The Sidi Bouzid revolution: Ben Ali flees as protests spread in Tunisia

The Sidi Bouzid revolution: Ben Ali flees as protests spread in Tunisia

Friday 14 January 2011 -- After a dramatic 24 hours when Tunisia's dictator president Ben Ali first tried promising liberalisation and an end to police shootings of demonstrators and then, this evening at 16:00, declaring martial law, he has finally fallen from office. While the rumours are still swirling, one thing is clear, Ben Ali has left Tunisia and the army has stepped in. The comments after this article contain continuous updates of the uprising.

The day began with a mass demonstration called by Tunisia's trade union federation, the UGTT, in the capital Tunis. Between 10 and 15,000 people demonstrated outside the Ministry of the Interior. The initially peaceful scene broke down at around 14:30 local time as police moved in with tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd, some of whom had managed to scale the Ministry building and get on its roof. From then on, the city centre descended into chaos with running battles between the riot police and Tunisians of all ages and backgrounds fighting for the overthrow of the hated despot.

Finally, armoured cars from the army appeared on the street and a state of emergency and curfew was declared with Ben Ali threatening the populace that the security forces had carte blanche to open fire on any gatherings of more than three people. Soon, however, he disappeared from view and the rumours began to circulate. The army seized control of the airport and there were reports of convoys of limousines racing to the airport from the Ben Ali families palace. Finally the official announcement came. Ben Ali is gone. Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi appeared on state TV to announce that he was in charge of a caretaker government backed by the army.

Tonight the long-suffering people of Tunisia may rejoice that their last four weeks of heroic resistance has finally seen off the dictator who ran the most vicious police state in North Africa over them for the last 23 years.

But tomorrow morning will find the army in charge. What will happen tomorrow and the days to follow is anybody's guess. But the people now know that they have the power to overthrow a long-entrenched dictatorship, how much easier to take on a new unstable regime.

Report by Workers Solidarity Movement

Posted By

Jan 12 2011 00:41


Attached files


Jan 28 2011 10:00

A number of different sources have it that the reshuffle deal, including Ghannouchi staying on, had the agreement of UGTT centre.


In his televised speech this Thursday night, Mohammed Ghannouchi said that his new team is the result of "consultations with all political parties and elements of civil society who agreed to participate." In fact, this afternoon, the powerful trade union UGGT has thrown all its weight behind getting the departure of the government of former Ben Ali ministers. Refusing to participate in the new team, it has allowed Mohammed Ghannouchi to remain at his post.

"Return to work"

The Prime Minister reiterated explained that "his mission is to organize elections for the people to choose freely. The Government agrees that the elections be held under the supervision of an independent commission in the presence of international observers to ensure transparency." He also asked his countrymen to "return to work."


Protesters satisfied but want more

The announcement of the composition of the new government was welcomed Thursday night in Tunisia, but protesters still demand the head of Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi.

The powerful General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) announced that it agreed to maintain Ghannouchi and two other ministers from the former team of Ben Ali in purely technical ministeries. "We do not support Ghannouchi, but we have accepted him for the stability of the country", a union official told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity.

Another union source said the UGTT would try to convince thousands of demonstrators still gathered outside the offices of Prime Minister, to accept the composition of the new transitional government. Former members of the team Ben Ali "are a minority," she argued.

All of which makes the one-day general strikes in Sfax on Tuesday and Sidi Bouzid yesterday, look suspiciously like bargaining leverage ploys from the perspective of the UGTT centre negotiators. Quite what the militants and union members at the base and outside of Tunis will make of this deal and the way the centre has negotiated it, is another question.

Jan 28 2011 12:49

Obstinación y contrarrevolución

Doce horas después sabremos que Mohamed Ghanoushi sigue en su puesto. El nuevo gobierno de transición, del que han salido todos los antiguos miembros del RCD, incluido Friaa, el odiado ministro del Interior, mantiene en cualquier caso al presidente y al primer ministro.

Pero todavía no lo sabemos. El día en que el pueblo tunecino cumple su segunda semana de vida no nos despierta el helicóptero militar sino el repiqueteo nutrido de la lluvia. Con el corazón encogido, pensamos en colchones y mantas empapados de agua y en cuerpos ateridos de frío. La Qasba, la casa del pueblo, de pronto se ha quedado sin techo.

- La revolución no es la capital -nos dice el periodista Fahem Boukadous. -La Qasba es sólo una de las muchas expresiones de protesta; un símbolo, sin duda, porque concita la atención de los medios, pero la revolución empezó en las regiones y allí sigue muy activa. Ayer se manifestaron 80.000 personas en Sfax y hoy la ciudad ha quedado paralizada por una huelga general. En Gafsa, en Sidi Bousid, en Tela hay concentraciones y protestas.


Fahem Boukadous, que había anticipado los cambios en el gobierno anunciados por Ghanoushi esta noche, se equivocaba sin embargo al garantizar el rechazo de la UGGT al nuevo gabinete. No participa de él, pero le reconoce legitimidad. Sin duda esa decisión voltea nuevamente la situación. La potencia de la UGTT ha permitido en estos días mantener la presión sobre el gobierno mediante huelgas y concentraciones; ahora este acuerdo aisla las protestas populares y las vuelve vulnerables. Como escribía Fathi Chamkhi a media tarde: “si esta nueva versión del Gobierno de Unidad Nacional se acepta mañana, se podría decir que el tira y afloje que dura desde el 15 de enero entre el campo revolucionario y el de la contrarrevolución, ha sido momentáneamente ganado por este último”. Es exactamente lo que ha ocurrido.


Tras el anuncio del nuevo gobierno por televisión, llamamos a nuestros amigos en la Qasba para conocer su reacción. Tras un instante de alegría y luego de desconcierto, nos dicen, se ha restablecido la normalidad; es decir, la obstinación. No hace falta que lo digan. A través del teléfono nos llegan los gritos: “degage”, “degage”, “degage”.

machine translation

Jan 28 2011 12:51

From the EA liveblog

1010 GMT: Al Jazeera report that Belhassan Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of deposed Tunisian President Ben Ali, has been arrested in Canada.

We noted earlier (0820 GMT) that Trabelsi had been stripped of permanent residency by the Canadian authorities. He is reportedly in a Montreal hotel with his family.

0820 GMT: Canada has stripped Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law of former Tunisian President Ben Ali, of his permanent residency.

Trabelsi could now be extradited to Tunisia to face fraud charges after millions of dollars were allegedly taken out of the country. He, his wife, four children, a nanny, and two bodyguards are reportedly staying at Chateau Vaudreuil, a hotel in Montreal’s West End.

Earlier this week Tunisia asked for international arrest warrants for President Ben Ali and members of his family.

Jan 28 2011 13:05

Call for the formation of a front for the popular liberation of Tunisia



English (machine translation)

Jan 29 2011 00:25

While the world's attention was distracted by the uprising in Egypt...

