Monthly Archives: November 2007

France: Black and Arab Youth Rebel Against Cops’ Terror

100 COPS INJURED:
“THEY WON’T STOP ’TIL THEY BURN DOWN A POLICE STATION”

VILLIERS-LE-BEL, FRANCE, Nov. 28 — Black and Arab youth have rebelled against the racism they face every day. Two police stations were attacked and 100 cops were injured in several nights of violent protest that rocked this Paris suburb. Angry youth have shot at the hated cops with hunting shotguns. The rebellion has spread to Toulouse.

The rebellion began after a police car deliberately struck and killed two Arab youth on a mini-motorcycle. The racist cops then fled. When the police failed to investigate the “accident,” the neighborhood exploded.

Le Monde, a French newspaper, quoted Younès B., a resident of Villiers-le-Bel: “A second police team came to pick up their colleagues. But they left the two kids without doing anything.”
The rebellion followed on the heels of two weeks of labor and student struggle (see page 3). On Nov. 27, while the Socialist Party Student group (UNEF) was trying to sell out the student and teachers’ struggle, riot cops attacked protesting students in Nantes. One 17-year-old high school student suffered a serious eye injury when riot cops aimed point blank at his face.
Meanwhile in this Paris suburb where the rebellion began, the father of one of the slain Arab youth, Larami, 16, said his son had been threatened by police last week.

“We’re fed up with the lack of respect,” said Ikram, 23, who used to live here. He predicted the uprising would continue. “The young people won’t stop until they’ve burned down the Sarcelles police station,” he said. Youth anger at the cops and the racist system they serve is very justified.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

Rulers’ Wars Intensify Racist Police State

Amid escalating war in the Middle East, and threatening inter-imperialist clashes (see page 2), the rulers must impose wartime discipline on the home front — FASCISM. With the liberal, imperialist wing of U.S. capital leading the effort, a full-blown police state exists for black, Latino and immigrant workers and those of Arab and Muslim background:

•Chicago: In August, the police went on a racist rampage and brutally murdered four young black men in cold blood, in four separate incidents. This year the police have murdered at least 31 workers.

•Atlanta: Undercover cops shot and killed a 92-year-old black grandmother, Kathryn Johnston, in her own home.

•Cleveland: In May 2007, police killed three black people – Aaron Steele, Steven Ray and Ira Mitchell – within three days.

•Conneaut, Ohio: On Nov 17, Immigration Customs Enforcers (ICE) arrested an immigrant mother breast-feeding her child.

•North Carolina: Police shot and killed Phillipe McIver, a 23-year-old black man.

•Los Angeles: LA cops murdered Francisco Mondragon a 24-year-old schizophrenic.

• Minnesota: Law enforcement agents have killed five black people in the first half of 2007.

•New York City: Nov. 25 marked the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old unarmed black man, murdered with 50 shots from NYPD gunmen. On Nov. 7, the same NYPD assassinated 18-year-old Khiel Coppin, shot 13 times (see box). Since then, they have killed at least ten more people.

•Jena, LA.: Six black youth are being legally lynched for standing up against the racism of fellow students who hung a noose under a “whites only” tree. On September 20, over 50,000 people marched in Jena, protesting this racism and supporting the six youth.

•Since then over 60 incidents of noose hangings have occurred nationwide. (NY Times, 11/24)

•Thousands of Muslim workers have been detained in the U.S. and the Middle East and imprisoned and tortured in concentration camps in Guantánamo and “secret” CIA jails.

On the road to waging imperialist wars to control the flow of oil, the U.S. war machine has been tripping over a few roadblocks. Two of the main ones are their troop shortage and the fact that a crumbling economy hits most heavily on the super-oppressed black and Latino workers and youth. On the one hand, they need to win black, Latin and immigrant workers to fight and die in their wars. But since racism is inherent to capitalism, it inevitably shoots and harasses black and Latin workers while using the threat of deportation to terrorize and persecute immigrant workers. This racist terror undermines many of these workers’ loyalty to the system.

