Students occupy university in Mexico City

first_imgPhoto: Nevin SidersThe main campus of the National University of Education Sciences (UPN) in Mexico City has been occupied by students who receive the National Grant for Higher Education (Pronabes). They took this drastic action because bread was literally ripped from their mouths. Payments for the Pronabes grant stopped.So they took over the campus in protest on the evening of June 28. As of the following evening, they were still on a vigil, having held a negotiating session at midday. A rent-a-cop private security force has been out on the sidewalk.The photo shows the peaceful nature of the occupation. The students are organizing to reach out for solidarity beyond the university community’s faculty and administrative staff. Several of their banners are in an Indigenous language.Nearly all UPN students are their family’s first generation to strive for higher education, and the great majority receive the Pronabes grant.The students communicate via Facebook.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Hard times are fighting times: Why and how we must win the South

first_imgThe following document was prepared by members of the Durham, N.C., branch of Workers World Party and updated on April 8, 2014.  The goal of this document is to help inform discussion at the March 29th Hard Times Are Fighting Times Conference on Socialism by placing current anti-racist struggles in the U.S. South and the U.S. labor movement in the context of historic national oppression and previous setbacks in the South. The goal is to avoid past mistakes and build greater unity in and between the anti-racist and union movements. To accomplish this we will first lay out some of the key historical points of the last 150 years, followed by an analysis of recent developments, and finally a few suggestions for a perspective for the coming period.The unique importance of the U.S. SouthThe U.S. South has a dual character. It is primarily a region of the United States, the biggest imperialist power in the world and the greatest threat to humanity today. At the same time, however, the U.S. South has a unique history within the United States, with a different pattern of development rooted in slavery, and as such it is part of the Global South — characterized by colonialism, exploitation by imperialist powers, and national oppression. This contradictory character is both what makes this region pivotal to revolutionaries seeking ultimately to overthrow capitalism and what has frustrated previous attempts to organize workers in the region.The role of the South — as a crucial component of modern U.S. imperialism — cannot be discounted. The School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Ga., has trained death squads and right-wing militaries that have terrorized Latin America for decades.North Carolina itself is home to two of the largest military bases in the world. Fort Bragg is the biggest U.S. Army base in the world, home to the Special Forces Command, the U.S. Army Airborne Command and the Army Reserve Command — the biggest concentration of generals outside the Pentagon, which is itself in the South (Virginia). Camp LeJeune is the largest U.S. Marine base in the world. Other crucial U.S. bases — too many to list here — are also concentrated in the South. Notable ones include Fort Jackson U.S. Army, Fort Hood Army Base, Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Shaw Air Force Base, Pope AFB, Langley AFB, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Fort Hill Army Base, and Norfolk Naval Base.These bases are located in the South for at least two reasons. First, this region has historically developed many U.S. military leaders going back to the Civil War, when many of the top military generals joined the Confederacy, as well as many military leaders of U.S. imperialism in the 20th century. Some of the worst offenders include Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels from North Carolina, who directed the invasion and occupation of Haiti in 1915, and General William Westmoreland, who became infamous during the Vietnam War.  Southern leaders also led imperialist interventions in Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and others. Second, the concentration of bases in the South is due to its proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean and the perpetual threat of U.S. aggression to the Global South.Building a movement that is visible in this stronghold of U.S. imperialism is necessary not only to show solidarity with the victims of U.S. military aggression around the world, but in the long term to organize GIs within the military.Economic concentration as well as militaryNot only is the South the center of U.S. military power, it is increasingly becoming a manufacturing center for U.S. capitalism. While it is still underdeveloped with respect to the rest of the country, it is now home to 30 percent of the manufacturing in the United States, a percentage which is growing due to both run-away shops from the more unionized North and direct foreign investment in new manufacturing. The South now receives 43 percent of all direct foreign investment in the U.S. Toyota, Honda, BMW, Nissan, Hyundai, Mercedes, and Volkswagen all have extensive operations in the South, concentrated in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. These same states are similarly increasingly home-to-domestic steel production.The new manufacturing in the South is not only due to the racist anti-union laws that depress wages, but also the result of billions of dollars in incentives from states and cities that were forced to compete for the investments. These huge corporate giveaways drained the budgets needed to pay public workers and the money needed for housing, education, and infrastructure which was already severely underdeveloped. This makes the South even more vulnerable to human-created and natural disasters such as Hurricanes Floyd, Rita, and Katrina. States are also competing by removing any environmental protections, allowing fracking, and other practices that increase the risk of these disasters.Much has been said in the capitalist press recognizing the importance to the labor movement of organizing these new manufacturing plants, especially in the context of the recent loss at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, but it is more important to understand why that happened. Comrades should carefully review Martha Grevatt’s Feb. 20 article in Workers World, “Volkswagen workers lost. Why?” except to say that an understanding of the history of the South — especially the inextricable links among national oppression, anti-unionism, and anti-communism — is at the center of it.At the same time that manufacturing and foreign investment are increasing in the South, it is also emerging as a center of banking and finance capital, as characteristic of imperialism. In other parts of the Global South, imperialists locate production and steal natural resources, but keep finance capital at home. As part of the imperialist U.S., as well as part of the Global South, the U.S. South is also increasingly a center of finance capital, especially Charlotte, N.C., which is now the second largest banking center in the U.S., trailing only New York. Charlotte is the headquarters of Bank of America and the East Coast headquarters of Wells Fargo. Many other major capitalist conglomerates such as Nucor Steel, Duke Energy, Chiquita, and Time