Police destroy protest camp at Tunisian PM's office

Tunisian riot police broke up a protest camp in the capital on Friday, hoping to end days of demonstrations against a government that has undergone a major overhaul to meet some of the crowds' demands...

Police and soldiers tore down tents and removed bedding outside government offices on the fifth day of the sit-in and chased protesters through the streets after scattering them with teargas. Witnesses said several people had been beaten but hospitals had no word on injuries...

Jan 29 2011 02:17

From the Moor Next Door

Vague thoughts on the Arab winter uprisings

The Winter Uprisings in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Yemen have shaken western and Arab confidence in the sustainability of the current models of “competitive” authoritarianism. These were not bread riots; they were illustrations of political gangrene. Tunisia’s strong man fled his fort; the Mubarak family is said to have gone on holiday to London in light of massive protests over days (these cannot be call riots in the way the Algerian or Tunisian ones were at some stages; these are political protests, demonstrations of plain dissatisfaction); rumors are circulating rampantly that Algeria’s president will announce a cabinet reshuffle that may replace the prominent Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia (see here for background). It seems clear that the old calculations for political succession in the polities hit by the Winter Uprisings must be revised...
Jan 29 2011 12:33

"Finally this afternoon at 4pm [Friday] the police have attacked the Kasbah, killing Omar Auini, asphyxiated by teargas, and wounding at least 15 people, most of them with fractures in their hands and legs … As was feared yesterday the support from the UGTT for the government has seriously damaged unity in the square. From very early on small groups from Kasserine and Regueb have abandoned the rally to return to their towns. Some of them, according to what they tell us, have received money. Those that remain show themselves to be determined and militant, but the hours already seem numbered..."

El asalto de la Qasba

Cinco días ha durado el lugar más hermoso de la tierra.

Por fin esta tarde, a las 16 h., la policía ha asaltado la Qasba, matando a Omar Auini, asfixiado por los gases lacrimógenos, e hiriendo al menos a 15 personas, la mayor parte de ellas con fracturas en manos y piernas.

La mañana radiante ha iluminado una Qasba rala y dividida. Como se temía ayer, el apoyo de la UGTT al gobierno ha dañado seriamente la unidad en la plaza. Desde muy pronto, pequeños grupos de Qasserine y Regueb han abandonado la concentración para volver a sus pueblos. Algunos de ellos, según nos dicen, han recibido dinero. Los que se quedan, se muestran decididos y belicosos, pero las horas parecen ya contadas. Aisa, el hermano de Che Guevara, asegura que un coronel del ejército le ha anunciado el desalojo de la plaza para esta tarde. Se oyen menos gritos y menos cantos y por primera vez un grupo aparatosamente islamista se mezcla con la gente. Vuelan por el aire los primeros “La ilah ila allah” y algunas consignas inquietantes: “Tunis arabiya, tunis islamiya” (“Túnez árabe, Túnez islámica”).

Se han formado muchos corros, donde se discute la conveniencia de continuar o no la ocupación. Decenas de personas rodean a distintos oradores, cuyo aspecto y elocuencia, muy diferente del de sus oyentes, delata autoridad intelectual y formación política. En uno de ellos está Redha Barakati, escritor de 47 años y miembro del Partido Comunista Obrero de Túnez, quien insiste en la necesidad de romper toda continuidad con el régimen de Ben Alí y asegura su apoyo a los hermanos venidos de todos los rincones del país. En otro corro habla Osama Bouthalga, de la Asociación de Abogados, tan belicosa en estos días. Bouthalga trata de persuadir a los manifestantes de que se han conseguido logros enormes y ahora hay que defenderlos en los lugares de origen a través de la formación de consejos de defensa de la revolución. Esa es la posición también de los miembros de la UGTT, que reparten un panfleto de ambigua retórica en el que el sindicato se compromete a coordinar la relación entre los consejos locales y las instituciones, garantizando además medios de transporte para un retorno tranquilo y seguro de los rebeldes a sus hogares. Otro comunicado firmado por el Frente 14 de Enero -formado por los partidos de izquierdas- reitera por el contrario la necesidad de continuar la lucha hasta el final, considerando que no hay posibilidad alguna de cambios estructurales mientras Ghanoushi continúe ocupando el cargo de primer ministro.

Durante la comida, en un pequeño restaurante popular de la Medina, nos reímos mucho viendo la transformación del canal Hannibal, engendro de la familia Trabelsi, cuyo director fue arrestado la semana pasada por alta traición y liberado sin cargos algunas horas después. Un montaje de imágenes de las revueltas, con una música excitante, vuelve una y otra vez a la pantalla con la leyenda: “la voz del pueblo, la voz de la revolución”. Ahora es una cadena revolucionaria.

Todo es revolucionario salvo la realidad. A las 16 h. volvemos a la Qasba y nos llama la atención la presencia de dos oficiales del ejército que se mueven entre la multitud. Más tarde comprendemos que están avisando a los manifestantes del inminente desalojo. La reacción de los jóvenes es inmediata y furibunda. Algunos corren hasta los controles militares para llevarse las vallas y montar barricadas en el pasillo entre las jaimas y el ministerio. Otros, en una locura incoherente con el ambiente sereno y festivo de unos minutos antes, arrancan ramas de los árboles para proporcionarse bastones y rompen los escalones del Palacio de la Municipalidad para armarse de piedras y trozos de losa. El aire de la plaza se llena de un frenesí de percusión. De pronto, un tanque atraviesa despacio la explanada para abandonar el recinto. Unos cuarenta soldados armados de fusiles descienden desde la avenida 9 de Abril hasta la alambrada de espino más próxima a la Qasba y ocupan el ancho rellano del Palacio Municipal. Luego, enseguida, retroceden. Hablamos con un coronel que acaba de mantener una conversación a través del móvil; le decimos que no pueden permitir el desalojo y nos responde seco y cortés que ha recibido órdenes de retirarse, al mismo tiempo que nos aconseja que abandonemos cuanto antes el lugar. Comprendemos que la policía, apostada en la calle Bab Bnat, está a punto de cargar.

Nos retiramos hasta la segunda alambrada de espino a través de un pasillo de militares. Allí, en el flanco del Palacio Municipal, se ha reunido ya mucha gente, niños y mujeres incluidos, y todos esperamos expectantes y asustados junto al tanque, viendo maniobrar al furgón policial con el cañón de agua, el cual se aleja del recinto para dar la vuelta por detrás del Tribunal. En ese momento se oyen las primeras detonaciones y blancas cintas de humo blanco cruzan el cielo. La gente pide al ejército que haga algo y luego aplaude con ironía acusatoria a los soldados y canta el himno nacional. Todos recordamos con terror la manifestación del 14 de enero y los muertos de los días anteriores.

