Blows Against the Empire

2021 In Memoriam

2021 was marked, from start to finish, as a year dominated by the pandemic and its attendant dramas, including vaccination, variants, and lockdowns. When the prior year had come to a close, journalists and writers had described 2020 as the “plague year” or the “lost year.” Although 2020 was defined by the onset of the pandemic and over two million deaths attributed to COVID-19, this was nothing compared to the all-encompassing, inescapable pall that COVID cast over the year 2021.

The pandemic has dealt a particularly heavy blow to residents of the world’s greatest imperialist power, where over 880,000 US citizens have perished. The country’s failure to care for the well being of its people — particularly when juxtaposed with the success of China, where about 875,000 fewer deaths have been attributed to the novel coronavirus — laid bare the futility of capitalism and individualism when faced with crisis. The parallels with global climate catastrophe are impossible to ignore.

From January 1, 2021, until the final day of the year, powerful blows reigned down on the global imperial superstructure captained by the US, leading in tow its Western European vassal states and junior partners including Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Colombia, India and the UK.

January 6: If any one event marks the end of the unipolar world led by the US since the fall of the Soviet Union, it is the cringeworthy storming of the US Capitol, incited by Donald Trump and carried out by farcical supporters united by their belief that the US presidential election was a fraud.

“Trump did more for the liberation of humanity from Western imperialism, because of his crudeness, than any other US leader in history,” commented political analyst Laith Marouf — and that was before the embarrassment of the failed uprising exposed the fragility of the US capitalist regime.

Contrary to the mainstream media narrative, over half of those arrested for involvement in the January 6 insurrection were “business owners, CEOs from white-collar occupations, doctors, lawyers, and architects.”

January 19: On his very last day in office, disgraced President Trump labels China’s treatment of Xinjiang’s Uighur community as a “genocide.” The laughable claim is promptly echoed by mainstream/imperialist media. A month later, Canada’s parliament voted to second the motion, cementing its status as fawning minion to the US war machine. These claims were particularly ironic as Canada, like the US, is a nation founded on actual genocide.

January 28: The GameStop scandal went viral and many learned firsthand that capitalism was a giant Ponzi scheme designed to plunder their savings.

March 7: A death blow was dealt to Brazil’s Bolsonaro regime, one of the US’ largest and most compliant vassals, as former President Lula was acquitted of all charges related to the Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash) lawfare scheme which had imprisoned him for 580 days. The failure of the maneuver exposed the similar proceedings against his successor, Dilma Rousseff, as a fraud, and later in the year the White House admitted the nefarious role it played in using paralegal means — also known as lawfare — to overthrow Brazil’s progressive governments and replace them with the neo-fascist Bolsonaro, whose popularity continued to bottom out through the course of the year.

March 13: The 99% rejoiced as fugitive former Bolivian dictatress Jeanine Áñez was discovered hiding under a bed and arrested by the democratically elected government of Luis Arce, committed to restoring order in Bolivia and serving justice to Áñez’s US-backed coup regime.

April 28: The gigantic paro nacional [national strike] broke out across US client state Colombia. A neoliberal austerity package passed by the Duque regime set off the mobilizations. The package would have seen Colombia bowing to IMF pressure with a swath of proposed “reforms” that increased taxes on the most vulnerable, accelerated privatization of healthcare, increased student tuition fees, and allowed for a 10-year wage freeze. The national strike was met with brutal force, dozens were killed and thousands arrested.

The immensity of the revolt led to working-class victories including “the withdrawal of the tax package, the sinking of the privatizing health project, the extension of the zero tuition to students of stratum 3, the unanimous international condemnation against the insane wave of police-paramilitary repression of the regime, the forced resignation of the ministers of finance and foreign affairs — representatives of the imperialist bourgeoisie — and a parliamentary trial of the minister of war,” as detailed by the World Federation of Trade Unions.

May 14: Amid the genocidal war on Palestine waged by the apartheid state, Hamas missiles pierced the so-called Iron Dome defense system. The vaunted missile defense system, funded by billions of dollars from the US and the apartheid state, proved to be an overpriced lemon, like so many other US weapons of war, as Gaza rose to the defense of Palestinians in the West Bank, on the other side of their divided nation. The militant solidarity shown by Gaza, and its ensuing sacrifice when civilian dwellings were subsequently levelled by the apartheid state, will be remembered as a turning point in the long journey towards a free Palestine.