Warner Cable are also located there. Southern organizers began to mobilize directly against the banks in 2012 with the March on Wall Street South and the demonstrations at the BofA shareholders’ meeting. Increasingly Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and other unions are directly targeting the banks as well.The Civil War and Reconstruction: An unfinished revolution for African AmericansMonica Moorehead’s introduction to “A Voice from Harper’s Ferry” should be required reading for any revolutionary or organizer in the U.S. South. There is no need to repeat all of her analysis, but a few points are crucial to understanding where we are now. First, she states that the Civil War was not primarily a war for the liberation of slaves: “It was a class war between two different exploiting classes,” the semi-feudal slaveocracy and the emerging industrial capitalist class of the North. Furthermore the defeat of the confederacy was a military defeat only; the capitalists did not “uproot every vestige of slavery,” which “deter[ed] a transition from a reactionary feudal period to a bourgeois democracy in the South, at least as far as the Black masses were concerned.” In short, freed Black workers were left without the bourgeois democratic rights of other U.S. workers, especially whites — rights often essential to organizing and building political power.During the period of Reconstruction, the Black masses and their white allies made substantial gains toward full legal equality, enacting statutes and constitutional amendments that in some cases were even better than those won through struggle in the Civil Rights movement a century later. Contrary to popular history, these gains were not gifts of a benevolent government. The entire second half of the 19th century was characterized by struggle, often armed struggle, across the South. In North Carolina, Henry Berry Lowery, a Native American leader, led a guerrilla band of freed slaves, Native Americans, and poor whites against the “Home Guard” — the remnants of the Confederacy. When Black workers and white Republicans were able to win control of state governments, they were opposed by armed white supremacist militias: the Ku Klux Klan, the “Red Shirts” in North Carolina, and the “White League” in Louisiana.By the turn of the century Black workers were abandoned entirely by the federal government and the Northern bourgeoisie. Southern white supremacists were left with free reign to strip all democratic rights and impose the apartheid Jim Crow regime. In 1898 in Wilmington, N.C., hundreds of Black leaders were killed in a coup by the white supremacist Democratic Party which took control of the local government. At the same time Klan violence and intimidation, combined with new laws known as the “Black Codes, stripped Blacks of the right to vote and enforced segregation.Continuing role of the state perpetuates racism and national oppressionThe use of state repressive power to enforce racial apartheid is not a historical feature, but ongoing structural racism that has adapted its form to modern conditions still serves the same function. The modern prison-industrial complex, especially in the South, is directly rooted in slavery and Jim Crow. North Carolina’s Central Prison was commissioned by the state in 1868 directly after the Civil War, as were prisons across the South. This new penal system, built with slave labor, emerged as a new tool for the oppression of former slaves.The same system of state violence continues today where the police and the racist courts are the primary tool of racial oppression. The racist death penalty is concentrated in Southern states, especially Texas. So-called “stand-your-ground” laws attempting to legitimize the murder of unarmed Black youth started in the South and are spreading. Police murders of people of color are rampant, notably the murders of Jesus Huerta and Jonathan Ferrell here in North Carolina.Organizing against this racist state and vigilante violence often originates in the South, spreading across the country as in the cases of the Jena 6, Troy Davis, and Trayvon Martin. These movements have attracted more energy, especially among young oppressed workers, than any other movements in recent years. As has been done so successfully in Baltimore, the vehicle of people’s assemblies can unite these movements with workers’ struggles.Industrialization and organizing in the SouthJim Crow emerged just as class consciousness was growing in the rest of the country and socialism was gaining in popularity, but Jim Crow was triumphant. Black workers, former slaves, and sharecroppers fled north in the Great Migration, fleeing poverty, segregation, and Klan terrorism. The bosses attempted to use these new workers to cut wages and undermine organizing drives, playing on the racism of white workers. This tactic has been the primary weapon of U.S. imperialism ever since. The effect was similar to the abolition of the commons in England, driving farmers off their land and bolstering capitalism by supplying needed workers and undermining wages.At the same time, in the process characteristic of modern imperialism, capitalists began moving manufacturing to the South to avoid organized labor, beginning with the textile industry. Huge mills opened across North Carolina, quickly becoming the dominant industry. For the first time communists recognized the critical importance of organizing the South and that it could only be done on the basis of complete anti-racist solidarity. The Communist Party sent organizers to Gastonia, N.C., in the late 1920s, leading to the largest strike in the state’s history that included both Black and white workers, even though the mills were entirely segregated. Similar efforts were undertaken across the South, especially in Alabama among steelworkers, mine workers, and sharecroppers. Ultimately most of these efforts failed due to the racism of Southern whites.This pattern has continued with every organizing effort in the South, which began with the unsuccessful Knights of Labor in the 1880s who endorsed segregation. In 1940, an organizing drive was successful at Reynolds Tobacco Company among the majority Black and women work force, but it was turned back by the racism of the federal courts, which cut Black workers out of the bargaining unit and added white supervisors, breaking the union.After World War II, the last major effort of the Congress of Industrial Organizations was Operation Dixie from 1946 to 1953 — an effort by the more radical of the two national union federations to organize the South. The entire U.S. capitalist class united with Southern white supremacists. The campaign was ultimately defeated by a combination of white supremacy, the anti-communist red scare, and the Taft-Hartley Act, which allowed states to ban strikes and closed union shops. This defeat led directly to a right-wing shift in the labor movement overall, as the CIO was forced to merge with the American Federation of Labor and abandon social unionism in a shift toward business unionism.In 1959, in the early stages of the mass Civil Rights movement that swept the South, North Carolina enacted its last major piece of racist apartheid legislation of the Jim Crow era — a ban on collective bargaining for public workers. As low-wage public workers were disproportionately Black and women workers, this attack on public workers was a racist and sexist attack by the state. Subsequently Virginia passed a similar ban. Because they