Two reports from non-governmental organizations make people sit up and take notice: The corona pandemic and the climate crisis hit the countries in the global south particularly hard. The results are not surprising, but they nevertheless urge you to act consistently. The facts are not even called into question, as the rhetoric of international gatherings like in digital Davos shows. Only with the concrete steps will probably not come out again.
Democratization of the economy, orientation towards the common good instead of profit and fair delivery relationships are required in order to not only let the consequences of the pandemic and climate crisis weigh on that part of the world that has remained largely excluded from the prosperity of the global north through centuries of exploitation.
A departure from the principle of profit maximization is not to be expected. Because the winners (well, there will be no long-term in the climate crisis, but hope dies last, as we know) will not voluntarily renounce their privileges. A global movement that is turning away from the previous interaction between politics and business, however, still seems too weak. But maybe it will.
At the end of January, the Swiss luxury ski resort of Davos usually resembles a fortress for about a week. Hundreds of representatives of the global political and business elite meet here to discuss economic and social challenges. Due to the corona, the World Economic Forum (WEF), which began on Monday, is also migrating to the Internet this year. The notorious informal fireside chats of individual participants are of course flat out.
The WEF, which was organized by an association, had mutated into one of the most important economic and political meetings at the height of the wave of globalization in the 1990s and has since lost its importance. Nonetheless, all sorts of celebrities have announced themselves this time, such as Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Ursula von der Leyen, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi. As things stand, the WEF should be rescheduled in Singapore in May, where the corona virus is less raging.
Protests and much criticism of the elite event ensured that it has meanwhile opened up to representatives from science and non-governmental organizations. And the organizers are thoughtful. In the WEF Risk Report published last week, it is said that the greatest threat to global stability over the next two years will come from infectious diseases and increasing poverty. The corona pandemic threatens to reduce progress in reducing poverty and inequality “by years and further weaken social cohesion and global cooperation.”
It doesn’t sound that different with NGOs: the Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating social inequality worldwide, according to a study by the aid organization Oxfam entitled “The Inequality Virus” published on Monday at the WEF. While the 1000 richest people made up for their losses in the corona crisis in just nine months, it could take more than a decade for the poorest to recover from the aftermath. According to the report, inequality threatens to worsen in almost all countries – for the first time since records began over a century ago. The worst affected are “once again” women. Almost half of working women are employed in sectors in which there is a particularly high risk of loss of income and jobs. In addition, women make up around 70 percent of the global workforce in health and social services – often poorly paid jobs that also carry a higher risk of contracting Covid-19.
“The deep gap between rich and poor is just as deadly as the virus,” explains Oxfam employee Tobias Hauschild. Corporations and the super-rich should “now make their fair contribution to overcoming the crisis.” Oxfam is campaigning for a “pandemic tax” on the additional profits of the largest corporations. More support for the poor is needed, especially a strengthening of the social systems in poor countries and an economy oriented towards the common good, in which profits are fairly distributed within the global supply chain.
This is where a study by various NGOs such as Attac, Die Naturfreunde and PowerShift on the global dairy sector ties in. In the Covid-19 pandemic, the stagnation of deliveries made the problems of world trade with a seemingly unlimited range of products clear, says the report with the title “Global – Regional – Doesn’t matter?” The current free trade policy is “one of the drivers of a misguided development that not only puts farmers, especially in the global south, under enormous pressure, but also the environment and the climate.” The authors advocate “regionalization based on solidarity”. The most important task of trade policy is to promote sustainable structures, strengthen human rights and enable the markets in the global south to be protected.
For the WEF, on the other hand, promoting world trade is still a problem solver. In the fight against poverty, the forum only supports voluntary initiatives such as “The Giving Pledge”, in which billionaires undertake to donate part of their wealth to the common good through foundations.
