Monthly Archives: April 2011

Need Mass Fight vs. Racist Unemployment ‘Recovery’? Millions Jobless until Capitalism Is Destroyed

The Obama administration and all the bosses’ media pundits lie that the continuing massive unemployment — the greatest since the Depression of the 1930s — is dropping. But according to Shadowstats.com the figures coming out of the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics are “openly misleading.” (“March Employment and Unemployment”)

The headlines scream a miniscule “decline” in March from 8.92% to 8.83%. But the real world, says Shadowstats, shows 22% unemployed and underemployed when adding the 8.4 million working part-time because they can’t get full-time work and the 6.4 million short-term “discouraged” workers — those who’ve stopped looking for non-existent jobs for the last six months.

Yet even this 22% doesn’t include the millions of long-term “discouraged” workers — those out of work longer than six months and up to a year or more — nor workers on welfare who would want a job if they could afford daycare for their children. Actually, 125,000 jobs per month are needed just to keep up with population growth.

Furthermore, at least a million youth joined the military because they couldn’t find a job. And at least 1.4 million imprisoned on non-violent drug possession charges (put in rehab programs, not jails, in most industrialized countries) would add even more to the jobless rolls, given their meager chance of being hired as “ex-felons.” Finally millions of laid-off undocumented immigrant workers are never counted at all.

Thus, the total jobless rate exceeds 30%. And as for youth, “Teenage unemployment remains off the charts.” (NY Times, 4/2)

How long will these millions remain jobless? “If the economy adds 200,000 jobs a month, [the latest “reported” number] it will be 2019 before it reaches the employment rate that preceded this recession.” (NY Times, 4/2) That’s what capitalist economists call the “normal” rate — 6%. Yes, under capitalism it’s “normal” in the current labor force for possibly 10 million workers to be unemployed!

However, because of racist discrimination — “last hired, first fired” — unemployment for black and Latino workers are double the overall rates. In Detroit 50% of black males are jobless.

So this is what Obama and the economists call “an improving economy.” This is the state of capitalism for the U.S. working class entering the second decade of the 21st century.

It’s drastically worse for our sisters and brothers abroad. In Spain, a so-called “industrialized” country, it’s “officially” 20%. In the Middle-Eastern countries “in rebellion,” and in Latin-America the rates reach 40% to 50% or more. South Africa’s “official rate” is 25% but more realistically 40% to 50% overall and 80% to 90% in the former Apartheid “townships.” (NPR, 4/7) In Haiti it’s 80%!

Meanwhile, in the U.S., “Hourly wages are falling because with unemployment so high, most people…will take whatever they can get.” (Robert Reich Blog, 4/1) Yet there’s only one job opening for every five jobless workers (NY Times, 4/1).

Obama’s ‘Shared Sacrifice’ — Trillions for Imperialist War

In true capitalist fashion, Wall Street profits rose to $426 BILLION in the last quarter of 2010 alone. (U.S. Commerce Dept.) The financiers’ bonuses in 2010 cleared $150 billion. Yet states have begun to cut the maximum weeks the jobless can collect unemployment benefits from 26 to 20.

“State and local governments are slashing their budgets by roughly $110 billion this year” (Reich Blog, 4/1) but Obama sends 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and each one costs $1 million per year to maintain. His war on Libya cost $550 million in the first ten days.

As millions walk the streets and lose their homes, U.S. bosses use the money stolen from the working class to carry on their wars in their rivalry with other imperialists for control of markets, cheap labor abroad and resources, especially oil and gas, the lifeline of capitalism. In turn, these wars enforce poverty wages in the wake of these invasions, adding still more to their profits.

This entire capitalist Great Recession — a Depression for the 35 million jobless, especially for black, Latino and Asian workers — was propelled by the system’s drive for maximum profits. Wall Street bankers manipulated the home loan market to reap trillions, and, when this “bubble” exploded, tens of millions were driven from their jobs and more millions from their homes. Then Obama turned around and appointed the very same bosses who profited from the crisis to run the economy!

Crises Built into Profit System

Such crises are embedded in the profit system. This current one follows a long line of many which occur every six to ten years, going back to the 1800s.

Only the overthrow of capitalism, eliminating the exploitation of the working class by eliminating the bosses who do the exploiting, can end these crises of racist unemployment. This requires a working class led by the revolutionary Progressive Labor Party. This Party must be built to be able to lead such a revolution, whose goal is a communist society in which workers control the means of production and run everything on behalf of our class.

An important way to build PLP would be to organize workers in every realm of society to fight this jobless crisis — one expected to last this entire decade — with organizations of the unemployed, with demonstrations, mass marches and strikes. In such an intensified class struggle, we can expose the source of our oppression and win millions of workers worldwide to understand the necessity for communist revolution, truly a “school for communism.”

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Debate on Revolutionary Violence Marks Pre-May Day Dinner

NEWARK, NJ April 9 — There is nothing better to accompany some good BBQ chicken than with a discussion about the need for revolutionary violence. That is what happened here at our pre-May luncheon with 15 students and workers.  The purpose of the luncheon was to encourage some of our friends to become active organizers in the last few weeks leading up to May Day.  One comrade spoke about the history of May Day.  A student then explained her experiences at last year’s May Day.  She described how exciting the rally was and how the dinner was “awesome.”

After reviewing the plans for this year’s May Day, we began to discuss a Neo-Nazi rally in Trenton on April 16th. Everybody agreed that we needed to have a presence at the rally.  However, when a comrade raised the use of violence to try and stop the Nazis, one student questioned the usefulness of this strategy.  The students believed that by using violence, we might undermine our own ability to organize future workers and students into the Party because the media will be able to cast a negative light on what we are doing.

A comrade responded by saying how non-violence is an idea promoted by the ruling class to keep workers docile.  He said Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi are used as examples of how non-violence won freedom and liberation. In actuality, black workers in the U.S. and the working class in India still face dire levels of poverty, racism, and exploitation.  In fact, according to author Michelle Alexander in her book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In the Age of Colorblindness,” there are more black workers in jail, prison, on parole or probation now in the United States than there were black slaves in 1850 (about 10 years before the Civil War).

Another argument was that while the ruling class continues to push the idea of non-violence ,  they invade and bomb countries from Afghanistan to Libya to maintain control of oil.

Two comrades recalled the events of the 1975 summer project in Boston and the need for violence to smash the racists who were attacking black school children while riding the buses.  The mixture of excitement and nervousness was evident as they evoked memories of charging up a hill with their belts ready to attack a group of racists.

Some workers said that they don’t want to use violence, whether it is to defeat Nazis or to take state power, but the working class is left with no other choice.  From the revolutions in Russia and China to the “left” movements in South America and Africa to the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam movements in the U.S., the ruling class has shown that they will always use violence to hold onto power.

The last person warned that the media will always put the Progressive Labor Party in a negative light since the media is controlled by the bosses and only supports their ideology.

The youths may not have been convinced at the end of the discussion that revolutionary violence is necessary, but overall it was a very positive experience and some of them will join us in opposing the Nazis on April 16.

