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  May 2, 2017

May Day: Hundreds of Thousands Celebrate International Workers Day

In the face of different manifestations of social and economic injustice, demonstrators across the world rose up for workers' rights
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REPORTER: Thousands of people all over the world celebrated May Day under different circumstances, but with the same goal of economic and social justice. These are just some of the demonstrations that happened on May 1st 2017, a day also known as International Workers’ Day.

In the United States, various political and social groups came together for a May Day rally in New York, challenging President Donald Trump's immigration policies, and vow to step up deportations.

MARCHER: I believe that the concept of patriotism has changed, from going to war, to trying to defend democracy.

REPORTER: In Los Angeles many pro-immigrant advocates marched downtown. 

JOSE LADIEN: This is our country. We grew up here. I came here when I was three years old. I was raised here, so I... why am I any less American than they are?

REPORTER: Thousands also marched in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and many other cities in celebration of May Day, and in opposition to the Trump administration.

About 30,000 protesters joined the traditional May Day protest in Paris, united in their opposition to far-right leader, and presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen. Several also voiced distrust of frontrunner Emmanuel Macron.


You have someone, (far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen) who advocates hatred, racism, xenophobia, there you are, and someone (presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron) I don't agree with, who is coming from the financial world, who I think introduced, well, this kind of politics that also contributed to the rise of the National Front.

REPORTER: Around 142,000 people joined May Day rallies across France. This year's May Day came less than a week ahead of the final round of a presidential election, where voters must choose between the far-right National Front's Marine Le Pen, and centrist Emmanuel Macron.

About 10,000 Greeks staged an anti-austerity protest. Greece and foreign lenders continued talks on a bailout review that would lead to loans to repay Greece's massive debt. People of all ages carrying union flags, red carnations, and banners. Marched in the streets of Athens and rallied outside the parliament building, calling on the government not to proceed with the reforms demanded by the country's European, and International Monetary Fund lenders, which will further cut pensions, and the tax-free threshold.


The (current) Greek government, like all the ones before it, have implemented measures that have only one goal -- the crushing of the workers, the working class and everyone who works themselves to the bone. We are fighting for the survival of the poorest, who need help the most.

REPORTER: Ferries were docked in ports, as part of a 24-hour strike by seamen, and mass transportation was disrupted by work stoppages. The protesters said the continuing austerity measures that Greece has imposed, in exchange for much needed loans, have brought society to its knees.


We are incorporating, (the historic May Day struggle) with our struggle against these (government) policies; we are against all the political parties who say they want this so-called bailout review concluded. This review serves as the destruction of the people and the pensioners.

REPORTER: In Turkey, this year's celebrations follow the expulsion of more than 3,900 people from Turkey's civil service, military and gendarmerie, over the weekend. May Day protests are an annual event in Turkey, and have in the past, triggered widespread police action against demonstrators.

The police presence was especially heavy across Istanbul, after President Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won a referendum last month, giving him sweeping new powers.


I hope that this May Day will be both a celebration ceremony, and a warning to the government that turns a deaf ear to tens of millions of people who don't have job security, and who attend the employment agency.

REPORTER: The May Day celebration in Chile was marked by divisions in the country's workers' movements, with the United Initiative Syndicate Committee breaking off, and planning a march after that of the Workers' United Centre of Chile.

May Day celebrations in Berlin took place under heightened security, four months after a deadly truck attack on a Christmas market, which left 12 people dead. Police vans blocked access to the traditional May Day demonstration route, as hundreds of people walked through the German capital's Kreuzberg district.

South African President Jacob Zuma, made a hasty exit from a May Day rally, after the crowd of workers that he was due to address chanted slogans against him. Zuma has become a focus of mounting public discontent over government missteps, rising unemployment, and a stagnant economy.

BLADE NZIMANDE: We are facing very serious challenges as a country, and we are facing serious challenges as a movement.

REPORTER: Venezuelans rallied in competing May Day demonstrations both for, and against President Nicolas Maduro.


We come to categorically support our workers' president, our Chavista president, Nicolás Maduro Moros.

REPORTER: The demonstrators begin their second month of protests, demanding elections to try and end the Chavismo movement’s 18 years in office. Twenty-nine people have been killed, and hundreds have been injured in the unrest that began in early April.


I am protesting because I don't have sugar. I don't have flour. I don't have cooking oil.

REPORTER: Thousands marched in San Juan, to protest austerity measures, as a deadline approaches for Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring deal. The island faces a midnight deadline to negotiate a debt-cutting agreement with creditors, or open itself up to lawsuits over debt defaults. It could also file for a modified version of U.S. bankruptcy to protect itself. 


We want to send a clear message to the administrator of state funds that you cannot play with us workers. We will defend workers rights until the last consequences, let that be clear to him, and the government too.

REPORTER: International Workers Day was decreed in Paris in 1889 by the Socialist Workers Congress of the Second International. It was a tribute to the Chicago Anarchists, executed for their participation in the Haymarket Revolt. 

Now, over 128 years have passed. The labor movement and the working class, face the challenges of a market economy dominated by the one percent. But they also have new tools to use in their struggle.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Livestreaming, and many other ways of communication, are used to confront these barriers every day.

The fight is no longer just in the streets. These are just some of the May Day messages we picked up online.




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