Left-wing activists and Marxist governments participated in May Day on Tuesday, a day many claim as an attempt to promote the rights of the ordinary worker.
Traditionally an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival, May Day was co-opted by 20th-century communists as “International Workers’ Day” to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket riots in Chicago that saw dozens of laborers killed and injured by police while demonstrating for employment rights.
Governments and trade unions today use the event as an opportunity to demand higher wages and employment benefits. Communist nations used the holiday to promote their own elite.
Thousands participated in marches across Western cities including New York, Zurich, and Berlin:
Workers and activists around the world are marking May Day with rallies to demand their governments address labor issues.
NYC, Paris, Zurich and Berlin: pic.twitter.com/VYdS9UvDCc
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 1, 2018
In Paris, violent confrontations broke out as “groups of black-clad protesters used the occasion to burn cars, vandalise businesses, and clash with police.”
French riot police use water cannons and teargas as vandalism marks May Day with hundreds of protesters marching across Paris to oppose economic policies pursued by President Macron pic.twitter.com/fTlD2thGbC
— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) May 1, 2018
During celebrations in London, some participants were seen holding a sign glorifying former Soviet leader Josef Stalin. One of history’s most brutal dictators, he is estimated to have killed between 20 to 25 million people.
History, who need history? Stalin remains a hero to some on today’s May Day march through London. pic.twitter.com/eAmztazq5X
— Lindsey Hilsum (@lindseyhilsum) May 1, 2018
In communist Cuba, state propaganda outlet Granma declared that although celebrations had come to an end, “celebration of Cuban workers continues throughout the country under the banner: Unity, Commitment, and Victory.” Their website also provided extensive coverage of the celebrations, which included minute by minute photos as events unfolded.
“This May Day the Cuban people are leading a massive, colorful, vibrant, conscious march, reaffirming to the world the unity and commitment of the island’s workers to the new government, Raúl and the Party,” one of the live blog posts reads.
This year’s May Day march in the capital has come to an end, but the celebration of Cuban workers continues throughout the country under the banner: Unity, Commitment and Victory!#RevolucionEsUnidad #Cuba https://t.co/HFh5vQgVX3 pic.twitter.com/dRpoHpB9Id
— Granma (English) (@Granma_English) May 1, 2018
CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann also noted how Cuba’s new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel has his name emblazoned on signs.
Cuba’s new president is now getting his own May Day signage. pic.twitter.com/snXiWwI8A5
— Patrick Oppmann CNN (@CNN_Oppmann) May 1, 2018
In Santiago, Chile, the government deployed riot police and water cannons to control violent clashes as around “40,000 workers, commanded by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores and other labor unions, demanded ‘a better labor treatment’ and changes to the labor reforms of Sebastián Piñera.”
Some demonstrations took place in Caracas, Venezuela, where the legacy of Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution has left the once thriving oil-rich nation as one of the poorest places on earth:
Así se vive la movilización desde la avenida Libertador de los#TrabajadoresPorLaProsperidad. Nos movilizamos para defender las conquistas de la gente en la revolución y para continuar luchando por más!!!#1MComLula #1deMayo pic.twitter.com/s0EZa1Teje
— CRBZ Venezuela (@CRBZ_oficial) May 1, 2018
In communist China, President Xi Jinping “extended greetings to workers nationwide” for the day, declaring that “socialism and the creation of a new era can only be achieved through hard work.” However, no major rallies were reported.
In North Korea, which typically celebrates May Day in grandiose fashion to promote its ideology as a workers paradise, celebrations remained low key amid ongoing efforts to denuclearize and improve relations the West.
State media reported that “senior party and government officials of the DPRK celebrated the May Day with working people across the country,” visiting “institutions, industrial establishments, construction sites and farms to congratulate workers, agricultural workers and intellectuals greeting the holiday.”
A video collection by TIME magazine gave a taste for celebrations in countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, Turkey, Austria, Iraq, Spain, and Greece, some of which turned violent:
— TIME (@TIME) May 1, 2018
In the U.S., Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to Twitter to urge people to “strive for a just and moral economy”:
Every day we must strive for a just and moral economy with decent wages, decent benefits and decent working conditions for all workers. That is a struggle that must be carried on by every generation. #MayDay
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 1, 2018
Sporadic demonstrations also took place across the country in cities such as Chicago, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. Many of the demonstrations targeted the Trump administration while calling for amnesty for illegal immigrants among other additional rights.