Durante algunos minutos, allí abajo, apenas a doscientos metros, se prolonga una batalla desigual. Vuelan las bombas lacrimógenas y se oyen insultos e impactos de piedra. Fugitivos pasan en medio de los soldados, que se abren a su paso y se unen a nosotros. Dos heridos, muy cerca de donde nos encontramos, son trasladados en parihuelas de brazos a las tiendas de la protección civil. La Qasba se vacía muy rápidamente.

Y luego, de pronto, a una velocidad vertiginosa, la ola negra de la policía se lanza contra nosotros. Una, dos, tres bombas lacrimógenas caen a nuestro lado y salimos en estampida, enganchándonos en la alambrada de espino. Nubes urticantes nos ciegan los ojos. Corro y corro, separada de mis amigos, junto a algunos jóvenes que se detienen bruscamente, cogen una piedra del suelo y la lanzan contra la policía antes de seguir corriendo. Junto a decenas personas me veo atrapada en una especie de alta meseta, detrás del Ayuntamiento, cortada por una valla, a tres metros por encima de la avenida 9 de Abril. Salto desde el muro sobre el capó de un coche aparcado en la calle y luego al suelo. Entonces oigo una voz asustada y apremiante y vuelvo la cabeza. Arriba, al otro lado de la valla, hay una mujer acompañada de sus hijos, dos niños de cuatro o cinco años, que no pueden bajar. Tiendo los brazos y los deposito sobre la acera.

Luego sigo corriendo calle abajo en medio de un aire picante, pero apenas cincuenta metros más allá un muro de policías nos está esperando, de uniforme y de paisano, armados de porras. A las mujeres y a los extranjeros nos dejan pasar; a los jóvenes les hacen retroceder a golpes con furia desencadenada tras dos semanas de contención.

Dos horas más tarde, en la oscuridad, el helicóptero vuelve a sobrevolar la ciudad. La recorremos en el coche, tensa y vacía, de vuelta al pasado. En la plaza del 7 de Noviembre, por delante del tanque, hay siete u ocho furgones policiales y decenas de policías que bloquean el acceso a la Avenida Bourguiba, completamente cerrada por todos sus flancos. Una familiar sensación de estado de sitio nos encoge el corazón.

¿Qué es lo que ha pasado? ¿Por qué el nuevo ministro del Interior -un juez, dicen, moderado y honesto- ha decidido inaugurar su cometido matando a Omar Aouini e hiriendo a 15 personas? Lo que nos cuenta una de las abogadas con la que nos ponemos en contacto es inquietante. La Asociación de Abogados, cuyo protagonismo en estos días nadie puede negar, había obtenido del ministro la promesa de que no se desalojaría por la fuerza la Qasba, dejándoles a ellos ejercer el papel de mediadores. Más inquietante aún: nos relata que la policía ha allanado a golpes -profanado, pues ni siquiera Ben Alí se había atrevido a hacerlo- la sede de la organización para buscar a los jóvenes allí refugiados. Nos anuncia acciones legales para liberar a los detenidos y prestar asesoramiento jurídico a los heridos.

Mañana volveremos a la Qasba. Todas las organizaciones y partidos, incluida la UGTT, han convocado una manifestación para pedir algo más moderado que la caída de un gobierno: el cese inmediato de toda violencia policial y el respeto al derecho de expresión y manifestación. Lo que era el desarrollo de una revolución se ha convertido de pronto en la asustada defensa de algunas pequeñas reformas.

Y esos jóvenes dispersados, esos bárbaros civilizadores, esos luminosos paletos a cuyos hermanos mataron en las cuatro semanas de protestas, ¿dónde están? ¿Han vuelto a sus pueblos? ¿Están escondidos por toda la ciudad? ¿Qué sentirán? ¿Qué pensarán?

El levantamiento del pueblo egipcio ha dejado a oscuras y diminuto el país del que surgió el primer impulso. No nos olvidemos de Túnez. La información raramente informa, pero protege.

machine translation

Jan 29 2011 12:46

From the International Marxist Tendency

Reject the government reshuffle, the revolutionary people must take power

Finally, after a long wait, prime minister Gannouchi announced changes in the government of national unity which was formed in Tunisia after the overthrow of Ben Ali.


The composition of the new government is designed to appear as fundamental change, by removing the majority of ministers who were part of Ben Ali’s last government, but in reality to change nothing fundamentally.


Significantly, the Central Committee of the UGTT trade union met in the evening, after the announcement to discuss what position to take regarding this new government. The body voted in favour of accepting this government and Gannouchi as a prime minister, though the union itself would take no ministerial positions in it. The vote was 72 in favour, 11 against and 4 abstentions. Amongst those who voted against were 4 out of the 12 members of the Executive Bureau, as well as the representatives of primary and secondary teachers, health sector workers, postal and telecommunication workers, and also the regional structures of Sfax and Jendouba.

It is clear that the pressure on the trade union bureaucracy on the part of bourgeois public opinion was very strong. As we have reported before, the majority of the EB, headed by the general secretary Abdessalem Jrad, had in fact been loyal to Ben Ali right until the end. In the last few days all sorts of EU and US delegations have been in Tunis, and surely, part of their brief was to bring the UGTT leadership into line. Jrad has also announced that Gannouchi is “prepared to meet with the demonstrators” who have been blocking his offices for the last week.

In the last couple of weeks there have already been strong voices calling for a cleansing of the UGTT of pro-RCD elements. Now these will grow even stronger. It is very unlikely that the UGTT leadership will be able to sell a government headed by Gannouchi to the masses.

On Thursday, January 27, itself mass demonstrations and regional strikes took place again, demanding the overthrow of Gannouchi’s government of national unity. The focus was on Sidi Bouzid, where the regional UGTT had called a general strike. Like the day before in Sfax, the following was almost total and the demonstration was unprecedented both in size and militancy, with 20,000 participating.


As well as Sidi Bouzid, there were also marches in Bizerte, Tunisia, Kelibia, Mahdia (were teachers and students marched together), Monastir, Sousse , Sfax, where a regional strike had taken a day earlier, Kasserine, Tozeur, Gabes, El Kef, Siliana, where there was also a regional strike, Tataouine, Zarzis and many other cities and towns, including a large march in Tunis itself. Secondary education teachers also observed a national strike which had overwhelming support.


Today, Friday 28, there were repeated attempts to convince the revolutionary youth outside the Prime Minister’s office to clear off the sit-in. According to reports we have received, delegations from the UGTT bureaucracy and the Lawyers' Association tried in vain to convince them to leave. They failed and the youth remained firm in their struggle to clear out the old regime completely and were not satisfied by cosmetic changes.

