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Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite!
August 30, 2012
Vol. 54, No. 34
Police massacre striking miners
South Africa at a crossroads
By Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire Aug. 20 — Striking platinum miners have defied Lonmin Platinum PLC’s back to work orders and continue their job action in Marikana, South Africa, despite a horrific police massacre and threats of termination. This is the British-based, multibilliondollar firm’s latest ultimatum to the mineworkers, who walked off their jobs on Aug. 10 to protest low salaries and poor working conditions. On Aug. 16, police opened fire with automatic weapons on hundreds of striking miners, killing 34 workers and wounding 78 others. They failed to disperse from a hill near the mining facility, which is located outside Rustenburg in South Africa’s North West province. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma declared a week of mourning. The South African people have been in a state of shock and outrage since a week of violence culminated with the police massacre of the striking miners. On Aug. 18, family members of the slain, wounded and arrested miners demonstrated near the Lonmin facilities, demanding information on the fate of their loved ones. The authorities also arrested 259 miners. Some appeared in court on Aug. 20, when they were remanded to stay in custody and a hearing was set for Aug. 27. Other arrested workers have not been located. Despite orders to return to work, it appears that most rock-drill operators and their assistants have refused to listen to the company bosses. They are demanding their monthly pay be increased from R4,000 ($480) to R12,500 ($1,560). The situation at the Marikana mines had been tense for days when at least 3,000 rock-drill operators, out of a 35,000-member workforce, embarked on a wildcat strike. Ten people were killed before the massacre; several were union organizers and sympathizers of the National Union of Mineworkers, the largest mining union, an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and an ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Two police officers were also killed in the wildcat strike, which is not recognized as a legitimate labor action by the NUM. A smaller rival trade union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, has been organizing in the Marikana mines and other platinum facilities. AMCU has denied provoking workers to take out their frustration on the larger COSATU affiliate. Both unions have blasted Lonmin Platinum for its failure to raise salaries and improve conditions within the mines and in the surrounding communities. Deplorable conditions in the platinum mines The platinum industry in South Africa is the largest in the world, covering 80 percent of the globe’s strategic mineral. Platinum prices dropped in recent months after a period of trading at rates higher than gold. Although the country is rich in platinum reserves, the overall impact of mining this natural resource has been devastating for workers, their families and their communities. The workers’ anger and frustration have boiled over in recent months as violence has erupted in several of South Africa’s mining facilities. Vusimuzi Mathosi, who was laid off along with 2,000 workers from the Aquarius Platinum mine at Everest, is a member of AMCU. He said, “This place can only be sustained with platinum. What can we do now?” (Reuters, Aug. 19) Aquarius closed its mining facilities due to the worsening security conditions in the mines. At the Marikana Mines, where the Aug. 16 massacre occurred, community residents have spoken out. A Wonderkop resident, Kitumetse, who has two sisters who work in the mines, said: “Our village is right next to the mine. … We all witnessed the shocking events of last week. … Lonmin should have inContinued on page 7
SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE
From Atlanta to Phoenix, from Dallas to Detroit, on Aug. 17 — the International Quds Day, an annual event that began in 1979 to commemorate the last Friday of Ramadan — activists from Australia to Iran demonstrated solidarity with the Palestinian people. Houston was one of 20 U.S. and seven Canadian cities where activists joined with millions worldwide to denounce Zionism. In nearly 100-degree weather, Houston Muslims who were fasting for Ramadan could not drink water but chanted loud and clear, “No justice, no peace” and “Down with Zionism” at Houston’s busiest intersection. A dozen young children enjoyed alleviating the scorching, hot sunshine by using spray bottles to squirt water on people’s faces. According to Houston organizer Madiha B. Zaidi, “This demand for justice will take place every year until Palestine will be free from Zionist hands!”
— Report and photo by Gloria Rubac
ALL OUT! PROTEST RNC, DNC
By Dianne Mathiowetz Residents of Tampa Bay, Fla., are about to have their lives disrupted, not by a hurricane but by the heavily scripted exercise in political propaganda that is the Republican National Convention. Starting Aug. 27, roads and bridges will be closed, area businesses and schools shuttered, transportation services altered and heavily armed police will be everywhere. For four days, those who call Tampa Bay home will be excluded from the downtown convention area and subject to police search. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent, not to help struggling homeowners or to keep needed public services open, but to purchase high-tech surveillance equipment and the latest in crowd-control weapons. Untold millions are being spent by corporations to wine and dine the delegates and media representatives at high-priced hotels and restaurants. City parks are being reserved for this excess, including one with a 3,000-square-foot tent. What the Coalition to March on the RNC labels the “Republican agenda” is expected to bring thousands of workers, students, women, immigrants, seniors —
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in other words, the 99% — into the streets to demand jobs, health care, education, equality and peace. In response to that right to assemble, protest and speak, city leaders and RNC organizers developed a web of new ordinances, restricting the most elementary of free speech and assembly rights and expanding police powers — all the while engaging in a devious Continued on page 5
SPAIN Food raids 6
ECUADOR Assange asylum 6
August 30, 2012
Marxist classes expose ‘failings of capitalism’
By Bryan G. Pfeifer Charlotte, N.C. Workers World Party sponsored a dynamic Marxist School of Theory and Struggle in Charlotte, N.C., the week of Aug. 12. The school was initiated by the Durham, N.C., branch of WWP. Class leaders and other participants discussed a wide range of Marxist-Leninist theory and activism over the course of six days. Members, candidate members and friends of Workers World Party attended in person or video conferenced in from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In the spirit of Marxism, class attendees also participated in mobilizing for March on Wall Street South building activities during the week. The classes were multinational and multigendered in character and very much youth-oriented. WWP First Secretary Larry Holmes, led two classes and spoke at a public forum at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte along with Workers World/Mundo Obrero editor, Berta Joubert-Ceci. WWP Secretariat members, Sara Flounders, Monica Moorehead and Deirdre Griswold, also helped lead classes. Topics included the role of state repression; Marxist economics; national oppression and racism; the bourgeois elections; women’s oppression; a class view of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer oppression; a history of Workers World Party; the tasks of a Marxist-Leninist Party; imperialism; Africa; and Ireland. A special youth and student discussion focused on how to engage more young people in building the movement. Wayne Borders, a hotel worker from Columbia, S.C., told WW: “Attending the Marxist school has increased greatly my understanding of the principles which guide the party. The class discussions were the most engaging exchanges in which I have ever participated, especially in a classroom setting. Classroom discussions threaded the history of workers with the events of the time. And the relaxed, yet thoughtfully challenging presentations of each instructor contained so much history, it was clear to me that our collective past remains obscured by all manner of privileges and unacknowledged suppression. “My time at the Marxist school has afforded me yet an even deeper understanding of the failings of capitalism and the global elite who are attempting to maintain it at on a global, as well as local, scale. My belief in the need for global solidarity has also been strengthened. I realized long before finishing high school that the United States was indeed one of the world’s least progressive nations, notably in terms of being a nation of people who fundamentally seek the betterment of humanity. I knew this did not have to be, and the change that is necessary would have to be exceptional, perhaps even extreme. I have never been more convinced, after the Marxist school, that revolutions are always exceptional, always extreme. And for the lives of the working people of the world, a revolution away from capitalism is necessary. Our power resides in our solidarity.” Michael Z. Ladson, a 20-year-old student from the Philadelphia branch of Workers World Party, drove to the South to participate in the Marxist School of Theory and Struggle. “To paraphrase Lenin, there is no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory. Our approach to the Democratic National Convention and understanding the role of the two capitalist parties is inseparable from ideas such as the world revolutionary struggle or understanding racism and national oppression,” said Ladson. He added: “I was born in November 1991 and before I was two months old the Soviet Union had completely collapsed and the red flag was lowered over the Kremlin. Throughout those 20 years it’s become clear that capitalism doesn’t offer any real alternative or solution. And like many millions of other young people and students in both the United States but also around the world today our generation has a very clear feeling and understanding, almost instinct, that the system we have can’t be the system of the future. The Marxist classes were important because they exposed young people to the ideas that will determine the future of humanity.” Griswold, a founding member of Workers World Party and editor of the party’s newspaper, traveled from New York to participate in some of the classes. The last time Griswold had been in North Carolina was in 1962, representing Workers World Party in a multinational delegation sent by the Monroe Defense Committee to support Robert F. Williams and other African Americans who had organized armed self-defense against the Ku Klux Klan. Griswold made a return visit to Monroe, N.C., on Aug. 17 after the Marxist school was completed. “What impresses me is the way in which this is a combination of action and learning at the same time. The comrades who are in these classes on many aspects of Marxist ideas and historical developments are also going out every day and participating and mobilizing for the March on Wall Street South. To me, that’s the essence of Marxism-Leninism: to be both an activist but to have a clear purpose in mind, know what you’re doing, know what your objectives are, to study the questions of strategy and tactics, to understand the differences between various political tendencies that exist and at the same time get out there and work with whomever you can work with in achieving an immediate goal that moves the struggle forward,” said Griswold. She added, referring to the class attendees: “It’s overwhelmingly youth. They’re young people. They’re a confirmation of our party’s view of the conditions of capitalism at the present time, its decay, its degeneration, the multiplying of problems for people just to be able to live, to be able to go to school, to get medical care, to have an income. All these problems are generating a new consciousness. It’s a consciousness of wanting to struggle. The Marxist school represents the fact that people who have been through mobilizations want to go further in understanding what it is we are struggling for, what we need to do. They are young and full of energy and life. It’s what we’ve been living for these last decades of political reaction: to see the dawning of a period like this.”