were successful in the South, the bosses are now expanding this attack across formerly strong union states like Michigan and Wisconsin, which triggered an historic fightback in 2011.This history suggests only two paths that have been repeatedly argued about at least since the Gastonia strike. Either the labor movement can engage in a cowardly attempt to avoid the history of slavery and national oppression and ignore racism, in order to avoid falling victim to the prejudice of Southern whites, or it can take the only path to victory: recognize that a struggle against racism is essential to working-class solidarity and the only hope to organize the South.The changing character of the working classAs Sam Marcy, a founder and chairperson of Workers World Party, noted 30 years ago in his seminal work, High Tech, Low Pay, the social character of the U.S. working class is increasingly women workers and workers of oppressed nationalities in service sector industries. Nowhere is this more true than in the U.S. South, as the preceding history shows. African-American and women workers have always been the largest percentage of semi-skilled workers, and now Latino/a workers make up huge numbers. Latino/a workers are growing as a percentage of the workforce faster in the South than in any other region of the U.S. The states with the fastest growing Latino/a population from 2000 to 2010 were all in the South: South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina, with Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, and Virginia close behind.As of 2010, women make up almost half of North Carolina’s workforce, similar to that in other Southern states, which continues to increase, while the percentage of men in the workforce is decreasing. Women workers are paid significantly less for the same positions. While they are actually more likely than men to hold college and advanced degrees, women make up a much smaller fraction of professional and managerial positions.  They are also much more likely to have only part-time work.The South is also of critical importance to the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer liberation. Despite the fact that LGBTQ workers have always made up large proportions of the working class, and are increasingly coming out and self-organizing, Southern states perpetuate reactionary and anti-gay legislation that is even worse than that seen in the rest of the country.While courts in other states are being pressured to recognize same-sex marriage — most recently in Ohio — not a single Southern state has done so. In fact in 2012 North Carolina became the last state to enact a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Activists flooded into North Carolina in 2012 and worked alongside local organizations to defeat the amendment.  While they were defeated by the right-wing, they left a legacy of resistance that continues to inspire the LGBTQ liberation movement in the South.This changing social character of the working class in the South has profound implications for the movement.Laying the foundation for uniting the anti-racist and labor movementsIn the last 15 years two unions in North Carolina have shown the way toward the necessary anti-racist approach to organizing in the South. In 1997 the United Electrical Workers came to North Carolina at the request of Black Workers for Justice to help organize Black workers at the Consolidated Diesel plant in Rocky Mount and surrounding plants. This organizing expanded to majority Black low-wage public workers in cities, state facilities, and universities with the founding of UE Local 150 in 1999.From the beginning UE-150 and BWFJ’s focus has not been on traditional card-check organizing drives, which have too often led to unions pulling out and abandoning workers after a defeat. Instead the focus has been on building workers’  direct power over working conditions with community and labor solidarity, especially around fighting racism in the workplace, which has led to deep roots in communities across the state. Similarly, beginning with the Mt. Olive Pickle campaign in 1998, FLOC has successfully organized thousands of migrant Latino/a agricultural workers by engaging a broad base of community supporters around not just workplace issues but broader questions of immigrant rights.Learning from these examples, the United Food and Commercial Workers successfully won a contract at the Smithfield plant, the largest pork processing plant in the world in 2009 after a 16-year struggle. The UFCW at times waivered on questions of immigrant rights but ultimately did not abandon the struggle and took the necessary patient, long-term view, uniting Black and Latino/a workers.This approach is now evident in the Service Employees’ fast food worker campaign, which is gaining traction across the South. Organizers are focusing on building community solidarity and workplace actions, rather than short-term card check campaigns. Pushing this movement in an explicitly anti-racist direction and building independent leadership among workers and the community are our most pressing tasks. It is noteworthy that FLOC workers, UE-150 workers, and Smithfield workers all make less than $15 an hour. We must encourage them to identify with the “low-wage” workers struggle as their leadership will be essential to its success.Jackson, Moral Mondays, and the Southern Workers AssemblyAs the economic crisis continues and millions of workers remain unemployed, we know that low-wage capitalism is not a passing phenomenon. Instead the anti-labor policies of the South, with their inherent racism, are being spread North to formerly industrialized and organized states. At the same time, Black leaders in the South are spearheading a new Civil Rights movement, but one that may prove stronger than the old because the conditions of the economic crisis are making the anti-racist struggle inseparable from union struggles and all struggles for social justice.In some ways the economic crisis for our class began with Black and rural workers in the South, who were decimated by the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent “free trade” agreements. North Carolina lost 370,250 manufacturing jobs from 1993 to 2009, and 170,000 textile and apparel jobs between 1997 and 2002. Most of these jobs were in small towns in the Black Belt of North Carolina. Any minimal job growth during that period was in the finance and technological centers of the Research Triangle and Charlotte among a predominantly white work force, which reinforced historic racial divides. Now even those jobs are being lost and wages are being cut. IBM announced another massive round of layoffs in the Research Triangle in February.Understanding the Moral Monday fightback, now spreading from North Carolina across the South, should begin with Saladin Muhammad’s article, “Moral Mondays: The Emergence and Dynamics of a Growing Mass Human Rights Movement.” In it he lays out the roots of Moral Mondays in a 2007 People’s Assembly and in NAACP President Rev. William Barber’s solidarity with UE-150. The people’s assembly program with its 14-point agenda combines labor and Civil Rights demands with opposition to imperialist war and the need for social programs for the unemployed. This year’s historic march of 80,000 workers in Raleigh on Feb. 9 was significant not only because of its mass size and draw from across the South, but even more so because of the large turnouts from labor unions, the youth and