La súper tormenta No es acto de caridad Colombia negociaciones 16
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite!
Nov. 8 & 15, 2012
Vol. 54, No. 44 - 45
Hurricane Sandy’s lesson
Profit system breeds disaster From the Workers World Editorial Staff Nov. 6 — A crisis arising out of a major natural disaster — itself rooted in climate change — tends to reveal a society’s strengths and weaknesses, values and priorities, and forms of organization. Despite the technological and military primacy of U.S. capitalism and imperialism, the authorities could not organize a plan to protect hundreds of thousands of poor people living in housing projects and vulnerable coastal regions along the densely populated Eastern seaboard, even though scientists warned about the power of Hurricane Sandy long before it arrived. Millions went through days without electric power, water and heat. More than a week later, tens of thousands, especially from among the poorest, hardest hit and most neglected areas such as Far Rockaway, Coney Island, Staten Island and parts of New Jersey, are still without these basic necessities of life. In addition, six major New York area hospitals had to evacuate, not in advance of the storm, but under duress of failed backup systems. Farther inland, tens of thousands are still trapped by fallen trees, lack of power and gasoline. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s heavy equipment went unused. Unable to print and mail last week because of the storm damage, Workers World newspaper reorganized to provide daily web coverage at workers.org to report the above stories and analysis. We also helped guide Workers World Party activists and others to mobilize the working class to recover from the disaster. Most of these web articles are printed in this special 16-page issue. In a crisis of this magnitude, it is important for revolutionary activists to participate in people’s relief efforts, to work with community groups providing immediate assistance to those in need, and to project a socialist perspective on what could be done. We urge them too, while building organizations independent of the ruling class, to demand of the capitalist government at every level — since it has the resources available — emergency aid, especially to the poorest and most marginalized sectors of the population.
workers World Editorial
Obama wins, struggle begins
Atlantic City, N.J.
Solidarity in action 3 Workers clean up
New Jersey suffers
ww Photo: Joe Piette
Global warming 6 Capitalism’s dead end
Nov. 7 — The elections are over, and while only the preliminary results are in as of this writing, a few things stand out clearly. The strategy of the right wing to not-so-subtly race-bait Obama, deride “big government,” and appeal to reactionary fears on abortion and gay marriage was not decisive. Nor was the Supreme Court ruling that allowed “super PACs” dominated by super billionaires to donate large sums of money to the campaign — mostly to Romney. Obama won, but with a narrower margin of the popular vote than in 2008. That undoubtedly reflects in part the continued economic crisis for tens of millions of
Continued on page 12
FIGHTING KILLER COPS
Hospitals in distress 5 Will Superstorm break silence? NYC ignored warnings
6 ww Photo: Joe Piette
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South Africa Unions 13
Nov. 8 & 15, 2012
We are the future! The future is socialism! A call from youth to attend the Workers World Party Conference, Nov 17-18
Youth must lead the fight for our future!
The following statement was issued by the national youth fraction of Workers World Party.
nger at capitalism’s war against young people is growing daily. Across the world, millions of young people have taken to the streets fighting back against austerity, injustice and endless war. Young people are responding to the systemic crisis of capitalism. Plagued with overproduction, speculation and exploitation, capitalism has far outlived any usefulness. The capitalist system’s history and future is one of injustice, atrocities, racism and war. What is the way forward? How do we build a multinational, working-class, revolutionary movement? These are the questions that we will be answering at the Workers World Party National Conference in New York City on Nov. 17-18. We believe that now is the time to build a movement capable of ending the capitalists’ racist, sexist, exploitative and anti-LGBTQ system of private property. It’s time for youth to lead the charge for socialism.
Youth are under attack by capitalism, racism, police and more! Under capitalism, youth have no future beyond wage slavery, poverty, a more than $1 trillion student debt and incarceration. The current youth employment situation, which has been drastically worsened by the capitalist economic crisis, shows that the capitalists have only low-wage jobs, unemployment and prisons for our generation. The attacks against youth are growing more vicious by the day. We are outraged by cases such as that of the transgender woman, Cece McDonald, who faced 42 years in prison for defending herself from a racist, anti-trans attack. We demand justice for Trayvon Martin, who was lynched by the vigilante racist, George Zimmerman. We stand with the thousands of undocumented youth unjustly denied their human rights and deported from their families. We demand freedom for our anti-racist, anti-fascist comrades of the Tinley Park 5 from Indiana, who still sit in prison for confronting a right-wing hate group conference. There are countless more young people victimized by this system. Yet capitalism’s days are numbered.
How to get back to the struggle vs the 1%
National Office 55 W. 17 St., 5th Fl. New York, NY 10011 212.627.2994 firstname.lastname@example.org Atlanta P.O. Box 5565 Atlanta, GA 30307 404.627.0185 email@example.com Baltimore c/o Solidarity Center 2011 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD 21218 443.909.8964 firstname.lastname@example.org Boston If you would like to 284 Amory St. know more about WWP, Boston, MA 02130 or to join us in these 617.522.6626 Fax 617.983.3836 struggles, contact the email@example.com branch nearest you. Workers World Party (WWP) fights for socialism and engages in struggles on all the issues that face the working class & oppressed peoples — Black & white, Latino/a, Asian, Arab and Native peoples, women & men, young & old, lesbian, gay, bi, straight, trans, disabled, working, unemployed, undocumented & students.
In the U.S. Profit system breeds disaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 We are the future! The future is socialism! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Grassroots activists mobilize recovery aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Superstorm exposes capitalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Life without water in the towers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Workers clean up capitalist-made ‘super-storm’ . . . . . . . . . . . 4 What is FEMA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 New York’s railroad tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
We need an organization that fights for our future; the future is socialism!
Struggles continue to stop foreclosures, evictions . . . . . . . 11
To build unity and solidarity, we need to be coordinated in our fightback for the right to jobs, education and our needs. Only through building an organization which has a vision for the future, a vision based on real people’s power, combined with a scientific view of history and led by militant activists who focus on building the struggle, will we be able to accomplish the historic feat of overthrowing capitalism. The young people in Workers World Party are building this organization. We invite you to learn more about our Party and about how we are leading struggles across the country against the attacks on young people, the working class, and oppressed people here and abroad.
Crisis in China, Part 13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Join us at the Workers World Party National Conference, Nov. 17-18 in NYC! Our Party conference is a tremendous way to learn about Workers World Party, our work and our socialist vision for the future! We invite you to take part in discussions about how we can broaden and deepen our work, while learning from other activists involved in community, labor, anti-war and anti-austerity struggles. You will learn about how you can join an organization that stands up in defense of youth around the world who are resisting capitalism, imperialism, racism, sexism and anti-LGBTQ bigotry.
Down with capitalism! Build a Workers World!
Cómo volvera la lucha contra el 1%
MáS ALLá DE LAS ELEcciONES DE 2012,
Community Center 124 W. 29th St., NYC Sat & Sun Nov 17-18 Calle 29 #124 W. Ciudad de Nueva York Sábado y domingo 17-18 de noviembre
A discussion among socialists, revolutionaries and activists: Lessons of the capitalist elections Racism•Nat’l oppression & police terror Next phase of anti-capitalist fightback including Hurricane SandyUnion busting Cutbacks Militarism & imperialist wars Attacks on women • Lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer people • People with disabilities Liberation & revolution Strategies to build socialist unity class solidarity & more
this week ...
Young people around the world are leading the global fightback against capitalist crises. One tremendous example has been the youth and students in Quebec, who continue to lead a militant struggle to defend their right to an education and a future. Through this mass struggle, they have won back their rights to education and continue to challenge austerity and capitalism. Young people in Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Spain, Chile, Puerto Rico, Haiti and beyond have continued to be on the front lines of an inspiring struggle which every day broadens into a global movement against capitalism and the dictatorship of the 1%. Unity and solidarity continue to be our best weapons to counter the capitalist attacks and to build a world of respect, dignity and people’s power, which is socialism.
WORKERS WORLD PARTY cONFERENcE cONFERENciA DEL PARTiDO WW/MuNDO ObRERO bEYOND ThE 2012 ELEcTiONS:
Una discusión entre socialistas, revolucionarios/as y activistas: ¿Cuál fue la lección de las elecciones capitalistas? Racismo • opresión nacional y terror policial La fase siguiente en la lucha anti-capitalista incluyendo al huracán Sandy Ataques contra sindicatos Recortes Militarismo y guerras imperialistas Ataques contra las mujeres • personas con discapacidades • personas LGBT LIberación y revolución Estrategias para H construir la unidad socialista, solidaridad de clase, y muchos otros tópicos más.
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Lack of response to Sandy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Capitalist priorities intensify storm crisis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Bloomberg talks big, but made little progress . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 The corporate crimes behind the disaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Hurricane Sandy and capitalism at a dead end . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Community meets to condemn killer cops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Puerto Rican women deserve respect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Boston tenants fight rent hikes, evictions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Family members, activists assail police brutality . . . . . . . . . . 9 Team Solidarity mobilizes workers, community . . . . . . . . . . 10 Oakland’s port workers organize mutual support . . . . . . . . 10 Chrysler workers fuming over new work speed-up . . . . . . . 11 Around the world South African miners’ strikes continue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Washington aims to reorganize Syrian contras . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Hurricane hits Haiti, Jamaica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Solidarity flows in Cuba after hurricane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Editorial Will superstorm break the silence? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Noticias En Español La súper tormenta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 No es acto de caridad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Colombia negociaciones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Workers World 55 West 17 Street New York, N.Y. 10011 Phone: 212.627.2994 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.workers.org Vol. 54, No. 44-45 • Nov. 8 & 15, 2012 Closing date: Nov. 6, 2012 Editor: Deirdre Griswold Technical Editor: Lal Roohk Managing Editors: John Catalinotto, LeiLani Dowell, Leslie Feinberg, Kris Hamel, Monica Moorehead, Gary Wilson West Coast Editor: John Parker Contributing Editors: Abayomi Azikiwe, Greg Butterfield, Jaimeson Champion, G. Dunkel, Fred Goldstein, Teresa Gutierrez, Larry Hales, Berta Joubert-Ceci, Cheryl LaBash, Milt Neidenberg, Betsey Piette, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Gloria Rubac Technical Staff: Sue Davis, Shelley Ettinger, Bob McCubbin, Maggie Vascassenno Mundo Obrero: Carl Glenn, Teresa Gutierrez, Berta Joubert-Ceci, Donna Lazarus, Michael Martínez, Carlos Vargas Supporter Program: Sue Davis, coordinator Copyright © 2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of articles is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World (ISSN-1070-4205) is published weekly except the first week of January by WW Publishers, 55 W. 17 St., N.Y., N.Y. 10011. Phone: 212.627.2994. Subscriptions: One year: $30; institutions: $35. Letters to the editor may be condensed and edited. Articles can be freely reprinted, with credit to Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., New York, NY 10011. Back issues and individual articles are available on microfilm and/or photocopy from University Microfilms International, 300 Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106. A searchable archive is available on the Web at www.workers.org. A headline digest is available via e-mail subscription. Subscription information is at workers.org/email.php. Periodicals postage paid at New York, N.Y. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
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Nov. 8 &15, 2012
As capitalists’ response fails
Activists mobilize relief aid By Caleb T. Maupin New York Nov. 4 — People’s organizations stepped up to carry out relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy survivors when it became clear that government-led efforts and corporate charities were not doing enough. As the storm headed toward New York and New Jersey, vital information about safety and evacuation was being distributed on the Occupy Wall Street website and its Twitter and Facebook pages. “This isn’t the first crisis we have dealt with,” said OWS organizer Yoni Miller. “We were formed in response to a crisis, the crisis of capitalism.” Many thousands of people responded to the call. Three main volunteer hubs were set up in Sunset Park, Red Hook, and on Clinton Avenue. At these hubs, distribution was coordinated to 20 different sites throughout the city. Prema Sampat, a South Asian immigrant and transgender woman, volunteered to help deliver supplies. “We delivered canned food, other food items, household supplies, gloves, mops, batteries, hats, blankets all across the city,” she said. “The places were swarming with volunteers. This was all organized within 24 hours.” Several donation drop-off sites in Brooklyn and Queens were set up at people’s homes and community organizations. Carpooling for volunteers was set up to take people to some of the worst hit areas in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. An urgent call went out from Occupy Sandy Relief to help one of the hardest hit neighborhoods, the Rockaways in Queens. Extensive flooding was compounded by an entire block of homes and businesses being destroyed by a fire during the storm. A grassroots movement sprang into action. People’s help arrives in the Rockaways Officials said residents who would not evacuate the Rockaways would not be provided aid. The area of Far Rockaway was particularly demonized in the media. This coastal working-class enclave,
where 52 percent of the residents are African American and Caribbean, is the site of several large government subsidized housing developments. Instead of aid, a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew was imposed and more than 17 people were arrested and accused of “looting.” Photographs began to surface of National Guard members conducting “stop and frisk” tactics on residents. “It was just outrageous! That’s when I called Prema Sampat, a South Asian immigrant transwoman, about putting together a car caravan to Far Rockaway, Queens,” said Imani Henry, an activist with the Peoples’ Power Movement. In less than 24 hours, residents in central Brooklyn gave donations. “We collected or purchased enough things to pack six cars,” said Henry. “The entire Far Rockaway delegation was LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer] people, mostly of color.” Occupy Sandy Relief NYC has created an extensive network at Far Rockaway. Along with local community and church groups, they organized hot meals, cell phone charging, and food and clothing distribution at a housing development for over 300 residents. “While we were volunteering there, I saw five FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] vehicles drive by without stopping. Only when it was time to disperse the crowd did two National Guard trucks and police cars show up to ‘make sure people left’ because of the curfew. Residents said Occupy Sandy Relief’s effort was the first help they had received in three days,” said Henry.
The Committee Against Anti- Asian Violence, a community organization founded in 1986 that has been involved in anti-war, labor and LGBTQ liberation struggles, played an important role in the relief efforts. CAAAV’s executive director, Helena Wong, told Workers World how government relief efforts in Lower Manhattan ignored the huge Asian-American community residing in Chinatown, and focused instead on the financial district. While
Life without water in the towers The 650,000 Con Edison customers in lower Manhattan without power don’t have water either unless they have hooked up a generator to their pumps. Some of these “customers” are not individuals, but entire apartment buildings or complexes with hundreds or even thousands of residents. In New York City, most buildings supply water to their tenants from a water tower on the top of the building. A few pump the water directly to each apartment. While the image of Manhattan is that of sleek, modern, extremely high-priced apartments, many poor and working people live in the city’s public housing on either the western or eastern edges of the island. Now they have to try to get by without water. The rule of thumb is a gallon of water a day, 8 pounds per person — to drink, wash or flush. For an elderly, frail person, carrying 8 pounds up 10 or 20 flights or even two flights of stairs is impossible.
Superstorm exposes capitalism
Asian activists step up efforts
New York City
By G. Dunkel New York
the news reported that electricity on Wall Street was restored, just a few streets over people were in desperate need of medical attention and food. CAAAV’s office, powered Photo: Julian Kliner by a generator, became a New Yorkers line up for storm relief. place for food to be distributed, cellphones charged and medical bly. When CAAAV members went to the care given. precinct to complain about the harassIn New York City, CAAAV and Occupy ment, at the same time other cops at the Wall Street joined forces. In a short time, same precinct were directing people to go over $130,000 was raised. More than to the CAAAV office for aid. “It’s shocking 10,000 meals are being served each day to see how completely disorganized they to victims. Supplies are being delivered, are,” she said. and cleanup efforts are beginning. People Incidents of police harassment of comdisplaced by the storm are being housed munity mobilizations have been reported in school gyms. throughout the city. Nicole Davis, a social worker in Brook“The scariest thing has been seeing how lyn, helped victims with special needs the police are trying to stop relief efforts,” at the Fort Greene shelter. She assisted stated Miller. “Seeing them tell crowds elderly people who had been evacuated of people who are lined up for food to from their nursing home and local psychi- disperse is horrifying.” atric hospitals. She is one of many social At the orders of Mayor Michael Bloom workers and therapists who have volun- berg, cars with fewer than three people tarily given their time. are being blocked from getting into Man“Some of the staff from the nursing hattan. Cars filled with relief material homes have voluntarily stayed with their have been turned back. In response to this patients this entire time,” said Davis. policy, and the subway system being shut “They have been sleeping on cots, with a down, bicycle teams have been mobilized few blankets.” to deliver aid from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The absence of the “official” charities has Police repression vs. relief efforts also been noticed. “Only a few of us have Helena Wong said New York police at- even seen a Red Cross relief station,” said tempted to shut down aid at the CAAAV Miller. “They have raised all this money, office, claiming it was an unlawful assemContinued on page 14
Even if one is fit and hardy, carrying the 40 pounds needed by a family of five is a difficult task. Some tenants who remember past electric outages filled up bathtubs and pots in anticipation of the storm. However, after five days, the water they saved is running out. The NYC and state administrations have recognized the need for water — and food — by setting up some distribution centers in a few poor neighborhoods five days after Hurricane Sandy struck New York. Neighbors and family members help the elderly carry their water and food home. Church and progressive organizations had begun similar distributions earlier and some stores are giving passersby the food that they would otherwise have had to throw away because it is spoiling without refrigeration. What is really needed is a program that would supply generators to run the pumps for all the Con Edison customers without power. Then with the water flowing, the next step would be to get food to the people.