As a result of such racism, 2.2 million people are imprisoned nationwide, 70% of them black or Hispanic. Every twelfth black male between 25 and 29 languishes behind bars; the figure for whites is 1 in 100 (Bureau of Justice Statistics). Liberal misleaders and reformers have been working overtime to try to solve this insoluble contradiction: the system’s inherent racism oppressing black and Latino workers and their need to super-exploit them for super-profits, versus needing to use them as cannon fodder in their wars. They try to divert workers’ anger into such reform efforts as “community policing,” “civilian review boards” and their election campaigns. But to fight police murders we can’t fall into this trap!
The only way to smash the Klan in blue is to smash the racist system — capitalism — that uses them to terrorize working-class communities. Communism — the system of workers’ power, a society run for need, not profit — will sweep away these new night riders and their politician masters, crushing them like the cockroaches they are. To achieve this, we must organize!

POLICE TERROR

There is an alternative to capitalist oppression and its rotten culture: a society that produces for need, not profit; a society where the workers from all backgrounds can determine their own destiny as one united class; where we can stamp out selfishness, racism, sexism, killer cops, “workfare,” profit wars, prisons, deportations and national borders; where this system will be ground into the dust under the feet of millions of united workers and students.

That society is communism, and Progressive Labor Party is serious about organizing to make that world a reality. Join us!

Tagged , , ,

‘WANTED FOR MURDER: CHICAGO KKKOPS!’

CHICAGO, Nov. 16 — Students from Chicago State University, Purdue University-Calumet in Indiana, PLP members and other community members took part in a rally against police brutality on 87th and the Dan Ryan Expressway. The Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) long history of racist murder was repeated in August when cops killed Aaron Harrison and three other young black men and even more recently with the murder of rapper Freddie “Latee” Wilson. Protesters carried signs reading “Police Kill!!!!,” “Victims Must Have Justice,” and “Wanted for Murder: Chicago KKKops!” and chanted “No justice, No peace. No racist police!!!” and “Hey pigs what do you say? How many kids did you kill today?”

We distributed dozens of CHALLENGES and flyers to workers getting off the El train and to young high school students who talked about how the cops would stop and harass them and their friends in the neighborhood. We made many contacts and will be talking to them in the future about communist ideas and building a PLP base within the community.

To date, in 2007 the Chicago police have shot 31 people. Community misleaders like the Rev. Ira Acree of the Leaders Network and 28th Ward Alderman Ed Smith want an Independent Review Board to pacify angry workers and let the killer KKKops off the hook, but the protesters at the 87th street rally have some understanding that racism and police brutality cannot be ended by any “independent” board. We in PLP must win more anti-racist workers and youth to our communist politics to build the fight against capitalism, the real cause of racist police terror.