In addition to the corona crisis, the meeting will also deal with longer-term problems such as climate change. The environmental organization Germanwatch therefore reminds of the drama of the situation. Almost half a million deaths from extreme weather events have occurred since 2000. Violent storms, floods and heat waves would have caused economic damage of 2.56 trillion dollars, according to Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index 2019. Developing countries are hit hardest: In 2019, Mozambique and Zimbabwe would have suffered the most from cyclones and subsequent floods and landslides. Since 2000, Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti have been hit hardest, with Germany in 18th place. »The corona pandemic shows us that particularly vulnerable countries are affected by various risks – climatic, economic and health risks – and that these When risks work together to increase vulnerability, ”said co-author Laura Schäfer on Monday. “It will be important to improve the crisis resilience of these states overall.”
As every year, on the eve of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Oxfam publishes its report on inequalities in the world. The opportunity for the NGO to denounce once again the gap between the richest and the poor.
By denouncing “the virus of inequalities”, Oxfam is once again very severe in its observation of disparities in the world. And for good reason: according to the NGO, the 1,000 richest people on the planet have regained their pre-pandemic level of wealth in barely nine months, where it will take more than ten years for the poorest to recover. of the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.
Used to shock comparisons, Oxfam reveals that the top ten billionaires in the Forbes ranking alone have seen their total fortune increase by $ 540 billion since the start of the pandemic. A sum amply sufficient in the eyes of the NGO to finance the vaccine against Covid-19 for all and prevent anyone from falling into poverty because of this crisis.
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« There was in developing countries, one in two workers who were poor according to the ILO, 75% of workers who did not have access to social protection such as unemployment benefits or sick leave, again according to the ILO, and three billion people who had no access to health coverage, lists Quentin Parrinello, spokesperson for Oxfam France. This is why we are calling, not only in France but also in developing countries, to strengthen safety nets, strengthen social minima, strengthen investment in essential services and in particular health, to ensure that our economy is more resilient in the face of the crisis and in the face of the next crises, because we know that it will not be the last that we will have to face ».
A first session by videoconference
It remains to be seen whether the major economic and political decision-makers who virtually meet this week around the agenda of Davos will be sensitive to these shock figures. The theme chosen for these meetings, “ a crucial year to rebuild confidence », Is in any case revealing of the concerns of the moment.
Pandemic obliges, this first session of “Davos” will be virtual and will take place by videoconference before being transported in May to Singapore, far in the upscale Swiss ski resort where usually takes place the event created in 1971 by the German professor Klaus Schwab . It is indeed difficult for the organizers of the World Economic Forum to go completely virtual. For the big bosses who pay thousands of euros for their entrance ticket, the interest of the event lies less in the official program than in the deals concluded in the shelter of opulent hotels.
Maybe next year we’ll have a normal season and the Forum can take place. But this winter season is definitely lost.
The Davos Forum by videoconference, a blow to the resort’s local economy
After praying the Angelus on Sunday dedicated to the Word of God, the Pontiff remembers the destitute Nigerian who died on January 20 near the Plaza de San Padro, he also thanked the parishes for educating in listening to the Word of God and asks to journalists “to go and see, even where no one wants to go, and bear witness to the truth.”
Mireia Bonilla – Vatican City
“One of the great gifts of our time is the rediscovery of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church at all levels.” Pope Francis affirmed this today, after praying to the mother of heaven, on the day when the Church celebrates the Word of God. The Pope has also assured that “never before has the Bible been accessible to all and in all languages” and now “also in audiovisual and digital formats.” That is why he has expressed his gratitude and encouragement to the parishes “for their continuous efforts to educate us to listen to the Word of God.”
In his words, he repeated what he said before prayer: “Let us have the habit of always carrying a small Gospel in our pocket, in our bag so that we can read it during the day. At least three, four verses. The Gospel always with us ”.
