¡Hugo Chávez, presente!

first_imgChávez campaigning in Caracas, Venezuela, October 2012.Photo: Chavez Corazon PatriaWorkers World Party joins the Venezuelan people in grief over the loss of the great revolutionary leader Hugo Chávez.The death of a larger-than-life leader like Chávez is hard to take. Millions around the world will deeply mourn the loss of his vibrant personality, his warm embrace of the ordinary people, his courage and resoluteness at critical moments — like the attempted coup in 2002, from which he emerged even stronger with the militant support of the masses of people. Also sorely missed will be his creative optimism expressed through countless projects that aim to unite the people of Latin America in a socialist future, based on cooperation and the equitable sharing of their abundant resources.As Berta Joubert-Ceci wrote in Workers World in December:“One leader is not the revolution. It is the masses and the process of revolution that create leaders, and not the other way around. Leaders, however, can steer the revolution, coordinate resources and speed it up. Leaders are also an important part of revolutions when they are the product of the masses’ aspiration.“Chávez is such a leader. He has been able to gather and concentrate the desire of the Venezuelan people for social justice and equality and turn it into action. Under his presidency, the government has lifted the lives of all Venezuelans, dedicating an impressive 43.2 percent of the budget to social programs. Illiteracy is now nonexistent in Venezuela and poverty has been reduced.“Along with improving the quality of life of millions of people, Chávez’s government has shown that Simón Bolívar’s dream of regional integration could be a reality. Together with revolutionary Cuba, Venezuela impelled the formation of anti-imperialist regional associations like the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). These associations have been crucial for the improvement and cohesion of the region, including other Caribbean nations.“Chávez and Venezuela inspire the world by standing up against the U.S. imperialist monster. They show that nations can win and maintain national dignity, independence and sovereignty in the face of criminal imperialist interventions.”This is not just a time to mourn his untimely death from cancer. It is a time to express firm support for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. And a time to be more vigilant against the schemes being hatched by U.S. imperialism and its reactionary agents inside Venezuela.The imperialists have tried to undermine and overthrow Chávez, calling their goal “democracy,” even though he had the undisputed confidence of the majority of his people, as expressed in more than a dozen elections held during his tenure.Now they are scrambling to take advantage of this great leader’s death. But Chávez himself prepared for this moment by designing a Plan of Action for the Advancement of the Revolution and naming Vice President Nicolás Maduro to succeed him.We are confident that the Bolivarian Revolution will overcome this cruel twist of fate, and the Venezuelan people will rally, even more united than before, behind their leaders to advance the struggle toward a society free of classes and imperial oppression.Progressives in the United States must also put our shoulder to the wheel and give our undivided support to Venezuela in order to prevent imperialism from sabotaging the Bolivarian project to unite the popular, anti-imperialist struggles throughout Latin America.¡Hasta la victoria siempre, Comandante!FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Nicolás Maduro seeks to deepen revolution

first_img¡Chávez presente!A wonderful civilian-military ­parade capped the inauguration of Nicolás ­Maduro in Venezuela on April 19. Maduro took the oath of office in the National Assembly as constitutional president for the period 2013 to 2019.Some 61 international delegations were present, including many heads of state, not only from Latin America and the Caribbean but from as far away as Iran and the Sahrawi Republic. Among them was Riad Malki, chancellor of Palestine, who two days earlier was in the country for the founding of the Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Palestinian People.¡Maduro, presidente!April 19 was a very significant day: the 203rd anniversary of the proclamation of Venezuela’s independence.The dynamic, colorful and diverse parade also honored the life of Supreme Commander Hugo Chávez. Its participants reflected the current situation in Venezuela: the armed forces together with the people, who since the election have been acting together to defend the Bolivarian Revolution from a rightist coup attempt by the pro-imperialist oligarchy, which backed the losing candidate, Henrique Capriles.Leading the march were popular contingents and delegations from the different social “missions,” led by Indigenous peoples. They were followed by various divisions of the Bolivarian Armed Forces, including a contingent of women. During the ceremony, the armed forces handed over command to President Maduro.The parade ended with a display of the latest weaponry purchased by Venezuela for its defense. It was a powerful message, not only to the opposition but to U.S. imperialism: Venezuela depends not only on its armed forces for defense, but also on its people.Gov’t in the streets, a revolution in the RevolutionDuring his inauguration speech, President Maduro outlined his political agenda: government in the streets, a revolution within the revolution, socialist efficiency. If the imperialists were looking for conciliatory words, they instead found a speech that called for deepening the revolution on the path to socialism, with neither illusion nor bourgeois aspiration.