Protest demands storm aid
By Sharon Black New York Nov. 3 — The Peoples Power Movement held a protest in the center of Manhattan in front of the James A. Farley Post Office Building on 8th Avenue and 32nd Street to point out the huge contradictions of the capitalist system and to raise a “people’s program” of fighting for power. What was remarkable was the response from people passing by and watching. Two younger African-American workers who had gotten out of a delivery truck raised their fists and joined in briefly with our chants: “What do we want? People’s power!” Some demonstrators from hard-hit New Jersey found a way to cross the Hudson so they could participate in the action. Tourists, some probably unable to go home because of the flight delays, posed with the demonstrators to have their photos taken. One liked the placard contrasting how socialist Cuba successfully copes with disasters and how the capitalist U.S. flops at doing it. The demonstrators distributed leaflets with statements from the Peoples Power Assembly, which raises demands for coping with the crisis. These demands are reproduced on the workers.org website. A representative of Workers World Party distributed the party statement on
ww photo: John Catalinotto
photo: Janet mayes
the crisis, also available at workers.org. The demonstrators marched downtown and west to the Chelsea neighborhood, where some participated in a volunteer neighborhood action in the public housing west of Ninth Avenue on 25th Street, offering blood pressure testing for the residents, whose power had just come on the night before after five days without power or water. There was also a protest today across the Hudson River in Jersey City at City Hall around demands for storm relief. Members and friends of WWP also participated in volunteer solidarity relief efforts in Far Rockaway, Queens; Red Hook, Brooklyn; and other poor and hard-hit communities in the New York City area.
Nov. 8 & 15, 2012
Workers clean up capitalist-made ‘super-storm’ By Kathy Durkin New York They are often unseen and unrecognized by the television cameras in the coverage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. However, unlike the politicians, bureaucrats and agency officials — who give press conferences and gloat about all they’re doing to fix the crisis — it is working people, community members and other progressive activists who are doing the real hard work of cleaning up the damage that was left in the storm’s wake. Union members from at least 13 major labor unions have formed a strong core of the workforce doing the crucial repairs. They are doing everything from fixing
subway lines to patching up homes, and providing and distributing basic necessities. Many of these workers were hit hard by the storm themselves. The Transport Workers Union blog reports, “Working people up and down the East Cost are pitching in. … Firefighters, public employees, utility workers, letter carriers, nurses, grocery store employees, hotel workers and others continued to work through the storm to make sure everyone is taken care of.” In devastated areas of New Jersey, public sector workers with Communications Workers of America “are on the job nearly round-the-clock … clearing and repairing roads and bridges” and helping people get medical attention, reported the union’s
Agency of repression
What is FEMA? By Greg Butterfield New York The Federal Emergency Management Agency has won high praise from politicians and the corporate media for its response to Hurricane Sandy. It’s been said that FEMA’s activities this time around have removed the blot on the agency’s reputation following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, that it is a feather in the Obama administration’s cap, and may even prove pivotal to his re-election bid. People on the ground in affected communities, especially those that are predominately working-class and people of color, tell a very different story. “Where is FEMA?” has been a common refrain from community members, grassroots organizations and alternative media as millions feel the life-threatening effects of power and heating outages, lack of food, water and gasoline, evacuated and closed hospitals, and other unsafe conditions. These crises have been largely ignored by federal, state and local officials, who seem far more concerned with restoring stock markets and slot machines. It’s a good time to recall FEMA’s origins and true purpose, which shed light on why some activists have labeled the agency’s disaster relief programs a “smokescreen.” It’s not just about Katrina — as horrible and criminal as the agency’s behavior was in that crisis. President Jimmy Carter established FEMA in 1979 to exercise broad executive powers under conditions of nuclear war, civil unrest and martial law, as well as natural disasters. Its major undertaking was to create the infrastructure for the U.S. government to survive and assert its military domination in the event of mass rebellion. During the 1980s, under Cold Warrior Ronald Reagan, its mandate grew to include explicit powers such as suspension of constitutional rights and indefinite detention. Oliver North, the infamous warmonger and criminal exposed for running drugs to fund Nicaraguan counterrevolutionaries in the Iran-Contra scandal, was in charge of strengthening FEMA’s powers in the early 1980s. His role and the depths of repressive plotting behind the scenes were exposed in a July 5, 1987, article in the Miami Herald entitled “Reagan Aides and the ‘Secret’ Government.” This exposé was precipitated by a power struggle between
the neofascist and more “moderate” wings of the Reagan administration. North oversaw plans to establish FEMA prison camps — allegedly to house undocumented immigrants in the event of a mass border crossing. However, activists widely believed the camps were intended for anti-government protesters in the event of a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union or a U.S. invasion of Central America, or for communities of color in case of mass rebellions against racism and police brutality. Rounding up anti-war activists was one of the scenarios reported in the Miami Herald exposé. The destruction of the Soviet Union and the European socialist camp in the early 1990s brought about a change in tactics by the U.S. ruling class and its political representatives in Washington. More overt repression was now on the front burner in the name of the “war on crime” and fighting terrorism. FEMA-style powers — previously held in utmost secrecy — entered the mainstream with President Bill Clinton’s Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. However, this was just the beginning. After the 9/11 attacks, FEMA was absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security. Many of the repressive powers FEMA was projected to hold have since been implemented and “normalized” under the Bush and Obama administrations’ War on Terror regime, backed up by judicial and bipartisan congressional support. These powers include the Patriot Act, indefinite detention of individuals suspected of “terrorism,” presidential authority to determine what constitutes torture in defiance of U.S. and international laws, and mass roundups and deportations of undocumented workers. Additional examples are the repression against the Occupy Wall Street movement encampments in 2011, the National Defense Authorization Act, and the Obama administration’s assertion of its right to execute U.S. citizens in other countries via drone strikes. The list goes on. Has FEMA changed? The agency was nowhere to be seen in the public housing areas of Far Rockaway, Queens, following Hurricane Sandy. However, Sofia Gallisa Muriente, an activist with Occupy Sandy Relief NYC, saw and photographed armed DHS personnel in military gear carrying out a racist “stop-and-frisk” of three African-American youth.
blog on Nov. 1. CWA members are working 12-hour days, seven days a week to restore phone service, repair downed wires and bridges, reopen airports and more. Working people who don’t have unionized jobs are often helping in their communities but suffering from a lack of income. Many hourly, part-time or temporary workers could not get to work because there was no operating transportation or no safe route, or because the workplace was closed. For them a day’s pay – or even several days’ wages – is gone. These workers are only paid when they are at work, even in an all-out emergency. Some workers even walked long distances across bridges to get to their hourly jobs, just so they could pay the rent. In today’s so-called “recovery,” about 60 percent of jobs offer hourly wages. Many of these are low-wage jobs, and the workers, many of them African-American and Latino/a, have little or no job protections, no paid sick days or personal days – and certainly no compensated days for disasters.
Federal laws have far fewer protections for hourly workers than salaried employees when a catastrophe occurs; they don’t have to be paid if the workplace is closed. That’s why all working people must be given compensation for unpaid days off from work and for damage to their homes and possessions as a result of this crisis. In keeping with its program to support workers and communities hit by this capitalist-made disaster, the People’s Power Assembly says, “We commend the hard working sisters and brothers of the Transport Workers Union, city workers, Amtrak workers, nurses and hospital staff who have labored throughout this ‘super storm’ risking life and limb.” The PPA demands “that the trillions spent on war and occupation abroad be spent on compensating and paying reparations to the thousands of workers who have lost wages, suffered from property damage, and been hurt or injured. This includes small businesses and whole communities.”
New York’s railroad tunnels
Flooded for first time By a railroad worker Nov. 4 — Hurricane Sandy and capitalist disorganization have devastated railroads and transit lines serving New York and New Jersey. The railroad tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers were flooded for the first time since being opened in 1910. These tunnels connect New York City’s Pennsylvania Station with the rest of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people use them every day, riding Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit commuter trains. Tens of thousands ride the Amtrak trains that use these tunnels, too. Building these tunnels and Pennsylvania Station was a tremendous job that took years to complete. It’s not known how many workers were killed building them. Nobody even collected these grim statistics. Back then there were no safety laws or government agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that capitalist politicians claim “hinder business.” The Pennsylvania Railroad bosses actually refused to commemorate the workers who were killed. They instead erected statues of two Pennsylvania Railroad presidents — Alexander Cassatt and Samuel Rea. That’s what the world was like before the Russian, Chinese and Cuban revolutions, the 1930’s U.S. labor upsurge and the Black, Latino/a, Native and Asian liberation movements. Now, workers are pumping out these tunnels and making sure they’re safe to use. Amtrak, which owns the tunnels, was able to start using the south tube under the Hudson three days after Hurricane Sandy hit. As of almost a week later, the north tube continues to be pumped out. So New York City, the capital of capitalism, is now connected to all the states west of it by just a single track. In the 102 years since these tunnels were opened, the capitalists have refused to build any additional railroad infrastructure. The billionaire class can’t even construct a needed railroad freight tunnel under New York harbor, which is the reason the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was
set up by Congress in 1920. Two of the four railroad tunnels under the East River also continue to be closed. Many commuter trains will have to be cancelled. Because of the fantastically high cost of housing in New York City, many workers live elsewhere and must take these trains. The original Pennsylvania Station was a magnificent palace modeled after the Baths of Caracalla in ancient Rome. The main waiting room — which extended from 33rd to 31st Street — was made of travertine marble from Tivoli, Italy. The Pennsylvania Railroad built this station so the wealthy wouldn’t have to take a ferry across the Hudson. Sure, workers could buy tickets. But how many of those many thousands employed in the garment district’s sweatshops could afford it? With the advent of jet travel, the capitalists stopped taking luxury trains. They sloughed off money-losing passenger trains to state government commuter agencies and Amtrak. To make a few bucks, the Pennsylvania Railroad bosses starting tearing down their palace in 1963. Imposing station statues carved by workers were thrown into New Jersey swamps. It was outrage over the destruction of the original Pennsylvania Station that sparked historical preservation laws across the U.S. A transit system’s Ku Klux Klan boss The PATH transit tunnels — which connect Jersey City, Hoboken and Newark with Manhattan — are completely flooded. Workers are pumping them out around the clock. Some service will be shut down indefinitely. This is a tremendous blow to workers in Hoboken, Jersey City and the rest of New Jersey’s Hudson County. Every weekday more than 250,000 passengers take the PATH trains. Among them are New Jersey Transit passengers who take these trains from and to the Hoboken and Newark railroad stations. The PATH tunnels were opened in 1908 and 1909 as part of the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad. Twenty workers were killed in 1880 building a tunnel from Hoboken, which was completed 28 years later. The promoter of the Hudson
A crisis within a crisis
Lack of response to Sandy By Monica Moorehead Jersey City, N.J. Nearly a week after Hurricane Sandy struck, as cold weather sets in and a new nor’easter storm threatens on Nov. 7, over a million households remain without power in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Some New Jersey communities are also without natural gas as a result of storm damage and may remain so for six to eight months. According to a Nov. 4 CBS Sunday Morning report, the estimated costs for the damage in the U.S. due to Sandy are between $30-$50 billion, second only to devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina to the Gulf Coast in 2005. More residents were without power in New Jersey than in New York City. As of Nov. 5, thousands in Hudson and other New Jersey counties were still without power. Many homes near the Jersey Shore have been severely damaged by fires or downed trees or even swept away by high winds and tides that caused massive flooding.
in a century and Manhattan Railroad was William McAdoo, who later as President Woodrow Wilson’s Treasury secretary helped create the Federal Reserve System and then in 1924 became the Ku Klux Klan’s candidate for U.S. president. Hurricane Sandy has shown how vulnerable and limited the transportation system that services nearly 20 million people in New York’s metropolitan area is. At least 100,000 workers need to be hired immediately to clean up the mess. The capitalists are only concerned with their own profits. Working and poor people need to take over society. We need what Cuba has — people’s power.
Nov. 8 &15, 2012
As a resident of Jersey City, N.J., in Hudson County, I experienced first hand the impact of the power outage for almost five days. Like many others, I was forced to seek other shelter as temperatures approached freezing. PATH subway train service that runs from Newark, Harrison, Jersey City and Hoboken, N.J., to lower and midtown Manhattan remains inoperable due to damage to signal, control and substation equipment in multiple stations. Lack of planning As in New York City, the state and local governments here had done no effective mass planning for a disaster of Sandy’s scope. Though officials were aware that a hurricane of Sandy’s magnitude was inevitable — due to global climate change — little was done to prepare the masses with an adequate evacuation plan on the scale needed, not to mention the lack of planning to provide all immediate human needs. Once the storm created such devastation, organizations such as the Red Cross — which have millions of dollars at their disposal supposedly to meet the basic needs of the survivors of disasters — fell way short of meeting those needs. Red tape tied to the profit motive interfered. Local community, political and faithbased groups along with small businesses and even individuals rose to the occasion with limited resources to help support those most impacted by the storm. This includes those living in low-income housing projects, the elderly and the infirm. In Hoboken, for example, residents distributed unused coats and blankets from the back of their cars to help provide warmth to others. Hamburger and hotdog barbecues were held in backyards of residents for those without food or the means to cook food that would eventually spoil in unpowered refrigerators. In Atlantic City, hundreds remain home less. The A.C. Rescue Mission, a permanent homeless shelter across from the city’s convention center, was filled beyond capacity with over 450 people. More were being
ww Photo: Joe Piette
Atlantic City, N.J. on Nov. 4.
housed at the convention center itself. The Rescue Mission also served as a depot for much needed donations of food, clothing, blankets, coats and water when no government agency stepped in to provide this service. Power was restored first and foremost to the city’s casinos. Tiffany Csaszar, an organizer with Occupy Atlantic City, put out a call on her Facebook page for supplies to be brought to the shelter. Workers World Party members were on hand Nov. 4 to assist in the unloading of three trucks of donated items from various Philadelphia communities. Csaszar told WW: “People need so much but they are not getting it. The city is kicking people out of school shelters so they can reopen these schools. First, the National Guard blocked entry to the city. Then, the priority seemed to be to reopen the streets so that people could get to the casinos, but they are almost empty.” Disaster unearths repression Once again a catastrophe has exposed the profit-driven capitalist system for its innate racism and anti-poor bias. For instance, in Jersey City, the Gold Coast area, composed of luxury condominiums, hotels, restaurants and banks located directly across the Hudson River from Wall Street, had its power restored within 36 hours of when Sandy hit. The poor, predominantly African-American sections of Greenville, Martin Luther King Drive and its outlying
areas, were still without power as of Nov. 5. In contrast to the heroic efforts made by first responders such as firefighters and emergency medical service workers, the Jersey City Police Department’s contribution was to arrest more than 20 people, mainly African American, for socalled looting during the power outage. Jeremiah Healy, the mayor of Jersey City, used these arrests to impose a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew to instill fear in the residents during this devastating crisis. Many of us believe that people have the right to liberate food and other basic human needs when they have been denied access to them in the first place. The arrests show that the role of the police in this society is to repress and terrorize oppressed peoples while protecting the private property of the 1%. I saw dozens of police roaming my neighborhood with flashlights and tracking dogs during the power outage, looking for a suspect and tearing down a neighbor’s fence in the process. This type of arrogant behavior is very reminiscent of what occurred during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, when African-American residents were indiscriminately brutalized, shot and even killed by the police and white vigilantes while trying to escape the flooded Ninth Ward area. Betsey Piette and Joe Piette contributed to this article following a visit to Atlantic City, N.J., on Nov. 4.