In the last few days, the state has used all the methods at its disposal to try to remove the revolutionary youth from the regions. They were offered money, drugs, agent provocateurs were sent, the Army generals, trade union bureaucrats and lawyers tried to convince them. But they all failed. So finally, the capitalist state showed again its ugly face. Today in the afternoon, as we write these lines, reports are coming in of the Army withdrawing and the anti-riot police brutally attacking the sit-in and dispersing the youth with batons and tear-gas cannisters. They are now regrouping and are being joined by the local population in a big and angry demonstration...

Jan 29 2011 13:15

Photo report of police attack on the Kasbah

On Friday, amidst the events in Egypt, we noted another significant development in Tunis, quoting two journalists:
We witnessed this afternoon how police and plainclothes stormed the demonstrators' camp at Place de Kasbah with tear gas and dogs. Very ugly scenes.

Place de Kasbah since 1700 (1600 GMT) controlled by military, all tents and installations vandalised. Also clashes between demontsrators and police in Av. Bourguiba and centre of city. Lot of tear gas. Plainclothes with sticks all around as well as groups of enraged young demonstrators armed with stones and sticks. Atmosphere tense and unclear what is going to happen next.

We added that Reuters had a brief reference to "police fir[ing] tear gas at anti-government protesters" but was far more concerned that "Islamists marched through central Tunis".

The German journalists who helped us were Thomas v. der Osten-Sacken and Bernd Baier, who work for the Weekly Jungle World. Osten-Sacken subsequently sent us a series of shots which put the day in context:


Jan 30 2011 00:06

What the kids think

Today was my first day teaching teenagers post-revolution. Not surprisingly, it was an interesting experience...

My students are all 15 year olds who wear jeans and ironic trucker hats, and who listen to Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber, so I was sorta surprised how religious they are. Ben Ali's repression of religion really pissed them off, and the freedom to practice their religion freely was one of the things they looked forward to the most...

Jan 30 2011 13:39

Se acabó la libertad

La policía, en efecto, tras dos semanas de contención, ha vuelto a adueñarse de la situación. Ayer rompió manos y piernas en la Qasba y durante todo el día han circulado listas sin confirmar de muertos y desaparecidos. Al menos veinte detenidos seguían esta tarde en comisaría. Y sobre la plaza de la Qasba quedaron ayer, entre mantas, jaimas y cacerolas, decenas de teléfonos móviles desperdigados. De muchos de los dispersados de ayer no se sabe nada. Entre tanto esta mañana, 12 horas después, mientras se repintaban las paredes de lo que fue durante cinco días el ministerio del pueblo, La Press publicaba en portada una fotografía de la concentración triturada con el titular: “en la Qasba la caravana de la libertad sigue las protestas”. La revolución es ya la marca -la chispa de la vida- de un gobierno que teje en la oscuridad y de una prensa que utiliza nuevos nombres para nombrar las mismas cosas.

Los inversores extranjeros se impacientan y EEUU, pendiente de Egipto, quiere sofocar definitivamente el foco tunecino. Las protestas, debilitadas por la claudicación de la UGTT, se reprimen ahora sin contemplaciones. A los tunecinos, que se habían acostumbrado a campar a sus anchas en la avenida Bourguiba, se les ha recordado durante todo el día que hay una ley marcial, que las manifestaciones están prohibidas, que es la policía, y no el pueblo, la que ocupa las calles. Bombas lacrimógenas y golpes de porra han escandido una jornada en la que los medios internacionales, volcados sobre Egipto, ni siquiera estaban presentes -o apenas- en la rueda de prensa de Human Rights Watch. Empezábamos a habituarnos a saltar y ahora hay que aprender de nuevo a correr...

machine translation

Valeriano Orobó...
Jan 30 2011 20:12

Apparently, capital has found its man for Tunisia (or so they hope):

Tunisian Islamist leader Rachid Ghannouchi returns home

Jan 31 2011 00:26

FLPT Front de Libération Populaire de la Tunisie is on Facebook

Closer to a libertarian position (?) than anything else I've seen so far. My French isn't up to much though so maybe someone else could give an opinion. Am I justified in borrowing the avatar?

Jan 31 2011 11:05

Fuego bajo las cenizas

Hamida Ben Romdhane, director de La Press el 13 de enero, director de La Press el 30 de enero, escribe hoy un artículo titulado Mea-culpa, en el que arremete contra “los zalameros, adulones, calculadores y manipuladores” que durante años se han entregado lacayunamente al culto de la personalidad del dictador. “Hoy”, dice, “Túnez respira y nuestro periódico también. Desde el 15 de enero hemos cambiado porque nuestros periodistas han sido liberados del yugo de la dictadura por la revuelta popular. No hemos dudado un instante en lanzarnos en la brecha abierta por nuestra juventud hace ahora dos semanas”. El problema no es el objeto sino la adulación. Ahora se adula al pueblo al que se expulsa de la Qasba, a la juventud a la que se gasea en la Bourguiba, y con ello se demuestra que los mismos hombres y las mismas instituciones pueden ser sucesivamente azules, negros, amarillos o rojos. Antes se lo debían todo al dictador, ahora se lo deben todo al pueblo. Pero los periodistas siguen siendo los mismos y el periodismo igualmente declamativo, tiznado y rutinario...

machine translation

Jan 31 2011 11:23
Mike Harman
Jan 31 2011 12:46

Machine translation of one of the texts from their facebook page:!/note.php?note_id=494233542326&id=719697600


French to English translation
The Tunisian people was finally freed from the oppressive yoke of fear, silence and submission.

Through its collective awareness, through their sacrifices, thanks to his determination to fight against everything that hinders its liberation movement, the Tunisian people, for his heroic deeds, to give the reply to his poet Chebbi:

"If the people want to Life

Force to respond to Destiny

Force to dissipate the Night
Force and to strings break "

The people have managed to break his chains, by its desire to live in dignity and regain their rights and freedoms.

He managed to overthrow the dictator. His struggle to overthrow the dictatorship continues.

The voice of the Tunisian people cry today, in unison:




ensemble of young Tunisian citizens,

independent without any political affiliation, free, progressive

and determined to engage in the struggle of our people,

ceaselessly and tirelessly,

Aware that we have today

to put all our energies and skills to serve our country

so that all legitimate demands of our people are met

and his revolutionary dream a reality

Tunisia to build a free, fair and democratic, like him,

Call for the establishment of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tunisia.

The Constitution Committee of FLPT

proposes the following claims:

- We continue to urge the creation of popular committees in the whole country and abroad, and their coordination to organize people's struggle, and to achieve its legitimate right: access to power.

- We call for the securing of all parts of the country by those committees, in coordination with the national army.

- We call the national army to be transparent in order to strengthen the people's trust in her, and to end the state of psychosis and paranoia that exists among us.

- We urge the international community and international NGOs to provide, as soon as possible, the necessary humanitarian aid directly to NGOs and trade unions in Tunisia.

- We demand the immediate dissolution of the RCD and the resignation of all leaders of RCD all political positions of the state.