this week ...
In the U.S.
Houston solidarity with Palestine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 All out! Protest RNC , DNC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Marxist classes expose ‘failings of capitalism’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Mumia Abu-Jamal on “The hour of the wolf” . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 People’s library opens despite police repression. . . . . . . . . . 3 School workers ght denial of unemployment bene ts . . 4 Montclair students ght tuition hike . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Giveback contract whets Wall St.’s appetite. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 On the picket line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Activists gear up for March on Wall St. South . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Around the world
South Africa at a crossroads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Chavela Vargas: A rebel artist who thrilled millions . . . . . . . 3 Latin Americans defy U.S., back Ecuador . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Mayor in Spain leads food raids for the people . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Free Cuban 5! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 ’We are all Asotrecol’. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Support Syria against U.S.-NATO! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Noticias En Español
Honduras : La lucha se intensi ca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Workers World 55 West 17 Street New York, N.Y. 10011 Phone: 212.627.2994 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.workers.org Vol. 54, No. 34 • Aug. 30, 2012 Closing date: Aug. 21, 2012 Editor: Deirdre Griswold Technical Editor: Lal Roohk Managing Editors: John Catalinotto, LeiLani Dowell, Leslie Feinberg, Kris Hamel, Monica Moorehead, Gary Wilson West Coast Editor: John Parker Contributing Editors: Abayomi Azikiwe, Greg Butterfield, Jaimeson Champion, G. Dunkel, Fred Goldstein, Teresa Gutierrez, Larry Hales, Berta Joubert-Ceci, Cheryl LaBash, Milt Neidenberg, Bryan G. Pfeifer, Betsey Piette, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Gloria Rubac Technical Staff: Sue Davis, Shelley Ettinger, Bob McCubbin, Maggie Vascassenno Mundo Obrero: Carl Glenn, Teresa Gutierrez, Berta Joubert-Ceci, Donna Lazarus, Michael Martínez, Carlos Vargas Supporter Program: Sue Davis, coordinator Copyright © 2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of articles is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World (ISSN-1070-4205) is published weekly except the first week of January by WW Publishers, 55 W. 17 St., N.Y., N.Y. 10011. Phone: 212.627.2994. Subscriptions: One year: $30; institutions: $35. Letters to the editor may be condensed and edited. Articles can be freely reprinted, with credit to Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., New York, NY 10011. Back issues and individual articles are available on microfilm and/or photocopy from University Microfilms International, 300 Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106. A searchable archive is available on the Web at www.workers.org. A headline digest is available via e-mail subscription. Subscription information is at workers.org/email.php. Periodicals postage paid at New York, N.Y. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
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August 30, 2012
A rebel artist who thrilled millions
By Bob McCubbin Chavela Vargas, born Isabel Vargas Lizano in the town of San Joaquín de Flores, Costa Rica, died at the age of 93 in Cuernavaca, México, on Aug. 5. A singer as well as a sex and gender rebel, Vargas emigrated to Mexico at the age of 14 and lived most of her life there as a naturalized Mexican citizen. Vargas brought to “ranchera,” a traditional Mexican song genre, a unique and heart-wrenching interpretation. Mexican writer, critic and social activist Carlos Monsiváis described this on the liner notes of the CD “Chavela at Carnegie Hall” as “a dimension in which music and lyrics conspire to elicit latenight confessions, incinerated intimate secrets, and hallucinations of desire.” Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who featured Vargas’ singing in some of the films he directed, described her sound as “la voz áspera de la ternura” (“the rough voice of tenderness”). In Julie Taymor’s 2002 film “Frida,” Vargas sings the Mexican classic rancheras “La Llorona” and “Paloma Negra.” Many of the written appreciations of Vargas’ life note that she only came out publicly as a lesbian at the age of 81 in her autobiography, “Y si quieres saber de mi pasado” (“And If You Want to Know about My Past”). Well, O.K. But lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people across the globe know from their own life experiences that coming out is usually a lifelong process, a recurring challenge in each new social situation. For those who can’t easily “pass,” it is usually something they cannot avoid on a daily basis, and it is fraught with difficulties. For Vargas, it was most probably the latter. “What hurt was not being homosexual,” she wrote,
“but [that] they throw it in my face as if it were the plague.” Brushing aside the condemnations, Vargas strode forth in public attired in clothes strictly reserved for Mexican men. She smoked cigars. At public performances, she refused to change the gender-specific words that made clear that her love songs were addressed to women. And her affairs with women were widely known. Vargas’ art caressed the hearts of millions of people of all sexualities and genders throughout Latin America and beyond. Her reception by New York City’s Latina lesbian community at Carnegie Hall in 2002 was nothing short of stupendous. ‘An example of strength & dignity’ Vargas accurately described herself as a shaman. The tribal groupings of preColumbian Mesoamerica, like most communal and early class societies around the world, had among their leading figures women and men, often transgender, often homosexual or bisexual. These figures were held in special esteem for their spiritual and healing abilities and for their farsighted wisdom. Vargas was certainly deeply spiritual, wise in matters of the heart, and her art was healing in the most profound sense of the word.