Six hospital evacuations in NY-NJ
Capitalist priorities intensify storm crisis By Sara Flounders The storm that hit the U.S. East Coast Oct. 29 exposed the harm done by capitalist priorities in the crucial areas of essential health care and electric power for millions. Some 400 available industrial-scale generators sat unused while four major New York City hospitals located in flood zones and two New Jersey hospitals were forced to evacuate on an emergency basis. In the hospitals both the main energy source and emergency backup generators failed, providing the clearest possible example of bone-deep hospital and infrastructure maintenance cuts. Meanwhile, high-rise apartment houses and entire neighborhoods went for days without electric power. That meant days without drinking water, flush toilets, heat or functioning elevators. This creates life-threatening conditions, especially for seniors, people with disabilities and infants. Every decision in this capitalist society is based on the necessity to maximize profit, even when conditions for tens of thousands of people hang in the balance.
The response to Hurricane Sandy exposed callous disregard, years of neglect and complete lack of planning. Wall Street up quickly In contrast to the neglect elsewhere, the Wall Street Stock Exchange was up and running with backup generators in 36 hours. Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared this a major victory. For the corporate rulers, it was. Meanwhile, the desperate attempts to evacuate hundreds of patients from hospitals were turned into a sideline human-interest story. Medical personnel hauled fuel and water up flights of steps in a desperate effort to keep the backup generators functioning. Then they carried patients down darkened stairwells, operating respirators by hand for newborn infants in mass evacuations. Managers and officials knew well in advance of the storm how unprepared NYC hospitals would be in the face of a crisis, but they made no preparations and heeded no warnings: “The problem of unreliable backup electricity at hospitals is not new. Over the first six months of the year,
23 percent of the hospitals inspected by the Joint Commission, a health care facility accreditation group, were found to be out of compliance with standards for backup power and lighting.” (AP, Nov. 1) City officials understood the potential problems for New York University Hospital and Coney Island Hospital so well that they ordered evacuations before Hurricane Irene in 2011. Though storm and evacuation warnings were more dire for Hurricane Sandy and began a week in advance, NYU Hospital spokeswoman Allison Clair said, “This year we were not told to evacuate by the city.” (CBS/AP, Oct. 31) There was extensive media coverage of the emergency evacuation in high winds and driving rain of 300 patients at NYU Hospital, a major private hospital, due to the breakdown of backup generators. Ambulances stretched for blocks waiting to move patients with acute problems. But the difficulties of matching equipment, medications and patient care when hundreds of patients are moved under these conditions were totally ignored. Coney Island Hospital, in one of the hardest hit areas of Brooklyn, was also not
told to evacuate before the storm. It was then compelled to evacuate 300 patients under crisis conditions. This is an acute care facility, with surgery and emergency rooms and a maternity care ward. It handles 18,000 patients a year and performs about 8,000 surgical procedures a year. Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, the largest acute care public hospital in NYC, was forced to evacuate 700 patients. Three days before that, medical staff and National Guard attempted to carry water and fuel up many flights to backup generators, which finally broke down. Bellevue is considered the flagship or premiere hospital among NYC’s faltering public facilities. It is expected to be closed for several weeks. Bird S. Coler Hospital, a large public, long-term care facility with 800 patients at the north end of Roosevelt Island in the East River, had to partially evacuate when hospital electricity and backup generators failed. Hundreds of other patients and overworked staff are coping with cold buildings and only partial power. Many patients are being moved to the already Continued on page 12
Nov. 8 & 15, 2012
Bloomberg talks big,
but made little infrastructure progress By LeiLani Dowell New York At a news conference in 2009, New York City billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that “planning for climate change today is less expensive than rebuilding an entire network after a catastrophe. We cannot wait until after our infrastructure has been compromised to begin to plan for the effects of climate change now.” (nyc.gov, Feb. 17, 2009) For the survivors and victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York, the most populous city in the U.S., Bloomberg’s words are bitterly ironic. More than 40 people paid for the city’s lack of infrastructure planning with their lives. The New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) held the 2009 news conference to release a report predicting higher temperatures, more rapidly rising sea levels, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events — such as Hurricane Sandy — over the next century as a result of climate change. The report stressed that “awareness is growing that some impacts from climate change are inevitable” and concluded that “these changes suggest a need for the City to rethink the way it operates and adapts to its evolving environment.” While it is notable that New York City
is one of the few U.S. cities attempting to grapple with the issue of climate change at all, a lack of action in regard to infrastructure improvement reveals the inability of capitalism to mobilize urgently and deal with the mounting environmental crisis. The 2009 report was designed to inform the actions of a newly convened Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which was to enact a response to the growing threat of climate change. It listed a slew of potentially negative implications for New York City’s infrastructure, including an “increase in risk of low-elevation transportation, energy and communications infrastructure flooding and water damage” and “encroachment of saltwater on freshwater sources and ecosystems, increasing damage to infrastructure not manufactured to withstand saltwater exposure.” The task force was part of a larger PlaNYC, which set about to create a “greener” New York through a number of projects. Two years later, the city’s subsequent efforts on climate change were described in an April 2011 update on PlaNYC. The update notes several actions taken in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the creation of contingency plans to deal with extreme weather events. However, the infrastructure updates in the report are attached to the words “we
will” — as in, they have yet to be enacted. According to the 2011 report, “The Task Force identified more than 100 types of transportation, energy, water and sewer, solid waste, telecommunications, and natural infrastructure that climate change could impact. The Task Force will use this initial assessment to develop coordinated strategies to increase the resilience of the region’s infrastructure. … We will work with the Task Force to complete its assessment and begin to implement its recommendations.” City inaction has devastating consequences The devastating consequences of Hurricane Sandy result from the city’s stalling in these vitally important updates. For instance, had the city taken steps to protect its equipment and infrastructure from salt water erosion — which was clearly indicated by the NPCC as an area of concern — electricity could have been restored much sooner to the city, as well as subway operation. Instead, some families continue to linger in powerless homes — as winter approaches and temperatures drop to near-freezing conditions. The subway system, used by millions of workers to get to their jobs each day, took an entire week to become fully operational again. The NPCC, a group created by Mayor
Bloomberg and made up of academics, scientists and private corporations, is notably bereft of those with the biggest stake in the city’s plans — the workers in the communities that will be hardest hit. In April of this year, Sabrina Terry, an environmental justice planner for Uprose, a Latino/a community-based organization in the Sunset Park community of Brooklyn, testified before the City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection. She noted that the NPCC’s reports do not explicitly address the needs of low-income communities of color, which “are often more at risk because they live in geographically susceptible areas in close proximity to noxious fumes, which become public health threats in the context of extreme weather.” Terry urged a “more inclusive model [that] would help encourage communities to leverage their own resources, thus becoming more self-sufficient and resilient.” (City Council hearing transcript, April 25) If anything, Hurricane Sandy has proven that the government, set up under capitalism to protect profits over the lives and safety of working people, cannot adequately respond to the environmental crises that capitalism itself has created. More and more, a people’s response — from preventive measures to emergency actions — is emerging as the best and only solution to the crises working people face on every level.
Years of urgent warnings suppressed
The corporate crimes behind the disaster By Deirdre Griswold The disaster known as Hurricane Sandy should have come as no surprise. Every possible warning sign had preceded it. For years, international conferences had been held at which scientists laid out the effects of global warming on the climate. What were once considered extraordinary weather events — torrential rains, severe droughts, more frequent and intense tornadoes and hurricanes — had become the new norm. Yet, a week after the hurricane’s first blast, millions in wide areas of the U.S. are still without power. Besides those killed by the winds and the huge surge of ocean water Sandy drove onshore, more continue to die due to lack of heat, access to medications, medical care and transportation, and from other causes related to nonfunctioning infrastructure. How did we get to this perilous position? From the first major climate change conference in Kyoto in 1998 to the U.N. Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio in June 2012, the U.S. government, in particular, with the connivance of other imperialist powers, has intervened to undermine and make ineffectual the many attempts by world climate scientists to get international agreement on plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Over this period of a decade and a half, many disasters related to global warming have wreaked havoc in the U.S., from Hurricane Katrina to floods and drought in the West and Midwest, tornadoes in the South and a sizzling heat wave that forced workers in Michigan’s auto plants to work in 113 degrees Fahrenheit this summer. Around the world, there have been deadly floods in Pakistan, drought fol-
Durban, South Africa, protest at 2011 climate conference.
lowed by floods in Africa, and the highest summer temperatures ever recorded in Russia, leading to widespread fires. The Caribbean islands have been hit again and again by deadly hurricanes. China and Korea have been repeatedly battered by deadly storms. And island nations face being submerged as ocean levels rise. ‘Unnatural Disasters’ Workers World has reported over the years on these events. These articles have now been compiled into an online book called “Unnatural Disasters,” which is accessible in pdf form at workers.org. A printed book will soon be out. In brief, these articles describe how government policy, particularly in the U.S., has been dictated by the highly profitable and powerful energy companies, whose clout is linked to the big banks and the Pentagon. The goals of the Kyoto Accords were modest: reduce greenhouse gas emissions
to the 1990 level by the year 2007. President Bill Clinton had signed the accords, but Congress never ratified them. Then in March 2001, newly inaugurated President George W. Bush announced he opposed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and also threw his support behind drilling for oil in the fragile wildlife preserves of arctic Alaska. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich said in an op-ed column in the New York Times of March 18, 2001: “It’s payback time, and every industry and trade association is busily cashing in.” The oil giants own many of the coal companies and the utilities that burn coal to produce power, emitting vast amounts of carbon dioxide in the process. The public was being deliberately confused about global warming by innocent-sounding groups, sponsored by the energy companies, with names like The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, Global Climate Coalition and the Green-
ing Earth Society. TASSC had started as a front for Philip Morris. Its “scientists” went from disputing the dangers of tobacco to denying climate change. While the oil and coal companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars broadcasting these lies, real scientists like James Hansen of NASA, whose satellites every day were showing the shrinking glaciers and polar ice caps, could barely get a hearing for their urgent warnings about what was to come. When denial of climate change could no longer work, the polluting industries changed their strategy. New “nongovernmental organizations” were formed to push the idea that the “free market” would solve the problem. Many ventures were launched, and fortunes made, through schemes like “cap and trade,” which established a market for the right to pollute. Britain’s first Special Representative on Climate Change, John Ashton, summed up the approach of these groups: “Climate change needs to be seen not as an economic threat, but an economic opportunity.” (Reuters, June 24, 2006) Like a red thread running through all our articles on this monumental problem is the critique of capitalism as the ultimate cause of the planetary disaster known as global warming. It is not technology, but the class interests that technology serves that determine whether humanity’s impact on the planet will be sustainable or not. And with capitalism’s evolution into global imperialism, the problems it creates impact most severely on the pillaged nations of the global South. Frederick Engels, Karl Marx’s closest collaborator, wrote in 1876: “Let us not … flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For Continued on the next page
Nov. 8 &15, 2012
Hurricane Sandy and capitalism at a dead end By Fred Goldstein A crisis arising out of a major natural disaster tends to reveal a society’s strengths and weaknesses, values and priorities, and forms of organization. Hurricane Sandy hit U.S. capitalism right at its financial nerve center, the very personal domain of much of the ruling class. Workers should carefully note what was revealed by it. First, the U.S. boasts that it has the technological power to send a pilotless drone, directed from Tampa, Fla., to launch a pinpoint missile against people in northwest Pakistan. It has the logistical power to put giant military bases in the desert of Saudi Arabia and the far reaches of Afghanistan that can house and supply tens of thousands of troops. Yet the authorities could not organize a plan to protect tens of thousands of poor people living in housing projects and vulnerable coastal regions along the densely populated Eastern seaboard, even though scientists warned about the power of Hurricane Sandy long before it arrived there. U.S. focuses on wealth, Cuba on people The New York metropolitan region has the most concentrated capitalist financial wealth on the planet. Yet it is socialist Cuba, a poor country pillaged and colonized for 500 years, that has been recognized by the United Nations and other international bodies as having the most advanced system in the world of dealing with natural disasters, especially hurricanes — all while struggling for 50 years against the U.S. blockade. Socialist Cuba has been plagued by hurricanes for decades. Along with other Caribbean islands, it has suffered from the increasing number and intensity of these storms, aggravated immensely by climate change and global warming. Yet Cuba has shown a very low death rate, a record of strong preparation and a rapid rate of recovery, superior to that of the U.S. This time Cuba suffered 11 deaths and massive destruction, especially in the 400-year-old city of Santiago. Its first priority was to mobilize assistance for the masses of people and organize the recovery. The first move of the New York City authorities was to be sure the Stock Exchange reopened. Organization under capitalism is focused on making money, exploiting workers, and maintaining a repressive state apparatus and the military. Organization in socialist Cuba is directed at preserving
each such victory it takes its revenge on us. Each of them, it is true, has in the first place the consequences on which we counted, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first.” Engels wrote this during the early, tempestuous growth of industrial capital in Europe and the U.S., when huge fortunes were made exploiting labor in the mines, the steel mills and the newly electrified factories. Today Marxism is an indispensable tool to understanding why capitalism is headed toward a train wreck and what must replace it. As protesters at the 2011 conference on climate change in Durban, South Africa, demanded: “Climate change? Social change!”
human life, especially during disasters. A 69-page report in 2004 by the human rights organization, Oxfam, praised the Cuban system of centralized, planned organization based on mass participation during disasters. It sheds light on what is possible even in a poor, formerly oppressed country that has a socialist commitment to its population. “Cuba is unusual in that its socio-economic development model and its disaster response policies combine to substantially reduce its population’s vulnerability to hazards. Over the past 40 years, Cuba’s socialist government has emphasized social and economic development, prioritizing an equitable distribution of resources, universal access to social services, and a narrower urban-rural development gap,” reads the report. “Cubans are highly educated, with a strongly developed sense of solidarity and social cohesion, extensive experience in mobilization and highly organized through mass organizations, professional groups and political structures.” Cuba’s comprehensive National Civil Defense system, the report says, “is as much a concept of organization as it is a system of measures and procedures.” Its work is based on a national plan, formulated both from above and at the grassroots level, which relies on mass organizations such as the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Cuban Women’s Federation, student groups, trade unions and the Association of Small Producers. “In addition to specific assets for work on disasters,” continues the report, “there is a political commitment at all levels of government to allocate all resources at hand for the preservation of life in emergencies. This allows the Cubans to make use of any and all available resources, such as using local schools as evacuation shelters, securing boats and buses for evacuation purposes, or tapping the ham radio association as a communications network.” All other aspects of preparation are “secondary to the basic commitment of saving lives.” Any weaknesses Cuba has in dealing with hurricanes flow entirely from its economic underdevelopment. Its strengths lie in its social system. Suffering and the profit system The untold hardships and suffering that have landed on the working class, especially the poorest, in New York, New Jersey and other mid-Atlantic areas are
High Tech, Low Pay
A Marxist Analysis of the Changing Character of the Working Class
not just the product of the storm but of a dying system that is consumed with piling up profit. The rich regard storm damage preparation and recovery as a financial distraction from making money. Tens of thousands are still homeless in New York City alone as the temperature drops. Many other thousands are living with relatives or friends. Tens of thousands get meager military rations. Food and clothing are being donated by neighborhood groups and neighbors trying to fill the gaps left by the capitalist government. Hundreds of thousands wait on long gas lines, meaning lost wages in many cases. Before the storm the governor, the mayor, the head of the transit system, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other authorities assembled in press conferences telling people to evacuate. It all sounded very efficient and motivated by concern. But the social organization for an evacuation and the recovery of hundreds of thousands of people does not exist. Who was assigned ahead of time to check house by house, apartment by apartment, and find the elderly, the sick, people in need of medication, families with children, people with no transportation or with mental illness, and so on to ensure that everyone could get to a predesignated evacuation site, prepared in advance to take care of their needs? The richest city in the world in the richest capitalist country could surely accomplish this, if that were its priority. In underdeveloped Cuba everyone is accounted for. It is done as part of an overall strategy that involves all social, economic and military organizations, which have planned and practiced evacuation and rescue procedures from the block level to the cabinet level. Without such planned evacuation and rescue procedures mere orders to evacuate are meaningless. Prepositioning supplies for emergencies Is it beyond the economic and technological capacity of the ruling class to make sure that every neighborhood, every highrise project, every coastal town and city is equipped with emergency backup generators and fuel supplies to deal with emergencies? If it can be done for the military in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, it can be done for civilians in New York. The Pentagon prepositions war supplies, weapons and equipment at strategic locations to be ready for military in-
Capitalism at a Dead End
Job destruction, overproduction and crisis in the High-tech era
tervention in targeted areas. Surely the authorities in the metropolitan region should have long ago prepositioned supplies to deal with an emergency that everyone knew was bound to come. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has in his files a report issued in 2009 by the New York City Panel on Climate Change that predicts the rise in sea level, sea and atmospheric temperature, and warning of just such storms as Sandy. Preventive measures were recommended. Bloomberg himself gave a press conference hailing the report when it came out. Since that report was issued, ocean levels have risen at an even more rapid rate than predicted, due to the melting of Greenland glaciers and Arctic ice sheets. But preparations eat into profits, interest to the banks, the hundreds of billions of dollars targeted for the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex, and the personal wealth of billionaires like Bloomberg. Some 8 million people in the area lost power, and hundreds of thousands are still without electricity. A common recommendation as a corrective measure is to bury power lines underground. Bloomberg and others dismiss this as far too expensive. It would cost $10 billion. But Bloomberg has $20 billion in his own personal fortune. He could sell half his assets, personally finance burying the power lines, and still have $10 billion left for himself! What about raising the infrastructure above sea level? What about making it all salt-water proof? What about building sea barriers? What about rebuilding marshes as a natural barrier to storms — barriers that have been destroyed by real estate developers who got rich? What about relocating people away from the most vulnerable coastal regions and turning them into public parks and beaches that millions could enjoy, instead of selling the land to a small number of homeowners who have to rebuild their homes every time a hurricane hits? This and much more could be done with the trillions of dollars now being spent on weapons, wars and occupations. To be continued: The environmental death spiral of capitalism Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End.” More information is available at www.lowwagecapitalism.com. The author can be reached at fgoldstein@ workers.org.
