7) May Day returns for real. In Bolivia, the government of Evo Morales marked the international workers day by nationalizing the country’s natural gas resources. In the United States, millions of Latino immigrants hit the streets across the country in a show of strength by the “new civil rights movement.”
6) Augusto Pinochet and Milton Friedman croak within weeks of each other. Twin heads of the neo-liberal monster, they left this world at the ages of 91 and 94 respectively, proving conclusively that only the good die young. Friedman and his “Chicago School” of corporate fundamentalism wreaked havoc on the lives of millions over the last decades of the twentieth century. Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile provided a testing ground for Friedman’s economic prescriptions, implemented over the blood and bones of the thousands tortured or killed following the Setpember 11, 1973 coup against the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende. The “pink tide” sweeping Latin America, and especially the strident anti-imperialism of the Cuban-Venezuelan-Bolivian “axis of good,” should keep Pinochet and Friedman spinning in their graves.
5) Six Nations resist at Caledonia. Once again, one of the most inspiring acts of resistance within the Canadian state this year came from indigenous people fighting for their land and their rights. Evoking memories of past confrontations at Gustafen Lake and Oka – and of the police repression that took the life of Dudley George at Ipperwash in 1995 – the Six Nations set an example with a courageous struggle that brought solidarity from far and wide.
4) Donald Rumsfeld quits, at long last. Vice-President Dick Cheney provided the perfect epitaph to the career of his long-time partner in war crimes, outgoing Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld. At Rummy’s departure ceremony, Cheney absurdly and straight-facedly declared that Rumsfeld was “the finest Defense Secretary this nation has ever had.” Such rhetoric notwithstanding, the ditching of Rumsfeld was a result of the utter failure of the U.S. in its occupation of Iraq.
3) Stephen Colbert roasts George Bush. In a once-in-a-lifetime twenty minute gig at the White House Press Correspondents dinner, Stephen Colbert became one of the world’s most famous comedians and a history-making satirist. Propelled by the new medium of YouTube and Google Video, Colbert’s skewering of Bush became the roast heard ‘round the world.
2) Michael Ignatieff goes down to ignominious defeat. With arrogance that would have made his czarist forbearers blush, Ignatieff returned to Canada following a twenty-five year absence, convinced that he would be the country’s next Prime Minister and that we should all be grateful for it. In the end, however, Ignatieff could not outrun his infamous support for the Iraq war and his various other apologetics for the U.S. empire. Too pompous even to lead the Liberals, Ignatieff, despite leading after the first ballot, was bypassed by delegates for the long-shot Stephane Dion. After watching Ignatieff squirm for the camera, forced to pretend for half an hour (of extreme close-up time) that he didn't know he'd lost, we wonder if now he feels a little more empathy for the victims of torture.
1) Malalai Joya speaks truth to power. At the absolute other end of the spectrum of politicians from the venal Ignatieff and Stephen Harper, Malalai Joya stands as an absolute inspiration. The 28 year-old elected member of Afghanistan’s parliament traveled to Canada this year, speaking at the NDP convention in Quebec and urging delegates to condemn Canada’s role in her country in propping up a pack of warlords in power. For her outspokenness, Joya has been threatened with rape and death in the Afghan parliament itself, and has survived several assassination attempts. Her courage is an inspiration to anti-war efforts here in Canada, not to mention to women and all those fighting for liberation the world over.