student movement, and the environmental justice movement under Black leadership.In Jackson, Mississippi, a people’s assembly movement led to the historic election of Chokwe Lumumba as mayor, whose recent death was a severe blow to our class, but whose success reflects the power of the people’s assembly process. Continued attention to the developments in Jackson will be necessary in the coming months to ensure that the tragic death of Lumumba does not result in a major political setback and to continue to push the assemblies to deeper engagement around workers’ struggles.The Southern Workers Assembly represents a united effort of activists and revolutionaries with BWFJ, FLOC, UE-150, the fast food worker organizing committee, and the UFCW Smithfield local to build a people’s assembly in the South, which not only unites these labor forces but also acts as a conscious independent section in the Moral Monday movement.People’s assemblies are of special importance in the South because of the possibility of using them to overcome the racism and other forms of oppression that have fractured and defeated prior organizing. First, they can build a revolutionary pole within the labor movement and an independent structure that is not beholden to the Democratic Party nor dependent on the funding of international unions that may withdraw their support. Second, and even more importantly, the assemblies provide a forum for the type of patient explanation and discussion that is necessary to win over white workers to the leadership of the most oppressed, to allow all workers to understand the similarities of their situations that transcend industries and nationalities, and to build the ongoing relationships necessary for a protracted struggle.Build the Southern Workers Assembly and All People’s Assemblies!Organize the South!Long Live the People’s Struggle!FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Rallies in U.S. grow stronger for Gaza

first_imgAug. 4 — Protests continued across the U.S. opposing the Israeli assault on the people of Gaza and in solidarity with the resistance in that territory. They included large protests in Austin, Texas, and New York and the first mass demonstration in front of the White House on this issue. A broad coalition issued a call for another major action Aug. 9 to march on the United Nations in New York.The largest Texas demonstration in support of the people of Palestine, called “Texans for Gaza,” took place on Aug. 2 in Austin. More than 6,000 people from around the state came out to the Texas Capitol to rally and march to Austin City Hall. Condemnation of the war on Gaza was strong, militant and powerful.Some 8,000 people rallied Aug. 1 at the CNN offices in the Time-Warner building in New York to condemn that media’s pro-Zionist propaganda and to support the struggle of the Palestinian people in Gaza. Speakers and signs in the crowd at this “Mass Rally to Stand Up with Gaza Against Israeli Crimes” also condemned the U.S. government for its support of Israel.“Every shell, every missile raining down on the people of Gaza is provided free from the United States,” said Bill Dores of Al-Awda.The Answer Coalition, which initiated the Aug. 2 demonstration in Washington, D.C., reports that 50,000 people took part in the march and rally “to protest the ongoing massacre in Gaza and the U.S. government’s support for Israeli war crimes. The massive demonstration received wide media coverage, and is further proof that the world is uniting for Palestine.” (press release, Aug. 3)Students for Justice in Palestine, Al-Awda, immigration and anti-war organizations joined together in Los Angeles Aug. 2 to coincide with the national demonstration in Washington. The Southern California Immigration Coalition and International Action Center participated in a car caravan organized by Unión del Barrio from South Central Los Angeles to the demonstration in Westwood. The theme was “Stop the War on Children, from Gaza to the U.S./Mexican Border.”The previous week, the Southern California Immigration Coalition protested at President Barack Obama’s appearance at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, demanding Obama stop the war on children from Gaza to the U.S. border. More actions are being planned uniting the two struggles in Los Angeles.About 200 people marched in San Francisco‘s Mission District on Aug. 2 as part of the national day of action. The Movimiento Reunificación por la Familia demanded the government end the deportations of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America and release the children held in detention centers to reunite them with their families now.The protest also demanded an end to the bombardment and occupation of Gaza, and demonstrators carried signs showing the relation of the two struggles: “No to bombs and deportations! U.S./Israel, hands off our children!” and “Down with apartheid walls from Palestine to the Rio Grande!”Hundreds of voices demanded “Israel Out of Gaza Now!” at a busy downtown Atlanta intersection where thousands were attending a concert in nearby Centennial Olympic Park on Aug. 2.With red, green, black and white balloons aloft, scores of children led a march through the streets from the CNN Center to the newly opened National Center for Civil and Human Rights. There organizers read the names of about 300 of the more than 1,400 Palestinians killed in Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.Atlanta’s business and political leadership had promoted the creation of the Human Rights Center as a tourist attraction. Opponents of Israeli apartheid and war came to ask the obvious questions, “What about Palestinian civil and human rights?” and “When will the U.S. stop funding and supporting Israeli war crimes?”As the crowd chanted “Free Palestine,” the balloons were released to soar into the bright sunshine. Protest organizers announced weekly demonstrations in front of the Israeli consulate starting Aug. 8.A diverse crowd of Philadelphia activists and Palestine area residents rallied in Love Park on Aug. 1, followed that evening by a fundraising benefit for the people of Gaza. Ayman Nijim reported on his work helping traumatized children and families in Gaza, followed by musical performances by Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, Farah Siraj and Farhad Afsharvand accompanied by Dr. Hasan Shahpari. Proceeds were donated to Kinder USA and Islamic Relief USA, which provide direct humanitarian relief to the people and children of Gaza.Hundreds of people came to the Stop Gaza Genocide & Protest Media Coverage at the Federal Building in downtown San Diego on Aug. 1. Protesters gathered at the Federal Building and marched to NBC headquarters to rally there. They held a long banner against the dark-tinted windows of the NBC building with some of names of men, women and children killed and their cities.Protest participants posted coverage from ABC, NBC and FOX on the Facebook event page. One participant’s comment on NBC’s coverage was, “All they gave us was a 10-second bit and focused more on the Israeli right to defend itself. … What a horrible controlled one-sided news station!!!”San Diego’s fourth protest was called by Al-Awda, San Diego Palestinian Right to Return Coalition and supported by many groups that plan to demonstrate every Friday from 4-7 p.m. at the Federal Building.FightBack! News reports that 150 people gathered in St. Paul, Minn., for Women Against Military Madness’ third weekly Friday Palestine vigil, Aug. 1. Chants of “Free Palestine” drew supportive honks from drivers.Protesters heard from Sherine Mashni, who is a family member of both 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair, who was killed by Israeli settlers, and of 15-year-old Tariq Khieder, who was beaten and arrested by Israeli police and then kept on house arrest before finally being allowed to return home to Tampa, Fla. Mashni thanked the crowd for protesting and continuing to demand an end to the attack on Gaza.This week’s vigil also addressed the case of Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, who had a court date in Detroit the day before.Demonstrations July 31 in Tucson, Ariz., and Aug. 1 in Tampa, Fla., raised the same points as the one in St. Paul, inlcuding “Justice for Rasmea, justice for Palestine.”Along with sources cited in the text, contributing to this article were Gloria Rubac, G. Dunkel, John Parker, Dianne Mathiowetz, Joe Piette, Terri Kay and Gloria Verdieu, with editing by John Catalinotto.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Fighting for $15 minimum wage in the South