“My roots are in the working class [and are] rebellious. I also come from the neighborhoods,” said Maduro. He traced plans to end the corruption that has seeped into some levels of government, to totally eradicate poverty, to improve the economy and perfect all “missions” — the many state-sponsored programs dealing with education, health, housing and nutrition. He also addressed ending the sabotage of the electrical system by bringing it under National Security.“The Revolution of Socialist Efficiency,” he said, would combat bureaucracy, fight corruption and apathy.“Forward to the Great Revolution of the People’s Power for the construction of the socialist way of life. … We are convinced that only socialism can overcome inequalities.“Only with the people can we do it. In socialism, in equality, fellowship, it is possible to live in humanity, to live well. That is why I call for the revolution of the revolution. We will go forward energetically, to do whatever needs to be done and to correct what needs to be corrected.”Two days later he named his new cabinet, which will have as its priority an assessment of the entire system at the neighborhood and street level. Its task is to establish direct communication with the people in order to put into motion the Homeland Plan, which was designed by Chávez as his “testament” to deepen the revolution.Building people’s powerIn subsequent articles we will examine in greater detail the cabinet and its functions. Chávez laid out its functions in his famous “Golpe de Timón” (Change of Course) speech at an important Council of Ministers’ meeting on the new cycle of the Bolivarian Revolution last Oct. 20.During that meeting, Chávez urged his cabinet to conduct a profound self-criticism to correct errors so as to take on the difficult task of building socialism in a country where the oligarchy is present and exploits the broad freedoms they have to try to undermine people’s power.Chávez set the standard of performance expected from the cabinet. He strongly emphasized the lack of development of communes, which President Maduro will now address as a fundamental aspect of his program.Communes, as Venezuelan law decrees, are “a local entity where citizens in the exercise of the Peoples’ Power, exercise full sovereignty and develop active participation through forms of self-government for the building of a communal state under the framework of a democratic and social state of law and justice.” (www.me.gob.ve)The Bolivarian Revolution faces many challenges, including attempts at destabilization internally by the oligarchy and externally by U.S. imperialism. However, it seems that the new president’s call to the people in the streets, encouraging collective leadership and the active and organized participation of the people in deepening the revolution on the road toward socialism, is going in the right direction.Meanwhile, it remains to the Venezuelan revolutionaries to draw from recent events the lessons that sharpen the process of transition to socialism, a task bequeathed by Chávez and seconded by the majority of the people. Revolutionaries worldwide, especially in the U.S., which is the source of the major global terrorist threat, will have to defend this process that is crucial for us all.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Organizer arrested, Baltimore ‘Strike Against Racism’ ties up downtown

first_imgPhoto: P. AlejandroJan. 16 — A protest march and rally against racist police terror, called “Strike Against Racism,” tied up traffic in the Harbor East shopping area of downtown Baltimore on the evening of Jan. 15, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Some 400 people voiced their opposition to brutal police tactics, including the arrest of a young organizer just a few hours before the rally began.Sara Benjamin, 23, the rally’s designated emcee, had been picked up by police at a bus stop in front of the college where she was registering for classes. She was arrested and held on a year-old warrant for a minor misdemeanor — a police tactic that movement activists saw as deliberately meant to obstruct and intimidate that day’s demonstration.Benjamin, who is African-American, had traveled to Ferguson, Mo., with her five-year-old daughter to support the movement for justice there after the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. She came back to Baltimore determined to help build the movement here against racism and police brutality in this highly segregated city.The morning after the demonstration, march organizer Andre Powell announced a press conference later in the day in front of the Baltimore Solidarity Center to demand the release of Benjamin.He said it would also “take up our strenuous objections to the growing repression by the Baltimore Police Department against our protests. We strongly assert that the BPD and the city are conducting themselves illegally by detaining protesters in the streets by force and refusing to allow protesters to march to appropriate political targets, whether they be the business district or the police headquarters itself.