Tagged , ,

Two Million Strikers Battle Sellouts, French Gov’t

<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>PARIS, Nov. 23 — The class struggle tests the mettle of organizations and individuals. Over the past two weeks, three simultaneous, interconnected battles have offered workers and students in France and around the world an assessment of their friends and foes.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>SPECIAL PENSION PLANS</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>On Nov. 13, 202,000 rail, energy and Paris commuter train workers struck a second time to defend their special pension plans, which allow them to retire at 50 or 55. On Oct. 18, a 24-hour strike by 247,600 couldn’t force the government to abandon plans to increase retirement age by five years.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>This attack on pensions is the first battle in the bosses’ effort to make all workers work longer for smaller pensions. The MEDEF — the French bosses’ association — wants to force everyone to work 41 or more years to be eligible for retirement. By attacking the transport and energy workers, the bosses hope to break the working-class unity needed to defend and extend existing retirement plans.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>The bosses’ media, especially television, accused transport workers of “holding passengers hostage” and regularly said the strike was over. Socialist Party leader Emmanuel Valls attacked the special retirement plans as “unfair.” In October, labor faker François Chérèque, CFDT union head, said that “a long strike doesn’t lead anywhere” and on Nov. 16, the CFDT advocated ending the strike.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>Worse yet, hours after the strike began, Bernard Thibault of the CGT union, the leader of the three-week 1995 strike that successfully defended special pension plans, abandoned maintaining the plans intact, offering to “negotiate” their “reform.” Thibault — a top member of the French “Communist” Party — also stooped to red-baiting, warning workers not to allow “political organizations” to hijack their strike. The CFDT and UNSA unions and the Socialist Party immediately supported Thibault’s sellout. Only the SUD union refused to downsize the workers’ pensions.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>Negotiations began on Nov. 21 after French President Nicolas Sarkozy dropped ending the strike as a precondition. </p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>The union hacks in France and Germany also did nothing to build international solidarity, although train drivers in Germany were simultaneously striking for higher wages.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>Despite these attacks, a minority of transport and energy workers held out for nine days. On Nov. 22, Anissa, a Paris rail ticket agent, said “a gulf is opening up between the CGT and rail workers.” In Marseilles, a striker declared: “We should have blocked traffic! No trains moving. We know how to play cat-and-mouse with the CRS [the national riot police].”</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS </p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>On Nov. 20, 1.7 million public sector workers (out of 5.2 million) struck and 700,000 demonstrated in cities nationwide, demanding higher wages, job creation and better public services. In particular, 454,000 of the country’s 739,000 school teachers struck; 40,000 university and high school students joined them. It was a golden opportunity to unite civil servants, rail and energy workers and students.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>The bosses’ friends made sure that didn’t happen. When the strike was announced on Oct. 23, Chérèque declared that “if there is a combination of strike movements between the special retirement plans, civil servants, and I don’t know what else,” the CFDT would not participate. The UNSA union also insisted that each industrial sector remain separate.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>On Nov. 20, Alain Olive, UNSA union general secretary, condemned rail and energy workers for defending special retirement plans, and thus “cannibalizing” civil servants’ demands. And President Sarkozy red-baited, saying “the majority must prevail over a very small minority, even if that minority is violent” — as if 1.7 million workers were “a small, violent minority.”</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>Paris workers refused to let Chérèque demonstrate with them, showing they’ve seen through that faker. But they allowed Thibault, who’s no better, to lead the march.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>The leaders of the public workers’ unions are threatening another 24-hour strike in early December if the government does not announce measures to increase purchasing power by Nov. 30. But the rail and energy workers’ experience shows that only long, earnest strikes have a chance to win some demands.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>STUDENTS AND TEACHERS</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>Students have been striking for three weeks against the Pécresse law, which gives private business an even bigger say in running public universities and gives university presidents despotic power. Of 80 universities, 30 have been shut down and another 20 are severely disrupted. The movement has spread to high schools, where 80 have been disrupted or shut down. The CRS riot police have brutally attacked students on many campuses.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>Although teaching loads will increase dramatically under the Pécresse law, university teachers have been slow to support the student movement. The SNESUP-FSU, the main university teachers’ union, and the CGT and SUD-Education unions have finally called for a teachers’ strike on Nov. 27 to demand abrogation of the Pécresse law.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>COMMUNISTS NEEDED</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>The sharpening class struggle in France is exposing the union hacks’ and fakers’ treachery. These class traitors’ reformism puts them even more on the enemy’s side of the class struggle, in this age of fierce inter-imperialist rivalry, based on pushing racism and lowering workers’ standard of living still more to make us pay for their economic crisis and endless wars.</p>
<p align=”justify”>  <font face=”verdana” size=”2″>But, as Chérèque’s and Thibault’s betrayals show, exposure’s not enough. To avoid the pitfalls of discouragement and cynicism, workers need to build a revolutionary communist party. Only such leadership can move past these traitorous union misleaders and turn these class struggles into schools for communist revolution to eliminate the profit system.</p>

Tagged , , , , ,

Workers Put Brakes on Ford/Russia

LENINGRAD, Nov. 21 — Over 1,700 workers have struck the Ford factory in Vsevolozhsk near here. The workers are demanding a 30% wage increase and a 6½-hour night shift. They had staged a one-day warning strike on November 7, the 90th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Currently, workers make between 16,000 and 25,000 rubles ($600-$1,000) monthly.