We will continue to strengthen the personal and political relationships with our friends and coworkers to help break down the bosses’ myths, one of them being that non-violence is the only tool for the working class.

What seemed like a routine talk about May Day turned into a lively discussion about smashing Nazis and the need for communist revolution, always a great way to end a pre-May Day event

Drivers, Riders Unite vs. Service Cuts, Fare Hikes

SAN FRANCISCO-OAKLAND BAY AREA, April 9 — “I really don’t have a problem raising the price of the youth pass.” These were the words of one of the AC Transit Board of Directors last month, as they discussed a range of plans to raise bus fares. How insulting! These are the bus passes that kids need to get to school!

The bus already costs $2 a ride, plus 25 cents for a 1-use transfer. On top of that, service was cut 15 percent in 2010, stranding many passengers and leading to longer waits and crowded buses. Where else but public transit can you get away with charging much more for less and worse service?

Several transit activists and transit workers attended the meeting and spoke out against the proposed fare increases: “You say there’s no money. Why don’t you go talk to Chevron?” said one speaker. Another commented, “It’s ironic that you talk about honoring Rosa Parks with a poster — if Rosa Parks were here, she would be disgusted by these proposals. It’s not about whether you sit in the front or back of the bus, but about whether there’s even a bus at all to catch!” These fare increases will have a racist and anti-working class effect as they hit our riders who are around 70% low income.

Unfortunately, there were very few in attendance (perhaps 15 passengers and nine transit workers). It will take much, much more pressure to slow down these major attacks on the ridership. Our union leadership says they are in favor of this type of activism, but they didn’t even put out a memo to the members, letting them know about this board meeting!

For those of us who did organize for the meeting, it was a positive start. Two drivers spoke at the union meeting, and passed out flyers at work for about five hours during the week. We also called around 15 drivers and texted about 50; this resulted in four drivers coming with us to the meeting.

Despite the fact that we just suffered a disastrous arbitration and currently pay back 6% of our check every week, many drivers are still hesitant to see themselves as activists. There was much more interest at the union meeting around the issue of whether to hold a special election for a new union president or to wait eight months for the scheduled election. Most drivers believe that the key is having a good leader (a “fighter,” someone “knowledgeable,” someone who “can’t be bought,” or all of the above). Also, most drivers are hanging on to the hope that things will get better once the economy starts to recover, and we can hold on to our standard of living.

But these attacks seem likely to continue for the foreseeable future. As CHALLENGE frequently reports, the U.S. corporate class is in worldwide competition. Their main solution is squeezing the working class here in the U.S., and waging war abroad to maintain their stranglehold on oil and other resources. Once more drivers take a serious look at this “world situation,” they might conclude that we need many, many more rank-and-file leaders.

We invite all transit workers to Progressive Labor Party’s May Day celebration this year, where we will celebrate international working-class unity, discuss the rebellions in the Middle East and the Wisconsin fight-back, and look toward a world free of capitalism, where public services would come first, not last.

PLP’s Ideas Inspire Workers from Senegal At Harlem Protest

NEW YORK CITY, March 19 — “Abdoulaye Wade, dictator!” and “Wade, degage!” [Wade, get out!] rang out through Harlem. Over 100 Senegalese workers, inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, participated in a demonstration of their own against the flagrantly corrupt president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade. Since the PLP convention last August, our PLP club has built a small presence in the West African community of Harlem. A comrade and I were at a Senegalese cafe in the neighborhood when we heard the commotion about the demonstration forming at 116th Street and Lenox Avenue.

Abdoulaye Wade was elected president in a coalition of electoral parties called the “Sopi Coalition” [“Sopi” is Wolof — an indigenous language spoken by many workers in west Africa — for “Change,”] in 2000. Eight years before Barack Obama ran for president in the United States, Wade promised sweeping reforms after 40 years of the corrupt, governing Socialist Party.

Steals $3.4 Billion

It was recently revealed that over the past ten years since the election, Wade stole over 1.6 trillion francs (about $3.4 billion USD) from the government treasury, including $400 million for a new private jet that previously belonged to French president Nicholas Sarkozy, who upgraded to a better jet himself. Wade, who is 84 years old and sick, refitted the jet with a state-of-the-art hospital clinic staffed by French doctors and nurses and (perhaps wisely) insists that only French pilots be allowed to fly the jet.

The workers at the demonstration added to the list of abuses under Wade. According to a recent article, when a journalist recently accused him of looting the government treasury, Wade retorted, “at least I admit I’m using the money!” Wade’s son, Karim, is Minister of State for International Corporations, Minister of Regional Development, Minister of Regional Transportation, and Minister of Infrastructure. Meanwhile, other attacks include:

2.5 million workers in the capital, Dakar, suffer electricity blackouts for four hours a day;

Primary and secondary schools have seen mass layoffs and closures;

The university in Dakar that is serving primarily working-class students is facing deep cuts, as the bosses’ children study abroad in France, Britain or the United States.

The demonstration, led by an organization representing the Senegalese diaspora worldwide, caught us by surprise, and therefore the hour we had to prepare was a limiting factor for us. We only had five CHALLENGEs on hand, but we found an internet cafe and quickly revised the PL leaflet “Middle Class Dream or Working Class Power?” (showing the futility of relying on union sellouts and politicians) to reflect the situation in Senegal, and printed off 150 copies.

We ensured that every worker received the leaflet. Although we didn’t have time to write a translation in French, the workers translated the leaflet aloud from English to those who only spoke French.

Voting No Solution

The weaknesses of nationalism were apparent in the demonstration; one popular chant, in the language of Wolof  went: “Na dem, na dem, na dema dema dem, bou deme ba dem ñou dew akh souñou rew!” In English, “Let him go, go, go so that when [Wade] is gone we’ll have the country to ourselves!” However, one worker who grew up in Mali and lived in Senegal for several years before coming to the United States, spit on the ground after a speaker at the rally supported voting as a solution.

“I spit on this because it’s all for nothing! Look at what’s happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Wisconsin, everywhere — this isn’t just about Senegal!” We gave the worker a CHALLENGE and discussed the Party’s position on uniting the international working class for communist revolution and smashing all borders. The worker read through a couple of articles, and made an impromptu speech. A small group of five demonstrators and onlookers in the street stopped to listen to him.

He said, “I like communism because it’s for everybody. In the United States they say they’re ‘for’ everybody, but in January the cops in Brooklyn beat me. That’s what a democracy is! Everything happening in Egypt already happened in Mali in 1991. I was a schoolboy and we filled our bags with rocks instead of books because the police shot at us. If you saw a cop, then BOOM! A rock to his head or a bottle if you could find one.

This I’ll never forget: a cop shot my best friend when we were throwing rocks one day. He died in my arms, so with his blood still on me I found that cop and broke his skull open with the biggest rock I could find. He murdered my friend so it was fair.

“I tell people all the time that people, black or white, are working people and we’re the majority of society. Look what’s happening in Japan! In Libya! This would never happen if we took care of each other…I’m not fighting because I want money. I make enough. But I have two children now and I’m sick when I think of them being attacked in the street like me because their lives are worth nothing. We need to fight!”