Pope asks for prayer for the Nigerian homeless who died near St. Peter’s Square
On January 20, a 46-year-old Nigerian homeless man named Edwin was found freezing to death a few meters from St. Peter’s Square. The Pope today wanted to remind him and his story, which “joins that of many other homeless people who have recently died in Rome in the same dramatic circumstances.” Let us pray for Edwin. Let us remember the words of Saint Gregory the Great, who, in the face of the death of a beggar due to cold, said that that day no Mass would be celebrated because it was like Good Friday ”. “Let’s think about Edwin – he insists – think about what this man felt, 46 years old in the cold, ignored by all. Abandoned, even by us. Let us pray for him ”.
The Pope invites you to join tomorrow in prayer for Christian Unity
Francis also recalled the Holy Mass that will take place tomorrow afternoon in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, in which Vespers of the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul will be celebrated. The Pope, due to sciatica problems, will not preside over them, it will be Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. “It will be held at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, together with representatives of other churches and ecclesial communities. I invite you to join us spiritually in our prayer ”, the Pope said.
Pope’s encouragement to journalists and families
Finally, the Pope recalled that today Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, is commemorated, and just yesterday, the message of the World Day of Social Communications entitled “Come and see, communicate by finding the people where and how they are ”. The Pope today urged all journalists and communicators “to go and see, even where no one wants to go, and bear witness to the truth.”
In his final greetings, he expresses a memory and a prayer for the families who are having the most trouble at this time: “Courage, let’s move on, let’s pray for these families and as far as possible we are close to them.”
On the occasion of the new Corona resolutions of the countries that make medical masks mandatory in shops and in local public transport, I had a joke and added up what official mail I actually received in this unprecedented historical crisis. By this I mean: from offices and institutions of welfare, in whose interest the broadest possible knowledge of the medical situation should lie.
I came up with two letters: Once it was the Mayor of Frankfurt, Peter Feldmann, who warned me in a letter together with all other citizens in autumn to please adhere to the Corona rules so that we can soon be wonderful again Can drink cider together. The second was a letter from my health insurance company, which announced at the beginning of the year that it would, among other things, increase its contribution due to corona. This was also the only corona-related letter from this fund. Otherwise I received nothing from the official side, nothing at all.
Now people should equip themselves with medical protective masks for the business of their daily needs, which are only intended for single and short use. While low-wage earners and welfare recipients were able to provide for themselves to some extent with a set of washable fabric masks, this part of the population, for whom buying a tram ticket must be a well-considered purchase, now has a whole new item in the monthly budget. The health insurance companies that have just increased their contribution do not assume any costs for this outside of particular risk. The Hartz IV rate will not be adjusted either.
If the restrictions last longer, said Angela Merkel, one should “of course also think about whether we have to help again at this point”; But that is not in the discussion yet: “If this goes on for weeks with the medical mask requirement, it will certainly remain a topic of discussion.” Strong! The discussion continues! Minister of Labor Heil also wants to at least think about it, while the portal “Against Hartz IV” advises recipients to submit an application for additional requirements. Although it is highly likely that this will be rejected, legal action can at least be taken against it.
Congratulations: Those who already have to justify in degrading visits to the authorities why they are a burden to society are allowed to stop eating for the near future in order to buy medical supplies for an indefinite period of time. Alternatively, they can wait for the Minister of Labor and the Chancellor to continue their discussion, or initiate a lawsuit against an authority that will certainly not be friendlier afterwards.
In the same week, the employers’ associations declared that a lockdown of the companies was of course out of the question for them. People should continue to drag themselves into the logistic hells that have rationalized away any scope for crises in fanatical increases in efficiency. Even in this crisis, losses are socialized and profits privatized. No social partners, no politics: consumers should fix it again. They should not only save the climate and the coffee farmers in Guatemala by purchasing, they should equip themselves with risk apps, buy mountains of medical articles and privately take legal action against public officials – in order to secure the mindless “business as usual” of companies that meanwhile openly admit that health protection is not much more of a concern than it was for miners in the 19th century.