first_imgAtlanta, March 21.Atlanta — With fists pumping in the air, some 500 low-wage workers from across the South filled the sanctuary of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church here with a resounding chant on March 21 to open a one-day mobilizing conference. “I believe that we will win” was the defining slogan as fast food, Walmart, home health care, child care, college adjuncts, retail and auto parts workers gathered from as far away as Missouri and Texas, Virginia and North Carolina to build for the April 15 “Fight for $15” day of action.Many participants wore the brightly colored T-shirts of their area’s campaign to win economic justice and a liveable wage.Underlining the confidence that they will win, program speakers listed the achievements of their young movement — such as legislation in states and cities across the country raising the minimum wage as high as $15 an hour in Seattle and Los Angeles, and decisions wrestled from Walmart and others to raise beginning pay by a dollar an hour.Most speakers were young people of color whose stories of hard work and poverty conditions resonated with an audience that cheered them on when they confessed to being nervous about speaking before such a large crowd.Dozens came from the Ferguson and St. Louis area. Burger King worker Carlos Robinson connected the police terror to the poverty wages that propelled resistance among youth to the murder of Michael Brown last Aug. 9.Three of the Memphis sanitation workers, whose 1968 historic strike won the support of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther KIng Jr., were featured in a special panel that connected the fight against racism with the struggle for union rights, decent pay and safe working conditions.Expressing their enthusiasm for the upcoming national day of action in April, when many tens of thousands of low-wage workers and their allies will march and rally in hundreds of cities, the conference spilled out of the church and took to the streets of Atlanta.The activists took over Atlanta’s famous Auburn Avenue on the way to the McDonald’s next to Grady Hospital.The chanting crowd surged into the restaurant, demanding the fast food giant raise the workers’ pay to $15 an hour. A 23-year-old McDonald’s worker, Robertson Anderson, jumped over the counter and marched out of the building to the cheers and applause of the jubilant group. Anderson, who said he had not known about the campaign before, stated: “I do know one thing. Everyone deserves $15 an hour.”That’s the message sure to grow stronger across the South and the whole country on April 15 and beyond.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Where is Kenya’s Field Marshal Kimathi buried?

first_imgField Marshal Kimathi ‘smonument in Nairobi.The British ruling class has lavished millions to rebury King Richard III, who was killed 530 years ago. Almost $3 million was spent on the tomb alone. (The Telegraph, March 22)Yet British colonialism still refuses to reveal where the body of Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi is buried. Kimathi, a leader of Kenya’s Land and Freedom Army, was hanged on Feb. 18, 1957.Being captured with a loaded revolver was enough to send this African freedom fighter to the gallows.Queen Victoria’s storm troopers seized Kenya in 1895. Aristocrats stole the land with Lord Delamere alone grabbing 160,000 acres.Africans were forced at gunpoint into “native reserves,” which were modeled on Indian reservations in the United States.Oppression sparked resistance. When 8,000 Africans rallied in Nairobi on March 14, 1922, to protest the exiling of African leader Harry Thuku, police opened fire.White settlers standing on the Norfolk Hotel’s porch joined in the shooting. Fifty-eight Africans were murdered.The East African Trade Union Congress was founded on May 1, 1949. The average yearly wage of African workers in Kenya was then $73.On May Day in 1950, the EATUC issued a call for independence and majority rule. These genuine labor leaders in Kenya were immediately arrested by British Prime Minister Clement Attlee of the “Labour Party.”One hundred thousand workers joined a general strike to protest. Nairobi was paralyzed for nine days. It took a mobilization of the British army and colonial police to crush this uprising.Freedom demanded that an armed struggle be launched. Kenya’s Land and Freedom Army was born.Kenya’s colonial governor, Evelyn Baring, responded by declaring a state of emergency on Oct. 20, 1952. The governor’s family controlled Barings Bank, founded in 1762 by the slave trader Francis Baring. Baring himself was named a baron in 1960.Media helped lynch freedom fightersShakespeare’s play, “Richard III,” probably slandered this king. That’s not surprising since Queen Elizabeth I — a member of the Tudor family gang that wasted Richard’s Plantagenet family and seized the throne — was then ruling England.But Shakespeare’s slanders were nothing in comparison with the world capitalist media lies against freedom fighters in Kenya, who were labeled “Mau Mau.”Sixty years ago, the media called Jomo Kenyatta, who later became the leader of independent Kenya, a “terrorist.” His son, Uhuru Kenyatta, is Kenya’s current president.Baring ordered the colonial police to frame up Jomo Kenyatta and other independence fighters and imprison them. There was no jury.According to Caroline Elkins’ Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Imperial Reckoning,” Baring guaranteed a conviction by paying the judge a 20,000 pound bribe.Baring hoped Kenyatta’s frame-up would demoralize Africans. It ignited years of guerrilla warfare instead.Mau Mau fighters liberated weapons and ammunition from the colonialist army and police. Mau Mau-supporting blacksmiths made hundreds of guns.Britain mobilized 55,000 soldiers and cops to fight the Mau Mau. The Royal Air Force bombed guerrilla strongholds in Aberdares Forest and Kirinyaga.Caroline Elkins estimated that the colonial forces threw 300,000 Kenyans into concentration camps and forced another million into 800 “emergency villages” built with the Africans’ own slave labor.For Africans in Kenya, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was their Hitler. Guards used Alsatian dogs to maul women inmates at the Athi River camp, and the guards themselves clubbed prisoners arriving at the Manyani camp.Six hundred children were