When the worker wanted to know if the Party would help organize a demonstration against police brutality, “with ten other friends of mine who were beaten too,” we suggested to have a meeting (see page 6).

Our efforts at the demonstration had positive results: we made four contacts, met a few raised fists and heard many positive remarks. We were completely ignored by the organizers of the demonstration, who just read our leaflets and shrugged; we were lucky, and can’t always expect such a passive greeting. Even though there were only two of us, it reaffirmed that even modest efforts to bring our revolutionary politics to the working class creates opportunities to elevate the class struggle and build a new mass international communist movement. We also agreed from now on we should carry more CHALLENGEs with us, in case we’re ever caught off-guard again. More to follow.

CHALLENGE Is Exciting Students in Portugal

PORTUGAL, March 31 — In recent months here a group of fifteen high school students, aware of the ongoing national crisis in Portugal, have begun weekly meetings to discuss various political and economic issues. We review the consequences of capitalist society, our thoughts on solutions, as well as organize different awareness events.

After being introduced to CHALLENGE the group was excited to know their fight was happening all over the world and that it was supported by many people. The students have read and discussed many of the articles, integrating them with their usual topics of discussion. They’ve begun to sneak CHALLENGE into school and pass them out to other students who are curious about the fight against capitalism.

It was also discussed that the country’s Prime Minister, José Socrates (representative of the Socialist Party), was re-elected for a second five-year term on the promise that he would no longer raise taxes. It’s a promise that hardly seems plausible due to the country’s excessive external deficit.

Can’t Afford More Than One Meal A Day

One year into his term and three “Stability and Growth Plans” (SGP) later, the country is paying 23% Value Added Tax (VAT). Most families are running on 400 euros (approximately U.S. $562) a month; retirement funds are as low as 200 euros (approximately U.S. $ 281.4) a month; the welfare funds have been cut and social services have rejected help for most families. This makes them unable to afford more than one meal a day.

The official unemployment rate is at 9.3%, making it one of the four European countries with the most unemployment. All the while the Prime Minister and his board of Ministers are being paid 4,000 euros (approximately U.S. $5,657) a month.

So it was no surprise when the Left Bloc (BE), supported by the Portuguese “Communist” Party (PCP), announced they were promoting a Censorship Motion based on evidence that the current legislative government was incompetent in creating quality living for the people. Although the Censorship Motion would probably be vetoed due to the “right” parties’ opposition, people are looking for the dismissal of the government.

However the motion never went to a vote because the Prime Minister announced that if his next “Stability and Growth Plan” (SGP IV) didn’t pass in Parliament, he would resign. The plan aimed to increase taxes again and reduce more social benefits, creating economic austerity in order to lower the external deficit.

IMF Invades

On March 23, the plan was presented in Parliament and was voted down by every single opposition party. Moments later the Prime Minister resigned. New elections are set for the end of May. Until then the Portuguese political crisis has been a factor in lowering the value of the Euro and is now more likely than ever to have the International Monetary Fund intervene in Portugal’s economy.

Amid such a political crisis, infuriating people with awful living conditions, the “Communist” party is seen as the left party, but they are far from revolutionary. They only propose reforms that just continue to support the capitalist system.  The removal of the Prime Minister might bring a lot of smiles to working people here, but it is far from the solution.  The bosses have always been able to get rid of their puppets while still maintaining capitalism. The struggle is to organize and recruit millions to fight for a communist world, free of exploitation.

Portugal has a history of revolutionary movements that were created and led by students. It’s no surprise then, that it is the students who are now taking the fight into their hands and organizing. With clearer knowledge of the fight between classes around the world, as well as these discussions that are open to anyone who wants to join, we are one step closer to organizing and recruiting for the fight against the capitalist system and exploitation.

Imperialists vs. Tea Partiers:Bosses’ Budget Brawl Masks Rulers’ Dogfight over War Needs

Obama averted a government shutdown on April 8 by brokering a flimsy budget compromise between two increasingly hostile camps of U.S. capitalists.

One is composed of imperialists who need ever-expanding and more costly U.S. wars. This faction’s power and wealth depend on forcibly reasserting its once almighty control of the world’s energy trade. Until 1975, Exxon, Mobil and Chevron — descendants of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil colossus — (along with ally Texaco) legally owned all of Saudi Arabia’s unsurpassed oil reserves. But today, rival oil and gas barons in China, Russia and Iran, unrest in the Arab world, and al Qaeda threaten the empire headed by U.S. flagship Exxon Mobil.

So, from Libya to Afghanistan, the U.S. war machine seeks to rescue the Rockefeller-Exxon wing of U.S. capitalists, at a cost of trillions of workers’ tax dollars; 27% of everyone’s federal taxes go to pay for these wars, which consume more than half of the Federal Budget.

On the other side of the split stand smaller, domestically-oriented bosses like oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, who consider war taxes an unnecessary burden. They rally popular support by bankrolling the anti-tax Tea Party. Koch Industries’ big new project, a proposed 900,000 barrel-per-day pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Texas won’t require paying one dime for a single aircraft carrier, bomber or soldier. By contrast, Exxon’s newfound gushers in Iraq [see box] help explain why U.S. “Defense” chief Gates “suggested that American troops could remain [t]here for years.” (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/10)

Each side in this ruling-class divide, highlighted by the budget battle, employs think-tanks to organize opinion among fellow capitalists and mislead the working class. The Cato Institute, founded and funded by the Kochs, decries the U.S. invasion of Libya; calls for halving the Pentagon’s financing; and supported the government shutdown Obama sidestepped. The U.S. war machine does relatively little for the Kochs and allied minor-league bosses.

Thus, Cato fellow Doug Bandow complains, “Most American military forces are busy doing tasks which have no recognizable connection to U.S. security.” (Forbes, 4/4) But the far more influential Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has the opposite take. CFR big shot Larry Diamond called U.S. military intervention in rebellious Arab lands a matter of life and death for U.S. imperialism: “It’s an existential challenge for the United States, because our interests in the region are so profound.” (CFR website, 4/8)  The CFR cloaks Obama’s Mideast-North Africa oil grab with the liberal fig leaf of “humanitarian protection.”

Saudi Oil Treasure Is Imperialists’ Grand Prize

Holding onto Exxon’s reshaped but still sweetheart Saudi deal forms the core of U.S. strategy relative to the “Arab Awakening.” Exxon now enjoys first dibs on crude oil from the nationalized Saudi Aramco outfit at undisclosed contract prices far below the current going rate of well over $100 per barrel.

When the Saudi royal rulers “seized” the Rockefeller companies’ holdings in 1975 — with oil selling for $13 a barrel — they were assured “access to seven million barrels per day…at the rate of 47 cents per barrel.” (“Oil, God, and Gold: the Story of Aramco and the Saudi Kings,” Anthony Cave Brown, 1998). With figures adjusted for price rises and Chinese encroachment on the U.S. share, this racket still endures.