- We demand the immediate nationalization of property of the RCD, Ben Ali's clan and mafia networks.

- We call on foreign governments to freeze the funds of the RCD, Ben Ali's clan and mafia networks and not make them available to Tunisia after the trial of those responsible in a fair trial before an independent court, and after the elections free, democratic and transparent.

- We call on all trade unionists to the management of all state institutions until the adoption of the new Tunisian Constitution.

- We demand the immediate dissolution of the political police.

- We call for the consolidation of the security apparatus.

- We demand the rehabilitation of all prisoners and former prisoners of conscience and political exiles and refugees.

- We demand that the judicial proceedings which take place in the new Tunisian state and free union are a priority to prosecute all those responsible for crime and fraud that were committed against the citizens of Tunisia.

All these claims are a formulation of the requirements and aspirations

the Tunisian people.

They provide a platform for proposals, open to all others.


Provide real guarantees

against any attempt, manipulation and misuse

People's Liberation Movement,

and this

1. by the reorganization and consolidation

the Judiciary, the Bar and the Army National

to be the device to ensure neutrality, justice, legality and security,

2. by the composition of a popular government of real transition

3. the adoption by referendum of a new Constitution of Tunisia

that guarantees a peaceful living together, supportive and respectful of differences,

an open society where all citizens can flourish,

enjoy all their freedoms,

live in dignity,

in a real state of law and liberal institutions.


At the end of the neutrality and integrity of FLPT, we ask every citizen who wishes to join the resistance, standing:

- Share values, principles and claims of FLPT

- Belong to any political party.

- Do not stand for election.

- Adopt all expression, advocacy and action in our legitimate struggle if they show no physical aggression and physical.

We call on all Tunisian citizens and citizens of the world

free, independent and progressive

to mobilize for the formation of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tunisia

by the formation of a participatory network (on the ground and on the internet)

action groups, reflection, and critical

across the Tunisian territory and abroad,

contribute to the continuous media coverage of the various activities and projects of the Front,

to realize the revolutionary project of the Tunisian people.



Some of the form (people's committees, excluding those who'd run for elections) look quite positive. A lot of the content/demands look like standard liberal ones, although in the context of Tunisia likely that reflects what a lot of people want at this point - and it's calling for a front so you'd kinda expect that. The main things that stick out are the faith in the unions (didn't the main one already demobilise people as soon as the new government was set up?) and in the army - apart from the generally democratic tone.

Would be great if someone who actually understands French could have a look and try to figure out if this is representative, it looks a lot like the sort of thing that broad coalitions (or groups hoping to become such) might come out with, and it has some bits that are a bit self-contradictory as well.

Jan 31 2011 12:59
Feb 1 2011 12:02

The repression from the new, or not so new, regime continues...

"Going through a friend we let Al Jazeera know about the news received from Sfax. The answer is sincere: 'Tunisia isn't an international issue any more, it's a local issue.'"

La estrategia de la tensión

Alma Allende wrote:

Los padres que pierden a un niño vuelven de algún modo a no tener niño, pero no puede decirse que hayan “recuperado la normalidad”; la mujer que pierde a su amado vuelve a estar sin su amado, como antes de conocerlo, pero no puede decirse que “recupere la normalidad”. La Qasba hoy ofrece la historia dolorosa, inolvidable, contenida en la frase: “como si no hubiera pasado nada”. El gesto de borrar deja una huella imborrable; el gesto de limpiar deja una mancha indeleble, una ausencia blanca de fantasma encadenado a la piedra. No hay nada; hay por primera vez “nada”.

Hemos vuelto esta mañana a la Qasba, cerrada por sus cuatro costados por alambradas de espino. Los policías sólo dejan entrar a los funcionarios que trabajan en el recinto. Pero hemos podido ver desde fuera, y fotografíar, esa cal nueva que, como un lifting facial, revela una historia oculta, una antigüedad sofocada. Han hecho un buen trabajo, no cabe duda. Ni un rastro de pintada ni la coma de un grafito ni un jironcito de tinta negra. Ni siquiera sobre la piedra del palacio del primer ministro se puede localizar el menor rastro del bullicio palabrero que durante cinco días fundió política y vida en un presente puro sin porvenir.

No es verdad que el poder no tenga un centro. Los tanques y la policía protegen en la Qasba unas paredes. Nosotros las necesitamos al menos para escribir; y ellos las necesitan para imponer la mudez.

El día es frío, sombrío, lluvioso. En el café Univers encontramos a Selim, un viejo conocido miembro de Aministía Internacional. Su organización sigue tratando de establecer el número exacto de muertos producido durante las revueltas y se queja de la indiferencia de las nuevas instituciones, esas mismas que tratan de ocultar la continuidad y fundar su legitimidad en el sacrificio de las víctimas:

Una semana después de la caída de Ben Alí -dice- nadie había ido a Qasserine. Están frustrados y dolidos. Dicen que son ellos los que han hecho la revolución y nadie va a verlos. Se sienten robados. Les han robado su revolución.

Selim está asombrado de la lucidez política de los habitantes de las regiones, muy resentidos con la UGTT. También, obviamente, con los partidos que colaboran con el gobierno, el PDP de Najib Chabbi y el Tajdid (renovación) de Ahmed Brahim, ya legales bajo el dictador.

Han elegido muy bien sus ministerios, el de Desarrollo y el de Enseñanza Superior, pues les permiten tener un acceso privilegiado a las zonas populares y a los jóvenes. Han empezado ya su campaña electoral. Es el viejo orden, en el que se siguen confundiendo Estado y partido. Por eso no es raro que en las protestas se repita una y otra vez la consigna: “PDP y Tajdid, habéis vendido la sangre de los mártires”.

En ese momento suena su teléfono móvil y nos da la noticia: en Gafsa hay una gran manifestación y el ejército ha disparado al aire. La policía reprime duramente. Le preguntamos por esta vuelta -esta vez sí- a la vieja normalidad de plomo.

El aparato del partido trata de recuperar el control a través del terror y la represión.

Así parece. A las 12.30 de la mañana se ha formado un grupo nutrido de unas quinientas personas que suben y bajan por la avenida Bourguiba, del ministerio del Interior a la Puerta de Francia, con un cartelón que dice: “No estamos derrotados; seguimos luchando”. Han salido de la nada y se disuelven en la nada para cristalizar de nuevo unos minutos más tarde un poco más allá, como la hojarasca que traslada el viento -o la duna de arena-. Nos interesa saber quién les ha convocado y nos revelan su secreto. No ha sido un partido ni tampoco Facebook o el teléfono móvil sino la propia avenida Bourguiba, que se ha convertido, por decirlo en términos informáticos, en el espacio preestablecido para la movilización. Llegan allí en pequeños grupos, impulsados por una desazón individual, y se funden en el bulevar. De esa manera es difícil ejercer presión, pero es muy fácil intimidarlos y disolverlos.