Workers won a 14% wage hike after a strike here last February, in a one-year contract that expires February 28, 2008, but they decided not to wait until then to strike Ford again. This strike follows an August walkout in Togliatti against AvtoVAZ, Russia’s largest carmaker, which is owned by the biggest Russian weapons exporter on the world market. Some AvtoVAZ strike leaders were fired while the factory director became Togliatti’s mayor.

Auto workers aren’t the only ones stirring in Russia. On November 9, the newspaper Nezavisimaia Gazeta reported “a gathering strike movement in the country….For four days, dock workers at the oil port in Tupas [on the Black Sea] were on strike. Currently, the workers at Ford are carrying out a warning strike. Next week, dockworkers at the seaport [here] are threatening to shut down operations.”

Fifty percent of Russian families with one child live in poverty. The number grows to 65% of families with two children and 85% with three children. The real numbers are really much higher because the official poverty line is set far below the level that allows people to eat properly and meet their needs. In capitalist Russia there are four million homeless people, three million destitute and five million abandoned children.

The sharpening class struggle in Russia reflects the growing attacks on the international working class by the bosses worldwide as they intensify their competition for markets, resources and cheap labor. Auto workers are in a unique position to build solidarity globally, but this requires communist leadership. U.S and Russian auto workers met together in an international conference last spring and we’re attempting to forge that unity, one of the building blocks to communist revolution.

Tagged , ,

Auto Workers Strike Navistar War-Truck Production

CHICAGO, IL, Nov. 25 — Since Oct. 23, about 4,000 workers, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW), have been striking over unfair labor practices against Navistar. Over 500 of those workers, in UAW Locals 6 and 2293, work just outside Chicago building the MaxxPro engines for the blast-resistant trucks used by the U.S. military in Iraq. The MaxxPro chassis is built in Garland, Texas, and the trucks are assembled in West Point, Mississippi. Both plants are non-union.

Navistar is using scabs at the Melrose Park engine plant here, with a wink and a nod from the UAW leadership that boasts, “Our commitment has always been to both the membership and the company because we, the UAW, know we need each other to be successful, but I am not sure the company agrees.” No solidarity rallies have been organized or attempts made to stop the scabs. In fact, the company was able to increase output and meet its October production targets despite the strike, delivering 140 MaxxPro blast-resistant trucks for the Pentagon’s mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle program. Navistar has orders for almost 3,000 MaxxPros, more than any other supplier, and plans to build 500 a month by February.
Navistar, encouraged by the massive concessions just granted to GM, Ford, Chrysler and Delphi, is taking a hard line with the workers and the union leaders. As with the other recent contracts, the union is asking for some “guarantee” of work over the life of the new contract, but Navistar is forming a joint venture with a major auto producer in India and is unwilling to grant guarantees.

PLP will be organizing support for, and attempting to build some ties with, Navistar workers on strike against this war profiteer. One good way to solidify ties would be uniting to physically stop scabs from entering the plant.

Tagged , ,

Anti-Racism the Main Subject At B’klyn H.S.

BROOKLYN, NY, Nov. 26 — Anti-racist consciousness and actions are mounting at our high school. The frame-up of six black youth in Jena, Louisiana, struck a chord here. As soon as we raised the issue, students began organizing. Proposals for rallies, buttons, petitions, forums and even walkouts emerged.

We decided to start with an anti-racist assembly to be followed by an anti-racist fair. Meanwhile, we produced stickers that said, “Free the Jena 6, Unite Against Racism.” Everyone wanted one. We produced over 1,000 buttons with the same slogan. Students are still asking for them weeks later.

On the day of the big rally in Jena, we organized a “wear-black” day. Many students and staff participated. We had an especially large meeting to hear a report from someone who had attended the Jena 6 rally in Louisiana. Clearly many students and staff wanted to take a stand against racism.