That’s why Obama, while backing pro-U.S. “rebels” in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, endorses Saudi-backed “shoot-the-protestors” actions in Yemen and Bahrain. They both border Saudi Arabia. Obama’s recent $60-billion arms sale to the kingdom cements both Washington’s status as Saudi Aramco’s military overlord — dependent on U.S. weaponry — and Exxon’s status as its especially favored partner. However, when market conditions force Koch to buy Saudi oil, he pays prevailing prices.

The liberal war-making Rockefeller wing needs an all-out purge of imperialism-thwarting businesses like Koch as well as a mass, liberal, pro-government, ideological civil war against the Tea Party. But they can’t pull off either yet.

Ex-New York governor Eliot Spitzer tried to force the imperialists’ war agenda throughout Wall Street. But some bankers — more focused on their bottom line than on “sharing sacrifice” to counter China and other imperialists — torpedoed him.

Meanwhile, the rulers face a contradiction: On the one hand, capitalists cut workers’ services to make the working class pay for the current economic crisis. But this severely reduces their ability to win these same workers’ loyalty to Washington’s war agenda.

Headed for World War III, U.S. Rulers Need ‘Roosevelt 2’; But Obama’s Not Achieving It

In The Great Depression, President Roosevelt carefully constructed a host of federal job programs such as his Works Progress and Civilian Conservation schemes which — along with his concessions to mass (communist-led) working-class struggle for Unemployment Insurance, Social Security and the 40-hour week — won a great deal of worker support that U.S. rulers needed to eventually wage World War II.

Presidents Kennedy and Johnson tried similar policies — a militaristic “high-tech jobs” space program in response to the Soviet ‘Sputnik’ (the first shot into space); Medicare and voting rights for black people in response to the Civil Rights struggle. However, they had far less success for the cold war against the phony “communist,” but anti-U.S, Soviet empire. And their efforts eventually failed to win backing for their war of aggression in Vietnam.

Obama, faring even worse, has yet to come up with anything to mobilize the working class for the wars the rulers’ dominant imperialist faction must prepare to wage against Iran, China and Russia. Al Gore’s liberal environmentalism didn’t quite succeed in winning masses to government service. So Obama, or his successor, must find another smokescreen for imperialism.

There exists, nevertheless, a viable but demanding course for workers against worsening ruling-class-enforced war-making and cutbacks. It lies in relying neither on liberal/imperialist nor Tea Party politicians but on our class alone. Exposing the profit motive of both capitalist factions’ attacks on us — on the job, in schools, neighborhoods, universities, among rank-and-file GIs and in every mass organization we work in — can help build a mass base for our revolutionary, communist Progressive Labor Party. We have the long-term outlook of forcibly replacing the bosses’ unceasing wars and repression with rule by the working class in our own class interest.J

Two Million Iraqi Lives, 5,000 Dead GIs Reap Profit Bonanza for Exxon

When Exxon invests in Iraq’s oil, its government pays Exxon $1.90 for every barrel Exxon pumps out of the ground. But it costs Exxon far less to pump that oil. Nominally the oil Exxon gets from Iraqi soil belongs to the Iraqi government. But the 2010 “Entitlement” program forces Iraq to sell the lion’s share of that oil to Exxon and to British firms Shell and BP.

This would be at a price far lower than the current potential $120-a-barrel, as well as less than Iraq sells to other imperialists. This enables Exxon to make fabulous profits. And Exxon’s Iraqi oil fields have enormous potential. The West Qurna field’s yield alone could soon out-produce that of entire oil powerhouses like Venezuela, Kuwait and Nigeria.

So the invasion of Iraq enabled Exxon to gain these enormous profits over the dead bodies of two million Iraqis and 5,000 dead GIs.

Bangladesh: Workers, Farmers Block Rails, Roads Battle U.S.-U.K. Poisonous Coal Mine

DHAKA, BANGLADESH, April 6 — Tens of thousands of workers and farmers have been waging a six-year battle to stop construction of one of the world’s largest open-pit coal mines — backed by U.S. and British imperialists — that would evict 50,000 members of 23 indigenous groups and directly affect the farming and access to water for another quarter of a million people.

On February 28, over 2,000 protestors blocked railways and highways, disrupting traffic across the country. They’re demanding the government halt the Phulbari Coal Project and expel its sponsor, the U.K.’s Global Coal Management Resources (GCM). A July 2009 diplomatic cable, released by Wikileaks, reported that the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, James Moriarity, urged the government to authorize the Project as “the best way forward,” citing 60% U.S. corporate investments in GCM. In a December 2010 cable, he again urged the government to push the Project.

In addition to forcing the eviction of 50,000 from the region, a 2006 government Expert Committee concluded that 130,000 would be directly affected and 220,000 would suffer a reduction of water for drinking and irrigation for farming. The mining would unearth toxic heavy metals (mercury and acid-forming sulfur) that would contaminate soil, water and air.

Eighty percent of the area covered by the Project is farmland and, due to its elevation, is one of the few regions in Bangladesh protected from flooding. Its destruction would worsen hunger in a country in which half the people already don’t have enough food. The mine’s lifespan would be 36 years and would extract 16 million tons of coal annually, two-thirds of which would be exported.

Its profits would impoverish thousands while “lin[ing] the pockets of a few hedge-fund managers in the U.S.” (Joanna Levitt, executive Director of the International Accountability Project; Truthout website, 4/8)

When tens of thousands initially protested on August 26, 2006, government-backed paramilitaries fired indiscriminately into the crowd, killing three and wounding over 200. This sparked a four-day general strike, forcing the government to agree to expel GCM and ban open-pit mining. The company suspended operations and its personnel fled under police escort following the burning down of its information office.

Two months later, “Despite violence and intimidation aimed at silencing opponents, some 100,000 people participated in the final rally,” notes Levitt, which ended at “an incredible one-week, 250-mile Long March from Dhaka [the capital] to Phulbari.” The source of the violence in this six-year campaign is the notorious Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), government death-squad killers, trained by the UK in “investigative interviewing techniques” — torture.

With all the hoopla about “the West” advocating “democracy” in the Middle East, when profits are at stake this is the kind of imperialist exploitation “democracy” has been visiting on the workers and indigenous farmers of Bangladesh. We should support the latter in any way we can, including demonstrating at the government’s embassies to let the protestors in Bangladesh know we stand in solidarity with them. Their struggle is one more example of why a society controlled and run by workers — communism — is the only solution to the horrors visited on the working class by the profit system.

Smash Fascist in Trenton NJ!!

Racism is alive and well under capitalism.  The unemployment and poverty rates continue to increase, especially for black and Latin workers.  Bombs continue to drop in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia as big bosses try to control their oil resources.  While many thought that the election of Obama will bring in a new era, we have seen that the racist attacks on the working class have just gotten worse.

On April 16th the Neo-Nazi group the Nationalist Socialist Movement will hold a rally outside of the Statehouse in Trenton to promote their racist and fascist ideas.  Once again they are using the issue of “illegal immigration” to hide their real interests of genocide and slave labor – just as Hitler had done in the 30s and 40s and the KKK had tried to do 100 years ago.  There are groups like the Anti-Defamation League that want people to stay away from the rally and allow these racists to go uncontested,  but we in Progressive Labor Party believe that we must meet them head on.  The only way that Nazis were defeated in the past was by an organized, disciplined, multi-racial communist movement.