Eso es lo que ocurre hacia las 16. horas, cuando la concentración empieza a ralear por su propia naturaleza. De pronto, con la misma aparente aleatoriedad con que se ha formado, la policía carga duramente contra ella, utilizando bombas lacrimógenas y porras. Diez minutos de brutalidad bastan para “restablecer la normalidad”. ¿Por qué ahora y por qué con esa furia?

A media tarde, ya en casa, una conocida de Gafsa que trabaja en un café del Bardo me llama por teléfono y me pasa a una amiga suya de Sfax. Me pide por favor que avise a los medios extranjeros; en la segunda ciudad de Túnez las milicias han atacado escuelas y liceos, expulsando a los alumnos y golpeando a algunos profesores. No hay policía, los elementos del ejército son escasos y han amenazado con volver de noche para proseguir su obra de destrucción. Los sfaxianos están indefensos y asustados. La sombra de las milicias, ahora que los comités de autodefensa han bajado la guardia, vuelve para generar el clima de inestabilidad necesario para una involución. ¿Trabajan para el gobierno o contra él? ¿Son ciertos los rumores que dicen que las milicias han llegado a amenazar al nuevo ministro del Interior en su propio despacho? ¿O buscan intencionadamente alimentar la credibilidad del nuevo gabinete? En todo caso, los rumores forman parte de la misma estrategia de confusión e inseguridad, una fase indisociable -dice Boukadus, al que llamo pidiendo confirmación- de todo proceso revolucionario.

A través de una amiga avisamos a Al-Jazeera de las noticias recibidas de Sfax. La respuesta es sincera:

Túnez ya no es un asunto internacional sino local.

Hemos pasado, pues, a ser “locales”. Miedo local, represión local y luchas también locales. La linea entre localidad, normalidad y legitimidad es, por desgracia, extraordinariamente fina.

Lo bonito en esta noche un poco tensa -casi un regüeldo del pasado- es comprobar que Salem tiene razón y la memoria, junto a los rumores, los mitos y los imperativos utópicos, asciende de pronto en estos días desde raíces antepasadas. Un subidón de harisa reminiscente despeja las narices y las conciencias. Gente muy joven recuerda acontecimientos muy antiguos. Amin me confiesa que se ha pasado la noche anterior en vela leyendo sobre la historia de Túnez, de la que no sabía nada. Y cuando hablamos de los comerciantes de la Medina, atrapados en sus pequeños intereses y defensores a ultranza del orden frente al caos de los paletos de la Qasba -infinitamente más cultos, lúcidos y universales que ellos- resume en una frase lapidaria la situación:

Quieren un poco de libertad y un poco de seguridad, sin comprender que a causa de su mezquindad pueden perder las dos cosas.

machine translation

Feb 1 2011 12:29

From the EA liveblog

1215 GMT: Over to Tunisia for a follow-up. Thomas v. der Osten-Sacken reports on developments on Monday:
Just came back from center of city. Some spontaneous demonstrations with maybe 1500 young people (mixed female and male) roam around. Peaceful and in a very good mood. No police at all seen. No tension at all in Ave. Bourghiba. People shout "Long live freedom" and "Vive La Revolution" and sing national anthem.

Meanwhile shops and cafes are open. A new grafitto seen: "People and police against dictatorship". This morning we have seen no plainclothes at all. Police are not wearing helmets anymore.

People we talked too are happy the eight ministers of [former ruling party] RCD resigned. Now they demand calm, because they want investors and tourists back.

Strong sentiment for a new Parliamentary secular constitution. The people are fed up with "Arab exceptionalism". They just want democracy, freedom, development, and to be part of modernity. They even don't call it an intifada.

...failing to mention that the demo on Ave. Bourghiba was attacked by police with teargas and sticks as it was breaking up anyway.

Feb 1 2011 13:08

On twitter just now - something seems to be kicking off but I'm not sure what

RCD militias trying to spread panic. They won't succeed. We are Tunisians. We're freedom fighters.

Corrupted policemen are reorganizing and trying to spread panic. Be united and ruin their plans.

Tunisians, PLZ carry on protecting your neighborhood.

Feb 1 2011 14:19

le Parisien

Hundreds of protesters gathered Tuesday morning in the center of Kasserine, in central Tunisia to expose the chaos of this city shaken by violent incidents Monday.

According to Mohamed Drbali, member of the "Regional Committee for the Safeguarding of the revolution" and Sadok Mahmoudi, a trade unionist, the protesters, who were eventually dispersed by the army, were demanding an urgent solution to end a situation considered as chaotic and unstable. "

They also called for "punishment"of "criminals"who have delivered on Monday, looting and pillaging. According to these sources, the police were totally absent from the city, while army tanks were stationed near official buildings.

Feb 1 2011 21:33

TUNIS, Feb 01, 2011 (AFP) - Hundreds of people rallied in the central Tunisian town of Kasserine Tuesday to press authorities to end a wave of violence and punish hooligans who looted public buildings the previous day, residents said.

Monday, hundreds of people ransacked and looted public buildings in violence which union officials said was instigated by members of the former RCD ruling party of ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Mohamed Drbali, a member of a "regional comnmittee for the defense of the revolution" and trade unionist Sadok Mahmoudi, said police were nowhere to be seen during Tuesday's protest while army tanks were posted near official buildings.

The demonstrators appealed to authorities to take urgent action to end what they called "a chaotic and unstable" situation and demanded that those responsible for Monday's looting be punished, they added.

The officials also said local residents arrested 18 people late Monday, including one who confessed that he had been paid by officials of Ben Ali's RCD party "to stir trouble." ...

Drbali and Mahmoudi said six of the 18 arrested were later released while other other 12 were turned over to authorities.

Early last month, Kasserine and the nearby town of Thala were the scene of violent clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators which left at least 21 people dead.

Several officials of the powerful General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) in Kasserine have condemned what they see as a destabilisation campaign by the transitional administration set up after Ben Ali's fall on January 14...

Feb 1 2011 21:35

UN reports higher death toll from Tunisia unrest

A United Nations team in Tunisia says at least 219 people were killed in the January revolt that led to the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The head of the team said Tuesday the death toll includes 72 people who died in prison riots.
The official commented at the end of a week-long mission in the country organized by the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Earlier, the Tunisian government reported a death toll of 72, although opposition groups had insisted the toll was higher...

Feb 2 2011 01:14

New union formed, the CGTT. There were previous attempts to set it up a few years ago.

Naissance du second syndicat de l'histoire de la Tunisie

C’est une petite révolution dans la révolution. La centrale syndicale historique a désormais une concurrente : la Confédération générale tunisienne du travail (CGTT). Elle est dirigée par Habib Guiza et se veut plus moderne et moins politisée que son aînée, l’UGTT.