Guatemalan military and police units violently prevented thousands of refugees from Honduras from continuing their way to the border between Mexico and the United States on Monday (local time). Numerous men, women and children were injured through the use of batons and tear gas, said the country’s human rights representative, Jordán Rodas Andrade, in a statement. The refugees had initially called for the renunciation of violence with white flags made from scraps of cloth and affirmed that they wanted to continue their march peacefully. Like the Mexican newspaper The Day reported on Tuesday that the majority of the people who had fled from the forces in the mountains are now on their way back to Honduras.
“We didn’t steal, we just want to get through,” quoted The Day the 21 year old Honduran Angie, who hopes for a life in the USA without violence and with better economic opportunities. She now wants to try to get a negative corona test result – one of the requirements for entering Guatemala, the young woman told the newspaper. “Contrary to what many believe, the participants in these caravans do not think of the ‘American dream’ but rather flee from the Honduran nightmare,” pointed out the journalist Bartolo Fuentes in The Rel, a trade union online portal, on the causes of the mass exodus. “They flee from desperation over hunger, poverty, unemployment, violence and oppression and would rather take a journey full of danger than stay in their country.”
Honduras is one of the countries with the highest rate of economic inequality in Latin America. Almost 70 percent of the population live in poverty and more than 40 percent in extreme poverty. It is also considered to be one of the most dangerous countries on the continent. “More than 140 trade unionists and human rights activists and more than 360 LGBTI people have been murdered in the past decade and, in less than two decades, almost 90 journalists and 6,300 women have been killed,” reported the online portal Latin American Summary on Tuesday. Spanish journalist José Manzaneda suspects that migration from Honduras is also a result of the political crisis and repression following the Washington-backed coup in 2009.
The Honduran Foreign Ministry criticized the actions taken against the refugees and called on Guatemala to investigate the army and police operations. Meanwhile, Guatemala accused Honduras of failing to abide by agreements made between authorities in northern Central America, Mexico and the United States to stop the caravan announced in early January. “We are calling for the border control measures to be stepped up to prevent future caravans,” said Michael Kozak, Donald Trump’s deputy state secretary for the western hemisphere. Mexico has now sent hundreds of national guards to the Guatemala border to stop the refugees.
The train, which has recently grown to 9,000 people, is the first Latin American refugee march in 2021. The participants left Honduras in groups last Wednesday. The first had crossed the border into Guatemala since Friday evening. Many of the people hoped that US immigration policy would be eased under the future President Joseph Biden. Washington rejected such expectations, however. Even under Biden, no other migration policy is to be expected, officials from the US border authorities emphasized. Since October 2018, more than a dozen caravans, including some with thousands of refugees, have left Honduras for the USA, but most of them failed due to the tightened controls.
This government definitely has a serious problem with images and photography. Let us judge: it was on the sly that the morning of December 31 was published in Official newspaper a decree reorganizing the Ministry of Culture relegating the delegation to photography to the rank of a simple “office”. A sub-category in the ministerial arcana.
After seeing its freedom to inform abused in the streets by the global security law, photography now sees its status taking a serious blow. It took years for Culture, gradually realizing the importance of the stakes and the difficulties of a profession in the process of impoverishment, ended up creating a department within it which is dedicated to it, in the same way. as dance, music or theater. The initiative launched by Frédéric Mitterrand had taken five years to materialize under Françoise Nyssen. It is finally swept aside three years later by Roselyne Bachelot.
The National Center of Photography
Photographers and agencies have however multiplied the forums to alert the public authorities and we have extensively relayed them in our pages. To try to understand the evils which gnaw the profession, the governments successively launched assizes, observatories and recently a “parliament of photography”. The response to this commotion is scathing: photography is relegated to the rank of a sub-category, a sub-art. At least, that has the merit of closing this eternal debate: is photography an art? The photographer Gustave Legray, founder of the Société française de photographie, which took part in the first major French order in 1851 (the heliographic mission), expressed the wish that “Photography, instead of falling into the domain of industry, of commerce, falls into that of art”. He has to turn around in his grave and all the photographers with him. Yet an obvious solution is before our eyes.