So then why do they keep coming back?  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, New Jersey alone is home to over 45 white supremacist groups. This is because this capitalist system and their rulers need to promote racism to keep the working class divided and weak.  When workers are united we will see that it is not our brothers and sisters from Central and South America that are the enemy but that the ruling class (who controls the banks and major industrial companies) and their capitalist system who are the real enemies of the working class. That is why it is vital for all of us to be out there to stop the Nazis on Saturday.

While the Democrats, Republicans, and their capitalist bosses are the real fascists, we must still stand united against the attacks from these low level fascists.  In doing so we are strengthening the bonds among the working class and preparing to smash racism and ultimately capitalism, as we strive to build a communist world – an egalitarian system free from racism and class exploitation.

JOIN US

AT THE CORNERS OF TAYLOR PL. AND CAPITOL ST. AT 11AM.

MARCH TO THE STATEHOUSE

WITH THE PROGRESSIVE LABOR PARTY

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Yes He Did: Obama Brings Racist Attacks on Workers to a Whole New Level For Capitalist Rulers

Obama Sets New Record in Racist Deportations

As part of the ruling class’ plan to step up racist terror against all workers President Obama, the first President of the so called “post-racial” era, has set a goal of deporting 400,000 immigrant workers in 2010, an all time high. And if all goes according to plan they expect to be able to deport 700,000 immigrants annually by 2013.[i] This increase in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) terror represents a steady trend over the last eight years that has seen spending on immigration enforcement increase by 132% and deportations increase by 142%. In real numbers that adds up to over 2.6 million racist deportations, two thirds of which (1.7 million) were non-criminal deportations.[ii]

Representing the clearest form of American style fascism these raids are designed to intimidate Latin workers, both documented and undocumented, in order to drive down wages and further disorganize the working class. In one brazen example of the anti-working class nature of these raids ICE thugs raided the Smithfield Pork Plant in 2007 after workers began an organizing drive in the plant. In order to drive the point home, seven months later they raided the local neighborhoods.[iii]

Since then workplace and neighborhood raids have become common events. In 2008 ICE started raiding grocery stores in Latin neighborhoods in Texas checking both workers and shoppers’ IDs. In 2010 all the McDonalds Restaurants in the Phoenix area became targets of ICE raids.[iv] Local Neo-Nazi Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who regularly does neighborhood immigration sweeps, was responsible for the raids. Prior to the March Washington DC immigration protest in 2010 Obama had DC area restaurants and neighborhoods raided by ICE to intimidate the Latin community. Says one worker swept up in the raid, “For five years all I did was work. I came suffering, and I leave suffering.”[v]

Deadly Immigration Prisons

ICE holds around 32,000 immigrants in prison at any one time to await deportation. They use 363 detention sites across the country to handle their massive prisoner load. In January of 2009 of the 32,000 inmates 18,690 had no prior criminal conviction. With no judge to appeal to and nothing forcing authorities to press charges, immigrants can remain in these prisons for a very long time. During that same period in January nearly 10,000 inmates had been in prison for more than 31 days (which ICE considers the standard turnaround), 400 had been there for more than a year, 12 for at least three years, and one Chinese man had been there for over five years![vi]

Conditions in these prisons were described by a 2009 Amnesty International report as beyond the bounds of international human rights standards and far short of official ICE guidelines.[vii] Despite the fact that most prisoners are non-criminal offenders inmates are handcuffed and shackled and forced into overcrowded cells. After an ICE raid those slated for deportation could be shipped off to any number of prisons all over the country. Frequently a thousand miles from their homes inmates are not given immediate rights to a phone call or a lawyer sometimes leaving their families not knowing where they are for months.[viii]

There have been many complaints filed regarding the non-existent medical care available at these facilities. The New York Times reported that between October of 2003 and January of 2010 107 people died in ICE prisons. ICE officials worked overtime to cover up the details and circumstances of these deaths since many were due to abuse and lack of access to medical care.[ix]

In 2007 Guinean immigrant Boubacar Bah suffered an unexplained severe head trauma while imprisoned by ICE in New Jersey. Guards left Bah in an isolation cell for 13 hours before finally calling an ambulance. At the hospital Bah slipped into a coma and several days later eventually died. While he was still in a coma ICE officials discussed deporting him back to Guinea to avoid unnecessary questions about his condition. Later that same year an investigation into the death of Salvadoran immigrant Nery Romero revealed that he had committed suicide because of unbearable, untreated pain after ICE guards refused to administer his doctor prescribed painkillers. Hiu Lui Ng, a Chinese immigrant, would die from cancer while in ICE custody in 2008 after being repeatedly denied medical treatment that left his cancer undiagnosed.[x]

Many pregnant women rounded up in ICE raids are given no pre-natal care. In Arizona pregnant women are shackled to their beds during and after childbirth. Many don’t even find out what happened to their children until days after giving birth and are not allowed to nurse them until many months later. In 2008 Alma Chacón gave birth while both her hands and feet were shackled to the bed. She was unable to nurse or even hold her child for another 70 days after the birth. Another immigrant woman, Miriam Mendiola-Martinez, who gave birth in ICE custody in 2009 reports being shackled and left to wait in a small unventilated room with 20 other women as she awaited her pre-natal appointments. In the final two months of her pregnancy she had to sit on the floor because of the weight of the chains. She reports weeping frequently afraid that her sadness might hurt the baby.[xi]

The Militarized U.S.-Mexico Border

The intense drive to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border began with the Liberal Jimmy Carter. With the excuse that he was “protecting American jobs” he proposed to double the size of the Border Patrol and build the “Carter Curtain,” a wall separating San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico. During the Reagan and Bush Administrations the Border Patrol budgets were continuously inflated while Latin workers were demonized. Under Liberal leader Bill Clinton the ruling class launched Operation Gatekeeper which tripled the Border Patrol budget in five years and led to the construction of border walls in key cities.

The increased presence of Border Patrol agents and the creation of no-man’s lands in border cities forced Latin immigrants to try and cross through the deserts of the Southwest. According to an ACLU investigation the policies of Operation Gatekeeper led to the deaths of over 5,000 immigrants between 1994 and 2009.[xii] Various anti-racist groups have tried to mitigate some of the danger of this journey by placing water jugs in the desert for traveling migrant workers. Border Patrol agents and Minuteman fascists have aided in the murder of thousands of workers by slashing and emptying these life saving water jugs. During a particularly hot July in 2010 the Pima County morgue had to bring in a refrigerated truck to handle its overflow as it received an astonishing 59 immigrant bodies. It was the worst month for immigrant deaths in Pima County since July of 2006 when they found 68 dead in Pima’s deserts.[xiii]

The militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border has rapidly increased under Bush II and Obama. In July of 2010 Obama sent 1,200 National Guard soldiers to patrol the border. A month later he signed a $600 million bill to deploy 1,500 new Border Patrol agents and other police officers on the border as well as two drone aircraft.[xiv]

In the four years since the Secure Fence Act of 2006 the authorities have built 646 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence ranges between 15 and 20 feet high and has patrol roads paralleling it for Border Patrol vehicles to cruise.[xv] The fence has been criticized by many as a waste of money that does little to stem immigrant traffic across the border, but it should be understood that its real purpose goes far beyond stopping immigration. The fence stands as a visible symbol of the racist nationalism pushed by the U.S. ruling class. Its goal is to impress on workers’ minds a mentality of “us vs. them.”