“The marchers attempted to get to the police headquarters following our rally at McKeldin Square to deliver a letter to Commissioner Anthony Batts. Huge phalanxes of police prevented that and forced the group into the East Harbor area. At today’s press conference we will present the letter that we were not able to present yesterday.”Other activists said they would raise the issues of the police impeding their freedom of movement by not letting the march go to the police station and at times surrounding the marchers, not allowing them to move.The King Day rally was organized by the People’s Power Assembly, Baltimore FIST, and the Baltimore chapter of SCLC. There was good representation from unions, including UNITE HERE Local 7 and 32BJ of the Service Employees. Other contingents marched behind banners of the youth group Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) and Workers World Party.Sharon Black, an organizer of the PPA, said, “We will be planning protests at the women’s jail every day until Sara Benjamin is released. We consider her arrest and jailing racist and egregious, and we will not rest until she is out.” FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Baltimore students, activists occupy City Hall

first_imgYouth and high school students from City Bloc and their supporters held an occupation of City Council chambers on Oct. 14, after demanding a meeting with Baltimore Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Some 32 people participated in the occupation in response to a City Council committee’s approval of Davis’s permanent appointment. City Bloc is a group of students from a college prep high school at Baltimore City College.A large turnout came to the hearing to express disapproval with the appointment of Davis, whose salary will be $200,000 a year. Students and their supporters disrupted the hearing several times, chanting, “No justice, no peace! Stop the vote! Stop the vote!” and “If we don’t get it, shut it down!” Many who attended the hearing spoke and testified that the proceedings were nothing but a “dog and pony show.” The Rev. Cortly CD Witherspoon, president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, referred to the hearing as a “coronation” and testified that the police commissioner should be elected by the people of Baltimore, not appointed. He called for community control of the police, which would require officers to live in the neighborhoods that they patrol, and an elected civilian review board with the power to criminally charge officers and fire them. It was revealed at the hearing that only 21 percent of Baltimore police officers live in the city.When the council committee began voting, protesters with the Baltimore Uprising coalition demanded that the voting be halted and that Davis and Rawlings-Blake meet with them. The newly formed coalition consists of City Bloc, Baltimore Bloc, The West Coalition and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. Prior to the hearing the coalition had issued a letter with 19 demands on how the police should interact with protesters. They called for a ban on military-style policing, including the use of armored vehicles and rubber bullets, and for “riot gear” to be used only as a last resort to protect officers’ safety. In addition, they demanded that police officers wear badges and name tags at all times. The demands are very moderate, but the fact that mostly high school students decided to occupy City Hall is extremely significant and showed that there is militancy within the youth of Baltimore. They should be praised for their courage.After the vote 32 people refused to leave City Hall until the mayor or commissioner met with them. In an early morning telephone interview with teleSUR on Oct. 15, City Bloc activist Makayla Gilliam-Price said that police were turning off power outlets to prevent protesters from charging their phones, cameras and other electronic equipment. She said the police had not granted them access to the restrooms and they had limited water and food. “They are currently forcing us to choose between our survival and our political beliefs,” she said.At around 3:15 a.m., police gave an ultimatum that they would start arresting people. Twelve people decided to defy the ultimatum and risk arrest. At 4:45 a.m., police moved on the building and arrested the remaining 12 occupiers. The age range of those arrested was 16 to 38, three being juveniles. Those inside City Hall had put out a call for folks to come and stand in solidarity with them while they faced arrest. The Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly immediately mobilized a delegation to City Hall, which arrived at 11 p.m. to support the students.One of the arrestees, ShaiVaughn Crawley, said: “Early Thursday morning on Oct. 15, 2015, I was arrested with some pretty inspiring protesters for ‘refusing to leave a public building,’ which would later be translated to trespassing. The motives were pretty simple: The youth of Baltimore City have not ever had a voice in anything that this city pursues and these teenagers have been tired of it for a very long time. I remember even living in South Carolina how bad the school system was, and is, and to see that very same practice echoed [times] 100 here in Baltimore is pretty devastating. We knew we had to do something.”FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Protests fight Michigan prison conditions