What the new globalized high-tech imperialism means for the class struggle in the U.S.
LowWageCapitalism.com Books are available at Amazon and other bookstores.
Nov. 8 & 15, 2012
Community meets to condemn killer cops By Betsey Piette Philadelphia It was a meeting held against all odds. Hurricane Sandy had just swept up the Eastern seaboard. Public transit was shut down in Philadelphia. Yet organizers decided to go ahead and hold a scheduled forum about the police brutality epidemic in the U.S. More than 70 people came out for the Philadelphia stop on the “Fight Police Brutality from the West Coast to the East” tour, which was held in this city on Oct. 30. A meeting three days earlier at New York’s Riverside Church was cancelled when the storm forced closure of that city’s public transit system. The event featured Jeralynn Blueford and Adam Blueford, parents of Alan Blueford, who was slain by Oakland, Calif., police on May 6, and Jack Bryson, a leader of
the Oscar Grant Movement. Jeralynn Blueford poig n antly related memories of her youngest son, while she emphasized the need to fight to win justice against the police who killed him. The Bluefords formed an organization called Justice4AlanBlueford, and, since their son’s death, have gone from city to city organizing against police violence. MOVE leader Ramona Africa, a survivor of the 1985 bombing by Philadelphia police that killed 11 adults and children in her family, told the gathering that while she does not like to talk about what happened to her relatives, people have to know about it, if only to motivate them to get involved. “You are defeated when you
Community members protested outside a Fraternal Order of Police benefit in Philadelphia on Oct. 28. One sign read, “The FOP celebrates police brutality.” Demonstrators, who numbered more than 100, chanted “Shame! Shame!” as cops and their supporters entered the police fundraiser, which was being held for Lt. Jonathan Josey, the cop who brutalized Aida Guzmán at the end of an annual Puerto Rican Festival.
—Report and photo by Joe Piette
ww Photo: Joe Piette
give up,” she said. “As long as you continue to fight and resist, you have won.” Abdus Sabur, whose son was brutally attacked by Philadelphia police in 2009, also spoke. International Action Center organizer Berta Joubert Ceci, who chaired the event, stressed the importance of holding the meeting, noting that as the economic crisis deepens, so will capitalist state repression. She described Philadelphia as “the city that bombed itself, a city where police have impunity.” Joubert Ceci had organized local protests against police brutality after cops assaulted Puerto Rican Aida Guzman at a September community celebration. Baltimore People’s Assembly organizers Sharon Black and the Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon, the president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, rounded out the panel. They told of Peoples Power Assemblies being held to protest the pandemic of police violence. Witherspoon related his experience at a 10,000 strong Baltimore march earlier this year in memory of slain African-American youth, Trayvon Martin. When he asked people to raise their hands if police had victimized them, he said, “We were stunned by the response.” He emphasized, “It’s important that we have a plan of action. We need to use our cell phones as a community weapon to capture incidents of police brutality.” Black noted that former Oakland Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was recently appointed to the same position in Baltimore, and stressed: “It’s really not about who heads up the police. It’s about the system. Police occupation, police terror —
this is their answer to the economic crisis.” Everyone was invited to the National Peoples Power Assembly in Baltimore on Dec. 15 to take up the campaign of police terror, community control over the police and more. Black explained, “We won’t just be dealing with police abuse but also issues of racism, sexism, violence against LGBTQ people, the lack of resources for youth and the lack of jobs. All these problems, including wars abroad, are connected.” The speakers inspired audience members, who included organizers of anti-police repression groups. The Build People’s Power Movement has been holding regular street speakouts for “Jobs not Jails!” Free the Streets has focused their attention on the construction of an unwanted new police headquarters in West Philadelphia. While the individual accounts of police killings and vicious attacks on family members and loved ones moved the audience, the overall theme of this meeting was the need to organize and fight back. Jack Bryson, whose sons were with Oscar Grant when a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer in Fruitvale, Calif., killed him in 2009, explained that he had never been an organizer, but that now he has dedicated his life to organizing against this system and defeating it. Along with the Bluefords, Bryson visited political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal the day before the meeting and shared his message to those attending: “Mumia told us that what the system doesn’t understand is movements, so you have to build a movement and keep organizing. That’s all the people will believe in — not the government or the police. It’s up to us to make this happen and to defeat the system.”
Boston tenants fight rent hikes, evictions By Gerry Scoppettuolo Boston Tenants and supporters marched to the offices of Alpha Real Estate in Boston to oppose the unprecedented, forced, mass, “no-fault” evictions aimed at residents of a 300-unit apartment complex in Malden, Mass., a suburb of Boston. Those on the spirited Nov. 1 picket line chanted, “Alpha, Alpha, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side!” For six months tenants have been fighting to keep their housing in an ever-expanding battle. In April, soon after acquiring the rental complex for $26 million, Alpha raised rents overnight by 25 percent to 40 percent. Alpha gave tenants 30 days to accept the rent hikes or face eviction. The Malden tenants form a multinational, working-class community, many of whom are seniors who have lived in their units for 30 years or more. Most tenants cannot afford either the rent increases or the costs of moving to a new location. Tenants started fighting back immediately and formed the Malden-Medford
Tenants Association. More than 70 percent of tenants sent opposition petitions to Alpha. The tenant union organized picket lines at Malden District Court during eviction proceedings, and in September the Malden City Council unanimously passed a supporting resolution. Important support has been provided by City Life, a community-based organization leading the fight against bank foreclosures in Massachusetts, and by Greater Boston Legal Services. Along with City Life, picket line support was provided by members of Steelworkers Local 8751 (the Boston School Bus Drivers Union), Service Employees Local 615, the International Action Center, Boston Anarchists Network and Boston University students. Alpha Real Estate is notorious for renting substandard, high-rent apartments to thousands of college students in Boston, and recently one of its properties was condemned by the Boston Public Health Department. Affordable housing is not being built in greater Boston — or anywhere else for that matter. The banks, real estate com-
WW photo: Gerry Scoppettuolo
panies and landlords that control housing are squeezing renters more and more as the global economic crisis of capitalism makes itself felt in every country, city and neighborhood. Low-cost public housing that people need is not being built, in part due to cutbacks in funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. At the same time, private industry refuses to build rental housing without government loan guarantees and the as-
surance of hefty profits. Every day poor and working-class people are summoned to local courts overwhelmed with foreclosure proceedings brought by the likes of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank. People’s fightback groups like the Malden tenants union, City Life, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition in Michigan, and the upcoming People’s Power Assemblies in several cities are more important than ever.
Nov. 8 &15, 2012
From Oakland to NYC
Family members, activists assail police brutality By Monica Moorehead New York “I am the proud father of Alan Blueford, murdered by the Oakland police,” stated Adam Blueford. His spouse, Jera lynn Blueford, added, “Alan’s murder was arbitrary, unnecessary and racist. It’s sad to say but he was shot down because of the color of his skin. They profiled him by saying he looked suspicious.” These gut-wrenching, heartfelt words were spoken at a powerful, moving public forum held here Oct. 27 on “Fight All Police Terror: Solidarity with the Victims and their Families,” sponsored by Workers World Party. The Bluefords had traveled from Oakland, Calif., to speak at forums in New York and Philadelphia on behalf of their 18-year-old beloved son, Alan Blueford, who was fatally shot on May 6 by police officer Miguel Masso. The parents are leaders of the Justice for Alan Blueford Campaign in the Bay Area. The campaign has held numerous demonstrations, including disruptions of Oakland City Council hearings. Also speaking at the forum was Oakland activist, Jack Bryson, who recounted the fatal police shooting of another young African American, Oscar Grant, during the early morning of New Year’s Day 2009 at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland. Jaribu Hill, a people’s lawyer and cultural worker, spoke on behalf of the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights and the Southern Human Rights Organizers Network. Larry Hales, a Workers World newspaper contributing editor, motivated the need to build People’s Power Assemblies. ‘Angry and outraged’ Adam Blueford gave a brief scenario of the events leading up to his son’s death on May 6. Alan and two friends, who had earlier been at a Cinco de Mayo party and then watched a boxing match, were confronted by cops after midnight. When Alan ran from them out of fear, he was run down by Masso. The officer shot him three times in the chest as he was lying on the ground. Witnesses heard Alan say before he was shot, “I didn’t do anything.” After being shot, he asked Masso, “Why did you shoot me?” before they let him bleed to death. Adam Blueford described Masso as a rogue cop with a known history of police abuse when he was a member of the New York Police Department and in Oakland. Masso was also a member of the military police in Iraq. Jeralynn Blueford, with tears flowing and righteous anger in her voice, provided many facts about her son’s death. Among them was that his parents were not allowed to see the police report for six months and the coroner’s report for five months. The district attorney’s office recently announced it would not bring any charges against Masso for Blueford’s death. The police interviewed 39 witnesses in the Blueford case but used only one statement — the one favorable to Masso’s claim. The police refused to meet with Alan’s parents when they went to the police station to try to get more information about their son’s death. After sitting there for two to three hours, they gave up and left. Alan bled to death for lack of medical treatment, but Masso got immediate treatment for a gunshot wound in his foot.
The media reported that Alan was in a shootout with the police. However, no gunpowder residue was found on his hands, and it turned out that Masso’s wound was self-inflicted. The media have not retracted their story. Jeralynn Blueford stated, “This is a very traumatic thing that has happened to my family. It inspires me to fight. I am angry and outraged. I will never get over this. Our lives have been shattered. I never got the opportunity to hold my son’s hand. That Masso was a rogue cop; that he [was in] Afghanistan or Iraq and doesn’t care about life and can blow up people and not answer to anyone there — but he is going to answer here.” The International Longshore Workers Union Local 10 has passed a resolution calling on its members to support and attend the Bay Area Families March Against Police Brutality, initiated by the Justice for Alan Blueford Campaign, to take place on Nov. 10 at 12 noon, starting at 14th and Broadway in downtown Oakland. The resolution also called for the arrest of Masso on the charge of murder of Alan Blueford. Read the resolution at workers.org. Juanita Young, the mother of 23-year-old Malcolm Ferguson, who was killed by New York police on March 1, 2000, also made comments at the forum. With Jeralynn Blueford at her side, Young, an activist with the Oct. 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, spoke of the pain she still feels at the loss of her son. Holding a photo of Malcolm, she said, “It isn’t fair that because the police get the protection, we have to suffer.” Killing leads to activism Jack Bryson gave a blow-byblow account of events leading to the killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant by a Bay Area Rapid Transit cop early on New Year’s Day of 2009. Bryson’s two sons were eyewitnesses to the shooting, which was captured on several digital videos and led to a rebellion in the Oakland community. Bryson talked about how BART police had harassed and abused several youth in the Oakland station, threatening them with tasers. Grant was singled out while capturing the harassment of these youth, including one of Bryson’s sons, on video. BART cop Johannes Mehserle forced Grant, who was unarmed, to lie face down on the floor of the station and then shot him in the back. Grant bled to death, similar to Alan Blueford. Bryson compared the trial of Mehserle with the unjust trial of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. He stated that potential African-American jurors were summarily excluded from the jury because they testified to having been racially profiled by police. On the other hand, whites in the jury pool who expressed favorable views about the police were accepted on the jury. Bryson also talked about the unjust change in venue of the Mehserle trial from the predominantly Black city of Oakland to Los Angeles. Mehserle received a manslaughter conviction, resulting in an 11-month sentence — a mere slap on the wrist.
WW photos: Brenda Ryan
Clockwise: Jack Bryson, Juanita Young & Jeralynn Blueford; Monica Moorehead, Jaribu Hill, Larry Hales and Adam Blueford.
Still overcome with emotion, Bryson stated why he became an activist: “It was a responsibility to my sons, to Oscar Grant’s family and to the community to get involved in activism and make it happen. I didn’t want to do it, but I had no choice but to do it to protect my sons, other young men and the community. The Alan Blueford case is like Oscar Grant without the video.” Bryson is an activist with the Justice for Alan Blueford Campaign and Occupy Oakland.
Pushing the struggle forward
Larry Hales connected the killings of Alan Blueford and other youth of color to the general role the police play in capitalist society: “Their job is to maintain the status quo; to stand between you and those who own the majority of the society — the wealthy. If you go to a strike picket line, the role of cops is to stop workers from seizing the factory. … “The day after the elections, nothing will have changed. The same brutal conditions will still be there. People didn’t get the right to vote by pulling a lever but by fighting and dying for it.” In motivating the need for People’s Power Assemblies, Hales stated, “We have ‘Can’t be fixed!’ to see the commonality in our struggles Mississippian Jaribu Hill gave a stir- and we have to begin to fight for powring talk on how the capitalist system is to er. And it might start with fighting against blame for racist oppression. She likened police brutality and for community conthe killings of Alan Blueford and Tray- trol over the police. It might start with the von Martin to the 1955 brutal lynching of resignation of a police chief or the entire 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Miss., City Council. But from there it will grow to by the Ku Klux Klan. Till’s killers were ac- a fight for the right to schools and educaquitted. Hill went on to say, “These killings tion; it will go from being very specific to take place unabated without prosecution, very general because these things aren’t separate from one another. … without punishment that fits the crime. “The brutality that we face is not sepa“Mississippi is the capital of all the rate from degradation and austerity; it is murders and lynchings under the capital part and parcel of something much bigger. of law. I am talking about Nina Simone’s So when we talk about PPAs, it means that Mississippi.” Hill was referring to the late, we must begin to organize and in the progreat singer’s 1963 recording of “Missiscess of organizing, we must begin to make sippi Goddamn” about racial segregation. the system itself ungovernable. We must Hill concluded: “The capitalist system destroy the old order and build something is corrupt. It can’t be bandaged, can’t be fixed. Can’t work. The system is not only that is much more human on top of it.” The writer chaired the forum. Go to broken but rotten to the core and must youtube.com/WWPvideo to watch the come tumbling down. We gotta be milientire program. tant! We gotta be revolutionary!”