No need to make umpteenth reports or other commissions. The observation is obvious and already known for a long time: a strong organization is needed for this artistic expression of which France is the cradle. There is still time to recreate the National Center for Photography, modeled on the National Center for Cinematography (CNC) to support creation and its dissemination, and to have a real tool for developing public policy. Last May, Emmanuel Macron promised a large-scale national order, but beyond this broken promise, it is a global and sustainable funding and dissemination system that must be put in place. The CNC saved French cinema, there is still time to save photography and the growing economic potential in a digital world which cannot exist without images and therefore without its image producers.
“Most of the older people in Germany live in secure financial circumstances,” said Federal Social Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) on Thursday in the Bundestag debate on the 2020 pension insurance report. The pension follows the principle of lifetime benefits. According to the Federal Statistical Office, women over 65 are at 20 percent more at risk of poverty than men of the same age, of whom only 15 percent are at risk of poverty on average. On average, women only get half as much money from the statutory pension insurance. According to the pension insurance report, people from the new federal states only received an average total pension payment of 884 euros per month in 2019, whereas people from the old federal states received an average of 1239 euros.
The 2020 pension report, which was also discussed in the Bundestag debate, also shows that 54 percent of low-wage earners with a gross wage of less than 1500 euros have no additional pension provision. Across all income groups, on the other hand, only 35 percent of those surveyed do not have any additional pension provision.
The pension insurance in Germany is in spite of “some discussions and also some defamations with the main pillar of the statutory pension insurance,” said Heil on Thursday. He called the basic pension, which came into force on January 1 of this year, a “socio-political milestone”.
“It is high time for a new start in pension policy,” said Matthias Birkwald (left). While average earners in Germany would only receive half of their net income as a pension, people in France would receive two thirds and in Italy even 80 percent. In addition, people in both countries are also more likely to retire than in the Federal Republic of Germany. “The pensions in Germany are far too low,” said Birkwald. The average pension paid out by all 21 million pensioners is only 1,048 euros, including widow’s pension. However, 80 percent of pension recipients only receive a single pension. This is an average of 949 euros per month. “A dignified life in old age is not possible with it,” continues Birkwald. Rising rents and overspending during the pandemic marginalized people. He summed up: “Old-age poverty is increasing from year to year, and that is a scandal.”
Criticism of the grand coalition’s pension policy also came from the Greens on Thursday. “The fact is that this pension insurance report obscures the reality,” said Markus Kurth (Greens). It is assumed that people have been paying into the Riester pension since day one. “The reality is that only 11 million people out of 35 million eligible people get the Riester allowances at all.” When asked, the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs replied that it was based on model assumptions. The report of the Social Advisory Council of the Federal Government sums up the 2020 pension insurance report: “In order to ensure that as many people as possible are guaranteed an overall pension that ensures the standard of living, politics must rethink the previous path of old-age insurance (…).” Debate in the Bundestag: “Pension entitlements are falling, especially among insured persons with low incomes and interrupted employment histories.” “The economic consequences of the corona pandemic will also be more noticeable in areas of work that are dominated by women,” said Loheide.
The SPD announced it more than two years ago: It wants to “leave Hartz IV behind,” as former party leader Andrea Nahles put it at the end of 2018. However, SPD Minister of Social Affairs Hubertus Heil has only just presented a draft law for the reform of the basic security benefits. In essence, the bill presented at the weekend is neither about abolishing the cuts in funds, which actually already represent the subsistence level, nor about a significant increase in the standard rates. However, recipients of the services should be shown more appreciation. They should get better qualification offers – and only have to fall back on their savings after two years. During this two-year »waiting period«, assets of up to 60,000 euros should be protected and rental costs should not be checked for appropriateness.
But the CDU has already raised objections to all of this. This means that there will be no fundamental reorientation of Hartz IV before the federal election at the end of September, which will once again become an election issue.
According to Heil’s draft, the sanctions for breaches of duty should at least no longer lead to “exceptional hardship”. And the simplified access to basic security for job seekers, which was already introduced in response to the corona pandemic, is to be “consolidated”. And it should get a nicer name. Compared to the »Spiegel«, Heil said that Hartz IV should »become social citizens’ money, for which no one has to be ashamed who needs it«.
The CDU social expert Peter Weiß, however, said on Sunday that the Union would only accept a clearly limited extension of the corona-related special regulations. There will be no “creeping introduction of an unconditional basic income” with the Union.
On November 5, 2019, the Federal Constitutional Court significantly restricted the sanctioning practice of the job centers. At that time, the Karlsruhe judges decided that monthly reductions in benefits by 60 percent or more are incompatible with the Basic Law. The job centers may reduce the monthly benefits by up to 30 percent if Hartz IV recipients fail to meet their obligations. Heil now wants to permanently stipulate that sanctions must not exceed 30 percent of the standard requirement. According to Heils plans, sanctions against persons under the age of 25 should be permanently removed.
However, at their party conference in December 2019, the Social Democrats decided on much more far-reaching Hartz IV reforms. Nonetheless, union representatives expressed their enthusiasm for Heil’s draft. DGB boss Reiner Hoffmann, for example, called it a “socio-political milestone”. In contrast, the managing director of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, Ulrich Schneider, wrote on Twitter that whoever wanted to overcome the “misanthropic Hartz IV” had to “above all increase the standard rates so that they protect against poverty and abolish the sanctions that stem from black pedagogy.” Left leader Katja Kipping said on Sunday in Berlin that the SPD and Greens are now critically dealing with Hartz IV, is also a success of their party. However, Minister Heil used all the tricks to reduce the standard rates. The fact that even such minor changes encounter bitter resistance from the Union shows how necessary a majority outside the Union is.
« Si you persist in the error, a misfortune will happen to you that even Antoine des Gommiers did not see coming. “ The future could so little escape this diviner that his gift had become proverbial. From all over Haiti and elsewhere, rich and poor flocked to his modest house, near Jérémie, the capital of Grande-Anse. A few decades after his death, Franky and Ti Tony, two kids from a poor and overcrowded district of Port-au-Prince, grow up with a harassed mother who tells them about his prestigious kinship: Antoine des Gommiers was his grand-uncle.
→ CRITICAL. “Don’t call me Captain” by Lyonel Trouillot: one city, two worlds
The two boys couldn’t be more different. Dear son of their mother, Franky, asthmatic frail, placed his stubbornness in school and knowledge. Maître Cantave, the teacher, watches over this child who shares his passion for style figures. Attached to Ti Tony is a reputation as a brawler that sticks to his friendship for Danilo and Pépé le Cancre. That’s enough to take away her mother’s love from her frustrations by slapping her on the arm. «I loved you until the slaps, it ‘s Tony. Fortunately, I was not docile like Franky, otherwise you would have died without ever having expressed your right to anger.»
Give back their splendor to the poor
Novel after novel, Lyonel Trouillot works in a tasty language to give voice to the little people of Haiti, poor among the poor to whom he gives their splendor. Here, it is Ti Tony who recounts over several decades his unwavering bond to Franky. In the family narrative, he encapsulates a thousand edifying stories about the inhabitants of the neighborhood. His acerbic voice alternates with the legend of Antoine des Gommiers, whose prophecies and advice lead to consequences of an often poignant poetry.
This double story slowly takes the turn of a literary thriller. Delectable pages on the visit of Ti Tony and his intimidating gangster friends to the impassive president of the Historical Society mark the unexpected culmination of a fascinating reflection on the power of writing.