confined in Kamati camp alone. Almost none survived.Prisoners labeled as “hard-core Mau Mau” were selected to bury the children. “They would be tied in bundles of six babies,” recalled former inmate Helen Macharia.Uncle Sam helped this genocide by financing Nairobi’s Embakasi Airport. Now called Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, it was built by the slave labor of Mau Mau prisoners.According to David Anderson’s “Histories of the Hanged,” 1,090 Africans were hanged in Kenya during this righteous uprising. Just for supplying food to guerrilla fighters — labeled “consorting” — the British settlers sent 207 people to their deaths.A posse led by Ian Henderson, a notorious torturer of Mau Mau suspects, finally captured Field Marshal Kimathi on Oct. 21, 1956. Henderson’s cruelty couldn’t stop the freedom struggle.Twenty thousand Mau Mau guerrillas didn’t die in vain. Kenya declared its independence on Dec. 12, 1963.Henderson later spent 30 well-paid years as head of Bahrain’s secret police. On June 3, 1997, anti-war leader and British Parliament member George Galloway told the House of Commons that Henderson was a war criminal.Mau Mau veterans filed a suit in 2006 against the British government for reparations, charging it with systematic torture of Kenyan freedom fighters.Africa remembers its heroes. Kimathi’s execution is commemorated and streets are named in his honor. A statue of Dedan Kimathi was unveiled in Nairobi on Dec. 11, 2006.When Nelson Mandela visited Kenya, he asked to see where Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi was buried.But the British imperialists still refuse to reveal this hero’s burial site.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Hands off Grigory Petrenko! The whole world is watching!

first_imgTo add your name/organization to the appeal, email: [email protected]ntMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this To Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti, U.S. President Barack Obama, Head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker:To officials of Moldova, the European Union and the United States:The life of Moldovan political prisoner Grigory Petrenko is in danger. We join with people around the world to demand guarantees for his safety and immediate release from prison.On Nov. 18, attorney Ana Ursachi reported that the Moldovan government, dominated by oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, may be preparing to physically eliminate opposition political leader Petrenko. The regime has spread false information in the media about a connection between Petrenko and two young men arrested on Nov. 13 in Chisinau as alleged “Donbass mercenaries.”Last week, we learned that Petrenko was deliberately exposed to the danger of tuberculosis infection by being taken for daily walks in a courtyard reserved exclusively for TB patients. On Oct. 18, Petrenko was subjected to physical abuse during an illegal and unauthorized nighttime raid on his prison cell by anonymous employees of the Department of Penitentiary Institutions.Petrenko and six of his colleagues were singled out for arrest during a peaceful demonstration on Sept. 6, 2015, and have been held under “preventive arrest” ever since. Their detention has been extended three times so far.On Sept. 30, members of all factions of the Parliamentary Association of the Council of Europe (PACE), of which Petrenko is a former leader and honorary member, signed a statement demanding the immediate release of the political prisoners.The torturous and degrading conditions of imprisonment have been brought to the attention of the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the U.S. Embassy and other bodies, but no action has been forthcoming.Moldova’s pro-Western, oligarch-dominated regime is the responsibility of the European and U.S. governments, which supported its rise and grip on power for their own geostrategic and profit-driven interests. If anything befalls Grigory Petrenko and his fellow political prisoners, the responsibility will rest on the heads of officials in Washington and Brussels, as well as Chisinau.It is time to act now to secure the release of Grigory Petrenko and his fellow political prisoners, before it is too late! Gregory Butterfield, coordinator, Solidarity with Ukraine Anti-fascists Committee (USA)International Action Center (USA)last_img read more

Rochester, N.Y., Latino/as protest in support of Black Lives Matter

first_img’Latinos Unidos Con Black Lives Matter’ in Rochester, N.Y., Aug. 4.Rochester, N.Y. — On Aug. 4, a Latina/o group stunned the Rochester Police Department with a militant demonstration in front of the Rochester Public Safety Building.T-shirts and signs proclaimed the group’s purpose: “Latinos Unidos Con Black Lives Matter” — solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.The cops were frantic. Although the protest was completely peaceful, bus traffic was diverted from the demonstration site, concrete barriers were erected, and most RPD employees were sent home early. The Public Safety Building was closed from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. because of the protest.Last month, police arrested over 70 protesters at a BLM rally in Rochester. Police actions, which included brutalizing some demonstrators and the arrest of two Black journalists, have brought them considerable local criticism.Ana Casserly, an activist and advocate for local Latina/o families, said the rally was meant to show unity among African-American and Latina/o people on the issue of policing in minority communities. “All together, we can make a difference, live together and make a difference,” she said. (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Aug. 5)Casserly said it’s important for the two groups to stand together, as they have much in common. BLM advocates also attended the rally.Juan Collado, 16, and one of the rally organizers, said: “The people need to hear about all of us. We’re united with Black Lives Matter. … We’re still humans and we’re still people. All of us need to be together.” (Democrat & Chronicle)The protest took place on the eve of the local Puerto Rican festival. For nearly a decade, the RPD has routinely harassed impromptu parades that often march on the last day of the festival.Rochester has a large Latina/o population for the size of the city, about 35,000 out of 210,000. These Latina/os are subject to similar kinds of discrimination and oppression that other Black and Brown people experience in housing, education, jobs and poverty, as well as police harassment.Rochester has the second highest child poverty rate in the U.S for similarly sized cities. Over one-third of city residents live in poverty. Over 50 percent of Rochester’s children are poor. (Democrat & Chronicle, Nov 19, 2014)In 2014, the RPD had a racial arrest disparity rate greater than that of Ferguson, Mo. (Democrat & Chronicle)The signs of solidarity between Latina/os and the BLM movement are a significant and welcome development, and should be supported by progressive people everywhere.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Youth light up Cuba meeting