Her circle of friends over the years included other gifted Mexican artists, among them writer Juan Rulfo, composer Agustín Lara, muralist Diego Rivera, and painter and activist Frida Kahlo. Vargas’ artistry, her many concert performances and over 80 recorded albums were publicly recognized with many honors and awards, both in Mexico and internationally. The final dream of her life was to pay homage to the life and work of Federico García Lorca, the great gay Spanish poet, who was assassinated by fascists in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. There were reports in some articles that Vargas had known Lorca in the years before his death. It was obvious that she identified closely with the poet’s life and his work. She fulfilled her dream with a monthlong tour of Spain, where she promoted her final CD, “La luna grande” (“The big moon”), which was dedicated to Lorca, and also the publication of her memoir, “Dos vidas necesito. Las verdades de Chavela” (‘I need two lives. Chavela’s truths’). Already seriously ill toward the end of the tour, she returned to Mexico from this mission on July 26. (Granma Internacional, Aug. 6) Hospitalized in Cuernavaca and near death, Vargas rejected any invasive methods that might be used to try to prolong her life. Her last words were, “Me voy con México en el corazón” (“I leave with Mexico in my heart”). Her friend and biographer, María Cortina, was with her at the end and commented, “Murió como vivió, dándonos ejemplo de fortaleza y de dignidad” (“She died as she lived, giving us an example of strength and dignity”). (teleSUR, Aug. 6)
The hour of the wolf
By Mumia Abu-Jamal Taken from an Aug. 8 audio commentary at prisonradio.org A lone gunman invades a space frequented by people of color. Carnage ensues. Hours later, we learn that the slaughterer of the Sikhs is a veteran, not just of the U.S. Army, but of right-wing, racist groups. Days after the Sikh Massacre, we learn that Wade Michael Page killed himself rather than suffer arrest or imprisonment. But we learn more. This massacremaker proudly flew a Nazi flag at his Army post. Presumably, his higher-ups either agreed with the sentiments expressed by that flag, or simply looked the other way. There is more. Initial news accounts reported that the American Nazi massacre-maker served in the U.S. Army’s “psychological operations” unit. Psy-ops? Anyone with a fleeting familiarity with U.S. Intelligence histories knows that “psy-ops” is shorthand for dirty tricks spy craft, meant to create the illusion of chaos and instability in countries targeted by American government agencies. It’s most famous (or infamous) usage was in 1950s-era Guatemala, where the CIA used fake radio transmissions to make it appear that the military had turned against the leftist president, Jacobo Árbenz, toppling the government. Similar tactics arose in post-war Italy, when it looked like the Communist Party would prevail in the elections. The CIA used the Mafia and big money to produce their desired result — a right-wing government. Does this mean this [present massacre] was a psy-op? No. But it’s certainly worth considering, for powerful economic forces want to create social chaos in the U.S. — to further entrench right-wing power by stimulating that most powerful of all drugs: fear. That this man was on no list, and suspected by no one, says more about the Army than it does about him. While nearly a million Black and Latino boys and men are stopped and frisked in New York, Philly and Chicago on the presumption of their danger, a neo-Nazi buys guns legally and creates havoc as he expresses the hell within. Fear creates carnage. The writer is a political prisoner at SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pa.
People’s library opens despite police repression
By Terri Kay Oakland, Calif. The Victor Martinez Community Library was opened by a group of Occupy activists here on Aug. 13, giving new life to an abandoned public library in the heart of Oakland’s Latino/a community. The old building had been shuttered by the city many years ago, after it had been a keystone in the community for decades. It had spent part of its tenure as a progressive high school, the Emiliano Zapata Street Academy, founded by Chicano/a activists. Now, it has been renamed after Chicano poet and author Victor Martinez, who died last year of cancer, possibly brought on by his years of working in the fields as a child, inhaling pesticides. The building had been shuttered, but was no longer locked. Mattresses, trash and drug paraphernalia were strewn in and outside of the building. The Occupy crew, as part of its campaign to turn public spaces known as “the Commons” back to the people, went to work cleaning up the building. People brought books and food. Community members began stopping by. Soon, books were being checked out. Kids came and were supported in starting a community garden in the library’s large backyard. After the successful opening day, 80
WW PHOTO: TERRI KAY
cops showed up late that night, cordoning off all the surrounding streets, as if they were going after major criminals. The dozen or so people still in the building were given 15 minutes to remove the books and leave, or face arrest. They moved the books to the sidewalks in front of the building, where, as of this writing on Aug. 19, the books have stayed, housed in milk crates and makeshift shelves. The community continues to come out to support the library, adults and children alike. Nightly potluck dinners take place. Religious leaders, who had been trying to get the building for a community center through traditional legal channels for years, are now thinking about what they might do. There is much support for continuing the community garden started there. Community meetings are being held to discuss what to do. Community members saw how the cops acted with their militarized shutdown of the peaceful occupation. They have seen the steady presence of squad cars to make sure the building isn’t reopened. This is in contrast to all the unanswered calls over
the years, when people have called the cops for help, to no avail. For updates on this struggle, join the Facebook page Biblioteca Popular Victor Martinez.
August 30, 2012
People’s Court nds Ga. Labor Commissioner ‘guilty’
School workers ght denial of unemployment bene ts
By Dianne Mathiowetz Atlanta With each blow of the gavel, the words “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” brought the crowd to their feet, cheering and clapping. On Aug, 18, a panel of community judges — comprised of ministers and priests, lawyers, civil and human rights activists, elected officials and radio hosts — unanimously determined that Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler abused his power, falsely and incorrectly interpreted the law, and caused substantial damage to thousands of workers and their families. The People’s Court had just heard the very compelling stories of hardship by school employees across the state who had been denied unemployment benefits during the summer layoff. For at least the last 30 years, Georgia bus drivers, cafeteria workers, crossing guards, janitors, grounds crews and pre-K teachers employed by private companies have received unemployment compensation while school was out. However, this year, first-term Labor Commissioner Butler determined that these payments were in violation of federal regulations and ordered that the 64,000 school employees who work for subcontracted businesses were not eligible for summer unemployment benefits. There was an immediate fightback from both unionized and unorganized workers who staged protests at local labor offices. Atlanta Jobs with Justice initiated a series of demonstrations, press conferences, petitions and letter campaigns that generated media attention and public support. “The People’s Court to Bring Mark Butler to Justice” allowed more than two dozen workers, mostly Black women, to speak to a large community audience. Evidence was presented of the ongoing attacks on unemployment benefits by right-wing officials and corporate lobbyists. Testimony from affected workers described how shocked they were to be turned away at unemployment offices. Most had no or very little advance knowledge that they would be without any income for three-plus months. Tears flowed as bus drivers from Columbus and Savannah, Ga., and cafeteria workers from Atlanta spoke about losing cars and homes, having no food to feed their children, facing threats by bill collectors and utility companies, having to borrow money from family and friends, and relying on help from food banks and church pantries. With great emotion they described how this has impacted their sense of dignity and self-respect. Commissioner de es federal order These workers passionately decried the Labor Commissioner’s decision as unfair and illegal — a position the federal Depart-
ON THE PICK
Demanding workers’ rights at African American Museum
Members of labor, human rights and faith communities protested at the main offices of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the week of July 30 to demand workers’ rights. “We will not cease targeting the Smithsonian Institution until there is assurance that Wings Enterprises will not work at the National Museum of African American History and Culture,” said Ronnell Howard, a striking Wings worker and union iron worker. Wings employees have been on strike for nearly three years due to the company’s history of safety violations, unfair wages and retaliation against workers. “I worked for Wings for four years,” continued Howard, “and regardless of my hard work, Wings underpaid me, owing me over $10,000. As an African American and member of this community, I would be offended if the Smithsonian allows a company with such a bad record to build the African American Museum.” (Union City, online newsletter of the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO, Aug. 6)
ment of Labor seems to agree with. Days before the People’s Court took place, Butler was informed that under the law these workers were eligible for unemployment compensation and the state of Georgia was ordered to pay them. Rather than comply, Butler appealed this federal mandate. In the economic boom years in the early 2000s, the Georgia Assembly voted for a four-year waiver for businesses paying into the unemployment fund. Georgia was particularly hard hit by the collapse of financial and housing sectors in 2007, with higher unemployment rates than the national average for several years. The state was forced to borrow money from the federal government to continue meeting its unemployment benefits payments. Now the state has to pay that money back. The pro-business majority in the state government recently reduced both the monetary amount and the number of weeks newly unemployed workers can receive unemployment compensation, ranking Georgia as the worst state for unemployment payments in the country. Buoyed by the solidarity expressed at the People’s Court and by the reprimand from the federal Department of Labor, the affected workers, their families and community supporters plan to step up the pressure on Butler to rescind his ruling. The verdict is in: Mark Butler is guilty and the workers want justice NOW.
Women farm workers win sexual harassment case
Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued DiMare Ruskin, one of Florida’s largest tomato growers, on behalf of its women workers, for sexual harassment. A 95-page report released in May by Human Rights Watch found that sexual harassment of women farm workers was “systemic.” The week of July 23, the court agreed, ruling that the company had to pay the women, mostly immigrants, $150,000 in damages. DiMare Ruskin also has to implement a companywide anti-harassment policy, provide training about anti-discrimination laws, and create a system so women can submit complaints to the company without fear of retaliation or deportation. The women workers originally registered their complaints with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which has a history of fighting for living wages and better working conditions for Florida tomato pickers. This is another victory in CIW’s long struggle for economic justice in the fields. (Miami Herald, July 26)
Education is a Right!