When the students went to the principal to present the idea of an anti-racist assembly, a roomful of administrators awaited them, but the students were not intimidated. The idea of the assembly was generally well received, but there was objection to the term “anti-racist.” “Tolerance” was proposed. This provoked good discussions about the nature of racism. The students were very clear — their goal was to fight racism. They did not want to “tolerate” it or have others do so.

A lively discussion began on whether racism could ever be ended. Many students thought “no.” Yet many saw that racism is man-made. Starting with the slave trade and plantation slavery, racism had been immensely profitable for the slave-owners. That is still true today as capitalists super-exploit black and Latino workers, and now especially immigrant workers. Additionally, racism divides and weakens the working class. To achieve any improvement, one must confront and fight against racism. As Karl Marx said long ago, “labor in the white skin cannot be free as long as labor in the black skin is enslaved.” Thus, you have to end capitalism to end racism.

Such divisions have been evident at some recent anti-war marches. Students and staff who attended noticed the marchers were mainly white and saw almost no signs mentioning the Jena 6 case.
When racist cops shot and killed a mentally ill, 18-year-old young black man recently (see front page) whose brother attends our school, the administration did not even acknowledge this tragedy until a teacher raised it. Although an announcement was read, grief counseling was never mentioned. The dead youngsters’ brother is devastated. Several students attended a rally and also the wake for the young man. They said at least there should be a moment of silence at the school.

A more recent meeting discussed the anti-racist assembly with the principal and several administrators. What was its goal? “Education about racism” was the answer. It was suggested that some positive activities come out of this assembly. “Good idea” was the reply. When students asked an administrator for suggestions, none were forthcoming — but “don’t get students mad about racism. They will just get riled up and angry. We have a nice school. Don’t get students stirred up. Provide something positive.”

This is a challenge for those of us organizing this anti-racist assembly. However, how can one not get “riled up” when racism still exists everywhere in so many vicious ways? Yet getting upset but doing nothing is useless. So we need to do two things. Firstly, we must organize a series of anti-racist activities in which lots of students and staff can participate. Even more importantly, we must commit ourselves to a lifetime of struggle against racism and against the capitalist system that promotes it.

PLP members are participating in all these activities. We have expanded our membership and developed two study groups. Our goal is to increase CHALLENGE sales and recruit students and teachers to our Party as we intensify the fight against racism in the school.

Tagged , , ,

Haiti’s Workers Battle Hanes’ Firings

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — Since last May, 500 fired garment workers have been fighting against a Hanes Brand (HBI) contractor, CD Apparel, in an industrial park here. CD Apparel, owned by Haitian boss Frantz Pilorge, blames the firings on problems with HBI’s two other local contractors. So in the fight among local and international bosses, workers pay with their jobs.

The contractor gave the fired workers some meager compensation, hardly more than the low wages they were already making. They’re demanding compensation comparable to the higher Hanes’ wage rates in other countries. The fired workers have been holding street protests and other actions for their demands. They’ve maintained their unity and received solidarity from other workers here and internationally.

Workers are learning, in the midst of class struggle, that a boss is a boss, whether they’re Haitian or an international corporation. Haitian workers and youth are tired of being super-exploited by capitalism and imperialism. After the U.S.-Canadian-French military invaded Haiti in 2004 and ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, they left U.N. “peacekeeping” forces here led by the Brazilian army. Lula, elected President of Brazil as a “militant labor leader” but who went on to serve local and international capitalism, continues to support the Brazilian-led invasion force. This U.N. occupation army, like the drug dealers here, has just become another oppressive gang.