Election Rally in Homs, Syria, May 23, 2021 (Photo: Tim Anderson)

May 26: President Bashar al-Assad was re-elected by the Syrian people, receiving 78% of the vote. “Supporters of the president took to the streets in the hundreds of thousands as the results were publicized, celebrating what they saw as a repudiation of violence and a step forward for the beleaguered nation,” wrote Mnar Adley for MintPress News. Celebrations in Damascus put the lie to claims by the empire ruled from DC regarding Assad’s supposed lack of popular support.

May 29: A chilling reminder that Canada was founded on the genocide of the Indigenous inhabitants of the land was unearthed in Kamloops, BC. A mass grave of 215 children, whose deaths were undocumented, was found at an Indigenous children’s concentration camp — euphemistically called “residential school” — after years of denial that such sites existed.

“We hear from residential school survivors who tell you of these things happening, of mass graves existing, and everybody always denies that those stories are true,” said Arlen Dumas, grand chief of Manitoba’s Assembly of Chiefs. “Well, here’s one example… there will be more.”

Sure enough, mass graves continued to be unearthed throughout 2021. The last Canadian “residential school” closed in 1996, and between 6,000 to 50,000 children are estimated to have been murdered in the concentration camps for Indigenous children.

June 6: Pedro Castillo, presidential candidate of Peru’s Marxist Peru Libre party, rose from virtual obscurity to defeat the right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori, convicted in 2008 of crimes against humanity. Castillo named staunch left-wing revolutionary Héctor Béjar as his foreign minister, who re-established diplomatic relations with Venezuela (made official on October 16), bringing an end to the Canada-led “regime”-change operation The Lima Group. Béjar referred to The Lima Group as “the most disastrous thing” Peru had ever done in the field of foreign relations.

June 24: The Bicentennial Congress of the Peoples of the World convened in Caracas, Venezuela, to celebrate the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Carabobo, the decisive victory by Venezuelan troops, led by Simón Bolívar, over Spanish imperialism. Delegates from 123 countries attended the Congress, lauded as an “anti-imperialist and internationalist space for dialogue with social movements.”

June 24: Yet another powerful symbol of the crumbling foundations of the empire ruled from DC, a building collapse in Miami, Florida, left 98 people dead. Only four survived the sudden disintegration of the 12-story beachfront condominium, one of the deadliest residential building collapses in modern history. Rescue operations went on for two weeks. With each passing day, monotonous news items covered the rescue operations, effectively delaying the announcement of the death toll until few were paying attention anymore.

June 28: Russia and China announced the renewal of their 20-year long mutual cooperation pact. “The two sides agreed to continue maintaining close high-level exchanges, strengthening vaccine cooperation, expanding bilateral trade, and expanding cooperation in low-carbon energy, digital economy, agriculture and other fields and promote the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union,” reported Xinhua. The midsummer event was another milestone in the death march of the unipolar world.

July 1: The Communist Party of China celebrated 100 years since its founding. During that span, the CPC has lifted 850,000 people out of extreme poverty, according to the DC-based World Bank.

July 6: Honduras’ highest court found Roberto David Castillo guilty of the 2016 murder of celebrated land defender and activist Berta Cáceres. Castillo was a graduate of the West Point US Military Academy in New York state. COPINH, the organization founded by Cáceres, hailed the verdict as a “people’s victory for justice for Berta; a step towards breaking the pact of impunity.” In addition, COPINH hoped that the conviction would open the door to “bringing the masterminds behind the crime to justice,” members of Honduras’ family of billionaires, the Atalas.

July 6: The dictator Jovenel Moïse, who dissolved parliament and ruled Ayiti (Haiti) by decree beyond the term of his mandate, was assassinated by a team of Colombian paramilitaries contracted by a Florida-based firm. Ayiti had been racked by waves of mass protests and general strikes almost continually since 2018, when Venezuela was forced to suspend the Petrocaribe program due to US economic sanctions on Venezuela’s national petroleum company PDVSA. Petrocaribe had provided cheap fuel to Ayiti in exchange for deferred payment. These deferred funds, earmarked for social programs, were instead pocketed by Moïse’s administration. Demonstrators demanded his resignation and a proper election in which Fanmi Lavalas could fully participate. The Moïse regime was propped up by the de facto ruling cartel, the Core Group including the US, Brazil, and Canada.

August 13: The Mexico Talks, a dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the opposition, began in Mexico City. To its great ire, the US was excluded from the process. Both parties signed a memorandum demanding an end to the economic blockade imposed on Venezuela by the empire ruled from DC.