Nov. 8 & 15, 2012
Team Solidarity mobilizes workers, community By Hannah Kirschbaum Boston Team Solidarity, a rank-and-file organization of school bus union workers largely in the Boston area, has the perspective of uniting bus drivers, mechanics, monitors, dispatchers and other school bus union workers. By working with parent organizations, teachers, the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts and other educational activists, it also aims to unite with the communities that its members serve in their struggles against racist attacks on equal quality education. Founded by leaders and rank-and-file members of United Steelworkers Local 8751 this fall, Team Solidarity consists of members of Local 8751 (First Student Co. of Boston and Eastern Bus Co. of Somerville, Belmont, Waltham, Wellesley, and Cambridge, Mass.) and Teamsters Local 653 (First Student Co. of Brockton, Mass.), with long-distance support from members of United Transit Union Local 1741 (First Student Co. of San Francisco). The group works to embody the motto of the 1970s militant Center for United Labor Action: “If you don’t have a union, fight to get one. If you have one, fight to make it fight!” It has weekly organizing meetings, held alternately at Boston’s Workers World office, Service Employees Local 888 hall in Somerville, and Bishop Filipe Teixeira’s Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Brockton. According to Team Solidarity leader Georgia Scott, “In 2012, we are still fighting the same racism we fought in Selma in the 1960s. Labor must stand in solidarity in the fight to defend the Black community’s right to equal education.” Scott is a veteran USW 8751 steward and Civil Rights activist from Selma, Ala. In this vein, important meetings hosted by the Coalition for Equal Quality Education are being held to formulate a strategy to stop the efforts of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the school department to resegregate Boston public schools. Similar resegregation campaigns are planned in towns throughout the state. Labor & community rally for Eastern A Solidarity Day with the Eastern Bus drivers was held on Sept. 28 outside the Somerville bus yard. The workers have filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board against Eastern, which include refusal to bargain, failure to deliver documents to the union for negotiations, illegal firing of two union leaders, illegal installation of surveillance cameras, illegal implementation of a new disciplinary policy, and retaliatory reductions in pay and work. The NLRB will go forward with a majority (more than 20) of the unfair labor charges. Leaflets and posters were created and
Boston’s workers get together to battle Eastern Bus Company.
distributed for the Sept. 28 event, and outreach and organizing were conducted throughout the labor movement and the communities. Despite rain and the presence of several Somerville police cars, the event saw a great turnout of supporters, including Cambridge Vice Mayor E. Denise Simmons; USW International Representative Joe Carlson; Rich Rogers of the Greater Boston Labor Council; Bishop Teixeira; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222 Business Manager Myles Calvey; and SEIU Local 888 Organizer Rand Wilson. Members of USW at NSTAR Electric and Gas, SEIU Local 509, Communication Workers, the International Action Center and Women’s Fightback Network also attended. For approximately three hours, Team Solidarity and its supporters maintained a moving picket line outside the Somerville yard, chanting for the return of the fired Eastern drivers and demanding contract negotiations. At one point, the majority of those present moved onto the property to present owner Chuck Winitzer with a formal letter demanding contract negotiations and rehiring of the fired drivers. Winitzer refused to allow the Eastern drivers to enter the trailer that serves as the office. His son came outside to call the cops over. After a nearly 30-minute standoff, one Eastern driver was allowed to enter the trailer and hand-deliver the letter to Winitzer. Winitzer’s son then followed the picketers back to the edge of the property and closed the gates, denying further entrance to the bus yard. Solidarity Day
received extensive and positive media coverage from a local newspaper, The Somerville Journal. After the extremely successful Solidarity Day, Team Solidarity returned the support it received from Vice Mayor Simmons by attending the Cambridge City Council meeting on Oct. 1. Team Solidarity packed the chambers, and a delegation of several Eastern drivers was able to speak and read aloud a letter from Rep. Michael E. Capuano. The City Council members and mayor of Cambridge then unanimously passed a resolution proposed by Vice Mayor Simmons in favor of the Eastern drivers. In part, it says that the City Council goes on record “in urging Eastern Bus Company to obey the law and immediately convene negotiations[,] … that [Eastern] rehire any drivers that have been terminated as a consequence of their involvement in organizing their union, that the company refrain from any form of retaliation against those workers who sought to organize, and that the company treat all its workers with the respect and dignity they deserve.” Vice Mayor Simmons offered additional support by pledging to aid Team Solidarity in organizing in other towns serviced by Eastern Bus Co. At a large labor rally for Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren on Oct. 13, Team Solidarity and Eastern workers distributed more than 1,000 leaflets that stated, “Stand with USW Drivers at Eastern.” Eastern workers received the formal endorsement of AFL-CIO National President Richard Trumka, Massachusetts
AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman, USW International President Leo Gerard, and scores of others, including Warren. Struggles with Eastern Bus Co. continue Winitzer has contacted the union requesting the commencement of negotiations. However, many drivers who have been active in union organizing have received deductions in their wages and cuts to the amount of work they receive. In the meantime, another important violation has come to light. In a thinly veiled attempt by Eastern to evade legitimate representation by the Steelworkers in the towns of Newton and Medford, Mass., the employer has brought in a company union for the workers. Attached to their clipboards, the employees received a fraudulent contract which neither contains the input of the workers nor represents their interests. These illegal actions set up what is called a “runaway shop.” Operations for these two towns are conducted out of the Somerville bus yard, where USW is the sole collective bargaining agent. Newton and Medford ought to be included in the bargaining unit represented by USW. In late October, the employer fired a Medford driver for union activity. Team Solidarity has joined with the Medford and Newton workers to fight for justice for the worker. United rank-and-file action, in conjunction with solidarity in the labor movement and the community, has once again achieved important successes in the fight for workers’ rights.
Oakland’s port workers organize mutual support By Terri Kay Oakland, Calif. Port workers employed by different bosses and doing various types of labor at the Port of Oakland and the Oakland International Airport have begun to organize to support each other’s struggles. They are demanding the right to organize, fair wages, decent working conditions and an end to discriminatory practices. Some of these workers belong to unions, such as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10,
Service Employees union Local 1021 and UNITE-HERE Local 2850. Many others don’t belong to any union yet, but are fighting for the right to do so. All these workers are employed by bosses under the jurisdiction of the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners. Organizing themselves as the Port Workers Assembly, they have just published their first newsletter, which they named “Turning the Tide.” This first issue included articles by Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local 10; Joel Schor, Sailors Union of the Pacific; a warehouse worker; a port truck
driver; and a rank-and-file clerical worker who is a member of SEIU Local 1021. On Oct. 26, the Port Workers Assembly supported a rally held by UNITE-HERE Local 2850 in response to the Jamba Juice company’s firing of a worker at the Oakland airport. Of 12 Jamba Juice employees, she was the second worker fired because of her union organizing efforts. Two workers at the airport Subway store have also been fired for union involvement. UNITE-HERE has called for a boycott of the nonunion concessions at the Oakland airport. These include See’s Candies,
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Jamba Juice, Subway, Burger King and World Passage Duty Free. All the food and retail concessions at the airport are contracted by the port commissioners to the HMS Host company. Two hundred people who work for HMS Host directly are members of UNITE-HERE 2850, whose contract expired on July 1. The other 100 retail and concession workers at the airport work for franchises subcontracted by HMS Host and have no union protection. The Host contract with the port requires them to provide a living
Nov. 8 &15, 2012
Chrysler workers fuming over new speed-up By Martha Grevatt Detroit At Chrysler’s Warren, Mich., stamping plant, more than 400 workers have signed petitions opposing a new work schedule known as “3-2-120.” Nearly every worker asked has been eager to sign. The plant employs about 1,375 members of United Auto Workers Local 869. The so-called “flexible operating pattern” (FOP) will have three crews working on two 10-hour shifts. The “A” crew works Monday through Thursday on day shift. The “B” crew works Wednesday through Saturday on evening shift. The “C” crew works Monday and Tuesday on evening shift, Friday and Saturday on day shift. Together, the three crews deliver 120 hours of production. In the past, the company was slow to implement such a schedule because it had to — by contract — pay time-and-a-half for more than eight hours’ work in a day and for Saturdays. Premium pay after eight hours’ work in a day had been in the contract since Chrysler recognized the UAW in 1937. It was won for Saturday and Sunday work in 1938. Historically, unions have had better overtime language in their contracts than the time-and-a-half after 40 hours required by the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2009, as a condition of the federal government’s $12.5 billion loan to Chrys-
ler, workers, under duress, gave up all overtime pay not mandated by the FLSA. This means Chrysler, with the FOP, can now get 120 hours production on two shifts without paying overtime or the 10 percent night shift premium. There is less paid relief time on this schedule, too. At Warren Stamping, where this writer works, three crews working 40 hours would give the company 225 minutes more production per week — about 25 eight-hour workdays per year. At Detroit’s Jefferson North Assembly, where the FOP just went into effect, Chrysler estimates that imposing the new schedule will yield an extra 49 days of production per year. (Detroit Free Press, Oct. 25) This is a 21st century speedup! Workers are furious at having to give up time with their families on Saturdays to work 10 hours at straight time. Those who transferred from out-of-state closed plants need the weekends to see their families. Now they are being told that the closings are why Chrysler needs to squeeze maximum product from its remaining plants — at workers’ expense. The 2011-2015 Chrysler-UAW contract does not allow workers at a facility to vote on the FOP. However, the company cannot impose this schedule without the consent of the UAW International’s Chrysler Department. Unfortunately, the International won’t budge from its de-
cades-old strategy of labor-management cooperation. The FOPs are being imposed with Vice President General Holiefield’s consent. The justification is that several thousand workers — all at the lower second-tier pay scale — are being hired at plants that had run with only two crews working heavy overtime. Not mentioned is that the 3-2-120, which according to Chrysler’s own figures has five workers doing the work of six, is a job-killer. The claim is then made that work will be done elsewhere if this latest concessionary demand is not met. If the union concedes this, the company will make the same threat again in another round of cost cutting. When the UAW was more militant, it championed a shorter workweek with no cut in pay — “30 for 40.” In 1976, the union won Paid Personal Holidays, extra days off intended to create the need for more workers. These were lost during the 1979 Chrysler bailout. The shorter workweek is needed now more than ever. A place to start would be restoring the PPH days, along with paid holidays and the 40 hours per year paid relief time given up in 2009 and 2011. Workers make noise Workers want their local elected union officials to send a strong message to the International. A rank-and-file leaf-
let expressed their message: “Preserve the eight-hour-day week, preserve the weekend, and drop the FOP.” Local 869 members packed their union hall at the October membership meeting where 3-2120 was being discussed. For almost two hours, members spoke in opposition to this brazen attack on the eight-hour day. This writer was thanked repeatedly for reminding the local officials — who are presenting the FOP as a done deal — that Nov. 11 is the 125th anniversary of the Haymarket martyrs’ executions. In 1887, the state of Illinois hung four men, who were framed up in a bomb-throwing incident. A fifth died in his cell the night before. Their real crime was their role in a mass demonstration, the year before, held in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, which demanded the eight-hour day. May Day — International Workers Day — commemorates that demonstration and honors the memory of Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel, Adolph Fischer and Louis Lingg. By some accounts, Lingg, who was only 23 years old, took his own life rather than be killed by the state. Rank-and-file workers want to hold on to the things these five died for. They are meeting and discussing fightback strategies. Martha Grevatt is a 25-year UAW Chrysler worker.
Struggles continue to stop foreclosures, evictions By Abayomi Azikiwe Detroit Tens of thousands of foreclosures have occurred in Detroit over the last five years. As a result, communities have been ruined, tax revenues drained, and 25 percent of the population has been forced out of the city during the last census period. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs calls for a federal executive order to halt home seizures and evictions by the banks and government entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which now own or control most mortgages in the U.S. This demand is rejected by the ruling class and its political surrogates who view the banks as sacrosanct. In recent months several cases have been taken up by Moratorium NOW! and the Occupy Detroit Eviction Defense Committee. The situations facing Jerome Jackson, Angela Crockett, Jennifer Britt, Paramount homeowners, and Jerry Cullors and Gail Cullors have become the focus of anti-foreclosure struggles.
The case of Jackson is particularly reprehensible. Jackson is a paraplegic who has used a wheelchair since he was 14. Living in the suburb of Inkster, he received a mortgage and was promised assistance from Community Living Services (CLS), a government agency of Wayne County that is supposed to assist people with disabilities. The agency was supposed to pay 85 percent of Jackson’s mortgage, but didn’t. Jackson is now facing foreclosure by Fannie Mae and PNC Bank. The case is currently in federal court, with Jackson, through his lawyer Robert Day, seeking to halt his looming eviction. At a Wayne County Board of Commissioners hearing on Nov. 1, Jackson’s sister, Jettowynne Jones, reminded the board, “We came before you … on June 7, and the Commission passed a resolution that urged a stay in the evictions pending a review by the County and that urged Fannie Mae and PNC Bank to work with my brother … to obtain a mortgage that reflects his income.” Jones continued: “I do not believe that any meaningful review has taken place
wage higher than the current minimum wage and to honor union card check for union recognition. Host is not enforcing these rules with any of the subcontracted franchises. The SEIU 1021 port workers are also without a contract. They took over the Port Commission meeting on Oct. 19, forcing the commissioners to adjourn. The SEIU statement read, “While Port executives demand SEIU Local 1021 members give up decent wages and healthcare, investigations this week reveal that those same executives have been egregiously misusing public funds since 2008, including $4,500 at a strip club, $476 for a
haircut, $324 for a pair of golf shoes and thousands more in extravagant entertainment outings.” In addition, the ILWU’s contract with the grain employers in the Pacific Northwest expired on Sept. 30. Negotiations are scheduled to begin on Oct. 29. The talks temporarily avert a planned lockout by the employers, who are trying to shove a very concessionary and restrictive contract, modeled after the contract with EGT in Longview, Wash., down the collective throats of the longshore workers. The Port Workers Assembly is endeavoring to unite other port workers in solidarity should there be strike actions or a lockout.
and certainly no mortgage has been offered that my brother can afford. At this point, the threat of eviction weighs on my brother every single day. According to his doctors, the stress has severely weakened his immune system.” A subcommittee of activists in Detroit Eviction Defense and Moratorium NOW! is working to apply greater pressure on CLS, Fannie Mae and PNC Bank. A demonstration is being planned by students in Ann Arbor, Mich., at PNC Bank headquarters. Fighting banks & other swindlers Crockett is facing foreclosure through CitiMortgage, which sold her house even though she had an agreement with the bank through an Unemployment Forbearance Program. A leaflet issued by Moratorium NOW! demands “that the eviction be stopped and that an equitable and affordable solution be offered to … Crockett that reflects the current market value of the home and low interest rate loans.” Another case is the Paramount Land Holdings swindle. This group of “investors” borrowed $10 million from the Detroit Police and Fire Pension Board in 2009 to purchase thousands of foreclosed homes. These homes were resold to people on land contracts, although the properties had tax liens and the deeds were never registered with the county. Today, the people who thought they were buying homes are facing tax foreclosures with no legal claim to ownership due to Paramount’s deliberate fraud. The company is now bankrupt, with one owner in prison and another having committed suicide. The Detroit Eviction Defense says, “Paramount homeowners have been organizing and opposing the tax foreclosures and evictions. The Wayne County Treasurer agreed to a temporary stay on foreclosure proceedings, but the Pension
Board insists that homeowners should continue to pay under the illegal land contracts and is threatening to evict those who refuse.” A dramatic action took place Oct. 30 at the home of Jerry Cullors and Gail Cullors. Jerry, a truck driver and Teamsters Local 51 member, recently had a hefty pay cut and consequently fell behind on mortgage payments for the couple’s Rosedale Park home. Organizations mobilized to prevent the Cullors from being tossed out of their home, where their son and his 88-yearold grandmother also reside. Efforts were made to set up a human chain to block court officers from breaking into the home and placing its contents in a dumpster. A motion for a stay was filed in court, but later cops came with a police wagon prepared to make mass arrests. The stay was granted, however, and a police lieutenant arrived to rein in the cops.
National Day of Mourning 2012 Thurs. Nov. 22 Cole’s Hill, Plymouth, MA
For more information: uaine.org & facebook.com/ events/528639163818793/ Bus leaving from Solidarity Center, 55 W. 17th St., 5th flr., Manhattan. 6 am sharp to DOM; $30/$40 round-trip. See Marie for tickets or call 212.633.6646, weekdays (3 pm –8 pm).