These militant workers must learn that capitalism and imperialism will never serve workers. They need to become revolutionary communist leaders and join the international fight for a world without bosses.
Send messages of solidarity to the struggling garment workers at ouvrierscdapparel600haiti@yahoo.fr

Tagged , ,

Chávez Reform Won’t Bring Workers’ Power

CARACAS, VENEZUELA, Nov. 23 — Chanting “Educación Primero para el hijo del obrero; Educación después para el hijo del burgues” (First educate the workers’ children, and only then those of the bourgeoisie), and “Obreros y Estudiantes, Unidos en Combate” (Workers and Students, United in Struggle), tens of thousands of college, high school students and teacher from all 24 states marched to Miraflores, the presidential palace, on Nov. 21 to support President Chávez’s Constitutional Reform referendum scheduled for Dec. 2. It was the biggest youth march in recent history, countering those by right-wing students opposing Chávez’s plans.

The reform has sharpened all the contradictions here. The right-wing opposition says it will establish Chávez as a “communist dictator.” They have used the right-wing students to lead the anti-Chávez attack and are trying to provoke a military coup against him. It’s also sharpened the in-fighting among Chávez’s supporters. General Baudel, his former Defense Minister, has now joined the opposition.

But Chávez’s reform won’t bring in “communism.” It will continue Chávez’s Bolivarian Socialism — state capitalism with lots of privatization.

The U.S. and the local opposition say the reform will enable Chávez to be re-elected forever. Of course, they don’t level this criticism against Egypt’s Mubarak, Pakistan’s Musharraf, Saudi rulers or any other U.S. ally actually in power with no real mass support.

The reform, while making some nationalist changes in the army, won’t change its class nature, and it will still serve the executive power. The National Guard will become a Territorial Guard and will include “Bolivarian people’s militias,” but will still be subordinate to the Army. And the latter’s main pillars will be discipline, obedience and subordination. So basically, soldiers will be ordered to serve the ruling faction.

The reform will facilitate state expropriation of private companies for the “social interest.” But this maintains “just payments” to private owners for their holdings. Recently the government bought Verizon, paying it more than its value on the stock exchange, a good deal for the phone company. This is just a “change” from one form of capitalist property to another. It will guarantee “mixed-capital” ventures like those PDVSA (the state-owned oil company) now has with big international oil corporations — again another form of capitalism.

The reform will institute a 6-hour work-day and “popular councils,” supposedly organs of “people’s power.” But these councils will be limited to the municipal level. They’re similar to Brazilian President Lula’s ruling Labor Party (PT) “reforms.” Its “participatory budget” (as labeled in Brazil) has even been attacked by PT rank-and-filers as government control of the mass movements.

In Venezuela, these “popular councils” will have no power over national policies, the state budget, the PDVSA, the armed forces or the judicial system.

This constitutional reform fight is one about which kind of capitalism will rule Venezuela, not one about destroying capitalism and putting workers in power under a system based on workers’ needs not on profits. It also involves a section of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie wanting a bigger piece of the pie, and not giving the best part to the U.S. imperialists (as the old ruling class did).

Chávez now is making deals with international imperialist companies in China, Russia and even India instead of just with U.S.- or Spanish-owned corporations. (That’s why Spain’s King shut down Chávez during the recent Ibero-American Presidential Summit meeting in Chile). Brazil’s Senate has just approved Venezuela’s full membership in Mercosur (the Brazilian/Argentinean-controlled South American Common Market).

In 1989, Venezuela’s workers and students rebelled with a mass popular uprising (“el Caracazo”) against International Monetary Fund-imposed austerity measures. It was crushed brutally by the then social-democratic President Carlos Pérez, who sent the army to smash it with tanks, killing over 1,000 workers and youth. Afterwards, Chávez and a few other officers, fearing the masses would continue to rebel and eventually topple the whole capitalist system, led a military revolt against the old corrupt ruling class. He was jailed and then released and ran for President in 1999, winning with the support of angry workers and youth.

But revolutionary workers’ power — communism — won’t come from above, from any “savior” trying to reform capitalism, but only through organizing a mass communist-led movement. That movement must be built among the workers and students who have supported Chávez, struggling with them to shatter their illusions in “Bolivarian socialism.”