first_imgPrisoners at the Marquette Branch Prison in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula held a mass boycott of the facility’s cafeteria on May 24. More than 700 of the 1,100 low-security inmates united in this action to protest the awful food provided by Trinity Corporation. Immediately following this nonviolent action, prison officials locked down the entire facility for 24 hours.Similar actions against bad food had occurred the previous months at the Kinross, Chippewa and Cotton Correctional facilities, all located in Michigan.The Michigan Department of Corrections cancelled its contract with Aramark Foods last fall, replacing it with Trinity because of numerous concerns. Prior to December 2013, prison food services were provided by state workers. Trinity’s performance, as shown by the numerous protests, may even be worse.Political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney was able to call his supporters after the lockdown ended on May 25. He told them that there are “maggots and rat feces in the food. It’s disgusting food and the quantities are inadequate. We believe that the Department of Corrections is getting kickbacks from Trinity.” ­(bhbanco.org)Rev. Pinkney has vowed not to eat prison food while at the prison. He says he will subsist on quarterly packages of food from a vendor supplying prisoners and paid for by his spouse.Since the May 11 appeal on his 2014 conviction has been “held in abeyance” until the Michigan Supreme Court rules on a different case, Pinkney faces a likely minimum of one more year before being eligible for parole. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied him bail again in late May.On June 8, Marquette-area ABC TV10 News broadcast a story about the May 24 food protest. Rev. Pinkney was able to call in to the station for a short powerful interview. (abc10up.com) Prison officials retaliated by barring Rev. Pinkney from contact with the media.A protest supporting LGBTQ prisoners was held outside MDOC headquarters in Lansing on May 26.In other prison news, supporters of gay and trans prisoners at the Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson have been directing protests to MDOC Director Heidi Washington for mistreatment of LGBTQ prisoners. Seven prisoners filed grievances under the federal Prisoner Rape Elimination Act, citing years of harassment by guards and administration inaction. Retaliation against these prisoners soon followed, including three transfers and disciplinary action.Letters and calls to Director Washington continue as word of the mistreatment spreads. (517-241-7238; Heidi Washington, Director MDOC, 206 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing MI 28909)FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Okinawans resist U.S. military bases

first_imgResistance is alive and well in Okinawa. Some 65,000 people rallied on June 19 in Naha, the island’s capital city, to protest the U.S. military presence on their island. Signs called for the withdrawal of Marines in the largest protest in 21 years against U.S. bases.This demonstration was sparked by the rape and murder of an Okinawan woman by a former U.S. Marine working at Kadena Air Base, a horrific but not uncommon occurrence. The Asia-Pacific Journal of July 1 said 120 rapes by U.S. military personnel had been reported in Okinawa since 1972. Notably, in 1995, 85,000 people protested the kidnapping and rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. soldiers on the island and demanded closure of the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.Instead, the U.S. and Japan agreed to move the Futenma base from Ginowan, a populous city, to a more remote site. But in 2010, 100,000 island residents strongly protested construction of a new base. Some 76 percent of the island’s residents dispute the relocation of Futenma base to the seaside village of Henoko, where the people are also vehemently against it.In February, tens of thousands of people circled the Parliament in Tokyo, while simultaneous protests were held in several other cities, all against the construction of a base in Henoko.The June 19 demonstration demanded that the base be moved off Okinawa altogether. This was echoed by Takeshi Onaga, Okinawa’s governor, who had rescinded permission for Futenma’s relocation. But the June 28 Japan Times reported that Onaga will not sue the central government over this issue. Moving the base has now been postponed until 2025 due to mass opposition.Serious crimes by U.S. troops and employees have ignited massive protests against U.S. bases on the island, putting a spotlight on the ever-present anger at and opposition to the U.S. military presence by the majority of Okinawans. This struggle is always ready to erupt. Five years after the 1995 mass actions, a historic 11-mile human chain encircled Kadena Air Base when then-President Bill Clinton visited Okinawa in July 2000.Two months of protests took place in 2010 demanding Futenma’s closure. On April 25 of that year, 100,000 Okinawans demanded all U.S. bases off the island. Two years later, on Sept. 9, once again 100,000 island residents rallied — this time against the U.S. installation of Osprey helicopters at Futenma, but they also sought the base’s permanent closure.