Montclair students ght tuition hike
By Caleb T. Maupin All across the United States, education is being threatened. Montclair State University is no different. The school’s board of trustees recently voted to raise tuition by 3.9 percent. However, the students did not passively accept this attack. When the board assembled to vote on the cuts on July 26, more than 20 students walked into the meeting with signs. One sign said, “Tuition Hikes = Class War!” Other signs raised that some students are choosing between tuition and food. The students were joined by interns from the New Jersey United Students organization and members of the Student Union at nearby Rutgers University. A Workers World Party member attended, as well as several anarchists. As the board moved to vote on the tuition hikes, one Montclair student screamed out, “You will not silence us!” Then, the students began chanting: “Shame! Shame! Shame!” They continued to chant, drowning out the meeting and loudly making their message clear. As the board scrambled to try to continue the meeting, students yelled in protest. They loudly chanted: “Education is a right! Fight! Fight! Fight!” The meeting ended after students protested for almost 20 minutes. All shouted until they were nearly hoarse. Following the meeting, Karen Pennington, university vice-president, sent letters to four MSU students, scolding them and threatening disciplinary action. One of the students who received a letter was not in attendance, but was simply identified as a known campus radical. Pennington’s letter pointed out that the Montclair Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society had organized the demonstration. She used harsh terminology when characterizing the group. Lisa Grab, a leader of the SDS club at MSU, views the letters as a clear act of intimidation. She stressed, “We won’t let them try to push us around like this.” The SDS club plans to continue its efforts to defend the students from austerity and vows to keep on organizing students to fight back.
Caterpillar vs. Machinists
Giveback contract whets Wall St.’s appetite
By Sue Davis With anger and tears, a narrow majority of union machinists at the Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Ill., voted on Aug. 17 to accept a six-year contract that imposes deep cuts and drastic concessions. The workers had been on strike since May 1. The 780 highly skilled workers, who make hydraulic parts, are represented by Machinists Local Lodge 851. The local leadership had opposed the contract, which was negotiated by a union official from the district level. Caterpillar cannot cry poverty in demanding these big concessions. The company banked record profits of $4.9 billion in 2011 and paid its CEO almost $17 million, a 60 percent raise for the boss over the year before. The workers had earlier rejected almost the same contract, which demanded a wage freeze with no cost-of-living raises, the doubling of health care payments, a switch to a 401(k) for pension benefits, and the ability to reassign workers to new jobs or shifts indefinitely regardless of seniority. The world’s leading producer of earthmoving machinery claimed it needed these terms in order to stay “competitive” in the world market. It also claimed that the top-tier of workers, who make up twothirds of the plant’s labor force and average $26 an hour, earn substantially more than the local labor market average. Second-tier workers make between $12 and $19 an hour. The capitalist media recognized the significance of this assault on the workers. The New York Times consistently called it “a test case in American labor relations,” noting in its July 23 article that Caterpillar was “trying to pioneer new territory, seeking steep concessions from its workers even when business is booming.” The contract ratified on Aug. 17 by a slim majority was modified only slightly from the original offer. The wage freeze remains for top-tier workers, while the second tier receives a 3 percent raise later this year. Workers can still be assigned to new jobs and shifts despite seniority, but only for a maximum of 90 days. All other terms are the same as in the original offer, except that all workers will get a $3,100 ratification bonus and the company might give second-tier workers costof-living raises — depending on “local labor market conditions” during the contract. One labor relations professor told the Aug. 18 New York Times, “It sure is a step back,” though the union “managed to maintain the bargaining relationship.” The Aug. 17 Wall Street Journal was more blunt in advising big capital about what it can get away with: “The vote to return to work is the latest sign that unionContinued page 5
August 30, 2012
By Sue Davis
Activists gear up for March on Wall St. South
American pilots’ contract upheld
In a surprise victory for organized labor, on Aug. 15, a federal judge denied a request by American Airline’s parent company, AMR Corp., to end its collective bargaining agreement with the Allied Pilots Association “because it would give the carrier unrestricted ability to furlough pilots.” (New York Times, Aug. 16) The ruling comes after the union rejected the company’s latest offer on Aug. 8, which would have cut $315 million from pilots’ pay, among other changes. If the judge had granted the request, American, which is trying to chop labor costs in order to get out of bankruptcy at the workers’ expense, would have been free to make more drastic pay cuts as well as institute hundreds of layoffs.
Raising minimum wage would create 100,000 jobs
On July 26, the so-called “Fair Minimum Wage Act” was introduced in both houses of Congress. If enacted, the federal minimum wage would rise to $9.80 by July 1, 2014, affecting 30 million workers, their families and communities, reported the Economic Policy Institute on Aug. 14. “The multiple positive effects that would result from a higher minimum wage are clear: It would boost the earnings of working families hardest hit by the Great Recession, spur economic growth, and create about 100,000 net new jobs.” (epi.org, Aug. 14) The EPI estimates that the U.S. gross domestic product would increase by roughly $25 billion. Other statistics refute stereotypes of minimum wage workers: 55 percent are women, 56 percent are white, 42 percent have some college education, 54 percent work full time, and the average minimum wage worker earns about half the family’s total income. However, the report also notes that the minimum wage, now $7.25 an hour, would have to be $10.55 an hour to match the inflation rate. So, OTP asks, why not boost it to at least $12 an hour by 2014?
WW PHOTOS: BRYAN G. PFEIFER
Greenpeace “Duke & the DNC” meeting at the MOWSS convergence space, Charlotte, Aug. 15.
By Bryan G. Pfeifer Charlotte, N.C. Volunteer activists with the March on Wall Street South coalition are in high gear mobilizing for a week of protest actions Sept. 1-6 around the Democratic National Convention. These events include a Festivaliberacion on Sept. 1, a march and rally on Sept. 2, and a Southern Workers Assembly on Sept. 3. MOWSS volunteers are distributing thousands of leaflets and posters to poor and working people, including the unemployed and homeless, in Charlotte and throughout the region. They are going door-to-door canvassing neighborhoods, riding buses and visiting shelters. Organizers are attending numerous progressive events, including joining Charlotte city workers, members of the United Electrical union, at informational pickets every Monday evening at City Hall.
March on Wall Street South mobilizing meetings take place at the MOWSS convergence center every Monday at 7 p.m. For more information and to help with organizing, visit the MOWSS convergence center and the Charlotte Solidarity Center at 516 E. 15th Street or contact 704-266-0362, Twitter @WallStSouth, or email email@example.com; go to wallstsouth.org or southernworker.org. To endorse the LGBTQ contingent on Sept. 2, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ergy to the banks and how these entities have funded the DNC. During the week, the coalition officially opened its convergence space at Area 15, a cultural arts space in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood, the same location as the Charlotte Solidarity Center. Exciting developments are taking place daily in the lead-up to MOWSS. The People’s Video Network has produced and is releasing videos of activists explaining why they are taking part in the Sept. 1-6 protests. Contingent organizing is underway for the Sept. 2 march and rally, which will include a lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer contingent, along with youth, student and immigrant mobilizations. Numerous creative fundraising events are being organized, and much more.
During the week of Aug. 12, activists from around the country came to Charlotte to help with organizing. These included Steelworker and Teamster school bus drivers from Boston; a member of the Moratorium NOW! coalition in Detroit; organizers of Occupy 4 Jobs from Boston, New York and Philadelphia; youth and student organizers; members of the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights; and leaders of the International Action Center in New York and Los Angeles. Major events that week included a special forum Aug. 14, sponsored by the MOWSS coalition, to oppose U.S. war threats against Iran and Syria and to demand money for jobs, not war. Another major activity was a Greenpeace forum Aug. 15 that exposed the ties of Duke En-
ized employees have little power to buck employers’ demands for concessions. High unemployment is making workers wary of risking their jobs, and Caterpillar [has shown it is] willing to shift production away from areas where unions are strong.” Earlier this year, Caterpillar closed a Canadian plant when the workers refused to accept a 50 percent pay cut. Workers World Party militant, Fred Goldstein, in his 2009 book “Low-Wage Capitalism,” demonstrated that capitalism is now a truly global system of exploitation that seeks ever higher profits by pitting workers around the world against each other in order to pay the lowest wages. His most recent book, “Capitalism at a Dead End,” drives the point home that the ruling class intends to make the working class bleed in a ruthless attempt to keep its floundering system going. These books also discuss the need for new tactics and strategies to supplement and strengthen the strike weapon at a time, just like the 1930s, when losing one’s job is a constant threat. But just as workers moved from strikes to sitdowns during the Great Depression, in a giant organizing wave that reshaped class relations in the U.S., so must workers today go outside the box to effectively fight the bosses. (See lowwagecapitalism.org.)
Protest the RNC, DNC
The emphasis is on the image, whether cheering audiences, cascading balloons or glitzy videos. Pundits will spend countless hours on the air trying to find something interesting to talk about as they scrutinize the speeches for a nugget of substance. Instead, the “analyses” will focus on presentation, with no one commenting that “the emperor has no clothes.” The real talk about issues, how to solve the capitalist crisis that is devastating families across the country and around the world, will be out on the streets of Tampa and later in Charlotte. Unemployed workers; those without health insurance; students overwhelmed by debt; communities of color plagued by racial profiling and police repression; labor, workers, LGBTQ people and the disabled battling regressive legislation; those without homes; and veterans and all who are tired of endless war are challenging the 1%’s vision of the future. The sanctity of profit over people is a discredited answer. The effectiveness of real progressive change through the ballot is being contested by the power of the street. The Coalition to March on the RNC has overcome all the obstacles placed in its way to bring together a diverse cross section of people, who actually represent the majority in this country. These organizers have won a permit to march within sight and sound of the Republican Convention and have fashioned a program of speakers totally unlike those who will deliver their canned speeches to a select audience. On Monday, Aug. 27, the opening day of the RNC, thousands will start gathering at 10 a.m. in Perry Harvey Sr. Park, 1200 N. Orange Ave. The 1.1 mile march to the Protest RNC Square begins at noon. A rally including all those voices excluded from the stage inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum will “speak truth to power” and claim it for themselves. Just a few days later, on Sunday, Sept. 2, another march will be taking place in Charlotte. Dubbed the March on Wall Street South — Charlotte has the largest concentration of banks and corporate offices outside of New York City — a coalition demanding people’s power will “lift up the voices of those most impacted by economic crises, war, cutbacks, deportations and foreclosures” during the Democratic National Convention. For more information on the two demonstrations, go to marchonthernc.org and wallstsouth.org.
Continued from page 1 media campaign to demonize those who think issues like jobs, health care and education should be top priorities. The same is true in Charlotte, N.C., the site of the Democratic National Convention Sept. 3-6. The stated positions of the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket reflect a program designed by the most entrenched reactionary and right-wing elements of Wall Street’s financial and industrial billionaires. In their eyes, the only solution to the malaise that is infecting the capitalist system is to continue to eradicate any social programs that benefit the great majority. “Cut and privatize” are the answers to every demand raised by the people, whether for education, health care, transportation or any other social necessities. Government programs that fulfill human needs are to be sacrificed to ensure high, sustained profits, interest payments to the banks, and military interventions, occupations and bases worldwide. The conventions of the two parties representing the interests of the ruling class in the U.S. are, in effect, very elaborate commercials, trying to sell a bill of shoddy goods to a consuming public.
August 30, 2012
Support Syria against U.S.-NATO!
gon gang has waged war no less aggressively than Bush. Some say the new administration’s wars are “smarter,” since, to avoid U.S. casualties, they use proxies and air war, especially drones, and a divide-and-conquer strategy, instead of massive occupations. They kill civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia as well as Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. For Syria they use oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Qatar to fund the aggression, Turkey to coordinate the logistics of weapon delivery, and they exacerbate Shiite-Sunni differences and Iranian-Arab differences to pursue the war. The administration even risks strengthening al-Qaida and similar groups. With Saudi funds and guns, these groups play an increasingly more important role in Syria’s civil war. They have little or no support among Syrians, and the Assad government has every right to attempt to eliminate them. The irony of Clinton’s argument is that after Washington has promoted these reactionary forces, she says the Pentagon must intervene to keep them from seizing chemical weapons from the Assad government. More imperialist lies! For months now whatever honest opposition to the Assad government that may have existed within Syrian society has been completely pushed aside by imperialist stooges and reactionaries, armed killers that can tear Syria apart. Anti-war and anti-imperialist forces within the NATO countries have an obligation to fight to stop the imperialist intervention and to support the defeat of the reactionary anti-Assad killers. At the upcoming protests at the Republic and Democratic National Conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., U.S. activists should raise demands that the imperialists get their hands off Syria!
Latin Americans defy U.S., back Ecuador on WikiLeaks asylum
By John Catalinotto Ecuador, with the support of much of Latin America, is in what may be a longterm standoff with British imperialism over the fate of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange. In a heroic move, Ecuador offered Assange political asylum. The British government, acting like the old Empire, threatened to violate Ecuador’s sovereignty and storm its embassy in London. Much of Latin America has stood up for Ecuador and forced Britain to back off its threats. Behind it all is the Barack Obama administration’s attempt to persecute anyone exposing the crimes of U.S. imperialism. Washington, with its NATO allies, is attempting to conquer those parts of the former colonial world that still maintain some independence or want to control their own resources. WikiLeaks exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and many of the other machinations of U.S. foreign policy. The organization leaked hundreds of thousands of messages from U.S embassies worldwide and publicized some actual videos of military attacks in Iraq. In August 2010, U.S. pressure led Sweden to demand Assange be brought from Britain to face an investigation of allegations of sexual assault. As the British organization, Women Against Rape, pointed out in a statement, “There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women’s safety.” (Guardian, Dec. 9, 2010) No one can believe that the Swedish authorities would have followed up on the allegations had it not been for U.S. pressure to persecute Assange and stop whistle-blowers who expose U.S. war crimes. Assange fears — and most people believe his fears are justified — that if he goes to Sweden to argue the allegations there, he will be immediately extradited to the United States. The U.S. will then charge him with treason for exposing U.S. secrets. He would face long imprisonment and even a possible death penalty. In light of the above, Assange, an Australian citizen who has been unable to leave Britain, requested asylum in Ecuador on June 19. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, in a courageous defiance of the obvious wishes of Washington, offered asylum, based on the risk of capital punishment should Assange be tried in the U.S. The British government then threatened not only that they would stop Assange from leaving Britain, but, according to Ecuador’s ambassador, they would storm the Ecuadoran Embassy. In response to this outrageous challenge to Ecuador’s sovereignty, the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of Latin America and of UNISUR, which include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela, have stood up with Ecuador against Britain — which in this case also means defying U.S. imperialism. In a statement from the balcony of the Ecuadoran Embassy on Aug. 19, Assange said: “I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks. The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.’’ Assange also praised Pfc. B. Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, whom the U.S. accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks. Manning, who has recently self-identified as a trans person, had been held for more than a year in isolation in U.S. military prisons, conditions that some consider torture. Assange said Manning was ‘‘one of the world’s foremost political prisoners’’ and a hero if he did what he is accused of doing. (Boston Globe, Aug. 20)
ach week brings U.S. imperialism closer to direct military intervention in Syria with the aim of overthrowing the government of President Bashir al-Assad and crushing Syria’s independence and sovereignty. Up to now Washington has avoided direct intervention, working instead with its NATO allies through Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to fund and arm the reactionary opposition to Assad and the Syrian people. The latest comments by President Barack Obama brings Washington another step closer to direct intervention. Obama’s propaganda pretext was something used before by U.S. presidents. He charged Syria with possessing chemical weapons. Obama also said if the U.S. saw chemical weapons moved around or being used that would be a “red line,” meaning an excuse for direct intervention. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has also threatened to intervene to keep these alleged chemical weapons from “falling into the wrong hands.” This is just a rehash of George W. Bush’s 2002-2003 pretext for invading Iraq: the country’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction,” which were never found. The truth was different then and is different now. For strategic reasons involving the targeting of Iran and the control of energy resources in the Middle East, U.S. imperialism aims to replace the independent Syrian government with a client state, weakening Iran and the Hezbollah resistance movement in Lebanon. So far the U.S. and its allies have used proxy fighters to destroy the cohesiveness of the Syrian state and wreck its economic infrastructure, as they did Libya in 2011. Contradicting Obama’s 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, the Obama-Clinton-Penta-
Mayor in Spain leads food raids A revolutionary for the people youth’s perspective
By Thomas J. Michalak In the small Spanish town of Marinaleda, located in the southern region of Andalusía, Mayor Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has an answer for the country’s economic crisis and the hunger that comes with it: He organized and led the town’s residents to raid supermarkets to get the food necessary to survive. Seven people have been arrested in two raids in which trade unionists loaded shopping carts full of food and left without paying, with the support of the townspeople cheering them on and the mayor watching with approval. (reuters.com, Aug. 15) Gordillo, 60, is a leftist and a member of the Izquierda Unida political party. He sports a Palestinian kaffiyeh scarf around his neck and a Fidel Castro-like beard. Gordilla says he wants to draw attention to the plight of the common worker in Spain, a country in which the economic collapse has hit particularly hard and millions are suffering. (europeonline-magazine.eu, Aug. 14) Since 2007, poverty in Spain has risen 15 percent, while unemployment hovers around 25 percent and tens of thousands have lost their homes to bank foreclosures. The conservative national government has only made matters worse, by introducing austerity measures that have worsened the workers’ lives, while bailing out the bankers and capitalists who caused the crisis in the first place. Gordillo plans to lead a march from Jódar, one of the cities most affected by the current economic meltdown, to other Spanish towns, to try to convince other officials to fight back against the ruling class’s demands of cutbacks and increased hardship for the workers. He is fighting dismantlement of state social services, bank payoffs, and the throwing of the common Spaniard under the bus to the benefit of those exploiting them. Gordillo hopes he can convince other mayors to stage a real resistance to the government’s demands. Implementing ‘concrete well-being’ Despite the grave economic situation permeating the country, in the town of Marinaleda, population 2,600, there is no unemployment. The town is based around an agricultural collective established in the 1980s. Everyone living in Marinaleda is guaranteed employment, and earns 1,200 euros a month (about $1,440), in contrast to other Andalusians, one-third of whom are unemployed. A text on the town hall reads, “Freedom without equality is nothing, and democracy without concrete well-being for concrete people is only an empty word.”
It has become clear that with the present organization of society, there is no hope for prosperity for working people. Under capitalism, or “free enterprise,” there can be no hope for the masses. As the economic crisis continues to deepen, this will become more evident to all of those who are struggling to simply get by. The consciousness of people all over the world is starting to develop, and they are beginning to realize that a new world
is possible — one without crises, without unemployment, hunger, exploitation and all the other symptoms that come with a capitalist economy. The people in Spain are starting to realize who is to blame. No amount of bourgeois budget cuts can save the Spanish economy, only struggle against the current social order. The same is true all over the capitalist world. The writer is a youth activist in Detroit.
Free Cuban 5!
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Alicia The case of the Cuban 5 and Jrapko from the International the struggle to free them from Committee for the Freedom of their unjust imprisonment in the Cuban 5 chaired. A short the U.S. received a burst of clip from the Roberto Chile docmedia attention in Tijuana, umentary, “Esencias,” captured Mexico, on Aug. 16. Rosa Authe children from Cuba’s narora Freijanes, spouse of one tional children’s theater, La Colof the 5, Fernando González, menita, in a surprise meeting spoke to 10 media outlets, inwith the then-newly-releasedcluding three television outRosa Aurora Freijanes from-prison Cuban 5 member, lets, in a press conference held at the Hotel Palacio Azteca. Later in the René González. In the documentary, the children ask, “What more can we do?” to day she appeared live on local TV. An Aug. 17 program opening the 9th win the release of the Cuban 5. The auU.S./Cuba/Mexico/Latin America Labor dience left asking themselves the same Conference featured Freijanes, with peace question about the Cuban 5 and all the poactivist Cindy Sheehan, Workers United litical prisoners held in U.S. concentration union leader Cristina Vazquez and Gloria camps for the poor. —Report and photo by Cheryl LaBash Verdieu from the San Diego Coalition to
August 30, 2012
South Africa at a crossroads as
Police massacre striking miners
Continued from page 1 tervened a long time ago. They knew about the miners’ grievances, they knew about the strike, they knew workers wanted management to come forward, but they didn’t intervene and were nowhere to be seen.” (BBC, Aug. 19) Kitumetse continued, “They dismissed their workers and let this happen. So many people died — fathers, husbands, breadwinners. Now they are threatening workers that if they don’t go back to work, they will be considered strikers and they will lose their jobs. Because of that, my sisters are going back to work.” Kitumetse stressed, “Lonmin has done nothing for the local community. They take our platinum and enrich themselves but where is our royalty money going? We don’t have [paved] roads and our youth are unemployed. … [Lonmin] cuts off our water supply every day during the day. The water comes back only late at night. Then we have to fill the tanks and the buckets to have enough water for the next day. The water stinks and we have to buy purified water.” Thandubuntu Simelane, a striking rockdrill operator, resolutely stated that he was not returning to work: “It’s better to die than to work for that s - - t. People are coming back here tomorrow [Aug. 20]. I am not going to stop striking. … We are going to protest until we get what we want. They have said nothing to us. Police can try and kill us but we won’t move.” (Mail & Guardian, Aug. 19) In addition to the rock-drill operators, other workers have been impacted by the strike. With violence and deaths escalating, many people have not been able to go to work. Thapelo Mohutsiwa, a surface miner at Lonmin’s mine, said: “I am scared to go to work tomorrow [Aug. 20]. I wasn’t striking because it’s not my department. I have a family to feed and I need money so I must work.” (Mail & Guardian, Aug. 20) However, he sympathized with the strikers: “If you work in that job [rock drilling], you get f- - - - d up. You must drill the rock for the whole day covered in water. For anything more than five years you will end up being useless.” NUM, ANC, Communist Party responses The violence, including the Aug. 16 massacre at the Marikana mines, has drawn widespread condemnation from sections within the labor movement, the ruling ANC party and the left. “The background to the violence at Lonmin lies in the company’s undermining bargaining processes and structures,” said NUM. “This trend has its roots at Impala Platinum where the company unilaterally adjusted wages for certain categories of employees, leaving others out. This led to some elements founding a loophole to exploit, especially forces of violence. … Lonmin followed suit. Ignoring an existing collective agreement, the company undermined the bargaining process by unilaterally offering an allowance of between R750-2,500 to rock-drill operators outside the bargaining process.” The ruling ANC said on Aug. 18 that it “welcomes the decision of President Zuma to set up a Commission of Enquiry following the death of 34 people at Marikana in Rustenburg. The ANC is of the view that the tragic violence needs to be thoroughly investigated to determine the cause and circumstances of all the deaths, including those of the police, security and the miners.” The ANC said the next day that it also welcomed Zuma’s decision “to appoint a Ministerial Task Team to assist the Marikana tragedy deceased families with funeral arrangements. … The ANC wants to thank the mineworkers and the people of Marikana for having heeded the call for calm and reflection despite attempts by agent provocateurs who wanted to undermine the call for calm.” The ANC Youth League advocates the immediate nationalization of the mines and farms as the only means of resolving the wage gaps and the lack of empowerment of the workers, farmers and youth. The ANCYL reiterated on Aug. 17, “South Africa’s exploitative mining regime, capitalist greed and the poverty of our people are the cause. How many more people must die before we accept that the festering conditions of inequality and ownership by a select few, a white few in particular, is a time bomb that no longer just ticks, it is ready to explode and is contained only by the deadly determination of some amongst us to maintain the status quo at the expense of the majority. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of live ammunition in public order policing and call on Minister Mthethwa to conduct a full investigation to explain to South Africans how it is that police turned on our people and killed them, when the right to life is paramount.” The Aug. 19 statement of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party says in part, “[I]t is impossible to understand the tragedy of last week without an appreciation of how the major platinum mining corporations, sitting on top of over 80 percent of the world’s platinum resources, have created desperate community poverty, divisive tensions, and a fatalistic attitude toward danger and death. It is also not possible to understand the tragedy without understanding how profit-maximizing corporate greed has deliberately sought to undercut established trade union and collective bargaining by conniving with demagogic forces. This strategy has now back-fired on the platinum companies’ profits themselves.” The SACP “rejects the attempt to portray the events of last week as being essentially rooted in trade union rivalry. This narrative is no different to that developed during the final years of apartheid, when armed vigilantes, fomented, trained and escorted by the apartheid regime, were unleashed on our United Democratic Front, COSATU and ANC-supporting communities and this was portrayed as ‘black on black violence.’” Class war intensi es as world economic crisis worsens As the world capitalist system declines, the bosses and bankers will apply more pressure on the workers to accept lower wages and poor working conditions. Although South Africa has the largest economy on the continent and the strongest and most organized working class, the compromise made 20 years ago between the ANC and the then-apartheid regime left in place a capitalist state and ruling class that have imposed neoliberal policies on the ANC government. The working class has not been able to exercise the power needed to win adequate concessions from the mine owners, let alone seize the means of production on behalf of the proletariat. Legal apartheid was eradicated but not the root cause of it — which translates today to the 1% controlling 99% of all the wealth. The situation facing the ANC must be viewed within the context of the overall international struggle of the workers and the oppressed against capital. The ANC government has developed one of the most advanced constitutions in the world where national and gender equality is enshrined in law. There have been advances in income within certain sectors, home building for millions of workers and the integration of the security apparatus and the military. However, the needs of the workers and the poor cannot be fully addressed under the existing capitalist relations of production. As NUM said after the recent massacre, “The various social challenges that the country faces such as the ever increasing number of informal settlements next to mining areas; high unemployment; the continuous existence of single-sex hostels; the increasing number of working poor exacerbated by the continuous existence of the apartheid wage gap and tribalism would if not curbed result in large scale disintegration of the South African society.” NUM accuses the Chamber of Mines of refusing to comply with transformation targets set up by the ANC government. Yet it will be the ANC government’s responsibility — backed by the working class and the youth — to enforce these goals against the profit-making aims of the bosses’ and their allies within South African society. The platinum industry’s profits have declined, and the bosses will put more pressure on the workers and mining communities. The recent Marikana massacre has caused an even further decline in Lonmin’s and other firms’ stock values. IndexUniverse, a financial analyst firm, noted, “[It] was enough to unleash an exodus from the South African rand last week … with a negative impact of about 3.5 percentage points for U.S. investors.” (Aug. 20) This unbearable pressure on the workers can only be ended when South Africa takes back the country’s wealth from the exploiters, who have grown rich off the misery of the millions.
’We are all Asotrecol’
By Martha Grevatt Activists from Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich., came together on short notice for an emergency demonstration to support the fired, injured workers of General Motors in Colombia. Thirteen of these workers, who have camped outside the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá for over a year, have sewn their lips shut in an “absolutely irrevocable” hunger strike. The corporation fired them, so they now have no source of income and no medical care after suffering work-related injuries that left them incapacitated. They organized the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-workers of GM Colombian — Asotrecol. The protest was held on Aug. 15 outside of GM world headquarters in downtown Detroit. The Ann Arbor-based Washtenaw Community Action Team and the rank-and-file United Autoworkers member group, Autoworkers Caravan, spearheaded the effort. Other groups that endorsed or brought delegations included the Graduate Employees Organization and the Lecturers Employee Organization at the University of Michigan; the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice; the Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs; Solidarity; Labor Notes; the U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange and the Organization for a Free Society. Protesters chanted: “First they got sick! Then they got fired! So GM’s profits would go higher!” and “We are all Asotrecol!” Diana Sierra, a Colombian woman who met with the workers at their encampment — and is a member of WCAT and GEO — opened the rally with a commitment to win justice for the workers and not to let the hunger strikers die. Other speakers included Metro Detroit AFLCIO President Chris Michelakis and representatives of Autoworker Caravan, GEO, LEO and Solidarity. Messages of solidarity were sent from GM workers in Brazil who have blockaded a major highway, and from Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers. Lewenza’s message indicated that the CAW would bring up the mistreatment of Colombian GM workers in upcoming contract negotiations with GM. Solidarity demonstrations were held the same day in several other cities and more are planned. Earlier in the week, Asotrecol supporters demonstrated outside a GM plant in Arlington, Texas. Committed activists plan to organize many more actions to hold GM accountable for the fate of the courageous hunger strikers in Bogotá.
Which Road to Liberation?
by Monica Moorehead
Articles by Abayomi Azikiwe from the pages of Workers World
AFRICA & IMPERIALISM
Written in 1993 after a trip to South Africa
How has the disintegation of the Soviet Union impacted on the struggle against apartheid? Has the bourgeois revolution been achieved in South Africa? How does this t with the worldwide revolution described by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the Communist Manifesto in 1848? www.workers.org/books/SouthAfricaMM.pdf
Africa struggles against imperialism n WikiLeaks on U.S. role in Africa n Tunisian masses rebel n South African workers strike n Famine in the Sahel n Women at forefront of liberation struggles n Africa increases trade with China Order from Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., 5C, NY, NY 10011 Enclose $2 (plus $1 shipping)
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La lucha se intensi ca mientras resistencia hondureña declara la lucha por el socialismo
Por Teresa Gutierrez Algo maravilloso e histórico está ocurriendo en el pequeño país de Honduras en Centroamérica. A pesar del terror impuesto por las clases gobernantes de Estados Unidos y Honduras; a pesar de palizas y asesinatos; a pesar de pobreza de siglos y miseria, las masas y sus organizaciones se están organizando, movilizando y respondiendo a los ataques. De hecho, los acontecimientos en Honduras hoy brillantemente traen a la vida el viejo dicho, “La represión engendra resistencia”. Hace tres años, en junio del 2009, el democráticamente elegido y popular presidente, Manuel Zelaya, fue ilegalmente derrocado en un golpe de estado respaldado por EE.UU. El golpe de Estado, marcó el comienzo de un reinado de terror. Pero también dio luz a la resistencia. El golpe fue sintomático del desesperado intento del imperialismo norteamericano y sus compinches corruptos en América Latina de hacer retroceder la marea revolucionaria que está a barriendo América Latina y el Caribe. Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador y otros países son parte de un movimiento izquierdista que está rompiendo con el imperialismo norteamericano y que está tratando de construir sociedades que pongan las necesidades de la población antes de las ganancias de Wall Street. Honduras no fue la excepción. Zelaya intentó llevar a cabo cambios que permitieran aliviar la miseria de las masas hondureñas, como elevar el salario mínimo y tomando el control de los recursos naturales de Honduras. Por sus esfuerzos, se llevó a cabo un golpe de derecha con el pleno conocimiento y complicidad de Washington. De hecho, el concepto para el golpe de estado fue urdido en la base aérea estadounidense de Palmerola que Zelaya había intentado convertir en un aeropuerto civil internacional. Se impuso una administración bien procapitalistas, anti-pobre, anti-laboral de la elite cuando el fraudulento presidente, Pepe Lobo, asumió el Gobierno ilegítimamente a pesar de la resistencia popular. Pero, como dijo Karl Marx, la clase capitalista crea a sus propios sepultureros. Eso es lo que está sucediendo hoy en Honduras. Nueva etapa en la lucha de resistencia El golpe de Estado ha abierto un nuevo capítulo en la lucha revolucionaria en Honduras. Las masas se han despertado y están tomando el asunto en sus propias manos. Activistas y militantes por largo tiempo se han unido a los jóvenes, trabajadores, estudiantes, mujeres, campesinos, la comunidad lésbica/gay/ bisexuales/transgénero, las organizaciones Garifunas e indígenas formando organizaciones populares y frentes unidos. Esto incluye el Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular o, una formación de 3 años que se está fortaleciendo cada día. El 1 de julio, el Resistencia anunció al mundo una nueva fase en la lucha. Este anuncio extraordinario se resume con el lema del FNRP, “¡vamos de la Resistencia al Socialismo!”. Este anuncio de una llamada a construir el socialismo en Honduras es una señal para que tanto los aliados de Honduras, así como sus enemigos que el movimiento esten preparados para asumir la lucha en cuanto se pueda. El anuncio histórico tiene importancia para la lucha de clases en todo el mundo. Debe ser oído en cada barrio, centro comunitario, sindicato y plaza del mundo. Cada joven y trabajador que ocuparon en Wisconsin, Parque Zuccotti, Plaza Tahrir o el zócalo debe saber qué está sucediendo en Honduras. Campaña electoral revolucionaria Hace unos meses el FNRP decidió—a través de asambleas, reuniones y ricos debates—que la resistencia participaría en las elecciones presidenciales del 2013. El movimiento formó un nuevo partido, el Partido Libertad y Refundación, que organizaría los pasos necesarios para entrar en la arena electoral. Revolucionarios y marxistas alrededor del mundo saben que las elecciones no hacen cambios fundamentales. Son las masas los agentes reales de cambio, no las elecciones. Poner fin a las relaciones capitalistas y expropiar los medios de producción de los jefes de los trabajadores—que es lo que son necesario a fin de explotación. Cuba, por ejemplo, tuvo su revolución completamente—los cubanos derrocaron a Wall Street y Washington desde su país para siempre y comenzaron a organizar la sociedad en beneficio de todos los trabajadores. Los revolucionarios también saben que hay muchos pasos y procesos complicados en el camino hacia la liberación. Las elecciones del 2013 en Honduras pueden ser un hito que marca un punto de inflexión en ese camino hacia la liberación. El 1 de julio, en la provincia de Galeras en Santa Bárbara, Honduras, el Partido Libre lanzó formalmente las candidaturas de Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, quien fue nominada para presidente y Juan Barahona, Presidente de la Confederación Sindical (FUTH), nominado para vice presidente. Las masas, por sus propios medios, viajaban más de 130 kilómetros en terrenos difíciles desde la principal ciudad de Tegucigalpa y de todo el país para reunirse en Santa Bárbara, donde Castro nació y se crió. Ambos candidatos son bien conocidos, no sólo en Honduras sino fuera del país también. Castro—llamada cariñosamente por su primer nombre, Xiomara—fue la “primera dama” bajo la administración de Zelaya, mientras que Barahona es un líder sindicalista de muchos años. Ambos son miembros y líderes de la resistencia. Trabajadores que provienen de fuera de Tegucigalpa saben que deben ir al salón del sindicato STIBYS para obtener no sólo información sobre donde se celebrará la siguiente acción, sino alimentos, refugio y agua así. Gran parte del movimiento se reúne en el salón del sindicato. La esperanza por un cambio trae a las masas El pueblo de Honduras es unos de los más pobres del mundo. Es el segundo país más pobre del hemisferio después de Haití. Según el Banco Mundial, el 65 por ciento de la población vive por debajo del nivel de pobreza. Más del 30 por ciento de la población, en un país de unos 8 millones, vive en extrema pobreza. Así que no es cosa pequeña para un trabajador viajar de una ciudad a otra de su propia voluntad a participar en un evento de campaña por una elección que está a más de un año. Sin embargo miles y miles de personas vinieron. ¿Qué les impulsó? Este escritor tuvo el privilegio de viajar a Honduras no mucho después del golpe de Estado y también tuvo el privilegio de ver el video del lanzamiento de la campaña del 1 de julio con algunos de los líderes de la resistencia en los Estados Unidos. Es claro por las entrevistas obtenidas por Workers World Party/Partido Mundo Obrero con hondureños y por las palabras de los candidatos el 1 de julio, que lo que llevó a las masas a Santa Bárbara fue la esperanza. Esperanza que la vida en Honduras no va a ser la misma. Esperanza que la sociedad está cambiando para algo mejor, que los cientos de campesinos, periodistas, sindicalistas y personas LGBT que han sido asesinadas desde el 2009 no murieron en vano. Los que motivó a las masas es la perspectiva de que muchos sectores de la sociedad finalmente se están uniendo bajo una unidad revolucionaria sin precedentes para cambiar fundamentalmente la sociedad hondureña. Esta unidad surge bajo el contexto de los últimos tres años cuando el movimiento no se ha detenido a pesar de la represión y la brutalidad. El punto principal de la unidad entre todos los sectores sociales promulgado por el FNRP y el Partido Libre parece negarse a aceptar el golpe. Esto no es poca cosa frente de la represión y los soldados estadounidenses y agentes de la Agencia Antidrogas de EU que están siempre presentes. Sean estudiantes o campesinos/as, mujeres o desempleados/as, homosexuales o heterosexuales, intelectuales u obreros/ as, el pueblo de Honduras está heroicamente construyendo un amplio frente unido no solamente contra el golpe sino para dar un paso hacia adelante revolucionario y radical. Al leer las palabras de la candidata para presidenta el día de su nombramiento se hace claro que viene un día nuevo en Honduras. Construyamos una sociedad socialista Xiomara Castro de Zelaya — en la plataforma rodeada por campesinos/as y miembros de sindicatos, con su hijo, hija y esposo, ex-Presidente Zelaya — dijo bajo el sol brillante de la mañana, “Venga gente de Honduras, construyamos una sociedad socialista y democrática. Déjenos derrocar el estado burgués y construir uno socialista.” Xiomara evocó la lucha global mientras que rindió homenaje a la resistencia en el Medio Oriente, el movimiento de Ocupar Wall Street, y “los indignados” en España. La charla, un llamado a las armas, pareció más como un discurso en alguna asamblea en Cuba socialista que la charla de una candidata para presidenta. Fue un ejemplo de cómo la lucha de las masas hondureñas y la unidad del movimiento han impulsado una conciencia revolucionaria. Una agrupación de líderes en Honduras han decidido condenarse al suicidio clasista, romper con la élite y unirse a las masas en su lucha por la liberación. Para ayudar a asegurar que estos líderes se queden con las masas se hace más importante que nunca hacer el trabajo necesario para construir la lucha, una tarea muy difícil y esmerada, pero una que la resistencia está claramente emprendiendo — y ganando. El llamado de Honduras logrará la ira de la clase gobernante de los EE.UU. para siempre. Para Xiomara, Barahona, Mel Zelaya, el Frente y el Partido Libre declarar que la lucha de las masas hondureñas sea para el socialismo es equivalente a declarar guerra con Washington, una guerra que los/as hondureños/as deben ganar. La gente progresista y revolucionaria quieren ser una parte de este momento histórico, no quedar afuera. Las masas fueron despertadas por el golpe, pero también fueron otros sectores de la sociedad. Por esta razón ahora es la hora para integrarse a las filas del movimiento revolucionario en Honduras. Construir la lucha por la solidaridad y unidad con Honduras, especialmente desde aquí en el vientre de la bestia imperialista estadounidense, ayudará a asegurar que el movimiento pueda seguir pasos hacia adelante para transformar a Honduras en una nación que defiende los intereses de los/as trabajadores/as y no de los élites capitalistas. ¡Viva el FNRP y el Partido Libre! ¡Viva la resistencia y viva el pueblo en lucha en Honduras! Para leer la versión completa de las charlas de Xiomara Castro y Juan Barahona, visite resistenciahonduras.net.
LIBERTAD POR LOS CINCO CUBANOS
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort. Rene González Sehewert salió de la cárcel, aunque deberá permanecer en Estados Unidos bajo el régimen de libertad supervisada.