Tagged , , ,

Obrador’s ‘Fight’ All About Oil for Mexico’s Bosses

“Our movement has the obligation to play a very important role, given the imminent decision of the usurper government and its allies, to hand over the oil to the foreigners ….. It’s obvious that it was this that led them to carry out the electoral fraud of 2006, to violate the constitution and impose the coup d’etat.” — Lopez Obrador, addressing over 100,000 followers last November 18 in Mexico City’s Zócalo.

Since 1938 when Mexico’s oil industry was nationalized, there’s been a tug of war between elements of the Mexican and U.S. ruling classes, seeking to re-privatize it, and other elements of Mexico’s elite who adamantly oppose it. This struggle has lasted for decades without major consequences or disruptions.

However, the sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry and relative decline of U.S. imperialism relative to its rivals are rapidly changing this. Wars in the Middle East and other oil-producing areas have endangered energy security for the world’s imperialists, forcing U.S. bosses to speed efforts to take over Mexico’s energy industry and militarize the country via the Merida Plan. An added bonanza: Mexican oil costs $4 a barrel to produce. But this drive has also sharpened what has become the main contradiction in Mexico: privatization versus nationalization, with its potential of escalating into civil war.

Since 1983, U.S. imperialists and their Mexican allies have intentionally run PEMEX into the ground, to justify privatizing it. Consequently PEMEX is practically bankrupt, owing over $42 billion to private investors despite yearly revenues of almost $100 billion. Of this, the government takes $60 billion in taxes, or 40% of its budget. Very little of the rest is invested in PEMEX or into exploring for, and drilling, new wells. If this persists at its present rate, in seven years, PEMEX will be unable to extract any oil from the ground.

This scenario and the pressing needs of their U.S. masters requires the consolidation of control over Mexico’s oil, cheap labor, and a new but growing aerospace industry linked to the one in Southern California. To address this situation and in preparation for global war President Felipe Calderon and his political cohorts are preparing a reform bill to privatize Mexico’s energy sector. This has forced those rulers who oppose privatization to move their struggle from the legislative chambers to the streets of every city, town and village.

Heading their efforts, Lopez Obrador is building his Convencion Nacional Democratica with an alternative plan. So far he has traveled to 1,009 municipalities and gathered over 1.7 million signatures of people committed to becoming representatives of what he calls the “Legitimate Government of Mexico.” By the end of 2008, he will have visited all 2,500 Mexican municipalities and hopes to have signed up another five million representatives.

Obrador’s alternative plan would immediately invest about $36 billion in PEMEX. He claims $20 billion would come from the federal budget by halving the high salaries and perks of top bureaucrats in the three branches of government and PEMEX. The other $16 billion would come from the surplus obtained from selling the oil above the price set by the Mexican Congress. Because of oil’s high price, this sum could easily top its $10 billion average of the last three years. Like a true capitalist defender, Obrador wouldn’t raise taxes on the corporations or on his billionaire friend Carlos Slim, even though all private enterprises combined pay less than $20 billion in taxes.

Obrador aspires to turn Mexico into a major energy power and use its huge revenues to enrich a few Mexican capitalists and fund some social programs a la Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. The Mexican capitalists he represents are fearful that a U.S. take-over of PEMEX will not only deny them access to its profits but will also destabilize the country by further grinding the working class into poverty and hopelessness. These nationalist capitalists want stability to keep their exploitation of the working class running smoothly. However, U.S. bosses plan to militarize the country to squelch the nationalists’ opposition, if necessary, and any potential working-class rebellion.

Only time will tell how this contradiction among these vultures will evolve. But from Oaxaca to Tabasco, workers are simmering with anger over the racist capitalist exploitation they suffer. PLP must win all workers and youth to the understanding that neither Calderon nor Obrador or Hugo Chávez, nor U.S. or any other imperialists represent our interests. PLP’ers and friends must work in factories, schools, neighborhoods and mass movements, like Obrador’s, to offer workers and youth the only alternative to capitalism: uniting millions of workers, students and soldiers to build the PLP and smash all capitalists/imperialists. From this we’ll build a communist society, where workers will control oil and everything else, serving the needs of the international working class.

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: