Saturday, August 16, 2008

On 'Yards, Government and Columnists


In a statement issued by Minister Tonio Fenech last Thursday, the government has showed us that he’s adamant in throwing the dice for the same game. It’s funny, coming to think of it, because he never seems to be tired of it, not even after 20 years. Some of them call it politics; I see it as a personal chess game where the Government is the king who’s disguised in the robes of a pawn. On the other hand many columnists who reside in various Maltese gazettes prefer to use their hands to pen their articles, rather than their brains. The result is nothing but a mere echo in approval of the Government’s line of thought. The question would therefore be: Why did our fathers fight for a Charter of Fundamental Human Rights when the very basic rights of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Press are not exploited as they should? Why bother? I mean, not unless the new “speech” became synonymous for ‘parroting’ or the new “expression” for “libel”

Minister Fenech condemned the GWU for choosing the route of confrontation. What’s really wrong with these people, he must be wondering. Well, nothing actually, they were only promised that their jobs will be retained by a direct letter sent from the Ministerial before the election took place. They had to relax, because their occupations were to be “guaranteed”. What is possible wrong with not keeping those promises? Everyone knows that the yup yup before election should not be taken seriously, right? It makes sense to who says it but it’s a load of gibberish for those who listen to it. That load of gibberish is nothing really; it’s just our worker’s future followed by that of their families. Did I say families? I see an oxymoron here, a bitter one I’d say! Weren’t families the heart inside the PN’s election body? Happy and smiling families, which will now appear, on those billboards, with nothing more than a grim!

In this scenario, I think that it is better to have the government condemned for setting the worst timing ever for the privatization of the shipyards to take place. The Govt. was aware that the subsidies would have shrunk by 2008, however it chickened its way out and launched the retirement schemes just a few days ago. To spice up tragedy with a pinch of ridicule, the Government offered an incentive for those yards workers who choose to have the scheme before the end of September. If the Govt. ever wanted to be taken seriously in this matter he should have started to offer workers different options back in August ’07. Obviously, this did not happen, as the interests of a political party on the eve of the general elections, is much more important than the livelihood of 1700 workers having their minds set at rest. Coincidently, 1700 is a number that exceeds the amount of votes the party in power holds as a relative majority. I won’t go into the merits of destiny or faith but I know Mathematics to an appreciable extent and I can denote a pattern here, or even, a formula.

The equation for this one would be:

Keep workers happy + Guarantee their work position – Keep controversial details out = Election Jackpot.

I was there for the meeting held by the GWU on Wednesday 13th August. Mr. Zarb mentioned the possibility, one that put the ‘yards premises for speculative activity in the creation of luxurious apartments. Indirectly, Minister Fenech fed proof to what he might dub as an “allegation” when stating that “such confrontational and threatening behaviour [by the GWU] could only, at this stage, hinder the prospects of interest shown by potential operators” and also that “unless interest was shown by potential investors by September 15, it would have no option but to declare failure in the privatisation process and the yard would have to be declared bankrupt”. Instead of showing the huge assets, whether they’re equipment or skilled labour, that our ‘yards hold, the Govt. is devaluating the same entity which he is so eager to sell, by choosing the worst course possible. All I see is balance sheet of static numbers, treating some as assets and others as liabilities. The tragedy of it all is that, those numbers are not static; they represent the lives of our workers. It’s the reason why a human occupies the role of a Minister of Finance. If we wanted to talk in numbers, we would have assigned a talking machine to do the job.

GWU meeting in Paola was reported by Matthew Xuereb on Thursday. It left much to be desired; unfortunately, the most important statements uttered by the speakers remained unreported. One of them was that done by Paul Bugeja, who requested the Govt. to publish the yards’ accounts of these last 4 years; to check whether the ‘yards are bankrupt or not. Something, he said, that the government seems unwilling to show. Once again, the annoying strategy of a government who declares to be Christian and Democrat shows more clearly that the title is just a perception, totally opposite to the truth. One step forward in this direction and the Government’s actions are going to severely bite the hand that feeds it.

The perceived reality that ‘yards are there to suck the taxpayers’ money is spun by most of the columnists found in our isles. They would like to make us forget the pre-electoral direct orders given by the Government, which were reported on the 3rd and 10th day of this month by MaltaToday. The best way we could have dealt with the ‘yards should have been that of changing the management and its targets. It seems that making the ‘yards more productive and increasing the entity’s profits were never part of the real agenda. Unfortunately the aim of this Govt. was always that of hindering the workers’ unity. However, in my early years, I have learnt one but important law of Physics. It says “For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction”. Indeed, such is true to life. The Government has the competence to act but we also have the duty to react. It is a right that cannot be threatened and it’s safeguarded by the GWU who is working on the prosperity of our workers.

