CAFTA, the free trade treaty with the United States.

In Turkey police attacked a May Day rally in Istanbul with tear gas, water cannons and batons and arrested more than 500 people, including many union leaders. The crowd had been marching to Taksim Square to mark the 30th anniversary of “Bloody May Day,” when 34 people were killed after someone fired on the crowd and caused a stampede. The government blocked roads and cancelled buses, trains and ferries to block people from gathering.

In Pakistan trade unionists held rallies and meetings in Karachi to honor the U.S. labor activists executed by the government after the 1886 Haymarket riot.

Beirut, Lebanon

The Daily Times of Pakistan reported that workers from North and South Korea held their first joint May Day rally in South Korea. They had held joint celebrations in North Korea in 2001 and 2004.

From Portugal, Andre Levy of the weekly newspaper Avante reported that on April 19, a national plenary session of delegates and activists of CGTP-IN, the largest Portuguese confederation of unions, scheduled a general strike for May 30. At the May Day march, tens of thousands took to the streets. Many carried banners calling for participation in the May 30 general strike. For the past several months there have been dozens of strikes, marches and protests in response to the government’s attacks on workers rights. Levy said the ruling Socialist Party has increased the cost of living, the age of retirement, unemployment and temporary labor.

Protests and rallies were also held throughout Russia and the former Soviet Republics, in cities throughout Germany, in Spain, Italy, Britain and Hungary. Thousands marched in Jakarta, Indonesia. And in Greece transport workers called for a 24-hour strike, prompting the Greek carrier Olympic Airlines to cancel dozens of domestic and international flights.