Premier nouveau-né de l’après Ben Ali, la Confédération générale tunisienne du travail (CGTT) a été constitué mardi. Basé à Tunis, le deuxième syndicat de l’histoire du pays sera dirigé par Habib Guiza, un ancien cadre de la puissante Union générale des travailleurs de Tunisie (UGTT), la seule organisation légale depuis l'indépendance.

Grâce à la CGTT, l’ancien secrétaire général de la section UGTT de Gabès (sud) dans les années 80 veut « impulser et promouvoir le mouvement syndical en Tunisie, permettre aux salariés d'y adhérer librement (...), et contribuer à la mise en place d'un ensemble de réformes visant l'amélioration et la modernisation des activités syndicales », selon l’agence officielle TAP.

Exemple démocratique

De fait, Guiza demandait depuis des années - sans succès - une autorisation pour créer son propre syndicat. « Il ne s'agit pas d'une scission au sein de l'UGTT. L'UGTT n'est pas en concurrence avec cette Confédération », a déclaré Abid Briki, le secrétaire général adjoint de l'organisation, qui rappelle que Guiza a quitté la centrale il y a plusieurs années. « Nous avons toujours défendu le pluralisme syndical et politique. Nous sommes désormais en démocratie. La création d'une nouvelle centrale en est un exemple », a-t-il ajouté.

En clair la CGTT se veut en rupture avec la forte politisation de l’UGTT. Le mouvement syndical tunisien est né dans la période proto-nationaliste des années 1920, sous l'impulsion de Mohamed Ali Hammi. Le 19 janvier 1925, celui-ci crée la première Confédération générale des travailleurs tunisiens, qui deviendra quelques années plus tard l'UGTT.

Racines nationalistes

De par ses racines nationalistes, l'UGTT a toujours été un mouvement très politisé, participant notamment au gouvernement après l'indépendance, avant de s'opposer frontalement au président Habib Bourguiba en organisant de longues grèves dans les années 70 et 80. Sous le régime du président déchu Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, elle était devenu le seul contre-pouvoir disposant d'une implantation à l'échelle nationale - avec le mouvement islamiste Ennahda, dont les membres ont été persécutés.

Mais de fortes dissensions sont apparues en son sein à la fin des années 1990, une partie de ses dirigeants étant accusés d'avoir été récupérés par le pouvoir. Il n’en reste pas moins que lors de la révolte qui a provoqué la chute de Ben Ali le 14 janvier, l'UGTT a retrouvé un rôle de premier plan, encadrant les manifestations dans le pays, avec notamment des grèves tournantes dans les principales villes.

Revendiquant aujourd'hui 350 000 adhérents, elle s'est retirée du gouvernement de transition après y être brièvement entrée. Plusieurs de ses cadres réclament désormais la création d'un Conseil pour la sauvegarde de la Révolution, qui validerait les réformes qui doivent être votées par un Parlement encore dominé par le RCD, l'ancien parti de Ben Ali.

Feb 2 2011 01:41

More about the CGTT. The first link is to a statement from them. It might be useful if someone with better French than me had a look at it. I'm assuming they will be closer to the autonomous unions in Algeria and Morocco and to the CNT-F and Spanish CGT, but I'd welcome any views on this.

La CGTT réclame sa légalisation

Facebook page

Some background, though it's history now

Constituted several months ago, the new Tunisian trade union, the CGTT, has not been able, until now, to begin its activities, the authorities refusing to recognize it. Prohibition of a press conference, refusal to recognize the trade unions created in Tunis, Gafsa and Gabès, convocation by the police force of the one of leaders of the new trade union: Habib Guiza, the gestures are multiplied in the direction of a refusal by the Authorities to accept the existence of this Trade union. Confident in the legality of their initiative and in their actions (let us recall here that the Tunisian legislation, following the example of the ILO conventions, does not require prior approval of the authorities for the constitution of trade unions), the leaders of the CGTT seem to plan, if current blocking continues, to submit to the ILO a complaint against the Tunisian government for violation of the international standards as regards trade-union freedom. Will this step be taken during the annual session of the ILO which has just opened in Geneva and which will continue for nearly 3 weeks? It would, in any case, be a major event, the last time that a complaint of this kind was deposed against the government goes back 30 years, to the time of the events of January 26th, 78 and to the attempt at dismantling of which the UGTT was victim.

Attariq El Jadid – Saturday, June 7, 2008

Feb 2 2011 02:51
Mark. wrote:
More about the CGTT. The first link is to a statement from them. It might be useful if someone with better French than me had a look at it. I'm assuming they will be closer to the autonomous unions in Algeria and Morocco and to the CNT-F and Spanish CGT, but I'd welcome any views on this.

La CGTT réclame sa légalisation

Mmm. I'm afraid, going on the texts on their site, it appears more Blairite than revolutionary syndicalist.

Here's a rough translation of part of their position paper on syndicalism in the modern era

from Le pluralisme syndical : passage obligé du renouveau syndicaliste

Trade union pluralism: obligatory passage of union renewal

One of the major preoccupations of unions is the to conduct discussions on a number of issues with confidence, without stonewalling.

The major revisions of labor law were made in the sense of flexibility and the marginalization of workers. Employers in the Maghreb countries have increasingly tended to hire and fire employees without conditions. There is no trade union response to the problems of self-employed in call centers and professional integration of young graduates and non graduates. The unions have either renewed their visions or their structures that remain in retreat faced with the new realities. The economic crisis and financial crisis poses acutely the need to discipline the financial sphere and to review from top to bottom the international financial architecture, to implement a new regulation on a global scale, which respects the rights of workers and protects the most humble.

Beyond the negative aspects of neo-liberalism: privatization, abandonment of the regulatory role of the state, rapid development of the informal sector, the emergence and expansion of precarious employment, widening social disparities, increased poverty, crime and corruption; it should be noted some positive aspects including the promise of the knowledge society with the emergence of a new productive model based on developing skills and promoting the new digital economy can create quality jobs and improve the quality of life for residents in addition to sustainable development.

In this order which is to built, the unions have a valuable role to play as throughout the world, particularly in the Euro-Mediterranean area, it is the employees who are the biggest victims of the crisis, and financial supremacy and domination .

This necessitates asking legitimate questions about the current situation and future of trade unionism in both the North and South of the Mediterranean.

Have unions in the South actually realized the profound and irreversible changes in the global economy, but also the new grounds of society and labor? Have they truly understood this phenomenon very new and very fundamental to the reduction of the role of the state and its quasi-generalized withdrawal of several terrains not only in terms of its ability to master and control the decision-making in highly sensitive areas like international finance, capital flows, fluctuations in the stock market, those prices of raw materials and raw materials etc.. ?
Did they understand the changes occurring in the composition of workers with the emergence and expansion of new forms of work, what are new categories of employees? Are we not led to observe that in the face of essential changes and transformations, the northern unions, but especially the South, have persisted in their approaches and practices dating back several decades, as if nothing has happend.