A person is not an identity card, a number inside a balance sheet or a name in a file. Might as well keep that in mind before any other Minister decides to meddle with the simplicity of our worker’s lifestyle and forge a destructive formula of this sort.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kuba; Togħma Latina ta’ poplu qalbieni


Bejn it-3 u d-19 ta’ Lulju li għaddew, tliet żgħażagħ Maltin kellhom ix-xorti jesperjenzaw is-soċjeta’ Kubana, f’mawra kulturali u edukattiva li tathom tagħlim fuq il-post dwar diversi aspetti ta’ din l-akbar gżira fil-Karibew.

David Pisani, Roderick Azzopardi u jien tgħallimna dwar il-mod kif titħaddem id-demokrazija f’Kuba, fejn ir-rappreżentanza taż-żgħażagħ u n-nisa hija waħda qawwija f’kull livell, ċjoe’ fl-irħula u fl-ibliet, u saħansitra fl-Assemblea Nazzjonali li hija bħal-Parlament tagħna. Tgħallimna dwar l-istorja ekonomika li kellha tgħaddi minnha Kuba kemm qabel ir-Rivoluzzjoni mwettqa mill-Moviment tas-26 ta’ Lulju bl-appoġġ popolari, u anke mill-1959 lil hawn. Il-perjodu ta’ l-aħħar kien ikkaratterrizzat minn dipendenza kummerċjali li taqbeż it-80% f’patti bilaterali ma’ l-Unjoni Sovjetika. Il-waqa’ ta’ l-istess Unjoni li wasslet lill-Kuba tgħaddi minn perjodu diffiċli immens għaż-żamma tar-Rivoluzzjoni (l’hekk imsejjaħ Perjodu Speċjali), u r-riformi ekonomiċi li ġew fl-istess żmien għall-ftuħ lejn muniti bħad-Dollaru u anke għat-tisħiħ ta’ l-industrija tat-turiżmu kienu sors ta’ kapital bħala sostenn għar-Rivoluzzjoni. Mill-2004 lil hawn Kuba daħlet fi proġett imsejjaħ ALBA flimkien mall-Venezwela. Din hija organizzazzjoni ibbażata fuq l-idea ta’ integrazzjoni soċjali, politika u ekonomika bejn pajjiżi Latin-Amerikani u tal-Karibew, li llum il-ġurnata tħaddan fiha wkoll il-Bolivja u n-Nikaragwa fost pajjiżi oħra.

Is-sitwazzjoni kerha li ħafna mill-medja tpenġi dwar Kuba ma hija xejn ħlief ħrafa. Fil-postijiet kollha li żorna, tibda mill-qalba tal-Kapitali tal-Havana sa raħal żgħir fi Cienfuegos, in-nies għandha x’tiekol u għandha x’tilbes. Għandha fejn toqgħod, titgħallem u tiddeverti. Dan għall-kuntrarju ta’ popli li qiegħdin ftit ‘l bogħod minnhom bħal Ħaiti u l-Ħonduras li fihom issib nies li biex jieklu iqallbu fiż-żibel. Dan ma ngħidu bl-ebda disprezz għal dawn ta’ l-aħħar, iżda nagħmel dan bħala paragun f’loku li jpoġġi lill-Kuba u lill-Kubani fil-kuntest politiku li jixirqilhom jitpoġġew.

Ċertament li ż-żjajjar tagħna fil-Mużew tar-Rivoluzzjoni, fil-Pjazza prinċipali tal-Havana fejn jinsab il-monument iddedikat għal Jose’ Marti’ (poeta u ġellied għall-Indipendenza mill-Ispanjoli fis-seklu 19) ħallew timbru fuqna. Tħalla fuqna timbru akbar meta żorna l-monument iddedikat lil Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, fejn huwa stess jinsab midfun taħtu f’Santa Clara flimkien mall-gwerrillieri li marru miegħu bit-tentattiv li jwasslu r-Rivoluzzjoni fil-Bolivja fis-snin sittin. Il-mawra tagħna fejn sar it-twaqqif tal-ferrovija mimlija armi tar-reġim ta’ Fulgencio Batista, (operazzjoni mmexxija minn Che Guevara nnifsu u li waslet għar-rebħa tar-Rivoluzzjoni tlett ijiem wara), kompliet tgħinna niskopru fid-dettal l-istorja ta’ dan il-poplu.

Il-158 persuna Ewropea, li pparteċipajna f’din il-Brigata Jose’ Marti’ (li fil-parti l-kbira tagħna konna żgħażagħ), tajna kontribut b’xogħol volontarju għal erba’ nofs ta’ nhari konsekuttivi. Ix-xogħol li wettaqna kien li qlajna ħaxix ħażin f’għalqa kbira mimlija xtieli tal-jukka (xitla li tagħmel patata kbira li tissajjar u tittiekel f’dan il-pajjiż). Ix-xogħol li wettaqna kien apprezzat tant li fi tmiem il-jiem ta’ ħidma konna milqugħa bi żfin u mużika spettakolari fil-Kampament Julio Antonio Mella f’Caimito (60km bogħod mill-Belt Kapitali), il-lokalita’ li serva bħala ċentru ta’ akkomodazzjoni waqt il-mawra tagħna fil-pajjiż.

Kellna l-opportunita’ nżuru Poliklinika f’lokalita’ġewwa Cienfuegos. Fiha jingħata servizz ta’ tabib għall-viżti, servizz ta’ Emerġenza, tilqim mill-mard, fiżjoterapija, sala ta’ osservazzjoni, laboratorju biex ikun eżaminat id-demm u diversi servizzi oħra. Jekk għandna nitgħallmu xi ħaġa minn dan il-pajjiż, żgur għandna nitgħallmu nħaddmu l-Kura Primarja tagħna b’aktar riżorsi u servizzi varji, sabiex ma nkomplux inżidu l-pressjoni fuq l-isptar ċentrali ta’ pajjiżna. Wisq probabbli n-nuqqas ta’ importanza lejn il-Kura Primarja f’pajjiżna ġejja mill-imħuħ tal-politiċi li jirraġunaw li sptar ileqq jiswa’ l-miljuni, għandu mnejn jattira aktar voti lejn il-Partit fil-Gvern milli jkollok aktar servizzi preventivi u mgħammra tajjeb fuq livell lokali. Jekk dan huwa minnu, fqir huwa l-moħħ tal-politiċi tagħna!

Impressjonanti l-fatt li dan huwa poplu li f’demmu għandu msawra n-namra għall-mużika u ż-żfin, fejn tista’ tgħid kwalunkwe’ Kuban kapaċi jagħraf il-ġeneru ta’ mużika li tkun qed tindaqq u jaqleb il-pass taż-żifna tiegħu skond ir-ritmu li jkun jinstema’. Tista’ tgħid li kull familja hija skola taż-żfin. Rigward il-mużika, mhux darba jew tnejn iltqajna ma’ gruppi ta’ mużiċisti li għalkemm idoqqu f’ristorant sempliċi, ikunu ta’ kwalita’ raffinata.

Naħseb illi dan il-pajjiż jinħtieġlu aktar industrijalizzazzjoni sabiex ikun jista’ jkollu l-kapaċita’ li joħloq aktar ġid għalih innifsu u jsir dejjem aktar indipendenti. Fl-istess waqt nawgura lil dan il-poplu simpatku sabiex filwaqt li jimxi fuq dan il-perkors iħalli s-sostenibilita’ ekoloġika u ambjentali bħala waħda mill-prinċipji inaljenabbli tiegħu.

Nemmen ukoll li l-poplu Kuban għandu jkun aktar espost għal kitbiet ta’ intelletwali Xellugin oħrajn, għaliex l-influwenza ta’ Fidel Castro għadha wisq qawwija, u b’hekk nibża’ li wara l-mewt tiegħu għandu mnejn jinħoloq vojt li jaf ikun ta’ detriment fil-kuxjenza politika ta’ dan il-poplu. Il-fatt li l-ħsieb m’huwiex iddettat jew ikkundizzjonat minn dawk li għandhom il-liri huwa wieħed pożittiv ferm, u b’hekk ħadd ma jkollu jħit ħalqu minħabba kompromessi ekonomiċi li jkollha l-midja, illi sa fejn naf jien jeżistu u jeżistu sew ġewwa pajjiżna.

F’isem sħabi nirringrazzja ferm lill-Għaqda Malta-Kuba li għenitna sabiex nagħmlu din il-ħolma realta’. B’din l-esperjenza stajna nifhmu aħjar ir-realta’ Kubana, u minn x’hiex għaddej dan il-poplu qalbieni li jkollu jaffaċċja l-Imblokk Ekonomiku ta’ l-Istati Uniti minn jum għal jum, u xorta jirnexxilu jqassam il-ġid b’tali mod li kulħadd għandu ċ-ċans li jitgħallem l-iskola, igawdi minn servizz tas-saħħa li jilħaq livelli Ewropej f’ħafna mill-oqsma, u għad għandu kultura li ma hix iddettata mill-ħin u mill-flus.