‘A virtual military colony’“For many Okinawans, every crime is an affront that symbolizes resentment over the disproportionately large U.S. military presence in Okinawa,” admitted Stars and Stripes, a newspaper serving the U.S. military, on May 24. Residents call their country “a virtual military colony.”Okinawa makes up 1 percent of the landmass of Japan, yet it houses 74 percent of U.S. military facilities in that country. More than half the 47,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan are on the island. Washington gets worried when the movement against U.S. bases becomes activated, especially as the U.S. is accelerating its military presence in the region and seeks full collaboration with Tokyo.U.S. imperialism has increased its naval presence in the Western Pacific in its drive for regional domination. Washington has established closer ties with the Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and asserts that its military presence on Okinawa is necessary to protect U.S. interests. Pentagon forces can be deployed from Okinawa to anywhere in the Pacific in under six hours. So Washington is intransigent about maintaining its bases there.At the same time, Abe, who represents the right-wing, militaristic arm of Japan’s capitalist establishment, has proposed legislation overturning the Japanese Constitution’s post-WWII peace clause. He is seeking to eliminate obstacles to further militarizing the country.U.S. war games aimed at ChinaWashington promotes these moves, the May 27 New York Times explained, “to deepen American diplomatic and military investment in the region, but needs the help of allies.” The countries’ joint strategy is aimed at subverting and confronting China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.On June 18, two U.S. aircraft carriers, 140 aircraft, six smaller warships and 12,000 sailors conducted war games in the Western Pacific, in a threat to China.  They were ostensibly conducted because of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, which is 7,000 miles from the U.S. mainland. Pentagon pressure on China has increased with that country’s economic development, which has raised hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty.Abe’s militarism does not go unchallenged elsewhere in Japan. A growing anti-war movement there, including a new generation of youth, has mobilized strong demonstrations against his policies.But the biggest protests continue to be on Okinawa. Some 2,000 people demonstrated at Camp Foster on May 22, where Suzuyo Takzato, of Okinawa Women Act against Military Violence, said, “We seek the withdrawal of all bases and forces to ensure that people in Okinawa can live in peace.” (Japan Times, May 22)Thousands rallied outside Kadena Air Base on May 25, two days before President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit Hiroshima.  Protesters again called for the removal of all U.S. bases on Okinawa and decried a new base in Henoko. Because of mass pressure, Abe had to tell the U.S. to “take measures to prevent something like this from happening again.” He warned of rising anti-U.S. sentiment due to U.S. soldiers’ crimes, but omitted mention of the massive opposition to the Pentagon’s presence in Okinawa, careful to avoid jolting the U.S.-Japan alliance.Okinawa was the site of a horrific three-month battle during World War II, in which 100,000 islanders, 80,000 imperial Japanese soldiers and 12,000 U.S. troops died. When Okinawans commemorated that battle this June 23, they condemned construction of a new U.S. base on their land. They also called for drastic changes to the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, which gives the U.S. jurisdiction over cases involving crimes committed by its military personnel.U.S. bases opposed for 60 yearsJapan agreed to the U.S. occupation of Okinawa after World War II. In the mid-1950s, Washington saw the island as a strategic military outpost and starting building bases there, aimed at People’s China and the Soviet Union. The U.S. dispossessed thousands of Okinawan landowners to build 39 bases on 20 percent of the island’s land, but not without massive opposition.In 1972, the U.S. loosened its grip somewhat and turned the island over to Japanese government administration. However, to date, no land has been returned to its original owners and the U.S. military still has control over one-fifth of Okinawa, despite popular opposition.Okinawa is the largest island in the Ryukyu chain, 400 miles southwest of Japan, with the Pacific Ocean to the east and the East China Sea to the west. Japan’s Meiji government forcibly annexed the islands in 1879, quashing a strong people’s resistance.The Uchinanchu, as the Okinawans call themselves, have never ceded their sovereignty to Japan. Many of the island’s residents assert their right to self-determination as they demand the removal of all U.S. bases.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

BLM blocks streets over police killings

first_imgA bold Black Lives Matter march took Atlanta’s main downtown artery, Peachtree Street, on April 15 to demand justice for Stephon Clark, Saheed Vassell, Alton Sterling, Jamarion Robinson and Anthony Hill — to name just a few of those killed by police in Atlanta and across the country.Protesters blocked intersections of this central thoroughfare on their way to Piedmont Park, where tens of thousands were gathered for the annual Dogwood Festival. The festival features an extensive array of arts and crafts booths and food vendors, as well as live performances.The marchers moved directly in front of a large stage, chanting and holding their signs aloft, stopping the band’s music. While there were some negative responses, many in the crowd raised their fists in solidarity.The long-awaited trial of the cop who killed a naked Anthony Hill, a young Air Force veteran suffering a mental breakdown outside his apartment, is scheduled to begin on April 23. Hill was shot by Robert Olsen on March 9, 2015. Olsen was finally indicted on multiple murder counts by a DeKalb County grand jury in January 2016.Activists from the Black Lives Matter movement and disability community are mobilizing for a rally on April 21, and will pack the court for the motions hearing on April 23.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Activists stop racist memorial, honor Ida B. Wells

first_imgIda B. WellsBy Savannah Webb and Joan AufChicagoAnti-racist groups in Chicago came together April 22 to stand against the racists who gather annually at a large Confederate monument on Chicago’s South Side. About 50 people congregated at the gates that open up to the private Oak Woods Cemetery, which houses the National Park Service-owned “Confederate Mound.”This cemetery housing the Mound — a 46-foot tall monument that the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood’s mostly Black residents can see as they walk along Emmett Till Road — is also the final resting place of investigative journalist and anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells, Olympic hero Jesse Owens and former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, among many others.Smash White Supremacy Chicago (SWSC), a group of anti-racist individuals and organizations, presented two visual timelines at the cemetery gates. One traced the history of the Mound and statue, and the other outlined the life and work of Ida B. Wells.Speakers from various groups talked about Wells’ legacy in Chicago and the role that white supremacy has played, and continues to play, in the shaping of our city. The closing of schools and mental health facilities, and home foreclosures in Black and Brown communities, were all identified as concrete manifestations of white supremacy.After the timelines were presented, the group transitioned into a somber choir as they entered the cemetery to hold a memorial service for Wells. Her gravesite is marked by a humble stone piece, and is within eyesight of the tall Confederate monument.Two community members spoke about the importance of organizing against white supremacy while honoring the organizers who came before us. One speaker read a poem by Langston Hughes and recounted the violence they experienced growing up in Memphis, Tenn., during the Jim Crow era. Another speaker presented a poem that ended with the lyric, “Our revolution is justified.” Many in the crowd shed tears as they placed flowers and candles at Wells’ grave.Keeping Wells’ words in mind — “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them” — organizers felt the need to dispel the myths surrounding the Confederate monument. We understand that statues glorifying white supremacy have nothing to do with history, and everything to do with ongoing, state-sponsored racist terror. In 2009, the statue benefited from a federal stimulus of $250,000, at the same time that social services were being cut in the city’s most oppressed neighborhoods.The Confederate Mound commemorates the deaths of more than 4,000 Confederate prisoners of war who died at Camp Douglas in Chicago. The “Sons of the Confederate Veterans” won’t tell you that these POWs only died because their government refused to include Black Union soldiers in prisoner exchanges, choosing instead to sell those captured into slavery.The Sons claim that their memorial service is about heritage, not hate, but their tired lies weren’t able to fool the residents of Greater Grand Crossing, who remember fighting for the right to be buried in Oak Woods Cemetery.While SWSC was present, the racists were too afraid to show their faces. They drove in and out of the cemetery without attempting interaction. Of course, they were protected by a sizable police presence for the entirety of their so-called memorial.According to Greater Grand Crossing residents, the gatherings of previous years were often accompanied by a “military salute” — blanks fired off in unison — but we heard no celebratory gunfire today.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Heroes from Honduras: Margarita Murillo, ¡presente!

