Around 1000 people filled the conference hall for a rally organised by the Tunisian Popular Front against the ‘Dictatorship of Debt’. Speakers from Arab countries joined representatives of left parties from Europe and Latin America. The meeting began with a video tribute to murdered leftist leader Chokri Beleid, who was shot dead a few weeks ago. Beleid was a key figure in the Popular Front. We heard the songs sung at his huge funeral demonstration, images of men and women waving Tunisian flags and chanting – lots of red scarves.
This is a small selection from the speeches on the night – unfortunately the Arabic speeches were not translated.
Miguel Urban from Spanish group Izquierda Anticapitalista said: “We are united to get popular libertyand liberation from debt and capitalism, north and south of the Mediterranean. We travel the same path today, not just in Tunis, not just in Spain not just in Egypt. We need to refuse the debt together, we have one enemy and we need to unite in the struggle. This is the first step in the struggle but there will be more.
Olivier Besancenot from Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste France said: “Colonialism and imperialism are always there, even with Hollande in office. Several hours after the assassination of Belaid there were spontaneous demos in France. Our ‘left’ government in France continues with repression of debt. For me, the revolution was something I learnt of at school but thanks to you it has happened now.”
Zuleika Matamaros from Marea Socialista Venezuela. “The revolution Chavez started will evolve. The Bolivarian people continue to go into the street to prevent a coup d’état, We have the strength to demand things, it is for this reason that from the base the Venezualan people won’t be defeated and support the Tunisian and Arab revolutions. The Arab spring opened a process and struggle which will continue. We say no to the imperial interventions which want to profit from the movement and say yes to revolutionary movements in Arab countries. We support revolutionary movements from the base not the governments. This is a first stage in a connection between the revolutionary movement in Arab countries and Latin America.
Alda Sousa Portugal Bloco de Esquerda: “Fraternal greetings and thanks and from left group in the European Parliament. Congratulations to the Tunisian workers and their enthusiasm in struggle against unemployment for women’s rights and public services. We have the same struggle. Like you Portugal has also been attacked by the murderous politics of debt, increasing unemployment, part time jobs, poverty and austerity in the recession. The trade union struggle is rising. We see movements among the workers going into the street in the largest ever demos since 1968. The movement is strong rejecting the government and the troika. Your struggle is an inspiration for us and the people of Europe.”
There were also speakers from Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Algeria and Greece.
Hama Hammami from the Tunisian Popular Front finished the meeting with a rousing speech, stressing the need to unite struggles between Europe and the Arab world.
Anna is in Tunis for the World Social Forum with a delegation from MENA Solidarity network.
Find out more about our meeting at the WSF on 27 March here