Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Class Struggle in Senegal

Police in Senegal's capital, Dakar, have fired teargas at hundreds of protesting street vendors . The clashes came in response to police enforcing a new government policy to remove the vendors. Thousands of people earn a living peddling goods on Dakar's streets. The violence broke out shortly after trades unions held their own demonstration against rising food and fuel prices. Both demonstrations came down to one thing: poverty. The World Bank considers that one in three Senegalese is poor. Unemployment rate estimates are as high as 40 percent, and the vast majority of jobs are in the informal sector.

Police began evicting the thousands of street vendors on Thursday, three days after President Abdoulaye Wade sought an end to informal trading in the city. He said uncontrolled street vending had cost the country some 125m Euros because traffic jams were putting off investors. annd the vendors were protesting a move by President Abdoulaye Wade to force them off Dakar’s busy streets in an effort to improve traffic flow. For months, the government has been giving Dakar a facelift, building new roads and hotels, as it prepares to host an international Islamic conference in March. The authorities in Senegal's capital, Dakar, have now offered concessions to street vendors after violent protests. Several officials moved swiftly to announce measures, including the provision of market areas and reopening some streets for roadside sales .

“Prices of basic commodities have reached incomprehensible levels,” Mademba Sock, coordinator of the United Front of Central Unions representing 14 of Senegal’s unions
Union representatives had been demanding a reduction in food and housing prices, an increase in salaries, and support for struggling businesses. Demonstrators included teachers complaining of empty government promises, public servants let go without pay and average citizens who simply cannot afford to feed their families.

“Senegalese people do not eat three meals a day,” said Fatou Samba, a former teacher. “The president spends millions of dollars here and there while his people are suffering and dying of hunger.”

“In my home, there are eight people,” said teacher Cissé Sow. “I pay the water, electricity, phone, medical care and food. It’s one salary…. And there are 30 or 40 other people who depend on me...Meanwhile, the people in power are all driving fancy American cars

1 comment:

Phil said...

Thanks for highlighting this issue, all too often comrades in the global north tend not to hear about struggles outside of South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Egypt.

Btw, I haven't forgotten to reply to you on the Russian revolution - I'll be writing a dedicated post when I find the time :)