August 15: With the US hastening its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban took the capital Kabul and overthrew the US puppet government. Videos filmed at Kabul airport the next day went viral, capturing the hysteria of the fleeing US forces and their supporters. At least five people died in the panic, while about 200,000 Afghans were directly killed by the failed invasion and 20-year long occupation, led by the empire ruled from DC.

September 16: Working in tandem, the resistance forces of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah break the imperial siege on Lebanon, delivering much-needed Iranian fuel. The courageous operation exposed the permeable nature of illegal US and EU “sanctions,” which had triggered shortages, fuel scarcity, inflation, and a deadly economic crisis in Lebanon.

September 16: Thumbing his nose at the empire, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador invited his Cuban counterpart, Miguel Díaz-Canel, as guest of honor for Mexico’s independence day celebrations. AMLO used the opportunity to reiterate his calls for an end to the 61-year-long US economic blockade of Cuba.

November 7: Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinista revolution that defeated the US-backed Somoza dictatorship and overcame the subsequent counter-revolutionary assault of the US-funded and trained Contra paramilitaries, was re-elected as president of Nicaragua. The result came as no surprise because Ortega has presided over a broadening of social programs and a strong Nicaraguan economy since his return to power in 2007. “The Nicaraguan people believe in their government and their electoral system,” wrote electoral monitor Dan Kovalik. “And one of the things they believe in is the government’s right, and indeed duty, to protect the country and its sovereignty from outside intervention, and in particular the incessant intervention by the US, which has been interfering in Nicaragua — often through local quislings — in quite destructive ways for over a century.”

In 2021 the rabid mainstream media assault on Nicaragua’s democracy accused Ortega of jailing his opponents, after a court order prevented Cristiana Chamorro from running due to illegal foreign campaign contributions. Chamorro’s NGO received over $6 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2015, more than half of which went to influencing the 2021 elections.

November 15: Heavily publicized in Western media, this day was supposed to see a great popular uprising in Cuba, a supposed resurgence of the protests that had shaken the nation in early July, when Cuba suffered its worst COVID-19 problems.

“The nationwide ‘Marches for Change’ was scheduled for November 15,” wrote Ted Snider. “The Biden administration endorsed the demonstrations. So did Congress: on November 3, the House of Representatives voted 382–40 — and you thought they couldn’t agree on anything — for a resolution declaring ‘strong solidarity’ with ‘courageous Cuban men, women, and youth taking to the streets in cities and towns across the country.’ What the media and the government doesn’t want to tell you is that, once again, it didn’t happen.” The non-event was dubbed #15Nada.

November 21: Venezuela’s violent opposition returned to the political fray for the country’s regional and municipal “mega”-elections. These were carried out in relative peace, without any credible allegations of fraud, by Venezuela’s internationally acclaimed electoral system. The results were a sweeping victory for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). The PSUV captured 19 of 23 state governorships (including the capital district), and 213 of 325 mayoralties.

In January 2022 Xiomara Castro will be sworn in as the first woman to lead Honduras, defeating the runner-up in the elections by over 15 percentage points. (Photo: CGTN)

November 29: Perhaps the most inspiring and surprising of the year’s significant electoral victories, in Honduras Xiomara Castro unseated US-backed narco-dictator President Juan Orlando Hernández. Castro is representative of the rising anti-imperialist political forces in Latin America. Her husband, Manuel Zelaya, was overthrown by the Honduran military — with Hillary Clinton’s blessing — in 2009, after he promised to convoke a Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution, raise the minimum wage, and join the ALBA-TCP regional alliance founded by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez in 2004.

December 9: Nicaragua resumed diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, recognizing the One China principle and the sovereignty of China in Taiwan. Nicaragua thus ceased to consider Taiwan as a country and severed all contact and official relationship with Taipei. This expands the scope of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America and at the same time diminishes US imperial authority in the region.

2021 was marked by a series of embarrassments and defeats for the empire ruled from DC, the decisive end of US hegemony, and the birth of a new multipolar world, which promises to continue asserting itself in the face of informational and military assault throughout 2022 and beyond.


• This item was originally published on January 23, 2021 by Orinoco Tribune.

Steve Lalla is a Canadian-based journalist, researcher and analyst. His areas of interest include geopolitics, history, philosophy, and cultural studies. Twitter: Steve Lalla. Read other articles by Steve, or visit Steve's website.