Article by Eleni Mavrou – AKEL Political Bureau member
Sunday 30 April 2023, “Haravgi” newspaper
Tomorrow we will pay tribute to the heroic martyrs of Chicago, whose visions remain alive and timeless. It is enough to consider that in an era of unprecedented growth in human knowledge, wealth and capabilities, hunger still plagues millions of our fellow human beings, poverty, unemployment, racism, environmental pollution are now global phenomena, while the distribution of global wealth is becoming even more unequal.
Those who will smile ironically when they see our red flags parading in our streets tomorrow only have to recall that just eight wealthy tycoons have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, that in Europe itself one in four people face the spectre of poverty or social exclusion.
Tomorrow we will simultaneously commemorate the Cypriot pioneering workers, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots together, and the great strike struggles that were waged in Skouriotissa, Mavrovouni, Xeros and Lefka… It is enough to consider that it is these very struggles that raised people’s consciousness and strengthened in our minds and hearts the conviction that the natural thing is for working people to walk upright with dignity.
A conviction that founded the Cypriot workers movement. There is not a single gain for workers that does not bear the mark of the People’s Movement of the Left – despite the beatings and imprisonment of strikers, despite the reaction that went as far as projecting the slogan “Better 12 hours of blue than 8 hours of red”.
One hundred and thirty-seven years since that great bloody Chicago strike and it seems like the pages in history are turning backwards. Yet the forces of hope are ever present. And Workers May Day, is always… red, insubordinate, assertive, uncompromising, revolutionary, showing us the way.
The way of struggle against the policies that plunge the overwhelming majority of the people to poverty and despair, so as to ensure huge profits for a small minority. The path of struggle against the policies that give birth to acute inequalities every day. The path of struggle: To redeem our young people from unemployment and exploitation. To free our elderly from the humiliation of cuts in what the state and society owes them.
Those who produce the social wealth cannot but assert it, to be at the centre of society, to set the rules for its course and development. We feel the weight on our shoulders which does not fit into any neoliberal manifesto: that the great and small gains won by working people have not been given to us by anyone. And defending these gains is the duty of all those who do not want their children to be the “modern” slaves of the future.
Tomorrow, there, in the UN-administered buffer zone, the working people, those who suffer from neoliberal and austerity policies, in the on both sides of the dividing line, will reunite. For the older people to recall memories of their common struggles and for the young generation to build together their own memories of the struggles of today. For a united homeland belonging to the people who “water this land with their sweat”.