Anti-Immigrant Hysteria Builds Deadly Racism

The anti-immigrant hysteria that has been stoked by the media and politicians to support the massive ICE terror operation has predictably led to increases in anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hate groups and violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found that between 2003-2007 when CNN’s Lou Dobbs began his racist anti-immigrant rants that hate crimes against Latin workers increased by 40%! The SPLC also found that between 2008-2009 that the number of “Patriot groups” in the U.S. increased by 244%![xvi] These racist hate groups have strong anti-immigrant agendas and count among their more infamous members Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

This increase in racism and violence has been encouraged by a racist criminal justice system that does not view the murder of Latin workers as a crime. Four teens who brutally beat to death 25 year old Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA in 2008 while shouting racist slurs only received misdemeanor assault and violation of civil rights convictions.[xvii] A month later when Jeffrey Conroy, a Long Island teen who liked to go “Mexican hopping” with his friends, stabbed to death Marcelo Lucero he was acquitted of murder charges and received only a first degree manslaughter conviction.[xviii] During the trial it came out that Conroy and his friends had regularly engaged in racist attacks on Latin workers. Between April and August of 2010 there were 11 different racist attacks on Latin workers in Port Richmond on Staten Island, NY. These attacks were fostered by capitalists who pit poor black workers against poor Latin immigrants and by police who cynically used the attacks to intensify their fascist police presence in Port Richmond.[xix]

In May of 2010 Seattle police brutally beat a Latino man while shouting racist epithets only stopping when they realized it was not the guy they were looking for.[xx] Despite the incident being videotaped no charges were filed against the officers. Later that month Border Patrol agents murdered Anastasio Hernandez with a taser in San Diego.[xxi] In June a Border Patrol agent in El Paso, TX shot and killed 15 year old Sergio Huereka while he stood on the Mexican side of the border.[xxii] INS has shown no intention of investigating or charging any of these officers.

New Arizona Law Connected to White Power Movement

On July 29, 2010 Arizona put its racist immigration law SB 1070 into effect. The law obligates all law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of every person they stop and anyone deemed “suspicious” of being in the country illegally. Given the law’s blatant modeling of American fugitive slave laws and Nazi “race hygiene” laws, it should come as no surprise that it was crafted by a member of the white power movement.

Kris Kobach, the author of SB 1070, is a lawyer for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a group that the SPLC classifies as a hate group. FAIR gets its primary funding from the racist Pioneer Fund a group that funds research into “scientific” racism and eugenics.[xxiii] FAIR founder and current board member John Tanton has written that, “for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” FAIR president Dan Stein has crudely claimed that immigrants are engaged in “competitive breeding” aimed at diminishing the white majority.[xxiv]

The racism of FAIR is matched by those who have come out to support the law. Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce who sponsored SB 1070 has a long history with the white power movement. In 2006 he forwarded an email from the Neo-Nazi group the National Alliance titled “Who Rules America?” The article criticized what it saw as anti-racist multi-culturalism in the media and espoused a belief in Holocaust denial. Pearce has also been photographed hugging Pheonix resident and member of the Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) JT Ready.[xxv]

JT Ready and his NSM thugs have taken Arizona’s recent legislation as an invitation to heighten their racist attacks on Latin workers. The group has been going on armed patrols of the Arizona border where they hold immigrant workers at gun point. One of the members of Ready’s group, Harry Hughes, has a history of racist violence against Latin workers. He has advocated murdering Latinos in order to scare others out of neighborhoods and even shot the dog of his Latin neighbors in order to intimidate them.[xxvi]

Now that the Obama Administration has challenged SB 1070 in court various hate groups from all over the country have begun to donate money to Arizona’s legal defense fund. Stormfront.org, the oldest and largest white power site on the internet, has even begun a fundraising campaign for Arizona.[xxvii]

Obama’s challenge to the Arizona law should not be seen as any victory for anti-racism, however. As shown above Obama is as dedicated to the racist ICE system as any other president. The administration’s challenge of the Arizona law is a jurisdictional one that hopes to keep the racist immigration terror in the hands of ICE and not the states. The legal challenge also helps to paint Obama as the good guy while he tries to shove through the equally racist DREAM Act.

Capitalism Needs Immigration

Under capitalism money and those that control it are free to travel all over the world to find workers to exploit. Only the working class is bound within national borders and severely punished for moving to find work. Capitalists control national borders as a way to control the working class. Immigration laws are used to create the deadly racism that pits one worker against another.

In the U.S. the first effort to control the border on the part of the ruling class came in the form of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.[xxviii] A deliberate act of extreme racism, the law was less effective in stemming Chinese immigration than it was in breeding an atmosphere of hatred around Asian immigrant communities. This law created the conditions that allowed bosses to keep Asian workers in virtual slavery as railroad workers and miners on the west coast.

All over the world capitalists use racist immigration laws for the same purposes. In France the target is workers from Northern Africa, in Germany it is Turkish workers, in China it is workers from South East Asia. In all cases these laws are used to drive these populations further underground and make them easier to exploit. The end result is a divided working class and super-profits for the bosses as they use anti-immigrant racism to drive down all wages.

Capitalists punish immigrant workers, but it is capitalists who create the conditions that require workers to search the globe for work. What is called underdevelopment is not an original historical condition but a product of imperialism’s super exploitation.[xxix] It was European imperialism that destroyed the economies of Africa with over 200 years of theft. Yet now the European countries complain of the migration of African workers looking to escape mass poverty at home by going to Europe. 500 years of European and American imperialism in Latin America has created the enduring poverty that affects millions of workers there.

The mass immigration of Latin workers to the U.S. began 30 years ago as U.S. trained and funded death squads terrorized people in Central America and Colombia and U.S. sponsored neo-liberal economic policies destroyed local economies. The 1994 NAFTA agreement that the U.S. crafted instantly destroyed millions of Mexican farmers’ livelihoods by dumping heavily subsidized American corn into Mexican markets. The subsequent mass immigration was met with tightening immigration laws under Clinton and a marked increase in anti-immigrant racism.[xxx]

Obama’s DREAM Act is a Racist Nightmare for Workers

The Obama Administration has tried to use the controversy over the Arizona law to build support for its own Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). The bill known as the DREAM Act allows for students between 12 and 35 at the time the law is enacted and who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and graduated from an American high school to apply for a temporary citizenship. This citizenship is granted for six years during which time the person must either acquire a college degree, be enrolled in a college pursuing a bachelor’s degree for at least two years in good standing, or have committed to at least two years of military service.