The stakes are high in the South anyway, because it is neither more nor less, going from one historical stage to another, from one model to another union, a single trade union function public and state sector operating under a cap of state, highly centralized to a plural unionism new working class acting within the framework of a globalized liberal capitalism?
The thoughts and actions to undertake initiatives to address these concerns require an environment conducive to pluralism. Trade union pluralism should not be considered a priori as a division of the labor movement and can be a source of enrichment, stimulation of renewal. It may even be a vector of political pluralism. It depends on the context in which it exists and the will and the project's initiators.

I doubt the CNT-F or the Spanish CGT would recognise themselves in this vision of a new unionism for our times.

Feb 2 2011 11:29
ocelot wrote:
I doubt the CNT-F or the Spanish CGT would recognise themselves in this vision of a new unionism for our times.

Actually I suspect from some of the wording in the text you've translated that it reflects discussion in the Euro-Mediterranean union network (Red Sindical Euro-Mediterránea, previously the Red Sindical Euro-Magrebi before Egypt was drawn into it.).

There were no Tunisians at the last meeting in Oran on 16 January, but this may be because they were otherwise occupied with events in Tunisia. The unions and groups that were present were the ODT from Morocco, SNAPAP, CLA and CNES from Algeria, the CGT from Spain and the CNT-F and Solidaires from France. Tunisians have gone to some of the previous meetings. Other European unions at previous meetings have included USI-Roma and a couple of the Italian base unions, I think Unicobas and CUB. The CGTT was also at the i07.

zabalaza wrote:
Between 28th April and 1st of May 2007 about 250 militants from five different continents came together in Paris, France for the CNT-F organised International Syndicalist Conference i07, a follow-up to the industrial Syndicalist Conferences held in San Francisco, USA, in 1999, called i99, and that held in Essen, Germany in 2002, called i02.
What is particularly interesting to us, and the focus of this article, is that, for the first time, the Industrial Syndicalist Conference had a significant African presence this year, with delegates representing trade unions from Algeria (Snapap), Morocco (UMT, CDT, ANDCN, poor peasants, FDR-UDT), Tunisia (CGTT), Guinea (CNTG, CEK, SLEG), Ivory Coast (CGT-CI), Djibouti (UDT), Congo DRC (LO), Mali (Cocidirail, Sytrail), Benin (FNEB, UNSTB, AIPR), Burkina Faso (UGEB, CGT-B, AEBF) and Madagascar (Fisemare)...

Towards an anarcho-syndicalist strategy for Africa

ocelot wrote:
Mmm. I'm afraid, going on the texts on their site, it appears more Blairite than revolutionary syndicalist.

I don't see anything revolutionary in the text you translated, but is there anything anti-revolutionary (or 'Blairite') either? I'm not suggesting that the CGTT or the other autonomous unions in North Africa are ideologically anarcho-syndicalist or revolutionary syndicalist. Possibly some of the European base unions might be a better comparison. Again I'm open to other people's views on this.

Feb 2 2011 14:38
Mark. wrote:
ocelot wrote:
Mmm. I'm afraid, going on the texts on their site, it appears more Blairite than revolutionary syndicalist.

I don't see anything revolutionary in the text you translated, but is there anything anti-revolutionary (or 'Blairite') either? I'm not suggesting that the CGTT or the other autonomous unions in North Africa are ideologically anarcho-syndicalist or revolutionary syndicalist. Possibly some of the European base unions might be a better comparison. Again I'm open to other people's views on this.

Well there's no "Clause 4" for any Blair like figure to remove. I.e. there's no explicit committment to the emancipation of the workers, socialising the means of production, ending capitalism or class society. It's very much about modernising and adapting to the changes brought about by globalisation and neoliberalism so as not only to counter their negative effects, but to embrace the opportunities that their "positive side" presents.

Certainly there's themes in the mix that reflect the social movement unionism discourse of Solidaires, but in a form that I'm pretty sure Tony Giddens would also be happy with.

Of course you can't really tell the political content of an organisation from its published documents in isolation from any information about it's actual practice.

I guess the key thing here is really what does the CGTT represent in terms of the struggle of grassroots union miltancy against the RCD-compromised ruling clique at the federal centre of the UGTT? That is a question we cannot answer without direct information from union militants in places like Gafsa, Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid.

Perhaps the CGTT is simply Habib Guiza's personal fiefdom down in Gabès and the South of the country, motivated by local resentment at the dominance of both RCD and UGTT politics by people from the Sahel? Who knows? OK, dumb question, Tunisians will know.

But I think the key question is whether the union militants in the Western interior, especially those who got so badly screwed over by the state and the UGTT leadership in the 2008 struggle, consider the CGTT to be a useful alternative, or a distraction from the struggle to wrest control of the UGTT from the Jerad clique.

We need interviews with militants. There's no viable substitute for exploring any of these questions.

edit: this HRW piece on the CGTT's struggles against Tunisian state repression, prior to Jan 14th is a good backgrounder, also - HRW: The Price of Independence

Feb 2 2011 15:09

Apropos of the union stuff. Here's the UGTT's "appeal" to the participants of the the 24-hour sit-in outside the PM offices on the Kasbah esplanade, issued last Friday the 28th - when the protesters were violently cleared out with batons and CS gas by the cops (while the world was watching events in Egypt).

Appel aux participants au Sit-in de la Kasbah

to the participants in the sit-in Kasbah

In consideration for the fighting and sacrifices of protesters and participants in the sit-in in Government square at the Kasbah in order not to recuperate their protest movement and not to deprive their rights and ownership of their legitimate demands,
The Executive Office of the UGTT salute their courage and strength to make their voices heard to all parties involved and claim their right to a dignified life and a balanced development that benefits all segments of the population and all regions.
While welcoming the popular uprising that has rekindled the hope of all free men of this world and gave them a glowing picture of the Tunisian people in its commitment to the choice of dignity, equality and freedom, teh Executive Office of the UGTT appeals to Sit-in participants in the Kasbah and the various demonstrators urging them to remain vigilant and attentive for the content of reforms to which they aspire. It asked them to form a national commission issuing from their movement, commission composed of representatives of regions and providing the link and mediate between the protesters and the Prime Ministry and in consultation with the UGTT.
The Executive Office of the UGTT commit together to provide protection for participants in the sit-in and endorses their legitimate demands and provides them with transportation to their triumphant return to their lands.
Tunis, 28 January 2011
The Secretary-General
Abdessalem Jerad

translation: Sorry 'bout the beating guys, we got you a bus back home to the sticks. Why don't you, like, set up a committee or something? We'll be in touch...

Feb 4 2011 12:56