first_imgThe annual meeting of the National Network on Cuba included a public event at the University of Illinois in Chicago on Nov. 19-20. Arriving guests viewed images of Cuba’s historic leader Fidel Castro taken by Roberto Chile for Fidel’s 90th birthday. The speakers, cultural presentations and audience itself showed the depth of support in the U.S. for the Cuban Revolution. New generations showed their strength, involvement and leadership.With the recent easing of U.S. government restrictions that had long blocked Cuban representatives from traveling outside New York City and Washington, D.C., this meeting opened broader dialogue in the U.S.First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy Miguel Fraga, director of the North American Division of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) Sandra Ramirez and Leima Martinez, also representing ICAP, shared the podium with Jose López, brother of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera; Aislinn Pulley, of the Black Lives Matter movement; and Harold Rogers, of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.Not realizing that a week later Fidel Castro would die, 35-year-old Cuban Martinez answered questions about what would happen in Cuba without Fidel. She replied, “The young people in Cuba are there to continue his work and ideas. Young people in Cuba feel identified with the objectives of the revolution. … Every policy that has been implemented in Cuba during all the years by the revolution, but mainly during the last five years, has been supported by the young people in Cuba. In fact, the young people are involved in every aspect of the updates of the social and economic model in Cuba.“Those who have visited Cuba know much about what the youth are doing in the university, in the research centers. They are leading the most important aspects of the dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba, because we have identified health care exchanges and so on. We are also proud to say that young people all over the world celebrated the 90th birthday of Fidel, as well as in Cuba.”Chicago anti-racists look to CubaIn a city infamous for racism, police outrages and economic hardship, Aislinn Pulley, co-founder and lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Chicago, came to the meeting from the funeral of yet another victim of police killings. She rejected the “duopoly” of the Democratic and Republican parties, pointing out that Chicago’s mayor is a Democrat, but the police killings continue. The elected officials in Ferguson, Mo., are also Democrats.She asked, “What does justice look like? What is an alternative to the present misery so many people are living in? When we struggle we can win. When we fight we do win. That is the lesson of Cuba. Despite being a tiny country of 10 million-plus people and only 90 miles from the shore of the largest superpower the world has known, the Cuban Revolution is alive and thrives.”Noting that she had been to Cuba three times, Pulley said, “The example of Cuba, particularly in the work I have been involved in, is really important because of the mothers whose children were murdered by the [Batista] dictatorship. They took the streets in Havana and they led marches. And it is the mothers who are leading the marches here in Chicago and across this country. It is the example of that resistance that we emulate, that can teach us to look beyond the mythology of the duopoly in this country, to create a system that is actually provided for and governed by the majority of the populace. The possibility of Cuba is not a mythology. It is a reality.”Jessie Fuentes asked the audience to sign petitions to free Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar López Rivera before presenting her spoken word composition “New Puerto Rico.” Andrea Meza delivered spoken word titled “Struggle across borders.”Abeeku Ricks, a 2016 graduate of Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), shared his gratitude to Cuba and explained how different education is in Cuba. “My generation is the health care activists in the world. In the 60s Cuba sent soldiers, now they are sending doctors. Fidel Castro called it one of his greatest accomplishments, the army of white coats.”Ricks shared that he has friends and family members who have been killed by police here: “Our lives do matter. Cuba put it into perspective how Black people can replicate the Cuban revolution. Cuba has a place in my heart.”Earlier in the day, in a series of panel discussions, Ricks and fellow ELAM graduate Dr. Erlyne Hyppolite discussed Cuba’s health care model.Four Venceremos Brigadistas crafted an interactive discussion to look at anti-oppression and anti-racism as a priority in Cuba solidarity work.The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization and the National Lawyers Guild alerted the meeting to two serious attacks on the Cuba solidarity movement. U.S. government agencies are attempting to punish IFCO for its Friendshipment Caravans by stripping the parent organization of its tax-exempt status, and they are attempting to fine Floridian Albert Fox $100,000 for traveling to Cuba. IFCO outlined its plans to organize against the U.S. blockade of Cuba with caravans in April and a travel challenge in July.A fourth panel examined the definition of ethical travel to Cuba, describing a new organization of travel providers called RESPECT, whose stated principles encourage respect for Cuba’s laws, regulations and sovereignty when planning travel there.Video of these panels and the public meeting are available at, and will be posted soon to thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Chilean women march for rights

first_imgBy Lucha Rodriguez and Janet MillerSantiago, ChileThousands of women and their supporters took to the streets in Valparaiso and Santiago, Chile, on Nov. 25 to demand an end to violence against women and children in their country. Every sector of women participated in the large marches, including trade unionists, members of lesbian organizations, Indigenous women and students.Organized by the Chilean Network Against Violence Toward Women, the loud, militant protest occupied almost 20 blocks of a large boulevard here in the capital. ­Protesters chanted along the way, while paste-up teams plastered the sidewalk with information as the march went by.Demonstrators demanded a response by the government to the frequent violence victimizing women. Although this was the march’s main theme, there were contingents demanding abortion rights, lesbian/bi rights, equal pay for women and an end to male chauvinism.Chants were loud and forceful. One demanded women get out of the kitchen, and another criticized the Catholic church: “Get your rosary out of my vagina.” Many of the main organizers were from the universities.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Public letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury from Venezuelan vice president