Immigrant students typically come from the poorest sections of the working class and with Pell Grants and other federal financial aid cut off for immigrant students and most scholarships requiring proof of citizenship the ability to attend a four year university where the average yearly cost is $14,000 (at state schools!) is an impossible dream.[xxxi] With college cut off as a legitimate option for most immigrant youth the military becomes the only realistic option. This of course is not unplanned. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) commented in 2007 to the Army Times, “Under the DREAM Act, tens of thousands of well-qualified potential recruits would become eligible for military service for the first time. They are eager to serve in the armed forces during a time of war.”[xxxii]

The targeting of Latin immigrants by military recruiters dates back to 2003 and the Bush Administration. At that time the Pentagon made a plan to boost the number of Latinos in the military from 10% to 22%.[xxxiii] Four years later the Defense Department helped craft the DREAM Act as a conscious bid to boost the military’s still sagging recruitment numbers. A 2009 study by the RAND operated National Defense Research Institute again emphasized the recruitment of Latin youth as the key to meeting recruitment goals.[xxxiv]

The DREAM Act has other problematic features as well. Anybody wishing to apply to receive possible benefits from the Act will have to voluntarily turn themselves in to authorities permanently marking them as subject to arrest and deportation.[xxxv] For high school age kids who are seeking temporary citizenship status to attend college this means exposing the immigration status of their parents and family and making them subject to arrest.

Perhaps the least known fact about the DREAM Act is the extremely small percentage of the immigrant population that will even be eligible for citizenship through it. Of an estimated population of 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. only 2.1 million (19%) would be eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act according to a study from the Migration Policy Institute. And of that 2.1 million the MPI estimates that only 825,000 would actually be able to achieve full legal status.[xxxvi] That amounts to only 7.4% of the total population of undocumented immigrants!

Anti-Immigrant Laws an Attack on All Workers

Racist terror has been the preferred weapon of choice for the U.S. ruling class in its struggle to keep workers divided and oppressed. Immigration laws are designed to terrorize not just immigrant workers but all workers of color who now have to fear being beaten or murdered by racist thugs or rounded up by the police. The racist intentions of the new anti-immigrant laws are barely concealed. A new law being discussed in Arizona would target so called “anchor babies” criminalizing children born to immigrant women.[xxxvii] This law has its precedent in the 1935 Nazi Nuremberg Laws that criminalized human beings for the simple act of being born. Despite all of the “law and order” rhetoric the intention of these laws is clear as news agencies report that Latin workers are “fleeing Arizona” (the spear head of this racist terror campaign).[xxxviii]

These laws further institutionalize and intensify the fascist American police state, the most oppressive in the world with over 2.6 million prisoners. The intentions of the Obama Administration to carry out and further this organized terror were made clear when he made fascist former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (a staunch supporter of Hitlerite Joe Arpaio) the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Obama has cleverly used workers’ outrage at Arizona’s efforts to re-instate Apartheid to build support for his fascist DREAM Act; an act that is designed to force immigrants into the military to be cannon fodder for imperialist wars. The bosses’ hope that the DREAM Act will both build nationalism among immigrants while maintaining the capitalists’ carefully cultivated system of anti-immigrant racism. Obama’s actions make it clear that he wants both the DREAM Act and continued and intensifying police terror.

Workers have taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. to voice their opposition to this new Apartheid, but like Bush, Obama has shown that his allegiance lies with ruling class exploiters not workers. The truth is that racism is capitalism’s lifeline, its source of super profits and its primary weapon against the working class. Still American workers could learn from the international fight-back against anti-immigrant racism. In France a multi-racial, multi-national strike has lasted longer than eight months as workers demand citizenship rights and the end to threats of deportation.[xxxix] Migrant workers in China are leading strikes for higher wages and safer working conditions shutting down a Honda plant in Guandong and two Toyota plants in Tianjin.[xl] But these reforms will ultimately not solve workers’ problems, for workers to survive in dignity and not in fear we need an organized communist party and ultimately communist revolution!

 


[i] America’s Voice, “Obama Administration Immigration Deportations Exceed Bush’s Record,” 5/20/10; Stewart Lawrence, Counterpunch, “Obama Reneges on Key Agreement with Immigration Advocates,” 105/10.

[ii] America’s Voice.

[iii] Center for Immigration Studies, “Immigration Raids at Smithfield,” 7/09.

[iv] AP, “21 People Arrested During Immigration Raids at Area McDonalds,” 3/26/10.

[v] Washington Post, “Raids Throw Shadow Over Immigration Reform Rally,” 3/22/10.

[vi] Global Detention Project, “United States Detention Profile,” 3/09.

[vii] Amnesty International, “Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA,” 3/09.

[viii] NPR, “Fresh Air,” 12/10/09.

[ix] NYT, “Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail,” 1/10/10.

[x] NYT, “Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail,” 1/10/10; NYT, “Documents Reveal Earlier Immigrant Deaths,” 1/10/10.

[xi] New America Media, “Pregnant and Shackled: Hard Labor for Arizona’s Immigrants,” 1/26/10.

[xii] ACLU, “U.S.-Mexico Border Crossing Deaths are a Humanitarian Crisis, According to Report from ACLU and CNDH,” 9/30/09.

[xiii] NYT, “Water Drops for Migrants: Kindness, or Offense?” 9/26/10; Phoenix New Times, “Blood’s Thicker Than Water: As Thousands Die in the Arizona Desert as a Result of U.S. Border Policy, an Army of Activists Intervenes,” 2/25/10; Seattle Times, “Ariz. Desert Crossing Lures Migrants, Despite Deadly Risks,” 9/2/10.

[xiv] CBS News, “National Guard Troops Deploying to U.S.-Mexico Border August 1st,” 7/19/10; Democracy Now, “Obama Signs $600M Bill to Increase Militarization of U.S.-Mexico Border,” 8/19/10.

[xv] AP, “Fence Alone Can’t Plug Porous Border,” 5/28/10.

[xvi] NPR, “All the Rage,” 4/1/10; SPLC, “’Patriot’ Groups, Militia Surge in Numbers in Past Year,” 3/2/10.

[xvii] The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, “Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009,” 6/09.

[xviii] NYT, “Guilty Verdict in the Killing of Long Island Man,” 4/19/10.

[xix] Racism Review, “Mexican Immigrants Target of Hate Crimes on Staten Island,” (updated) 8/5/10; NYT, “Attacks on Mexicans Leave Neighborhood in Turmoil,” 7/30/10; CHALLENGE, “Black and Latino Workers Unite to Defeat Bosses’ Racism,” 9/8/10.

[xx] Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Videotaped ‘Stomping’ Dominates Seattle Top Cop Selection,” 5/9/10.

[xxi] NBC San Diego, “Illegal Immigrant Shot with Taser Dies,” 6/1/10.

[xxii] MSNBC, “Mexico Slams Border Patrol Shooting of Teen,” 6/10/10.

[xxiii] SPLC, “Hate Group Lawyer Drafted Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law,” 4/28/10; PLP Pamphlet, “Racism, Intelligence, and the Working Class,” February, 1995.

[xxiv] SPLC.

[xxv] Ibid.

[xxvi] SPLC, “Neo-Nazi Official Patrolling Arizona Border Lauds Violence,” 7/29/10.

[xxvii] SPLC, “Hate Groups Donate to Arizona Law’s Defense,” 7/13/10.

[xxviii] See Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate: Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act.

[xxix] Confronting the myth of “underdevelopment” social critic Michael Parenti notes, “The lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have long produced great treasures of foods, minerals and other natural resources. That is why the Europeans went through all the trouble to steal and plunder them. One does not go to poor places for self-enrichment. The Third World is rich. Only its people are poor—and it is because of the pillage they have endured.” Michael Parenti, Against Empire, (San Francisco: City Light Books, 1995), p 7.

[xxx] See David Bacon, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants; Mike Davis, Planet of Slums.

[xxxi] The Huffington Post, “The Average Cost of College: How Much Is It?”  8/25/10.

[xxxii] Army Times, “Bill Would Grant Citizenship for Service,” 7/16/07.

[xxxiii] The Independent (UK), “Pentagon Targets Latinos and Mexicans to Man the Front Lines in War on Terror,” 9/10/03.

[xxxiv] UCSD Professor Jorge Mariscal quoted in the documentary Yo Soy El Army; RAND National Defense Research Institute, “Military Enlistment of Hispanic Youth: Obstacles and Opportunities,” 2009.

[xxxv] CHALLENGE Supplement, “Racism – Capitalism’s Key Strategy to Maximize Profits and Divide Working Class Then and Now,” 6/23/10.

[xxxvi] Washington Post, “Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. Drops, Report Says,” 9/1/10; Migration Policy Institute, “DREAM vs. Reality: An Analysis of Potential DREAM Act Beneficiaries,” 7/10.

[xxxvii] Time Magazine, “Arizona’s Next Immigration Target: Children of Illegals,” 6/11/10.

[xxxviii] USA Today, “Hispanics Flee Arizona Ahead of Immigration Law,” 6/9/10.

[xxxix] Challenge, “End Nears for Undocumented Immigrants’ Anti-Racist Strike,” 7/7/10.

[xl] TV Asahi (Japan), “Labor Demands Rising in China After Honda Strike,” 6/15/10; Business Week, “Strike Hits Toyota’s China Production as Honda Workers Return,” 6/19/10.

Workers, Patients, Youth Unite to Fight: Racist Hospital Cuts — Murder the Nazi Way

CHICAGO, March 21 — Hospital workers on the picket line noticed an older man marching with them shaking his fist as they all yelled, “They say cut back, we say FIGHT BACK!” He was wearing a hospital gown under his coat. The dozens of hospital workers, community members and students protesting in front of Stroger Hospital of Cook County had attracted some patients, too. The protest was sparked by the plans of the County Board to close two of the three hospitals in Chicago’s public system, turning the patients out to fend for themselves.

PL’ers at the hospital, meeting with Coalition Against The Cuts in Healthcare (CATCH), had heard the most dramatic aspect of this particular cutback at a meeting weeks earlier. A nurse from Oak Forest Hospital, one of the hospitals about to be closed, described the plight of patients in the chronic ventilator unit, some of whom had been living there attached to breathing machines for many years. “They’re more like family than patients to me,” she explained. “We’ve been together for years.” These patients had been given a deadline of the end of the month to find themselves a nursing home to be transferred to. “This unit is closing,” they were told.

“I’ve known many patients from here who left for nursing homes,” said Michael Yanul, an Oak Forest ventilator patient with muscular dystrophy who tells his story on YouTube. “They all died. And that’s what frightens me.”

‘Administrative Euthanasia’

Hospital workers showed up at board meetings, calling the planned hospital closures murder and pointing out the racist nature of this attack on facilities serving mostly black and immigrant patients. One doctor pointed out the similarity of these deadly cuts to the way the Germans freed up hospital beds in preparation for World War II by gassing the chronic patients in public hospitals in a program they called “euthanasia.” The doctor suggested the label “administrative euthanasia” to describe the County’s cut-back plan.

The nurse from the CATCH meeting testified before the County Board Finance Committee and held up pictures of patients slated for eviction from the ventilator unit. “These people can’t be here to speak for themselves and so I told them I could tell their story here. Closing this unit is tantamount to murder!” When she finished speaking the hundreds of people in the jammed meeting room stood up and applauded. When she came to work the next day, she was sent home on “administrative leave” for “violating the patients’ confidentiality.”

Others who had heard this nurse at the CATCH meeting were furious and started circulating a petition defending her. They also went to support her at her disciplinary hearing, but her union, wishing to avoid “interference by radicals,” arranged with management to move the hearing 30 miles away to another venue at the last minute.

Solidarity Backs Nurse

Three other hospital workers came up with another way to show their solidarity. They went to Oak Forest Hospital during visiting hours and talked with staff and patients on the long-term vent unit. Both staff and patients wanted to help the nurse who was wrongly accused of “violating patient confidentiality.” The ventilator patients gladly agreed to sign consent forms to be photographed again for the purposes of getting their story out at an upcoming CATCH demonstration in front of Stroger Hospital. One man, David Moreno, paralyzed from the neck down, held the ballpoint pen in his teeth to make an “X” on the consent form.

The afternoon of the picket line, teachers brought along their high school students to learn first-hand about the nature of health care in Chicago. Once a hospital worker explained the story behind the huge faces (the patient photos had been made into 3-foot posters) he said, “They’re doing that?! Putting those people out, when they are on breathing machines? Give me that poster!” This youth had one of the strongest voices leading the chants. (Hear and see the demo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLtc_DyJ5X4.) The demonstration involved a number of our friends and long-time CHALLENGE readers. One doctor who participated was later called into his boss’s office for questioning but once he showed the signed consent forms, the matter was dropped.

On March 21st the Illinois Health Facilities Board held their meeting to decide whether or not to grant a permit for the closing of Oak Forest Hospital of the Cook County Health System. Two busloads of hospital workers and community members sat and stood all around the large meeting room holding protest signs with pictures of the long-term patients. The protesters were silent at first but then, the same nurse (“They’re more like family”) stepped out and asked for permission to address the Board.

‘Are you going to kill these people?’

When she was denied, the number of voices protesting increased. “Are you just going to kill these people?” “How come you can find money to give the administrators raises but you can’t afford to care for patients?” The Chairman had to recess the meeting to restore order. In the end, the Facilities Board decided to deny Cook County permission to close Oak Forest Hospital, telling them to return in six months with a clear plan that would avoid harm to uninsured patients in Cook County. The protesters cheered.

We all know this is not the end, but it gives us time to organize a bigger fight-back for the next round. From the perspective of communists involved in this fight, it has energized our collective, activated some who have been passive and helped develop several less-experienced comrades. One friend, a health worker who has met with our PLP club, said, “What I like about you guys is that you actually do stuff.”

Recruiting new Party members in the struggle is our best strategy against the fascism that is taking shape in health care as it is throughout the U.S. in this run-up to the next World War. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but there are lots of workers out there who, like that nurse, will show their hidden leadership qualities as events unfold.

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