Nov. 8 & 15, 2012
Crisis in China, Part 13
In guise of exposing corruption New York Times aims blow at China By Fred Goldstein The New York Times has committed an act of journalistic aggression against China. On Oct. 25, it splashed across the top of the front page a three-column article, complete with color photos, claiming that relatives of Wen Jiabao have gotten extremely rich because of their relationship to the outgoing Chinese premier. This blast of exposure comes just days before the opening of the Communist Party Congress, which is to preside over a once-in-a-decade change in the top party leadership. The Times claims that the article, which supposedly documents the collective amassing of $2.7 billion by Wen’s relatives, has been worked on for a year and that now the story is “ready to go.” There has been much speculation as to the motives of the Times, particularly whether the article was politically motivated on behalf of one faction or another in the Chinese leadership. Only subsequent information can reveal anything about such speculation. It is ironic that the Times is trying to undermine Wen, who has been the most prominent of those in China’s top leadership promoting “reform and opening up.” Wen is also the harshest enemy of Bo Xilai, because Bo was trying to slow down the march along the capitalist road, promote the welfare of the workers and the peasants, and revive the socialist spirit and the culture of Mao Zedong. Wen denounced Bo and warned of a possible return to the Cultural Revolution. The fact that the Times opened up an attack on Wen could also signify that it is trying to ally with forces further to the right than he — those who want to use the campaign against corruption to push further toward introducing capitalist political parties in China. At this point speculation must be put aside and the world must await further clarification concerning this attack. But one thing stands out about the timing of the article and the prominence given to it, regardless of its accuracy: It is a flagrant act of imperialist intervention in the political process in China at a critical moment.
What also stands out is that it is the height of hypocrisy for the Times — a mouthpiece of U.S. capitalism and imperialism, which is the font of corruption at home and abroad on a monumental scale — to expose corruption in China. Washington, the State Department, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, the giant monopolies and banks — all bribe and corrupt officials at home and abroad in the quest for contracts, policy changes, special laws favoring corporations, arms sales, etc. This is a case of a thief crying thief. And the last thing the workers and peasants of China need is for the corporate predators behind the New York Times to stand as a watchdog over the virtue of their country. Capitalism breeds corruption in China It is widely known both inside and outside China that ever since Deng Xiaoping opened up the door to capitalism and imperialist corporate penetration, under the slogan “socialism with Chinese characteristics” or so-called “market socialism,” the acquisitive bourgeois spirit has spread throughout China among sections of officialdom and the Communist Party. The practice of using party or government positions for personal gain is prevalent, from the local to the highest levels. This has bred cynicism and alienation and gone a long way to erode the socialist spirit that prevailed in China until the death of Mao. Demonstrations against various forms of corruption or the results of corruption have spread throughout China — especially demonstrations against government officials making land deals with developers at the expense of the peasants. Under Deng and his successors, capitalist market relations were elevated to become the principal means of stimulating economic development. Socialist social relations were sacrificed to market-driven development of the productive forces in the name of “modernization.” Even the great state-owned enterprises and state economic planning exist within the framework of capitalist market mechanisms. Legitimatizing capitalism, exploitation and profit-seeking leads inevitably to corruption.
Want to root out corruption? Return to socialist road The road to rooting out corruption in China lies along the path of restoring the early socialist traditions of the Chinese Revolution. This is hardly a prescription the New York Times would advocate. During the early period of the Chinese Revolution, and especially during the Cultural Revolution, whatever its excesses may have been, the quest for personal wealth was frowned upon, and the collectivist, egalitarian, anti-bureaucratic spirit animated the Maoist sections of the party and had a great following among the masses. During the Cultural Revolution, the Paris Commune model was revived with the direct leadership of the masses in politics and administration. Government officials were subject to recall. Salaries were limited. Party members and officials were to participate in the life of the masses. The workers were empowered politically, while the peasants had been organized into communes early in the revolution. With regard to corruption, Russian revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin in 1917 followed the Paris Commune model. No party member, no matter his or her status, could receive a salary higher than that of the highest-paid worker. It was called the law of the maximum. It was later removed by Stalin. Under Lenin limited privileges were granted to experts on a provisional basis, until such time as the workers could develop sufficient expertise on their own. This was also later reversed. For years moderate and right-wing elements within the CPC have used the argument that “modernization” requires having capitalists and capitalism, with all its “efficiencies” and expertise. But they were held in check by Mao and the forces around him on the left. This argument is a rationalization for allowing the rise of privileged elements. The workers and peasants can achieve miracles of modernization and socialist construction if they are given the opportunity. That would put China in a much stronger position vis-a-vis capitalist restoration, counterrevolution and imperialism. This subject requires much more extended analysis at a future time.
But for now, suffice it to say that the New York Times is the greatest champion of further capitalist reform and further imperialist penetration in China. The last thing it would want to see is a mass campaign to restore the socialist spirit in China, with the empowerment of the workers and peasants, which is the true way to root out corruption at all levels. This gratuitous blast against corruption involving Wen Jiabao, even if every word is true, is carried out in the service of undermining China’s socialist heritage and promoting the further development of capitalism. Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End.” More information is available at www.lowwagecapitalism.com. The author can be reached at fgoldstein@ workers.org.
Capitalist priorities Continued from page 5 overstretched Goldwater Hospital, another long-term care public hospital on Roosevelt Island. Areawide crisis as 400 FEMA generators sit idle In New Jersey, Hoboken University Medical Center and Palisades Medical Center were also evacuated amid failing power from backup sources. Approximately 30 New Jersey acute care hospitals were operating on backup generators after the storm, said Kerry McKean Kelly, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Hospital Association. (modernhealthcare. com, Oct. 30) Eight Pennsylvania hospitals experienced power outages and were operating on backup generators on Oct. 30. Are all these failures just accidents? Backup generators provide only the most essential services. In many hospitals, the computers with patient records and medical information were unavailable. Staten Island Hospital and North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System lacked
W o r k ers W o rld E d i to r i al
Obama wins, struggle begins Continued from page 1 people, which has sapped their hope for change through the elections. The significance of the re-election of the first African-American president should not be lost as we move into the post-election landscape. It says a lot about the desire of a huge section of the Black, white and Latino/a masses, both the workers and some in the middle class, and especially the youth, to work together to solve the dire and mounting problems that face them: layoffs, low wages, crushing debts, lack of health care, growing climate disasters, and — especially for the oppressed Black, Latino/a and Native communities — unbridled police terror against the poor. Obama was supported by most unions, women’s organizations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer groups,
and civil rights groups. While unions have been declared dead many times by bourgeois pundits, they showed their muscle, going door to door in places like Wisconsin, where voters not only went for Obama but elected an open lesbian, Tammy Baldwin, to the U.S. Senate over Tommy Thompson, a Republican former governor notorious for setting up “workfare” and privatizing schools. But now the election campaign, which blanketed political discourse, is over and reality will set in. What will the Obama administration do about the capitalist economic crisis, which continues to drag down tens of millions of workers? His administration’s priority when the bubble broke was to bail out big banks and corporations. Wall Street may have given more to Romney’s campaign, but they hedged their bets with the Democrats,
too. Even as the gap between the 1% and the 99% continues to widen as a result of the normal functioning of the profit system, the Democratic Party leaders are solidly behind capitalism, doing the bidding of the ruling class. The Democrats won’t say it, but workers need to know that capitalism is their deadly enemy. It is the decline of this system that is crushing their hopes and making the world a much more perilous place. No plan for economic recovery — for putting people back to work at living wages doing all the jobs that are needed to improve their lives and the environment — will be embraced by the capitalists. It is the iron grip of the ruling class over the wealth of society, wealth created by the workers, that thwarts and frustrates every attempt to get out of the crisis. Profits rule and are leading to the
gutting of the most needed social supports in the U.S. and in Europe and other capitalist countries, too. None of this was talked about in the debates or the campaigns. Neither candidate had even a modest program for creating jobs. Global warming was a nonissue, too. So was ending the endless costly and vicious wars carried out on behalf of the huge oil companies — and the increased political repression at home engendered by “national security.” Now is the time to rev up the struggle against oppression and exploitation on our own turf, on our own terms. There is momentum to create people’s power assemblies where a real fightback against the bosses and their right-wing agenda can be built. It’s the independent struggle of the workers and all the oppressed that will be decisive in creating a better society.
Nov. 8 &15, 2012
South African miners’ strikes continue
NUMSA declares: ‘Enough is enough! We want change!’ By Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire Strike unrest continues in South Africa’s platinum, gold, coal, diamond and iron ore mining sectors. Company owners are threatening massive layoffs if work stoppages — protected and unprotected — proceed. Labor unrest has hit Anglo-American Platinum (Amplats) for the past several months. Amplats offered to reinstate 12,000 workers, but the strike is moving forward due to ongoing disputes over salaries and benefits. Atlasta workers are still striking in the platinum industry, where 1,500 employees have been fired. Workers held a sit-in on Nov. 1 against AngloGold Ashanti about safety and
intensify crisis access to patient computerized records. Tens of thousands of essential surgeries, tests and medical procedures had to be postponed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that 400 giant, industrial-size generators sufficient to power hospitals, government buildings and major housing complexes were available in the area. However, in New York City, according to state officials, not a single FEMA generator had been deployed. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 2) This exposes the lack of planning and attention to people’s needs. Tens of thousands of people living in NYC public housing projects and highrise towers were still without power, heat, drinking water or water to flush toilets a week after the storm hit. Media pictures showed truck-size generators, sufficient to power hundreds of homes, sitting idle, awaiting use at a media tent for the NYC Marathon. Marathon preparations aroused such outrage that Bloomberg was forced to cancel the event. But the generators stayed idle. $ spent on warfare, not health care The problem is not that new facilities geared for more severe weather and safe for high-tech equipment can’t be built in New York City or that existing infrastructure can’t be reinforced. Bloomberg has focused attention on converting the Coler-Goldwater Hospital complex on Roosevelt Island into a special high-tech weapons lab and science center run by the Israeli Institute of Technology, better known as Technion. That means closing a major long-term care hospital to open an Israeli weapons plant to make drones. It’s a profitable choice. Technion was also given the land of the Goldwater Hospital site — 2.1 million square feet on Roosevelt Island. Last year the city budgeted $100 million in New York taxpayer funds to rebuild the infrastructure on the Technion site. (New York Times, Dec. 19, 2011) Many long-term care patients at Goldwater Hospital are immigrants who cannot get treatment at private hospitals. If there is no room for them at other city hospitals, these sick patients will be deported.
b onus issues. Goldfields mining corporation terminated 8,100 workers for strike activity; most are appealing management’s d ecision. On Nov. 5, South African Coal Mining announced that a two-week strike ended at its Umlabu Collieri location. Class struggle deepens These strike actions are agitating mining industry owners. Mark Cutifani, AngloGold Ashanti chief executive, said, “We are all on a knife edge. … I’m not going to start threatening capital, but clearly if we don’t resolve the issue, then how do I justify to shareholders that I should continue to invest in South Africa?” (Financial Times, Nov. 5) This company, the world’s third-largest gold producer, halted its operations in South Africa after 35,000 workers walked out in late September. Although AngloGold Ashanti has resumed operations with employees returning to work, the situation in other mines remain volatile. Low salaries and poor working conditions continue to stir unrest. The Financial Times reports, “Even if all miners resume work, the root causes of the strife — including the poor living conditions of workers in squatter camps and broader frustrations about poverty and gaping inequalities in one of the world’s most unequal societies — are likely to continue to fester. Even before the unrest, the sector — still among the 10 most important in the world — was struggling to attract investment because of policy uncertainty, infrastructural bottlenecks and rising costs.” Nonetheless, all over Africa the rising consciousness of workers and governments is causing movement toward great-
er control of mining interests. The situation in South Africa is leading capitalists to increase production in other nations. AngloGold also has mining interests in Ghana, Guinea, Tanzania, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, in the platinum sector, there are few other options. South Africa contains 80 percent of this strategic mineral; another large portion is located in neighboring Zimbabwe. Even the Financial Times noted, “The Zimbabwean government has been pushing a controversial indigenization program under which it wants foreign companies to be 51 percent owned by locals. Others, including Ghana, Guinea, and Zambia, have implemented or plan to implement changes to their mining regimes as a trend of resource nationalism gains momentum.” NUMSA declares: ‘Enough is enough’ The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Union of Metalworkers in South Africa (NUMSA) issued a profound statement on Oct. 29-30. It asserts the root cause of the problems in the mining industry: the foreign ownership of capital that was inherited from the apartheid system of settler-colonialism. NUMSA’s document opens with a quote from the 1989 South African Communist Party program: “The South African capitalist state did not emerge as a result of an internal popular anti-feudal revolution. It was imposed from above and from without. From its birth through to the present, South African capitalism has depended heavily on imperialist centers.” The statement points at the source of the economic contradictions within South African society: “The NEC noted the worsening crisis of global capitalism. It is clear
that the United States, Western Europe and the big economies of Asia are still in deep crisis. This crisis … is affecting the rest of the world. … [T]here are glaring manifestations of the inherent chronic failures of capitalism in our country and everywhere in the world. These signs of disastrous failure are now firmly anchored in the heartland of capitalism itself — in the United States and Western Europe.” NUMSA puts forward economic and political demands on the treatment of miners and other workers. It rejects the notion that the government’s primary concern should be evaluations issued by bond rating agencies, which have recently lowered the country’s credit worthiness. NUMSA calls for a political re-orientation within the ruling African National Congress, in which they are allied as affiliates of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the country’s largest labor federation. The metalworkers’ union calls for a program to advance workers’ interests within the ANC congress at Mangaung in December. On the ANC’s class character, NUMSA says, “We want to caution those who, 18 years after 1994 — with the massive evidence of failed neoliberal policies and an untransformed Apartheid capitalist economy, both of which continue to deepen and worsen mass unemployment, extreme poverty and Olympic Gold Medal levels in inequality in South Africa — still want to be leaders of the ANC in Mangaung in order to continue to take us along this disastrous path: they should not seek re-election!” NUMSA declares, “We, the working class of South Africa, the low, colonial wage sufferers have declared that enough is enough. We want change, real and fundamental change in our lives!”
Washington aims to reorganize Syrian contras By David Sole Despite its longtime leading role in the attempt to overthrow the Syrian government, the U.S. government is increasingly frustrated. The failure of the “rebels” — who are really reactionary mercenaries — to make significant gains, or even hold territory, is leading top U.S. officials to try to “reshape the Syrian opposition” according to the Oct. 31 New York Times. The assault on the Gadhafi government in Libya in 2011 was soon followed by targeting the nationalist Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad by the imperialist Western powers. From the beginning, Washington encouraged rebel groups, which operated under the name of the Free Syrian Army. The U.S. assigned its client states — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — to carry out the direct arming of the rebels. Washington provided communications, other aid and full diplomatic backing at the United Nations and other international forums. An April 1 meeting held in Turkey intensified the intervention of the U.S. and its allies by approving $100 million to further equip the Syrian rebels. According to
the April 1 New York Times, however, “the opposition had pledges of $176 million in humanitarian assistance and $100 million in salaries.” The rebel groups reported that they were put on the payroll with the $100 million to pay them for three months. While bringing tremendous pain and disruption to Syria, the opposition hirelings have been unable to chalk up any major victories. This led to Washington’s blatant intervention to reorganize its puppets in the region. In old fashioned colonial style, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Oct. 31 that the U.S. was going to form a new leadership for the rebellion by bringing in more representatives of the military units on the ground in Syria. She denounced the current leaders as out of touch and having “not been inside Syria for 20, 30 or 40 years.” A meeting to carry out this plan is scheduled for Nov. 7 in Qatar, completely orchestrated by the U.S. The Times revealed that Clinton “had been heavily involved in planning the meeting, including recommending individuals and organizations to include in any next leadership structure.” This game plan may be carried out with the aim of using a new rebel leader-
ship to “invite” the U.S. and other imperialist states to directly intervene inside Syria with military forces. It should be remembered that the so-called Libyan rebel groups were unable — on their own — to make any serious headway against the Libyan government. It was only the continuous and massive bombing campaign by the Western powers that literally cleared the way into the capital, Tripoli. The Syrian rebel fighters may not prove to be a stable grouping to lead the puppet opposition. Not only are they divided by loyalties and ideologies, but they are increasingly being exposed as murderers and war criminals. A Nov. 2 New York Times article revealed that videos from inside Syria clearly show rebels capturing, beating and then summarily executing dozens of Syrian army soldiers. Even the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights publicly called it a war crime. This is just the latest of charges, not given much coverage in the major capitalist media, that the Syrian rebels have for many months been executing thousands of civilian supporters of the Assad government in areas where they have taken control.