first_imgMargarita MurilloThe children and youth of Honduras will one day look back at this period in history with great lament. U.S. imperialist policy has resulted not only in massive forced migration but also in decades of brutal instability and turmoil in their beloved homeland.In fact, photojournalist Tomás Ayuso notes that the youth of Honduras have coined a phrase of their limited hope — “the right to grow old” — as death and uncertainty have become the main options for the vast majority of young people. (NPR, Aug. 19)But these conditions have also borne beloved heroes.One of those is Margarita Murillo, a revolutionary campesina leader who was assassinated by death squads on Aug. 27, 2014.Four years after Margarita’s death, her children and the Honduras resistance movement in New York City will commemorate her life on Aug. 25 with film footage, speeches, food and music at the International Action Center.Under the banner, “We continue to demand Justice! ¡Margarita vive!” the story of this leader will be told by her three children, who now reside in NYC, as well as by others.A heroic lifeMargarita was 54 years old when she was found riddled with bullets. Three men in ski masks, who were connected to right-wing death squads, killed her as she worked the fields in her village El Planon in northern Honduras.Montserrat, one of Margarita’s daughters, told TeleSur in 2017: “It was the hardest moment of my life. It was the moment that my mom became a martyr of the Honduran resistance.”Margarita’s children have all applied for political asylum in the U.S. and plan to continue her work. Two of her children have won asylum already.Her family and the movement describe Margarita’s life as one filled with a yearning for justice. She became an activist at a young age and understood, based on her own family’s poverty, the need not only for struggle but for full liberation. Margarita recounted in a radio interview that her family had been so poor that sometimes they were forced to eat grass to survive.Margarita became deeply influenced by the rising tide of revolutionary resistance in Central America. During her life, she traveled to El Salvador and Nicaragua to help the movement in those countries — a true internationalist.At 13, she joined the National Union of Peasants. At 15, she participated in the March of Hunger, which has become an annual march in Honduras, where the lack of food is constant.But Margarita did not just yearn for the right to food. She fought to demand that the land be given to those who worked it. She participated in land occupations and survived only because she escaped when many of her comrades were killed.Margarita experienced repression at a very early age. At 16, she was raped, tortured and beaten. Nothing stopped her yearning for justice, however. As she grew, she became a leading member of the FNRP (National Popular Resistance Front) of Honduras. She helped establish the Federation of Peasant Women and the National Center of Field Workers, as well as the Sula Valley Forum.When the progressive presidency of Manuel Zelaya was overturned in 2009 by a U.S. coup, Margarita fought even more. She did not want merely a fair election. She wanted full liberation from the multinational corporations.Even though her two sons were kidnapped and beaten, Margarita fought on. Samuel, one of those sons, resides in NYC and has won asylum. On May Day in NYC, Samuel and family marched with pictures of Margarita.Montserrat, despite being held at the border along with her baby daughter in the “hieleras” — the freezing cold detention center — remains optimistic. She, Samuel and daughter Kenia — Margarita’s children — continue to inspire everyone they meet. They fight on just like their mother.Montserrat says all the time: “My mom was a fighter. She gave up her life for the resistance movement.”Just like Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (Lenca) of Honduras, who was also murdered by death squads, Margarita will live on. They live on in the struggles of her children and in all the young people who are fighting until victory for their homeland.Margarita Murillo, ¡presente!FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Questions raised by forces in the civilian coalition about negotiations with Transitional Military Council in Sudan

first_imgTalks took place Aug. 17-19 between Sudan’s military government and the civilian opposition with the goal of defining new government bodies based on constitutional rule. A massive uprising of the Sudanese people needed months of struggle to end the former military regime last spring and oust President Omar al-Bashir on April 11. Since then, a military body called the Transitional Military Council has governed Sudan.The TMC has been negotiating with the committee speaking for the mass movement, known as the Declaration of Forces of Freedom and Change, the coalition that led the popular uprising since December 2018. These talks are expected to lead to a constitutional declaration defining the structure and composition of new governing bodies demanded by the civilian opposition. According to the agreement’s terms, the TMC will be represented in a body called the Sovereign Council, while the civilian coalition will nominate both an interim Council of Ministers and a Legislative Council. This leaves the military in control of much of the state apparatus.Negotiations have been especially strained since June 3 when TMC-controlled forces violently dispersed a mass sit-in demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. The attacks caused the death of 127 people and injured about 700 protesters and others. After talks on July 15, the Sudanese Communist Party, which had been involved in the civilian coalition, announced it would refuse participation in the transitional government. The SCP blamed this choice on the TMC’s decision to withdraw from points to which they had previously agreed. The civilian coalition and Sudan Call—​another alliance which includes armed rebels—​had rejected the proposals of the TMC. In relation to the expected Constitutional Declaration, the SCP continues to call for mass mobilizations, according to statements on the SCP Facebook site. The SCP remains concerned that the currently configured transitional government will not meet the people’s demands to withdraw Sudan’s troops from the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war on Yemen, to withdraw from agreements with AFRICOM (the U.S. Africa Command, which is responsible for military relations with 53 African nations) or to prevent the CIA from operating in Sudan.Further, the TMC has withdrawn from agreements that would empower civilian bodies to investigate allegations against members of the Rapid Support Forces. The people have the right to demand a security force that acts on behalf of the people and not for their own opportunistic purposes nor for the defense of imperialist interests.Members of the SCP also express concern that the transitional government will refuse to provide measures to ensure that the people have access to bread. They say this government will fail to build organizations capable of responding to new waves of economic crises that further worsened when some areas of Sudan recently experienced deepening food shortages and extensive flooding.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more