first_imgVenezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, left, with President Nicolás Maduro.The Bolivarian government of Venezuela is fighting back against the outrageous allegations and sanctions levied against Vice President Tareck El Aissami by the Trump administration on Feb. 13. The U.S. has accused him of being an international drug kingpin with millions of dollars in assets in the United States to be frozen. The opposite is true. President Nicolás Maduro on Feb. 14 went on national television in Venezuela demanding a retraction and formal apology from the U.S. Workers World freely shares here a public letter from Vice President El Aissami, published as a full-page ad in the New York Times on Feb. 22. The letter has been lightly edited by WW.Mr. Steven T. MnuchinWashington, D.C.I write to you as a Venezuelan citizen and in my capacity as Executive Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, … [in] reply to the issuance of sanctions against me by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last Tuesday, Feb. 13.First, in your capacity as OFAC Authority you have been deceived by political sectors, lobbyists and stakeholders in the U.S. whose essential interest is to prevent the United States and Venezuela from restoring their political and diplomatic relations on the basis of mutual recognition and respect.These stakeholders not only lack any evidence to demonstrate the extremely serious accusations against me, but they also have built a false-positive case in order to criminalize — through me — the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a country that is decidedly waging a war on the transnational drug trafficking business.You should be aware that when I headed the public security corps of my country, in 2008-2012, our fight against drug cartels achieved the greatest progress in our history and in the western hemisphere, both in terms of the transnational drug trafficking business and their logistics structures.During those years, the Venezuelan anti-drug enforcement authorities under my leadership captured, arrested and brought 102 heads of criminal drug trafficking organizations not only to Venezuelan justice but also to the justice of other countries where they were wanted.From these 102 captured drug lords, 21 were promptly deported to the USA and 36 to Colombia, in accordance with the requests made by the authorities of each country and in compliance with the international agreements on the fight against organized crime, facts formally acknowledged by the U.S. and Colombian authorities.Between 2005 and 2013, the seizure of drugs by the Venezuelan authorities averaged 56.61 tons per year, which is a far higher figure than the 34.94 tons per year averaged in the six preceding years, when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency was operating in Venezuela.This figure shows by itself the lack of commitment of the DEA to fighting drug trafficking, and upholds the very well-documented assertion of the connections between that U.S. agency with the criminal drug organizations. In addition, Venezuela has always been recognized by the United Nations as a drug-free territory.The extraordinary progress made by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the fight against drug trafficking — which I directed in my capacity as head of the public security corps — was acknowledged by international organizations, such as the United Nations Organization, and appears in the archives of the judicial bodies of the United States and Colombia, which countries also acknowledged the efforts that I headed against organized crime, which is unprecedented in our hemisphere.Further, [with] firm determination to face the international drug trafficking mafia, President Nicolas Maduro enacted a law in 2012 enabling the interdiction of any drug-trafficking aircraft violating Venezuelan airspace.Thanks to this modern legal instrument, Venezuela has destroyed, disabled or brought down over 100 aircraft belonging to the drug transport structure from Colombia and neighboring countries illegally flying over our territory.Venezuela is waging an all-out war against drugs because it is a cross-border crime against humanity, and because such fight is a shared responsibility, as members of the international community.Venezuela also fights drug cartels because our country and our people are victims of drug trafficking, particularly of the powerful Colombian illegal drug industry, the main supplier of the drug that floods the streets of the United States and Europe.You would need to investigate further before endorsing such false and reckless accusation, crafted by bureaucrats and anti-Venezuelan stakeholders, which sets a dangerous precedent in the relation between sovereign nations.The decision of 120 countries to reject these illegal measures adopted against Venezuela clearly demonstrates that this unilateral decision is a serious error of the U.S. administration, contrary to international law.But beyond any political and geopolitical considerations, OFAC’s decision constitutes a serious violation against my human rights and seriously damages my dignity and honor. I have led my personal, professional and political life in my country, which I love deeply and to which I devote my life through a political project whose supreme objective is the happiness of our people, equality and social justice.I have no assets or accounts in the United States or in any country of the world, and it is both absurd and pathetic that [a U.S.] administrative body — without presenting any evidence — adopts a measure to freeze goods and assets that I do not own at all.The intended sanctions, approved by the head of OFAC, on the very day of his confirmation as Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, are illegal and in violation of International Law. Acting ex officio and without any evidence, as an extraterritorial police and without having powers to do so, is a format that violates the entire international human rights system, whose doctrine prevails in the world.Paradoxically, whereas a governmental office dares to accuse, without evidence, people anywhere in the world — as recognized by the international organizations and academic research —  the “war on drugs” has failed all over the planet and especially in the U.S.Today more drugs are brought into the United States than ever before, while a corrupt and legal powerful financial structure legitimizes and recycles dirty money from this international illegal activity, which deprives thousands of [U.S.] young people of their life and future.The United States owes the world and their own people a reflection on the resounding failure of their fight against drugs. In the country where theso-called “war on drugs” has been implemented as a unilateral strategy, the drug cartels today are stronger than ever; the production of illegal drugs has multiplied, bringing about economic losses and, more importantly, more loss of human lives.How many chiefs of criminal drug organizations have been captured by the U.S in its territory? How many banks and tax havens have been closed down by the U.S. for supporting this gigantic illegal business and crime against humanity?Even though the U.S. claims an extraterritorial power to certify, accuse and punish people and countries, it has failed to ratify any of the international treaties concerning this sensitive issue.The United States must rethink this matter and rectify, particularly as to the application of policies and measures that are clearly against international laws and are aggressive and unfair in the realm of human rights; in addition, they are dangerous for international relations and unconstitutional in light of the U.S Constitution itself.The U.S. should [recognize] that only through joint, transparent and honest cooperation between the States, can the fruits the international community and world citizens be harvested.I am a Venezuelan citizen, I am a Bolivarian and a Latin American. I am fully convinced of the ideals of independence, justice and freedom for which our liberators gave their lives and I am willing to submit to the same fate in the defense of our sovereignty, our Homeland and our People.Tareck El AissamiExecutive Vice PresidentBolivarian Republic of VenezuelaFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more