Nov. 8 & 15, 2012
Will superstorm break the silence
s of Nov. 2, the toll from Hurricane Sandy, the huge storm that ravaged the Caribbean and then cut a swath from the mid-Atlantic states all the way up into Canada, is reported to be 67 people killed in the Caribbean and 95 people dead in the U.S., including 44 in the New York City area. Millions are still without power, and the damage is reckoned at many tens of billions of dollars. No numbers have been put on personal losses of the masses of people in terms of their homes, cars, household possessions, lost wages, lost jobs, let alone irreplaceable personal items of precious, lifetime, sentimental value. As bad as this storm has been, its devastation would have been immeasurably worse had it not been for the extraordinary accomplishments of modern meteorological science, which was able to warn public authorities and people about the timing, the path, the intensity and breadth of the storm with a remarkable degree of accuracy. It is, however, a major contradiction that while the warnings of meteorological science about this extreme weather event saturated the media, not a word was said about the warnings made by climate scientists. Their voices, which grow ever more desperate, have been under attack by an array of the most powerful corporate polluters in the world. Profit motive and climate science This seeming contradiction can only be explained by the profit motive. On the one hand, meteorological science is needed by agribusiness, shipping, maritime, airlines, off-shore oil drillers, power companies, insurance companies, the commodities markets, the tourist industry, and numerous other capitalist interests. All these parties need to know about the weather in order to maximize their profits and minimize their losses. This list should include the Pentagon, which has a strong military interest in climate prediction. On the other hand, the vast majority of climate scientists around the world concur and have proven that climate change is produced by global warming, which in turn is caused by the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The result is increasingly extreme weather events — like Hurricane Sandy. Thus to deny the findings of climate science is in the interests of the oil and gas companies, the coal industry, the power-generating businesses, and other giant industrial polluters who profit from processes that spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They refuse to take measures to curb these emissions because that would eat into their profits. Both the advancement of meteorological science and the denial of climate science can be traced directly to the profit interests of the biggest and most powerful capitalists. This illuminates the complete irrationality of the capitalist system. Industry and ‘climate silence’ The words “climate change” were not mentioned once during the presidential debates or the entire campaign. In fact, the terms “climate change” and “global warming” have been virtually banned from corporate mass media news broadcasts. During the three-month drought in the Midwest this summer, which damaged three quarters of the U.S. corn and grain crop, report after report on this drastic situation failed to mention climate change or global warming. Nor was it mentioned during the epidemic of wild fires which ravaged the Western states. The same “climate silence” has prevailed during the round-the-clock coverage of Hurricane Sandy. Such is the power over the media and the politicians by the giant polluters, who include the most powerful sections of the ruling class of
the U.S. They have spent untold millions to finance anti-scientific lobbyists, fund politicians who will vote against any attempt to make the polluters fix the problem or pay the bills, and fund corrupt scientists who will swear that all the findings of their tens of thousands of colleagues around the world are false. The U.S. government has gone to international environmental conferences year after year and used its financial and political power to block any global consensus that would bind the giant transnational corporations to concrete steps to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The U.S. has still not ratified the original Kyoto accords on climate change. One president after another, from Clinton to Bush to Obama, has sabotaged the efforts by governments representing billions of people in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East to force the major polluters to stop pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Global environmental crisis The acute crisis caused by the dramatic wind and tidal events of Hurricane Sandy in the U.S. is only an intense manifestation of a much more widespread and gradually developing environmental crisis that is global in character. The same temperature rises that led to Sandy are melting glaciers and ice caps, raising the ocean levels and endangering island and coastal civilizations as well as inland rivers. This, in turn, is part of an even more widespread process of environmental devastation poisoning the land, water and air caused by mining conglomerates, logging companies, agribusiness, oil corporations and so on, which are depleting or poisoning the aquifers, promoting the desertification of vast stretches of the earth’s territories, destroying the rain forests which are the lungs of the earth, and much more. Wall Street suffered directly as a result of Hurricane Sandy. And capitalist interests have also suffered losses from the dislocation caused by the storm. This may cause a lot of hand wringing and reevaluation by the bosses themselves. But don’t count on them to combat climate change. There is too much profit involved. To paraphrase P.J. Dunning, quoted by Karl Marx in “Capital,” for a sufficient profit a capitalist will risk even death. Means of pollution, means of production The New York City capitalist government has files that contain reports written long ago warning of the imminence of just such a crisis as the one presently caused by Hurricane Sandy and calling for measures to be taken before the crisis hits. These reports were ignored, just as warnings about Katrina were ignored for years. It is flagrant negligence on the part of the capitalist authorities, who knowingly failed to take preventive measures that could have kept this crisis from becoming so severe. Progressive and revolutionary forces must help develop demands and on-the-ground struggles to reduce the suffering of the masses of people. They should include full restitution and compensation for both damage done and wages and jobs lost; jobs programs to rebuild; and making the insurance companies, the predatory polluters, the banks and the government pay the bills. As one commentator said, referring to Sandy: We are having a once-in-a-hundred-year storm every two years now. The only way to reduce disasters like hurricanes Sandy, Irene and Katrina is for the workers to take the means of pollution away from the polluters. But the means of pollution are actually the means of production under capitalism. It will take the destruction of the profit system itself to chart a new course that can save the environment by restructuring production to serve the people’s needs rather than capitalists’ profit greed.
Hurricane hits Haiti, Jamaica By G. Dunkel Sandy began in the southern Caribbean near Nicaragua, and when it passed over Jamaica, its winds were barely hurricane force. Still, Jamaica’s power company reports that 90 percent of its customers lost power, though only one fatality was reported there. By the time Sandy passed over Cuba, it had strengthened sharply, sustaining winds of more than 110 miles per hour. As it churned over the Bahamas, it became a category 3 hurricane. While the storm’s center did not pass over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the island of Hispaniola, which they share, got three days of high winds and heavy rains. Sandy passed to the west and then to the north. Meanwhile, at least 350,000 people are still living in tents in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, 34 months after the devastating 2010 earthquake. All these tent camps were flooded. Many people lost their homes and the few possessions they had in the high winds, which scattered thousands of tents and ripped the tarpaulins off of those that escaped destruction. Video images from the Oct. 29 Washington Post show the camps’ residents trying to sleep on sodden bedding and wading through muddy paths. There has been an uptick in cholera cases since Sandy passed. Most of the world’s cholera cases are now in Haiti; more than 7,500 people have died from it and 600,000 people have been sickened. The story of Fifi Bouille captures all the misery and suffering that the people living in these camps face. She went into labor after Sandy struck. Only her sisters were present to help during her three hours of labor, while the winds tried to rip the canvas off the tent. They decided, after they cut the umbilical cord, that the winds had become so fierce the newborn had to be moved to a new shelter But Bouille worried that her baby would not survive if she carried him there. Mother and child are now sharing a tent with six other people, but Bouille only had one meal one day and none the next. Her food and
pots were lost in the storm. (Guardian, Nov. 2) Famine likely in southern Haiti The Haitian government says that 54 people are confirmed dead and 20 missing. An Oct. 30 video report on French channel TF1 shows the devastation in southern Haiti has been nearly total, with almost all the crops ready for harvest there were destroyed. That means there is a serious threat of extreme hunger in rural communities, especially since roads and bridges have been destroyed. In Abricots, on Haiti’s southwestern tip, Mayor Kechner Toussaint said, “We’ll have famine in the coming days. It’s an agricultural disaster.” (Caribbean360.com, Nov. 5) Haiti President Michel Martelly has held a couple of photo ops, one in Martissant, a poor neighborhood just to the west of Port-au-Prince, and in Petionville, where he and his spouse spent a few hours handing out food baskets and vouchers to people in need. On Nov. 3, Martelly left on a private trip to Florida, whose purpose and duration were not announced. Haiti Prime Minister Laurence Lamothe announced, without providing any details, that the government had allocated $9 million to aid those injured by Sandy. He appealed for international assistance. Nestor Reverol, Venezuelan Minister of Domestic Affairs and Justice, announced on Oct. 27 that Venezuela had loaded 240 tons of nonperishable food, rice, spaghetti, drinking water and equipment needed to remove debris onto a ship and sent it to Haiti, reports the Oct. 31 Haïti-Liberté. Haitian authorities reported that the ship had arrived and was being unloaded. Venezuela also sent a ship with aid to Cuba. Reverol explained that this assistance was a “gesture of our commitment to our Latin American and Caribbean brothers … to whom we are sending this humanitarian aid which will allow them to cover their needs in one way or another.” (Venezuelaanalysis.com, Nov. 2) Venezuela was the first country to send aid to Haiti after Hurricane Sandy. It was also the first country to send aid after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.
Activists bring aid Continued from page 3 but where are they?” Julian Kliner, another OWS activist, commented, “It’s almost like the government and Red Cross have done nothing.” He said in his work with Go Old Lower East Side it was clear that countless people would not have received aid if it weren’t for community organizations. The National Guard has actually delivered aid to the Occupy Wall Street relief hubs, recognizing how effective OWS has been in delivering supplies and food. Miller said that OWS has no intention of ending its relief efforts,
especially in New York’s impoverished areas. “Occupy Wall Street is a movement of the 99%, but some parts of the 99% are really suffering a lot more than others. The hurricane has put a spotlight on this. We need to keep organizing with them.” In New Jersey, activists associated with BAYAN-USA are engaging in relief efforts, as are other community-based organizations. In New York City, the financial center of global capitalism, what the 1%, with all their government forces, their wealth and their power, could not do, the people are doing. Imani Henry contributed to this article.
Nov. 8 &15, 2012
Declaración del Partido Workers World / Mundo Obrero
Solidarity flows in ¿Romperá el silencio Cuba after hurricane By Cheryl LaBash Before laying waste to the Eastern U.S., Hurricane Sandy ripped through Caribbean islands, causing deaths in Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and even well-prepared Cuba. Despite 330,000 evacuations in the Eastern provinces, Santiago de Cuba, with the island’s second-largest city of nearly half a million people, reported nine deaths, and Guantánamo two deaths, primarily from collapsing buildings and falling trees. Holguín province was also hard hit, but suffered no casualties. Granma Daily reported early damage estimates at 132,733 homes, with 15,322 totally destroyed and 43,426 losing roofs. On Oct. 26, the initial damage estimate was more than $2.1 billion, not including losses in tourism, sugar, coffee and other crops, construction, pharmaceutical and other productive sectors. In addition to the losses in agriculture, food production, processing and distribution networks in Santiago were severely damaged. With 186 area grocery stores destroyed, family homes or workplaces have become distribution centers for the rationed family food basket. Eleven catering units are serving food. Tents usually used for the Santiago Nights recreation project are being used by 29 city councils for distribution and sale of prepared food. (Juventud Rebelde, Nov. 2) The most pressing immediate challenge is restoring power to Santiago de Cuba province, where the storm affected all the 127 circuits available. Raúl García Barreiro, director-general of the National Electrical Union, leads more than 2,000 lineworkers battling to reconnect the province to the national electrical grid. President Raúl Castro, who visited all the storm-damaged provinces, said, “I’m not leaving until Santiago has electricity.” (Granma, Nov. 3) In addition to deploying electrical and other specialized workers and heavy equipment, other provinces shipped materials, including utility poles, roofing materials and food. Production of transformers and
the harvesting of crops were accelerated. Artemisa province in western Cuba sent 940 tons of sweet potatoes and 40 tons of malanga root, excess from the abundant harvest this year. Octavio Morera, a stevedore working with others to bring aid, said they had made a commitment to help the victims of Sandy. Solidarity, he said, “is what makes us Cubans and it is a way to pay back for all the help we have received when we have been hit by similar storms.” (Cuban News Agency, Nov. 2) International solidarity is also arriving. Venezuela began a seven-day air bridge to send 646 tons of non-perishable food, water, equipment and machinery for Cuba and Haiti. The Dominican Republic sent tall ladders for electrical restoration. On Nov. 3, Bolivia sent the first of two shipments of water and food totalling 120 tons of aid, noting the solidarity Cuba had shown in helping to eliminate illiteracy and train Bolivian doctors. Russia airlifted 30 tons of construction supplies. On Oct. 31, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported having sent messages of condolence to the governments of the Bahamas, Canada, the United States, Haiti and Jamaica over the loss of human lives and significant material damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. A major obstacle to hurricane recovery and economic and social development is the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, which has lasted for more than half a century and cost Cuba as much as $1.07 trillion. On Nov. 13, a U.N. resolution calling for the end of the blockade will be voted on by the General Assembly. It will pass for the 21st consecutive time, with a unanimous vote except for the U.S., Israel and perhaps one or two small countries dependent on the U.S. It is past time for Washington to normalize relations with socialist Cuba, free the Cuban 5, who are unjustly held in U.S. prisons, and end its unique and unconstitutional ban on U.S. residents traveling to Cuba. The Canadian Network on Cuba has launched a “Sandy Relief Fund” campaign. In the U.S., contributions can be made through Global Links at globallinks.org.
Mundo Obrero Editorial
No es acto de caridad Continua de página 16 movida por el derechista Consejo Americano de Intercambio Legislativo, ALEC por sus siglas en inglés, financiado por corporaciones, para pasar leyes en más de 34 estados para restringir el voto al exigir una identificación con foto u otra prueba de ciudadanía. Muy poco esfuerzo se ha hecho para ocultar el racismo que motiva esta campaña. Entre los asociados principales de ALEC están David y Charles Koch, quienes son también la fuerza mayor detrás de los esfuerzos recientes para re segregar las escuelas públicas de Carolina de Norte. Su padre, Fred Koch, fundador de las Industrias Koch, una de las más grandes corporaciones privadas en los Estados Unidos, ganó notoriedad en la década de los 50 como miembro fundador del John Birch Society, una organización neonazi y oponente principal de la integración racial. El intento de hoy en día de privar a millones de votantes de sus derechos civiles está motivado en gran parte por racistas como los hermanos Koch que parecen decididos a asegurar que el primer Presidente negro de los Estados Unidos no vea un
segundo mandato. Pero la cuestión es más profunda que eso. La clase dominante capitalista en los EE.UU. tiene toda la intención de aplicar el tipo de medidas severas de austeridad ya impuestas a los/as trabajadores/as en muchos países europeos, independientemente de quién gane las elecciones presidenciales del 2012. En las comunidades oprimidas, donde la policía ya es una fuerza de ocupación, disuadir a las personas de ejercer su derecho al voto es otra forma de suprimir la oposición. Lo que nunca se debe olvidar es que el fundamental “derecho a votar” no fue regalado por la clase capitalista. Fue ganado a través de décadas de lucha. Por lo tanto, la defensa del derecho a votar no debe ser considerado como un acto de caridad. Es un acto de solidaridad anti-racista con los/ as más oprimidos/as, de parte de la izquierda y otras fuerzas progresistas que ayuda a construir la unidad de clase. Nuestras hermanas y hermanos que están luchando contra las medidas de austeridad por el mundo nos están mostrando que el resultado de esta lucha será determinado en las calles, no las cabinas de votación.
la súper tormenta?
Continua de página 16 ostrado que el cambio climático es producido por el calentamiento global, que a su vez está causado por la acumulación de dióxido de carbono en la atmósfera. El resultado es la aparición cada vez más de fenómenos meteorológicos extremos como el huracán Sandy. Por lo tanto el desechar los resultados de la ciencia del clima es de gran interés para las empresas del petróleo y del gas, de la industria del carbón, de las empresas generadoras de energía y de otros contaminantes industriales gigantes que se benefician de los procesos que arrojan dióxido de carbono a la atmósfera. Se niegan a tomar medidas para frenar estas emisiones porque esto recortaría sus ganancias. Tanto el avance de la ciencia meteoro lógica como el rechazo a la ciencia del clima pueden atribuirse directamente a los intereses de los capitalistas más grandes y poderosos. Esto ilumina la completa irracionalidad del sistema capitalista. Industria y ‘clima de silencio’ Las palabras “cambio climático” no se mencionaron ni una vez durante los debates presidenciales o durante toda la campaña. De hecho, los términos “cambio climático” y “calentamiento global” han sido prácticamente prohibidos en los noticieros de los medios de comunicación corporativa. Durante la sequía que por tres meses azotó el medio oeste este verano y dañó tres cuartas partes de la cosecha del maíz y de los granos estadounidenses, los reportajes sobre esta drástica situación no mencionaron el cambio climático o el calentamiento global. Tampoco se mencionó durante la epidemia de incendios que asoló el oeste de los Estados. El mismo “clima de silencio” ha prevalecido durante la cobertura continua sobre el huracán Sandy. Tal es el poder sobre los medios de comunicación y sobre los políticos que tienen los contaminadores gigantes, los cuales incluyen los sectores más poderosos de la clase dominante de los Estados Unidos. Han gastado muchos millones para financiar a grupos de presión anticientífica, para proveer fondos a políticos que voten en contra de cualquier intento de hacer que los contaminadores solucionen el problema o paguen las cuentas, y financian a científicos corruptos que aseguran que son falsos todos los resultados de sus decenas de miles de colegas por todo el mundo. El Gobierno de Estados Unidos ha ido a conferencias internacionales sobre el medioambiente año tras año y utiliza su poder financiero y político para bloquear cualquier consenso mundial que enlazaría a las gigantes corporaciones transnacionales a medidas concretas para reducir significativamente las emisiones de carbono. Estados Unidos aún no ha ratificado los acuerdos originales de Kioto sobre el cambio climático. Presidente tras presidente, desde Clinton a Bush a Obama, han saboteado los esfuerzos de los gobiernos que representan a miles de millones de personas en Asia, África, América Latina y el Medio Oriente para forzar a los principales contaminadores a que detengan la diseminación de gases de efecto invernadero a la atmósfera. Crisis medioambiental global La crisis aguda causada por el dramático viento y la subida de la marea
por el huracán Sandy en los Estados Unidos es sólo una intensa manifestación de una crisis ambiental mucho más generalizada en desarrollo que es de carácter global. La misma subida de temperatura que dio origen a Sandy, está derritiendo los glaciares y los casquetes polares, elevando los niveles del océano y poniendo en peligro a las civilizaciones isleñas y costeras así como a los ríos del interior. Esto a su vez, es parte de un proceso más generalizado de devastación ambiental que está envenenando la tierra, el agua y el aire causado por los conglomerados mineros, las compañías madereras, la agroindustria, las empresas de petróleo y otros negocios que agotan y envenenan los acuíferos, promueven la desertificación de vastas extensiones de áreas del globo terráqueo, destruyen los bosques pluviales que son los pulmones de la tierra, y crean muchos otros daños. Wall Street sufrió directamente como resultado del huracán Sandy. Y los intereses capitalistas también han sufrido pérdidas debidas a las deslocalizaciones causadas por la tormenta. Esto puede causar que los patronos se preocupen y hagan una reevaluación. Pero no cuenten con ellos para combatir el cambio climático. Hay demasiadas ganancias envueltas. Parafraseando a P.J. Dunning, citado por Karl Marx en “El Capital”, decimos que para obtener una ganancia significativa el capitalista lo arriesgaría todo, incluso la muerte. Medios de contaminación, medios de producción El gobierno capitalista de la ciudad de Nueva York tiene archivos que contienen informes escritos desde hace mucho tiempo advirtiendo de la inminencia de una crisis tal como la actual causada por el huracán Sandy donde se pedían medidas a adoptar antes de que llegara la crisis. Estos informes fueron ignorados, así como las advertencias sobre Katrina fueron ignoradas durante años. Es una negligencia flagrante por parte de las autoridades capitalistas quienes a sabiendas no tomaron medidas preventivas que hubieran podido impedir el que esta crisis se convirtiera en algo tan grave. Las fuerzas progresistas y revolucionarias deben ayudar a desarrollar demandas y luchas en los lugares afectados para reducir el sufrimiento de las masas del pueblo. Deberían incluir: restitución total y compensación, tanto por los daños ocasionados como por los salarios y puestos de trabajo perdidos; programas de empleos para la reconstrucción; y hacer que las compañías de seguros, los contaminadores depredadores, los bancos y el gobierno paguen las cuentas. Como dijo un comentarista, refiriéndose a Sandy: ahora estamos teniendo cada dos años una tormenta de las que ocurre cada cien. La única forma de reducir los desastres como los huracanes Sandy, Irene y Katrina es que los/as trabajadores/as tomen los medios de contaminación fuera de las manos de los contaminadores. Pero los medios de contaminación son realmente los medios de producción bajo el capitalismo. Llevará la destrucción del sistema de ganancias en sí para que se pueda proyectar una estrategia que pueda salvar el medioambiente al reestructurar la producción para que sirva a las necesidades del pueblo en vez de a la codicia por ganancias de los capitalistas.
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¡Proletarios y oprimidos de todos los paises unios!
¿Romperá el silencio Comienzan negociaciones la súper tormenta? sobre la paz de Colombia
asta el 2 de noviembre, entre el número de víctimas reportadas del huracán Sandy, la enorme tormenta que asoló el Caribe y luego abrió camino por el este de EE.UU. hasta Canadá, se encuentra la muerte de 67 personas en el Caribe y 95 en Estados Unidos, incluyendo 44 en el área de la ciudad de Nueva York. Millones aún están sin energía, y el daño se calcula en decenas de miles de millones de dólares. No se ha hablado de números sobre las pérdidas personales del pueblo en cuanto a sus casas, coches, enseres domésticos, salarios y puestos de trabajo perdidos, y mucho menos sobre los irreemplazables artículos personales con valor sentimental. Tan mala como fue esta tormenta, su devastación hubiera sido inmensamente peor si no fuera por los extraordinarios logros de la ciencia meteorológica moderna, que fue capaz de advertir a las autoridades públicas y al pueblo acerca del tiempo de la llegada, la ruta, la intensidad y la amplitud de la tormenta con un notable grado de exactitud. Sin embargo, es una gran contradicción que mientras las advertencias de la ciencia meteorológica sobre este evento
meteorológico saturaron los medios de comunicación, ni una palabra se ha dicho acerca de las advertencias hechas por los/ as científicos/as del medioambiente. Sus voces, que crecen cada vez más desesperadas, han sido atacadas por un conjunto de los contaminadores corporativos más poderosos del mundo. Motivación de ganancias y la ciencia del clima Esta aparente contradicción puede explicarse sólo por el afán de lucro. Por un lado, los negocios agropecuarios, de trasporte, los marítimos, las aerolíneas, los de perforación de petróleo, las compañías eléctricas, las compañías de seguro, los mercados de productos de consumo, la industria turística, y numerosos otros intereses capitalistas necesitan de la ciencia meteorológica. Todas estas industrias necesitan saber sobre el clima con el fin de maximizar sus ganancias y minimizar sus pérdidas. Esta lista también debe incluir al Pentágono, el cual tiene un fuerte interés militar en la predicción del clima. Por el otro lado, la gran mayoría de los/ as científicos/as del medioambiente a nivel mundial están de acuerdo y han demContinua a página 15
No es acto de caridad
mpulsada por la financiación de capitalistas racistas y de extrema derecha, está arrasando por todo Estados Unidos una campaña para restringir y negar el derecho a votar a los/as afroamericanos, latinos/as, y otras comunidades pobres y oprimidas. ¿Hasta dónde llegará? Apenas tres semanas antes de las elecciones, comenzaron a aparecer en las principales ciudades de Wisconsin y Ohio, carteleras diciendo: “El fraude electoral es un delito grave —hasta 3-1/2 años y $10.000 de multa”. Los carteles — todos publicados en barrios con altas poblaciones afroamericanas— son un intento directo para intimidar a los/as votantes tratando de convencer a la gente que la votación es una actividad riesgosa. La cuestión del derecho a votar para los/ as afroamericanos se remonta al período posterior a la Guerra Civil de Estados Unidos conocido como la Era de la Reconstrucción. Desde el 1866 hasta 1876, la gente anteriormente esclavizada en el sur, con protección armada de las tropas federales del Norte, lucharon por la igualdad al mismo nivel que los blancos, especialmente en las áreas de representación política, educación y posesión de tierra. Este período profundamente progresista se truncó violentamente con la retirada de las tropas, lo que dio origen al Ku Klux Klan, un grupo terrorista que favorecía a los estados sureños (Confederación) derrotados en la guerra, a condiciones de semi-esclavitud y eventualmente, a una segregación profundamente arraigada. Muchas personas en estas comunidades recuerdan cuando el desafío a las leyes de Jim Crow y otras restricciones a los/ as votantes negros/as en el Sur resultaban en multas, encarcelamientos, violencia e incluso, en muerte. La Ley de Derechos
Electorales de 1965 que fue ganada a través del movimiento de Derechos Civiles, ha sido severamente debilitada durante décadas, como tantas otras concesiones progresistas. Con las políticas de “detener y cachear” puestas en vigor en muchas áreas urbanas, el solo caminar-mientras-se es-negro/a puede resultar en acoso policial, arrestos o en algo peor. En todos menos dos estados, más de 4,4 millones personas que anteriormente estaban encarceladas, son etiquetadas como criminales y les está permanentemente negado el derecho a votar. A pesar de una decisión de la corte estatal de limitar la implementación de la represiva ley de identificación del votante en Pensilvania, el estado sigue produciendo información a través de la radio y anuncios de televisión, carteles en autobuses y propaganda que es enviada a miles de personas mayores en un programa de medicamentos recetados, que un carnet de identidad es necesario para votar. En un barrio predominantemente latino en el norte de Filadelfia, un cartel representando a una mujer que sostiene una licencia de conducir todavía dice, “Si quieres votar, muéstrala”. Para agregar más a la confusión, la empresa de energía de Filadelfia, PECO, envió a 840.000 clientes un anuncio en sus facturas de octubre que dice que la gente debe tener identificación válida con fotografía para votar. Las manos de los capitalistas estadounidenses se pueden encontrar en todas estas campañas. Todos los anuncios de carteleras en el medio oeste fueron publicados por el monopolio de medios de comunicación Clear Channel, el cual dice que una “fundación familiar” anónima pagó por casi 150 anuncios de fraude electoral amenazantes. Las carteleras siguen una campaña proContinua a página 15
Por Berta Joubert-Ceci Los ojos del mundo estaban fijos en las pantallas de TV. TeleSUR y la BBC en español transmitieron en vivo la Conferencia de prensa de casi tres horas de duración de los representantes de las FARC-EP y el Gobierno colombiano el 18 de octubre, al final del comienzo de las Negociaciones de Paz en Oslo, Noruega. Todos/as en América Latina tienen importantes intereses en juego con estas conversaciones debido a que Washington utiliza a Colombia para amenazar a los países vecinos que persiguen un desarrollo independiente del imperialismo norteamericano. Colombia es conocida por los pueblos de la región como “la Israel de Latinoamérica”. Para el pueblo colombiano, sus vidas y su futuro están en juego. Colombia no ha conocido paz por más de 60 años. En 1946, la oligarquía junto al Estado abrió una violenta represión contra el movimiento por la justicia social y económica. El líder de este movimiento, Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, fue asesinado en abril de 1948. Su muerte marcó el inicio de “La Violencia”, un periodo que ha durado hasta hoy. Aunque las FARC-EP nacieron en 1964, sus raíces históricas se basan en la respuesta a esta tremenda violencia que cobró la vida de más de 300.000 colombianos/as.
La Conferencia de prensa Una conferencia de prensa de las FARC-EP a principios de septiembre en Cuba anunció las negociaciones, que se centrarían en cinco puntos principales acordados por ambas partes: política de desarrollo agrario integral; participación política; fin del conflicto; una solución al problema de las drogas ilícitas; y las víctimas (derechos humanos y búsqueda de la verdad). Esa conferencia concluyó la primera de las tres fases de las negociaciones. La primera fue la exploratoria, en la que representantes de ambas partes mantuvieron conversaciones durante seis meses en Cuba. Esto llevó a la segunda fase, que comenzaría con la instauración de la mesa de negociaciones en Oslo y se continuaría en la Habana, Cuba. En este último país también se dará la tercera y última fase, con la firma y la aplicación del acuerdo. Inicialmente prevista para el 8 de octubre, el comienzo de la segunda fase tuvo que ser aplazada debido a problemas de salud del Presidente colombiano y más importante aún, para asegurar que la Interpol cancelara las órdenes de captura contra los/as representantes de las FARC quienes tendrían que viajar desde las montañas de Colombia hasta Oslo. En Oslo, ambas partes iniciaron la Conferencia mediante la lectura de una declaración conjunta, seguida por sus propias declaraciones. Luego, los/as muchos/ as reporteros/as internacionales asistentes presentarían sus preguntas. Estas sesiones se celebraron por separado después de pausas cortas. Primero respondería un portavoz del gobierno de Colombia, Humberto de la Calle, quien fue vicepresidente (1994-1997) bajo el entonces presidente Ernesto Samper. Cuando de la Calle fue el ministro del interior bajo el presidente César Gaviria, él participó en las fallidas negociaciones de paz de 1991. En su artículo en Kaos en la Red, Alex
Vernot cita a Álvaro Leiva, un político del Partido Conservador que ha participado en muchas negociaciones. Leiva dijo acerca de De la Calle que “su misión fue ir a Caracas [donde tendría lugar una parte de las conversaciones del 1991] a dañar los diálogos”. La declaración de De la Calle durante la Conferencia de Oslo dejó atisbar las extremas dificultades de este proceso. Mostró la intransigencia y los objetivos de un Gobierno que no está interesado en la paz para el pueblo colombiano, sino en una pacificación a beneficio de las empresas nacionales y transnacionales. El comentario de De la Calle sobre el desarme de las FARC como condición para su participación en la vida política — algo que ni siquiera forma parte del acuerdo de cinco puntos — mostró claramente la intransigencia del Gobierno. Él también dijo que los “acuerdos de libre comercio” y la economía, otros puntos cruciales, no eran parte de las discusiones. En resumidas cuentas, eliminó los elementos más básicos de las negociaciones, ya que el primer punto es la “política de desarrollo agrario integral”, que por necesidad, tendrá que incluir la economía y tomar en consideración que un 52 por ciento de las tierras de Colombia está controlado por sólo el uno por ciento de su población. Iván Márquez, de la Secretaría de las FARC, abrió con una declaración que refleja el profundo deseo de paz del grupo insurgente: “Hemos venido hasta este paralelo 60, hasta esta ciudad de Oslo desde el trópico remoto, desde el Macondo de la injusticia, el tercer país más desigual del mundo, con un sueño colectivo de paz, con un ramo de olivo en las manos”. Luego dio un magnífico relato del origen del conflicto armado. Vale la pena leer esto en su totalidad en http://www.anncol.eu ya que ilustra la inmensa desigualdad en Colombia con datos y cifras que demuestran, con certidumbre incontestable, la usurpación criminal de tierras y la riqueza por los oligarcas y las empresas transnacionales, dejando al 70 por ciento de la población en la pobreza. Él habló de la violencia y la represión del Estado, junto con el papel de las corporaciones y los militares de Estados Unidos. Márquez terminó con la demanda de las FARC de incluir a Simón Trinidad, un líder de las FARC actualmente cumpliendo una condena de 60 años en una prisión estado unidense, como parte de los/as representantes en las negociaciones. La Fiscalía colombiana ya ha aceptado la demanda y hará los arreglos tecnológicos pertinentes para facilitar la aparición virtual de Trinidad en las negociaciones. Las FARC, sin embargo, quieren su presencia física y piden a la comunidad internacional y particularmente a las fuerzas progresistas en los Estados Unidos a que ayuden a presionar al Gobierno de Estados Unidos para que Trinidad se pueda unir a ellos/as en Cuba. Las FARC también invitaron a la comunidad internacional para que les acompañen en este proceso e hizo un llamado especial a los movimientos sociales en Colombia para sean participantes activos en el proceso. A juzgar por los recientes acontecimientos en Colombia, esta última petición se está realizando en muchos niveles. La próxima reunión de ambas partes será en Cuba el 5 de noviembre.